Thursday, November 30, 2017

Book Review: The Holy Invitation

In the Non-Fiction Corner With Lauren

As a 25 year old, very active, service-mission-serving single female, I would basically consider myself an expert on temple prep lessons, talks, books, lectures from leaders, etc. Most of the books are same, the author telling you that there is only so much they can tell you about the temple, including a few quotes and what you can do to prepare. I was expecting something similar from Anthony Sweat in his new book "The Holy Invitation, Understanding Your Sacred Temple Endowment," but I had high hopes because he specifically says "understand your sacred temple endowment." And Sweat did exactly that.

Never before have I read a temple book the way that he presented it. He went through not only how to prepare for the endowment, but also where it came from and what it is. I enjoyed this book thoroughly, and it was such a fast read that I can't wait to enjoy it again and again.

In the first chapter, Sweat talks about how the endowment came to be. He gives the history about it, all with example from church history, and I LOVE church history. It was interesting to me that the endowment was around long before Nauvoo. Joseph Smith had to prepare and receive a little at a time. So it is with us. The author says that the endowment is being ready to enter the presence of God, and you aren't ready all at once. It takes preparation, cleanliness, covenants and knowledge, and I love how Anthony Sweat covers all of these and uses historical examples to teach.

In the next chapter the author uses a story of a man being invited to visit a king to teach what the endowment is. I was a little disappointed when I read that he would not be saying what each part of the metaphor stood for. But I was surprised to see how much I already knew about the temple and what I could gather from the story he told. I loved this part of the book, it was an excellent way to teach what the endowment is without going into too much detail. Lastly, the author applies history and the metaphor to you. He says when you are in the temple to focus on what you are feeling. You can't learn everything the first time, and you have the rest of your life to go back, so use your first time at the temple to focus on what you feel. Temple workers will help you on the way. And with that comes remembering your covenants and what you are doing in the temple.

This book reminded me again that the temple is a special place and made me even more excited to go. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is preparing or is recently endowed. Anthony Sweat is incredibly insightful and prepared to write on this topic!

Get your copy here

Here's the back copy:

The Holy Invitation offers an insightful introduction to the temple, helping young adults and new converts better comprehend the eternal truths taught in the Lord's house. This short book explores the temple experience from three different vantage points: the why, drawing upon a fictional metaphor with parallels to the temple; the what, exploring the history of the endowment; and the how, applying the metaphor, Church history, and the endowment to us. This three-part approach allows readers to learn in a way that relates best to them individually and helps those who are new to the temple have a richer, deeper temple experience with room for continued growth. As illustrated by metaphor, history, and application, the Lord extends to each one of us a holy invitation: an invitation to enter His temple, to learn of Him and His ways, and to prepare to come back into His presence.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Richard Norby--Survivor of the Brussels Terrorist Attack

I was able to listen to Richard Norby speak tonight about his experiences during the terrorist attack last year in Brussels. He had pictures of the attack and some news footage that I had watched when it happened last year. But to hear his up close and personal experiences and impressions was unforgettable.

He gave the details of that day, how he'd been at the airport that morning with three missionaries and they were doing all the normal airport business of getting boarding passes and such, when the explosion happened just over Richard's left shoulder. The impact lifted them all off their feet and he remembered ceiling tiles falling and soot everywhere. Nine seconds later, the second blast detonated. He tried to stand up twice, but fell back each time because most of his left calf was gone. He lifted up his hands and thought he had soot on them, but it was actually his burned skin. In spite of all that, he called his wife and assured her he only had a broken leg, then waited for help to arrive.

With so many wounded waiting for triage and ambulances, he had a little while to wait, in which time his companions found him and gave him a blessing. He said how grateful he was for that moment, and combined with some other experiences, the Brussels airport became sacred ground for him, where he experienced something so profound---prayers were offered and answers given. Once he got to the hospital, however, they realized the true extent of his injuries. 35% of his body had second and third degree burns, he would need skin grafts on his face, arm, and neck, pins in his leg, and faced months of recovery. They even had to put him into a medically induced coma so they could treat him.

But, the one thing that struck him, he said, as he lay there on the floor of the bombed airport, was that he wanted to be aware of everything around him. He wanted to really see and feel so he could thank God for the miracle of being alive. He experienced some other miracles and my heart was touched as he shared them. It was an amazing night that I won't soon forget because it reinforced my belief in miracles, the goodness of people, and in God's watchcare over us.

Terrorism is something our world deals with too often, but terrorists will never win as long as there are people with courage and resilient spirits that won't be beaten down by fear. I'm so glad I had the opportunity tonight to hear one of those people. It truly stirred my soul.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Book Review: Moroni's Guide To Surviving Turbulent Times

I loved this little book. With our turbulent world today, it can sometimes be confusing as to how best to balance our life. This book is a survival guide, using Moroni's last chapters and words, which are packed full of perspective and insights on how best to meet our trials with these solid strategies.

John Bytheway is one of my favorite speakers because he has such a down-to-earth way about him when he speaks. He talks about gospel topics and always presents new ideas and thoughts to me. In this book, Bro. Bytheway starts out by talking about all the temples and how many there are now, but the one thing that stood out to him is the angel on top of the temple. He'd never really thought about how much Moroni had contributed while he was alone---a single adult living through a difficult and sorrowful time. I'd actually never thought about it like that, either.

Bro. Bytheway then goes into each chapter, sharing insights from Moroni's life and example, but also using quotes from the prophets that really bring home what Moroni was trying to teach us, what we can learn from his experiences, and how we can use it as a survival guide today. For example, he points out that, at first, Moroni seems unsure about what direction to go in after his father's death, he's so stunned and grieving for what's happened to his family. But then he remembers his heritage, finds a new direction, and goes forward. Bro. Bytheway shows us how Moroni stopped dwelling on it, remembered who he really was and his heritage, and then began to find his way to move forward. How many times have we suffered through a difficult trial and wanted to dwell on it? Wallow a bit? Murmur or complain? But if we truly can follow Moroni's example, we'll stop rehearsing the past, remember who we are, and turn our focus to our mission.

There were so many great chapters, I couldn't pick my favorite, but I did love that they all end with how we can liken ourselves to Moroni. It's a nice summation of what Bro. Bytheway has been teaching and just gives me a reminder and even goals to work on. This is a small book, with short chapters, but each one is packed with so many things to ponder. As always, the survival guide is presented in such a usable and easy to understand way, and this is a book I can use for myself and my children. I highly recommend this one.

You can get your copy here

Here's the back copy:

The prophet Moroni, who spent at least the last twenty years of his life alone and wandering to avoid being captured and killed, has in the latter days become one of the symbols of our religion. His statue watches over nearly every temple and has been depicted on the cover of millions of copies of the Book of Mormon in dozens of languages. In this book, best-selling author John Bytheway suggests that Moroni's last words were both intensely personal and universally applicable. In the closing chapters of the Book of Mormon we discover a wonderful formula for surviving today's turbulent times. Moroni's topics, and even the sequence in which he shared them, become a strategy for remaining steadfast and true in our day. John suggests that whatever latter-day challenges we face, we can successfully navigate them by "likening Moroni."

Monday, November 27, 2017

Last Day to Get Your Free Book!

Today is the last day to get my romantic suspense novel, Through Love's Trials, for FREE!

Here's the back copy:

Attorney Kenneth King can't wait to get away on vacation and leave the courtroom behind. He only has one last errand to do for his boss―drop off a flash drive to fellow attorney Emma James. But as soon as the drive is in his hands, his boss is murdered and Kenneth becomes the next target. With nowhere left to turn, he reaches out to Emma for help―but that only puts them both in danger.

Emma James just wants to settle into her new job and provide a good life for her little girl. That is all threatened when she gets a flash drive with information on it that points to an imminent terrorist attack on U.S. soil. With her choices dwindling and her vulnerabilities made crystal clear, Emma is pushed to the limit by those who want her dead and the rest of the country to suffer. How far will she be forced to go to save the lives of everyone around her, including those she loves?

Kenneth and Emma have to find a way to work together to stop the terrorists, but it's the most difficult trial of their lives―and the verdict will be life or death.

Download your free Kindle copy here

Friday, November 24, 2017

Freebie Friday For Romantic Suspense Fans!

My romantic suspense novel, Through Love's Trials, is FREE today!

You can download your free Kindle copy here 
Here's the back copy:

Attorney Kenneth King can't wait to get away on vacation and leave the courtroom behind. He only has one last errand to do for his boss―drop off a flash drive to fellow attorney Emma James. But as soon as the drive is in his hands, his boss is murdered and Kenneth becomes the next target. With nowhere left to turn, he reaches out to Emma for help―but that only puts them both in danger.

Emma James just wants to settle into her new job and provide a good life for her little girl. That is all threatened when she gets a flash drive with information on it that points to an imminent terrorist attack on U.S. soil. With her choices dwindling and her vulnerabilities made crystal clear, Emma is pushed to the limit by those who want her dead and the rest of the country to suffer. How far will she be forced to go to save the lives of everyone around her, including those she loves?

Kenneth and Emma have to find a way to work together to stop the terrorists, but it's the most difficult trial of their lives―and the verdict will be life or death.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

photo credit: fuchsia.berry Thanksgiving Day turkey via photopin (license)

I hope you are all having a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones! I've been with most of my kids, my grandkids, my in-laws, and a lot of extended family. There was so much food, I don't think I can eat for a week!

I'm so grateful for family and friends and for the blessings I enjoy. There are so many little things in my life that I appreciate more and more each day.

And I'm grateful for all of you. Without readers, being a writer wouldn't mean much, so thank you.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Cover Reveal & Giveaway!

Coming Spring 2018 My Sister's Intended by Rachael Anderson


For as long as Prudence can remember, it has been understood that her sister will one day wed the eldest son of their nearest neighbor. Such an alliance will benefit both families and bring a great deal of joy to all parents involved. Unfortunately, Prudence has never been able to feel as joyful. She believes her sister is mad to consider marrying a man she hardly knows, even if he will one day make her a countess. Titles and wealth shouldn't factor into matters of the heart, and as an aspiring romance novelist, Prudence cannot fathom how anyone could even think of settling for less than love. She certainly wouldn’t, and she doesn't want her sister to either. Unable to stand by and do nothing, Prudence sets out to help the awkward couple discover the best in each other with the hope that they will eventually find love. What she neglected to foresee, however, was that she might fall in love with Lord Knave herself. 

Be sure to scroll all the way down and enter the giveaway!

Author Rachael Anderson

A USA Today bestselling author, Rachael Anderson is the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can't sing, doesn't dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.

Ends 12/17/17 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Hawaii Five-0 Recap & Review: Bank Robbers & Blasts From The Past

This episode had a lot of action and emotions running through it. I really enjoyed it overall!

We start out with Junior jogging through town and when he tries to cross the road, he almost gets run down by a car with a very pregnant woman driving it. (And she must have some sort of superpowers as well because the sudden stop doesn't even seem to faze her at all. When I was that pregnant I could barely fit behind the wheel and a sudden stop like that would have been bad.) Junior recognizes her as Layla, his old friend, and he's really surprised to see her. (Was Junior from Hawaii? I can't recall if they've ever said.) They are both really uncomfortable, but trying to cover it up. (You know how that is, with the "great to see you" and "let's catch up sometime" when you don't really mean any of it.) She ends with "hey I'm sorry I almost killed you" and he says "that's all right." For some reason, that made me laugh. Did he mean to say that or was he trying to say something else? (It sort of reminded me of Brian Regan's Take Luck. You can listen to that here if you've never heard it. So funny!)

Cut to Tani on her junkyard-looking rebuilt scooter. She strolls up to a sketchy looking house where a bunch of scary looking dudes are staring at her. She quickly grabs her brother by the ear to get him outside. He's not thrilled and actually threatens to hit her (what a great guy) when she says that vice is moving in on the place and they need to leave. As if they're proving her words, four cars start coming down the road, looking like they mean business. (Somehow I think vice would be at little less obvious, but what do I know?) Tani is literally driving off right in front of them and they just let her go. (Guess they don't care about who is leaving, only who is inside the house. They want the element of surprise maybe?)

Anyway, Steve is at the airport (wearing his blue button-up shirt, thank you wardrobe people) buying leis to welcome Adam and Kono home. Sadly, only Adam arrives. Kono was going to come home, but she got another lead on sex traffickers in Colorado and is running that down. Adam got sick of waiting in hotel rooms and eating out of vending machines, so he decided to come home and have a life.  (Without her I guess.)

(My question is, why didn't he get a job out there? If he's just lounging around hotel rooms all day, is Kono paying for that? Is he still playing computer games?) Adam looks sad, so Steve suggests they stuff their feelings by going to get something to eat. Adam opens up on the way about how hurt he is. After all they've been through, he thought she'd do everything she could to be together.

(He's got to feel especially bad since she just took off without even talking to him. Didn't even give him a second thought!) Steve tries to comfort him, like a good friend would, and says that this thing she's doing, it's more than a job, it's her legacy. Once she's done with it, she'll retire and you two can start making babies. (Aww, Steve would know a thing or two about a woman you love leaving to save the world.) They change the subject and Adam advises Steve not to do a brick and mortar restaurant, but do a food truck instead. Steve nixes that idea because he doesn't want to spend any more time in a moving vehicle with Danny Williams. (I'm there with ya, buddy.) Steve happily tells Adam he got a dog named Eddie. (I love McEddie.)

Junior is resting from his run and he sees four guys in a car without a license plate, going into the bank with large duffels. (They could not have been more obvious that they were up to no good.) He calls McG who whips around and hurries to the scene. The four men go inside the bank and punch out the security guard before telling everyone to get on the floor and asking for the bank manager. (I don't think I'd ever want to be a bank manager. Or the security guard.)

Back at the office, Tani and Lou are watching the video of her taking her brother away minutes before vice got there. He tries to give her advice about letting their loved ones make their own mistakes. She's worried about being fired since she used insider knowledge to save her brother. But, she promised her dad she'd look out for her brother. Lou cuts her some slack and deletes the video. (Tani just comes across as so young and she doesn't make a lot of great decisions. If anyone needs to go back and complete HPD training, it's her.)

McG gets to the bank and does a little recon. He peeks in the window and sees everyone on the floor. He jogs back to the truck to tell Junior to call Lou while he goes in alone. His reasoning is, if the robbers see cops outside, it will be warfare on the streets. (Actually, I bet it would just be more of a hostage situation, but whatevs.) They go down into a parking garage and pull the doors off the back exit of the bank. (Would the robbers not hear that?) Steve tells Junior to wait there for HPD which makes no sense, really, since Junior is a SEAL and trained for situations like this. Junior agrees to the plan, however, and Adam says he'll watch him. Seconds later, Junior throws the plan out the window and is following Steve into the bank with Adam right behind him. Adam looks so rattled trying to watch Junior when he got away, haha! (Also, wasn't Adam shot in a bank before? That would have been interesting if he'd mentioned that or had a reaction.) Steve gives Adam his extra gun and Junior has the one that was in Steve's safe. (Apparently Junior can crack safes.)

They go in and head downstairs to the vault. Right before they get close, there's an explosion. Everyone's okay, but their ears are ringing. They open the vault and find a large hole in the back of it. The robbers have escaped into the sewers with ten million dollars. Steve goes after them. Alone. (Again, why the Lone Ranger act today?) Jerry is going to track him on his cell (underground in a sewer? Wow, that's great phone service.) while Adam and Junior follow him above ground in the truck. Apparently, Steve is moving through those sewers at a crazy fast clip because Adam is driving like it's his first time on the road, going on sidewalks, swerving and yelling at people to watch out, move, and run. (Like they can hear them inside a vehicle as the truck is bearing down on them) But, hey, they're going to make sure they're right on top of Steve in the sewers no matter what.

There is light down there, but Steve is using his flashlight like a beacon, looking under pipes (did he really think they'd be hiding under a pipe?) but that light seems like it would give away his position. Someone starts shooting at him and he fires back and finds his mark. When he approaches, though, he sees it's a cop and immediately calls for help. (What would a random cop be doing down there? Hmm) Adam heads to his position and they load the wounded cop into the back of the truck and race to the hospital. Literally. They're doing triage in the back of the truck while Adam is driving like a man possessed. (I'm honestly surprised they weren't thrown out of the back of the truck.) They get the cop to the hospital and he still has a pulse, but the doctors pretty much get him inside and pronounce him dead in the hall. (They hardly even tried! Intubate the guy! Massage his heart! Crack his chest! Well, I guess the scene must have been running over, so it's a death in the hallway. Sorry Random Cop Guy)

Steve is pretty emotional about it and Alex does a great job here of conveying all the feels with just his facial expressions. Lou and Tani finally catch up to them at the hospital. Tani oddly goes to watch them cover the cop's dead body. Lou goes out to talk to Steve, sitting on a bench. (He has a blue t-shirt on now. I guess they didn't show the wardrobe change.) Lou assures Steve it was an accident. Dark. The cop should have identified himself. Steve won't have any of it. He didn't have a visual and is clearly beating himself up about it, covered in the cop's blood. So sad. He walks away, looking like he needed a hug. *sniff*

Jerry is heading up the Chatting Table. He says the robbers did hardcore advanced planning with the tunnel and they also killed the alarm. But the biggest thing of all was that they knew when the ten million was being deposited in the bank. Junior can't figure out who would deposit that much, but Adam knows. Organized crime! (And he would know all about that. Adam was such an interesting character when he was a bad boy trying to do good. Now he's just, well, Kono's husband.) But Jerry informs everyone that Adam's dad was the OG of OGs. Yakuza. Lou gets annoyed when Junior looks impressed and says they can start a fan club later. But the whole point of the scene was that the robbery was probably an inside job. And to prove it, they have fingerprints in the vault from a lowly teller. The teller ends up in the Blue Room of Doom for questioning, but he isn't talking. Lou even does his thing of getting super up close and personal, but no dice. He's not saying a word!

While Steve and Lou are downstairs, the rest of the team gets the video of the robbers and guess what? The cop that Steve shot was one of the robbers! That's what he was doing down in the sewers all alone, not identifying himself. (Also, why didn't Duke or somebody check the guy out? That seems odd that they wouldn't figure out he wasn't one of them, but okay.) Tani goes down to get Steve so they can show him the video. The team figures out the robbers dressed up as cops to blend in during their escape. Steve is obviously relieved at this turn of events. (Honestly, Alex did such a great job with all the emotions in this ep).

But just as they're talking about the robbers dressed as cops, they cut to a cop bypassing security in the Palace. That can't be good.

Steve and Lou make plans to get the teller to talk, but when they go back down to the Blue Room of Doom, he's dead. (They have terrible security there. Seriously. How many times has the Palace been breached now?)

Steve and Lou run through the Palace, guns drawn, sealing it just as the killer exits. Steve figures it out pretty quick and they get the doors open and run outside to see the cop walking away. Apparently they can just feel that he's not a real cop and run after him. The guy almost makes it to the getaway car, but his buddies fire at Steve and Lou so he can jump in the car safely. Adam, Tani, Jerry, and Junior run to the window to witness the firefight and decide to go down and "help." But Steve has it under control and fires at the car and hits the driver. (Why didn't the guys in the car shoot back? Out of ammo? Death wish? For hardcore robbery planners, they didn't plan the getaway very well) The car spectacularly crashes and overturns. Lou pulls out the survivors (telling them they're not even hurt, haha) and the trunk flies open spilling out the ten million dollars. Junior is all smiles at how easy the case was, but Lou tells him it doesn't usually happen that way with the bad guys coming to them. (That Lou, always so practical and real.) (We also find out in this ep that Junior is skating on thin ice at the academy. I thought he was the greatest thing the instructors had seen! What happened, man? Oh well. I guess him and Tani would have something in common if he gets kicked out, too.)

With the case over, you would think everyone would go home, but Tani is at the office late, thinking about who deposited the money at the bank. She finds out that the guy who executed the bank teller had been in Five-0 custody before. That's how he knew where the Blue Room of Doom was. (Well, I'm glad we cleared that up. But who deposited the money? We'll work on that tomorrow.) Lou tells her to go home, but she wants to talk a bit more. She knows she's made some missteps with the Aaron Wright thing and her brother. It's not going to happen again, according to her, but Lou says that it will. She's new. She doesn't want to let the guys down, and Lou assures her that McG and the team have faith in her and she should cheer up. (I know she's new and all, but I wish she'd been shown to have a bit more in the way of good instincts, you know?)

McG drops off Adam and tells him he appreciated him having his back today. They look at the bloody mess of clothes and leis in the back and Adam doesn't want it. McG actually says he might wash the blood out and WEAR IT to a nice dinner. (I'm sorry, but even the thought of that is nasty.)

Adam looks all sad as he stares at his house. McG picks up on that and tells him he's got his number if he needs to get a drink or hang out, he should just give him a call. (Aww, he's such a good friend.)  He gets back in the truck and Tani calls to say they need to talk, that something happened this morning that he needs to know about. So hopefully, she's coming clean with him about her brother.

And to end the episode with the other newbie backstory, we're back at McG's house where Junior is looking at his prom video of him and Layla, the pregnant lady he saw at the beginning of the ep. They look young and in love and it's right before he goes to boot camp. They're laughing and joking around about "Hooyah as in hooyah gonna marry?" Junior looks sad and shuts it off. Poor Junior.

So, lots of action, lots of unnecessary (but still awesome) crazy car scenes, with some great emotional moments, and McG in blue. All the things I like.

Did you watch? What did you think?

Monday, November 20, 2017

Book Review: Lies Jane Austen Told Me

As soon as I saw the back cover copy for this book, I knew I had to read it. It sounded so good!

Emma is a big Jane Austen fan---until she realizes that maybe happily-ever-afters aren't meant for everyone. Romance and dashing heroes seem to be the stuff of fiction, but Emma still has that sliver of hope. Her boyfriend, Blake, has invited her home to meet his parents and her friends and co-workers think that he might propose! Emma surprises him, but he gives her an even bigger surprise. The night ends with a slap across the face that even his great-grandchildren will feel! Emma walks away with her head held high, but fate isn't done with her yet. Her now ex-boyfriend's brother shows up at her office a few days later, hired to be a consultant at the company, and the bumpy journey to love truly begins. You won't be able to put this story down!

I loved Emma and how real she felt. She made wrong decisions, she overthought things, and yet she tried to stay true to herself. I enjoyed how there were so many nuances to the backstory for Emma and how she related not only to the men in her life, but also her co-workers and her best friend. I also loved Lucas. He was such a complicated hero and trying so hard to make a difference in the lives of the people he loved. But he had his own issues to work out, which made his story so compelling and kept the tension high, wondering how it would end! I won't give anything away, but I stayed up waaay too late to see how it all turned out, and it was so worth it.

I really hope the author writes the best friend, Silvia's story, so we can return to this world and all its characters again. It was so good!

You can get your copy here

Here's the back copy:

Ever since Emma read Pride and Prejudice, she's been in love with Mr. Darcy and has regarded Jane Austen as the expert on all things romantic. So naturally when Emma falls for Blake Hampton and he invites her home to meet his parents, she is positive an engagement is in her future. After all, Blake is a single man in possession of a good fortune, and thus must be in want of a wife.

But when it turns out that what Blake actually wants is more of a hook-up than a honeymoon, Emma is hurt, betrayed, and furious. She throws herself deeper into her work as CMO of Kinetics, the fastest growing gym franchise in the nation. She loves her work, and she's good at it, which is why she bristles when her boss brings in a consultant to help her spearhead the new facilities on the East Coast. Her frustration turns to shock when that consultant turns out to be Blake's younger brother, Lucas.

Emma is determined not to fall for Lucas, but as she gets to know him, she realizes that Lucas is nothing like his brother. He is kind and attentive and spends his time and money caring for the less fortunate.

What she can't understand is why Lucas continues to try to push her back into Blake's arms when he so clearly has fallen as hard for her as she has fallen for him.

Realizing that her love life is as complicated as anything Jane Austen could have dreamed up, Emma must find a way to let Blake know that it's time for him to let her go and to let Lucas know it's time for him to love her back.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Freebie Friday For Mystery Lovers!

One of my very favorite mysteries by Jeffrey S. Savage, House of Secrets, is being offered for free today! Be sure to grab this one.

Here's the back copy:

Shandra Covington simply assumed her grandmothers' house was sold after her grandmother hastily moved in with Shandra and her mother two decades ago. Yet, here it was, deeded to Shandra in her grandmother's will.

Shandra, single, aggressive, and an accomplished journalist, has tender memories of the time spent as a young girl in the old house on the hill, and her curiosity and sentimentality lead her to a final visit to the forgotten home. What she discovers shocks Shandra to her very core. Not only is the house still filled with her grandmother's old belongings, but there is also a body, long since dead, and covered with the same thick layer of dust as the rest of the items in the house.

Returning with the sheriff and his handsome deputy, Clay, they find the body missing. In its place is another body—this one dead less than 12 hours. And all evidence points to Shandra.

Desperate to clear her name and uncover the truth behind these troubling mysteries, Shandra puts her journalistic training to use. Between the reluctant townspeople, ominous warnings, and physical threats, Shandra learns the truth, little by little—knowing full well that someone is determined to keep old secrets buried, even it means burying Shandra as well . . ..

Download your free Kindle copy here

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Video Interview With USA Today Bestselling Author Annette Lyon!

I had so much fun interviewing Annette Lyon who was the guest author at my book club this month. I wish you all could come, but these videos are the second best thing, I think.

Here's question #1

Here's question #2

Here's question #3

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Book Review and Giveaway!

I'm so excited to be part of the blog tour for Sian Ann Bessey's new medieval romance, For Castle and Crown.

This book starts out with a bang, when the English king is trying to clandestinely cross his arch enemy's territory. They stop at an inn during a snowstorm, though the King's guard, Edmund, feels like something is off. We get such a great feel for Edmund's character during this scene and it only gets better from there. Pippa, a childhood friend of Edmund's, who was back home at the estate, but has been badly burned in a fire, is now recovering at a convent. When Edmund finally arrives home, he finds out that his brother has been killed and he is now the duke, his life forever changed. He'll need all the friends and allies he can get. Can Pippa let herself help Edmund unravel the mystery behind who wants him dead or will she hide herself away to guard her heart?

I loved how descriptive the book was, especially since this is set during the medieval time period. The author made is easy to imagine with just the right amount of details. The other thing she does well, is provide so much intrigue and danger, with some really great twists and turns, that I was reading as fast as I could to see what would happen next! The romantic thread throughout the book is tender, especially when Edmund is dealing with inner scars and wounds, and Pippa has outer scars and wounds. They both have to grow through a lot of trials and trust their feelings. I thought the two of them were so relatable and I wanted them to get a happily-ever-after. The secondary characters were also really well-drawn and add a depth to the story that make it easy to get lost in the book.

This one will definitely go on my rainy day shelf and I highly recommend it to historical romance fans.

Don't forget to scroll down and enter the giveaway!

You can get your copy here

Here's the back copy:

After years spent fighting alongside King Richard in the crusades, Lord Edmund of Hawksford is finally returning to his ancestral home. But far from a joyful reunion, what awaits him is devastation. His elder brother is dead, killed in a tragic fire at Hawksford Castle—and the title of duke now falls to Edmund.

When he strives to rebuild the fire-scarred castle, Edmund learns that his was not the only life the fire shattered: his childhood friend Lady Phillipa survived the flames that took Edmund’s brother, but badly burned, she has hidden herself away from those she loves. Yet as the pair renews their acquaintance, they find that their affection runs deep—perhaps even deeper than they’d ever realized.

As Edmund and Pippa begin to question whether the fire was truly an accident, they must discover the truth of the past before they can plan for their future. While coming perilously close to the answers they seek, Edmund and Pippa find themselves at the mercy of a dangerous foe who will stop at nothing to lay claim on Hawksford—and he will destroy any who stand in his way.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Hawaii Five-O Recap & Review: So Many Whys

This episode wore a lot of hats, so let's get to it.

We start off with two tourists going early morning surfing (in the cold and dark!) and getting pulled over. (I would totally be like the not-a-morning-person passenger whining about why anyone would be up at five in the morning. That seems crazy for surfing, but what do I know?) The passenger guy can actually think coherent thoughts at that early hour, however, and starts recording the officer who pulled them over. They both repeatedly ask Officer Mathis why they were pulled over. He just keeps asking for license and registration then finally shoots them both. Sort of setting the theme for this whole episode of WHY SHOW? WHY?

But let's take a step back and watch Steve swimming with Eddie. They are so cute together! I love Steve and his dog. They get out (was his liver scar gone? Hmm...) and Danny is waiting for them on shore. Eddie shakes all over him. (Good dog.) Danny claims he came to hang out with his BFF (do forty-year-old men say BFF?) but that's a lie. Steve starts to put his shoes on to go running, but Danny protests since he brought Steve coffee and pastries and wants to visit. He's just acting weird and trying to lure him into the house because . .  Danny has invited a bunch of people over for an intervention. (Yeah, you read that right. Why, show?)

Danny, Lou, Junior, Dog, Tani, Jerry, and Kamekona are all there because they are concerned about Steve's health since he was diagnosed with radiation poisoning and they want him to take his health seriously. (I don't get it. He's exercising, healthy, not showing any symptoms of illness. Usually interventions are for people with no self-awareness or who are out of control. Why show? Why?) Danny has been researching and found out that there's a link between cancer and stress, so Steve should eliminate all psychological stress. (Um, what? All of them on an ELITE TASK FORCE have that sort of stress, not just Steve. And I don't see anyone else swimming, running, etc. Oy.) Steve is polite and thanks him, but doesn't see why everyone had to be there for it. Danny says they're his backup and everyone gets to share their feelings. *bangs head on desk* WHY SHOW? WHY?

And this is where it got even more strange. Jerry gives him platitudes like an ounce of prevention is a pound of cure. Lou says there is anecdotal evidence that supports the link between stress and cancer. (There's anecdotal evidence for everything online and stress is a catch all that can lead to anything! Your hair falling out. Ulcers. A Loch Ness monster sighting. A sudden craving for pineapple on pizza. Overuse of the word seriously. Seriously!)

But we continue on with the feelings-sharing of the people in Steve's living room. Dog was only there to deliver one joke that he didn't agree with ambushing a guy in his home and ganging up on him. Which is what he does for a living. *pity chuckle* Tani was also invited, even though she barely knows McG, he's her boss, and her knowing his personal medical business seems wrong. She didn't have anything to add anyway and should have stayed home. Kamekona throws in that he'll charge Steve 20% more if he won't take this seriously. (Really? That's his punishment solution? Why?)

Anyway, Steve handles it all with class, says he's truly touched, but Danny has gone down a WebMD rabbit hole. (*nods head* That's exactly what I thought.) Junior chimes in and says that McG is handling things just fine, but Danny takes exception to anyone who disagrees with him and informs Junior that he knows Steve better than Junior. Junior doesn't back down, though, and is still respectful, but points out that McG served in combat and lived in the crosshairs of his enemy for years, and has been able to handle civilian life with great success. (THANK YOU! The voice of reason. Steve is a highly trained SEAL who has dealt with the highest stress imaginable and he's able to balance his life and stress level.) None of that matters apparently, because his "friends" have already hired a stress management consultant and she's hiding in the kitchen! Chloe is a little giggly and sort of fangirly around McG (not that I'm judging, since I probably would be, too, but she's supposed to be a professional in this instance) Even though he thought it was a joke at first, Steve greets her cordially and since she's already been paid for the day, lets her shadow him. (Aw, always the gentleman) Mercifully, he gets the call about the double murder and has to go.

StressManagerChloe tags along to the crime scene and reminds Steve to say "please" since positive gestures bring positive results. *rolls eyes* Thankfully she gets one look at the dead bodies and runs away to puke. McG gets down to work and finds the phone still recording on the floor. They play back the murder and hear the victim call the cop Officer Mathis. Duke is shocked and says Officer Mathis died three years ago. The plot thickens!

Tani is the Designated Infodumper for this ep and she's back at the Chatting Table to tell them that Officer Patrick Mathis is definitely dead and he was abusive, charged with using excessive force and served eighteen months. And he had an ex-wife and son so she sends over their address. While they're driving, Chloe is in the back seat, still giggly and unsure sounding, but she wants to ask McG personal questions. (This is not going to go well, I can already tell.) She wants him to talk about how crime scenes make him feel. (Really? Who did she want him to talk to? Danny? Dog? Eddie? Oy. That's silly for a man with his job.) Steve feels the same way as the audience and says he'd never get any work done. It's part of his job. (I mean, maybe she could have suggested a counselor or something, that would make more sense.) She moves along to what he does in his spare time (he swims, cooks, and tinkers with his dad's car, awww) Does he have a girlfriend that he has regular sex with? Chloe asks with a few giggles. This is so awkward and ridiculous and not funny. Steve is clearly uncomfortable, but says yes, five times a week. Danny LAUGHS and contradicts him because apparently Steve's girlfriend blabs to Danny's girlfriend about their sex life like a teenager and then they all talk about it. (SO SQUICKY and wrong!) Steve is rightfully annoyed that his girlfriend has talked to Danny's girlfriend about it and tells Danny not to talk about that anymore. Because he's a mature adult man and knows that's not cool. (Hopefully he mentions something to Lynn as well. Privacy matters.)

Anyway, they get to Officer Mathis' ex-wife's home (and they even have a tac vest for Chloe! I'm impressed they pulled that one off) and the ex-wife is dead in her bed upstairs, apparently of natural causes. Oliver, their son, has psych meds on the counter and a couple of days worth haven't been touched. That can't be good.

We cut to a scene of some random sweaty guy coming home to find Officer Mathis eating cereal in his living room and watching TV. Officer Mathis now talks like he's a kid and says his name is Ollie and his mom told him he could watch TV. SweatyGuy says to get out or he'll call the cops. Like an idiot, he turns his back and calls the cops while "Ollie" comes up behind him and says he should have left the kid alone and then beats the crap out of him. (Here's a life tip for you: don't turn your back on someone who broke into your house.)

Steve and Danny go to the hospital to question the SweatyBeatUpGuy and he talks about how Ollie changed in the blink of an eye. Steve immediately consults Alicia who makes a diagnosis of Ollie having DID (multiple personalities) and gives a long explanation that---long story short---DID is generally caused by an extreme trauma.

Back at the Chatting Table the infodump is that the house Ollie broke into belonged to his family a long time ago, so it wasn't random. Also, Ollie is using his dad's old unmarked PD car and the gun he used to kill the tourists matched slugs with an organized crime hit from thirty years ago. (Does that mean his dad was involved in organized crime? Or he just took the gun from the hit? We never hear anything else about that, so it's a weird loose thread.)

Danny gets distracted from the Chatting Table InfoDump by Chloe talking to Junior in Steve's office. We don't find out what they talked about, but I'm sure Junior stuck up for McG again. At least I hope he did. Chloe wants to know if Danny thinks McG will consider a snake plant and a treadmill desk. (Both of those sound terrible, actually.) She maintains that making adjustments to work space can bring stress relief. (Plants stress me out because I kill them. No matter what I do!) Anyway, Danny tells Chloe that McG is stubborn, pig-headed, and like a child, and won't make changes. (Hmm...methinks the gentleman doth protest too much.) Chloe points out that Danny is also a source of McG's stress with his behavior and their arguments. (Thank you, Chloe! At last someone points out the obvious.) She wants him to keep their conversations civil and centered around work. Of course Danny brings up their upcoming restaurant, and Chloe says that would be a big source of stress since so many fail. That sets Danny off and he whines about people telling him how so many restaurants fail and he doesn't need to know that and then he goes on and on about how it's always him who has to change and compromise, never Steve (is he serious? Haha) and goes so far as to say being less negative and more agreeable will make him want to kill himself, but he'll give it a shot. (Wow. I just have no words for that whinefest. Trying to be agreeable will make him suicidal? I had such hope for Danny being less negative this season!)

McG comes in and introduces Chloe to Alicia and they chitchat for a second before Chloe leaves and they all watch therapist vids of Ollie and his alters. He's got seven and Mom dying brought Patrick the dangerous one out. While they're discussing it all, Steve gets a call from Ollie, who is crying, and asking for help because he thinks his daddy did something bad. Pull back and he's holding a gun on a man who's been shot and looks dead. That can't be good. Jerry traces the call and they race to the scene. McG is driving fast, like usual, and Chloe wants to know if he has to drive that fast. (It's the most serious she's looked all day.) Danny isn't saying anything and Steve asks him what's wrong, then realizes that Chloe told Danny he's part of the problem. Interestingly enough, Steve agrees his stress sits shotgun next to him. (Hmmm....sarcasm or truth-telling?) Ollie is on the move and they trace him to HPD. He's back to being Officer Mathis and sits down at a desk to look at files like he belongs there. Duke lures him to the captain's office and locks him in until Steve can get there. It seems like a good plan, but when they burst in, Officer Mathis has escaped through the ceiling and is running away. (Why does no one ever think of a ceiling escape?) They get everyone out of the building, (which made no sense since it's a police station! With trained police officers! But whatever, I guess. They can go to safety while Five-0 does everything themselves) Five-0 starts clearing room to room and finds Officer Mathis, but he gets away in a car and heads to his house. (Maybe if the cops had been helping to find him . . .) Threatening suicide, Mathis barricades himself inside and starts looking for his wife.

Meanwhile, Alicia has been watching videos of Oliver and all his alters and getting some insights, like a good consultant. She then heads to the scene and tells Steve she needs to go in and save the "child." Steve says no at first, but quickly changes his mind, since he has snipers in place. (Hopefully Officer Mathis is in the line of sight for the snipers or Alicia is going to end up like the tourists!) She dresses in one of the mom's dresses (hopefully not the one she died in, but I think it is. Ew.) and goes in to make Mathis a tuna sandwich with milk. (Which he talked about on his counseling vids.) She's chatting him up and telling him he's had a hard day and how he must feel so trapped and scared. Mathis pulls a gun on her, but she appeals to Ollie, telling him not to be scared, that she loves Ollie as big as the sky and always and forever. Ollie comes out and hugs her and she takes the gun away.  It was actually a really intense scene and well-acted.

We end at Kamekona's to hear the results of the evaluation. Chloe says she'd like Steve to quit his job and take up gardening. (She doesn't actually give a reason for this. I mean, if everyone with a stressful job quit to avoid stress and took up gardening, well, we'd have a lot of gardens, no police, doctors, nurses, you name it and that's just silly.) Anyway, she doesn't see that happening anytime soon, but tells Steve to create a to do list and stay organized. She'll have a full written report tomorrow including a personalized daily plan, dietary guidelines, and a bunch of other stuff that sounded made up. (Can I be a stress management consultant and get paid to tell people to make a to do list and say please? I mean, that sounds like a stress free job for sure.) Steve listens, but gets up to go get more drinks and Danny follows.

Steve tells Danny he thinks this whole thing is ridiculous and it comes out that Danny is the one stressed, and he's scared Steve isn't taking this seriously since he only casually mentioned the radiation poisoning and didn't follow post op for his donated liver. And now Danny's wasted his money, and Chloe's time, but he can't sleep for worrying about Steve's health. Steve admits he's scared, too. He wants to get married and have his own kids. (That made me sad to hear. I want that for him, too, with a woman he loves. *sniff*) But Steve has a healthy outlook on it, as he does most things, really, and he's not going to obsess over something that *might* happen. (Which is good advice, actually, for anyone. We could get hit by a truck tomorrow!) He also tells Danny not to change because they are BFFs and he wants it to stay that way.

So, a good intense end to the case of the week and a silly intervention thread that made me say Why? several times. Out loud. To the TV.

Did you watch? What did you think?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Book Review: Home of Her Heart

I tried a new to me author this week and her name is Shanna Hatfield. She writes clean historical romances and the one I read was Home of Her Heart. (I got to meet her at a recent writer's conference and she was so fun to talk to!)

It's a wartime romance, when the U.S. was just about to enter World War II. Klayne is a shy loner pilot, whose buddies convince him to go to a Christmas party. While there he sees a beautiful girl named Delaney and when she spots him hidden behind a Christmas tree, she comes to talk to him and they end up hitting it off and heading to a diner to talk in a more quiet place. The sparks are there from the beginning and the more they get to know each other, the more you want them to be together! Of course, the war interrupts their romance and both Klayne and Delaney have to go through a bumpy journey to have a chance of happily ever after. The historical aspect was spot on and I loved how the author brought a small town to life with memorable characters that make me want to go back and read their stories! (This book is part of a series, but stands alone since I hadn't read any of her other books and wasn't confused at all.)

I loved the author's style and thought that this was a tender story of love during a time when both the men and women who were coping with a country at war were called upon to display extraordinary courage abroad and at the home front. I'll definitely be looking for more titles by this author, especially in this series!

You can download your copy here

Here's the back copy:

All he needed was a bride. . .

Who said anything about falling in love?

Orphaned at birth and a loner all his life, the last thing Sergeant Klayne Campbell needs is for feisty Delaney Danvers to entangle his thoughts. Bravely volunteering for a top-secret mission almost certain to get him killed, Klayne can’t bear the thought of dying utterly alone. All he wants is to face death knowing his life meant something to at least one person. Offering Delaney a marriage of convenience, he plans to leave behind a war bride as his beneficiary. After just one night as her husband, Klayne realizes he’ll do anything to survive and return to her.

The moment she met handsome Sergeant Campbell at a holiday party, Delaney’s whole world shifted off kilter. Full of fun with an unquenchable zest for life, she isn’t afraid to go after what she wants. And what she wants is Klayne. When he prepares to join a hazardous mission, she seizes the opportunity to give him a reason to fight his way back home - to her heart.

A tender, sweet romance rich with history and enduring love, Home of Her Heart captures the era and emotions prevalent during America’s entry into World War II.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Veteran's Day 99 Cent Ebook Sale!

Honoring Our Military Men and Women

I love writing about our military men and women and am so grateful for those I've met over the years who have helped me make my stories as authentic as possible. In order to honor them this Veterans Day weekend, I am offering three of my bestselling romantic suspense ebooks for only .99 cents each. I'm so grateful and humble for the sacrifices that are made in our behalf every day.

Thank you to everyone who has served and their families. We'll never forget.
You can get your sale copy of All Fall Down here
You can get your sale copy of The Captive here
You can get your sale copy of Through Love's Trials here

Thursday, November 9, 2017

When Your Child Isn't Picked

My son tried out for his school basketball team this week. He's worked hard over the last year, participating in a bantam team, a city league (where his team won the championship) going to basketball camps and being invited to participate in a state tournament. He's worked on his shot and conditioning and was nervously excited for the tryouts.

The first night of the tryouts was a lot of drills and running and it was physically hard. One boy even threw up. My son finished the drill and turned to cheer his friends on. He came home from the tryout and said that he felt like he'd done his best. We waited an hour and a half to find out the result.

He'd made the first cut.

We were elated and he was excited to go to the second night of tryouts. They did some shoot-arounds and some of his shots were falling and some weren't. He felt like he'd done as well as he could. Just before the tryout ended, however, the coach had each boy get a piece of paper and write down where they would rank the nineteen boys left in order of who they thought should be on the team. A lot of the popular kids were trying out and of course they all wrote down their friends. The coach collected the papers and they went home to await the results.

My son didn't make the team.

He was disappointed. Our entire family was disappointed for him. He'd worked so hard. We talked it through, trying not to point at the "popular" kid list since most everyone who made the team is also in the popular kid group at school. (I just can't understand why that list would even come into the tryouts, but that's just me.) My son decided that same night, though, to work even harder and try out again next year. He started making plans to join the city league again and keep up with his workouts.

And then the coach caught up with him at school today.

The coach told my son that he'd been really close to making the team and he wanted him to now be a team manager. Being the team manager means that my son would set up the scorers table, get water for the players, keep stats, that sort of thing. He would also be invited to practices, allowed to participate in shoot-arounds, accompany the team to games, and buy team apparel. So, pretty much, he can do everything a boy on the team can do except play in a game.

My first reaction was, why would you want to do this? Why be around the people and coach who didn't pick you? Why be so close to something that hurts right now? I was a little frustrated that the coach would even put my son in this position. But my son was seeing a bigger picture. He pointed out that he can get all the benefits of the coaching, the practices, the drills, and know what things to work on for next year while he's being a manager.

Then he said, "And Mom, if I do this, I can really be doing something to help my team."

I was humbled by that. They were still "his team." My response was to turn away, to nurse the hurt, to avoid those who'd caused it. And my son is putting all that aside and looking to help those same people and letting them help him.

I'm proud of my son. So proud. And I know that even if he never makes a school team, he'll push through and find the good in the experience.

Which, as I've been reflecting today, is something I obviously need to work on myself. But what a great example I have to look up to. Love you, sweetheart.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Book Review & Giveaway!

I was excited to be part of the blog tour for Jen Geigle Johnson's new book, The Nobleman's Daughter. The back copy looked really good and I settled in for a wonderful afternoon of reading.

The premise is a duke's daughter named Amanda wants to have more to her life. She wants freedom to choose her own destiny and maybe even someday vote. Unfortunately, society is not ready for those ideas, but she does get caught up in a series of events that will forever change her.

I thought the author did a wonderful job interweaving history with a fast-paced fictional romance. She also shone a light on a little known historical event that good people fought and died for and was very true to the time period and setting surrounding it. The tension and pacing were on point and I was turning pages as fast as I could to see how it would turn out! The characters were three dimensional and the hero, Nathaniel, was especially swoon-worthy. He's an aristocrat hiding a double life and trying to figure out his feelings for Amanda. His care for her was sweet and his core beliefs in freedom were admirable. He was just so easy to relate to and readers will definitely want him to get his happily-ever-after. Amanda, our heroine, is sixteen years old when the book opens, and seventeen/eighteen during the majority of the story. Her decisions at times, reflect her youth and immaturity, as she runs headlong into danger and must be rescued numerous times. (Lucky for her, Nathaniel is a patient man.) This is not a detriment for the storyline, however, because Amanda does have a well-developed growth arc that make it believable. I thought the romance was a nice backdrop to the intrigue and secrets as the fight for freedom is fought from the streets, as well as the back gardens and ballrooms of London. 

Historical fiction fans will really enjoy this one and I will definitely be looking for more from this author!

Be sure to scroll all the way down and enter the giveaway!

Here's the back copy:

England, 1819

While British high society primps and plays, the impoverished citizens of London languish. But there are those fighting for the freedom of common citizens—including two members of the aristocracy who secretly champion revolution. In the drawing rooms of the upper class, Lady Amanda and Lord Nathaniel flirt and tease with the best of them as she pretends to win every heart in London for sport, and he, to conquer them. But in truth, their flirtation is merely a fa├žade designed to keep their clandestine actions hidden from the ton—and from each other. When Nathaniel presents himself as a potential suitor, the attraction between the two is undeniable—but the faces they portray to the world are not enough to win each other’s hearts.

While their crusade for London’s poor unites them more deeply than they could imagine, Amanda and Nathaniel struggle to trust one another with their true ideals and identities. But when the call to action leads Amanda into the path of danger, she can only hope that Nathaniel will see through her frivolous pretense. Because now, only the aid of the suitor she loves most—but trusts least—can save her.

Blog Tour Schedule:

*Nov. 6th:,

*Nov. 7th:,,

*Nov. 8th:,,

*Nov. 9th:,,

*Nov. 10th:,

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Hawaii Five-0 Recap & Review--The Halloween Episode

This episode was full of the usual Halloween murder and mayhem, but combined with Hawaiian legends this time around.

We start out with Junior cleaning up Eddie's accident, when Danno drops by to scare Steve with a $75 mask. (Do people really pay that much for masks? That seems expensive and it wasn't all that great.) Danny does mention to Junior that he can call him sir every three minutes or so. I personally like that Junior is respectful and still has a military bearing around him. Where's Steve you ask?

Steve is going to escort Alicia to the courthouse, so he brings her some coffee. While they're chillaxing, she confesses that it wasn't self-defense with Dr. Gray. Steve doesn't look surprised, but he tells her never to say that again and he didn't hear it. She doesn't want to commit perjury, (since she's a murderer with a conscience and all) Steve doesn't trust the system to see it her way and since her daughter lost her mother for five years, she doesn't deserve to lose her again. (Ahhh, now we get down to the nitty gritty of why Steve is so against this. Losing mothers is a touchy subject for him with his own mommy issues. Poor Steve.) Alicia just asks that Steve take care of her daughter if jury goes wrong way. (Which was a bit of a strange request, but okay. I mean, Steve does take care of other people's kids all the time. Usually not twenty five year olds, but whatever.)

Oddly, we are heading to the Florida State prison because Lou is visiting Forney (the guy from Where the Heart Is. I love that movie!) Lou has no idea what the guy wants with him, but since he's on death row and about to be executed, he sticks around to ask. Forney draws out the suspense, eating his last meal, talking about a chicken farmer he murdered. Lou is near the end of his rope and just wants to know what he's doing there (I get cranky after long flights, too, Lou) and Forney wants him to have patience. Easier said than done when someone just wants to shoot the breeze! We finally get down to it when Lou's old buddy Clay Maxwell comes up. (Seriously, are they still beating that dead horse? Sheesh. Give it up already! Get Lou a new crazy friend!) Anyway, seems that Clay hired Forney to kill Lou. Forney has to get some hair shaved off on the top of his head before he's executed and tells Lou that Clay offered $250,000 for the Grover hit. (At least it's a pretty good amount. Lou would have been insulted for less, I'm sure.) Aside from that, Forney can prove Clay killed Diane, but in exchange, he wants an extension on his stay of execution. Good luck getting that!

Tani and Danny are investigating a guy whose truck broke down on the Pali while he was transporting pigs and got murdered. Tani tells Danny the legend of Pele and how the goddess of fire had a relationship with a demi-god who was half-man, half-pig and they had drama and split the island in half. Since then, you can't bring pork over the Pali or an old woman and her dog will kill you. Danny isn't buying it, and is half-mocking her, but Eric comes and backs up the legend with evidence that a small person and a dog were near the murder scene.

Jerry chimes in on the case since he had his own spooky experience on the Pali. When he was young, riding his bike, the chain came off. He went to put it back on and he heard growling. He had to get the spam out of his fanny pack and throw it to the growling and pedals away. (Who randomly carries around spam? Weird.) And there have been several other reports of the same sort of phenomenon. (Jerry is also keeping on with Max's tradition of dressing up like Keanu Reeves characters and goes with a Dangerous Liaisons costume. I miss Max.) Danny gets another alert that there's been another homicide and this one is also connected to a Hawaiian legend.

New homicide was a guy found entombed in concrete in front of his home. He was killed at midnight (what was he doing pouring concrete at midnight? Random.) But he suffocated as he died in the concrete. (Didn't he have anyone miss him when he didn't come in after pouring his new sidewalk?) Anyway, according to legend, trolls on the island were expert craftsmen but they were shy and if they caught you watching them work, they turned you into stone pillars. Cue the dead guy's body that does, in fact, look like stone. Dun, dun, dun.

Steve is sitting in the back of a courtroom listening to the attorneys talk about the phone call that Alicia made before she killed Dr. Gray. They're getting to the evidence that the knife wasn't in the victim's hand and Alicia was reporting an actual murder when Tani comes in. She takes Steve in the hall and tells him about the two murders they've been investigating and how they they think it's a serial killer. Steve gets an idea and goes back to the courtroom to interrupt the trial. He whispers to the lawyer and the trial is put on hold because Five-0 needs Alicia's profiling skills. They leave and head back to HQ.

Alicia gives her professional opinion that the serial killer is patient, meticulous, and may be trying to make a statement since both victims were white men. (Even I got that much. I should have been a profiler!) She segues into her opinion that maybe Steve brought her onto this case to stop her from telling the truth about what happened with Gray. (Ya think?) He says he's not that clever, but does want to talk some sense into her. Before they can, however, Eric wants to show them some results he got. (Which were pretty sparse, actually, and he could have called and reported, but whatever) There was some DNA in the rafters at the murder scene, and he found moss and seaweed on the victim. Steve knows which legend the killer is using next and says there's going to be a kidnapping. We cut to a little girl being watched at a school playground with her costume on.  On the way to the school, Steve tells the legend of a mom who lost her child, wanders around as a ghost and takes any child.  The girl has already been snatched by the time they get there, but the team follows her cell phone. Unfortunately, they end up finding it in an abandoned backpack. The girl is now being led through the woods by a person in a hoodie and she's bound and gagged.

Jerry calls to say the DNA from the crime scene belongs to Marisa Walker, a girl who was abducted, raped, and tied to a tree twenty years ago. She was also attacked by wild boars which left her horribly disfigured and the newspapers called her half-faced girl. (Sad! Why are people so mean?) Of course that gives her motive of recreating the legends. But in a twist, the team finds out that Lacey is actually her niece. Uh oh. Marisa's sister was supposed to walk home with her the day she was abducted. She feels responsible. But the question now is, will Marisa recreate what happened to her twenty years ago on her niece? With Marisa tying the girl to the tree and telling her the monsters will be there soon, it looks like it.

The team and HPD go out with flashlights looking for the girl. Tani and Junior chat, and he finds out she's new to the team and didn't graduate the academy. Double standard, much? Junior is a highly trained SEAL forced to join HPD before he gets to join Five-0 and Tani couldn't hack the Police Academy and gets on Five-0 with barely any training. Yeah, makes no sense to me either, Junior.

Grover can't get a stay of execution, but goes to witness the death. The first electrocution doesn't kill him, so they do it again. Gruesome. As Grover is leaving, the guard gives him a letter from Forney. It's a map in the Florida Keys with confession tapes from Clay. (What a dumb newbie criminal to confess on a tape.) Lou is overcome that he finally has evidence and calls Steve to tell him. (Hopefully we can bury that old case now. Really. Please don't inflict anything to do with Clay on the audience ever again. I'm begging you, show.)

Steve is walking through the woods "looking" for the girl and chatting to Alicia. He tells her that Five-0 has immunity and means and he has no problem telling the judge she still worked for them so she can beat the murder charge. He recruited her, he brought her in, let him help. Alicia doesn't want to do that and says Steve doesn't owe her. He got her daughter back. Won't let him lie for her. Chat time comes to an end when they find an abandoned building, and it's obvious that's where Marisa has been living. It's suitably cobwebby and spooky. She even recreated her family at a table with life-size looking dolls. Creepy. Steve sees Marisa running away from the shack and gives chase. He's losing his touch, though and gets beaned over the head again when Marisa gets the drop on him. (That's like the third time this season, I think!) They lose Marisa because they don't think to look in the trees where she's hiding, but thankfully, Eddie finds the girl and she's okay. They show an emotional reunion with her mom and the team looks pleased. To top it off, Alicia gets the call that she got 18 months probation is all, since she'll be at the beck and call of Five-0. Hmmm....wonder who made that happen?

And the awkward award of the night goes to Tani when she invites Junior to grab some pancakes with her. The whole scene seemed forced and weird.

But, a week later, the kidnapped girl's mom has learned nothing! She leaves her daughter sleeping, doesn't close any blinds, and Marisa is creepily watching them through a window. I hope the mom invested in a security system or something. The least she could do is get a few blinds! Yikes.

So, they crammed in a death row story, Alicia's being put on Five-0 speed dial and getting off on her murder charge, as well as a serial killer getting away, and a kidnapped girl being found. Very ambitious!

Did you watch? What did you think? Too much or just right?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Family 4-Pack of Tickets To Forgotten Carols Giveaway!

Q&A with Michael McLean

1. What is your favorite Forgotten Carol scene?

I have so many scenes in THE FORGOTTEN CAROLS that are “favorites” for a variety of reasons. But I’m surprised, performance after performance, how often something touches me differently and teaches me something that I’ve missed in performances past. It’s the gift of doing this show for 26 years. I keep learning things, understanding things, and feeling things that bring me closer to the One Christmas is all about…the One who we remember…It’s about remembering what’s been “forgotten” when it comes to the meaning of Christmas.

2. Do you have a favorite snack you enjoy while traveling to each tour city?

I’m a diabetic, so this is sort of a trick question. I crave chocolate cake donuts, but have to eat Kind Bars. That’s the reality, but the truth is, I cheat sometimes…and take a little bit more insulin to make up for it. Don’t tell anybody.

3. What do you enjoy most when you’re on the road performing?

The older I get the more exhausting it is to be traveling from place to place…but the joy of that travel when it’s with people I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to pieces. The cast and the crew make it a joy beyond measure.

4. During the last song when the audience is hand-in-hand singing, what emotions do you feel from the stage?

When the encore segment of The Forgotten Carols happens, I find myself focusing on the meaning of “together forever”. Is it something that we hope will happen someday, somewhere down the road, or is it something we can feel right now, this moment? Some nights I feel like I should sing a different lyric for families that can’t buy in to the idea of an eternal connection, for whatever reasons, and the appropriate lyric for them would be, “We can be together, whatever, today”. Some nights, thinking about my own family and the challenges we face, those words are a great comfort and a celebration of now. I believe that what happens to me, and many people who attend The Forgotten Carols, is that together in that moment, we feel the love and peace and comfort that comes at Christmas time to remind us that we are never alone, and the One whose birth we celebrate is ALWAYS with us. Here’s a news flash for you, my blogger friends. I’M ADDING A NEW CAROL TO THE SHOW THIS YEAR that I think will shine a beautiful light on that thought. Hope y’all come and hear me sing it!!!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Freebie Friday! A Sweet New Adult Romance Being Offered Today

Michelle Pennington, an author that is new to me, but comes recommended, has a sweet new adult romance out, Before It's Love, and is offering it for free today only!

If you need a new book to read this weekend, you can try it with me and download here

Here's the back copy:

"Just Friends" was harder than they thought.

Moving to Arkansas is hard for Lauren, but it’s worth it to be near her boyfriend and pursue her art degree. That is, until she meets Jake, the guy her roommate is in love with. Now she’s stuck on a merry-go-round of love triangles, and someone is going to get hurt.

Jake is focused on juggling his two careers and taking care of his feisty grandma. The last thing he needs is a serious relationship, so when Lauren moves in, it's okay that she's dating someone else. Until being her friend is no longer enough.