Friday, September 30, 2016

Blog Ahead 2016 Goal and Progress Post

 Anna over @ herding cats and burning soup (fab blog, ladies and gents, you should totally check it out if you haven’t done so!) is once again hosting her Blog Ahead Event. And I do love this event because it helps me to stay sane while blogging.

The goal is to have 30 posts scheduled in 31 days. I’m hoping to manage a few more posts as well as have some finished posts saved in my drafts just for days when something goes awry with a guest post. Here is where I'll keep my progress.
Goal: 30 Posts
Prescheduled Posts as of 9/30/2016: 0

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Roman's Choice by Rhonda Lee Carver

Roman Jericho, and his brothers, are known in Texas for their striking good looks and skill as ranchers--among other things that keep the ladies hot on their tails. The last thing Roman wants, or needs, is another marriage that ends with an empty bank account and bed so he steers clear.
Relationship Guru, Pippa Wilder, is at the top of her career. Two bestselling, self-help books and speaking engagements all over the country, she offers advice that saves marriages. But if only her fans knew how upside down her own love life is. Relationship after relationship fizzled. When she sees tall, strapping, and handsome stroll into the lobby at the Vegas casino, she drops all logic into the slot, pulls the lever and watches her life spin in front of her. She's lost in smoky blue eyes and callused hands--and that husky Texas twang.
After falling in lust, they do something real crazy. They find themselves drunk on hormones, standing before an Elvis impersonator getting hitched. When all hell breaks loose in the media, to save her career Pippa must save her marriage.
Roman has always been the 'go-with-the-flow' type so when his 'wife' shows up on his ranch needing his help he's more than willing to oblige--especially if it means they'll be husband and wife in every way. He's got it bad for the petite, spitfire and can't seem to get enough.
Finding themselves smack-dab in the spotlight and on the cover of trash magazines, Roman isn't sure he's cut out to be in the public eye--he wants his wife, but he refuses to be called Mr. Pippa Wilder. Roman realizes it's time to make a choice...or take the lead. This could be fun, or very messy.
Series: Saddle's and Second Chances #1 |Genre: Contemporary Romance| Source:  Author| Rating: 3 Cups

Roman’s a former rodeo star and Pippa’s a relationship expert. They meet by chance, spend a sex-filled night together, then wake up married. When Pippa comes to her senses, she decides it would be best if they file for divorce, after all how would it look if a relationship guru marries a guy she just met? Although when it’s brought to Pippa’s attention that it would be better for her career if she stayed married, she heads to Roman’s ranch to convince him to give their marriage a try.


I was really looking forward to because it had potential to be grand. She’s a city slicker moving to a working ranch because she married a cowboy in Vegas. That could have been really interesting but, sadly, I struggled with this one.


I couldn’t really get behind Pippa. She just seemed extremely selfish to me and willing to do what she could to further her career and not look bad in the media. If the roles were reversed and Roman had to went to Pippa asking to stay together for the sake of his career, I have a feeling should would have said no. She just seemed like a user to me.


I liked Roman to a point. He, along with his brothers, run a working ranch and lookout for their little niece. His first marriage was a train wreck and he’s still dealing with some of the fallout. He’s a protector and willing to help those around him. Roman just seems a good guy but he also allows Pippa to walk over him and that just annoyed me. I wanted to shake him and tell him that she was just using him.


Their relationship seemed a bit off kilter to me. I didn’t feel the chemistry or the connection between them and  I think it came from the fact it seemed like Pippa was doing things just to further her career. I also struggled with the fact that, rather than talking things out, they just jumped into bed.


Overall, while I liked aspects of this novel, Pippa just sort of ruined it for me.

Do you struggle with a book when
you don’t like one of the characters?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday {53}: Death and the Gravedigger’s Angel by Loretta Ross

  “Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


I just recently discovered this series and I have to say I’m loving it. It’s cozy mystery series but it’s a bit different from the ones I’ve read it the past and the characters are so unique. I just wish February wasn’t so far off…

Title: Death & the Gravedigger's Angel
Series: An Auction Block Mystery #3
Author: Loretta Ross
Release Date: February 8, 2017
When former army medic Tony Dozier is accused of killing a member of the hate group that disrupted his wife's funeral, the prosecution charges premeditated murder and the defense claims temporary insanity. Former marine Death Bogart and auctioneer Wren Morgan think there's more to the story.
They're both led to the long-abandoned Hadleigh House, where Wren begins preparing the contents for auction but ends up searching for the story behind an antique sketchbook. As Wren uncovers the century-old tale of a World War I soldier and his angel, Death finds a set of truths that will change...or end...their lives.

What are you lovelies waiting on?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Next Always by Nora Roberts

The historic hotel in Boonsboro has endured war and peace, changing hands, even rumored hauntings. Now it’s getting a major facelift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother. Beckett is the architect of the family, and his social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there’s another project he’s got his eye on: the girl he’s been waiting to kiss since he was fifteen.


After losing her husband and returning to her hometown, Clare Brewster soon settles into her life as the mother of three young sons while running the town’s bookstore. Busy, with little time for romance, Clare is drawn across the street by Beckett’s transformation of the old inn, wanting to take a closer look . . . at the building and the man behind it.


With the grand opening inching closer, Beckett’s happy to give Clare a private tour - one room at a time. It’s no first date, but these stolen moments are the beginning of something new - and open the door to the extraordinary adventure of what comes next . . .


Series: Inn Boonsboro #1 | Publisher: Brilliance Audio | Narrator: MacLeod Andrews |Length: 11 hours and 21 minutes | Genre:  Contemporary Romance| Source: Audible | Rating: 3.5 Cups

Challenges Read For:  Reading Through Nora Roberts

So, I’m slowly—very slowly, kind of like turtle speed slow—reading through Nora Robert’s backlist.
I was a bit hesitant dipping into the Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy. I had heard mixed reviews about this series so I wasn’t really sure what to expect but for some reason, while browsing through Audible trying to use up my monthly credit from the membership I received for my birthday, the cover for The Next Always caught my eye. And I’m really glad I gave it a go.
Here’s what’s going on: Beckett’s an architect working alongside his brothers and mother to restore the historic Boonsboro inn. He always been lucky with the ladies except for with Clare, who he’s had a crush on since he was a teenager. Six years ago, after the death of her husband, Clare returned to her hometown to open a bookstore. Taking care of her three boys and running her own business keeps her on her toes, so dating hasn’t been her top priority until she starts to get reacquainted with Beckett.
I loved Beckett. He’s sweet, kind, caring, protective, and willing to take on Clare’s brood of boys. He’s also willing to let Clare set the pace of the relationship since she’s still getting over the death of her husband. He’s also made friends with the inn’s resident ghost, which he calls ‘Lizzie’ because she haunts the Elizabeth and Darcy suite.
I liked Clare but there were a few times that I wanted to shake some sense into her. I understand that she’s used to doing things on her own so it’s going to take some time for her to allow Beckett to help her, but considering that someone was, in a sense, stalking her it just sort of became annoying.
Beckett and Clare had a nice connection. It was fun watching them fall in love with each other and watching their chemistry grown. Their relationship was the slow burn type but it worked for them.
While I enjoyed watching Beckett and his brother’s fix up the inn, all of the details of the renovation seemed to bog down the plot. I could have had done with less talk about the renovation and more focus on the characters although the inn is an actual inn that Nora Roberts owns, so I can see why she put so much detail in.
This was my first time listening to a book narrated by MacLeod Andrews and it took a bit of time to get used to his style of narration. While he does an amazing job with Beckett and his brothers, his female narration style is a bit whiney as was the narration for Clare’s sons.
Overall, I enjoyed this one. I could have done with a little less detail about the inn, but I’m eager to see how the next two books unfold.  

Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy
3-The Perfect Hope 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Audiobook Review: Death and the Redheaded Woman by Loretta Ross

When auctioneer Wren Morgan begins cataloging the contents of the Campbell mansion, she's unprepared to find something that can't be appraised - a dead man. After the body turns out to be a criminal with ties to a recent jewel heist, Wren comes face-to-face with Death Bogart. A private eye and part-time bounty hunter, Death is searching for the stolen jewels needed to convict a murderer.


Death finds a friend and willing ally in Wren, but they aren't the only ones searching for treasure. Two ruthless men are also on the hunt, and they will do anything to eliminate the competition. To survive, Death and Wren must solve two mysteries spanning a century and a half and outwit a pair of cold-blooded killers.


Series: Auction Block Mysteries #1| Publisher: Audible | Narrator: Amanda Ronconi | Length: 7 hours 19 minutes | Genre: Cozy Contemporary Mystery | Source: Audible | Ratings: Performance 4.5 Cups Story 4 Cups
Missing Civil War era jewels, a jewel heist, a string of murders, and a handsome and clever Marine-turned-private-eye, how could I not love this book?
Here’s what’s going on. When Wren stumbles upon a naked dead guy while cataloging the Campbell mansion for Keystone and Sons Auction House, she never imagined it would lead her straight to Death (pronounced Deeth) Bogart, a Marine turned private eye/bounty hunter who is searching for a set of stolen jewels that will convict a murderer. Deciding to work together, Wren and Death soon find themselves growing closer as they try to crack a mystery from the Civil War. Although first they must survive a pair of murderers hot on their trail.
I really enjoyed Wren. She’s quirky, determined, collects unique objects, seems fun to be around, and she uses an atlatl (a spear thrower) on the baddie. She’s also realistically flawed, which I really enjoyed. She’s had a few problems in the past that were addressed but I feel like there’s still a lot more to be learned about her. Death totally rocks. He’s a Marine that’s been medically discharged so he’s turned Private Eye/bounty hunter. There’s a lot that Death’s dealing with personally. He’s struggling with not being able to physically do what he used to because of the injuries he sustained during combat, he’s dealing with his ex-wife who cheated on him, and the fact that his family died while he was overseas. He doesn’t allow those things to bring him down and I loved watching him use his mind rather than his strength to accomplish tasks.
While I thought that Death and Wren were amazing together and had great chemistry, their relationship lacked the developmental stage. It went from them meeting to them suddenly entering into a relationship where they lived together with nothing in between. It never felt forced or fake, just lacking. I could understand the instant relationship if they had previously known each other but they didn’t so a little getting to know each other would have been nice.
The mystery aspect really intrigued me. Given that this was a cozy mystery and the first thing that’s mentioned in the book is Wren finding a dead body, I expected this to be a murder mystery so that fact that it was about two sets of missing jewels was different and exciting. So, this isn’t a whodunit type of cozy but rather a where is it and will they find it type of cozy mystery.
There’s two sets of jewels missing. The first is a set of jewelry from the Civil War era that the mistress of the house hide and the only potential clue to their whereabouts is the ramblings of a dying woman. The second is a more recent set that were part of a jewelry heist. I really enjoyed watching Wren and Death putting the clues together and it was interesting where the jewels actually turned up.
Along with the mystery and the romance, there’s an entire cast of fun and quirky secondary characters in the form of the Keystone family. Although they’re not related to Wren, they look out for as though she’s family and they were quick to accept Death as well.
While the mystery of jewels is tied up, this book ends with the start of a mystery pertaining to the death of Death’s brother Randy and I’m eager to see how that goes.
What drew me to this book was the fact Amanda Ronconi narrated it. Like always, she did a brilliant job bringing the characters to life. She truly knows how to put heart and soul into what she’s narrating.
Overall, other than the instant relationship between Death and Wren, this book was a brilliant start to a cozy mystery series. The pacing is brilliant and there’s no information dump bogging down the plot. I can’t wait to read more of this series.

The Auction Block Mystery Series

#1—Death and the Redheaded Woman

#3—Death and the Gravedigger’s Angel

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Rainforest Escape Coloring Book Review

Explore and Relax in the Colorful Beauty of Rainforest Animals, Birds and Plants


Enter the inky jungle of Rainforest Escape and let your imagination and pencil roam wild. As you color in the rich flora and fauna of the tropics, you can practically hear the tree frogs croaking and the soft whir of the hummingbirds’ wings. Inspired by her native Trinidad and Tobago, award-winning illustrator Jade Gedeon takes you on a journey to a breathtaking world of natural beauty.


Bring the tropical designs and your artistry to life by coloring or painting the vivid hues of leatherback turtles and island birds, as well as lush rainforest scenes and unique flowers. The patterns will take you away from the stress of the real world and give your mind a mini-vacation.


Use colored pencils, pens, markers and even paints on the high-quality premium art paper. The lay flat binding stays open for easy use anywhere. Tear out the finished designs from the perforated edges and display your personalized artwork for all to enjoy. With a wide range of full-page illustrations plus bonus foldout poster pages, you can create an immersive nature experience while traveling or right in your own home. See what beauty and adventures await inside Rainforest Escape.


Illustrator: Jade Gedeon | Publisher: Page Street Publishing | Source: Publisher | Rating: 2.5 Cups

I was really surprised when this coloring book showed up in the post for review. I never realized that they had watercolor coloring books, so I was eager to give this one a go.


The designs in the book are, of course, all centered on the rainforest theme so there’s birds, flowers, sea-life, water, and few whimsical images. The graphics vary in this book. Some are enlarged thumbnail sketches, some are basic outlines, then, unfortunately, some images have so many shading lines in them it ruins the image, especially since this book was meant for watercolor. Some of the images could probably take days to color while other will only take ten to fifteen minutes.


The images are one sided, which is nice if you wanted to use markers or hang up the images. The pages are perforated, which comes in handy because throughout the book there are 10 foldout drawings, so perforation comes in handy when coloring the foldouts.  


In the back of the book, there is 8 of the images shrank down with captions alongside them. I really liked the captions because they told what each image was and offered a few facts about them. It would have been nice if each of the images had captions on the back.


As excited as I was about this being a watercolor book, I wasn’t very impressed with the quality of the watercolor paper. I was especially disappointed because the cover states that this is a ‘high-quality’ watercolor paper and while it’s nice, it’s not actually ‘high-quality’. The paper is actually a medium weight, cream colored, wood-pulp based ‘cold-pressed’ paper. The surface is semi-rough and does have a small tooth.


I’ve noticed that when I’ve attempted to use a watercolor wash for the background it appears that there’s something on the paper and the watercolor doesn’t adhere to parts of the page. Another thing to note is that the cream color of the paper leans more towards the yellow scale, so the pigments of the watercolors often take on a slightly different hue. I strongly suggest removing a sheet from the book and using it as a test page.


Colorist should also note that there are two sides to this paper—one smooth and one rough—so pay attention when coloring because not all images are printed on the rough side. 


I played around with different mediums, even though this is a watercolor book, to see which ones and in what form they worked the best. Here’s what I found out.


Pencils—because the paper has a tooth to it, pencils are a bit tricky to use. I would recommend using a wax-based pencil as the core is softer. If you’re using standard colored pencils, I would recommend making sure your pencils are blunt to keep from tearing the paper. I found they work the best on the images printed on the smooth side.


Markers—BICs and Sharpies do bleed slightly so I recommend not going all the way to the edge. Fineliners do not bleed but they can also catch on the paper, so go lightly when using these. If using markers or fineliners, remember to put a piece of paper or cardstock behind the page your coloring to catch anything that bleeds through.


Gel pens—these work on both the rough and smooth pages. Metallic and glitter gel pens work the best. The milky or neon gel pens leave a streaky look.


Watercolors—pans and pencils actually work the best. Although the key to not balling up the paper is making sure your brush is damp as opposed to being wet.


While this paper does have a tooth, it’s not raised enough to contain the watercolors. If you’re not careful, the watercolors will actually ‘walk’ and often bleed into other images. If using watercolors, I highly recommend working on small portions at a time then allow them to dry before moving one.


Overall, I wasn’t that impressed by this book  and I don’t think this book is for everyone or beginners. The images are great; I just wasn’t impressed with the paper.


Have you tried watercolor paper?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Audiobook Review: Ghost of a Chance by E.J. Copperman

Alison Kerby’s guesthouse is haunted all year round. Surviving the dead of winter, though? That’s a spooky proposition. Even with a blizzard bearing down on New Jersey, Alison can count on at least two guests—Paul and Maxie, the stubborn ghosts who share her shore town inn. Then there’s her widowed mother, who hasn’t just been seeing ghosts, she’s been secretly dating one: Alison’s father. But when he stands her up three times in a row, something’s wrong. Is he a lost soul…or a missing apparition? Their only lead is an overdramatic spirit—stage name Lawrence Laurentz—who doesn’t take direction well and won’t talk until they find his killer. Alison will reluctantly play the part of PI, but when the clues take a sinister turn, the writing is on the wall: If Alison can’t keep a level head, this will be her father’s final act—and maybe her own.


Series: Haunted Guesthouse #4| Publisher: Audible | Narrator: Amanda Ronconi | Length: 9 hours 29 minutes | Genre: Cozy Paranormal Mystery | Source: Publisher | Rating: 2 Cups
Alison’s mother, Loretta, has been keeping a secret. She’s been secretly seeing her deceased husband, Jack, once a week. Although when Lawrence Laurentz shows up in Jack’s place claiming he’s holding Jack until Loretta makes her daughter prove someone murdered him. Now Loretta has no choice to go to her daughter for help. Alison must figure out who murdered Lawrence if she wants to know what happened to her father.
I’ve really been enjoying the Haunted Guesthouse series but I just didn’t mesh with this one. There’s so much going on in this book and with the characters it sort of left me feeling a bit frazzled.
Throughout the series, it’s been common knowledge that Jack, Alison’s father, is a ghost and that her mother can see him but for some reason he’s been keeping himself hidden from Alison and her daughter. So when Alison learns that her mother has been have weekly visits with her father, she feels betrayed but when Lawrence appears claiming that he’s keeping Jack hidden, she knows she needs to push those secrets aside and focus on finding her father. There’s a lot of emotional stuff she needs to figure out.
Then we have the introduction of Josh, a childhood friend of Alison’s, who was brought back into Alison’s life through the investigation into her father’s disappearance. They have amazing chemistry but sadly, there was so much going on in the book that the relationship angle wasn’t really fleshed out. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing more of him in the future.
The other characters, except Paul, just seemed to be overly annoying in this book. I really used to like Maxie and could overlook her ways but she was just exceedingly childish in this book. Then we have Jeanie, Alison’s best friend, who have a case of overprotective mother syndrome and it was starting to grind on my nerves.
So, the mystery was interesting but the suspect list really could have been narrowed down a bit. There were so many suspects introduces who had their own mini-problems that it made the mystery suffer.
Then we have the deal with Alison’s dad and I have to say, it was a letdown. The ending just felt off kilter.
Amanda Ronconi, the narrator, was brilliant as always and she was what kept me listening to the book.  
Overall, this was just didn’t work for me. It was overpopulated with secondary characters and the ending fell flat.

 Haunted Guesthouse Series

The Thrill of the Haunt
Inspector Spector
Ghost in the Wind


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Special Effects Velvet Texture Nail Color by Sally Hansen

Brand: Sally Hansen
Collection: Fabric-Inspired Special Effects Velvet Texture
Shade: 670 Lavish    
Source: Sally Beauty Box
What it states: No messy or loose powder necessary to create the lush velvet-like finish you've always wanted. Sally Hansen brings you Velvet Texture in a bottle--just two coats of Sally Hansen Special Effects Velvet Texture Nail Color are all you need for a sophisticated look.
•Plush, velvet look
•Easy to apply
•Eight stylish shades
Have I used this product before? No
Price: Ranges between $5.99-$9.99
Availability: Very limited. Finding this at local shops was pretty much hit and miss and when I was able to find it, the color choices was limited to two or three colors.

My Thoughts: My first thought when I spotted this in my Sally Beauty Box was that I loved the color, so I was really impressed when it stayed true to the color after it dried.


When I first applied the polish, I followed the directions: 1. Shake gently. 2. Apply one coat. Allow to dry completely. 3. Apply 2nd thin coat. The textured appeared after the first coat dried but when I applied the second thin coat it gave the polish a glossy appearance. I removed the polish and started again. This time I applied a heavy first coat, forgot the second, and found that I really liked the texture of it.


I wouldn’t actually call the texture ‘velvet’. It’s more of an extra-matte texture. The polish isn’t heavy on my nails, but if you’re not used to wearing matte polishes, it could take some time to get used to.  


My only problem with this polish was the fact it doesn’t really have staying power. Two days tops then it starts chipping.


Would I buy it? Even though it doesn’t last long, I really like the color so yes, I would buy it. I would also like to try the black.


Have you tried the velvet or the matte nail polishes?