Thursday, September 22, 2016

Loot Crate: September 2016 Speed

September's Loot Crate shipment arrived today!  This months theme is SPEED!  All things fast are featured in this crate.  It's like Christmas in our house when the Loot Crate is delivered!  Everybody is so excited to see what is in it.

Here is what we got:

1.  Stark Industries racing t-shirt (from Iron Man 2)

2.  Batwing keychain - (heavy metal)

3.  Titan vinyl Battlestar Galactica Cylon Raider, Scar

4.  Flash hood ornament-style figure (magnetic).  Others may have received an Arrow hood ornament.

5.  Gone in 60 Seconds "Eleanor" die-cast car

6.  Loot Year Tire pin

The box turned into a little car.  We received a green one, but it also comes in red and blue.  Interestingly enough DD favorite color is green.  It's like this company knows her preferences!

DD was so excited that she didn't even notice me taking her picture (she hates to have her picture taken).  Ha ha, sneaky of me, I know!!  She is reading the little magazine that comes in the crate.  It gives little facts about the featured products and associated movies/comics/etc.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Review - Sweet Little Lies

Title: Sweet Little Lies
Author: Jill Shalvis
Publishing Date: 2016
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: B-
Sensuality: Hot
Book Disclosure: I checked this one out from the library.

Sweet Little Lies is the first in a new Jill Shalvis series, Heartbreaker Bay.  Just to give you a little bit of background if you are not familiar with Jill Shalvis (shame on you!), she writes awesome contemporary books set in small towns.  She gained well deserved popularity with her Lucky Harbor series, which is where I fell in love with her writing.  So back to Sweet Little Lies... Pru, a captain of a tourist boating operation, has made it her life's mission to right the wrongs her parents caused when they chose to drink and drive.  Her last operation is to make sure that hunky, bartender Finn is happy in life.  She sets out to make sure he finds happiness by falling in love, however, she certainly didn't intend for it to be herself!

What I liked.  I am super excited about all the new characters introduced in this book.  I love the little community set in San Francisco that theses characters have been able to carve out for themselves.  You have the brooding/man whore Jake, who has taken in upon himself to protect Pru.  There are several guys friends with Finn and then several girls friends with Pru.  I smell lots of sequel baiting!! Sweet Little Lies also has plenty of funny scenes where either Pru or Finn ends up in some sort of predicament. 

Why didn't I give this one a higher grade?  Well, I had a little trouble buying into Pru and Finn's romance.  I was much more interested in everything else going on in the book that the romance was secondary to me.  Also, for most of the book Pru withholds some important information about her history from Finn and that was looming over the story.  The reader is on pins and needles waiting for the big bomb to drop.  When it finally does, it is fairly predictable how Finn reacts.  It all seemed very anti-climactic and unnecessary.

Sweet Little Lies was not my favorite by Shalvis, but I am definitely interested in reading more in this series.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Registration is open for RT 2017, Hotlanta!

Steampunk Party 2015, Wizard of Oz
For the last 8 years, I have been attending the RT Book Lovers Convention.  The first one I attended in Orlando, FL and was just a short drive from where I live.  I scrimped and saved so that I could attend.  I had such a wonderful experience that I never wanted to miss it again - and to this date I have actually kept that promise! 

RT 2009: Orlando, FL
RT 2010: Columbus, OH
RT 2011: Los Angeles, CA
RT 2012: Chicago, IL
RT 2013: Kansas City, MO
RT 2014: New Orleans, LA
RT 2015: Dallas, TX
RT 2016: Las Vegas, NV

When I attended the one in Orlando, believe it or not, I did not know a single soul.  But that didn't last very long.  The very first reader event I attended was with the author Karen Rose (awesome lady by-the-way) and I was sitting by myself.  These two very nice women came up and sat next to me and offered to let me hang out with them.  Before I knew it, I was apart of a small group of awesome friends who have lifted me up over the years. 

RT is awesome!  If you love to read and want to hang out with like minded individuals, play games, take home lots of free books and meet your favorite authors, then RT is for you!!  It's a ton of fun.  This year it is going to be in Atlanta, GA May 2 -7, 2017.  They already have a few big name authors in attendance: Charlaine Harris, Janet Evanovich, Karin Slaughter, Linda Lael Miller, Brenda Jackson, Beverly Jenkins, Liliana Hart, Sylvia Day, Shayla Black, Lexi Blake, Colleen Hoover, Lara Adrian, Kristen Ashley, Cora Carmack, Suzanne Enoch, Molly Harper, Lorraine Heath, Elizabeth Hoyt, Madeline Hunter, Laura Kaye, Susanna Kearsley, Christina Lauren, Tiffany Reisz, Zane and Rebecca  Zanetti.

My free books from RT last year!!

Usually, in the evening they have fun themed parties where you can dress up in costume.  It's totally optional if you want to go dressed up or not.  Some of the costumes are pretty elaborate.  Our group usually dresses up at one of the events.  But if you aren't into that you won't feel left out.  Many people show up in jeans too.  So wear what ever makes you comfortable.

Steampunk party 2016, Alice and Wonderland

Registration is open.  You have to register before you can book your hotel room, and the rooms go fast.  If you are planning on attending, don't wait to long or you might end up at an overflow hotel or worse, paying a higher room rate fee!  Let me know if you are planning on attending and we can meet in Atlanta!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Book Club Review: Choosing Charleston

Title: Choosing Charleston
Author: Lynn T. Ocean
Publishing Date: 2014
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: B
Sensuality: Kisses
Book Disclosure: This was Colleen's pick for book club.  Lucky for us it was a free ebook.  Also, as an FYI, I am seriously behind in my reviews.  This girl has some catching up to do!

Carly Stone walks in to her house to find her husband and next door neighbor doing the horizontal mambo.  This leads quickly to a series of events in which Carly decides to move back home with her parents in Charleston to regroup and lick her wounds.  While at home, she discovers that some construction company is building a new shopping plaza right across their family's home improvement store, which is sure to put them out of business.  Not going to take things sitting down, Carly sets out to find a way to halt the construction of that new plaza.

Choosing Charleston was a light easy read.  For the most part I really enjoyed the story and thought it was a cute read.  Carly is a sensible girl and an easy heroine to like.  A series of bad things seemed to happen to her, but it doesn't get her down.  The aspect that I really liked about the story was the sense of community and family that Carly has when she returns to Charleston.  Carly has a very colorful Grandmother living with her parents who brings a lot of fun to the story.  There were a few laugh out loud moments for me in the book.  Also, there are a lot of references and sayings to Southern life, which really emphasized their lifestyle.

The only weakness that I really saw in the book, was her cheating husband.  I don't want to give too much away by going into detail.  However, he really annoyed me.  Not just his personality, but the direction his character went in the story.  I felt like he was portrayed as an evil villain.  The kind of character the would be over in the corner twirling his mustache.  It was really hard to swallow that Carly, as smart and clever as she is, could fall for someone like that and not have any clue.  It just seemed out of character for her.  Other than that one little issue I had, I really liked it.

Friday, September 2, 2016

I'm so ready for this 3 Day Weekend!

FaceTime with my Jakey-Jakes!
If you have been following my blog, you have probably come to the conclusion that I travel a lot for my job.  Right now, I am sitting in Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, waiting to board my plane home.  I have been in D.C. for the past couple of days for a work meeting.  This week has been a challenge for my Hubby and the kids and I know they are looking forward to me getting home.

School started for kids about 3 weeks ago.  Annabelle started high school, but she seems to be adjusting really well.  I am really happy about that because I was really worried about the transition from leaving her small school and going to the big high school.  The only thing that has been a challenge is having to get up really early in the morning and catch the bus on days I am not there.  The bus comes at 6:00 am.  On days I am home, DH can drop her off on the way to work.  I have called home around 8:00 pm a couple of times this week and she has already been in bed!

Jake is now in the 3rd grade.  This is a very critical year in elementary curriculum.  They have a standardized test at the end of the year to determine if they get to move on to fourth grade or not.  This means the whole year the teacher is extremely focused on making sure the students can pass the test.  Jake's homework has been challenging to say the least.  Sometimes when I have called home, he is still working on his homework.  His bedtime is 8:30, so for him to spend all evening working on homework is no fun. 

Thank God for FaceTime!!  I love that I can call home and help Jake with his homework.  I can see him and he can even hold up his worksheet so that I can see it.  It makes it seem like I am not so far away, even though I am. 

Unfortunately, my travel schedule gets worse over the next couple of weeks.  After this lovely three-day weekend that I plan to enjoy whole heartedly, I will be headed down to Naples, FL for a meeting and will leave from there to train growers in Ft. Pierce, FL Wednesday through Friday.  I will be home for one day and then I will have to turn around and fly back to Washington D.C. for another meeting.  To say I am suffering from "Mom/Wife guilt" is an understatement. 

I will say that after I get back from my second trip to D.C., I plan on taking some time off to recuperate!!!  Let's hope my flight is not delayed by the storm. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Review: Vortex

Title: Vortex
Author: Cherry Adair
Publishing Date: 2012
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: B-
Sensuality: Hot
Book Disclosure: Received a free copy at the 2016 RT convention.

Vortex is the third book in Cherry Adair's Cutter Cay series.  This series is about a family of brothers who own a treasure hunting business, as in sunken treasure.  Vortex features the oldest brother, Logan.  While Logan is out seeking a treasure near Lima, thanks to Dog, he discovers a woman in the water.  He is the hero of a romance novel, so of course he jumps in the ocean to save her!  Daniela was knocked on the head by her nefarious cousins and dumped in the ocean near Logan.  They are hoping she can provide Logan clues as to where the treasure is located and then swoop in and take it once Logan does all the hard work. 

Logan never trusts anyone and he can smell a lie a mile away.  To say Daniela is lying would be an understatement.  The thing is, she is genuinely afraid of something so Logan's protective instincts are in full swing.  I love a protective hero and I think readers will genuinely enjoy Logan's overprotective side when it comes to Daniella.  He can be a little heavy handed, but Daniella is no wilting wall flower and can stand her ground. 

Cherry Adair's books are guilty pleasures for me.  They really are over the top in lots of different ways.  There is always a lot of action, usually resulting in explosions of some kind or gun fights, etc.  The male heroes are larger than life, very protective and rich beyond belief.  The women are in need of rescue.  I am a sucker for this kind of a read!  It is total escapism. 

I have read all the books in the series so far and am enjoying them for what they are: fun, adventurous, sexy reads.  If you want something deep and meaningful, this is not for you, lol!!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Travel Adventures: Gaylord Palms Resort, Orlando

Beautiful walkway area in the courtyard
(and Pokémon Stop, LOL)
The nice thing about living in Winter Haven, is that we are a hop, skip and a jump from good ol' Orlando, Florida; one of the most sought after family destinations in the world.  It's always fun to get away for the weekend and since we live so close, it is very convenient.  My good friend Amber, also has a son the same age as mine.  (She is in book club with me) and she suggested we stay at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee for a mommy/son weekend.  I had never stayed at this resort before, and let me tell you, it is absolutely stunning!!!  OMG!! I will definitely be coming back.

Gaylord Palms in Orlando is famous for it's holiday event, ICE!  If you have never heard of ICE!, it is an indoor wonderland where they feature beautiful ice sculptures and ice slides.  It is neat to go see it at least once, if you haven't done so.  Of course, since we were there in August, this event was not happening at this time.  The resort is very unique in that it has a beautiful glassed-in atrium that allows for many beautiful stone walkways that feature native floral and fauna of Florida.  There is even a section that houses small alligators.  We were able to watch them get fed on Saturday night.

Alligator feeding

There are three different sections in the resort, all of which make up a side of the atrium to form a central courtyard area.  The sections are the Everglades, St. Augustine and Key West.  Our room was located in Key West.  Each area has shops and restaurants.  It amazed me how big the hotel was.  It really was like it's own little city.  We walked around quite a bit, and they boys had fun playing Pokémon Go.  There are quite a few stops on the property!

Since we went in the off season, it wasn't very crowded at all.  I imagine in peak summer and holiday, it would be very crowded.  When we checked in on Saturday, they had a room ready for us at 11:00 AM and check in is usually not until 4:00 PM.  There are two pools, one that is adults only and the other for families.  The family pool had a water playground area which has four water slides.  We spent pretty much all Saturday at the family pool area.  Amber and I spent time catching up on our reading and chatting while the boys played.  Later that night we had dinner in the Moor restaurant, which was the main restaurant in the Key West area.  It's deck is shaped like a boat, which you could see from our balcony.  Did I mention that the rooms had balconies?  I'm telling you, I felt like a queen all weekend!

View from our balcony of Moor restaurant

Gaylord Palms is a gorgeous property.  Whether you are on a family vacation or a romantic getaway, this resort has it all.  I am definitely going to come back and bring the Hubster, sans kiddos!