Friday, July 31, 2015

Travel by the Book ~ Kauai

Welcome to Travel by the Book. I know for most of us, reading is an escape. One of the things I love about reading it getting to travel. And I'm sure I'm not the only reader who has wished to take a trip inspired by a place I read about in a book. I've been fortunate in that my Hubs is kind enough to indulge me and take me to said places. This is where I share those vacations that were inspired by a book.

***The Book***

Flirting with Forty
Flirting with Forty is probably one of those books that I happened upon at just the right time so that it resonated deeply. Jackie, the MC, has just gone through a divorce and is learning to live life as a single mom who is quickly approaching the big 4-0. She takes a trip to Hawaii and while there she takes surfing lessons...and becomes enamored with her instructor. The feelings are reciprocated and thus, Jackie begins a new life. 

I read Flirting with Forty the year I was turning 40 and although I wasn't going through the exact life changes Jackie was, I was experiencing a 'mid-life crisis' of sorts. So reading about another woman going through similar things - well, it affected me. And, of course, put Hawaii on my travel list. :) While I didn't go off to Hawaii on my own, and I didn't learn to surf or meet a much younger, hot young man, I did go to Kauai to celebrate 20 years of being married to an older, hot husband!

***The Travel***

Kauai, known as the Garden Isle, is the oldest island in Hawaii. And it's gorgeous! This is Waimea Canyon. It was created by a fault slip, rather than by water.

This is at Mount Waialeale - one of the wettest places on Earth. I believe its peak is ~5100 ft - which is over 3000 ft lower than where I live. We're looking down at the ocean.

This is a beautiful beach where we were 2 of 3 people. What?!? It's right outside of the town of Waimea.

Enjoying the beach by Kaumakani on the southwestern side of the island.

The Na Pali Coast...y'all we drove on an unimproved road, which was like driving on a washboard, parked along the side of the road once it started turning to sand, made our way over a sand dune to see this! Gorgeous!!

This is Kealia Beach and if you look carefully, you can see a surfboard sticking up out of that wave. We sat out here for hours watching the surfers as well as the surf. At one point, James asked, "Do you realize you haven't read in 3 hours?" Oh, and that a rather large piece of driftwood.

Here we are toasting to Wailua Beach. We might have had just a few beers while sitting on beaches...daily. ;)

This is Kilauea Point. It's a nature preserve and bird sanctuary. There is also a lighthouse in the background.

I have many, many more photos, of course. But I won't bore you with them all. I'll leave you with this...we didn't even scratch the surface of things to do in Kauai and we're planning to go back for our 25th anniversary. (unless our younger daughter can get daddy to take her there before then. ;)

2015 Bookish Resolutions Challenge ~ July Update

Bookish Resolution Challenge

Laura @Trips Down Imagination Lane and Michelle @Because Reading are the lovely hosts of this challenge. You can click the button above for all the details.


My 2015 Bookish Resolutions are:

  • Improve my Netgalley Rating (started at 15.2%)
  • Listen to one audio book per quarter.
  • Write more discussion posts and/or create some fun features for my blog.


Once again, I'm counting the fact that I'm listening to yet another audio book (a Maya Banks) and that I've continued with my discussion/feature posts as progress. Aaand, I also added a few reviews to Netgalley so I've raised my rating a wee bit. :) I actually have another to add. Yay!

The audio book portion of my resolutions challenge is FINISHED! I started In Bed with a Highlander by Maya Banks and I'm pretty close to finishing it. 

As for discussion posts/fun features, I continued posting my monthly Travel by the Book post as well as my Beyond the Books posts. And I've also continued my Brandee's Bookish Babble posts.

And I posted 2 reviews to Netgalley this month, raising my rating to 18%. Still pitiful, I know. But it's improving and that's the goal! :)

I'm feeling pretty good about what I've accomplished so far and I still have 5 months to go. How did y'all do in July?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

That's What HE Said #32 ~ Thirty Thursday & Hungry Hearts #11

That's What He Said is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely ladies @Chapter Break. Here's the deal: every Thursday, post a line from your book boyfriend to his heroine. Keep in mind, these are direct quotes from dialog in the books. The quote doesn't have to be romantic - just something our hunky hero said to his lucky lady. Be sure to link up over at Chapter Break as well.

My pick this week for That's What He Said is from:

Fire Inside by Kristen Ashley

I've got a new book boyfriend. (What can I say? I get around. ;) Hop Kincaid - there's just so much goody-goodness packed into this hot, mustached, motorcycle riding man!  

This is just one example of why he's my new book boyrfriend...

And then he said this...

And because I just can't help myself, one more...


When Hop decided to bring Lanie lunch, he asked what kind of sandwich she liked. Her list of combinations was lengthy and hysterical. But when your man brings you lunch with a side of thoughtful, well, let's just say he could bring me lunch any day. ;)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

#ShelfLove, #COYER Review ~ Try ~ Ella Frank

Try (Temptation, #1)Try by Ella Frank
Temptation #1
Release Date: November 12, 2013
Genre: Adult, M/M Romance
Source: Purchased on Kindle
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms

Try - verb: to make an attempt or effort to do something or in this case...someone.

Sex. Logan Mitchell loves it, and ever since he realized his raw sexual appeal at a young age, he has had no problem using it to his advantage. Men and women alike fall into his bed--after all, Logan is not one to discriminate. He lives by one motto--if something interests you, why not just take a chance and try?

And he wants to try Tate Morrison.

Just coming out of a four-year marriage with an ex-wife from hell, a relationship is the last thing on Tate's mind. He's starting fresh and trying to get back on his feet with a new job at an upscale bar in downtown Chicago.

The only problem is, Tate has caught the unwavering and unwelcome attention of Mr. Logan Mitchell - a regular at the bar and a man who always gets what he wants.

Night after night Tate fends off the persistent advances of the undeniably charismatic man, but after an explosive moment inthe bar, all best are off as he finds his body stirring with a different desire than his mind.

As arrogance, stubbornness and sexual tension sizzles between the two, it threatens to change the very course of their lives.

Logan doesn't do relationships. Tate doesn't do men. But what would happen if they both just gave in and...tried?

We've probably all met someone who's so enigmatic, so charming, who exudes confidence and sexuality so strongly that they're extremely attractive and their gender is a non-factor. Logan Mitchell is such a man. He walks into a room and electrifies it, drawing the attention of everyone. And Logan is always happy to sample - to try - anything and anyone. When he sets eyes on Tate, he sees a challenge he's only too happy and willing to accept.

Tate is coming out of a bad relationship, and that's putting it mildly. To say he's steering clear of another one would be an understatement. And he's definitely not looking to start anything with a man. But there's something about Logan that draws Tate in - makes him will to try.

Try is one of the hottest books I've ever read. The heat between Logan and Tate is palpable. And Ms. Frank did an incredible job of making me fall for and root for these two men. I could see beneath Logan's cocky facade to his insecurities about having anything real. And I could empathize with Tate in all the confusing emotions he was feeling, how he worried about changing his life for Logan is Logan wasn't going to stick around, his upset over being attracted to a man. The dynamics between these two men were riveting to witness and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how their feelings evolved. As I said, this book is hot with a capital H. But it's not only the smoking smexy scenes that had me sucking down ice water. The exchanges, interactions, the chase Logan undertook - it all was HOT. I also enjoyed the irony in that Logan was determined to get Tate to try something different and Tate ends up asking the same of Logan.

I can't stop thinking about Logan and Tate. In fact, I'm starting the second book NOW!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Teaser Tuesdays #70

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB @ A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


Hereafter (Hereafter, #1)
Hereafter Series #1

Can there truly be love after death?

Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she's dead. With no recollection of her past life - or her actual death - she's trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.

Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world...forever.

Thrilling and evocative, with moments of pure pleasure, Hereafter is a sensation you won't want to miss.


"You're fated to help me with my task--I knew it from the first moment I saw you." He shrugged again, but this time the movement looked decidedly less casual. "You have to help me, Amelia. Otherwise I'll have no choice but to trap you here and keep you from every going into the living world again..."

Monday, July 27, 2015

#ShelfLove, #2015HW Review ~ Shadow's Edge ~ J.T. Geissinger

Shadow's Edge (Night Prowler, #1)Shadow's Edge by J.T. Geissinger
Night Prowler #1
Release Date: June 12, 2012
Genre: Adult, Paranormal Romance
Source: Won from Braine @TalkSupe
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms

Leander McLoughlin is leader of the Ikati, an ancient tribe of beautiful, savage shape-shifters who live hidden in the forests of England. Their survival is rooted in secrecy, a secrecy threatened by the very existence of one raised outside the tribe. Charged with capturing her before she can expose their secret, Leander tracks the unsuspecting outsider to Southern California. The great warrior is prepared for a fight - but not for the effect the courageous young beauty has on his heart.

Jenna Moore spent her childhood in hiding, on the run from an unseen enemy. Now her mother is dead and her father has vanished without a trace, leaving Jenna alone to contend with sudden strange, superhuman abilities. When handsome, enigmatic Leander McLoughlin appears, promising answers to all of her questions, she knows she shouldn't trust him. But their connection is as undeniable as the dangerous destiny drawing her home...

This is a book I was so curious about - I won it and the next two in the series from Braine - and I was excited to read them. Why then, did I wait so long to read it? That is a mystery I can't answer. ;) But I'm thrilled I finally did read it and I won't be waiting so long to continue with the series.

Shadow's Edge puts a spin on cat mythology and secret societies and twists it together into something along the lines of The Unexpected One - ancient enemies created out of misunderstanding.

Jenna has always known she was different from other kids her age, and not only because she was faster and stronger than any of them. She lived life on the run - her family constantly moving from one location to another. Her father disappeared from her life when she was 10 and from that point forward, she watched her mom slowly die while teaching her, "if they find you, run." With her 25th birthday looming, 'they' find her. But she doesn't run.

Leander was raised knowing his place - his duty to his people, the Ikati. He was trained to follow in his father's footsteps. He had to fill the role much sooner than he'd have liked but he takes his position very seriously. He's been watching Jenna for years and comes to find her when her birthday is approaching. Their meeting sets into motion things neither could have ever predicted. And the repercussions for the Ikati will be far reaching.

The lore Geissinger built around the Ikati was fascinating. This group of powerful shifters living in hiding to protect themselves did essentially mandate they remain in the dark ages where women were concerned. That Jenna would chafe under that yoke of confinement after living free her entire life seemed natural. Leander's desire to fulfill all Jenna's wishes really demonstrated his bond with her seeing as how he was steeped in those traditions. That Jenna and Leander had a bond they could sense also added to the story as it was unusual to have a true mate. The side characters introduced, especially Morgan and Christian, were compelling. Morgan, a female Ikati living in a gilded cage, is very interesting. And Christian, the spare dealing with the feelings of being the younger brother of the Alpha would experience is also someone I want to see more of. The prejudice and animosity between the Expurgari (the enemy) and Ikati is engrossing. I like how Geissinger introduced the struggle between the two, how it is woven into the overall plot arch, and how it parallels real life. Jenna's struggle against the restraint of a patriarchy similarly mirror female struggles in real life.

Shadow's Edge was a rich, complex, and captivating introduction to this series. I was flying through the pages despite my lack of sleep. And I'm eager to continue this series.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Beyond the Books ~ Making Memories

Welcome to Beyond the Books. This post was inspired by Lexxie @Unconventional BookviewsUp Close and (Un)conventional, who was inspired by Cuddlebuggery. It's meant to be a way for y'all to get to know me better on a personal level ~ Beyond the Books. ;)


We were in Dallas (that's Texas, y'all) for a week visiting my hubs' family over the last week. (which, by the way, accounts for my radio silence AGAIN...there were wifi issues and we kept getting kicked of the internet so I just gave up) On our last day there, we spent the day at Lewisville Lake with some friends. It was a nice day, but we wouldn't have noticed the heat anyway since we were in the water. 

Being from Texas, my hubs and I spent many a summer day on a boat, in the water, skiing, tubing, and just floating. In Colorado, you don't boat. (okay, some people do...but they're probably 'high' ~ just kidding!) Getting to take our kids out on a boat to enjoy an experience like this meant a lot to us. And the kids had a blast. Our oldest said she didn't realize it would be so much fun since she was envisioning a lake like lakes in Colorado...i.e. ice cold and small. *ha* We did end up getting a little more sun than we wanted, but what's a little sunburn when you're making memories like this?!?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Author Interview & Giveaway ~ Michelle Mankin ~ Outside

Outside, the latest release from Michelle Mankin, released on the 19th. If you missed my review, you can check it out here. Today, I'm sharing my interview with Michelle as well as a couple of teasers from the book. Oh, and I'm also giving away an ebook copy of Outside. ;) Enjoy!

Hey Michelle! Thanks for letting me get inside your head for Outside. :) 

You said these were some of your favorite characters and I could feel your love for them as you told their story. Was there a specific inspiration for Mona and Linc?

As a couple together I love them the most of any I have written so far. My female narrator for my audio books inspired Simone. She sings and she has a beautifully strong steady spirit like Simone.

Can you tell us about your research? 

I watched copious amounts of youtube videos and surf competitions, wrote the rough draft, then flew to Ocean Beach, went up and down the coast to map out the band's footsteps then took a surf lesson. My surf instructor and I really bonded. And yes I have a new passion. Surfing. It is a very spiritual thing.

I adored your surfing lingo and surfing metaphors that were interspersed throughout the story. Did you do research on surfing and then write the story OR did you have the skeleton of the story and then do research to fill it in?

The Outside term I had from the beginning. The word is interspersed throughout the novel. Here let me show you. 

Outside, she drew in a deep breath of air. “I love this time of day. The salt from the ocean smells so good. I don’t know how you stay away.”

But if I was going to venture outside my comfort zone was he the guy I wanted to take a chance on?

Once outside the gate, I hooked a sharp right my feet automatically leading in the direction my heart wanted to go.

 “Come outside and talk to me a minute.” His voice was deep and tempting. “I want to ask you something.” The warmth of his breath tickled against my skin making me shiver.

I took her hand after we stepped outside into the humid air. The steady churn of the ocean was our music now.

When two girlfriends close ranks that usually puts us guys on the outside.”

I couldn’t protect her when she was in there and I was outside.

Leave the rest of the world and their expectations outside.

All metaphors for their relationship that he summarizes... 

... You were like the perfect wave but instead of turning around and swimming toward you with all I had in me I went the opposite way, the wrong way.”

I really liked the way you presented Mona and Linc's story. Was there a particular reason you chose to use the Present-Past-Present, as well as Dual POV format?

I wanted to have the mystery of what broke these two people up who have such obvious chemistry carry you threw the story... as one reviewer said reading with her hand over her eyes knowing the bad is coming...

Music plays a big role in your creative process and your books. Since Mona and Linc's musical styles differ, I was wondering if there is any specific music that served as inspiration or helped you get into your creative place for writing their story.

My audio team is writing the music right now. Kai Kennicott is bluesy ...Wen Ross is the rocker.
The music I listened to while writing is on spotify.

After combining music and surfing, I'm curious as to whether the ocean now speaks to you in the same way music does.

The ocean has always spoke to me. They say the throne room of God is surrounded by a crystal sea. That's where I will be snorkeling with underwater speakers playing rock music.

Chulo...I would be remiss if I didn't mention him. ;) He has so much personality and he's adorable! What made you decide to include him in this story? And what does his name mean?

I have been waiting for a place to fit him in. He and Simone are a natural fit. Chulo is slang for cute in Spanish.

What's next from this series?

Patch and Karen
Present Past Present
Present where Outside left off, Past beginning where Simone left the band
More surf, more Ash, Ramone, more ocean beach. more Chulo!!!

Thanks again for taking time for this!

Happy to. You ask great questions. You just reminded me that I love this story. 

***About the Book***

Rock Star, Surf, and Second Chances #1
Release Date: July 19, 2015
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ B&N

When handsome California surf god Lincoln Savage suddenly rolls into Ocean Beach like a rogue wave, shy beauty Simone Bianchi's foundation is shaken. No longer under the thumb of her domineering father, she's made a simple quiet life for herself and her fluffy fourteen pound Havanese pup running a surf shop in her hometown of OB. Long ago she gave up her dreams for a future with Linc.

But now the notorious lead singer of the Dirt Dogs has returned, and Simone is reluctant to admit that she's still vulnerable to his killer dimpled smile and easy charm. She finds that although she's stowed away the mementos, it hasn't been as easy to erase the memories of their epic summer love.

It seems he hasn't forgotten, either.

Is the recording contract he's offering merely a pretense?

Or does he have something more in mind?

Does he really believe that they can just pick up where they left off, despite all the bad luck and heartache?

And is she willing to risk everything again for one last chance at love?


The walls vibrated as soon as the spotlights hit them. Feet stomped. Fans yelled. Some even stood on their chairs. Camera lights clicked on and so did Lincoln. Brightly. He strode to the center of the stage. Confident. Compelling. Controlled. A cosmic force.

He plucked the mic from the stand, glared at the audience daring them to come along with him or get the hell out of the way, before he and the guys launched into a cover of 'Satisfaction' that kicked ass as righteously as the original.

It went uphill from there. Ramon on guitar flashing his flirt. Ash slamming sexy on his drums. Patch firm and steady on bass. And Linc my gorgeous warrior with depths of worth that he still failed to recognize eclipsing them all. The Dirt Dogs might still be a bit rough around the edges but they were undeniably on the ascent. What had started out as something to occupy their time when the surf wasn't up had transformed into a magical melange of Pacific saltwater, California sun and hard rocking in your face attitude.


michelle mankin.jpg
The best-selling author of the Black Cat Records series of novels.

Romance with subtext.

Reimagining classic stories with sexy rock stars and thought provoking issues.

Love Evolution, Love Revolution, and Love Resolution are a Brutal Strength centered trilogy, combining the plot underpinnings of Shakespeare with the drama, excitement, and indisputable sexiness of the rock 'n roll industry.
Things take a bit of an edgier, once upon a time turn with the Tempest series. These pierced, tatted, and troubled Seattle rockers are young and on the cusp of making it big, but with serious obstacles to overcome that may prevent them from ever getting there.
Rock stars, myths, and legends collide with paranormal romance in a totally mesmerizing way in the Magic series.
Catch the perfect wave with irresistible surfers in the Rock Stars, Surf and Second Chances series.
When Michelle is not prowling the streets of her Texas town listening to her rock music much too loud, she is putting her daydreams down on paper or traveling the world with her family and friends, sometimes for real, and sometimes just for pretend as she takes the children to school and back.

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