Sunday, October 13, 2019

Key's Locals Restaurant Review - Ziggie & Mad Dog's Restaurant

Okay.  The name sounds a bit strange, but I'll explain that.  In the meantime, just know that the food and the atmosphere are wonderful!

We are back to trying out local eating establishments, even the ones that have been around for a long time.  So watch my blog and join our journey!

A bit of history about Ziggie & Mad Dog's Restaurant:  
The structure was transformed into a small restaurant in the 1950's after serving as an outbuilding for a pineapple plantation back in the 1930's.  In 1962 it was turned into a restaurant and the legendary Ziggie's Conch was born.  But there is more history here that just that!

The Miami Herald, back in 1948, reported stories of police shoot outs with gamblers and shady characters referred to as "the new Capone gang".  It was said that Al Capone was a part of the high-stakes card games and casino action held in the back building.  Ziggie himself was a notorious gambler and drifter.  Rumer has it that John Huston got the idea for the movie "Key Largo" while gambling at a casino Ziggie was known to have frequented.  Ziggie's Conch became quite popular as a fine food establishment throughout the Florida Keys.

Then in 2005, Jim "Mad Dog" Mandich of Miami Dolphin fame, and his long time business partner purchased the legendary Ziggie's.  After some extensive renovations, Ziggie & Mad Dog's was born.  The original bar, the slate wainscot and terrazzo have all been refurbished with great care.

Today, Ziggie and Mad Dog’s has become a destination steak house… one of the finest in South Florida! Ziggie and Mandich’s culinary influence are on display even today with some of their favorite dishes still on their menu.
My Review:
We stopped in to check out this restaurant a couple of nights ago.  We had been here many, many, many years ago and weren't terribly impressed, but so many people highly recommended it that we thought we would give it another try.  I'm so glad we did!
We arrived without reservations, but were politely seated anyway.  I would highly recommend that you have reservations, especially during the "season".  The tables were covered with white linen and looked quite inviting, but so did the bar area with the happy customers standing around having a few drinks.  The menu looked great and it took us a while to make our decisions.  Our waitress, a delightful young lady named Becky, told us the night's specials and I chose filet mignon, served with a whole tomato stuffed with brie cheese and spinach.  Oh my goodness!  It was sinfully delicious!  
My husband chose Big Ben's Smothered Medallions, filet mignon medallions topped with carmalized onions and stilton blue cheese with an awesome au poivre sauce poured over it.  Again, although I am not a blue cheese fan, my husband absolutely loved it!  The Au Gratin Potatoes he ordered as a side dish was large enough to share... and then some!  Oh!  And the bread!  We were served a whole round loaf of warm bread, right out of the oven. It was served with soft honey butter.
The restaurant is a bit pricey, but definitely worth it for a nice night out. The service was impeccable!  Becky, our server, was wonderful and the young man filling the water glasses and clearing the table was definitely on the ball, never letting that glass get empty.
You can find Ziggie & Mad Dog's at 83000 Overseas Highway in Islamorada, Florida.  Check out their website at www.ziggieandmaddogs.com 

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

UPCOMING EVENTS

I love going to Book Signings and Book Conventions!  I meet the most interesting people there!

As 2019 will be winding down soon and I will need time to prepare for the holidays, my last major event for the year will be on November 1 & 2 in Huntington, West Virginia.  Will I see you there at Rebels & Readers?



I already have a pretty busy schedule set up for 2020.  I'll let you know more about those events after the holidays!  Hope to see you there!

Psst.... I may have some exciting news to share with you soon too!



Monday, October 7, 2019

Book Review - LIFE AFTER PERFECT (Book 1 of 3 in Boot Creek) by Nancy Naigle

Title: Life After Perfect
Author: Nancy Naigle
Genre: Womens Fiction
Release Date: May 19, 2015


About the Book:
Katherine Barclift had it all: the perfect job, the perfect car, and what she thought was the perfect marriage. But when her entire world collapses in one stomach-churning instant, she hits the road and keeps driving until that so-called “perfect life” is just a dot in her rearview mirror.
A chance encounter leads her to make a pit stop in Boot Creek, a drowsy little North Carolina town where she can call herself Katy, soak up the peace and quiet…and drink in the bluer-than-blue eyes of Derek Hansen, a local doctor still wrestling with his own painful past. Both Katy and Derek are wary about giving romance another shot, but they can’t deny the intense attraction between them. And if being in Boot Creek has taught them anything, it’s to take life as it comes and never pass up a chance at true love…no matter how wounded your heart may be.

Buy Links: Amazon 
Note:  If you have Kindle Unlimited, this is currently free!  Also available on Audible for a reduced fee.

My Review:

"Life After Perfect" is one of those books you want to dive into.  And by that, I mean you want to pack your bags and move to the small town of Boot Creek.  Such awesome characters!  Who would not want these people for neighbors!!  Loved it!

Nancy Naigle brings these characters to life so vividly that the reader begins to believe they are real.  Their heartfelt stories make you want to go hug someone... now!  Dealing with the heartache of betrayal, Katy begins to realize that her "perfect" life had never been what she thought it was.  Getting away from it all, she begins to build a new life.  Not her original intent, but fate stepped in to bring about a bit of happiness in a town where people truly care about each other.  I just love second chance romances!

Great story that I highly recommend for some sweet romance.


My Rating:

About the Author:
USA Today bestselling author Nancy Naigle whips up small-town love stories with a dash of suspense and a whole lot of heart. She began her popular contemporary romance series, Adams Grove, while juggling a successful career in finance and life on a seventy-six-acre farm. She went on to produce works in collaboration with other authors, including the hilarious southern fiction G Team series. A Romance Writers of America Honor Roll author, her books have been translated in multiple languages and received favorable reviews from major trade journals.

In 2018, Crown Media brought two of Nancy's novels to life. Christmas Joy premiered on Hallmark Channel 11/3/18. Hope at Christmas premiered on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. She also novelized two Hallmark Original Movies set in the town of Evergreen, bringing the whole story and bonus epilogues to Hallmark fans.

Now happily retired from a career in the financial industry, she devotes her time to writing, antiquing, and horseback riding with friends. A Virginia girl at heart, Nancy now calls North Carolina home.

Download a complete list of Nancy's books at www.NancyNaigle.com, then stay up to date with future releases by joining Nancy's free newsletter -or-visit her on facebook and twitter (@nancynaigle)

And if you would like to meet Nancy Naigle in person, come find her at the Coastal Magic Convention in Daytona Beach in February 2020!  Find out more at CoastalMagicConvention.com  



Saturday, September 28, 2019

Book Blitz & Giveaway - PAST THIS POINT by Nicole Mabry


Past This Point
Nicole Mabry
Publication date: September 3rd 2019
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Thriller, Women’s Fiction
Karis Hylen has been through the New York City dating wringer. After years of failed relationships, she abandons her social life and whittles her days down to work and spending time with her dog, Zeke. Her self-imposed exile ends up saving her life when an untreatable virus sweeps the east coast, killing millions.
Alone in her apartment building, Karis survives with only Zeke, phone calls to her mom, and conversations with two young girls living across the courtyard. With the city in a state of martial law, violence and the smell of rotting corpses surround her every day. But her biggest enemy is her own mind. As cabin fever sets in, vivid hallucinations make her question her sanity.
In addition to her dwindling food and water stash, Karis must now struggle to keep her mind in check. When a mysterious man enters the scene, she hopes she can convince him to help her make it to the quarantine border. With the world crumbling around her, Karis discovers her inner strength but may find that she needs people after all.
EXCERPT:
I started at Kirk’s apartment since it was across the hall from mine. In spite of the proximity of our apartments, I rarely saw Kirk. He was a quiet man who usually just nodded to me and only became garrulous when talking about renovations to his apartment. I pulled the collar of my sweatshirt up over my face and knocked softly. After a few seconds, I knocked again, louder. I pressed my ear to the door, but all I heard was a vehicle racing down our street.
I walked down one flight and knocked on the door of apartment four, which was directly beneath mine. I often speculated about the resident, middle-aged Tom, who had an impressive handlebar mustache, and his mysterious movements. I only saw him once every other month or so, and a few times, he had been with younger women. He always wore a suit, so I imagined he was a traveling salesman. But I also thought he could be married and using the small apartment as his love nest. I knocked and listened. No answer. I wondered if he was away on a sales trip and had managed to avoid the whole debacle.
I walked the few feet to apartment five, where a gay couple lived. Out of everyone, I’d chatted with Terrence and Eric the most over the years, but I hadn’t seen either of them in at least a month because they had a condo in Florida where they spent most of the winter months. I knocked four separate times, waiting for an answer and hoping I wasn’t completely alone. But my knocks went unanswered.
I ran down to the second floor and knocked at apartment two, where a single woman named Barb lived. When there was no answer, I put my ear against the door. The low sounds of a TV resonated through the door. Barb coughed, and I jumped back quickly, my back hitting the door of apartment three. My heart was beating as quickly as a bird caged in my chest. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. Turning around, I knocked loudly on Kelly’s door, not expecting an answer. After my expectations proved correct, I went down to the solitary first-floor apartment, which belonged to Mr. Tablock. He was over eighty years old and had lived in the building for forty years. I’d seen his live-in Haitian nurse, Regine, in the hallway from time to time, taking out the trash. I used to ask her how he was doing, but her response was always the same: “He’s getting old, but he’s got spunk.” I stopped asking and just said hello. I pounded on the door, praying Regine and Mr. Tablock were still there and not sick. But all was quiet. Besides infected Barb, I was alone.


Author Bio:
Nicole Mabry spends her days at NBCUniversal as the Senior Manager of Photography Post Production. Her nights are reserved for writing novels. At the age of seven, she read The Boxcar Children, sparking a passion for reading and writing early on. Nicole grew up in the Bay Area in Northern California and went to college at UCLA for Art History. During a vacation, she fell in love with New York City and has lived in Queens for the past sixteen years. On weekends you can find her with a camera in hand and her dog, Jackson, by her side. Nicole is an animal lover and horror movie junkie.

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Thursday, September 26, 2019

Book Review & Giveaway - TO KILL A FAE (The Dragon Portal Series, Book 1) by Jamie A. Waters


To Kill a Fae
Jamie A. Waters
(The Dragon Portal Series, #1)
Publication date: September 26th 2019
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
The darkness holds more than just secrets…

Marked for death, Sabine escaped from her home and fled to a human city.
But the Wild Hunt will never give up.
For more than a decade, she’s kept her head down and avoided talking about her past.
Even the best-laid plans eventually fall apart…

When a charismatic stranger arrives, Sabine is unwittingly drawn to him and his power. Keeping her distance is nearly impossible, especially after a life debt is called due and she’s tasked with helping him steal a rare artifact.
In order to break the magical barriers protecting the item and save her companions, Sabine will be forced to drop her glamour and reveal her true identity.
The Fae aren’t the only ones hunting her.
And the most dangerous monsters aren’t always confined to the dark.
EXCERPT:
Sabine tensed, scanning the dead-end alleyway for a place to hide. If they climbed the trellis again, they’d be spotted. It was too risky to try to use her magic to shroud them from view, but if the guards turned around, they’d be in clear view. It was unlikely the guards would trouble her too much, but Dax would kill Malek if he found out he’d accompanied her. Not even her mark on Malek’s wrist would stop him.
Yanking off her heavy cloak, she tied it around her waist to cover her weapons and give the appearance she wore a dress. With her hair unbraided and covering her ears, it might be enough for the guards to overlook them. At the very least, they might not recognize her right away and would assume they were two lovers engaging in a quick tryst in the alley. Malek’s expression became quizzical, but she ignored him and gripped his shirt tightly.
“Kiss me,” she whispered urgently, aware they only had seconds to pull off this ruse.
“What?”
She pulled him toward her just as footsteps rapidly approached. Awareness filled his eyes, and he lowered his head, pressing his lips against hers. She put her arms around his neck, listening for the guards.
Malek wrapped his arms around her, drawing her even closer. Focus was critical, but his nearness affected all of her senses. Oh, this was a very bad idea. The taste of his lips and the scent of his skin were heady, threatening to overwhelm her from pure sensation. Despite the danger of the approaching guards, he took his time, tasting and exploring her mouth. Malek did have magic, but she couldn’t tell how much because it was tightly controlled and suppressed.
She whimpered and softened against his body, unable to resist him. Part of her was tempted to claim she was merely playing a part, but she wanted this. She wanted him. Unlocking his magic wouldn’t be difficult, but she wasn’t willing to force him into revealing his secrets before he was ready. This kiss was only a hint of what could be between them, and she suspected this brief taste of him was never going to be enough.


My Review:

Awesome beginning to what looks like an amazing series. I am really looking forward to more adventures with these fabulous characters!

I've read other books by author Jamie A. Waters, and have thoroughly enjoyed them. This seems to be a bit different from the Omni Towers series, but from the very first page I was hooked. Whew! So much intrigue and excitement starting with the first few lines. I absolutely loved the vast assortment of characters, especially Sabine with her kick-ass attitude, but with a soft side as well. No one... I mean NO ONE messes with Sabine and gets away with it. Add in the handsome and charismatic captain of a smuggler's ship, with secrets of his own, and you have a dynamic duo that you seriously hope will get together. So much chemistry! There are demons, witches, pixie's, a goblin and more. All have very unique characteristics set in a world that only Ms. Waters could have created.  It was like watching a movie playing in my head as I read! At times, I was sitting on the edge of my seat and cringing and at other times I was smiling and out-right laughing.

Who is trying to have Sabine killed? And what is her connection to Dax and Bane, the two demon brothers? As much as I want to, I can't give away any spoilers. So you'll just have to pick up the book yourself and read it. 

This could almost be read as a stand-alone, but I'm so glad to hear that there is more to come in the Dragon Portal series!  

My Rating:



Author Bio:
Jamie A. Waters is an award-winning, fantasy and science-fiction writer. Her first novel was a winner of the Readers' Favorite Award in Science-Fiction/Fantasy Romance and the CIPA EVVY Award in Science-Fiction.
Jamie currently resides in Florida with two neurotic dogs who enjoy stealing socks. When she's not pursuing her passion of writing, she's usually trying to learn new and interesting random things (like how to pick locks or use the self-cleaning feature of the oven without setting off the fire alarm). In her downtime, she enjoys reading on her Kindle, playing computer games, painting, or acting as a referee between the dragons and fairies currently at war inside her closet.
You can learn more by visiting: www.jamieawaters.com

Reading Order for Jamie A. Waters's The Dragon Portal Series: 
  • To Kill a Fae (The Dragon Portal, Book 1) 
  • By Blood and Magic (The Dragon Portal, Book 2)
  • Facets of Power (The Dragon Portal, Book 3)
  • Shadows and Twilight (The Dragon Portal, Book 4)
  • Dance of Wings (The Dragon Portal, Book 5)

Other books by Jamie A. Waters
  • Ruins of Fate (The Omni Towers, Prequel) 
  • Beneath the Fallen City (The Omni Towers, Book 1)
  • Shadow of the Coalition (The Omni Towers, Book 2)
  • Tremors of the Past (The Omni Towers, Book 3)
  • Drop of Hope (The Omni Towers, Book 4)
  • Flames of Redemption (The Omni Towers, Book 5)
  • Spirit of the Towers (The Omni Towers, Book 6)
Want more of Jamie A. Waters?
Website: JamieAWaters.com
Facebook: facebook.com/booksbyjamieawaters

Follow Jamie A. Waters on Amazon

amzn.to/2wXZj1E

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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Book Review - COMING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS by RaeAnne Thayne

Title: Coming Home for Christmas (Haven Point Book 10)
Author: RaeAnne Thayne
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction, Holiday
Publisher: Harlequin Books
Release Date: September 24, 2019


About the Book:

Hearts are lighter and wishes burn a little brighter at Christmas…

Elizabeth Hamilton has been lost. Trapped in a tangle of postpartum depression and grief after the death of her beloved parents, she couldn’t quite see the way back to her husband and their two beautiful kids…until a car accident stole away her memories and changed her life. And when she finally remembered the sound of little Cassie’s laugh, the baby powder smell of Bridger and the feel of her husband’s hand in hers, Elizabeth worried that they’d moved on without her. That she’d missed too much. That perhaps she wasn’t the right mother for her kids or wife for Luke, no matter how much she loved them.

But now, seven years later, Luke finds her in a nearby town and brings Elizabeth back home to the family she loves, just in time for Christmas. And being reunited with Luke and her children is better than anything Elizabeth could have imagined. As they all trim the tree and bake cookies, making new holiday memories, Elizabeth and Luke are drawn ever closer. Can the hurt of the past seven years be healed over the course of one Christmas season and bring the Hamiltons the gift of a new beginning?
Buy Links: Amazon 
New Release!  Now Available!

My Review:

Each of the books in the Haven Point series can be read as a stand-alone, but when you read it as a series, you can truly connect with the characters.  Coming Home for Christmas is Book #10 in this series and we finally get to find out what happened to Elizabeth Hamilton, Luke's wife. 

Depression is a subject that is very difficult to cover in a novel, but RaeAnne Thayne handled it with compassion and sincerity. This was a true Christmas story, showing the love and hope for a family and the people in the town of Haven's Point. This may be my favorite of all of RaeAnne Thayne's books.  I smiled and I cried. Actually, I cried a lot. And the characters... ohmigosh!  I loved the characters! Luke's children, especially his son, will warm your heart.

This is a must-read for the holidays.

Disclosure:  An Advance Reading Copy was provided by the Publisher and NetGalley. All thoughts, opinions and ratings are my own.

My Rating:

About the Author:
I'm not one of those people who knew from birth she was destined to become a writer. I always loved to read and throughout my childhood I could usually be found with a book in my hands. To the disgust of my friends, I even enjoyed creative writing assignments that made them all groan. But I had other dreams besides writing. I wanted to be an actress or a teacher or a lawyer.

Life took a different turn for me, though, when my mother made me take a journalism elective in high school (thanks, Mom!). I knew the first day that this was where I belonged.

After I graduated from college in journalism, I took a job at the local daily newspaper and I reveled in the challenge and the diversity of it. One day I could be interviewing the latest country music star, the next day I was writing about local motorcycle gangs or interviewing an award-winning scientist.

Through it all -- through the natural progression of my career from reporter to editor -- I wrote stories in my head. Not just any stories, either, but romances, the kind of books I have devoured since junior high school, with tales about real people going through the trials and tribulations of life until they find deep and lasting love.

I had no idea how to put these people on paper, but knew I had to try -- their stories were too compelling for me to ignore. I sold my first book in 1995 and now, more than 30 books later, I've come to love everything about writing, from the click of the computer keys under my fingers to the "that's-it!" feeling I get when a story is flowing.

I write full-time now (well, as full-time as I can manage juggling my kids!) amid the raw beauty of the northern Utah mountains.

Even though I might not have dreamed of being a writer when I was younger, now I simply can't imagine my life any other way.

I love to hear from readers. You can reach me at my email address, raeannethayne@gmail.com


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Book Blitz - MERGED by Jim Korepfl and Stephanie Kroepfl


Merged
Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl
Published by: Month9Books
Publication date: September 17th 2019
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Seven of our country’s most gifted teens will become Nobels, hosts for the implantation of brilliant Mentor minds, in an effort to accelerate human progress.
But as the line between what’s possible and what’s right, draws ever blurrier, the teens discover everything has a cost.
Scientists have created an evolved form of living known as Merged Consciousness, and sixteen-year-old Lake finds herself unable to merge with her Mentor.
Lake, the Nobel for Chemistry and Orfyn, the Nobel for Art, are two from among the inaugural class of Nobels, and with the best intent and motivation. But when Stryker, the Nobel for Peace, makes them question the motivation of the scientists behind the program, their world begins to unravel.
As the Nobels work to uncover the dark secrets of the program’s origins, everyone’s a suspect and no one can be trusted, not even the other Nobels.
As the Mentors begin to take over the bodies and minds of the Nobels, Lake and Orfyn must find a way to regain control before they lose all semblance or memory of their former selves.
EXCERPT:
Depending on your point of view, I’m either famous or infamous. I’m called by many names: Ward of the State, Orphaned, Foofool (only by Sister Mo), and Kevin. That last one makes me feel like I’m wearing someone else’s clothes. Tight and loose in all the wrong places. So, I came up with my own name, though no one has ever connected it to me. The identity of street artists should never be revealed.
I flick turpentine at a rat that’s getting a little too curious about my brushes. The alley smells like something died, making me wonder if there’s a body in the dumpster. Michelangelo cut up dead people to better understand how we’re built. If he was willing to do that for his art, I can endure this stink for one night. I breathe through my mouth and get back to work.
After four straight hours, the painting is coming along great, and I know I can finish it before people start heading out for their nine-to-five jobs. I paint madly, getting lost in the scene, moving from figure to figure, jersey to jersey. It’s my best work yet, and I want this one to last.
At least, for a few days.


Author Bio:
Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl are a husband-and-wife team who write YA novels and stories of mystery and adventure from their cabin in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Their debut novel, Merged, will be released by Month9Books on September 17, 2019.


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