Thursday, February 27, 2020

Book Review - BY BLOOD AND MAGIC (The Dragon Portal Series, Book #2) by Jamie A. Waters

By Blood and Magic
(The Dragon Portal Series, #2)
Author:  Jamie A. Waters
Publisher:  Hidden Realms Publishing
Release Date: March 26, 2020
Genres: Adult, Fantasy

A priceless treasure is hidden within the ocean's depths...

Sabine barely managed to escape from Akros with her life.
But the ocean isn't safe for someone whose power stems from the forests.
When their ship is attacked on the high seas and one of Sabine's companions is taken hostage, only an agreement forged by blood and magic may save her friend's life.
The pearl of the sea is also the key to the gods' revenge...
With the dragon portal failing and the gods' magic threatening to destroy their world, Sabine must choose between following her heart or upholding a sacred oath.
The cost of ending a centuries-old feud may be higher than anyone expected.
All magic demands a sacrifice--even if it's hers.
 Available for Pre-order - Release Date is March 26, 2020

My Review:

Wow!  Seriously WOW!  I received an advance copy of this amazing book and now I can't wait for Book #3 in this series.  From the very first page there was action and adventure and mystery and all things wonderful in a book.  

By Blood and Magic starts where Book #1 of this series left off, but with a whole new location and a whole new adventure.  As much as I love to read, I don't tend to get this excited about a series.  I'm so glad to see there are more upcoming books in the works!  This Dragon Portal series is everything I want and love in a book series.  The characters are amazing and there is magic, demons, dragons, merfolk, mystery, adventure, romance and a touch of humor with the pixie, Blossom.  I love the worlds this author has created and how new alliances are being formed with each new adventure.  And I loved how the different cultures were shown to the reader, and how these characters came to be as they are.  Fascinating how I could visualize it all!

The story starts off with the ship they are traveling on coming under attack with prisoners being taken and a trade being negotiated, all the while keeping the main objective to seal the portal in sight.  Without giving away any spoilers, let me tell you that as soon as you think Sabine and Malek are safe, another danger is thrown at them.  This book kept me on the edge of my seat and I couldn't wait to get to the end to find out what happens but at the same time not wanting it to end!  I can't wait for more!  Pre-ordering Book #3 now!

My Rating:

About the Author:

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:

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)
  • Forest of Secrets (The Dragon Portal, Book 6)

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?

Follow Jamie A. Waters on Amazon

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Book Review - THE RANCHER'S REPLACEMENT WIFE by Pam Mantovani

Title:  The Rancher's Replacement Wife
Author:  Pam Mantovani
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Release Date:  June 17, 2019

About the Book:

Private school teacher Grace Winslow has been attracted to Aaron Richardson since the day her rebellious younger sister married the rancher. After her sister deserts Aaron and dies in a car crash, Grace helps Aaron look after her nine month old nephew, Noah, who suffers with chronic ear infections. She's determined to keep things platonic, but when Noah needs an operation Aaron can't afford, her guilt over her role in enabling her sister to leave leads Grace to propose marriage as a means to provide insurance coverage for her nephew and save Aaron's ranch from financial ruin.
Even during his hasty, disastrous marriage, Rancher Aaron Richardson had been intrigued by his late wife’s sister. Now he's struggling to work on his ranch during the day and nurse a sick son at night. He's grateful for Grace’s help during the evening, and powerfully attracted to her. But Aaron won't act on his attraction because Grace is everything he's not: refined, delicate, educated. Still, he agrees to her unexpected marriage proposal only to help his son Noah get the medical care he needs. Soon they develop a bond forged out of mutual respect and trust as they care for Noah and the ranch together. But for a man who values and respects honesty, he’s hiding a secret from Grace about his role in allowing his wife’s desertion.
Now only the love that's blooming between them can save Aaron and Grace from the repercussions of the truth when it's revealed.
Buy Links: Amazon 

My Review

"The Rancher's Replacement Wife" is a charming story with characters that went straight to my heart.  The romance left me with those tingles I love and I found myself turning the pages with anticipation yet not wanting it to end.  Aaron and Grace are meant for each other and although the circumstances of their marriage may seem to be more of a business arrangement at first, the sparks between them certainly ignite!  Little Noah couldn't ask for a better mother.

Author Pam Mantovani is new to me and I'm so thankful to have found her.  I will definitely be looking for more from her.  For fans of contemporary romance, I highly recommend this book.

My Rating: 

About the Author:
As an Army Brat, frequent moves often meant Pam had to leave friends behind. But no matter where she lived, romance novels were her constant companions. Then she met the man of her dreams on a blind date and after she married her hero, Pam started writing her own love stories.

Now she has more friends, imaginary and real-life, than she can count. She's still happily married to the man who swept her off her feet and gave her the romance of a lifetime. She loves writing about strong women and men who find each other and quilt the fabric of their lives together.

A member of Romance Writers of America, Georgia Romance Writers and Southern Magic, Pam's books have twice been awarded the Maggie Award for Excellence and once for the Linda Howard Award of Excellence.

When not writing, Pam enjoys quilting, planting beautiful flowers, home improvement projects and spending time with her wonderful family.

If interested, feel free to sign up for her newsletter at:

Monday, January 27, 2020

Book Blitz & Giveaway - WHEN HOPE ENDS (LIFE BEGINS) by Freya Barker

When Hope Ends (life begins)
Freya Barker
Publication date: January 21st 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
It’s the best day of his life–the worst of hers.
She left her soul behind in the dead silence of a hospital room.
He is bright with hope after being so close to losing faith.
One moment in time leaves their paths unavoidably entwined.
An invisible connection held by one heart beating between them.
***Previously part of the anthology; Then There Was You.
I pull myself up and run my hands through my hair as I walk down the steps. There I turn back to her. “Stay.”
Her eyes brim with tears. “But the risk is—”
“Every day you get out of bed is a risk. You and I know better than most how true that is. Whether you’re here, or somewhere else, won’t make a difference once the truth is out there. If they dig they could still find us, and all those other families. Leaving won’t serve any purpose.” I’ve been pacing back and forth, but on my last words I stop and face her.
“I don’t know what the smart thing is to do.”
She wrings her hands in her lap and her teeth are biting her bottom lip so hard I’m afraid she’ll break the skin.
I’ll examine why it’s so important to keep her here later, but for now I place my hands on the stair railing to brace myself, and lean forward, my nose almost touching hers.

Author Bio:
Award-winning author Freya Barker loves writing about ordinary people with extraordinary stories.
Driven to make her books about 'real' people; she creates characters who are perhaps less than perfect, each struggling to find their own slice of happy, but just as deserving of romance, thrills and chills in their lives.
Recipient of the 2019 Best Book We've Read All Year Award for "Covering Ollie, the 2015 RomCon “Reader’s Choice” Award for Best First Book, “Slim To None”, and Finalist for the 2017 Kindle Book Award with “From Dust”, Freya continues to add to her rapidly growing collection of published novels as she spins story after story with an endless supply of bruised and dented characters, vying for attention!


Sunday, January 26, 2020

Ramblings & Recipes - Nutrisystem Week One

I can do this.

I NEED to do this.

A person can endure almost anything for a month or two.  Right?

What?  I can't have wine during the first week?  

(Deep Sigh)

My starter kit arrived on Monday, so I officially started the Nutrisystem diet on Tuesday.  The box contained various little packets marked Breakfast, Lunch, Snack and Dinner.  These little packets look like something you would find in a Post-Apocalyptic Survival Kit.  

Breakfast consisted of a one ounce packet of fruitless cereal or a granola-type bar.  The plan didn't say I could have coffee, but there was no way I was going to face the day without it.  It's bad enough that I can't have wine, but no coffee?  Nope.  Not leaving that out!  I did not use the sweetened, flavored coffee cream I have grown to love and crave however.  I just added a bit of fat-free milk.  I think that was okay but I'm not sure.

Mid-morning I was allowed a chocolate pro-biotic protein shake.  These you make with 1/2 cup of crushed ice, a cup of water and one packet of the powder  to this cute little tumbler with a little wire mixing ball inside.  Then you shake it.  You shake it until your arm hurts.  

That may be how you lose weight.  I wonder how many calories are burned by shaking this thing.

I know there are people out there who enjoy these shakes, but I am definitely not one of them.  I had a hard time getting it down.  Hubby says I'll get used to it.  Not sure about that.  He also said I would get used to Daylight Savings Time.  Heh!  That didn't happen either.  Maybe next week when I'm allowed to have a wee bit of fruit I can throw in a half cup of frozen berries.  That may improve the taste.  I'll let you know.

Update:  Okay, after day four, I am getting used to the protein shakes.  They aren't all that bad tasting and they kind of fill me up so that I'm not totally starving by lunch time.  And the food isn't bad either!

During this first week you can add non-starch veggies to your diet.  They actually want you to have at least four each day.

Hint #1:  Cut up celery sticks, cucumbers, baby carrots, bell peppers and other veggies and put them in ziploc bags on the main shelf in your refrigerator.  Make them the first thing you see when you open that fridge door.  Easy to grab when you feel those hunger pangs coming on.

Hint #2:  Place your dinner food on a plate along with steamed veggies.  It looks like more food that way.  You can trick your brain into thinking there is more there for dinner! 

I found these amazing zucchini spirals in the freezer section of my grocery store. Add a half cup of these to your Nutrisystem packaged pasta dinner and you feel like you have more pasta than you see in the little package.


As I write this, I'm only on day #4 and I have already lost 3.4 pounds!  I feel encouraged to stick with this.  I have a lot more to go, but this is a good start.

If you would like to join me on this Nutrisystem journey, let me know.  Right now, they have a special BOGO program.  You buy the first month at full price and your second month is free.  That's what I'm doing.  I need at least two months and maybe more.  If you send me an email at, I may be able to get you a $30 discount on your first month (another special they are offering for referrals).

We can do this!

Friday, January 24, 2020

Book Review - EAST OF EDEN by John Steinbeck

Title:  East of Eden
Author:  John Steinbeck
Genre:  Family Saga Fiction, Classic Literature
Release Date:  1952

About the Book:

A masterpiece of Biblical scope, and the magnum opus of one of America’s most enduring authors

A Penguin Classic 

In his journal, Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck called East of Eden “the first book,” and indeed it has the primordial power and simplicity of myth. Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.

Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. Here Steinbeck created some of his most memorable characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity; the inexplicability of love; and the murderous consequences of love’s absence.

The masterpiece of Steinbeck’s later years, East of Eden is a work in which Steinbeck created his most mesmerizing characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity, the inexplicability of love, and the murderous consequences of love's absence. Adapted for the 1955 film directed by Elia Kazan introducing James Dean and read by thousands as the book that brought Oprah’s Book Club back, East of Eden has remained vitally present in American culture for over half a century.

This edition features an introduction by David Wyatt.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,800 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Buy Links: Amazon 

My Review:

East of Eden is one of those books that have been on my TBR list for a long, long time.  It wasn't until I accepted a reading challenge from a book club that required the reading of a novel published in the decade I was born that I made the decision to read this.  Now I'm sitting here shaking my head wondering why it took me so long.  

Written almost as a memoir, John Steinbeck tells a story that spans multiple generations with characters that resemble to a certain degree that of the biblical story of Cain and Abel.  The story is both heartbreaking and heartwarming with characters you love as well as those you love to hate.  The history, from the early days of fighting the Indians to World War I, is brought to the forefront of each family. We follow Adam Trask from his early childhood until his end of days with notable characters and the relationship between brothers, sons, fathers and mothers.  There is pain and pride, humiliation, resentment and love.

This is a good sized book of almost 700 pages, but each page will be burned into my memory and this will quite possibly be a re-read for me in the years ahead.

My Rating: 

About the Author:
John Steinbeck (1902–1968) born in Salinas, California, grew up in a fertile agricultural valley, about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast. Both the valley and the coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a laborer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929).

After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933), and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938). Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey’s paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California laboring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939). The Grapes of Wrath won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1939.

Early in the 1940s, Steinbeck became a filmmaker with The Forgotten Village (1941) and a serious student of marine biology with Sea of Cortez (1941). He devoted his services to the war, writing Bombs Away (1942) and the controversial play-novelette The Moon is Down (1942). Cannery Row (1945), The Wayward Bus (1948), another experimental drama, Burning Bright (1950), and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951) preceded publication of the monumental East of Eden (1952), an ambitious saga of the Salinas Valley and his own family’s history.

The last decades of his life were spent in New York City and Sag Harbor with his third wife, with whom he traveled widely. Later books include Sweet Thursday (1954), The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957), Once There Was a War (1958), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961),Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), America and Americans (1966), and the posthumously published Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (1969), Viva Zapata! (1975), The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), and Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989).

Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962, and, in 1964, he was presented with the United States Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Steinbeck died in New York in 1968. Today, more than thirty years after his death, he remains one of America's greatest writers and cultural figures. 

Photo by JohnSteinbeck.JPG: US Government derivative work: Homonihilis (JohnSteinbeck.JPG) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, January 20, 2020

Book Review - FLAMING CRIMES (Book #4 in the Disaster Crimes series) by Chrys Fey

Title:  Flaming Crimes
Author:  Chrys Fey
Genre:  Romance, Mystery & Suspense
Release Date:  January 3, 2018

About the Book:

Beth and Donovan are nowhappily married, and what Beth wants more than anything is a baby. Her dream ofstarting a family is put on hold as fires burn dangerously close and Donovanbecomes a victim of sabotage.

Donovan escapes whatcould've been a deadly wreck. Their past enemies have been eliminated, so whois cutting brake lines and leaving bloody messages? He vows to find out, forthe sake of the woman he loves and the life they're trying to build.

Amidst a criminal mindgame, a fire ignites next to their home. They battle the flames and fight tokeep their house safe from the blaze pressing in on all sides, but neither ofthem expects to confront a psychotic adversary in the middle of the inferno.

Their lives may just goup in flames...

Adult Content 18+
Buy Links: Amazon 

My Review:

Here we go again!  Hurricane's, Earthquakes and Tsunami's can't stop them, but will raging fires see the end of Beth and Donavan?  Or will it be the bad guys who are lurking in the smoke?  "Flaming Crimes" is one of those books that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  I could almost feel the heat from the fires in this one (as well as the heat between Beth and Donovan!)

I listened to this fourth book in the Disaster Series on Audible, and it was just as intriguing as the paper books.  Loved it!  Great characters!  And it was really good to learn more about Thorn in this book.

Author Chrys Fey writes fast paced, action-packed, adventures and Flaming Crimes did not disappoint!    

Great book, but I highly recommend you read the other books in this series before delving into this one.  The background of how Beth and Donovan met and how Thorn came into the picture will help establish their connection.

My Rating: 

About the Author:
Sign up for Chrys Fey's bi-monthly newsletter:

Chrys Fey is the author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept blending romance, crimes, and disasters. She’s partnered with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and runs their Goodreads book club. She’s also an editor for Dancing Lemur Press. Fey lives in Florida and is always on the lookout for hurricanes. She has four cats and three nephews; both keep her entertained with their antics.

~Thrilling and Romantic with Heroines of Steel~

Disaster Crimes Series:
Hurricane Crimes (#1) 
Seismic Crimes (#2)
Lightning Crimes (#2.5 free story)
Tsunami Crimes (#3)
Flaming Crimes (#4)

* Flaming Crimes is available as an audbiobook!

Sunday, January 19, 2020

RAMBLINGS & RECIPES - DIET is a 4-Letter Word a/k/a Adventures with Nutrisystem

I can't believe we are actually doing this!  My husband is the biggest gourmet eater of all time.  Very picky eater.  Will not eat sirloin.  Only wants filet mignon.  Then he saw an ad on TV that said he could lose 18 pounds in one month (he neglected to see the tiny words that said "up to 18 pounds").  Those two little words could mean one pound or even one ounce.  But anyway, he actually wanted to try the Nutrisystem plan for one month.  I got excited!  I've been on numerous weight loss plans but with great difficulty because as I would sit down to my 3 oz. broiled chicken breast with steamed veggies, he would be gobbling up lasagna with garlic bread.  So this is something we could actually do together!

I still wasn't convinced he would stick to it, so I let him order his food first.  It's rather pricey and I was afraid I was going to get stuck with a month's worth of food he wouldn't eat and if I had ordered my food at that same time I could get stuck with that food too.  I decided that if he could make it through a few days, I would go ahead and order my Nutrisystem food and do this with him.

When his first shipment of food arrived in a cardboard box, I was again convinced that he would not stick with this.  But he was determined.  By the way, the month's worth of food comes in two shipments... the dry packaged stuff and then a big styrofoam cooler filled with the frozen stuff.  Food for the first week comes in a special green box.  You can only eat stuff out of this box for those first seven days.  Hubby looked at it and said "If I was able to eat MRE's in the military, I should be able to eat this".  And eat it he did.

When I saw his determination, I went ahead and ordered my food from Nutrisystem.  We will do this together!

I cleaned out my freezer and refrigerator.  

When my frozen stuff arrived too, I labeled the shelves so that we wouldn't get things mixed up.  I separated items on the shelves according to Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Snacks.  He has his and I have mine.

The dry packaged stuff ended up in a box on my kitchen counter.  As of today, I still have not received my dry packaged stuff or my First Week green box.  So I'm eating Lean Cuisines and low calorie stuff until I can officially start.

For the first week, the plan says you can add certain non-starch veggies to the diet 4 times a day.  

So I emptied the refrigerator of all the fattening stuff and cut up fresh celery, carrots, cucumbers, squash, zucchini and bell peppers and placed them in ziploc bags within easy reach.  I purchased fresh broccoli, mushrooms and bags of salad.  There is more you can add the second week, but I'll tell you about that next week.

Hubby has been on this diet for a few days now and he has already lost two pounds.  I'm still waiting for my packaged food, including my "first week box" to be delivered.

On a positive note, the frozen stuff was still frozen when I received it.  It came well packaged in a large styrofoam cooler with dry ice.  I've tried a couple of other diet programs where they send you frozen food and it has always been delivered thawed.  Not a good thing.  I had to cancel because of that.  But I live in the Florida Keys and the temperature here is generally warm and delivery times tend to be delayed.  So I was happy to see that Nutrisystem packs the food with enough dry ice to keep the food frozen.

I should be receiving my "first week" box today or on Monday, so I'll tell you next week how it's going.  If you want to do this with me, let me know.  I'd love to see your progress!  I'm too embarrassed to tell you how much I weigh, but I'll be happy to tell you how much I lose!

No recipes in "Ramblings & Recipes" this time!  I don't want to think about any foods I can't have!


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