Memories​ of August 2015: A Surprise Vacation

August 1st is tomorrow, and that brings back memories of last August. The week in my life, I will never forget. My sister, my wonderful, loving , sweet, and giving sister, provided me a vacation I will never stop thinking about. I remember the details as if they occurred last week. It was a surprise, she did not mention the gift she planned to celebrate our birthdays. Her birthday is  in September, mine,  in November.

She planned a cruise to Alaska. My first cruise, my first trip out of the country and my first time being able to view the magnificence of Alaska.IMG_2087

She flew me into Seattle and we spent a whirlwind day sightseeing that beautiful city. I visited the Fish Market, yes, I saw them throw fish. It was an adventure, and we had not even left dry land. I saw where Harry met Sally, I stood right against the needle tower. No way was I zooming to the top of that tower. It was gigantic. I rode on a tram. Viewing the sculptures of the Weiss Manfredi , Olympic Sculpture was breathtaking. We skimmed the edges and saw towering sculptured trees in vibrant color and unique textures. It was outstanding. My visit to Seattle was a whirlwind, moreover, it was spectacular. IMG_1875

My cheeks ached from smiling.  We ate at a restaurant right where the fishing boats dock. It was so nice to walk the pier seeing the larger ships as they came in from a day out at sea. I am a homebody. I rarely leave my own driveway. I was now on the West coast about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime. After walking all over Seattle and returning to the Executive suite, I slept well even though I knew I had to get up early and begin the embarkation process. My first cruise meant, of course,  I  packed too much. Only one bag as suggested, but I packed one bulging suitcase to the brim. My sister, a frequent cruiser, and frequent world traveler packed much smarter and lighter than I.

IMG_1974
Don’t tell my sister I posted her picture.

 

The MS Westerdam, a Holland America ship was a dream. I am a lover of all things transportation. This ship was gleaming, sparkling and enormous. Even though it is considered a mid-sized cruise ship. As it was my first ship of any kind up close and personal, I was in love.

Getting aboard  the ship was an exciting event in itself. Having official pictures made for the ship’s records and ID tag, showing my brand new passport to customs. For a large number of people, we IMG_1938moved quickly through the various stations, providing tickets, Itineraries,Excited, smiling and calm, surprisingly calm, I passed through all the checkpoints and began climbing the winding gangplank up to the third floor.

The luggage  placed  just as it should be, outside our cabin, and all is right with the world. We rushed up to the tenth floor to watch the Seattle cityscape disappear. Slowly creeping out of sight. My Brother-in-Law and Nephew, followed the ship along the shoreline until we passed the lighthouse. It was surreal to wave to people on shore that you know! I made an extremely special memory for me.lTxNosL - Imgur

After leaving Seattle we spent most of the afternoon in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, beautiful water that is a wide path with islands along either side. A beautiful way to start a cruise. The international border is along the center of the strait. We passed ferries and smaller ships along that  body of water.

I brought my seasick pills, but only took one. That was  the one night we dined at the Captain’s table and I overindulged in the constant stream of champagne, wine and, more champagne, I might not have been seasick as much as tipsy. I am just skipping ahead a bit and talk about the Captain’s dinner. Oh my gosh, I had beef Wellington and it was delicious. The most outstanding creation was the dessert. It was in a sugar cage. It was beautiful, it felt like a shame to break it. It shimmered in the light and you had to break it with your fork before you could eat the chocolate cake inside. It was a delightfully, sinfully, decadent, dessert. After dinner, we had a few more sips of Champagne before relocating for the  group picture, and it was time to stumble our way back to the cabin.

I laughed all the way to the cabin because the sway of the ship was making me bounce from one side of the narrow hallway to the otCaptain's Dinnerher. I am sure the sailors in the cabins I bumped against appreciated me suppressed giggles afterward. I was not the only one bouncing down that hallway, my sister had been sipping the same concoctions all through cocktails, dinner, and dessert. I can only say, she is the professional travel writer, I am the new sailor. I was following her lead. I was fortunate to be invited to his table, because of my sister, yet, I enjoyed it as if I was invited because it was my first cruise.  Captain Vaartjes said during dinner, “We set a pretty high bar for your first cruise” I had to agree.

I might have developed a wee crush on aforementioned Captain. His name was fantastic. Captain Bart Vaartjes. He is charismatic and genuinely kind to  IMG_2074people.  Later in the week we attended a get to know the captain presentation and he shared slides, statistics, and even participated in a question and answer session. He is adorable. I kept getting caught snapping pictures of him in passing.  A girl can make herself feel better any way she wishes, while on the open seas.

On the first day and night, we cruised up the coast of Canada and up the inside Passage. With views of the ocean and the untouched shoreline of Canada, it made me feel minute, tiny in comparison. We skimmed the shore all day and to the left, nothing but water and little puffs of spray that announced a whale in the vicinity. When in the observation room, the cry  “spout” would send the entire room skittering from one side of the ship to the other. The observation deck had glass on three sides, there was not a bad seat in the room. h5GZeY6 - Imgur

It was along that Canadian shoreline that we came across our first Spinner dolphins. My first encounter with a dolphin. These streamlined dolphins swim in a pack of approximately forty bodies. They  dart directly into the path of the ship, jump, dive, return, cross, and repeat. These acrobats were so entertaining to watch. To see such a great number cavorting in the wake of the ship. Before this cruise,  I never realized there were such a variety of whales, dolphins, and seals. More about those as we move closer to Alaska.

spinner dolphins
Spinner dolphin

 

I intend on sharing my adventure with you over the month of August. I have pictures my family might be tired of admiring. Therefore, I want to share them with you. I hope you enjoy this little travel tour reliving the best week of my life.

Book Blurb for Revised Edition of The Path of the Child by Sojourner McConnell

Seventeen-year-old Melanie Easton lives in a loveless home with her negligent, self-absorbed, and potentially dangerous mother. Consequently, she knows loneliness. Living in self-imposed anonymity, Melanie struggles to survive without becoming bitter and hate filled. Unexpectedly offered a ride with a classmate, Robert Reynolds, Melanie finds there is more to people than she ever imagined.

After being befriended by Robert Reynolds, windows of opportunity open for Melanie. Accordingly, the road to discovery divulges there may be reasons for her strange home life. The reasons she never imagined until she begins unraveling the documents hidden away.

Out of the discovery of the secrets, lies, and deceptions, come the possibility for exciting changes. Perhaps along with the answers, comes the opportunity for genuine happiness.

A suspenseful story that will engage your heart and mind with hopefulness and admiration for Melanie’s courage and willingness for self-discovery and personal growth.


Refrain from getting so excited by this new blurb that you attempt to run out and purchase the book today. There is almost a week before the reissue occurs.  If you purchase the book today, unfortunately, it will contain those annoying errors that I have been working diligently  to correct. In addition, the revised book accommodated my rewriting tendency. Consequentially, the new version has almost seven thousand new words spaced out over four new chapters. Nonetheless, I swear it was harder writing a blurb that  didn’t curl my lip, than writing the first chapter of the book.

That being said, I would love your input on this blurb. Did the blurb attract your attention? Did it provoke interest in the topic?  Did the blurb provide encouragement to  purchase and read the book?   Does it turn you off the book?

Resist buying today, however, don’t resist or hesitate  to comment. We all have opinions, I actually embrace hearing yours.  Please let me know what you think.

Coming up with a book blurb that works is more difficult than it appears. This is the official blurb as of today.  Thinking about today reminds me of what Scarlett O’Hara is known to say:

 “After all, tomorrow is another day!”  Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind.

As I complete the final details, I wanted to share the (hopefully improved) book blurb. I decided to show it today providing  time to  receive feedback.

Humble request:

As always, please be honest and forthcoming. A candid and honest opinion would be so appreciated.

On a side note:

If you are interested in providing a review for the reprint, it would thrill me to provide a copy in exchange for that honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, especially on your own blog.

Obviously, I am going with subtlety at this point.

pc-kitty-

 Comment below:

Thank you in advance!

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: About Time by Jack Finney

About Time: 12 Short StoriesAbout Time: 12 Short Stories by Jack Finney

  • Print Length: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (November 12, 2013)
  • Publication Date: November 12, 2013
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AK9IXLO


    My Rating:

 

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

 

 

The Book Blurb:

 

About Time offers a delightful return to the world of time travel and light comedy that distinguished Jack Finney’s all-time classic Time and Again. The protagonists of these twelve stories are well-meaning but at odds with their surroundings and their lives. The time to which they escape—through time travel—doesn’t always fulfill their expectations in the way they had hoped, but sometimes, they can still find their dreams.

 

About the Author:

 

Maybe you have heard of Jack Finney as the writer of the successful book The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. He wrote beautifully descriptive science fiction in the late fifties and sixties. He wrote books about time travel that today are just as exciting and intriguing as they were when first published. Jack Finney (1911–1995) was the author of the much-loved and critically acclaimed novel Time and Again, as well as its sequel, From Time to Time. Best known for his thrillers and science fiction, a number of his books—including Invasion of the Body Snatchers—have been made into movies.

 

 

My Review:

 

 

This book has all the best stories by Jack Finney. Some are time travel and some are just lovely stories that capture your heart. Each of the stories I carry with me since I first read this book in the 1970’s. Thankfully the short story The Third Level is included in this book. I wanted to share each story with you, so this is a list of the twelve.

  • The Third Level (1950)
  • I Love Galesburg in the Springtime (1962)
  • Such Interesting Neighbors (1951)
  • The Coin Collector (1960)
  • Of Missing Persons (1955)
  • Lunch-Hour Magic (1962)
  • Where the Cluetts Are (1962)
  • The Face in the Photo (1962)
  • I’m Scared (1951)
  • Home Alone (1961)
  • Second Chance (1956)
  • Hey, Look at Me! (1962)

In the story about the Cluetts, we find a couple that built their dream house. A Victorian House that they treat as authentic in every way. It is beautifully written and made me want one too. Each story has a beauty to it. the simpler times aspect. Of Missing Persons is another favorite. You understand how people choose to stay or go. It makes you question yourself. Would I chicken out? Would I go? Trust me, I have asked myself that so many times, and each time I choose differently. It is a strong story that resonates with me. The third Level takes us into an odd encounter which once again left me wondering if I could walk away from the discovery. That is one of the reasons that Jack Finney is an absolute favorite Author of mine, he makes me ask myself the hard questions. Most of the stories have the theme of time travel. That being said, the story of the lunch hour shopping trip where the protagonist scores a pair of x-ray glasses is a clever piece that kept me laughing. I find this book to be a whirlwind of emotions. Yet, I always leave it with a feeling of longing. I want to experience several events that are mentioned in the twelve. Can’t I just have one?

 

Recommendation

There are twelve stories in this compilation all written by this one brilliant writer. Everyone owes it to themselves to read it at least once and see if the witty, charismatic writing style of Jack Finney draws you in as well. I have provided all my own children with a copy of this book and they loved it. I first read The Third Level in the late sixties I was only twelve yet I fell in love with time Travel. It might explain why when I found A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux it became my favorite romance. I can honestly recommend that everyone give it a shot.

 

Where to Find: About Time:

 

About Time can be found in Paperback, Kindle, and Nook by clicking the links provided below.

Book Review: The Collector by Nora Roberts

The CollectorThe Collector by Nora Roberts

  • Print Length: 485 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; Reissue edition (April 15, 2014)
  • Publication Date: April 15, 2014
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00FX7REI6
  • The Book Blurb:

    When professional house-sitter Lila Emerson witnesses a murder/suicide from her current apartment-sitting job, life as she knows it takes a dramatic turn. Suddenly, the woman with no permanent ties finds herself almost wishing for one. . . .
    Artist Ashton Archer knows his brother isn’t capable of violence—against himself or others. He recruits Lila, the only eyewitness, to help him uncover what happened. Ash longs to paint her as intensely as he hungers to touch her. But their investigation draws them into a rarified circle where priceless antiques are bought, sold, gambled away, and stolen, where what you possess is who you are, and where what you desire becomes a deadly obsession

    My Rating:

    ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

    My Review:

    The Collector by Nora Roberts is a book that took me to one of my favorite subjects, missing antiques. Antiques that have a notorious history and a list of interested parties. The antiques in this story are my most favorite antiques to read about. Trust me I want to talk more about them, but I am one of those reviewers that hate a spoiler. I will just tell you it is yummy, delicious and beautiful antiques. After you read the book, email me and we can discuss!

    The police are curious about the nosy neighbor that saw a murder through binoculars. When she sees a woman die from her loaned apartment, she is drawn into a serious circle of the victim’s friends and family.

    Lila Emerson is a nomadic house-sitter. She is a professional and has quite a following. She doesn’t intrude in people’s lives, cabinets or personal spaces. As the deaths keep growing, the mysterious circumstances place fear into Lila. She becomes involved in the search for facts and clues when Ashton Archer becomes involved. He and Lila have quite the chemistry. Ash is an artist and he wants to paint her. She is a writer and a house-sitter.

    The playfulness of Lila is so enjoyable in this suspenseful book. I, like Ash think her brain is so clever and fun. I think I relate to her buckshot analogy.

    The plot is intricate and detailed. It is also so beautifully artistic. The words are so full of vibrant life befitting the writer and the artist that they are written for. I again am super impressed with the descriptiveness of Nora’s work. when she puts someone in danger, I was close to tears. It is so vivid.

    The villain in this story is so evilly demented. That murderer is the most chillingly, cold, and calculating person ever.

    As far as Ash and Lila are concerned. They are so lovable. Both are so real and funny together and comfortable with themselves. It is a rich lovely romantic story and compliments the suspense so well.

    Recommendation

    If you love romantic Suspense​, This is a wonderful book to sink your teeth into. The story is full bodied. The bad guys are BAD and the good guys are GOOD. This is another 5 star reading for me. I just loved it. This book reminds me why I have read so many Nora Roberts books.

    Where to Find: The Collector

    This book is available in many formats, Hardcover, paperback, Audiobook and Kindle. You can find it by clicking the links below.

    New Release: Book Review: Love in an Elevator: A Romantic Comedy Anthology

    Love in an Elevator: A Romantic Comedy AnthologyLove in an Elevator: A Romantic Comedy Anthology by Aven Ellis

    • Publication Date: July 20, 2016
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B01IU61DRO


    My Rating:

    ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


    The Book Blurb:

     

    Laugh, swoon, and escape with this romantic comedy anthology!

    Will an elevator ride change her life? In HOLD THE LIFT by Aven Ellis, Sierra Crawford ends up meeting sexy British hockey player Jude Parker after their elevator sticks. Sierra finds herself getting to know Jude—and she likes what she sees. But he wouldn’t be interested in a food-obsessed assistant editor right? Sierra knows she’s quirky—her fondness of Magic 8 Balls is proof of that—so there’s no way he could look her way. Or can he?

    In DOWN, THEN UP by Beth Labonte, Lauren Oswald never expected to see her college love, Jamie, again. Not after the way things ended. She certainly doesn’t expect to see him ten years later at a bachelorette party in Vegas, waiting inside a hotel elevator. Slightly older. Different haircut. No wedding ring. Same eyes. As the pair embark on a late night errand, Lauren is flooded with memories of how Jamie became the one that got away—and she realizes that this one night could be their last chance to make things right.

    In GOING UP? by Whitney Dineen, Fiona Kitchen had a dream when she moved to New York and it wasn’t taking a job as an elevator operator in a posh, West Side, apartment building. She also didn’t expect to meet a hot handyman, a Columbian drug lord and a notorious mob boss and then fall for one of them in a big way. Life in the Big Apple isn’t quite turning out the way she planned, but who said that was a bad thing?

    In Becky Monson’s TAKING A CHANCE, Liza Parker has a fear of heights, crowds and small spaces. So what’s a girl like her doing on a crowded elevator going to the top of the Empire State Building? Freaking out, that’s what she’s doing. Enter Jay Sanders, a tourist who thinks he might be able to help Liza face her fears, but she has to be willing to spend the day with a complete stranger. Maybe taking a chance on Jay is just what Liza needs.

    In HAPPY TO BE STUCK WITH YOU by Rich Amooi, Becca has had an office crush on Daniel—Mr. Delicious—for over a year. Getting stuck in an elevator with him was the last thing she expected. If only she can control her claustrophobia. To make matters worse, they’re also stuck with an eighty-year-old man who has a weak bladder, and a penchant for playing cupid. But life is unpredictable. Sometimes, getting stuck is the best thing that can happen.

    Computer genius Maisy Potter crosses an ocean to take her dream vacation at an English country estate … where the winsome Mark Prebys works below stairs. With him, Maisy discovers a carefree happiness she’s never known. But will the troubles dogging her from back home, a secret or two whispered behind the parlour curtains, and misunderstandings to beat the band extinguish the magic they think they’ve found in each other? And if not, what happens when Maisy’s enchanting holiday ends? Find out in UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS … AND THE LIFT IN BETWEEN by Geralyn Corcillo.

    In THE ONLY WAY IS UP by Lindy Dale, Meet Bailey Burns: hottest thing on the literary circuit. And the most reluctant. After fainting in a lift and regaining consciousness to find herself kissing a stranger, Bailey thinks her week can’t get much worse. But it can. Much worse. Bailey is about to be proposed to by a crazed fan wearing a vampire costume. She’s about to discover she’s in relationship with the guy she kissed. Not only that, but said guy happens to be her new PR manager. Oh dear!

    In OUT OF ORDER, by Dee Ernst, Grace has sworn off good-looking men. As soon as she starts dating one of them, she transforms from a mature, confident woman to a needy teen-aged girl. So when she meets Seth, the best-looking man she’s ever seen, she makes the right choice — forget all about him. But a neurotic golden retriever and a broken elevator keep bringing them together. Is the world working against her… or maybe the gods are finally smiling?

     

    My Review:

    Aven Ellis begins the book with the cutest most hilarious story and the stories keep the laughs going and the romance simmering. I am not going to talk too much about each story because I added the blurb and I hate giving away a good storyline. I love a good sweet short story that draws me in. These eight books did that and they made me wish they were longer. I enjoyed all of the stories and laughed at each of them. It made me want to seek out an elevator just to see what happens.

    The various elevators in these eight books take you into different worlds. England , America. There is something perfect about thinking of elevators in New York City. I was enchanted by these short stories. I wish they had been longer. What’s not to love about a computer geek finding love in England. And who doesn’t love a matchmaking man? The characters were so well written.

    I was provided an ARC of this anthology in exchange for an honest review.

    All were new authors to me except for Rich Amooi and I am now looking for more books by them all to read.I think this is a great romantic comedy anthology!

     

    Recommendation

     

    This book is perfect for anyone that loves a quick romantic comedy. A little light reading before bed, or at the beach. It has everythign it needs to make a reader happy.


    Where to Find: Love in an Elevator:

     
    This anthology is available on Kindle by clicking the link below.

    Book Review: Children’s Book of Recipes: 30 Fun Dishes for Young Chefs by Joanna Mentel

    Children's Book of Recipes: 30 Fun Dishes for Young Chefs (Educational series for kids 4-9 years 2)

    Children’s Book of Recipes: 30 Fun Dishes for Young Chefs by Joanna Mentel

      • Publisher: Appetite For Education; 1 edition (July 7, 2016)
      • Publication Date: July 7, 2016
      • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
      • Language: English
      • ASIN: B01HF2FPRI

    My Rating:

     ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

    The Book Blurb:

    A bestselling book for children in Europe now available internationally!

    Appetizing snacks, delicious main courses and sweet desserts… Children’s Book of Recipes is a unique cookbook for kids aged 4-9. It contains 30 ideas for fun dishes selected specifically for children. Your kid will find out how to prepare ‘’Alien Pancakes’’, ”Squirrel Cake”, ”Cheese energy bites” and more!

    My Review:

    Children’s Book of Recipes: 30 Fun Dishes for Young Chefs (Educational series for kids 4-9 years 2) is such a wonderful way to spend some time with the child in the house. There are such colorful and entertaining recipes.

    There are healthy snacks that are simple for children to make with an adult’s assistance. There are also meal ideas, recipes, and full-color pictures of big stacks of pancakes, tasty pictures of hamburgers, and a healthy power up Salad.

    I was sent this book in exchange for a review and I loved the book. This company is huge in Europe and are now becoming loved and used in America. If you are looking for fun activities for you and your young ones, this is an excellent choice.

    Striped Dessert, Cheese energy Bites, Bunny Soup, and a personal favorite, Drummers’ Treat. These recipes run the gamut from dinner to dessert, plus drinks!. Each one more interesting and tasty looking than the last. The concept of this book is that family time makes better memories, healthier families and fun times.

    These recipes are complete with tips for sauces, additional ingredients, tricks, and cooking. Another positive family book that helps build families as well as good looking food.

    Recommendation:

    The fun recipes listed in this book are perfcet for children. It is important that there is adult supervision., Cooking on a stove and in an overn are involved in many of the recipes. I recommend this to anyone with children or grandchildren that love to spend time watching you cook.

    Where to Find Children’s Book of Recipes

    This book is available in Kindle and through KindelUnlimited by clicking the link below.

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    New Release: Book Review: The Color of Cold and Ice by J. Schlenker

    Cold and Ice

    • Publication Date: July 20, 2016
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B01ITYEIJM

    The Book Blurb:

    Sybil has dreams; the prophetic kind, although interpreting them correctly is another matter. Her latest dream involves her sister Emerald, who wants to pursue her art once more and move on with her life after losing her husband. John, once felt he was making a difference as an ER doctor, but finds himself slipping away in his Manhattan practice as well as in his marriage. Allison, John’s wife wants to change her ho hum existence with John into something spectacular. Mark, Allison’s brother, a struggling musician, wants to quit rambling in life and find his purpose.
    The cold changes everything.

    About J. Schlenker:

    J.

    J. Schlenker has been featured on my review blog before with her award-winning  Jessica Lost her Wobble. That was her first book and to me, they just keep getting better and better. You can read more about J. on her Amazon Author’s Page. She has several  more projects in progress. A  is a gifted writer.  I truly believe she has a very bright future.

     

    My Rating:

     ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

    My Review:

     

    The Color of Cold and Ice by J. Schlenker is a vivid experience. It is not just reading a story it is tasting the meaning of colors and watching those colors spread out their fingers into many people’s lives.

    People like Mark, the down and out musician who may be ready to put aside his guitar for a real job. If he only could. But he lives the music, even when the music has grown stagnant over the last year. There had to be inspiration out there. He needed to find his inspiration again.

    People like Emerald. The woman that had lost her husband and was left with the love if her life, Chad. She loved the picture that hung in her son’s room. The picture that connected him to his father. She was so vividly painted by J. Schlenker, that you can see her creativity shining through the words.

    The married couples reminded me how much work a marriage is. It also showed how exciting it can be when it is going right, and how much hope can play a part in making it right.. This book filled me with the warmth of the colors. I was touched on so many levels as to how hard life is and how wonderful it can be.

    Oh my goodness, the characters are so colorful, as colorful as the cover and just as full of life. This book really is an enchanting story. Complete with the metamorphoses that take place in many of the characters lives. J has a unique vision in her writing and it shines through so well in her new book. The emotions are so strong in this book. you find yourself rooting for all the characters, especially when things seem so scary and uncertain. I enjoyed reading it so much. It has made me look at life, colors and happiness in a whole new way.

    Recommendation:

    I can without a doubt recommend this to anyone that loves a good story about families, self-discovery, and self-improvement. This book is packed with art, wisdom,  and wonderful, well thrashed out people and places. Oh, the places you will go with this book! This book is spiritual and filled with new age concepts and just plain sweet romance. It is a book for everyone.

    Where to Find The Color of Cold and Ice:

    The Color of Cold and Ice by J. Schlenker is available in paperback and on Kindle. You can access them  both by clicking the link below.

    Amazon