Random Ramblings #14

You guys, we’re in the final countdown! My son and daughter-in-law will be here in a matter of days.  I’m so excited to see them both and to see that cute baby bump in person.  Which, by the way, reminds me.  I don’t believe I ever told you that I’m having a granddaughter! Eek!  I’m the mom of boys, so this is a whole new ballgame for me.  I’m super excited though.


If you know my son, you know he hates getting his picture taken. Apparently this was a few takes in and he was getting annoyed. I swear, he’s happy!

Have you guys watched Schitt’s Creek?  Hilarious!!! One of my sisters-in-law, Liz, kept telling me we should watch it, and we finally bit the bullet.  Love, love, love this show.  We’re done with the 4 seasons that are available on Netflix so we’re now impatiently awaiting for season 5 to be released to the streaming service.  Quirky, outrageous, funny, and oddly touching.  Those are the words I’d use to describe this show.  On top of all that, two of the stars are Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara of American Pie and Beetlejuice fame.  (And trust me, I know they’ve both did so much more than those movies.) You really should check it out. You’ll fall in love with Stevie and Twyla and, later, Patrick, as well as all of the Schitts.


Summer’s finally showing its face around these parts, and I couldn’t be happier.  I was ready for some warmer temps and longer days.  Just in time for summer, my work had a huge change and they did a relaunch last weekend.  Instead of being a coffeehouse/diner (which was never the owner’s intention), the place is more of a coffeehouse/dessert place.  We still have a (smaller) food menu from 10-2 every day.  But our real focus is a cookie dough bar!  Yum! All of our cookie dough is made in-house and one of the owners is great at coming up with new ideas.  We also have shakes, malts, floats, blends, smoothies, and so much more.  It’s been great.  This is one of the specialty limited time drinks we had for the relaunch. The specialty drink is changed up every few weeks and it’s really obnoxious and fun.  This one is a salted caramel shake with chocolate covered bacon, chocolate/potato chip bark, a chocolate covered pretzel rod, with caramel and pretzels around the rim. I’m loving the change and the fact that the change is bringing more families and kids through the doors.


One last thing before I go, an update on my birth control trial.  Well, it’s been good and bad.  The first couple of weeks, while my body was adjusting, were TERRIBLE! But I hung in there and my daily nausea that I had been getting before the pill has totally gone away.  I still get some hot flashes and night sweats, but not quite as often.  Still getting headaches and even some abdominal cramps. But my mood seems to have improved.  Although I wonder if that’s from the sunnier and brighter days (more natural vitamin D!) or from the hormones???  One huge downfall…my breast constantly hurt.  Like I’m a young girl about to hit my growth spurt pain.  And I haven’t stopped my monthly cycle…or regulated it even.  I thought I was going to skip, as I was supposed to.  I still got (milder) PMS, but figured I could live with that.  Then I started spotting, then bleeding.  Not as heavy as before, but still a full week with cramps, headaches, and irritability.  Since I’ve always had heavy cycles and was told I’d most likely get breakthrough bleeding, I didn’t get too upset.  Although I didn’t realize breakthrough bleeding could last so long!  But now, less than 3 weeks later, I’m spotting again.  Still just breakthrough bleeding?  That remains to be seen.  I follow up with my gynecologist in a few weeks, and this is our first attempt at regulating things a bit, so we’ll see.  I’ll keep updating here once in a while for those of you who need to hear you’re not alone.  If this info doesn’t interest you (and I absolutely understand it’s a bit TMI for a lot of people) I hope you’ll just skip over these bits.


Alright friends, I have a lot to do this week before the kids get here.  Plus, the air in our good car went kaput so I have to take the car in tomorrow since it’s my day off.  I’d usually put it off with how busy I am, but I’m not making the pregnant lady who is no longer used to our humidity ride in an un-air conditioned car!

What are your summer plans? Anything fun?

One last picture, because a year ago we were on our vacation out west to see Griffin & Kirsten and got to enjoy seeing Mount Ranier on a daily basis. So these pictures keep popping up in my “memories” on different sites.

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TTT: Books on My Summer 2019 TBR List


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  There is a new topic each week for bloggers to join in with their own top ten. If you’re looking for some new or different book blogs to read, hop on over to her site and check out some of the links.

I haven’t been doing Top Ten Tuesday for very long, but I find I miss it on the weeks I skip.  Last week’s subject was Most Anticipated Releases During the Last Half of 2019 and I just couldn’t narrow that down.  There are so many books I’m looking forward to the rest of the year!  But I also found more by reading other blogger’s TTT posts.  So many books, so little time.

This week’s theme is Books on My Summer 2019 TBR List.  I decided not to include the numerous books that are being released today (6/25/19) that I already read, even though they were technically on my Summer 2019 TBR list until recently.  But I’m just going to list the top ten that I haven’t yet read.  I’m listing these in chronological order because it would be impossible for me to decide on any other order.

(Arizona Vengeance book 4)
by Sawyer Bennett

Home Field Advantage
(Milwaukee Dragons book 3)
by Liz Lincoln

The Book Charmer
(Dove Pond book 1)
by Karen Hawkins

Cold Heart, Warm Cowboy
(Cold River Ranch book 2)
by Caitlin Crews

Lone Wolf Cowboy
(Gold Valley book 7)
by Maisey Yates

Life and Other Inconveniences
by Kristan Higgins

The Empty Nesters
by Carolyn Brown

Cowboy Up
(Tangled Up in Texas book 1)
by Michelle Beattie

Tangled Threat
by Heather Graham

The Wonder of Now
(Sanctuary Sound book 3)
by Jamie Beck

My son and daughter-in-law will be here next week, so I’m hoping to put my next TTT post together before they get here so I can still participate. It’s going to be crazy busy, but I’m going to love having all my kids here!

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The Trouble with Cowboy Weddings (A Mile High Romance) – ARC Review

42955294The Trouble with Cowboy Weddings
by Nicole Helm
Release Date: June 25, 2019
Publisher:  Zebra
Book #5 in the A Mile High Romance series
Number of pages:  304
Kindle Edition
Source: ARC from Net Galley
Contemporary Romance/Western M/F
Rating: NC-17
Read 6/5/19 to 6/7/19


As the middle Tyler brother, Gavin doesn’t always have much say in ranch decisions, but when it comes to his heart, he’s the only authority. He’s loved Louisa “Lou” Fairchild for longer than he can remember, even though they’ve never been more than friends. But with Lou stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place, Gavin is going to help the way any true friend would—with a proposal of a strictly business-like, in-name-only marriage . . . at least to start.  
Lou can’t believe her beloved grandmother has backed her up against the wall. The choice between finding a man to marry and letting her no-good father back into the family to run the ranch isn’t a choice at all! But when her sister counters with an even less savory idea, Lou knows what she must do—say yes to the only man she’s ever trusted. But somehow pretending to be in love with good-natured Gavin suddenly begins to feel alarmingly real—and she downright likes it.   
Can a sham marriage become the truest kind of love?

It doesn’t always happen, but oftentimes this author is able to give her characters so much chemistry long before they even touch.  I love that!

Gavin and Lou have been in the last couple of books in the Mile High Romance series, and I was sure the author would bring them together in a wonderful way.  She did. But I didn’t realize just how deep their scars run so this story was quite a bit more serious than I had thought it would be.  Don’t worry, there’s still a lot of fun and family, too.  One thing I noted as reading is that it wouldn’t do well as a standalone.  At least not in my opinion.  The author doesn’t really revisit the incident of Lou’s barn burning down, so if you haven’t read the other stories you might want to do so first.  It’s no hardship.  They’re great stories.

The feelings Gavin has for his family, his brother, his position on the ranch…I adore the author for how this was all handled.  Makes me wonder if she’s an older middle child herself.  While Gavin always seems good-natured and loves his family and has his family’s respect.  His feelings of not quite fitting in properly really spoke to me.  Having Lou see the real Gavin and push him to let his real self come through endeared her to me. For a bit there I was afraid she was too centered on her own problems to realize what was happening right under her nose.

There is quite a theme of communication throughout this story.  Whether because things come to light due to communication, or things get misunderstood because of lack of communication. It was all great story telling.

I’m sure there will be more stories with Gavin’s remaining single siblings, I’m also hoping to see Lou’s sister get her HEA.  Maybe with Gavin’s youngest brother???

4 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher.  All opinions expressed are my own and given freely.**

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The Evil Queen – ARC Review

40242200The Evil Queen
by Gena Showalter
Release Date:  June 25, 2019
Publisher:  Inkyard Press
Book #1 in The Forest of Good and Evil series
Number of pages:  544
Kindle Edition
Source: Net Galley ARC
YA (older)/Fantasy
Rating: NC-17
Read 5/31/19 to 6/7/19


Far, far away, in the realm of Enchantia, creatures of legend still exist, magic is the norm and fairy tales are real. Except, fairy tales aren’t based on myths and legends of the past—they are prophecies of the future.

Raised in the mortal realm, Everly Morrow has no idea she’s a real-life fairy-tale princess—until she manifests an ability to commune with mirrors.

Look. See… What will one peek hurt?

Soon, a horrifying truth is revealed. She is fated to be Snow White’s greatest enemy, the Evil Queen.

With powers beyond her imagination or control, Everly returns to the land of her birth. There, she meets Roth Charmaine, the supposed Prince Charming. Their attraction is undeniable, but their relationship is doomed. As the prophecy unfolds, Everly faces one betrayal after another, and giving in to her dark side proves more tempting every day. Can she resist, or will she become the queen—and villain—she was born to be?

The battle between good and evil is on.

First, I’d like to get the genre of this book out of the way.  It is a YA book, but I’m listing it for older YA and also giving it a rating of NC-17.  Not for violence or sex, although the characters get themselves into both situations.  Not enough to tip it out of the R rating though.  No, there are some VERY serious themes in this story.  While I cannot get into it all without spoiling the story too much, I want to say that if you are buying this for a teen under the age of 17ish, read the story yourself first.  I’m sure there are plenty of younger teens that would be fine reading this book, and there are plenty of 20 years old people who would be disturbed…we’re all different.  I’m just saying to judge for yourself before gifting this one to a younger YA reader.

On to my review…

I love this author’s writing and I’m a huge fan of her Lords of the Underworld series. (Definitely NOT in the YA genre.)  When I saw she had a YA story coming out I jumped at the chance to read and review an ARC.  While I’m not huge into the princesses, I’ve always love Snow White.  This seemed perfect for me.  And when it comes to Gena Showalter’s writing talent, I have to say she came through big time on this one.

Here’s where I’m not going to do the thing so many people do.  I’m not going to give this story a bad review or rating just because it ended up not being my cup of tea.  Like I said, the writing is spot on.  The storyline is intriguing and the main characters are fleshed out and sympathetic.  This book made me realize that I have issues with “retelling” stories.  Quite a few years ago I read Wicked by Gregory Maguire and couldn’t figure out what my problem was with that book.  Again, I gave it a pretty good rating since I could see how it was a great book.  Now that I’ve read another retelling type of story, I realize that my brain has a hard time staying on track with these books.  I’m constantly looking for clues to who is who and what it all can mean.  To the point that it’s distracting me from the story.  Throw in the fact that there is a prologue in this book (which I don’t generally have a problem with) and my brain was being torn in too many directions.  All the while I’m thinking to myself, “this is an amazing story and I think so many people will love this book.”

Everly is, by turns, easy to love and hard to love.  But even when she was being difficult, I found myself rooting for her.  Then there’s her connection to Roth.  Everly and Roth have phenomenal chemistry and I was immediately rooting for them to become a couple.  As with Everly, Roth is often hard to love.  Probably harder to love than Everly at some points.  But you just know his heart is in the right place, just as hers is.  You can’t help but hope he gets his head out of his rump!

There are so many things happening in this story, and the author does a great job of keeping the story linear and cohesive.  At the same time, with all of the characters, there’s anticipation of what other stories are going to be told in this series.  Some I’d love to see get a HEA, some I’d love to see get their comeuppance, and maybe some will even be atoned. 

While this is not the type of story I, personally, am able to read quickly and easily, I’m still curious as to what will happen next.  When the next book comes out, I’ll just have to remember that I’ll need more than a day or two to read the whole thing.  In the meantime, I’ll be recommending this story to a lot of people I think will enjoy the fairy tale retelling.

4 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**

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Once Upon a Bad Boy (Sometimes in Love) – ARC Review

42404923Once Upon a Bad Boy
by Melonie Johnson
Release Date:  June 25, 2019
Publisher:  St. Martin’s
Book #3 in the Sometimes in Love series
Number of pages:  320
Kindle Edition
Source: Net Galley ARC
Contemporary Romance M/F
Rating: NC-17
Read 6/3/19 to 6/4/19


Sadie Gold is ready to take her career to the next level with the role of a lifetime. Finally, she can shake her reputation as a pretty face with more wealth and connections than talent. But Sadie is not prepared for the wild turn her own life is about to take. The man in charge of training Sadie for her most demanding role yet is none other than her first real boyfriend—the one who took her heart and ran away.

Bo Ibarra is as good-looking and irresistible as ever. Maybe even more so, now that everything once worked against them—Sadie’s pampered and privileged upbringing and Bo’s childhood in a family struggling to make ends meet—is in the past. But the future is still unwritten…and getting there, together, means coming clean about painful secrets and slashing through nasty tabloid rumors while trying to control the attraction that crackles between them. Maybe it’s finally time for them to walk off into the sunset and into a true and lasting love?

You guys, I’ve been sitting on writing this review for a few days now.  Whenever I think about how I want to tackle talking about this book, my mind goes in a million directions.  You know I don’t usually include spoilers in my review, but I just don’t feel I can really dig into my feelings on this one without it giving some things away.  So, after this paragraph, proceed at your own discretion.  If you’d rather not read anything that could give any part of this story away, just know I found this to be an amazing read and really hope this author continues to right such important stories.

Sadie and Bo were childhood sweethearts who ended abruptly and on somewhat bad terms.  I love the feelings that were zinging through the air when they see each other again, more than 10 years later. They both have bad feelings about things that happened in the past, but they don’t really let it get in their way.  They can’t deny they are drawn to each other all over again.  The more time they spend together, the more they feel themselves reverting back to their old habits with one another.

While Bo never told Sadie why he broke things off out of the blue, Sadie has yet to admit how much it devastated her.  Plus, Sadie has a whole other secret she’s keeping from Bo.  A secret she feels can crumble everything they’re building back up. The longer she holds onto her secret, the harder it gets for her to find the right time to reveal the secret.

Here’s the thing, there is a good chance you’ll figure out what her secret is far before she gives the details.  It’s really not about the actual secret, but how everyone reacts to the secret.  From her grandmother (who is the only one who knows what happened), to Bo, to Bo’s sister, to Sadie’s friends. The thing that touched me the most was Sadie’s own reaction to others when she finally spilled the beans.  In this day and age, with all of the attacks on women’s rights, this story just hits the nail on the head.  I felt the author handled this subject with a lot of care, but also with a lot of backbone. Sadie didn’t bend in her belief that she did the right thing, no matter what anyone else said. This is just so important for so many ladies to see…Sadie made a hard choice but eventually will still get her HEA. What is right for one person may not be right for another, but Sadie did what was right for her at that point in time. Which is also why I think Bo’s sister’s reaction had me cheering for her.

That all being said, I did at some points wish Bo would open up about why he broke things off all those years ago and that Sadie would reveal her secret a bit sooner than it actually happened. Not that it dragged, just that I was anxious for the couple to have their HEA with a clean slate.

I really hope this series continues so we can see what happens to the rest of the friends in this circle. I feel like this author got better and better with each book.

One final note…as much as I felt the author did a wonderful job taking on a touchy subject, I cannot overlook the fact that she had a professional stuntman ride his motorcycle without a helmet.  A stuntman, more than anyone, knows about safety and knows that no matter how careful you are you cannot control how careful those around you are.  With how consistent everything else seemed in this story, this really stood out and disappointed me.  I’ll get off my soapbox now.

4.5 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**

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Evvie Drake Starts Over – ARC Review

42113939Evvie Drake Starts Over
By Linda Holmes
Release Date:  June 25, 2019
Publisher:  Ballantine Books
Number of pages:  304
Kindle Edition
Source: ARC from Net Galley
Contemporary Romance M/F
Rating: PG-13
Read 5/29/19 to 5/30/19


In a small town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her house. Everyone in town, including her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and she doesn’t correct them. In New York, Dean Tenney, former major-league pitcher and Andy’s childhood friend, is struggling with a case of the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and he can’t figure out why. An invitation from Andy to stay in Maine for a few months seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button.

When Dean moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken–and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. But before they can find out what might lie ahead, they’ll have to wrestle a few demons: the bonds they’ve broken, the plans they’ve changed, and the secrets they’ve kept. They’ll need a lot of help, but in life, as in baseball, there’s always a chance–right up until the last out.

Full disclosure, I have been listening to Linda Holmes on her Pop Culture Happy Hour (PCHH) podcast for many, many years. I’ve always appreciated the way she stands up for and lauds the romance genre, be it books, television shows, or Hallmark movies.  So of course, I’ve been beyond curious to read her book since I found out she was being published.  When I requested an ARC of this one, I really thought it was a long shot.  I was elated to be approved for an ARC and couldn’t wait to dive in…while I was also terrified to read this book at the same time.  What if it didn’t live up to my expectations? Not only would I be disappointed in a book I was looking forward to, but I’d most likely have a different view of Ms. Holmes, too.  I know that’s not fair, but I knew it was a possibility.  All this long, rambling paragraph to say I needn’t have worried.  This story is amazing!

I immediately fell in love with this author’s writing tone and rhythm.  Everything flowed so smoothly and easily while keeping me engaged in the narrative.  The characters are all very likable, totally people I would love to be friends with.  On top of all of that, the story is interesting.  Although we know the gist of Eveleth’s and Dean’s issues, I still found myself enjoying how it all unfolded.

There are small and mundane things that the author adds that, instead of bogging the story down, add to the richness of the writing. Her detail about windshield wipers really spoke to me because it helped me to relate to Evvie and how she grew up.  There were also huge things that are uncovered in such a subtle way that you don’t, at first, realize their impact. 

So many things are understated and under the radar, which helps this book to sneak up on you with its intensity.  I was almost surprised by the depth of my feelings for the situation when things started falling apart more and more for Evvie.  The gut-punches and butterflies and tears were expected, but not to the extent that they occurred.

I’m so happy for Ms. Holmes and cannot wait to see what else she may have up her sleeve.  I was already a fan, now I’m a super-fan.

5 stars

** I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the Net Galley and the publisher.  All opinions expressed in my review are my own and given freely. **

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Twisted (Dark Protectors)

by Rebecca Zanetti
Release Date: June 20, 2013
Publisher:  Kensington
Book #5.5 in the Dark Protectors series
Number of pages:  103
Kindle edition
Source: MCL
Paranormal Romance M/F
Rating: XXX
Read 6/7/19 to 6/8/19


Maggie is a wolf shifter who was captured and experimented on by the Kurjans. Now that a cure has finally been found for shifters (although not for vampire mates or witches), she can concentrate on creating a new life for herself and finally accepting that her memories are gone forever. Most memories, that is. Sometimes in the hazy world between dreams and dawn, she hears a Scottish voice, dark and deep, that sounds suspiciously like wolf-shifter Terrent Vilks. A man she happened to anger by kidnapping a few years back. Hey, it was for a good cause.

Terrent Vilks knows more than he’s let on for the past several years. After digging for answers, he knows exactly why the demons want Maggie dead. And he remembers his past with Maggie…very well. She is finally where he wants her. Now all he has to do is discover what exactly the Kurjans did to her, beat the demons into so much submission they leave her alone, and get her to fall in love with him. Again. Good thing he’s used to wrangling monsters.

Rebecca Zanetti really does a stellar job in her 0.5 books.  For most authors, these 0.5 books are shorter stories to give us some more info on characters that are a bit more peripheral, or to fill in some background info that will be needed in future books.  I’ve had my ups and downs with other authors with these shorter books. So far, this author is really impressing me with her short stories.

Of course, being a little over 100 pages, this story moves fast.  I would also strongly suggest it not be read as a standalone.  That’s not what it’s meant for and not how it should be read. 

Maggie has been a mystery since we met her.  There’s a scene in Consumed between Maggie and Terrent that full-on intrigued me. So, I’m really glad to get to read their story.  There is so, so, so much more to both characters than I had imagined.

Because this story is so short, I cannot say much of anything without spoilers.  This story is full of chemistry and fun and tough choices.  I loved it!

4.5 stars

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