Thursday, September 27, 2012

My Top 5 Restaurants on the Outer Banks

One of the best parts of vacation for me is getting out of the kitchen. I love cooking, but two weeks of limited meal planning is nice. Yesterday, the man we rent the house from emailed the hubby to ask if we had any new restaurant recommendations for his guests. That reminded me that I never posted my Top 5 Restaurants on the Outer Banks list. While there are tons of restaurants we haven't tried yet, there are some that we make a point to visit every year because they are worth it. Many are open all year round too.

The picture above is from our favorite Outer Banks eating place--Miller's Waterfront Restaurant. Located at MP 16 on Highway 158 in Nags Head, they serve lunch and dinner. You'll find a diverse selection of appetizers, salads, seafood,  meats, burgers, sandwiches, and pasta. Their food is amazing, and I have never had a bad meal in all the years we've visited--which are many.

Must try appetizers are: a Basket of Miller's Famous Hushpuppies and Loaded Nachos.

From Memorial Day thru Labor Day they have live entertainment on the pier. In addition, they have a generous and value priced kid's menu. I would put them at the mid-price range for local restaurants. All seats have a view of the water, and you can stroll down the pier to watch the sun set. They have a bar that is located at one end of the restaurant. Miller's is definitely a family friendly place.

My recommendations for lunch:

Chili Cheeseburger

Surf & Turf Platter

Chicken Rhody

My recommendations for dinner:

Outer Banks Shrimp (Broiled)

Broiled Fisherman's Platter

Ribeye Steak

Hurricane Irene ended Miller's tourist season early in 2011, but they reopened this spring and continue to offer quality food and service. For a shot of the new interior, you can visit their gallery. You can like them on Facebook.

2) Big Al's Soda Fountain & Grill in Manteo

Stepping into Big Al's Soda Fountain & Grill is like walking into an episode of Happy Days. There might not be any carhops, but there is a ton of great food and fun in this 1950s theme restaurant. Coca-Cola memorabilia, a dance floor, jukebox, and gift shop complement the spacious dining area and soda fountain counter where you are waited on by an actual soda jerk.

Soups, appetizers, and an extensive offering of salads get you started before your main course. Burgers, sandwiches, entrees and blue plates fill you up, while fountain drinks, malts, and shakes quench your thirst. Be sure to leave room, though, for one of their scrumptious desserts. Their kids menu includes several choices, including PB&J, burgers and dogs, seafood, and pasta.

This is another restaurant where the quality is consistent. In the three years we've visited Big Al's, no one has ever left disappointed. Their onion rings are out of this world. I don't care how much food I've eaten, I can always make room for some of those rings. Their Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae is to die for. The Lil Diva's (11) favorite:  Peanut Butter Pie.

My recommendations:

Philly Cheesesteak

Classic Chicken Sandwich

Fish & Chips (blue plate)

While I'm not big on shakes and floats, the Lil Princess recommends their Orange Creamsicle.

Big Al's is due to be featured on The Food Network’s Diner’s, Drive-Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri. You can like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

3) The Kill Devil Grill in Kill Devil Hills

Located at MP 9 3/4 on the Beach Road, The Kill Devil Grill blends history with great service and fabulous food. Featuring daily specials, they are open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Salads, appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, and entrees make up the lunch menu, with fewer burger/sandwich options and increased entree options for dinner. The dessert menu is the same for each sitting, and they also offer a standard kids menu for those 10 and under. The kids menu features two platters for dinner. In addition to fountain beverages, coffee, and tea, they have a plentiful wine list.

The Kill Devil Grill's strength is definitely its customer service. Their staff is pleasant even when the dining room is jam-packed. The restaurant is fronted by a 1939 Kullman dining car, and is one of only six diners in the national registry of historic buildings. There is counter-type seating in the dining car, along with a couple of tables. A few steps down brings you into the main dining area. The grill is visible from some of the seating, which my girls find very neat (they are big into cooking shows these days).

The food is delicious. In the years we've been visiting, I've tried everything from daily specials to a chicken sandwich to pork chops. They are a cheaper dinner alternative to other sit down restaurants, so families can eat out without breaking the bank. That also means they are busy during peak times. They offer a game outside on their front lawn for those waiting to be seated. You can catch a glimpse of the game in their photo gallery (14th photo).

I have two challenges with The Kill Devil Grill. Their parking lot is way too small for the amount of business they do. Often times, we can't find a spot to park. So, when we know we want to eat there, we usually make a point of eating earlier or later than peak times. The other is that they run out of daily specials. While I'm sure that's not unique in the restaurant business--especially in a tourist area, it happens often enough here that I usually stick with regular menu items.

My recommendations:

The Big Kahuna Burger

BBQ Chicken (salad)

Center Cut Pork Chop (dinner only)

And you must try their Apple Crisp. Even my husband, who has great self-control when it comes to sweets, can't resist it.

You can like The KDG on Facebook.

4) Outer Banks Brewing Station in Kill Devil Hills

It's hard to miss the Outer Banks Brewing Station as you drive along Route 158. There is extensive information about the beginning of the OBBS and the building's design and construction on their website, but I have to tell you, to me it has always looked like a church turned into a restaurant. The history behind the restaurant and its founders is fascinating reading, however, so make sure you check it out. It makes you realize how ordinary people do extraordinary things. The OBBS also has the honor of being the first wind powered brewery in the United States. The founders are conscious about the environment, and it's another reason I like visiting.

The building is two floors, with the first floor visible from some of the second story seating. They have Ladies Night on Wednesday, and live entertainment multiple times a week. They also offer brunch on Saturdays and Sunday from 11:30 AM to 4:00 PM.

The Outer Banks Brewing Station has a substantial menu that includes steamers, soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, seafood, pizza, and entrees. They also offer vegetarian selections. Their kids menu is the best I've seen so far on the Outer Banks, offering standard items, but also appetizers like soft pretzels with honey mustard dipping sauce and edamame (steamed soy bean), and a 4 oz. Filet Mignon entree. Their bar lunch menu is well-priced. Dinner prices run from $15.99 to $30.99, with some local items at market price.

I'm not a beer drinker, but this year the OBBS was awarded the Bronze Medal at The World Beer Cup 2012 for their Vitis Reductus Weisse, which is a German style sour ale.

The one thing to remember if you decide to visit is that it's loud. With the first floor partially open to the upstairs, noise travels. You won't be having intimate, romantic dinner conversations. On the up side, if your child is being a bit of a crank or screaming bloody murder, no one except your closest neighbors will know.

We've only visited for dinner, so my recommendations are based upon that.

My recommendations:


The Petite Filet

George's Pasta

Their Chocolate Lava Cake is second to none.

They are located at MP 8 1/2. You can like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

5) Thai Room in Kill Devil Hills

This July, we visited the Thai Room Restaurant & Bar for the first time. When my hubby's friend asked us to make a recommendation to his guests, this is the restaurant I thought of. Not only because it was fresh in my mind, but also because it's one of those diamond in a rough places. If you drove by it, you might not think of stopping there. It's tucked away in the corner of a little plaza on the Beach Road at MP 8 1/2.

Open for lunch and dinner, the Thai Room is a delicious, affordable dining option. It features tables in the center aisle and booths on each side. This restaurant is not huge, but the portions sure are. My girls and I had more than enough to take home and have a second meal. Offering soups, appetizers, entrees, and combination platters, they also have a small children's menu with seafood, poultry or meat options.

I have eaten a great deal of Thai food over the years, and I can tell you without a doubt that this is the best I have ever had. If I could move the Thai Room to Western Massachusetts, I would do it in a heartbeat. The staff is very pleasant and eager to help.

The only thing I can say I didn't care for is how much stuff was crammed into the tiny space. When you enter the small lobby, you're crowded by the overloaded gift shop. We sat at one end of the dining area, which was near a hanging rack of clothes, which appeared to be for sale. Then there was some type of backroom behind us that really should have been closed off. The decor is very nice, but the overall atmosphere was a bit lacking because of so much jammed into a small space.

We only visited once, so my recommendations are limited.

My recommendations:

Wonton Soup

General Tao Chicken

Sesame Chicken

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays - September 25th

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

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

"The town as Wilder and Lane portray it contains a leavening of freethinking individuals to correct the impulses of those too prone to go along with the crowd or fail to act on their own behalf. Cap Garland does not follow the others as they head the wrong way from the schoolhouse in a blizzard; heeding his own instincts, he goes the right direction and is able to go for help for the others."

~ page 115, Little House, Long Shadow: Laura Ingalls Wilder's Impact on American Culture by Anita Clair Fellman

Regent by Brian Rathbone Giveaway at A Family Friendly Blog

Title: Regent
Author: Brian Rathbone
Blog: Linda Weaver Clarkes A Family Friendly Blog
Genre: Fantasy
Giveaway Dates: Sept 24 - Oct 1
Open to: International

Monday, September 24, 2012

You've Got Mail Mondays

Slow mail week, mostly junk and a couple of catalogs. What has been streaming in are registrations for the WriteAngles Conference on October 20th at the Willits- Hallowell Center at Mount Holyoke College. I'm registrar again this year, so I'm working on keeping up with everything coming in.

The Lil Diva's order from Justice® arrived on Friday, which made her very happy. She loved everything, but her favorite item seems to be this Cool Zebra Dry Erase Board. It now adorns her side of the refrigerator.

I'm a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). I received an invitation to the SCBWI Luncheon for PAL (published and listed) members in November. If I have the chance to attend, I'll get to meet  Jane Yolen. That would be very exciting.

That's it from me. Feel free to share what came in your mailbox. Hope you have a great week.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Free for All Friday: Falstaff's Big Gamble by Hank Quense

This is the second giveaway for today. While fantasy and sci-fi aren't my preferred genres, I have to admit Falstaff's Big Gamble sounds intriguing.

This novel is Shakespeare’s Worst Nightmare.

It takes two of the Bard’s most famous plays, Hamlet and Othello, and recasts them in Gundarland. There, Hamlet becomes a dwarf and Othello a dark elf and Iago and his wife, Emilia, are trolls.

If that isn’t bad enough, these two tragedies are now comedies with Falstaff, Shakespeare’s most popular rogue, thrown in as a bonus.

Both Hamlet and Othello are plagued by the scheming Falstaff, who embezzles money from Othello. After Hamlet becomes king (with help from Falstaff) the rogue becomes the dark nemesis behind throne.

Read the reviews!

Hank Quense has pulled it off again! He is simply a marvalous writer- so witty and do not want this book to end.

I loved all of the characters- and what a bunch of characters there are! The magical land of Gundarland, which Mr. Quense has created and used in several books is a land, like Pratchett's Disc World in which, once introduced- you never want to leave! Having completely enjoyed my latest voyage to Gundarland...I eagerly await my next!!!

--Rick Friedman, Founder, The James Mason Community Book Club

I am a tough audience when it comes to humor, but Falstaff's Big Gamble was right up my alley. It's not a laugh-out-loud book, but it is amusing and light-hearted. Quense gets the essence of each character correct, and runs that essence to its logical if farcical conclusion. Everybody gets what they deserve, if not what they want, and you the reader will have a lot of fun watching it happen.
--Christopher Gerrib, author of Pirates of Mars

Award-winning author Hank Quense writes humorous fantasy and sci-fi stories. His motto is fantasy and sci-fi stories told with humor and satire. He has over forty published short stories and a number of nonfiction articles. On occasion, he also writes an article on fiction writing or book marketing but says that writing nonfiction is like work while writing fiction is fun. He refuses to write serious genre fiction saying there is enough of that on the front page of any daily newspaper and on the evening TV news. Hank lives in Bergenfield, NJ with his wife Pat. They have two daughters and five grandchildren.

Hank’s previous works include Zaftan Enterprises, Zaftan Miscreants and Tales From Gundarland, a collection of fantasy stories. Readers Favorite awarded the book a medal and EPIC designated it a finalist in its 2011 competition. His Fool’s Gold is a retelling of the ancient Rhinegold myth and Tunnel Vision is a collection of twenty previously published short stories. Build a Better Story is a book of advice for fiction writers.

Visit Hank Quense at Strange Worlds
Visit Hank’s website

Enter for a chance to win an electronic copy of this book using the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

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Free for All Friday: The Deliverer by Kathi Macias

This is the first of two giveaway posts for today. I have admired the work of Kathi Macias for years. The final book of her Freedom Series from New Hope Publishers was recently released. You can read my review of The Deliverer--now available for Kindle--at The Book Connection.

The Deliverer picks up just months after Special Delivery leaves off, continuing with the stories of Mara, freed from slavery but still struggling with scars and memories from the past; Jonathan, attending Bible college but strongly drawn to Mara, despite her past; and Lawan, having escaped the brothel in Thailand and miraculously reunited with her younger sister in the US and adopted by the same family. Will Mara be able to move past the pain and hatred that bind her, even if it means traveling back to the place where her parents betrayed her and sold her into sexual slavery? Will she allow The Deliverer to set her free—once and for all?

Read the excerpt!


            The sun set early in late November, and though a pleasant warm spell had kept San Diego’s daytime temperatures in the lower eighties for the past week or so, the air cooled quickly as darkness approached.
            Mara didn’t mind. She loved watching the sun go down over the Pacific at any time of year and in any sort of weather. Just being able to sit on the seawall and watch the colorful streaks in the broad expanse of sky, seeming to frame the dark and restless ocean, reminded her of how precious her freedom was and how much she’d endured before obtaining it.
            She zipped her windbreaker against the encroaching dampness and then gazed down at the envelope in her hand, postmarked Juarez, Mexico. She’d nearly memorized the words in the one-page letter, handwritten by the fifteen-year-old girl Mara had helped to rescue just months earlier. Mara had been working at her waitressing job when she spotted Francesca with her owner and immediately recognized the signs of a girl caught up in human trafficking. The situation had dredged up many of her own dark memories, but Mara was glad she’d been in the right place at the right time to assist the girl’s release and eventual return to her family.
            I’m just glad she had a family and a home to go back to, Mara thought, resisting the tears that bit her eyes as she compared Francesca’s situation to her own. At least Francesca had been kidnapped, not sold into slavery by her own parents.
            Mara shook her head. She had to stop this constant slipping back into self-pity about her past and just enjoy the present. She was free now, working and hoping to start classes at the local college after the first of the year. It was more than she had ever dreamed of during her ten years of captivity.
            She pulled the letter from the envelope and squinted to re-read portions of it in the fading light. The baby will come soon…not sure yet about adoption…praying for the right answer. Mara too had become pregnant during the years she lived as a sex slave—several times, actually—but she’d never even had the chance to choose to carry her babies to term. Always there was a forced abortion…and always she had to suppress her grief and go right back to the life she despised.
            Never again, she told herself. And never again for Francesca. But what about all the others…?
            The tears won over at that point, dripping onto her cheeks as she thought of Jasmine and others who had died at the hands of their abusers. She thought too of what she’d heard about a young Thai girl named Lawan, rescued from a brothel in the Golden Triangle and even now winging her way across the ocean to join her adoptive family right here in the San Diego area.
One more set free…so many left behind. No matter how hard she tried, Mara could not banish that truth from her thoughts. She’d often talked about that very thing to her friend Barbara Whiting, the lady involved with an outreach to human trafficking victims, and Barbara too had lamented the many who never escaped. “But that doesn’t mean we quit trying to help them,” she’d said. “We may save only a small percentage of them, but each life we save is precious and makes our efforts worthwhile.”
            Each life? Even mine? Mara wasn’t so sure, though she wanted desperately to believe it. The reminder that she had also discussed this topic with Jonathan, the handsome Bible college student who had helped rescue her more than two years earlier, brought a rush of heat to her cheeks, and she was glad for the near darkness that hid her emotions. She had tried to deny her feelings for Jonathan and to hide them from him, but he’d faithfully kept in touch with her through letters since going back to school this past fall. One of the things he said to her over and over again was that her life was precious to God and that He loved her and had a purpose for her. At times she dared to believe it, but most of the time…
            A taunting male voice from a passing car interrupted her thoughts as he called out a suggestive comment to her and then laughed as the vehicle sped away. Mara recoiled at the sound and shoved the letter back into the envelope. She stood up from the seawall, brushed the sand off the back of her jeans, and turned toward home. She had to work the breakfast shift in the morning, so she’d better get to bed early. Tomorrow was Saturday, and Mariner’s would be busy. She just hoped that meant some good tips because she could sure use the money.

Read the reviews!

In true Kathi Macias fashion, The Deliverer draws the reader deep into the lives of women and children subjected to mankind's cruelty--in this instance, sexual slavery. One would expect such a novel to fill the reader with sadness. And it does. But the joy of The Deliverer is knowing there are people, some of them former victims themselves, who devote their lives to righting this wrong. This is a novel of pain, forgiveness, salvation, and hope. 
--Laurie Alice Eakes (

Like the prior two books in the series, I was challenged by the topics presented in the book, but still enjoyed reading the characters' stories, particularly Mara's. It is far too easy to ignore or forget that human trafficking does exist and this series is a wake-up call for Christians to arise and fight the evil that is far closer to home than most of us realize.
--Reading, Writing and Ruckus

Overall, I would recommend the entire Freedom series, especially for discussion groups. It will open your eyes and your heart to the plight of those in chains everywhere.
--By the Book

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 40 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences. She won the 2008 Member of the Year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) and was the 2011 Author of the Year from Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband. You can find out more about Kathi or contact her via her website:

Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter for your chance to win. Good luck!

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Book Review: Farmer Boy Goes West by Heather Williams

Farmer Boy Goes West by Heather Williams is the story of fourteen-year-old Almanzo Wilder going West with his parents, older sister Alice, and baby brother Perly.

Mother receives a letter from her brother George, who lives in Spring Valley, Minnesota. He encourages the Wilders to pay him and his new wife a visit to see if they would like to move there.

It takes months of preparations, but once winter is over, the Wilders board a train to start their journey to Spring Valley. Royal and Eliza Jane are being left behind to watch the farm in Malone, New York. Almanzo is excited to go, but he knows he will miss his horse, Starlight.

Farmer Boy Goes West is a superb addition to the Laura Ingalls Wilder and Little House legacy. Meant to serve as a sequel to Wilder's Farmer Boy, this story of a teenage Almanzo going West captures all the excitement and adventure of the original Little House books, while providing some insight into the man Laura Ingalls would eventually marry.

A healthy blend of fact and fiction, Williams captures the essence of the original Little House books, while maintaining an air of her own style. The events in this book are condensed to two years instead of the five years it actually took for the Wilders to make their move from New York to Minnesota. She also took liberties with some of the historical characters. I don't feel that had a negative impact on the story, but those who are sticklers for facts might have an issue with it. I'm hoping not, since this is a truly delightful story. The only thing that really made me stop for a second came in the second chapter, when it said, "One day in January, soon after Almanzo's fourteenth birthday..." Almanzo's birthday is in February. While Wilder did play around with the Wilder siblings' birthdays in Farmer Boy--making Almanzo closer in age to his older brother and sister--as far as I recall, she didn't change the month Almanzo was born.

As with any great story, things aren't always easy. Almanzo ends up having to attend a new school in Minnesota. He has to make new friends. He misses Starlight and Royal, maybe even his bossy older sister, Eliza Jane. He likes a girl at school, but is shy and has no idea how to get to know her. His Aunt Martha isn't very happy about jamming the Wilders into their tiny home.

There are also some neat surprises and interesting historical characters added in, but you won't know what or who those are unless you read the book.

I'm thrilled to add Farmer Boy Goes West to my Little House collection.

Reading level: Ages 8 and up
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (February 14, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061242519
ISBN-13: 978-0061242519
SRP: $15.99

I purchased a copy of this book from Amazon. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

Book Review: The Deliverer by Kathi Macias

Christian fiction at its best is what the Freedom Series by Kathi Macias is all about.

In the third and final book, Mara is faced with a multitude of choices. Though she fears men, she can't shake her feelings for Jonathan, the Bible student who saved her from life as a sex slave. But what man would want a damaged woman like her? And what about her family? Should she return to Mexico to face the people who sold her into slavery? Perhaps even more important, can she receive God's forgiveness and also forgive those who have hurt and betrayed her?

Jonathan is dealing with his own struggles. He can't shake his feelings for Mara, though he's fairly certain she wants nothing to do with him. Then there's Sarah, his sister's best friend. She's been crushing on him for years. Should he try getting to know her better?

Lawan was a sex slave in Thailand, where she watched her older sister die in the brothel. Now rescued, she has been adopted by a family in America, who is also caring for her younger sister. She misses Thailand, the people at the orphanage, and her deceased parents and older sister. Will she ever be happy with her family in America?

The Deliverer is a story of forgiveness, faith, and God's infinite love. This heartrending, emotional story of lives affected by human trafficking will move you beyond words. Having read the first two books in the series (Deliver Me From Evil and Special Delivery), I had high expectations for this book. I was not disappointed. The lives of the Flannerys, Sarah, Mara, Lawan, and numerous other characters have captured my heart. I feel like these people could be my neighbors and friends.

I've read several books by Kathi Macias over the years. With The Deliverer, she continues to grow in her craft and glorify God. She doesn't shy away from tackling the tough subjects. In this series, and this book in particular, characters are put to the test. Can they move beyond the horrible crimes that have brought them together? This way of life is over for Mara and Lawan, but it still exists for many others out there. Mara has even been instrumental in helping another young girl affected by human trafficking. Macias brings a tough issue to light, which encourages them to get involved.

A masterfully told story that shows the wonder of how God works in our lives, The Deliverer is a must read. While a stand alone novel, I feel it best to read the other books in the series first so one can follow the characters along their journeys.

Highly recommended!

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: New Hope Publishers (August 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1596693088
ISBN-13: 978-1596693081
SRP: $14.99 (Also available in electronic formats)

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. The author paid me a fee to promote this book with a virtual book tour through Pump Up Your Book. This tour did not include compensation for a review. I have not been paid to share my thoughts on this book.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Willow Pond by Carol Tibaldi Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations goes out to Jenn, winner of a copy of Willow Pond by Carol Tibaldi. The winner has been notified and has 72 hours to respond before we select a new winner.

Thanks to everyone who participated. Don't forget to check out our giveaways page to see what else we have to offer.

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, September 17, 2012

You've Got Mail Monday

Lately I feel like I can't keep up with anything--even mail. Luckily, last week was not an overwhelming mail week.

I received a kid's catalog from Land's End and a seasonal catalog from Oriental Trading. The latter one reminded me that I need to order my Christmas cards soon. Do you still send Christmas cards? Do you order them online or buy them in a store? Do you include personalized notes?

Since I send out so many cards, and because some of them go overseas, I usually order them with my family's name on them inside. I also have been known to order matching envelopes with our return address on them. One thing I do, though, is write a short Christmas letter to let everyone know how we are doing.

The only other item of mention is the latest book by Naomi King, Rosemary Opens Her Heart. This is the second book in her Home at Cedar Creek series. I was disappointed to receive an ARC with a plain cover instead of the finished cover art, but I really wanted to read this book after enjoying the first one of the series.

It's already a crazy week around here, so hopefully I can keep up with everything. I'm preparing for two writers conferences next month. I'm going to pitch a project to an agent and see what happens.

Hope you have a great week.

Novella Spotlight: Lezlie's Lifeline by LoRee Peery

Lezlie Diamond and Jordan Marshall meet again after a disgruntled husband accuses Lezlie of allowing his wife to die. A night security officer at the hospital, Jordan sees Lezlie home safely. Her nervousness tells him she’s holding something back. Jordan was devastated when Lezlie disappeared from his life sixteen years ago. Now she’s back and he discovers her secret: the birth of their son. How can he ever trust her again? The two loves of Lezlie’s life unite. The teen immediately forgives his mother for her secrets and wants to know his father, but dare Jordan follow their son’s example and grant Lezlie a second chance?
Read the reviews!

Donna Basinow -- 5 Stars

Great story. I love the characters! Jordan is a wonderful man who leans on God in ways we all hope to in real life. And Lezlie, full of human weakness, has learned to allow God to do the leading in her life - even when the way is unexpected and a bit frightening. Although the story is short, I really enjoyed it. Nice job!


Clare Revell

In a Frivolities novella, we catch up with Lezlie, Sage's daughter. The book, by very nature of being a dollar download is a quick read at just 34 pages. However, those 34 pages are packed with action, drama and romance in a way that pulls you in and just doesn't let you up for air. It's got the awww moments and the heart stopping moments, not to mention the 'the author did what???' moments. We meet new characters as well as the old friends from the previous books. This one has gone straight back into my TBR pile.

If you love LoRee Peery's books, don't miss this one.

A lifelong Nebraskan, LoRee Peery is the oldest of seven and grew up on a Nebraska farm. Thanks to her mother, she learned to read when she was four and has devoured books since.
LoRee and her husband have tackled some interesting projects over the course of their married life. For one, they built the home they live in with their own hands. They used to want more acres further away from city life, but one day LoRee realized they had their “greener on the other side of the fence” already. All it took was removing the hedge made of trees and bushes.
She feels grounded in her sense of place and considers it a blessing to have lived most of her life in the country. Her Frivolities series is available from White Rose Publishing at
Visit LoRee at

Book Spotlight: Found in the Woods by LoRee Peery

Beth Phillips returns to Platteville, Nebraska in order to begin a new life and to hide from her abusive ex-husband. The secluded cabin offers a chance to stay hidden and to draw closer to God, but Beth quickly discovers she is not alone in the woods. She befriends a curious, displaced wolf, but instead of fearing the animal Beth finds comfort in his company.

When field biologist, Aiden Holt, follows up on reported wolf sightings, he finds the animal and Beth Phillips. With emotional baggage of his own, Aiden usually prefers animals to people, but Beth's passion to keep the wolf draws Aiden in. Experience tells him the wolf needs relocation. His heart tells him he needs Beth Phillips. He camps nearby to capture the wolf, but can he capture Beth's heart, too?

Two souls, each lost in their own way, are brought together by one of God's beautiful creations. Will the Lord's path to their destiny be found in the woods?

Read the reviews!

Donna Basinow -- Rating: 5 stars

Beth is so sweet, and the spiritual growth you see in her at every turn is a joy to behold. And the wolf...I love him! I can just imagine staring into his eyes the way she does. Their little dance made me laugh (you'll have to read it yourself). And Aiden is such a tender soul. You can hear the longing, feel his need for God with every thought and every word. And his protectiveness over Beth is heartwarming. What a wonderful story – the best one of the series yet!


Mary Manners -- Rating: 5 stars

Found in the Woods is a masterful story filled with hope, faith, and healing. Beth and Aiden are on a journey to find healing from past hurts and their place in life. Lakota, the wolf they befriend, is a strong symbol of all they struggle with. Beth's strong faith guides her through difficult times as her abusive ex-husband is in pursuit and she tries to overcome a feeling of unworthiness. Secondary characters have depth and bring much to the storyline. I loved to watch Aiden come into faith due to Beth's strong example. There is much to love about this story and the entire Frivolities series!

A lifelong Nebraskan, LoRee Peery is the oldest of seven and grew up on a Nebraska farm. Thanks to her mother, she learned to read when she was four and has devoured books since.

LoRee and her husband have tackled some interesting projects over the course of their married life. For one, they built the home they live in with their own hands. They used to want more acres further away from city life, but one day LoRee realized they had their “greener on the other side of the fence” already. All it took was removing the hedge made of trees and bushes.

She feels grounded in her sense of place and considers it a blessing to have lived most of her life in the country. Her Frivolities series is available from White Rose Publishing at

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Save on Pool Closing Kits/Winterizing Kits

The leaves have begun to fall in Western Massachusetts, and the temperatures are finally comfortable enough in the evenings that air conditioning is no longer required most nights. Family and neighbors are getting prepared to close their pools for the season.

While it's always sad to see the summer end, knowing you can save on Pool Closing/Winterizing Kits helps ease the pain a bit. Protecting your pool for the winter makes it easier to reopen it in the spring. Visit PoolGear Plus® today to check out their selection of Pool Closing/Winterizing Kits for 10,000, 20,000 and 40,000 gallon pools. Each kit includes:

  • Suncoast® Oxidizing Shock & Swim: This full-strength non-chlorine oxidizing pool shock eliminates organic contaminants without affecting pH or chlorine levels.
  • Suncoast® Winter Stain & Scale Control: Helps to prevent rust, scale, and corrosion while your pool is closed.
  • Suncoast® Winter Algarid: Helps prevent algae growth when your pool is closed. This special formula works even in harsh winters (perfect for us New Englanders).
Act now, and you'll receive FREE Suncoast Oxidizing Shock and Swim with each Pool Closing Kit!

Buy a 10,00 Gallon Winterizing Kit and receive 1 free additional 1-lb. bag Oxidizing Shock & Swim.

Buy a 20,000 Gallon Winterizing Kit and receive 2 free additional 1-lb. bags Oxidizing Shock & Swim.

Buy a 40,000 Gallon Winterizing Kit and receive 3 free additional 1-lb. bags Oxidizing Shock & Swim.

Visit PoolGear Plus today and take advantage of the great savings!

This post sponsored by PoolGearPlus.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Free for All Friday: Guest Blogger Marilyn Meredith, Author of Raging Water (Giveaway)

It's Friday again! TGIF. Though with how busy the weekends are lately, I'm wondering if I should be thrilled they have arrived.

Today's giveaway is from Marilyn Meredith, author of the Tempe Crabtree Mystery Series. Marilyn's latest release is Raging Water, which I reviewed here. Below, Marilyn shares a bit about this series that has been one of my favorites for years. Marilyn also writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. series under the name F.M. Meredith.

By Marilyn Meredith 
The series features a female Native American Deputy Sheriff in a small mountain community of Bear Creek, in the Southern Sierra. (California mountain range.)
The heroine, Tempe Crabtree, is married to the minister of the local community church. They have a good marriage, but sometimes Hutch has a problem with Tempe’s usage of Native American spiritualism to solve crimes.

Because Tempe is the only law enforcement in the rural area, she is often the first one on the scene of any incident. As a deputy she isn’t responsible for investigating a crime, but the detectives who are often call on her to help, especially if the crime is on the Bear Creek Indian Reservation or if the victims or suspects are Indians. She will investigate on her own when she feels the wrong person has been arrested.
In the beginning of the series, Tempe knows little about her Native American heritage, but thanks to Nick Two John, the part owner of the local inn, over time she has learned more and more.
Though this is a mystery series, if I had to give it a rating like a movie, I would call it PG. There is seldom any bad language and the bedroom door is always closed. If you like strong heroines, and following along as she tries to solve the crime, books set in small towns, and plenty of action, you will probably enjoy this series.
Raging Water Blurb: Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s  investigation of the murder of two close friends is complicated when relentless rain turns Bear Creek into a raging river. Homes are inundated and a mud slide blocks the only road out of Bear Creek stranding many—including the murderer.
I know there are some people who like to read a series in order, but let me reassure you that every book is complete. Though the characters grow through each book, the crime is always solved. . Here is the order of the books for anyone who wants to know: Deadly Trail, Deadly Omen, Unequally Yoked, Intervention, Wing Beat, Calling the Dead, Judgment Fire, Kindred Spirits, Dispel the Mist, Invisible Path, Bears With Us, Raging Water.
And Another Contest: The person who leaves comments on the most blogs will have his/her name used for a character in my next book—can choose if you want it in a Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery or a Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel.
Bio: Marilyn Meredith is the author of over thirty published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Raging Water from Mundania Press. Writing as F. M. Meredith, her latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel us No Bells, the forth from Oak Tree Press. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at and follow her blog at
Marilyn borrows a lot from where she lives in the Southern Sierra for the town of Bear Creek and the surrounding area.
In addition to the contest she mentions above, Marilyn is giving away a copy of Bears With Us. You can read my review of that book here. Please use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Good luck! 

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays - September 11th

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
"Don't just say people are overweight, show it! Show them out of breath while climbing steps, their faces red and perspiring, buttons popped off their dresses or shorts, rips under their sleeves."
~Page 83, A Step in the Write Direction: The Complete How-to Book for Christian Writers by Donna Clark Goodrich

Teaser Tuesdays - September 11th

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
"Tracy and I were married on July 16, 1988, and the reviews were terrible. The Globe announced on its front page that the wedding had been "a fiasco."
~ Page 124, Lucky Man: A Memoir by Michael J. Fox

Guest Blogger: Mark Connelly, Author of The IRA on Film and Television (Giveaway)

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) has for decades pursued the goal of unifying its homeland into a single sovereign nation, ending British rule in Northern Ireland. On film, the IRA has appeared in mainstream motion pictures such as The Quiet Man, action films like Blown Away, political dramas, dark comedies, and even a spaghetti Western, A Fistful of Dynamite. The IRA has been explored by major directors from three countries, including John Ford (The Informer), John Frankenheimer (Ronin), Carol Reed (Odd Man Out), David Lean (Ryan’s Daughter), Neil Jordan (Michael Collins), and Jim Sheridan (In the Name of the Father).  IRA characters have been portrayed by international stars, such as Victor McLaglen, James Cagney, Anthony Hopkins, James Mason, Richard Gere, and Brad Pitt.  Films about the Irish Republican Army range from realistic docudramas like Paul Greengrass’ Bloody Sunday, shot with handheld cameras and natural lighting to create the sensation of watching 1972 newsreel footage, to Joseph Merhi’s action farce Riot in which a British superhero battles IRA bikers in the streets of Los Angeles during a race riot.

Whether portrayed as a heroic patriot, ruthless terrorist, or troubled anti-hero, the Irish rebel has emerged as a universally recognized cinematic archetype.   Over eighty motion pictures include IRA references, and IRA characters have appeared in iconic American television series such as Hawaii Five-O, Columbo, and Law and Order.

This illustrated history analyzes film depictions of the IRA from the 1916 Easter Rising to the peace process of the 1990s. Topics include America’s role in creating both the IRA and its cinematic image, the organization’s brief association with the Nazis, the changing depiction of women in IRA films, and critical reception of IRA films in Ireland, Britain, and the United States.

The Gangster Film:  Criminalizing the IRA by Mark Connelly

The Irish Republican Army has long been implicated in criminal activity – typically robberies, smuggling, protection rackets, and money laundering – to obtain funds to purchase arms, support prisoners’ families, and pay pensions.  As an underground organization, it has engaged in “expropriations,” generally aimed at the rich and state enterprises. However necessary to finance operations, these actions provide political opponents with a powerful avenue of attack, allowing them to discredit the IRA for its crimes rather than its ideology.

            Filmmakers have made the IRA-crime link for dramatic and political reasons. 

Carol Reed’s classic Odd Man Out devotes more running time to a mill robbery and its aftermath than the obscure political motivations behind it.  On its American release, ads did not even mention Northern Ireland, instead announcing a new movie about “a killer on the loose . . . hiding in the shadows . . . while an angry city screams for his blood.” Significantly, the alternative title for Reed’s film was Gang War.

            British films in particular build on the criminal theme.  The Day They Robbed the Bank of England (1960), directed by Basil Deardon, stars Aldo Ray as a turn-of-the century Irish-American who arrives in London to help an Irish revolutionary organization tunnel into the Bank of England to steal a million pounds in gold.  The Long Good Friday (1980) stars Bob Hoskins as the mob lord of London whose empire is torn asunder on a single day as the IRA who “run half of Londonderry” supplant English gangs and become the new mafia bosses of Britain’s largest city.  David Caffrey’s black comedy Divorcing Jack (1998) includes the IRA bank robber Patrick “Cow Pat” Keegan.  Dressed like a Hollywood Mafioso with styled hair, designer suit, and jewelry, he appears as simply a murderous hooligan braced by sneering gunmen.  He has robbed over thirty banks for the IRA, but the film never offers a political rationale for the crimes.

            American movies have been less likely to dismiss the IRA as a criminal organization.  In John Frankenheimer’s Ronin (1998) the mastermind of a criminal conspiracy to steal a mysterious suitcase turns out to be an Irish terrorist “denounced by the IRA.”  By ascribing terrorism and crime to lone wolves and dissidents, American films cast the “real IRA” in a favorable light, presenting it as revolutionary organization that operates under self-imposed rules of engagement.

To get your paperback copy of THE IRA ON FILM AND TELEVISION by Mark Connelly, visit Amazon at
To get your ebook copy of THE IRA ON FILM AND TELEVISION by Mark Connelly, visit Amazon Kindle Store at

Pick up your copy of THE IRA ON FILM AND TELEVISION by Mark Connelly at Barnes & Noble:

Watch the trailer at  

Born in Philadelphia, Mark Connelly completed a masters degree in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he received a Ph.D in English.  His books include The Diminished Self: Orwell and the Loss of Freedom, Orwell and Gissing, Deadly Closets:  The Fiction of Charles Jackson, and several college textbooks.  He currently teaches literature and film in Milwaukee, where he is the Vice-President of the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center of Wisconsin.
His latest book is The IRA on Film and Television.
You can visit his website at

Pump Up Your Book and Mark Connelly are teaming up to give you a chance to win a Kindle Fire HD! 

Use the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to enter and win!

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Monday, September 10, 2012

You've Got Mail Monday

Phew! It's almost the end of the day. This weekend was the Lil Diva's (11) sleepover party. The Hunger Games theme went over well. I'll post some pictures later this week.

Since I haven't let you take a peek in my mailbox for a couple of weeks, this might take a while. Feel free to take a potty break first.  LOL!

The girls were thrilled to find that all their clothes from Land's End and Old Navy fit well. In the picture below, you'll see the Lil Princess in her new clothes from Justice. This was her first soccer practice, and we had gone shopping earlier in the week, so you know she had to wear her new clothes.

Most of the catalogs I received over the past couple of weeks were the usual ones: Land's End, Oriental Trading, and flyers from Macy's. I bought a few of the girls' school clothes at JcPenney. They had some awesome Back-To-School deals. They sent me a flyer last week about their Liz Claiborne® collection for men and women. I thought these jeans were lovely.

I also thought some of the bold prints they had this year were stunning.

I've been down in the dumps lately, so I used some of our Discover rewards to buy books from Amazon. Not that I really need more books, but these are special ones I wanted in print. I wouldn't have bought so many if the rewards hadn't accumulated. Here's what arrived over the last couple of weeks:

Farmer Boy Goes West by Heather Williams. This book is considered a sequel to Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy. I've been reading it with one of my online chums. We are enjoying the discussions.

Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane: Authorship, Place, Time, and Culture by John E. Miller. This was my most expensive purchase, but I am familiar with Miller's work and I have wanted this book for a long time.

Rose Wilder Lane: Her Story by Rose Wilder Lane and Roger Lea MacBride. This was my cheapest purchase. The book cost a penny and the shipping only $3.99. MacBride was Lane's heir, and is responsible for The First Four Years, the final book of the Little House series, being published after Lane's death. He also wrote his own series of children's books about Rose's childhood.

Little House, Long Shadow: Laura Ingalls Wilder's Impact on American Culture by Anita Clair Fellman. I don't know that I would have bought this book without using my rewards. It seems to be a controversial book, based upon the reviews I've read. That William Holtz, author of The Ghost in the Little House: A Life of Rose Wilder Lane endorsed it, didn't make me very confident I would enjoy it. Still, I rarely pass up a book about Wilder or her daughter. After my new LIW related purchases, however, I need a new bookshelf, as my shelves dedicated to my collection are full.

The Strangers on Montagu Street by Karen White. I have wanted this book for ages, but I refused to request it from her publicist when I knew I was so behind on reviews. I'm still thrilled when I open one of White's books and see my review blurb from The House on Tradd Street on the inside pages. I've read the previous two books in this series, so I wasn't going to miss this new book. Now, I just need to find time to read it.

Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox. I have wanted to read Fox's memoir since I learned it was coming out. He remains one of my favorite actors. I was so thrilled when I learned he was coming back to TV. I can't wait until his new sitcom comes out next year.

Lessons from the Mountain: What I Learned from Erin Walton by Mary McDonough. While The Waltons doesn't hold the same appeal for me as Little House on the Prairie or Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, I rarely missed an episode when it originally aired. I didn't know that Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson, Little House on the Prairie) and McDonough were good friends in real life, until I read about a book signing they held together.

I almost picked up Rob Lowe's autobiography, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, but I decided I better curb my enthusiasm before I have to walk over piles of books just to reach my desk.

My final purchase was a DVD titled, Pa's Fiddle: The Music of America. This is a collection of songs Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about in her Little House books. Overseen by Dale Cockrell, director of MTSU's Center for Popular Music, in conjunction with Peak Moore Enterprises, Inc, and Santa Fe Productions, then manufactured and distributed by Compass Records Group, it features Randy Travis, Rodney Atkins, Ronnie Milsap, Natalie Grant, and other country music greats. This will be an excellent addition to my LIW book collection.

As you can see, I've kept the United States Post Office in business the last couple of weeks. Hope you've enjoyed this peek into my mailbox. Have a great week!