Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Birthday Present!

It's my birthday today. As usual, I checked my blog and... low and behold....a present awaited me....the Versatile Blogger Award! YAY!

First, a BIG THANK YOU to Nikki over at Nikki's Starbucks Reviews for passing the Versatile Blogger Award on to me. She has a great blog with very unique posts. Check her out and show her some love!

So, here's the drill for all award winners:

a) Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
b) Share 7 things about yourself.
c) Pass the award along to 10 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic.
d) Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

AND SO... seven things about me:

1. It's my birthday today...September 30th! (notice I didn't specify the YEAR!)
2. I think "The Rock" (Dwayne Johnson) is a hottie! I mean...that chest...those pecks...!
3. I live in doesn't always snow in Canada and there are no polar bears in my backyard!
4. I love historical romance books about Scottish hunks in the highlands...yet I'm married to a hunky Jamaican!
5. I just want to hang at a beautiful beach with a hot book and an even hotter man!(OK, I'll take the husband!)
6. As a kid, I cut my eye in the same place twice in one day!
7. I love pizza, chicken roti, jerk chicken and a fresh french baguette with asiago dip spread all over it....MMMMMMM!

It is my pleasure to now pass this award on to:
1. Book Noise
2. ScrapArt by Pris
3. The Book Girl
4. Buried in Books
5. Snowdrop Dreams of Books
6. Book loving Mommy
7. Fresh Off the Shelf
8. A Book Geek
9. Super Librarian
10. WV Stitcher

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Review for "When Blood Calls" by J. K. Beck

You hear about it all the time. Your girlfriend tells you that she had a one night stand with a hunk of a man. Your sister divulges that she had wild sex with a guy she met at a bar Friday night. This type of unexpected exploit may even have happened to you. It never means's innocent fun, an un-planned encounter that will never amount to anything. But....what if you can't stop thinking about him? What if, every time you close your eyes, you can still feel his hands upon you....his breath brushing against your ear as he whispers your name.....his rock-hard body pressed against yours as he makes you teeter on the edge of abandon? This is exactly the state Sara Constantine finds herself in at the beginning of "When Blood Calls".

Sara is a hard-working prosecutor who has just won a very prominent case against one of the worst criminals around. This notorious victory wins her a promotion with a secret division under Homeland Security. She quickly discovers that her new job involves prosecuting supernatural creatures. Sara is thrust into a world filled with werewolves, vampires, shape-shifters, poltergeists, trolls, and soul-suckers....monsters. But the worse part of this nightmare is when she finds out that her first case is prosecuting Lucius Dragos, the dark, sexy Luke whom she had the erotic encounter with....and he's a vampire....a powerful vampire accused of murder. Sara has to determine if Luke is this monster killer that she is being led to believe or if he's the caring, complex man that made her glow under his touch.

This is my first PNR book since I read the Twilight series and I must say, I was a little disappointed. The connection between Sara and Luke was not fully developed. Readers are led to believe that the one night of passion was enough to create a connection for life. The characters did not even interact enough to create a believable connection between them that would justify the deep love they apparently shared. Don't get me wrong, I do believe in "love at first sight" and even love after a one night stand. But you do need some time together to build upon that instant attraction. Sara and Luke didn't get much of an opportunity until about page 179. I so wanted to feel more for this hero and heroine, but there just wasn't enough there to make it truly believable.

I did like the way that the hero Luke was depicted as the noble, self-sacrificing vampire, traits not usually synonymous with blood-sucking immortals, especially those who kill. It is these traits that Sara sees under the dark cloak that Luke wears. However, I did feel that Sara was very quick to accept Luke's murderous ways and turn her back on the law and the fight for justice that she started the book with. Overall, I enjoyed the book, but it just wasn't outstanding, although the front cover is a hot, eye-catching piece of candy. Give this book a shot...I'd like to know what you think.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another Award!

I can't believe it! I have been honoured with a sweet blogging award from Shannon over at Augmented Gem. Shannon is a very talented fellow Canadian who designs some exceedingly beautiful jewellry. Her jewellry shop is on ETSY so hop on over and give her some love.

Here are the rules for accepting this award:

1 - Post who gave you this award.
2 - Name 10 things you like.
3 - Give this award to 10 other people and notify them with a comment.

Now....on with the show! The 10 things I like are:

1) Pomegranite martinis....mmmmm!
2) Talking about hunky fictional men from the books I read with girlfriend Heather! (We are trying to find her a Scottish Highlander like Jamie Fraser!)
3) Blogging....I am addicted!
4) gives me an outlet for some of the emotions I have a hard time revealing.
5) Anything with carbs in it....nachos, bread and dip, more bread....
6) Curling up reading in bed (or in my chaise lounge) with a cup of tea on a rainy day
7) Meeting up with old friends and catching up over a glass of wine...fellow women inspire me!
8) Bling....Sparkly bling!
9) Beautiful little out-of-the-way boutiques
10) My family....3 kids and the hunky husband

Well...what do you think....any other book loving, carbaholics out there?
I will be passing this award on to ten other blogs tomorrow. Cheers!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Have Been Tagged!

I've been tagged by Heather over at BURIED IN BOOKS!!! Apparently you want to know more about me. So here we go! I'll answer some questions and then pass the tag on to four more bloggers.

4 Things in my Handbag

* many different lipsticks and lip gloss
* a pen and some paper in case I get inspired
* my wallet
* my NEW Sony Reader!

4 Things in/on my Desk

* framed pictures of my kids and one of me and the hunky hubby
* one of those green banker lamps
* my laptop
* every office supply you could think of (I am a teacher you to be organized!)

4 Favorite Things in my Bedroom

* my chaise lounge (I bought it just for place to escape with my books!)
* a small glass-top table from Pier One that holds books and a basket with writing tools
* picture of me and hunky hubby on our wedding day
* does the hunky hubby count? He is a favourite in the bedroom (if I'm in the mood!)

4 Things I Always Wanted to Do (but haven't yet)

* write a romance novel
* visit the Scottish Highlands
* travel throughout Europe with my husband
* visit the country I was born in (Guyana) since I haven't been there since I was 2

4 Things I Enjoy Very Much at the Moment

* blogging
* writing
* reading
* having some girls over to just gab and drink pomegranite martinis

4 Songs I Can't Get Out of My Head

* Lost Without You by Robin Thicke
* Don't Leave Me Girl by Blackstreet
* OMG by Usher
* Unthinkable by Alicia Keyes

4 Things you Don't Know About Me

* I was born in Guyana, South America
* Put me in a room with people I don't know and I am the shy one!
* I am a romantic
* I had 5 pets at once as a kid: guinea pigs, fish, dog, cat, bird....My poor mother!

Now, I will pass this on to:

* Augmented Gem
* The Things We Find Inside
* CMash Loves to Read
* Blog O' The Irish


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Review for "The Exile" by Diana Gabaldon

I have just spent the last 2 hours in bed with....yes....another man! To be more specific, a hot, red-haired, brawny, gaelic-speaking Scot named James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser. Mmmmmm....Jamie.....he's back and in full colour!

It was with much trepidation that I actually opened this graphic novel, for I didn't want to ruin the perfect picture of James Fraser that has been engrained in my psyche since I began my journey with the Outlander series. I am still not sure how I feel about it. (hence my lack of a star rating on this review) The illustrations are beautiful and the artist, Hoang Nguyen, does a remarkable job with the landscape scenes, bringing forth the immense beauty of the highlands with his use of colour and shades of light and dark. The scene with Jamie and Claire consummating their wedding vows is a hot one, yet tastefully done. The ever-famous page Jamie in all of his naked beauty! However, I did have some trouble distinguishing some of the minor male characters, for many of their features were the same. But Claire, who could miss Claire with those huge breasts spilling out of every dress!

Being an Outlander fan, I was already familiar with the story line, and I am glad that there were some plots revealed in this book that were different than the original novel, especially the insights from Murtagh's perspective. However, I don't think there was enough development of characters for a new reader to make a sound connection with any of them. Having said this, it is a fast paced, exciting piece of work that could be an engaging invitation into the world of Jamie and Claire. For those truly addicted to Outlander and everything JAMIE, it is a great addition to your collection.

Book Blogger Hop If you are following from a hop, please leave your comment here under this post.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sneak Peek at Blue Bells of Scotland

I am very very close to the end. Part of me wants to read quicker and find out what happens to Shawn and Niall. But the other part of me is afraid to reach the end, afraid to say goodbye to new characters that have grown with every turn of the page. So, I have put down the book, with only 30 pages to go, and instead I have chosen to give you a sneak peek at this historical fiction by Laura Vosika. Check out the video below. The music always transports me back in time, back where the lochs are black and the bluebells grow scattered across the fields. I will be posting my review of this novel on October 22 as part of Laura Vosika's virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Books.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Grand Hop News

Yes, it is Saturday the 18th of September. I was supposed to launch the GRAND HOP today. Unfortunately, my co-host over at TTWFI has been under the weather lately. So, we have decided to postpone the launching of this new hop until she is feeling better. So please check back for updates. I will be tweeting about the GRAND HOP on Twitter. Yes....I have finally joined the rest of the world and I now have a Twitter account. Please look on my sidebar and click on the Twitter icon to follow me. I always return the favour. Hope everyone has a great weekend. I am going to settle in with my current read, Blue Bells of Scotland. Only 150 pages to go!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Grand Hop at Mandy's Escape

I love blog hops. Being relatively new to the world of blogging, blog hops have been a great way for me to meet new bloggers and discover some awesome blogs out there. So I've decided to co-host a GRAND HOP once every month with my great blogging buddy over at The Things We Find Inside.

This GRAND HOP will include a blog hop, a twitter hop and a Facebook fan page hop all in one. We will be looking for two guest hosts every month who will be willing to add the code to their pages on the 'grand' day. If you would like to be considered for the guest host position please leave a comment here. We will ask you to place the code for the hop on a post telling others of the GRAND HOP. Your blog address will be featured in slots 3-4 of the hop. To participate, we will ask ALL who link up to follow the blogs in slots 1-4. The ones who follow this rule will be considered for the following month's guest host position.

As this hop is all about making new online's only fitting we call this hop 'I love my Online Friends'. So...we've decided to host the first Grand Hop on Saturday, the 18th of September.

Come on back to Mandy's Escape or TTWFI to sign up on the link. Hope to see you all on the 18th.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Review for "On Mystic Lake" by Kristin Hannah

Annie Colwater's life looks picture perfect. She's married to an attractive, very successful lawyer, she has a beautiful daughter who's on her way to college, and she lives in southern California in a prestigious, gated community in a huge house she designed. But Annie's world comes tumbling down the same day her only child, her seventeen-year old daughter, goes off to England. Blake, Annie's husband of twenty years, tells her he's in love with someone else and that he's leaving her. Leaving her. How can he do that? She's his wife, the mother of his child. These roles defined her. It was all she ever wanted to be for as long as she could remember.

Annie, adrift in an ocean of misery, heads back to her roots and her hometown, a small but beautiful place in Washington State called Mystic. It is here that she looks for comfort from her dad and recalls heart-wrenching memories of her deceased mother. But it is also in this nature-lover's paradise that Annie is reunited with her first love, Nick Delacroix, and his young daughter Izzy. Nick has recently become a widower and Izzy is "disappearing" since her mother died. Together, Annie, Nick and Izzy fight for survival and healing. Together they are strong. Yet it is just as Annie begins to feel she can let go of the past, just as she is beginning to understand who she is, just as she begins to believe in herself....she is forced to choose.

It is something so many of us do...mothers, wives, sisters. We become the nurturers, the caregivers, the organizers and lovers. But then, one day, twenty years later, when Johnnie is all grown up and traveling across Europe and Mary is off to university in Texas, we ask ourselves: What now? Who am I? What will I do now? The world is full of Annie Colwaters.

Kristin Hannah has once again put me through an emotional experience I won't forget. Through these so- very- real characters, she has reminded me to ask those questions of myself: "Who am I and what do I really want in life?" As a woman, I should not feel guilty because I want to do something for myself, be it a fulfillment of a lifelong dream or simply to travel where I want to go. Women can be who they want to be and still be a loving, nurturing parent and a passionate, caring wife. A woman's life need not revolve around those she loves; her life should involve the ones she loves. As Kristen Hannah states "I cannot lose sight of my own reflection". Thankfully, I have found the outlet for my innermost is here in my words upon the page.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wow! Another Award!

Can you believe it? I have just received another award! That's two awards in two days! I want to thank BOOK NOISE for giving me the "One Lovely Blog" award. She has a great new site all about books. Please check it out. Now it is time to spread the joy to other book lovers.


1. Accept the award. Post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.

2. Pay it forward to 15 other bloggers that you have newly discovered.

3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they've been chosen.

So, this award gets passed on to the following great blogs:

1. About Happy Books
2. Augmented Gem
3. The Things we Find Inside
4. Midnight Bloom Reads
5. Must Read Faster
6. One Book Shy of a Full Shelf
7. The Bookish Snob
8. Writing, Reviews, and a Little Bit of Me
9. My Love Affair with Books
10. Book Obsessed
11. In the Hammock
12. Good Choice Reading
13. Tic Toc
14. For the Love of Books
15. Simply Ali


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My First Award!

Today was the first day back to school and of coarse, that means back to work for me. My class is wonderful, but the first day is always exhausting. However, I immediately perked up when I got home and checked my blog. I received an email from a great blogger saying that she has given me an award. MY VERY FIRST BLOG AWARD! I was so excited that I too did a happy dance! all need to check out Marie's blog "The Things We Find Inside". (Look for the link button on the right side of my blog) She is the wonderful blogger who bestowed this amazing award on to me. She has generously helped me with my blog and her site is marvelous. Tastefully done with great features! students would say the same thing...You Rock!

To accept the award you must link back and thank the person who gave you the Life is Good award and answer the 10 questions and pass it along to 6 other blogs :)

1. If you blog anonymously are you happy doing it that way; if you are not anonymous do you wish you had started out anonymously so you could be anonymous now? I don't blog anonymously. I don't give my last name ( to be on the safe side) and I use my childhood family nickname Mandy, which is short for my given name Amanda.

2.Describe one incident that shows your inner stubborn side. Well...I'm a Libra, so I am looking for that balance in life. I can't remember one particular incident off hand, but when it comes to my writing, I won't just put something on paper until it is exactly how I want it, even if it takes me until 3 in the morning!

3.What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?
A woman trying for balance and yet still reaching for a dream.

4. What is your favorite summer cold drink?
Oh...that's an easy one....strawberry daiquiri!

5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?
Read in the sunshine, preferably by an ocean!

6.Is there something you still want to accomplish in your life? What is it?
Well....perhaps write that romance novel. And travel with my husband all over Europe...see the world and its many people.

7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever , the shy person, or always ditching? I was always a very good student. I was a bit shy and found it difficult to make friends in the beginning of high school. I am much more confident and outspoken now. However, I still have that shy side to me if you plunk me in a room with strangers.

8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment of your life what would you see? The birth of my first child. Unforgettable.

9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events? I believe when someone writes, they cannot help but reveal something about themselves. When I review books, I always talk about how the story made me feel, how it affected me. Ultimately, although I am talking about someone else's words, I am revealing much about my own self.

10. If you had the choice to sit down and read or talk on the phone, which would you do and why? Mmm....hard one! Sometimes, I just want to curl up and be alone with the characters in a book. Yet other times, I long to enjoy the sound of a friend's voice and laughter. I guess it depends on my mood.

Now, the award needs to be passed on to 6 people. Here are my choices:

1. Heather at Acting Balanced
2. CMash Loves To Read
3. Crazy Bookworm
4. Romance Book Junkies
5. Mad About Romance
6. Bookhounds

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Review for "Winter Garden" by Kristin Hannah

I am at the auto body shop and I have to stop to contain myself. I wipe the beginnings of tears from the corners of my eyes and take a deep breath. I am on page 326 and I'm about to cry amidst the smells of gasoline and oil. "Control yourself", I think. Yet...I continue on... I can't stop reading. The universal theme of loss of loved ones hits me like a ton of bricks. I cannot help but be affected by this story, one of motherhood, loss, guilt and grief. I am getting closer to the end of the "fairy tale" within the tale, and I find myself at odds....I want to know the ending, but I dread the knowledge of a terrible event that must be revealed.

Meredith and Nina are sisters, yet not very close ones any more. They lead very different lives, yet they share one thing...a need, a need to be comforted and loved by their seemingly cold-hearted mother. These sisters tried not to care that their own mother never looked at them and barely spoke to them. Nina makes a promise to her dying father to listen to her mother's "fairy tale" one last time, yet this time, she must hear it to the end. Little do these three women know that the telling of this tale will force them to reexamine their lives and thus change them forever.

This is one of those books that will stay with me long after I have turned the last page and cried my last tear. The author, Kristin Hannah, has done a marvelous job of moving between the past and present, from an apple orchard in Washington State to war torn Russia and finally to modern day Alaska. The way she interweaves the daughters' personal struggles with the mother's telling of her past in Leningrad is well done. She tackles many themes in this wonderfully written book....the ravages of war, the strength of women, the pain endured by mothers, forgiveness and healing. After reading this book, the reader learns how one's past affects one's future. As Kristen Hannah says, it all began with a sentence: "Sometimes, when you open the door to your mother's past, you find your own future." I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy books that are "part epic love story, part family drama, part historical novel". However, be warned...have a box of Kleenex nearby!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Blog Hop

Book Blogger Hop
It's Friday and that means hopping from blog to blog, meeting new friends and reading about some fabulous books. This week's question comes from:

Sarah @ SarahReadsTooMuch

Do you judge a book by its cover?

Well, I must admit that when there is a hot man on the cover, it does catch my eye! But I always read the synopsis on the back to see if it is actually a book for me! I guess it is a mixture of both. A great cover will get me to grab it off the shelf and entice me to delve further, but it is the actual words that make me sit with a cup of tea and immerse myself completely. What about you?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Winner of Follower Giveaway

And the winner of my first ever giveaway is......Marjorie!
I hope you enjoy this great historical romance. Thank you for supporting my blog by becoming a follower. Happy reading!
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