Woe! It’s Wednesday: Back from Hiatus

Yes, I took a brief break from blogging. We had a lot going on.

A trip. A wedding. A reception. A move. A nasty stomach virus. Now, a baby!

Yep, grandbaby number three is on the way and expected to arrive a few days before Christmas. We’re so excited we can’t hardly stand it! We’re looking forward to adding to the glut of adorable pictures on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. But I’m back officially as of this week.

Cutest Baby Ever
Cutest Baby Ever

Book Talk Tuesday: Flash

I’m in love with a donkey. I find myself quoting him to others. I’m savoring his book.

FLASH: The Homeless Donkey Who Taught Me About Life, Faith, and Second Chances by Rachel Anne Ridge is a fabulous book.

Flash the Donkey
Flash the Donkey

Rachel and her family were struggling to make ends meet in a crashing economy when a stray donkey showed up in their driveway. He soon wormed his way into their hearts and lives and barn.

The book is a collection of short essays about Flash’s life with the Ridge family. Rachel is a gifted artist who also writes lovely prose. (I’m so jealous. I can write but I’m not an artist, at all.) She tells a story about Flash and one of his adventures then makes an application to her own life, and to mine as well.

I’ve been “friends” with Flash on social media for awhile and had made a mental note to buy the book when it came out, but it arrived all by itself on release day, a lovely gift from an even lovelier friend.

I love Flash’s adventures. So does Stud Muffin. My back was turned one day for an instant and he snagged the book and took it outside to read. He read all day. I finally got it back and I’d intended to read all day so I could be finished with it if it “disappeared” again. But I found that I really enjoy reading this one slowly. A chapter or two a day is a good pace. I let Flash’s adventures and lessons settle a bit more deeply in my heart than if I was reading to get to the end.

This is a great book and I highly recommend it. You can follow Flash on Twitter here.

Media Monday: Like Dandelion Dust

I think I’ve been fairly frank that a faith-based movie has to earn my respect.

I require (in no particular order):

  • Good acting
  • Good production values
  • A good story
  • Be biblically sound
  • Not be “preachy”

Like Dandelion Dust, based on a novel by Karen Kingsbury, arguably the reigning queen of contemporary Christian women’s

Like Dandelion Dust
Like Dandelion Dust

fiction, met all my criteria, I’m pleased to say.

It has real actors who I’ve seen in other shows and movies. Barry Pepper was in Saving Private Ryan. Mira Sorvino has an Oscar. Kate Levering from Drop Dead Diva. Cole Hauser has been in ER and Good Will Hunting and one of the Die Hard movies. All fine

The sets don’t look like sets and they don’t look like rental houses that they moved into just for filming. Well, one house sort of does, but it’s supposed to be a pretentious showplace, so I gave it a pass.

The story is compelling. A battered woman gives up her son for adoption while her husband is in prison. When he’s released, she tells him about the baby and they begin proceedings to get the young boy back from his adoptive family.

Can an alcoholic with anger management issues keep it together long enough to convince his wife and the social workers that he’s ready to be a father?

The movie is not at all preachy. The faith elements are incidental to the story, and woven in just fine. Just the way I like it.

The story is somewhat predictable and played out the way I expected but the story and actors held my interest.

This one has been on my Neflix queue for some time. I’m glad it made its way to me.

Book Talk Tuesday: Hold Me

It’s spring, almost summer, so it must time to return to Fool’s Gold, California with Susan Mallery.

Hold Me by Susan Mallery
Hold Me by Susan Mallery

HOLD ME is the first book in this year’s trilogy.

Destiny Mills is in Fool’s Gold for the summer, helping the town set up their new search and rescue team. Kipling Gilmore is also new to town. He’s been hired to run the search and rescue team. Destiny’s company sells topographical and tracking software and she likes moving every few months. She likes her predictable life. She had enough upheaval and instability in her growing up years. Her parents are famous and tumultuous country western singers.

Kipling is healed up from a horrific skiing accident. Healed up on the outside, at least. He’s left his old life as an Olympic skier to take up Mayor Marsha on her offer of a home for him and his sister in return for him running the new search and rescue operation.

Destiny’s half-sister is spending the summer with Destiny in Fool’s Gold. They share a father but don’t know each other. As the summer progresses, Destiny, Starr, and Kipling all learn lessons about themselves and about life.

A couple of years ago, I commented that all the hero’s in that year’s Fool’s Gold trilogy had the bad habit of running away toward the end of the book. Kipling does not run and I loved him (and Hold Me) for that.

The things that I love about Mallery are abundant in HOLD ME. Smart characters. Great dialogue. Humor. Quirky secondary characters. And still, the sex is fairly graphic, so be warned. Or be prepared to skip ahead. Although it’s not the sexiest of her books that I’ve read.

I loved it and recommend it to readers of light and fun romance. Stay tuned for the next in the series: KISS ME.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of HOLD ME in return for an honest review. We both kept our end of the deal.

Book Talk Tuesday: Still Yours

I’m enjoying this New Adult Series written by Amy Patrick (Disclaimer: Amy is a 2014 Golden Heart (R) sister and I love her, so of course I love her books. But check out some of her amazing reviews on Amazon and you’ll know I’m not that biased).

Still Yours by Amy Patrick
Still Yours by Amy Patrick

In STILL YOURS, Mara has come back to Rhode Island after college and her first job. Her mom is sinking into depression and Mara wants to help. She gets a new job at a local television station. Things should be fine. Except she’s assigned a story to cover and it’s her high school love whom she left behind without explanation after graduation.

Reid is now a rich internet tycoon, thanks to his website, Still Yours, where people search for lost loves.

As Reid and Mara get to know each other as adults, Mara is also dealing with her depressed mother and her contrite father who wants to reconcile with his family.

Amy’s writing is crisp and fun. Mara and Reid are likeable and realistic.

I’m reading this series out of order. My TBR file on my Kindle is so big, I’ve decided to just start reading down the list. So this one popped up first and I read it. But STILL YOURS also stands on its own. It’s a fun read and I’m looking forward to the next one that makes its way to the top of my pile.

I highly recommend it! And not just for the new adults in your life. It’s a good solid romance for anyone who loves good romantic stories.

Food Talk Friday: Tommy Bahama

Yes, you read that right. This is Food Talk Friday and I’m talking about Tommy Bahama.

Until 2009, I didn’t know that some Tommy Bahama stores also have a restaurant attached. Two girlfriends and I stumbled on the Tommy Bahama restaurant in Wailea one afternoon while killing time waiting for our men to finish golf so we could go to dinner.

Tommy Bahama restaurant, Wailea, Maui
Tommy Bahama restaurant, Wailea, Maui

We were done spa-ing and shopping, and they had a vacant booth so we slipped in, shared a few appetizers, had a mai tai and then were in a good frame of mind for our delayed dinner.

Then, in 2012, we received a gift certificate to Tommy Bahama from one of the other couples, with the caveat that we use it in the Wailea restaurant. We visited the island in 2013, but couldn’t make it over there. We tried a couple of times, but circumstances (timing, no reservation, long wait for a table) prevented us.

We tried again last month, and finally — success!

I had learned my lesson, so this time we had a reservation. We were led immediately to a table on the lanai, by the musician. At first I was skeptical about being so close to him, but the volume was fine and the music was excellent. I’m sorry, I didn’t get his name.

We shared the grilled artichoke appetizer and it was amazing! It was char-grilled but what caught our eye (and taste buds) was that it had a Herbes de Provence marinade. And since Stud Muffin recently did a culinary exchange (“I’ll give you two Herbes de Provence for two Five Spice. And I’ll see you–never mind.”) It also came with a lemon-tarragon aioli. The whole thing was scrumptious.

For dinner, Stud Muffin had the Jerk Pork Tenderloin. There was no skimping on this portion. Five or six slices of pork tenderloin on a sweet potato mofongo with a pineapple rum sauce and mango salsa. The pork was tender and not over-cooked. Stud Muffin had an Argyle Pinot Noir with it and it paired so perfectly, he ordered a second glass (something he never does when we’re out — and no worries, we walked to dinner from our condo).

I had the crab stuffed shrimp. The stuffing was sweet with crab, but not cloying. I ordered it because a) I love seafood and especially shrimp and b) it reminded me of a special date when Stud Muffin and I were newly engaged. We went to a seafood restaurant and I had stuffed shrimp that were amazing and I wanted to see if these would hold up to the comparison. They … held their own. The first stuffed shrimp was thirty-eight years ago, so I’m sure nothing would hold up to my memory, but if any stuffed shrimp could come close, it was Tommy Bahama’s.

We enjoyed our dinner so much that Stud Muffin asked if the chef could come out so we could talk to him. A few minutes later, a harried and stained young man made his way to our table. I’m sure he didn’t want to take time to talk to a couple of tourists, but when he saw that we “got” the food, he slowed down and chatted for a minute. He was gratified to hear the Argyle went so well with the pork tenderloin.

Like last week’s post about Monkeypod Kitchen, this dinner wasn’t cheap.

Unlike last week’s post about Monkeypod Kitchen, dinner at Tommy Bahama was worth every penny.

If we’re fortunate enough to visit Maui again, we will be returning to Tommy Bahama.

Word to the wise though: RESERVATIONS!

Spotlight Thursday: Jessica Ruddick and Letting Go

I’m so pleased to shine Thursday’s spotlight on my friend and fellow Golden Heart ® sister Jessica Ruddick.

Jessica cropped

 

 

Jessica’s book LETTING GO will release in May, and we get to see the cover today!!

 

 

 

Here’s the scoop:

Letting Go

by Jessica Ruddick

Release Date: 5/26/15

Blurb:

How long do you hold on?

Cori Elliott likes order. Her schedule, her social life…even her GPA is perfect. Then she finds out her high school boyfriend’s death wasn’t an accident—it was suicide. The devastating revelation is enough to fracture her perfectly structured life, sending Cori in a downward spiral of self-doubt and impulsive decisions.

And right into the arms of Luke Evans.

But Cori’s life isn’t perfect anymore. In fact, it’s all coming apart. The only way she can save herself is to let go of everything—including the girl she used to be. Even if it means losing the one guy who might just be perfect for her in the process…

Add to Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23302058-letting-go?from_search=true

About the Author:

Jessica Ruddick is a 2014 Golden Heart finalist for her new adult novel, Letting Go, which was inspired by her own college experiences. She lives in Virginia and is married to her college sweetheart—their first date was a fraternity toga party (and nothing inspires love like a toga, right?). When she doesn’t have her nose in a book or her hands on a keyboard, she can be found wrangling her two rambunctious sons, taming two rowdy but lovable rescue dogs, and battling the herd of dust bunnies that has taken up residence in her home. To learn more about Jessica, please visit her website at www.jessicaruddick.com.

Author Links:

WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreads

And now for the cover …

LettingGo_1600

Isn’t it beautiful?

Congratulations, Jessica! I can’t wait to read it.

Book Talk Tuesday: Always on My Mind

I’m already dreading when this series ends. I love the Christiansen family, Deep Haven, and Susan May Warren’s writing.

Always on My Mind
Always on My Mind

ALWAYS ON MY MIND is Casper and Raina’s story. We met them in WHEN I FALL IN LOVE. At the end of that book, when Casper discovered Raina had a one-night stand with his brother, Owen, Casper fled for Roatan in Honduras and a job on an archaeological dig.

He’s come back with a clearer head, ready to forgive Raina and move on. He’s hoping she can forgive him for his reaction and perhaps they can begin again. That would be great except he doesn’t know one thing: Raina’s pregnant.

Raina has decided to give the baby up for adoption. She’s in no condition to care for a child and Owen has made it clear he’s not interested in being anything except a flake, a jerk, and maybe a fire-fighter.

In spite of the shock of finding Raina’s secret, Casper is still drawn to her. He moves back to Deep Haven to help at the family resort. Raina also moves back to town to house sit for her aunt and to make a new start on her life. But her heart won’t let her forget the baby she gave up.

Raina gets a job and begins dating a man Casper dislikes. But a local mystery keeps drawing Raina and Casper together, making Raina’s new boyfriend surly.

ALWAYS ON MY MIND is a story of forgiveness and grace. It’s also about how our pasts have shaped us into the people we are now. It’s about rejecting what we think we deserve and embracing all we’ve been given by God: salvation, redemption, joy.

I loved this one and highly recommend it.

Food Talk Friday: Monkeypod Kitchen

Another Maui restaurant. I had great hopes for this one. The menu was fun and different. It looked like the perfect lunch place for a couple of California foodies.

The lanai at Monkeypod Kitchen
The lanai at Monkeypod Kitchen, Wailea

The food was good. Just not … exceptional.

The prices were high.

The service was acceptable.

The ambience was a bit self-consciously hip, but nice.

I had fish taco which were actually very good. I ate two, and took the third home to a daughter who hadn’t had a fish taco on the island yet and I knew she wanted one. They weren’t overly generous, because I was still hungry after the first two and Daughter is lucky the third make it back to her. I had their Mai Tai which was excellent. They boast about their handcrafted cocktails and with good reason. It was full of light juice flavors and rum and was topped with a lilikoi foam.

Stud Muffin had the saimin noodles with kalua pork and veggies. It was good and plentiful. The pork didn’t have anything distinctively “kalua” about it. It was just shredded pork, to my palate. Stud Muffin enjoyed it. He had the Maui Brewing Company Coconut Porter and even I, of the limited palate, could taste the coconut.

I’m glad we went, but I doubt that we’ll seek it out again, if we’re lucky enough to return to Maui. The food wasn’t fabulous enough to justify the prices. And if you think I’m overly picky, come back next week for Food Talk Friday on April 10th for a place that was pricey and worth every penny.

How’s that for a cliffhanger?