On the way to Carmel layout 

I used burlap for my base.  The rest is easy to follow!! 

Thanks for stopping by!

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Behind Closed Doors by Lisa Renee Jones #XOXperts 


From New York Times bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones comes a brand new gripping and provocative novel that ties into her bestselling Careless Whispers and Inside Out series. You can enjoy this as a standalone, but fans of Careless Whispers and Inside Out will get an exciting glimpse of who Ella really is and some of the secrets she’s been hiding from everyone she knows.

Desperate to pay for law school, Skye tries her hand at auction hunting with her friend Ella, only to find a poker chip and a note leading to an offsite locker. The next thing she knows, Jason “Red Bull” Wise—a famous, millionaire poker player—is at her door, accusing her of blackmail. Innocent, she swears he’s wrong. He rolls the dice and believes her, impulsively inviting her along to Las Vegas. And remarkably, cautious Skye takes a risk, finding herself seduced by this dangerously alluring man, on his private jet, and finally living life to the fullest. But there is more than passion waiting for Skye and Jason in Vegas when blackmail takes a deadly turn.


Whew!! This is a lightening fast, hot, steamy read! 

Ella purchases an abandaoned storage facility unit in hopes of finding much needed treasure. Instead, she found a hot poker player and a stolen chip!

Ella meets Jason in the midst of a blackmail scheme. In her efforts to help him find the culprit,  she and Jason win each other over, on and off the felt. They are one hot duo in the face of danger.  

I adore Jason. He is smart, rich, talented and BOY, is he FINE! Ella is a woman trying to improve her life situation. She is wanting to become a lawyer but she needs more money than her two jobs can give her. When she meets Jason she realizes she is tougher than she imagined.   I love how she can throw caution to the wind…I could not do that…not in my DNA. She is a character I admired as the story developed. 

The ending of this tale seems a little rushed and some details are missing . Maybe there is a sequel or more to the story is to come.  

I received this novel from Simon and Schuster as part of #XOXperts.


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Yellow Hair by Andrew Joyce BOOK SPOTLIGHT 

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Recca has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to talk about my latest, Yellow Hair.

Yellow Hair documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and outrage depicted actually took place—from the first to the last. The historical figures that play a role in my story were real people and I used their real names. I conjured up my protagonist only to weave together the various events conveyed in my fact-based tale of fiction. Yellow Hair is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century. It is American history.

The inspiration for the book came to me when I was reading a short article and it made reference to the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862. It also mentioned that the outcome involved the largest mass execution in the history of the United States. That piqued my interest. 

When I started my research into the incident, one thing led to another and before I knew it, I was documenting the entire history of the Sioux, who are also known as the Dakota, vis-à-vis the relationship between them and the United States. 

Because the book exists only because I read the phrase, “the largest mass execution in the history of the United States,” I’ll tell you a little about that. What follows is an extremely abbreviated version of events.

 The Dakota signed their first treaty with the United States in 1805 when they sold a small portion of their land to the Americans for the purpose of building forts. It was right after the Louisiana Purchase and President Jefferson wanted a presence in the West. At the time, “the West” was anything on the western side of the Mississippi River. 

In the treaty of 1805, the Dakota sold 100,000 acres to the Americans. The agreed-upon price was $2.00 per acre. But when the treaty came up before the Senate for ratification, the amount was changed to two cents per acre. That was to be a precursor for all future treaties with the Americans. There were subsequent treaties in 1815, 1825, 1832, 1837, and 1851, and basically the same thing happened with all those treaties. 

In 1837, the Americans wanted an additional five million acres of Dakota land. Knowing it would be a hard sell after the way they failed to live up to the letter or spirit of the previous treaties, the government brought twenty-six Dakota chiefs to Washington to show them the might and majesty that was The United States of America. 

The government proposed paying one million dollars for the acreage in installments over a twenty-year period. Part of the payment was to be in the form of farm equipment, medicine, and livestock. Intimidated, the Indians signed the treaty and went home. The United States immediately laid claim to the lands—the first payment did not arrive for a year. 

The significance of the 1837 treaty lies in the fact that it was the first time “traders” were allowed to lay claim to the Indians’ payments without any proof that money was owed . . . and without consulting the Indians. Monies were subtracted from the imbursements and paid directly to the traders. 

By 1851, the Americans wanted to purchase all of the Dakota’s remaining lands—twenty-five million acres. The Sioux did not want to sell, but were forced to do so with threats that the army could be sent in to take the land from them at the point of a gun if they refused the American’s offer. 

“If we sell our land, where will we live?” asked the Dakota chief.

“We will set aside land for the Dakota only. It is called a reservation and it will be along both banks of the Minnesota River, twenty miles wide, ten on each side and seventy miles long. It will be yours until the grasses no longer grow,” answered the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. 

The Dakota were offered six cents an acre for land that was worth at least a dollar an acre. The payment would be stretched out over a twenty year period and was to be made in the form of gold coins. One year later, in 1852, the Americans took half the reservation, the seventy miles on the north side of the river. The Dakota were now reduced from a nation of fierce, independent people to a people dependent on hand-outs from the ones who stole not only their land, but also their dignity. 

The Dakota were forced to buy their food from the traders who ran trading posts at the Indian Agency the U.S. Government had set up on the reservation. All year long the Dakota would charge what they needed. When the yearly payment for their land arrived, the traders would take what they said was owed them. Subsequently, there was very little gold left for the Dakota. 

By 1862, the Dakota were starving. That year’s payment was months late in arriving because of the Civil War. The traders were afraid that because of the war there would be no payment that year and cut off the Dakota’s credit. The Indian Agent had the power to force the traders to release some of the food stocks, but refused when asked to do so by the Dakota. 

After they had eaten their ponies and dogs, and their babies cried out in the night from hunger, the Dakota went to war against the United States of America.

They attacked the agency first and liberated the food stock from the warehouse, killing many white people who lived there. Then bands of braves set out to loot the farms in the surrounding countryside. 

Many whites were killed in the ensuing weeks. However, not all of the Dakota went to war. Many stayed on the reservation and did not pick up arms against their white neighbors. Some saved the lives of white settlers. Still, over 700 hundred whites lost their lives before the rebellion was put down. 

When the dust settled, all of the Dakota—including women and children, and those people who had saved settlers’ lives—were made prisoners of war.

Three hundred and ninety-six men were singled out to stand trial before a military commission. They were each tried separately in trials that lasted only minutes. In the end, three hundred and three men were sentenced to death. 

Even though he was occupied with the war, President Lincoln got involved. He reviewed all three hundred and three cases and pardoned all but thirty-eight of the prisoners.

On a gray and overcast December morning in 1862, the scaffold stood high. Thirty-eight nooses hung from its crossbeams. The mechanism for springing the thirty-eight trap doors had been tested and retested until it worked perfectly. At exactly noon, a signal was given, a lever pulled, and the largest mass execution to ever take place in the United States of America became part of our history.

Author Info 

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and fifty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, YELLOW HAIR. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, MICK REILLY.

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The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flag 


Elmwood Springs, Missouri, is a small town like any other, but something strange is happening out at the cemetery. “Still Meadows,” as it’s called, is anything but still. Funny and profound, this novel in the tradition of Flagg’s Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven and Thornton Wilder’s Our Town deals with universal themes of heaven and earth and everything in between, as Flagg tells a surprising story of life, afterlife, and the mysterious goings-on of ordinary people. 


Well! This is a very interesting read indeed. This covers generations of townsfolk in Elmwood Springs, MO. It even covers their afterlife in Still Meadows Cemetery.   Very creative, unique and captivating. 

I just adore how I can get lost in her tales. This is a story about a small town. And if you have ever lived in a small town, this one is for you. From the bakery to the church, makes the reader feel right at home. 

I have no idea how she does it. How Fannie Flagg creates such great characters. Every character is someone I know. I can just picture every one in Elmwood Springs, MO. Heck…I went to school with most of them. 

  The only issue I have with this novel and it is a completely minor issue, is it seems rushed in places. It starts in 1889 and ends in 2016. There are more details about the time periods during the 1800 through 1940, but many details were lacking in the later decades. I just wanted more. This does not take away from the great characters or the town. I just felt these later decades were lacking in specifics and substance.  

I received this novel from Netgalley for a honest review. 


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A Lowcountry Christmas by Mary Alice Monroe 


A wounded warrior and his younger brother discover the true meaning of Christmas in this timeless story of family bonds.
As far as ten-year-old Miller McClellan is concerned, it’s the worst Christmas ever. His father’s shrimp boat is docked, his mother is working two jobs, and with finances strained, Miller is told they can’t afford the dog he desperately wants. “Your brother’s return from war is our family’s gift,” his parents tell him. But when Taylor returns with PTSD, family strains darken the holidays.
Then Taylor’s service dog arrives—a large black Labrador/Great Dane named Thor. His brother even got the dog! When Miller goes out on Christmas Eve with his father’s axe, determined to get his family the tree they can’t afford, he takes the dog for company—but accidentally winds up lost in the wild forest. The splintered family must come together to rediscover their strengths, family bond, and the true meaning of Christmas.


Taylor is a soldier returning home. He is not returning home the way he was before. He is suffering from PTSD, so much so he is to the point of almost being incapacitated.  Enter Thor!  Thor is a service dog from the Wounded Warrior Project geared toward helping Taylor re-enter the real world. 

Thor upsets many dynamics in the household. The main problem is between the two brothers.  You will just need to read this wonderful book to find out.   I love all dogs and Thor is one which melts my heart. He is a dog which proves his mettle in more ways than one.  Not only does Thor help Taylor succeed, he also saves Miller. Like I said…..read the book! 

No one reels you in, attacks your every emotion and then teaches you something quite like Mary Alice Monroe. Every book this lady has written has taught me something, either about dolphins, turtles, or nature. This one is no different. The Wounded Warrior Project is now going to be a charity for me. 

This is a perfect Christmas read about family, survival, and hope.  The author never disappoints.  I cannot wait to see what is next!

I received this copy as part of Mary Alice Monroe’s street team for a honest review.


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Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult


Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.


This author always covers tough topics with such equanimity and tact. This story is no different, even if it is a topic our country is facing today and will face forever. Racism is a hard subject to talk about let alone write about. There are many places in this novel which are “hard to take”.  It hits home in countless areas. 

This tale is created with such grace and talent. The way the reader relates to both sides of the issue is an amazing feat. I was torn! Jodi Picoult takes her characters, the good the bad and the ugly, and conceives such a stunning  story surrounding each one. The reader develops a rapport with them, whether you like them or not. You sympathize with their situation and there in  lies her amazing talent. 

This nove is so well researched from the law all the way down to the dansko clogs the nurses wear! (Pharmacists wear those too!) 

Worth every bit of turmoil created! 

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Escape the Past by Annette Oppenlander – Author Interview! Plus giveaway!!

Escape from the Past – The Duke’s Wrath

By Annette Oppenlander

Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction – Medieval


Book Summary


When fifteen-year-old nerd and gamer Max Anderson thinks he’s sneaking a preview of an unpublished computer game, he doesn’t realize that 1) He’s been chosen as a beta, an experimental test player. 2) He’s playing the ultimate history game, transporting him into the actual past: anywhere and anytime. And 3) Survival is optional: to return home he must decipher the game’s rules and complete its missions—if he lives long enough. To fail means to stay in the past—forever. Now Max is trapped in medieval Germany, unprepared and clueless. It is 1471 and he quickly learns that being an outcast may cost him his head. Especially after rescuing a beautiful peasant girl from a deadly infection and thus provoking sinister wannabe Duke Ott. Overnight he is dragged into a hornets’ nest of feuding lords who will stop at nothing to bring down the conjuring stranger in their midst.


Author Biography


Annette Oppenlander writes historical fiction for young adults and anyone who loves stories set in the past. When she isn’t in front of her computer, she shares her knowledge through writing workshops and indulges her old mutt, Mocha. In her spare time she travels around the U.S. and Europe to discover amazing histories. The mother of three ‘former’ teens, Annette lives with her husband in Bloomington, Ind.


On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annetteoppenlanderauthor/ 

On Twitter: @aoppenlander



Amazon: http://amzn.to/2bH0A3m 

B&N: http://bit.ly/2c4xmMI 

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2bPpU7u



The author is giving away a $25 Amazon GC to one lucky reader!


1. This is a very “smart read” book as I like to say. How did you research this? How did you verify your information? 

After visiting the castle I began researching the Hanstein family and found a rather thick book, a Hanstein descendant had commissioned a hundred some years ago. The book contained family trees, original notations from city registers and a few pages about Knight Werner von Hanstein. Of course, I also studied living in the Middle Ages, read a few novels set in medieval times, and reviewed historical information from regional archives.


2. What inspired you to write this type of novel? It has a complexity and creativity not usually found. Is there something specific which lead you to this tale?


In 2012 I visited the ruins of Castle Hanstein in Thuringia, Germany. It’s an amazing place high up on a mountaintop with breathtaking views of the valleys. As I walked through the old torn buildings the voices in my head began to chatter. I know how that sounds, but it was this conviction that I had to write about the castle. Inside one of the rooms I read about a famous knight who’d lived there in the late Middle Ages and feuded with a duke over a beautiful woman. At the time I was often annoyed by my boys who are avid gamers and don’t mind spending all night in front of their computers. Somehow putting a gamer into the story made sense.


Now for the standard questions 


3. Without thinking hard….off the cuff….what is your favorite book? Quickly now…if you think you will change it. I want the first thing that pops in your head!


That has to be the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. I can’t think of another book that got me into the story so quickly, had such an amazing cast, storyline and complex emotional journey.


4. Which author, dead or alive, would you want to meet and have a conversation with and why?

I have a number of favorites, but my all-time favorite is J.R.R. Tolkien who I can no longer ask. I’d love to know if he had the “Lord of the Rings” story in his head before he began or if he came up with it as he wrote. I just find it so fascinating how he developed these amazing characters and beings and this convoluted, connected story where every group plays a role. I found it challenging enough to write the “Escape from the Past” trilogy and make sure that I didn’t leave lose ends. His is way more complicated and remains my favorite fantasy read.


5. Catherine Mckenzie must have her tunes, Dan Brown needs his gravity boots. Is there anything special you need to write? 


In one word: chocolate. I’m a certified chocoholic and not many days go by that I don’t eat something with chocolate. I also love to break up my writing routine with yoga and walks with the dog. There is something soothing about exercise and it gets my brain cells moving.


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