Thursday, December 24, 2015

Movie Review: The Holiday

The Holiday is this year's foray into festive movies this year. I'm not sure how I missed it as it has two of my favorite celebrities starring in it.
, ha
I love Jude Law. He's just so darn pretty. I also love Kate Winslet, with the exception of that movie about that dumb boat that sank.

This movie was sweet and stupid and for the most part enjoyable. It does feel a little long though.

The premise involves two ladies who have just had their hearts broken in one way or another. They swap houses for a few weeks and both end up finding new love in the other person's life/home.

Kate Winslet as Iris, really got the short end of the stick in this film. First she had a super hot guy that wasn't in love with her they way she wanted him to be and then she ends up with Miles, played by Jack Black. Granted, he's the guy you'd really want to end up with . He's average and really nice and fun and not much baggage.

Cameron Diaz as Amanda, is annoying and of course she gets Graham, played by the super hot, Jude Law. Graham is also Iris' brother, a widower with two young daughters.

Amanda's story is the sexy story with very little substance, other than her falling in love and being able to finally cry. WTF! Iris and Miles have more substance to their romance that includes helping an aging filmwriter, Arthur.

Both Iris and Miles have to deal with the other people in their lives and that makes their story a bit more substantial. In the two weeks, Iris and Miles know each other, you feel like they actually get to know each other and may possibly even have something in common. With Amanda and Graham it feels more like great sex.

So this movie is about as fluffy as a holiday Harlequin, and that is possibly being a bit insulting to the Harlequin, it is still a cozy chick flick with a lot of eye candy for anyone watching or being forced to watch.

Rating: 3 stars

Monday, December 7, 2015

Goddess Fish Book Promotions Book Blast: The Faberge Secret

The Faberge Secret
by Stephanie Burkhart

GENRE: contemporary romance



Elise Goodwin operates a heritage museum in Brattleboro, Vermont. Needing to buy some items for her museum, she travels to Boston and acquires a delicious surprise that would excite any curator – a Faberge Egg.

Enter Russian businessman Dimitri Romanov, the true owner of the jewel. He's following a lead hoping to reacquire his stolen egg when he bumps into Elise. He can't hide his attraction to the petite brunette with doe-like eyes.

Dimitri's rival, Gustav Kelch, wants the rare Faberge jewel and will do anything to find it, including destroying Dimitri's life. Can Dimitri keep Elise and his Faberge heirloom safe or will his attraction place their lives in jeopardy?


Excerpt One:

His gaze was as soft as a caress. He reached out and tucked a stray tendril of hair behind her ear. Then slowly, he curved his hand around the nape of her neck and moved closer so there was no space between them.

Their lips skirted each other's, teasing, tempting... until Dimitri's mouth finally captured hers in a drugging kiss.

His lips were firm and persuasive. He smelled of soap and sandalwood. Something intense flared within her, and she fisted her hands around the lapels of his coat. Her body betrayed her desire. His erection pressed against her thigh.

All of a sudden, an all-crushing fear consumed her. He was hard for her. It was too soon, too fast. She broke the kiss and pushed him away.

"Elise--" Dimitri began.


Elise's heart jumped. She swung around and looked at the door.

It stood ajar.

"Lucy!" Elise forgot all about Dimitri's kiss and rushed inside with him right behind her. Concern spiked within her the second she saw Lucy.

Her friend's hands and feet were tied to a chair, and a gag was in her mouth. The room had been trashed. Their suitcases had been turned over; their clothes and books tossed haphazardly about.

Fear knotted inside Elise. She rushed to the chair and took off Lucy's gag. Dimitri untied the knots at Lucy's feet, concern for her friend evident in his eyes. Elise was thrilled that Dimitri had helped her with no hesitation or reservations.

"What happened?" Elise asked. "Who did this?"

"They were looking for the egg," Lucy said. She glanced at Dimitri, but instead of her earlier resistance to him, gratefulness filled her gaze.

Dimitri froze and glanced up, his stare drilling into Elise. "Egg? A Faberge egg?"

Elise loosened one of the ropes around Lucy's hand and looked at Dimitri, perplexed. "What do you know about Faberge eggs?"

He muttered something in Russian, finished untying the knot around Lucy's other ankle, and stood, straightening his shoulders.

"That's what I lost. What I've been looking for -- my Faberge egg."


Review: Stephanie Burkhart is one of the author's I've discovered in the last few years that never disappoints me. I really love her steampunk series. This is a suspenseful novella and I liked the characters. It was really easy to fall for Elise and Dmitri and their whirlwind courtship.

My only gripe is that I wished it were longer, but that's a common gripe with me when it comes to novellas, I always want more, especially when it is an author that I love.

It is a nice twist on the typical holiday stories that are out there too, because this isn't an Easter egg, it is a rare Faberge Christmas egg. Stephanie really went to great lengths researching this book. I found myself wishing that there were really Christmas Imperial Faberge eggs.

I have always had a love for Russian history especially during WWI and how the history of the eggs ties in with the the mystery Dmitri's stolen egg.

Highly Recommended!

Rating: 5 stars

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She was born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire. After serving 11 years in the US Army she currently calls Castaic, California her home. Stephanie was married in Denmark in 1991 and has two young sons. She adores chocolate, is addicted to coffee and enjoys early morning walks. She's also an assistant den leader for her son's Cub Scout den and is a Boy Scout mom. She writes paranormal, contemporary, and steampunk romance and has two children's books published with 4RV Publishing.















Stephanie will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn host.

Please use this rafflecopter code on your post: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Goddess Fish Promotions Book Review: Shadow In The Smoke

by Jo A. Hiestand


GENRE:  British mystery



Janet Ennis tragically died five years ago in what the police labeled an accidental fire. But Janet’s mother, Nora, believes it to be murder and arson. And she’s hoping ex-cop Michael McLaren can prove it quickly, for she’s losing her memory to dementia.As McLaren pokes through the case details, he becomes emotionally involved with the dead woman. Yet, Janet isn’t the only person who threatens mental well-being. A series of arsons on his own property hint that he’s upset someone connected with this case.

Motives for Janet’s murder rise like the smoky tendrils of a fire. And, motive aside, the murder scene seems a bit too pat: a drought-stricken landscape eager to lap up flames, and a conveniently locked door barring Janet’s escape.

Will McLaren solve the case while Nora can still comprehend the resolution, or will Harvester’s plans see McLaren’s career go up in smoke?



“I’m sorry, Mrs. Ennis, but even if I did take on your case, I don’t think you could afford my fee.”

“You haven’t told me what it is.”

He named his price, watching her intently.  She didn’t flinch at the amount but said, “I’d double that if you could find Janet’s killer.”

His right eyebrow rose in skepticism and as he opened his mouth to reply, she added, “I’m serious.  I’ve got the money.”

“It means that much to you, then.”

“Yes.  And it will to you, too.”

“The money’s nice, I admit, but”

“Oh, I’m not referring to the money, Mr. McLaren, though I suppose that will be welcome.”

“Then, what?”

“I meant coming up against your nemesis again and proving him wrong after all these years.”

“My nemesis…”

“Yes. The man you tangled with, the man who’s responsible for you leaving your police job last year. Charlie Harvester. ”

Review: I love British mysteries. I'm usually one for historical mysteries and those usually have a female lead characters. This was a little bit of a departure for me, but that didn't make it any less enjoyable.

This is a wonderfully suspenseful read about a death that occurred 5 years prior but her mother who is now suffering from dementia feels was a murder from arson.

Michael Mclaren really threw himself into the case once he started investigated it, and as Janet's life unraveled onto the pages of this book, you saw that her life was very complex. You also saw that there were a lot of people that had reason to want her dead. I also thought there were some unanswered questions at the end of this book, even though we do find out what happened to Janet.

This is a very fast paced novel that will keep you turning the pages.

Highly recommended

Rating 5 stars


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Jo A. Hiestand knew in grade school that she wanted to be a mystery writer.  But life got in the way: singing in a semi-pro folk group, traveling to New Zealand, working as a camp counselor, co-inventing P.I.R.A.T.E.S. (a mystery-solving treasure-hunting game), becoming a tour agent for a Scottish folk singing group, attending a citizen police academy and riding along with police officers…  But she needed to immerse herself in All Things British for her books.   England beckoned and she responded.

She bee-lined to Derbyshire, feeling it was the ‘home’ of her books.  Derbyshire also bestowed the essential English police contacts and transformed the St. Louisan into an Anglophile. 

She’s returned nearly a dozen times to Derbyshire, researching and photographing for her McLaren cold case detective novels.

In 1999 Jo returned to Webster University to major in English.  She graduated in 2001 with a BA degree and departmental honors.

Her cat, Tennyson, shares her St. Louis home.

Follow Jo and McLaren on these websites:
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Jo A. Hiestand will award a McLaren-design tote bag AND a choice of a water bottle (McLaren designed) or a ceramic McLaren coaster tile (International giveaway) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway