Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Courtyard Siegen Lane, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Courtyard Baton Rouge Siegen Lane
Hotel address10307 N Mall Drive . Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70809 
Telephone number1-225-293-7200

(June 12, 2015) Wonderful hotel. Clean and beautiful. Breakfast not included. They had a small shop but did not have anything that could be eaten for breakfast. Would stay again. Booked on 3 out of 5 stars.

Fairfield Inn and Suites, Gulfport MS

Fairfield Inn and Suites
15151 Turkey Creek Drive . Gulfport, Mississippi 39503 
Telephone number1-228-822-9000
(June 11, 2015) Wonderful hotel. Clean and beautiful. Requested feather free and some pillows were feather pillows. Took a while for replacement pillows. Free breakfast. Would stay again. Booked on 4 out of 5 stars.

Courtyard Madison West, Middleton, WI

Courtyard Madison West
2266 Deming Way, Middleton, WI 53562

Extended Stay, Huntsville, AL

Extended Stay 
4751 Governors House Dr SW, Huntsville, AL 35805
(256) 830-9110

(June 13, 2015) Passing through Alabama on our way back home in New York we stayed in Huntsville. We first got a room that had a fishy smell. There were wet towels by the refrigerator and the refrigerator was not working. Moved to a different room with counter stains and a hole in the carpet by the air conditioner. Had a closed up musty smell but at least it didn't smell like wet dog. Cheap room but had a clean bed. Free "breakfast" literally consisted of Quaker oatmeal packets with hot water provided or granola bars. Would choose another place to stay next time. Best part of the stay was that you could see the space center and Saturn V from the balcony of the motel. Booked on 2 out of 5 stars.

Microtel Inn and Suites, South Bend, IN

Microtel Inn and Suites
Tel: 1 (574) 273-4300, Fax: 1 (574) 273-3800
(June 4, 2015) Passing through Indiana to Wisconsin, we stayed in South Bend. Decent hotel. If you get lost, don't call for directions, they will not know. Would stay again. Free breakfast. Booked on 3 out of 5 stars.

Baymont Inn Memphis East, Memphis, TN

Baymont Inn Memphis East
6020 Shelby Oaks Dr Memphis TN
Tel: 1 (901) 377-2233, Fax: 1 (901) 377-0709

(June 9, 2015) Hotel room clean. Free breakfast provided. Would stay again. Child friendly.  Booked through 3 out of 5 stars.

Drury Inn and Suites, Champaign, IL

Drury Inn and Suites
905 W Anthony Dr, Champaign, IL, 61821 United States of America
Tel: 1 (217) 398-0030, Fax: 1 (217) 398-0030

Upon checking in(June 7, 2015), we were given our keys and 2 cards for free drinks, free dinner and breakfast the next morning. This was a wonderful surprise after a long day of driving. Hotel room clean. Would stay again. Child friendly. Bit on the high end of the price scale. Booked through 4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

To Win Her Favor by Tamara Alexander (Review)

"The gunshot sounded. The horses on the racetrack below bolted from their marks, as did Bourbon Belle, and exhilaration fired through Maggie's veins."

The preface tells us that the Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville,  Tennessee was the preeminent Stud farm in the nation and dominated the thoroughbred racing industry in the United States during the Nineteenth Century.  Our author did a lot of background research into this specific plantation and its occupants during my this time. This book is based on real people who lived on and around Belle Meade in 1869.

I received To Win Her Favor in exchange for an honest review. The book opens on May 4, 1869, with our main character,  Maggie, astride her horse,  Bourbon Belle,  seconds away from a race. You can literally feel the tension and anticipation coming through the first couple of pages.

It seems that the reason Maggie and Belle are racing is to afford to pay back taxes on Maggie's home land, Linden Downs. This novel revolves around keeping said property.

During this time, Irishmen like our other main character, Cullen, are not welcome in the South and are treated no better than "darkies." This only reinforces Cullen's belief that God has left him due to some event that cause him to leave his hometown and travel to America.

Our third person point of view focuses on Cullen and Maggie. Maggie struggles with the fact that Cullen is Irish,  especially around others, and wonders about his purpose for being on and staying at Linden Downs. The story flows nicely with some overlap when switching between the characters, but this only adds depth the the book. This is a moderate to fast paced novel with some unexpected twists. We feel like we get to know our characters because our author does a great job of describing them without stating the information.

This book revolves around Christian principles and how the characters develop their relationships with God. While some scenes in the books give more than the idea of what is taking place between our married couple, nothing is explicitly stated; however, it may be more information than some would expect from a Christian author.  I would recommend this book to adults. 4 out of 5 stars.

From the back cover: 
A gifted rider in a world where ladies never race, Maggie Linden is determined that her horse will become a champion. But the one man who could help her has vowed to stay away from thoroughbred racing forever.
An Irishman far from home, Cullen McGrath left a once prosperous life in England because of a horse racing scandal that nearly ruined him. He's come to Nashville for a fresh start, hoping to buy land and begin farming, all while determined to stay as far away from thoroughbred racing as possible. But starting over proves harder than he'd wagered, especially when Maggie Linden's father makes him an offer he shouldn't accept yet cannot possibly refuse.

Maggie is certain that her mare, Bourbon Belle, can take the top purse in the inaugural Peyton Stakes, the richest race ever run in America. Maggie only needs the chance to prove it. To give her that chance—and to save Linden Downs from being sold to the highest bidder—Maggie's father, aging, yet wily as ever, makes a barter. His agreement includes one tiny, troublesome detail—Maggie must marry a man she's never met. A man she never would have chosen for herself.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

London Tides by Carla Laureano (Review)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. This is the second book in the MacDonald trilogy; London Tides by Carla Laureano. In the first book, Five Days in Skye, we met James and Andrea. This book is about James' brother, Ian, and his missing fiancee, Grace. Grace is a war photographer and has returned to London after the death of her photography assistant. Thisis an amazing story of overcoming PTSD and internal struggles all by the grace of God.

After reading the first book I had extremely high expectations for Ian and Grace's story.  Carla Laureano has a unique way of storytelling; she shows us Iinstead of telling us. The characters are well formed told from the third person point of view. You feel Grace's pain and suffering throughout. 

The story flows well and has some surprising twists. I couldnt put this book down. 

Ian's mother refuses to accept Grace back into his life and says that if he decides to marry Grace that she will not be attending the wedding.

I would recommend this book either as a stand alone or as a second book. 4.5 out of 5 stars since I was confused as to some characters at the very beginning. 

From the back cover:

Irish photojournalist Grace Brennan travels the world’s war zones documenting the helpless and forgotten. After the death of her friend and colleague, Grace is shaken. 

She returns to London hoping to rekindle the spark with the only man she ever loved—Scottish businessman Ian MacDonald. But he gave up his championship rowing career and dreams of Olympic gold years ago for Grace ... only for her to choose career over him. Will life’s tides bring them back together ... or tear them apart for good this time?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano (Review)

I just finished Five Days in Skye and WOW! What an amazing book. I could not put it down. Do not begin this book at bed time; you will not sleep. I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Andrea is a hospitality consultant. She goes to Scotland to meet celebrity chef James MacDonald about renovating the family hotel. Before her flight to Scotland, she goes into one of James' current establishments and has a drink at the bar. A guy comes in while she is complaining to the bartender about her boss canceling her long-awaited vacation, and bashing Mr. MacDonald and all he supposedly stands for as well as putting Scotland and the island of Skye down. What happens next is absolutely hysterical… Check it out.

Andrea has had a difficult past which was only complicated when a prior client tries to force her to do things she does not want. Her boss and coworkers think that she gets contracts by sleeping with her clients. Everything in her says not to get involved with a known celebrity and a potential client. James puts her to the test and makes her remember how to love after all the heartache she has been through. Even when she tries to run from it, he does not let her go.

This was such a touching story about returning to God to overcome sorrow and how, even after only 5 days, Andrea comes to not only love Scotland, but to love James as well. Carla Laureano makes us believe that all things are possible with God in this great story.

This is a must read book. 5 out of 5 stars. Totally christian approved. I would recommend this book to all. I just found out that the second book is out and I can not wait to read it.

From the back cover:
Hospitality consultant Andrea Sullivan has one last chance to snag a high-profile client or she'll have to kiss her dreams of promotion good-bye. When she's sent to meet Scottish celebrity chef James MacDonald on the Isle of Skye, she just wants to finish her work as efficiently as possible. Yet her client is not the opportunistic womanizer he portrays himself to be, and her attraction to him soon dredges up memories she'd rather leave buried. For James, renovating the family hotel is a fulfillment of his late father's dreams. When his hired consultant turns out to be beautiful, intelligent, and completely unimpressed by his public persona, he makes it his mission to win her over. He just never expects to fall under her spell.

Soon, both Andrea and James must face the reality that God may have a far different purpose for their lives—and that five days in Skye will forever change their outlook on life and love.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Keys to Atlantis by Sally Copus (Review)

This is the second book of The Odyssey of Jon Sinclair. After reading the first book, I just had to request to read the second one. I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

**Spoiler Alert**
At the end of Blackheart's Legacy, there was some confusion as to who and what Jon's grandfather, Alistair, was expected to do in regard to the time machine, The Carousel. We find out these answers at the beginning and learn that 4 men from some future of 2010 are threatening to kill Alistair if he does no finish the job he began 16 years prior of figuring out how to transport them back to their own time. They have all developed an illness that their bodies can not fight due to living in a time with different diseases their bodies are not accustomed to. No modern medicine is able to combat their ailments. They pressure Alistair to fix the Carousel 4 years before their original deadline and tell him he will be their escort home upon completion. We do not know what their original mission was that lead them to 2010. These are the men that Alistair thinks had something to do with his son's death.

This book takes place three years after the last book ended. This one opens with an upcoming trip and the pick up of Colin, Blackheart's relative we met at the end of the last book. Jon seems excited by the upcoming trip and reflects upon his last travel adventure. A very intriguing beginning.

We travel through time to 1699 AD to meet up with Blackheart to go on his quest to find Atlantis. When everyone eventually makes it back to The Carousel, the original travelers with some extras, we discover The Carousel had been moved. Alistair is very concerned and after a search of the ship, we find Colin's sister.

At the beginning of part 2, the crew of Blackheart, Alistair, Colin, Skull, Nikos, Jon and Haley are roughly and magically dropped onto a ship in Atlantis 1200 BC. I was literally laughing OUT LOUD at the chaos that occurred. Absolutely hysterical. After the madness dies down, the crew gets locked up with the slaves who are rowing the long massive ship that plans to attack Atlantis. Blackheart develops a plan to take over the ship and protect Atlantis from the coming Attack.

While we got a ton of answers in this book, more questions have come up by the end of this book. The biggest on being what Alistair is hiding about Jon's parents. This book ends with the Carousel on the course back to Three Forks Farm. 

Christian approved with discretion due to the fantasy aspect. Totally loved this book and would absolutely recommend It. 5 out of 5 stars.

From the back cover:
In the second book of The Odyssey of Jon Sinclair trilogy, Jon and his grandfather Alistair are desperate to return to the twenty-first century. Their space-time ship, however, lacks the antimatter that will enable them to travel forward in time. Realizing that Atlantis holds the information they need, they follow the instructions contained in a letter left by Captain BlackHeart and travel to Crete in the hopes that he can help them in their quest.
Their search soon leads them to Alexandria, Egypt, where Jon faces a harrowing encounter with Horus, the god of the underworld. As BlackHeart copes with desperate challenges of his own, Jon makes a discovery that could be the key to all of their answers—if they can make it to Atlantis!
Will Jon and the others ever find their way to Atlantis? And even if they do, will it hold the antimatter they so desperately need to get back home?