Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Indebted Earl by Erica Vetsch

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.


It has been a bit of a crazy couple of weeks at our house. All of the craziness made me happy to have a good book to escape into (when time allowed). I just finished reading the new book by Erica Vetsch, The Indebted Earl. I have always been a big fan of Regency fiction and this book did not disappoint. I read the book without having first glanced at the back cover, which lead me to be surprised and a bit caught off guard as things happened. The story was well written and the characters came to life on the pages of the book. There was a nice balance of romance, intrigue, and mystery woven into the story.

After reading, I discovered that this was the third book in the Serendipity and Secrets Series. It certainly reads well as a stand-alone book but now that I know that there are others out there (and it appears they include some of the other characters in this story), I have more books to add to my list to be read.
About the Book

Can Captain Wyvern keep his new marriage of convenience all business--or will it turn into something more?

Captain Charles Wyvern owes a great debt to the man who saved his life--especially since Major Richardson lost his own life in the process. The best way to honor that hero's dying wish is for Wyvern to escort the man's grieving fiance and mother safely to a new cottage home by the sea. But along the way, he learns of another obligation that has fallen on his shoulders: his uncle has died and the captain is now the Earl of Rothwell.

When he and the ladies arrive at his new manor house in Devon, they discover an estate in need of a leader and a gaggle of girls, all wards of the former earl. War the new earl knows; young ladies and properties he does not. Still wishing to provide for the bereaved Lady Sophia Haverly, Charles proposes a marriage of convenience.

Sophie is surprised to find she isn't opposed to the idea. It will help her care for her betrothed's elderly mother, and she's already fallen in love with the wayward girls on the Rothwell estate. This alliance is a chance to repay the captain who has done so much for her care, as well as divert her attention from her grief. When Wyvern returns to his sea commission, she'll stay behind to oversee his property and wards.

It sounds so simple. Until the stalwart captain is arrested on suspicion of smuggling, and Sophie realizes how much he's come to mean to her. Now she'll have to learn to fight, not only for his freedom but also for his love.

Click here to read an excerpt.

About The Author

Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate.

Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.

A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England.

Learn more about Erica Vetsch and her books at www.ericavetsch.com. She can also be found on Facebook (@EricaVetschAuthor), Instagram (@EricaVetsch) and Pinterest (Erica Vetsch).


Giveaway!

The Giveaway is not hosted by A Busy Mom of Two but is part of the book tour, please see giveaway for official rules and guidelines. No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The Perfect Daughter by D.J. Palmer

A complimentary advanced readers copy and gift package was provided to me from the publisher, through an offer made to all fan page members.


Wow! As I finished up the newest book from DJ Palmer, "Wow!" was my immediate response. The Perfect Daughter was a terrific psychological thriller that left me guessing until the very end - and I didn't do as good of a job in considering the possible outcomes as I normally do. The character development and story-telling were awesome and I found myself unwilling to put it down because I needed to know what happened. The use of multiple narrators helped really explore the many facets of the story and allow the reader additional perspective that each character brings to the story.

I'm in awe of good writers, and DJ Palmer is definitely one of my favorites. When I read a novel that rattles me like this one did, I simply have to take pause after I finish. I reflect on the book and wonder how they came up with the concept and the details needed to build up and then unravel the mystery as they reveal the story to the reader. It is truly an art and a gift, and I am so thankful for those that share their talents with the world.

I was still in the early pages of the book, learning about how Penny came to live with the Francones when I read the following: "She filled the bookshelf with some of our favorite reads and some of hers, including one she loved as a girl, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes." You may be wondering, why did that line catch your attention? Well, that was one of my favorite books from childhood as well. In fact, it was one of two of my favorites that I had a copy for my children (ther other one being Too Much Noise by Ann McGovern).

I'd love to share more about the actual story with you but I would hate to spoil anything about the book. I want to you to read the story and discover the truth for yourself. Order your copy here. And, be sure to check out his other books, many of which I have shared here on the blog (like Saving Meghan and The New Husband.

About the Book:

Grace never dreamt she’d visit her teenaged daughter Penny in the locked ward of a decaying state psychiatric hospital, charged with the murder of a stranger. There was not much question of her daughter’s guilt. Police had her fingerprints on the murder weapon and the victim’s blood on her body and clothes. But they didn’t have a motive. Grace blames herself, because that’s what mothers do—they look at their choices and wonder, what if? But hindsight offers little more than the chance for regret. None of this was conceivable the day Penny came into her life. Then, it seemed like a miracle. Penny was found abandoned, with a mysterious past, and it felt like fate brought Penny to her, and her husband Arthur. But as she grew, Penny's actions grew more disturbing, and different "personalities" emerged. Arthur and Grace took Penny to different psychiatrists, many of whom believed she was putting on a show to help manage her trauma. But Grace didn’t buy it. The personas were too real, too consistent. It had to be a severe multiple personality disorder. One determined psychiatrist, Dr. Mitch McHugh, helped discover someone new inside Penny—a young girl named Abigail. Is this the nameless girl who was abandoned in the park years ago? Mitch thinks Abigail is the key to Penny’s past and to the murder. But as Grace and Mitch dig deeper, they uncover dark and shocking secrets that put all their lives in grave danger.


I have been a fan of Michael Palmer and Daniel Palmer (aka DJ Palmer) since I first started reading their books. I started with the first book I picked up by Michael over 25 years ago now on vacation, having found a copy in the hotel gift shop. I was introduced by Michael to his son Daniel's works. They are both amazing writers, able to capture the reader and really leave you wondering. I was so excited to have received this special care package in the mail made available to fan page members simply for signing up and being willing to share (courtesy of DJ Palmer and St. Martin's Press). The tea was a wonderful treat and the cozy socks perfect for curling up for several hours when I simply couldn't put the book down. Thank you for the opportunity.
No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary advanced readers copy was provided.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

New! - Simple 7UP

Complimentary cans of Simple 7UP were provided to me so that I could share my experience.
Growing up, I don't remember drinking much soda. It was limited to special occassions, and whenever we had pizza or to help settle our stomach when we weren't feeling well. There were a few pops that we would have a choice of and one of them was 7UP. I still remember their classic "Uncola" ads and the realization that I had that it was the same actor who played Punjab on the film version of Annie (the original and best version in my opinion). He was also in another 7UP ad where he touted that it had no caffeiene (likely a reason that 7UP was a choice we had for soda).

When the brand reached out to let me know that they were introducing Simple 7UP a 'a new 7UP with the refreshing lemon-lime flavor you love and it's made with simple, real ingredients", I was intrigued. Right now, Simple 7UP is available only in a limited market in the greater Dayton, Ohio area.

SIMPLE 7UP

Introducing Simple 7UP - a new 7UP with the refreshing lemon-lime flavor you love and it’s made with simple, real ingredients.

Simple 7UP is made with only six ingredients that you can understand, like carbonated water, real sugar, and lemon & lime extracts.

Now you can enjoy your favorite crisp, clean and refreshing lemon-lime soda with a transparent ingredient list.

Available on shelves at Kroger, Walmart, Meijer, Dollar General, Speedway, and other select retailers in the Dayton-area as part of a testing program for a limited time beginning in mid-March.
The first thing I noticed was the ingredient list on the cans...6 simple ingredients, that were all familiar to me...carbonated water, real sugar, lemon and lime extract, as well as citric acid and stevia leaf extract. The taste is straight-forward with that familiar lemon-lime flavor. I am pretty sure that when I was a kid, sugar was the common sweetener used in soda (I did a quick look up and at least in my younger years this was true but it had changed by the time I got to high school) and in my opinion, it gives the drink a better flavor than the sweeteners used today.

My daughter was eager to try it and was the first to open a can. She enjoyed it and said it tasted good to her. My son, who enjoys flavor intense beverages, quickly turned his into a Shirley Temple by adding some grenadine to give it more pizzazz to better fit his flavor need. He felt that the lemon-lime was not enough flavor for him. I enjoyed the Simple 7UP and liked knowing that it was made from familiar ingredients and didn't read like a list of chemicals. The only thing I noted is that there was a bit of a stevia aftertaste (not unpleasant, just distinct to me - I know most people look at me cross-eyed when I say that, as most don't seem to notice it but for me it has a distinct aftertaste). With my second can, I decided to follow my son's lead and turned it into a cherry-flavored experience by adding grenadine (and a marashino cherry). I enjoyed this format as well, with the added pop of cherry.

Simple 7UP is not yet on the shelves in my area but it is where my family lives, so I can pick some up when we visit. I found the Simple 7UP and the transparent ingredient list both to be refreshing. If you are in the greater Dayton area, be sure to check out Simple 7UP next time you shop, whether in person, curbside or delivery. When you do, let me know what you think.
No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. Complimentary cans of Simple 7UP were provided for my family and I to try, so that I could share my experience.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Silk'n Infinity Hair Removal Device

A complimentary Silk'n Infinity was provided to me through Tryazon so that I could share my experience with friends and through my blog.


When you are a teenager, it is a right of passage to start shaving. I can remember being so excited when I finally was old enough to shave. Little did I know what a pain shaving on a regular basis really could be. When I was a still a teenager, I found a use Epilady (at least that is what I remember it being called), it was a devive with coils that vibrated and essentially yanked your hair out. I used that for a few minute before deciding that was not the way that I wanted to remove hair, shaving was a better option. Then I tried depilatory creams, which were stinky and never seemed to really work for me. Again, I was back to shaving.

So, when I had a chance to apply to be a host for a Tryazon party for a product that I hadn't ever heard of - Silk'n Infinity. "Silk'n Infinity's eHPL™ technology uses pulses of light to permanently remove undesired hair growth without stubble, ingrown hairs, redness or other irritation. It is the most revolutionary method of hair removal at home and is already regarded as the gold standard. Infinitely smooth skin, without any pain or irritation, is finally at your fingertips!" It is an at home Hair Removal tool with Permananet results. From the package - It uses Galvanic Energy to open the skin's pores and enable the Optical Energy to penetrate deeper into the hair folicle. The Optical Energy is selectively absorbed in the hair shaft and ensures hair removal is acheived in the quickest possible way. With the pores open, post treatment application of lotion is better absorbed for silky smooth skin.


I received the Silk'n Infinity a few weeks ago and had a chance to sit in on a webinar to learn more about the operation of the unit and the technology. I started using the Silk'n at that time. The unit fits nicely in the palm of your hand and is very to easy to use. If you are spot treating, you can do it a click at a time or you can use it in a continuous mode by holding down the button. It has built in safety in that it has to be pressed against your skin to activate the galvanic and optical energy. I decided to do one leg for the initial trial so that I could compare legs to see results.



They instruct you to start at level 1 and work your way up to find the right level for your skin tone/hair color combination. Initial treatments are spaced 2 weeks apart. I have finally reached the level at which the unit works best for my combination. Unfortunately, this process took a few cycles, which if you were looking for a quick fix, would not be ideal. Now that I am at that right level, following the first treatment, I am seeing slower hair growth, as expected. Of course, I will need another 3 - 5 weeks to really start to see 'hairless patches' but I am glad to finally be at the right level for me.


Initially, you might react and think the cost of the unit is high at about $400 but if you consider what the cost of laser hair treatments would cost at a local salon, you will realize that the unit is really a good value. Even better, with the number of available pulses in the unit, there are enough that I can share it with my daughter and allow her to benefit from the hair removal as well. So, the price becomes a one time cost for a couple of people to acheive permanent hair loss in the comfort of your own home.

With everything going on in the world, I broke my party up into a couple of different 'parties'. Two of the events were in person and one was part of a virtual Girl's Night In. I enjoyed the opportunity to share about the product with my friends and of course, will keep them and you up to date on the continued progress with the unit.
No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary Silk'n Infinity was provided to me through Tryazon so that I could share my experience with friends and through my blog.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

One Year

It is so hard to believe, it was a year ago today that my kids attended their last in person school day of the 2019-2020 school year. The state was starting to enter shut down mode. First was the schools, just two weeks for now. Then came restaurants, bars, gyms, and more. Each day we tuned into the press conference our governor held to update us on the cases, the precautions, the closures. Needless to say, it was stressful.

That next day, I decided that if I was going to make it through this and be ahead of the game when (I figured it was beyond if) the gyms closed, I decided that I was going to commit to walking at least 30 minutes each day. It was my decompression time, a chance to get away from the constant barage of news about the virus and what else was closing. My chance to get out and clear my mind and just be alone with my thoughts. A chance to watch the cycles of the seasons with the changing appearance of grass, bushes, trees and flowers.

I don't know that I had a plan for how long I would stick to the committment but here we are 365 days later and guess what -I got out and took at least a 30 minute walk each day for the last 365 days. I walked over 775 miles. My best month was May with just under 100 miles. My longest walk was 5 miles, my shortest walk was probably about 1 mile. Most of my days were between 1.9 and 2.8 miles. All but one day I got outside and walked - that one day was Christmas and we had 10" of snow and with the holiday, I didn't want to venture out so I looped my house, upstairs, downstairs, circle the basement, circle the main floor, walk to each of the rooms on the 2nd floor and repeat. I walked as early as before sunrise and as late as sunset to fit them all in...with most taking place in the middle of the day. I walked in the heat, the cold, the sunshine, the rain, the snow. There were days I looked forward to taking a walk and days where I couldn't get done fast enough.

I feel like I am in better shape as a result of my daily walk. We live in a hilly area so there was always a mix of up and down on any route that I chose, so I always was pushing myself. I have always been active but the activities have varied and although routine, were never every day. Unfortunately my eating (and drinking) were off for much of the pandemic and there were a lot less 'everyday' steps as a result of going no where, so I didn't lose weight but didn't gain any either, which is a win in my book. Maybe I can get back to normal with other activity and better eating and see the benefit of walking.

It has been a tough year. I wish that the original estimates of "two weeks" to stop the spread had been legitimate. In our area, things are mostly open but there are still restrictions and still a mask mandate (even though so many other states have or are opening up). I'm ready for real normal not new normal. I'm ready for people to start to understand what worked and what didn't, to understand how two states that reacted completely different arrived at the same spot with similar case rates and death rates. I'm curious to see how long it takes to reach herd immunity and what this virus looks like as it becomes endemic like the flu and common cold.

I do know that I will keep walking. Will it be every day? I don't know, it has sort of become a part of what I do. I think that if I don't fit in a walk I will miss it.

How have you been coping during this past year? What was your escape?

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Intermediate Thermodynamics by Susannah Nix


Recently, I had read Remedial Rocket Science, the first book in the Chemistry Lessons series by author, Susannah Nix. The series is described on her website as "…standalone romantic comedies feature smart, geeky STEM heroines who discover that romantic chemistry isn’t as predictable as the laws of science…". I had thoroughly enjoyed reading that book, so as I waited on a couple of ARCS to arrive, I was fortunate to be able to get Intermediate Thermodynamics, the second book in the series, by Susannah Nix through the library and just finished reading it.



In Intermediate Thermodynamics, our heroine is Esther, an Aerospace engineer. The other primary characters that we are introduced to are her best-friend Jinny, her co-worker Yemi and her neighbor, Jonathan. I was pretty excited part-way into the story to discover that Jonathan was the same Jonathan we first met in Remedial Rocket Science when he had a blind date with Melody. Esther also works for the same company as Melody and Jeremy, just at a different location. I was so glad to get a glimpse, even if it was minimal, into the story of the characters we met in Remedial Rocket Science.

Esther has never really paid much attention to Jonathon, finding him an annoyance most of the time when she encounters him. Esther wants to help her best friend Jinny keep from falling back into a bad relationship, so when Jonathan asks for a favor, she flips the tables and agrees to help him out as long as he will help her out. Through this deal, she winds up spending time with Jonathan and discovering that me might not be as annoying as she once thought. The challenge is now that she set them up, she can't possibly fall for Jonathan, it would be a violation of the best friend code. Her actions nearly jeopardizes her friendship with Jinny and her new found connection with Jonathan. Its her brother that finally helps her recognize what she is doing and how to try to salvage things before it is too late.

Intermediate Thermodynamics was enjoyable and the short chapters helped keep the story moving. The characters were well developed, very relatable and likeable. I liked that Esther was established in her community, unlike Melody who was struggling to find a fit; Esther had a best friend, a connection with her co-worker, and a knitting group that supported her. Esther is at the same time very comfortable in her own skin at work (perhaps too so, when her boss calls her 'aggressive') and with her friends but not so much when it comes to guys. In fact, at one point, she tells Jonathan that she thinks she was meant to be alone since she would rather spend time alone or with friends over any man she has ever dated. To this he responds, 'maybe the problem isn't you, it's the kind of men you date.' He offers up more perspective, concluding 'you should be looking for someone you actually enjoy spending time with. Ideally, you're looking for a best friend. That's the goal, isn't it? To marry your best friend'. I loved Jonathan's perspective and I could totally relate to the self-doubting reaction that Esther had, asking Jinny the next time she sees her if she has bad taste in men.

If you are looking for a contemporary, romantic comedy story, I would highly recommend checking out this book. Although a series, each book can be read on it's own. There are five other books in this series and in addition, the Nix has several other books that I plan to check out. Up next, I will be requesting a copy of the third book in the series: Advanced Physcial Chemistry. In that one, the heroine is a Chemical Engineer...my degree!...so, I really can't wait to read it.



What are you reading?