Author of OUTBACK LOVE a contemporary romance novel set in Australia, JETTING AWAY a short story prequel to OUTBACK LOVE, MOON OVER MADNESS a paranormal romantic comedy and BAYOU BLUES AND OTHER SORROWS a collection of short stories and poems about life and love. All are available online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Sony, Diesel and Kobo. On Twitter @TeriHeyer

Monday, December 31, 2012

The Sun Sets on 2012

Sunset over Pensacola Bay on 12/26/12.

The year 2012 has been a long one what with all the campaigning and presidential election, the tropical storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, early winter storms and then ending with the Newtown, PA shooting. It has not been a particularly good year when you look at all that has happened around the world.

Another photo of the awesome sunset on 12/26/12.

I have hopes that 2013 will be better, but then we are facing "The Fiscal Cliff" so who knows how the year will turn out. I tend to be optimistic, so I hope and pray for a better year and another step toward world peace.

Pensacola's Graffiti Bridge on 12/26/12.

We have family visiting for the holidays, so it's been a bit chaotic since before Christmas. I've had very little time online, so my emails have piled up to over 500 and my tweeps on Twitter are probably wondering what happened to me.

A close-up of the Graffiti Bridge on 12/26/12.

I've had very little "me time" and almost no time to read. Though I have added an assortment of new books to my Kindles (my old Kindle Keyboard and my new Kindle Fire, I love both by the way).

In spite of all the holiday rush and lack of time for much of anything, I have managed to squeeze in time with my grandkids. They're awesome and I love every minute I spend with them. There's nothing better than seeing the world through the eyes of little kids.

A mention of Newtown on the Graffiti Bridge.

I took some great sunset photos on 12/26/12. Any sunset over Pensacola Bay is beautiful, but this one was spectacular. I also took some cool photos of Pensacola's Graffiti Bridge that same day.

On one side of the bridge were the Three Kings and on the other the Manger and a "God Bless" for those lives lost in Newtown. So I've included those photos in this post.

The next day the Shutter Button on my Sony digital camera broke. It's no longer under warranty and I've yet to find anyone local who can repair it. My husband did find a company online that will repair it for $70 plus the cost of shipping. So now I'm looking at new digital cameras. I feel naked without my camera. Just sayin'...

Yesterday we lost our Internet service with AT&T for the whole day and all night. I've only been back online for around an hour or so and hope to get this posted before the service disappears once again. Little things like these are irritating, but certainly not the end of the world.

My Azaleas are blooming.

Speaking of the end of the world, I guess that didn't happen on 12/21/12 like "they" predicted. Thank goodness. In spite of problems with the economy and the general unrest, I rather like this world of ours. I have great hopes that things will improve.

On another note, here on the Gulf Coast of the Florida Panhandle, the weather has been rather strange. Our temps have varied from the mid-30s to the high-70s from one day to the next. Trees are already starting to leaf out, because they think spring is already here. Only winter has barely started. Azaleas and other flowers are starting to bloom. Birds and squirrels are building their nests. Maybe they know Florida will have a mild winter?

Dude says, "Happy New Year!"

Like I said, I'm optimistic that 2013 will be a better year than 2012.

Wishing you all a happy and prosperous New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

Our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree.

Christmas is only two days away? How did that happen? I still have presents to wrap and goodies to bake. And I still have lots more great Christmas books to read.

Yes, we finally did get a Christmas tree. My husband and I always get a live potted tree of one sort or another so we can plant them in our yard afterwards. So this year's tree is a Leyland Cypress, about three feet tall and only big enough for one string of blinking lights and a handful of blown-glass ornaments. It pretty much looks like a cute little Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. I love it!

My husband put Christmas lights out front. We have a big old date palm tree which he strings with lights like in the Corona Beer commercial. You gotta love a guy's touch when it comes to decorating  for Christmas.

Merry Christmas from Shani.

My dogs, Shani and Dude, have been sniffing around the wrapped presents, hoping to find one that smells like a dog goodie. Only their presents (rawhide chews) are wrapped and in the pantry closet so they won't open them before Christmas.

I didn't finish up my Christmas shopping until yesterday, a quick trip to town where I made my way among the crowds and bought the last few presents. The mall was so packed, not a single parking space available, that I didn't even venture there. Yesterday was Walmart and ToysRUs. Both were crowded with people were buying cartloads of Christmas presents. I was relieved to make my way through the heavy traffic and get back home to semblance of peace and tranquility.

Dude howling about his Christmas bow.

This morning I put a Christmas bow collar on Dude. He wasn't all that pleased and lifted his head to howl an "Ahhhh-rooooo" in protest. Then he posed sweetly for some cute pics.

Dude is actually a ham when it comes to posing for pics, so I took quite a few of them. Once he got used to his Christmas bow collar he didn't seem to mind it a bit.

Shani was a cute as ever in her red Christmas bow. Shani absolutely refuses to have anything around her neck. She doesn't much care for her leopard print dog collar either. When we go for a walk she much prefers a harness, though she'd walk just fine without a harness and leash. In fact, Shani is totally against Leash Laws, just sayin'...

Merry Christmas from Dude.

We have family from California here for the holidays. So I probably won't be blogging much between Christmas and New Year's. I'll be spending a lot of time with the grandkids too.  Christmas is really for kids, so it'll be lots of fun.

In my spare time, and I don't have much of that this time of year, I've been reading an assortment of holiday books. I've enjoyed them all. I can definitely recommend reading Candis Terry's Any Given Christmas, Linda Lael Miller's A Creed Country Christmas and Christmas of the Red Chiefs, in addition to Talli Rolland's Mistletoe in Manhattan and Miracle at the Museum of Broken Hearts.

I have way more Christmas books on my two Kindles (my old Kindle Keyboard and my newer Kindle Fire) than I have time to read before the holiday. So I'll probably be reading Christmas books well into the new year. I just started reading Barbara Witek's Santa Wore Combat Boots and Linda Lael Miller's Holiday in Stone Creek (I'm almost always reading more than one book at any given time).

Christmas/Holiday Reads on my Kindles (in no particular order):

A Cowboy for Christmas by Kristen James
A Spy for Christmas by Kristen James
Cold Comfort by Ellis Vidler
The Gift of Gray (Christmas) by Jan Romes
Three Wise Men by Nancy Ricker, Jan Romes & Laura Ricker
White as Snow (A Christmas Story) by Donna Westover Gallup
Xmas Affair (A Sensual Short Story) by Ruth D. Kerce
A Wee Christmas Homicide by Kaitlyn Dunnett
One imPerfect Christmas by Myra Johnson
A Simple Amish Christmas by Vanetta Chapman
It Really IS a Wonderful Life by Linda Rondeau
A Home for Christmas by Deborah Grace Staley
Kiss of the Christmas Wind by Janelle Taylor
One Snowy Night Before Christmas by Pamela Fryer
Harlequin Holiday Collection by Debra Webb, et. al.
All I Want for Christmas is You by Lisa Mondello
A Christmas in Two Egg, Florida by Dale Cox
O Little Town by Don Reid
Must Love Santa by Nina Bruhns
A Cowboy for Christmas by Lori Wilde
Mistletoe Christmas by Stacey Joy Netzel
A Very Holly Christmas by Sheila Roberts
Jingle This! by Stephanie Rowe
Catch That Santa by Karen Doctor
A Victorian Christmas by Catherine Palmer
The Bite Before Christmas by Heidi Betts
Blue Christmas by Diane Moody
A Dixie Christmas by Sandra Hill

Hmm! So many great Christmas books. I think I have enough to get me through the next several Christmas seasons. Well, what can I say? Yes, I'm definitely addicted to books.

From my family to yours, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2012

All we need is love ...

Love graffiti on Pensacola's Graffiti Bridge.
Today, 12/21/12, is predicted to be the end of the world. Well, if it is, this post will never be. On the other hand, the way I see it, all we need is love to set the world to rights. If we love one another, how can there be wars? How can there be hate? How can one kill another? So I'm sticking with my beliefs, that all we need is love.

Pensacola's Graffiti Bridge seems to be a sounding board for all kinds of thoughts. So I keep a running record of photos of the oft profound comments found there. I think the love graffiti says it all.

Love on the Graffiti Bridge.

There was a mixture of graffiti that day, so I'm including the original photo. The day was bright and sunny with strange little white puffs of cloud. I don't recall seeing a sky quite like that before or since.

I grew up in the '60s in the days of love, love and more love. Did we have hate back then? Yes, in the form of the Vietnam War which, in my opinion, never should have happened. That war and the draft changed us all. We had a sense back then of no future, that the end-times were near. So to counteract all that we talked of love and free love.

It's time, once again, to bring back the love. We need to love our families and friends in spite of all their flaws. We need to love those around us, those we don't even know.

I don't normally attempt to stand on a podium and preach anything.  But maybe it's time that I do? There's so much talk lately of end-times, apocalypse, 12/21/12 and the world as we know it coming to an end.  Well, maybe we need to take this day and make it a new beginning instead? Let's push for love instead of hate.

Since I'm talking about love, I thought this would be a perfect time to mention some of those books I love, old favorites and new. So here's my list, in no particular order.

The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart
Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey
Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell
Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
Jamaica Inn by Daphne DuMaurier
Turtle Moon by Alice Hoffman
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux
The Geometry of Sisters by Luanne Rice
The Deep Blue Sea for Beginners by Luanne Rice
A Prologue to Love by Taylor Caldwell
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Sense and Sensability by Jane Austen
The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles
Hawaii by James Michener
Caravans by James Michener
Pale Moon Rider by Marsha Canham
Through a Dark Mist by Marsha Canham
In the Shadow of Midnight by Marsha Canham
The Last Arrow by Marsha Canham
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Darkest Knight by Gayle Callen
A Brighter Dawn by Stobie Piel
Some Like It Hotter by Deb Stover
The Widows of Wichita County by Jodi Thomas
Whispers of Heaven by Candace Proctor
The Last Knight by Candace Proctor
Hunter's Moon by Karen Robards
Northern Lights by Nora Roberts
Angels Fall by Nora Roberts
The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe
Swimming Lessons by Mary Alice Monroe
Charming the Prince by Teresa Madeiros
Midnight Rider by Kat Martin
The Yellow House by Patricia Falvey
A Veiled Journey by Nell Brien
The Smoke Jumper by Nicholas Evans
The Salaryman's Wife by Sujata Massey
Mariana by Susanna Kearsley
Cottage by the Sea by Ciji Ware
Whispers in the Sand by Barbara Erskine

The common thread in all these books is love. In spite of all the obstacles and hardships, love survives.  As I was saying, all we need is love ...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hippo Encounter at the Zoo

A hungry hippo.

I spent yesterday at the zoo with my grandkids and other family members. It was a fun family day. My grandkids were full of energy. By the way, where do they get all that energy? Was I that energized way-back-when? Anyway, the highlight of this zoo trip was a hippo encounter where we got to see the two hippos up close and fed them big chunks of carrots. All I can say is "Awesome!"

Gulf Breeze Zoo

Isn't he a handsome boy?

The zoo I'm talking about is the Gulf Breeze Zoo. It's small in comparison to other zoos, but it also provides an intimacy with the animals which isn't always found in big zoos. The animals there are almost like family. In fact, my grandkids often remind of the little monkeys in the zoo and I've told them that more than once.

Cleopatra, the mama-to-be hippo.

There are two hippos at the Gulf Breeze Zoo. Cleopatra is the expectant mama hippo who is due any day. The papa hippo is the handsome guy in the two pics above. I'll definitely go back to the zoo for pics of the new baby hippo.

It was a beautiful day at the zoo with temps in the high-60s. That's one of the things I love about Florida, great temps all year long. Gee, it was hard to believe that winter and Christmas are only days away.

One of the peacocks strutting his stuff.

Even the peacocks seemed to think it was spring rather than almost winter. This gorgeous male peacock was in full display and put on quite a show. If I were a female peacock, well, I would have been impressed.

Rwanda and baby Kigali.

This visit to the zoo I was able to get pics of the mama gorilla, Rwanda, with her baby, Kigali. Last time we were there the baby was sleeping. This time he was showing off, but sticking close to his mama. These two are Western Lowland Gorillas.

Zion the lion cub.

Zion, the four and a half month old lion cub, has been moved to a big outdoor pen next to the pair of Siberian Tigers. Zion seemed to be quite happy and was romping around playing with a big ball. Then he climbed up into his tree for some time to relax out.

As one of my granddaughters pointed out, "Zion needs a friend." I assured her that the zoo is going to get a female lion cub to keep Zion company. And yes, the zoo is currently looking for just the right cub.

The two chimps on Chimp Island

I took quite a number of pics of the two chimps. Some of the pics were taken from the Zoo Train which circles Chimp Island, the hippos and Gorilla Island. The other pics were taken from the long wood walkway that overlooks Chimp Island.

This is the chimp who was blowing kisses.

One  chimp in particular seemed to love the camera and his audience. He blew kisses, played peek-a-boo, smiled, waved and seemed just as happy to see us as we were to see him.

All in all it was a really fun day at the zoo. Four whole hours and I was exhausted. My grandkids, on the other hand, were still energized. Ahhh, to be young.

For those who follow my blog, I usually add a list of books at the end of my posts. However, in this case, I haven't come across any additional zoo related reads. So please check out my previous November post, "Zoo Tails," for some fun/interesting zoo reads and some cool zoo pics.

Thanks again for visiting my blog. I hope you all will stop by from time to time.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Jingle Bell Rock

Some of my daughter's collection of snow globes.

Christmas is just around the corner. The malls are crowded with shoppers. The radio stations are playing just about every Christmas song ever recorded. So Christmas must be just days away?

We have family coming into town for the holidays. So the holiday chaos is about to begin. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing family that I haven't seen in ages, but it's still stressful. Our regular calm world will be turned topsy-turvy through Christmas and New Year's. Am I ready for this? To be honest, I'm not really sure.

Do we have a Christmas tree yet? Nope! Do we have Christmas lights on our house? Nope! Are we ready for Christmas? Yes and no. I've pretty much done my Christmas shopping, mostly for the grandkids, but I haven't yet wrapped the presents. As for the rest of the holiday preparations, well, I'm way behind the curve.

I'm trying to ward off the impending holiday stress by reading some light-hearted Christmas books. There are so many fun ones out there. So far I've read and thoroughly enjoyed Linda Lael Miller's Christmas of the Red Chiefs and two by Talli Roland, Mistletoe in Manhattan and Miracle at the Museum of Broken Hearts. All three of these books are fun reads that are sure to make you smile. What Christmas book am I reading next? Hmm! So many to chose from. I think Must Love Santa by Nina Bruhns.

I've recently added the following Christmas reads to my Kindle Fire:

Three Wise Men by Nancy Ricker, Jan Romes & Laura Ricker
It Really IS a Wonderful Life! by Linda Rondeau
Jingle This! by Stephanie Rowe
Catch That Santa by Karen Docter
A Cowboy for Christmas by Lori Wilde
Santa Wore Cowboy Boots by Barbara Witek
Any Given Christmas by Candis Terry

Well, that ought to be enough Christmas reads to get me through the season. On the other hand, there's no such thing as too many books. So I may very well be adding more holiday reads to my Kindle.

Here's a list of more Christmas reads that caught my eye (in no particular order):

A Snowglobe Christmas by Linda Goodnight & Lissa Manley
Christmas in Wine Country by Addison Westlake
Be Mine for Christmas (Cont. Romance Short) by Alicia Street
Save Me, Santa (5 Holiday Stories of Romance) by Nina Bruhns
Christmas Brides (3 Regency Novellas) by Cheryl Bolen
A Cowboy for Christmas by Kristen James
The Holly and the Thistle by Regan Walker
Twelve Days of Christmas by Trisha Ashley
A Fool's Gold Christmas by Susan Mallery
Enchanted (A Merry Nicholas Christmas Tale) by Patti Berg
Small Town Christmas by Jill Shalvis, Hope Ramsay & Katie Lane
Wanted: One Scoundrel (A Steampunk Christmas) by Jenny Schwartz
Lancaster County Christmas by Suzanne Woods Fisher
A Cowboy Under My Christmas Tree by Janet Dailey
'Twas the Night After Christmas by Sabrina Jeffries

Trust me, there are about a zillion more Christmas books out there, way more than I could ever read in my lifetime. So between now and Christmas check back for more lists of  Christmas reads. Also, in case you missed my two previous holiday posts, you'll find more lists of great/fun holiday books. This is definitely the time of year to "jingle bell rock" and read.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

OMG, It's 12/12/12

The graffiti says it all.

This is one of those days of supposedly great portent, 12/12/12. Something is supposed to happen today, but what? Hopefully this will be a day of good things, good happenings, good memories.

A "scary" warning on Pensacola's Graffiti Bridge?

Some people believe this is an apocalyptic day. Or is that supposed to be on 12/21/12? Gee, I hope not. I kind of like this world, flaws and all, and hope it stays around a good long while. Just sayin'...

Another warning on the Graffiti Bridge?

It seemed to me this might be just the time to list apocalyptic and dystopian books that I've read or would like to read. (Most of these books are available in eBook format.)

* = Books I've read and recommend.
** = Books TBR on my Kindle.

Apocalyptic and Dystopian Fiction (in no particular order):

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood*
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins*
Wool (Omnibus Ed.) by Hugh Howey*
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury*
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury*
Sullivan's War (The Complete Adventure) by Michael K. Rose*
Logan's Run by William F. Nolan & George Clayton Johnson*
He, She and It by Marge Piercy*
Anthem by Ayn Rand*
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand*
1984 by George Orwell*
Brave New World by Aldoux Huxley*
The Postman by David Brin*
Soylent Green by Harry Harrison*
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein*
Neuromancer by William Gibson*
Hollowland (The Hollows, Book 1) by Amanda Hocking**
Since Tomorrow by Morgan Nyberg**
Dark Grid by David C. Waldron**
The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells**
Season of the Harvest (Harvest Trilogy, Book 1) by Michael R. Hicks**
No Shelter Trilogy (Omnibus Ed.) by T. S. Welti**
Darklandia by T. S. Welti
We by YevgenyZamyatin
On the Beach by Nevil Shute
The Running Man by Stephen King
The Stand by Stephen King
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Angelfall (Penryn & The End of Days) by Susan Ee
Outside (A Post-Apocalyptic Novel, Outside Series, Book 1) by Shalini Boland
The Next Tomorrow (A Tag Stevens Novel) by J. R. Madsen
At the End (The Road to Extinction, Book 1) by John Hennessy
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
One Second After by William F. Forstchen
Yesterday's Gone (The Post-Apocalyptic Serial Thriller) by Sean Platt & David Wright
Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End by Manel Loureiro
Collapse (New America, Book 1) by Richard Stephenson
77 Days in September by Ray Gorham
Land (A Stranded Novel, Book 1) by Theresa Shaver
And the Heavens Shall Fall by Jacqueline Druga
Free Falling by Susan Kiernan-Lewis
A Distant Eden by Lloyd Tackitt

I'm sure I've left off a lot of great apocalyptic and dystopian books, so please feel free to add your favorites in the comments below. Thanks again for stopping by. Let's hope that 12/12/12 is just another day.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Have a Holly Jolly Holiday!

A close-up of my grandkids' Christmas tree.

How can it already be December 7th? Where are the minutes, hours, days going? I've done some Christmas shopping, but I've yet to wrap the presents. I bought Christmas cards, but haven't done them yet. I haven't even begun to look for a Christmas tree.

When my grandkids were here on Thanksgiving, my grandson asked, "Nana, why don't you have a Christmas tree or Christmas lights?" They already have their Christmas tree up and decorated and all the holiday lights on their house.

Gee, even my neighbors have their Christmas lights up and their houses and yards look so festive at night. I guess it's time to encourage my dear hubby to get out the holiday lights or we'll soon have the only unfestive house in the neighborhood.

I dropped by the library today and they were already in holiday mode with a pretty Christmas tree and a three foot tall Santa. I'm starting to feel a bit guilty that I haven't at least started to set out some Christmas decorations. The holiday will be here before I can blink. Okay, I promise I'll put out some decorations this weekend.

In the meantime, here's another list of Christmas reads. If you haven't already seen it, there's another list on my last post. Anyway, I haven't read any of these books, but they all look like great/fun holiday reads. The ones marked with an (*) are books I recently added to my Kindles. All of these are available in eBook format.

Christmas Fiction/Romances (in no particular order):

One Snowy Night Before Christmas by Pamela Fryer*
Mistletoe Mischief (Romancing Wisconsin, #1) by Stacey Joy Netzel*
Holly Lane by Toni Blake
Cupid's Christmas by Bette Lee Crosby
Mistletoe in Maine (Holiday Brides) by Ginny Baird
A Family for Christmas by Helen Scott Taylor
Bundle of Joy by Barbara Bretton
A Lawman's Christmas (McKettricks of Texas) by Linda Lael Miller
An Outlaw's Christmas (McKettricks of Texas) by Linda Lael Miller
Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage by Patricia Thayer
Christmas on Nutcracker Court by Judy Duarte
A Cold Creek Noel (Cowboys of Cold Creek) by RaeAnne Thayne
The Duke of Christmas Past by Kim Bowman
Forever Christmas by Christine Lynxwiler
A Chesapeake Shores Christmas by Sherryl Woods
Kissing Under the Mistletoe (St. Helena Vineyard) by Marina Adair
Blue Christmas (Moody Blue Trilogy, #1) by Diana Moody
A Bush Christmas by Margareta Osborn
The Toymaker by Kay Springsteen 
Christmas in Venice by Meadow Taylor
All I Want for Christmas is You by Lisa Mondello
The Christmas Dog by Melody Carlson
A Cowboy for Christmas by Kristen James
Christmas Countdown (Lost, Inc.) by Vicki Hinze
Naughty or Nice by Stephanie Bond
Mistletoe Mine (Eternity Springs) by Emily March
Jingle This! by Stephanie Rowe

Wow! That's a lot of great romantic Christmas reads. I haven't even begun to list them all, so be sure to check back for more Christmas book lists in upcoming December posts. Before I forget, I'm currently reading a Christmas book on my Kindle Fire, Christmas of the Red Chiefs by Linda Lael Miller. This is a holiday read I think you'll enjoy. Thanks again for stopping by. I hope you all have a Holly Jolly Holiday!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Jingle All the Way

Christmas decorations at the mall.

How can it already be December 1st? I swear Halloween and Thanksgiving were just yesterday. On the other hand, the stores have been selling Christmas trees and decorations for months now.

Like most everyone else, I have already started Christmas shopping. I think my grandkids already have every toy and game imaginable. So what are they getting for Christmas from me? Hmm! Well, books, puzzles and clothes are on my shopping list.

Yes, that's change jingling in my pocket, because that's just about all I have left to spend. When did everything get so expensive?

My husband asked me the other day what I want for Christmas? Books, of course. Always books. So an Amazon gift card will be just fine for me. The list of books I want to buy is already way too long, but maybe I'll get a really big gift card? Well, I can always hope.

In the meantime, I'm not waiting until Christmas to get some of the books I want. I almost always find something to add to my Kindles (my old Kindle Keyboard and my newer Kindle Fire). I love Christmas reads this time of year. So I'm figuring you all love Christmas reads too.

So here's a list of Christmas romances, historicals, mysteries, comedies and such. The ones marked with an (*) are on my Kindles. The rest are books that I think we'd all enjoy. All of these books are available in eBook format.

Christmas Reads (in no particular order):

Mistletoe in Manhattan: A Christmas Story by Talli Roland*
Santa Wore Combat Boots by Barbara Witek*
The Gift of Gray (Christmas) by Jan Romes
Three Wise Men by Laura Ricker, Jan Romes & Nancy Ricker
Cold Comfort by Ellis Vidler*
Xmas Affair (A Sensual Short Story) by Ruth D. Kerce*
Catch That Santa by Karen Doctor*
A Perfect Holiday Fling (Moments in Maplesville) by Farrah Rochon
Christmas in High Heels (High Heels Mysteries) by Gemma Halliday
A Fool's Gold Christmas by Susan Mallery
Christmas of the Red Chiefs by Linda Lael Miller*
A Creed Country Christmas by Linda Lael Miller*
Holiday in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller*
A Yellowstone Christmas by Peggy L. Henderson
Christmas with Holly (Friday Harbor) by Lisa Kleypas
A Cowboy for Christmas (Jubilee, Texas) by Lori Wilde*
The Christmas Cookie Chronicles by Lori Wilde
A Smoky Mountain Christmas by Carol DeVaney
My Kind of Christmas (Virgin River) by Robyn Carr
Bah, Humbug! (A Romantic Comedy Christmas Novella) by Heather Horrocks
Christmas on Mimosa Lane (Seasons of the Heart) by Anna DeStefano
Mistletoe Mischief (Romancing Wisconsin) by Stacey Joe Netzel
Dumb White Husband vs. Santa (A Short Story) by Benjamin Wallace
Christmas in Two Egg, Florida by Dale Cox*

There are just so many Christmas reads that I'll list more in posts all month long. So be sure to check back to see what other books I've found. Feel free to add your own Christmas books in the comments below. Thanks so much for stopping by. Have fun Christmas shopping and jingle all the way.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Florida, the Sound, Birds and Books

Seagulls hanging out on the dock.

One of the many things I love about living in Florida is all the birds: Great Blue Herons, Red Tailed Hawks, Bald Eagles, Osprey, Egrets, Seagulls, I could go on and on.  I wake up to birdsong and often fall asleep to the hoot of an owl.

A great place to bird watch is the sound. There's a waterfront park on the sound not far from our house. My dog, Dude, loves car rides and one of our favorite destinations is to the park on the sound.

The sound, facing southeast from the boat launch.

Dogs are not allowed on the sound, so Dude has to be content with viewing the water and birds from the Jeep's rolled down windows.

Personally, I don't see the harm in letting dogs swim in the sound, but that's a big no-no here. Dude is a water-dog and he would just love to swim there.

A Great Blue Heron trolling for fish.

Well, Dude and I did our almost-daily car ride late this afternoon. Unlike yesterday's torrential rains, today was bright blue skies and nary a cloud in sight.

I took my camera along and snapped a few pics of the birds hanging out near the boat launch. A handful of seagulls rested on the dock. Some Mallards swam in circles in the shallow water and a Great Blue Heron waded out looking for fish.

One of the Mallards.

The Mallards were real beauties. I think they were disappointed I didn't bring them something to eat. Next time I'll have to remember to do that.

I felt bad that Dude had to stay in the Jeep while I walked along the water's edge to snap some pics.

The sound, facing west with the fishing pier in the background.

Sunrises and sunsets are awesome on the sound. Only this was just a quick visit, so no time to wait for the sun to set.

From time to time I'll be posting pics of Florida. So mosey on back now and then for a visit.

Dude the dog.

Dude insisted I include a pic of him in this post. So here's a close-up of my big, 100 pound, goofy dog who says, "Ahhh-roooooo!"

As with most of my posts, I'm including a list of books. This time it's an assortment of Florida Fiction, a mixture of romance, historical, mystery, suspense and thrillers.

The books marked with an (*) are TBR on my Kindles (my old Kindle Keyboard and my new Kindle Fire). The books are listed in no particular order and are available in eBook format. Though I haven't read most of the books listed here, they all sound like great reads. Those marked with an (**) are ones I have in paperback, have read, loved, and loved the series.

Florida Fiction:

Bird Brained (Rachel Porter Mystery) by Jessica Speart**
Flashback (Anna Pigeon) by Nevada Barr**
Land of the Noonday Sun by Carmen DeSousa*
South Beach Cinderella by Sharon Potts*
Crazy in Paradise by Deborah Brown*
All Keyed Up by Mary Stella*
Ring of Lies by Victoria Howard*
Against the Wind by Virginia Kelly*
Runaway (Florida Civil War) by Heather Graham
Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida (Love Finds You) by Sandra D. Bricker
Margarita Nights (Sherri Travis Mystery) by Phyllis Smallman
Far From Paradise (Florida Series) by Bren Yarbrough Bruhn
Matanzas Bay (Quint Mitchell Mystery) by Parker Francis
Gator a-go-go (Serge Storms) by Tim Dorsey
Pirates of Pensacola by Keith Thomson
Hurricanes & Hangovers by Dear Miss Mermaid
Key Manatee by Robert Tacoma
Mango Lucky by Bill Myers
Red Right Return (Buck Reilly Adventure) by John H. Cunningham*
Chasin' the Wind (Mick Murphy Key West Mystery) by Michael Haskins*
Key Lime Blues (Wes Darling Mystery) by Mike Jastrzebski*
Chomp by Carl Hiaasen (YA)
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen (YA)

Thanks for stopping by. You're welcome to add your favorite Florida Fiction or favorite Florida sites in the comments below.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rain, It's About Time!

View from my patio on this rainy day.

We have not had rain here on the Florida Panhandle in quite a long time. This year, for some odd reason, rain has been pretty scarce. Thank goodness we have well water for our yard or our water bill would be outrageously high.

Just yesterday our yard was tinder dry. When my dog, Dude, ran around in the backyard puffs of dirt billowed into the air. For Florida, that is really dry. Today is altogether different. We woke up to torrential rain and it's still coming down hard. My dogs would just love to go outside to "do their thing." But it's too wet out there even for them.

So this much needed rain got me to thinking, which may or may not be a good thing. First off, I quickly snapped some rain pics so I'd have some for this post. Then I thought about the book I was reading all day yesterday and until the wee hours this morning, Mariana by Susanna Kearsley. This awesome novel is a time-travel, sort of in the style of Daphne Du Maurier's  Rebecca.

There are several wet and rainy scenes in Mariana and so I've been concentrating a lot on rain. Maybe that's what brought on this sudden rainstorm? Not likely, but definitely worth the thought.

My patio in the rain.

Now I haven't read a time-travel romance in ever so long. But I happen to love them ever since I read A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveroux. This is a must-read-keeper. Of course, I should give credit to H. G. Wells' The Time Machine, which I read as a child and first led me to dreaming about the concept of time-travel.

Well, this got me to thinking some more. Oh no, thinking? What next? I've read some wonderful time-travels. Diana Gabaldon's Outlander is top on my list. Then there are all those wonderful time-travel romances by Lynn Kurland. So far I've only read five of them and all are fabulous: This is All I Ask, A Garden in the Rain, Much Ado in the Moonlight, Dreams of Stardust and If I Had You. Lynn Kurland's books are all keepers and have a place on my bookshelves. The rest of them are on my TBR list, which I must say is much too long these days.

Shani, a bit wet after venturing out in the rain.

Another awesome time-travel romance is Deb Stover's Some Like It Hotter. Yes, that one is a keeper too. I've just added Deb Stover's A Moment in Time to my TBR list.  I don't want to forget Ciji Ware's A Cottage by the Sea which is another awesome time-travel romance. This one is definitely a keeper too.

I have to admit that I've been remiss and still haven't read The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and Beyond the Highland Mist (Highland Series) by Karen Marie Moning. OMG, how did I miss those? So they're now on my TBR list too. Ohhhhh, that list is getting soooooo long.

Dude finally went out into the drizzle.

For those who follow my blog, I'm almost always adding a list of books. So this time it's a list of time-travel romances. I'm absolutely certain this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to time-travel romances, but all these happened to catch my eye. In fact, some of them are already on my Kindles (my old Kindle Keyboard and my new Kindle Fire). So the (*) in this case denotes time-travel romances TBR on my Kindles. I hope you all find some books you want to read. (Note, all of these books are available in eBook format.)

Time-Travel Romances (in no particular order):

The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley*
A Knight in Central Park by Theresa Ragan*
Return of the Rose by Theresa Ragan*
Taken by the Cowboy by Julianne MacLean*
Daughter of Time (After Climeri Series) by Sarah Woodbury*
The Bride Price (Civil War Brides) by Tracey Jane Jackson*
The Long Way Home by Andrea Stark*
Out of Time by Deborah Truscott*
Yellowstone Heart Song (Yellowstone Romance) by Peggy L. Henderson*
Come Home to Me (Second Chances Time Travel Romance) by Peggy L. Henderson
Tear in Time by Christopher David Petersen
A Love Through Time (MacKendimen Trilogy) by Terri Brisbin
Everything In It's Time (Time Travel Trilogy) by Dee Davis
My Honorable Highlander (Highland Games Through Time) by Nancy Lee Badger
Timeless (Stolen Brides) by Shelly Thacker
The Last Highlander by Claire Delacroix
Until Forever by Johanna Lindsey
Viking Unchained (Viking Time Travel) by Sandra Hill
A Little Time in Texas by Joan Johnston
Lord of the Black Isle by Elaine Coffman
A Laird for All Time by Angeline Fortin
Kiss Me, I'm Irish (Tennessee Waltz) by Bella Street
A Slip in Time by Kathleen Kirkwood
When Lightning Strikes by Cynthia Lucas
A Rip in the Veil by Anna Belfrage
Going Back For Romeo by L. L. Muir
Christmas Kiss (A Christmas Time-Travel) by L. L. Muir
Time's Arrow (Christmas Holiday Extravaganza) by Clare Revell
The Mammoth Book of Time Travel Romance ed. by Trisha Telep

For Outlander fans, A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows (An Outlander Novella) by Diana Gabaldon will be released December 3rd.  Yes, I'll be adding it to my Kindles.

Please add your favorite time-travel romances in the comments below. If you write time-travel romances, be sure to mention your books too. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Zoo Tails

Zion, the lion cub.
Saturday I had a Girls' Day Out at the zoo with my daughter and twin granddaughters. What an awesome day! We were there bright and early when the zoo first opened and just in time for Zoo Tots, a once a month program which teaches little kids about zoo animals. There was story time, a frog game and then off to see the animals.

Here's the link for our wonderful zoo:

Gulf Breeze Zoo

The highlight of Zoo Tots was getting an up-close introduction to the newest addition, Zion, a three and a half month old lion cub from a zoo in Arkansas. We all sat very quietly on the zoo train track while Zion's zoo-keeper-mama told us all about the cub. He made plenty of lion cub sounds, not all that pleased with an audience of mostly children and he wasn't allowed to "play."

The unconcerned rooster.

When a zoo rooster walked over to the cub he went on alert and was ready to help himself to a fresh meal. Zion is only twenty-something pounds at the moment, but he still figured he could take on a rooster. Of course, the rooster wasn't at all concerned and went on his way.

Dora, the coatimundi.

The next part of Zoo Tots was meeting the two Coatimundis, Dora and Diego.  Their zoo-keeper-mama brought them out of their pen for a "close" encounter. The two year old coatis wore dog harnesses and were on a leash, which enabled them to have a semblance of freedom. My twin granddaughters approved of the names and thought the coatis were quite cool.

One of over 300 Australian budgies.

After that we had the run of the zoo. The twins had to show me their favorite part of the zoo, the Australian Free-Flight Budgery.

Birds of a feather of every color.

We went inside the budgery armed with budgie treat sticks and were immediately greeted by the colorful birds. I had as many as four budgies at a time on one hand and with another riding on my shoulder.

The twins were enthralled with the colorful and friendly budgies. This is the first time I've ever had an encounter like that and I must say, I could have spent hours sitting on a bench and talking to all the birds.

Two of the three young giraffes.

We fed goats (slobbery eaters), sheep, guinea pigs, rabbits, roosters, chickens, peacocks, giraffes and camels. They all loved the special zoo feed we bought upon entering the zoo.

The twins' favorite was the three giraffes who were surprisingly gentle. The girls weren't at all intimidated by large giraffes that towered over them.

A 10 ft. American Alligator with a powerful tail.

We made the rounds of the rest of the zoo, visiting the two Bengal Tigers, two American Black Bears, a gigantic old American Alligator, llamas, gibbons, turtles, cockatoos, a huge vulture and an assortment of other critters.

One of the zoo's inquisitive chimps.

We rode the Zoo Safari Train to see the zebras, ostriches, chimpanzees, White Rhinos, two hippos  and Rwanda, the Western Lowland  Gorilla, with Kigali, her ten month old baby. Kigali was sleeping beneath a grass hammock so we only saw a glimpse of him.

Rwanda, the 27 year old mama gorilla examining a stick.

Three and a half hours later the twins were still full of energy and I was beat. All in all, it was a really fun day.

Now I'm sitting in my recliner with my feet up and going through my assortment of photos for this post. I hope you enjoy the photos, of which these are only a few of the hundred or more that I took.

Llama tails.

For those who follow my blog, I usually add a list of related books. In this case, some are Zoo Tales (fact and fiction) and others are related reads. I've also included a list of Children's & YA Zoo Books. I've only read a few of these books, but they all look like great reads. Many of the books are available in eBook format.

Zoo Tales and Related Reads (in no particular order):

We Bought a Zoo by Benjamin Mee
Steve & Me by Terri Irwin
Jungle Jack: My Wild Life by Jack Hanna
Lioness by Nell Brien (aka Shirley Palmer) *
Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Babylon Zoo by Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence
The Last Rhinos: My Battle to Save One of the World's Greatest Creatures by Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence
The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence
Congo Kitabu by Jean-Pierre Hallet **
Animal Kitabu by Jean-Pierre Hallet **
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood by Alexandra Fuller *
Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier by Alexandra Fuller *
Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller
Malaika by Van Heerling ***
Our House in Arusha by Sara Tucker
Growing Up in Africa by Lee & Genny Nichols
Whatever You Do, Don't Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide by Peter Allison
Backseat Safari by Robyn Keene-Young
Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen **
The Flame Trees of Thika: Memories of an African Childhood by Elspeth Huxley
Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingston by Martin Dugard
How I Found Livingston by Sir Henry H. Stanley **
Savages and Beasts: The Birth of the Modern Zoo by Nigel Rothfels
The Rhino with Glue-On Shoes (Zoo Vets and their Patients) by Lucy H. Spelman
Life at the Zoo: Behind the Scenes with the Animal Doctors by Phillip T. Robinson
In the Shadow of Man by Jane Goodall **
My Life with the Chimpanzees by Jane Goodall
Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey **
A Zoo in My Luggage by Gerald Durrell
Night Kill (A Zoo Mystery) by Ann Littlewood
The Koala of Death (A Gunn Zoo Mystery) by Betty Webb
Anteater of Death (A Gunn Zoo Mystery) by Betty Webb
Death Roll (A Snake Jones Zoo Mystery) by Marilyn Victor
The Menagerie: A Zoo Story by J. D. Porter ***

A Giant Tortoise.
*Read and on my bookshelves.
**Read but borrowed from the library.
***TBR on my Kindle

Children's and YA Zoo Tales (in no particular order):

If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss
The View at the Zoo by Kathleen Long Bostrom
Bruno Munari's Zoo by Bruno Munari
Going to the Zoo by Tom Paxton
Dear Zoo (A Lift-the-Flap Book) by Rod Campbell #
Zoo Animals by Brian Wildsmith
Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann #
Curious George Visits the Zoo by Margaret Rey
Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire #
Never, Ever Shout in a Zoo by Karma Wilson
Animal Strike at the Zoo, It's True! by Karma Wilson
If Anything Ever Goes Wrong at the Zoo by Mary Jean Hendrick
The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick
Danger at the Zoo: A Kit Mystery (American Girl Mystery) by Kathleen Ernst
The Zoo Crew (Nancy Drew & the Clue Crew) by Carolyn Keene
Edison and the Dinosaur Zoo by N. R. Mackie
Saving the Bagdad Zoo by Kelly Milner Halls
Trouble at the Zoo (Bindi Wildlife Adventures) by Bindi Irwin & Chris Kunz
Croc Capers (Bindi Wildlife Adventures) by Bindi Irwin & Chris Kunz

# Children's Zoo Books recommended by my grandkids.

One of the two young camels.

I'm sure I've left off a bunch of zoo or related reads, so please feel free to add your favorites in the comments below. I'd also love to hear what you enjoy the most about the zoo.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. I happen to love turkey, dressing, pumpkin pie and all the other yummy Thanksgiving goodies. I also love the leftovers which hopefully last through the weekend. That said, there is certainly more to Thanksgiving than all that food.

These days we need to be thankful for many things. Having a roof over one's head, electricity, heat, fresh water, things we normally take for granted, can be taken away in the blink of an eye. Hurricane Sandy did just that when it barrelled into the East Coast of New Jersey and New York.  Thousands of people along the East Coast lost their homes. Thousands more are still without electricity, heating, fresh water and all the other things we take for granted.

This Thanksgiving season those of us not affected by Hurricane Sandy need to be thankful for what we have. We also need to keep those harmed by Sandy in our thoughts and prayers. If possible, we need to pony-up and send some money/aid their way.

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for family and friends, for our health, for our homes, for our livelihood. A time to be thankful for the country given to us by our founding fathers. A time to be thankful that we live in a free and democratic country. No, I'm not going to get into politics here, only to say that in the U.S. we have greater freedom and liberty than found in many other countries. So we need to be thankful for that too.

I grew up with the traditional story of the first Thanksgiving. The Mayflower, pilgrims, Plymouth Colony, were all part of my earliest memories. I was told that I'm a descendant of those first pilgrims. I learned about genealogy early on and knew that I had a genetic connection to those same pilgrims.

Thanksgiving is only a week away. I'm already thinking about the turkey and other goodies. I'm thankful for what I have. I'm thankful for my heritage. I'm thankful for Thanksgiving.

For those of you who follow my blog, I've put together some lists of books about Thanksgiving, the Mayflower, the pilgrims, Plymouth and our other founding colonies. I've divided the lists into History, Fiction and Children's/YA Books. Many of these are available in eBook format. Some of these books I have in my own library or on my Kindles. The books are listed in no particular order.

History (great reads for history buffs & excellent research for writers):

Of Plymouth Plantation 1620 - 1647 by William Bradford*
Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick*
Plymouth Colony: Its History & People 1620 - 1691 by Eugene Aubrey Stratton*
American Colonies: The Settling of North America by Alan Taylor*
Savage Kingdom: The True Story of Jamestown, 1607... by Benjamin Woolley*
The Mayflower and Her Passengers by Caleb H. Johnson
Love and Hate in Jamestown: John Smith, Pocahontas... by David A. Price
A Land as God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America by James Horn
A Kingdom Strange: The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke by James Horn
Roanoke: The Abandoned Colony by Karen Ordahl Kupperman
Roanoke: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony by Lee Miller
The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love and Death in Plymouth Colony by James & Patricia Deetz
Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World by Nick Bunker
The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of the American Identity  by Jill Lepore
Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England by William Cronon
Everyday Life in Early America by David Freeman Hawke
The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan... by Russell Shorto
Walter Ralegh's Virginia: Roanoke Island and the Lost Colony by Aleck Loker

American Colonial Fiction:

Pilgrim by Hugh Nissenson
White Seed: The Untold Story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke by Paul Clayton**
Roanoke (The Keeper of the Ring Series) by Angela Hunt**
Jamestown (The Keeper of the Ring Series) by Angela Hunt
Sackett's Land (Sackett Series #1) (circa 1600) by Louis L'Amour*
To the Far Blue Mountains (Sackett Series #2) (circa 1600 - 1620) by Louis L'Amour*
The Warrior's Path (Sackett Series #3) (circa 1620s) by Louis L'Amour*
Jubal Sackett (Sackett Series #4) (circa 1620) by Louis L'Amour*
Here Shall I Die Ashore: Stephen Hopkins by Caleb Johnson
Almost Home (The Mayflower's Mary Chilton) (Daughters of the Faith) by Wendy G. Lawton
American Jezebel by Eve LaPlante
Bone Rattler (A Mystery of Colonial America) by Eliot Pattison**
Eye of the Raven (A Mystery of Colonial America) by Eliot Pattison
The Vanishing Point by Mary Sharratt

Children's and YA Books:

The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh
The Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving by Ann McGovern
If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 by Ann McGovern
If You Lived in Colonial Times by Ann McGovern 
Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland
The Story of the Pilgrims by Katharine Ross
If You Were At The First Thanksgiving by Anne Kamma
The Very First Americans by Cara Ashrose
The First Thanksgiving (Step-into-Reading) by Linda Hayward
Pilgrims of Plymouth by Susan E. Goodman
Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness
The Landing of the Pilgrims (Landmark Books) by James Daugherty
Pilgrim Cat by Carol Antoinette Peacock
The Pilgrims of Plymouth by Marcia Sewall
Pilgrim Stories by Margaret Pumphrey

* Books on my Bookshelves
** Books on my Kindles (Kindle Keyboard & Kindle Fire)

Please feel free to add additional books in the comments below. I hope you all have a wonderful and thankful Thanksgiving.