“A rose by any other name…”

Posted by Nichole on January 2, 2018 in Life in General, Writing |

It’s that time of year again.  You know the drill.  Somewhere between the excessive amount of gifts, obscene amount of cookies, and the turning of a calendar page (or, in my case, the recycling of one calendar and replacing it with another), most of us have at least a moment of panic. Panic about what we accomplished in the previous year and panic that we don’t have a plan for the next one.

Or maybe that’s just me.

It’s true.  I’m a resolution maker.  I try to hide it.  I call them “goals” as if a goal is really any different than a resolution.  I even type them up and hang them on my wall.  That becomes convenient for the next year, when I don’t have to re-type the ones I didn’t achieve.  I also organize my goals in categories — things like work and home, mental and physical health.  There’s even sub-points to help me succeed. 

Or not.

Don’t get me wrong.  I usually make some progress in some aspects of my resolutions.  And I do believe I become a slightly better member of the human race by the end of each December.  Not perfect.  But better.  Better at home.  Better at work.  Better mentally.  Better physically.  No aspect perfect.  And probably too many goals to even be realistic.  But better. 

And so here’s my first blog post for 2018.  The first of what I hope to be about 50 of them in 2018.  I’d like to do one a week, but there’s probably going to be a few weeks that I miss for one reason or another.

50 seems reasonable.  Attainable.  And that’s one of the keys to meeting your goals.  Make them attainable. 

So here’s to the new year.  To new goals.  To old resolutions. 

May you have a happy and healthy 2018.  And if you make resolutions, feel free to share them.  Maybe we can be on this crazy journey around the sun working toward the same things.



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Book Review: Divergent Trilogy

Posted by Nichole on August 21, 2017 in Book Reviews, Movies |

As if you didn’t all know this already, I do enjoy a good young adult read and Veronica Roth’s trilogy doesn’t disappoint.

In this dystopian series, teens have to make some serious choices:  what faction will they  be for the rest of their lives?  Will they be always truthful, brave, selfless, intelligent, or peaceful?  So much so that they ignore or suppress the other four qualities.

The series follows Tess, a divergent who must decide which faction to choose. But, in the first book Divergent, we learn that Tess has a secret which she much keep at all costs.  Tess opts to leave the selfless faction she’s always known and make a name for herself with people who value bravery above all else.

In Insurgent, a civil war has erupted and the factions Tess and her friends have always known are crumbling.  Loyalties are tested as human nature shows its ugly side in a world that’s designed to keep society in check.

The third book, Allegiantcontinues the battle between good and evil, tradition and future.  Tess and her friends work to create a place for themselves in a world that has changed so much that there’s little resemblance to the world they were born into.

The series can be taken as a fun read, or as a warning against extreme shelter in today’s world.  Then again, maybe the series is a metaphor of the struggle every teen goes through trying to find his or her place in the world: making their own path versus trying to retain the history and traditions they grew up with.

There is a fourth book, titled Four, however I haven’t read that and don’t know that I will.  It tells part of the story from another perspective–that of a character named Four.

The first three books have been made into movies, which are now available on DVD.  Yes, I’ve bought the movies.  No, I haven’t watched them yet.

If you’ve read the books, or seen the movies, let me know what you think.


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Book Review: Carol J. Perry’s “Witch City” Series

Posted by Nichole on November 28, 2016 in Book Reviews, Mystery, Paranormal |

Another series that I’ve fallen in love with.  So far there are only three titles in the series, but I’m hoping more.  And soon.  In this series Carol J. Perry has combined a number of things I love or am pretty familiar with.  First, the main character works in television.  And not only do I watch television, I actually work for a local TV news station.

Second, the series takes place in Salem, Massachusetts.  I’ve never been there, but it’s one of those places that is definitely on my bucket list, so the idea of a series taking place there intrigues me.

Finally, the main character is a reluctant psychic, much like the main character in my own novels.

With those three points, how could I not like such a series?

Caught Dead HandedIn the first book, Caught Dead Handed,  we meet Lee Barrett as she applies for a job as a television reporter.  She’s recently returned to Salem after working in television in Florida.  However, instead of stumbling upon the job of her dreams, she stumbles upon a the body of the station’s late-night television psychic.

Lee doesn’t get the reporter job, but she is offered the late-night gig, which she takes.  As she looks to fill the time-slot, Lee discovers that she is also filling the psychic role.  And as she reluctantly embraces the ability to see the future, Lee also helps find the truth about her predecessors death.

Tails You LoseIn Tails, You Lose, Lee is once again on the job hunt.  She’s lost her job as a TV psychic (and still hasn’t been able to land that reporter job).  So Lee takes on a position that many a displaced professional  has taken: she becomes a teacher.

Right before the newly-created career center opens, however, a family friend is found dead in suspicious circumstances.

While Lee and her students work to document the amazing history of the building the school is located in, they stumble upon the answers to the friend’s death.

Finally, in Look Both Ways, Lee is still teaching non-traditional students who are interested in a career in television.  She also cLook Both Waysontinues to build  her adult life in her childhood home town.  And that means, furnishing a home.

But wouldn’t you know it.  As soon as Lee finds a perfect bureau, the owner of the shop where Lee buys it ends up dead.  No matter how hard she tries to stay out of it, Lee is drawn into the mystery.

I really enjoyed each of these books and look forward to more.  Author Carol J. Perry has created believable characters and I personally enjoyed her thoughts and descriptions of the television stations.  (I think we may have worked with some of the same people!)

The paranormal aspect of the series is realistic and could easily be something that takes place everyday in any place.  The plots are fun and overall the books are a quick read.  According to Carol J. Perry’s website, the next book, Murder Go Round will be out at the end of January, 2017.  I can’t wait!



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Book Review: Juliet Blackwell’s “Witchcraft Mystery” Series

Posted by Nichole on May 23, 2016 in Book Reviews, Mystery, Paranormal |

In case you haven’t figured it out, I will often find an author I like and then read just about every dang thing they write.  Juliet Blackwell is an author I like.  And on my list of books I’ve read and yet to review are at least three of her Witchcraft Mystery series: In a Witch’s Wardrobe; Tarnished and Torn;  and A Vision in Velvet.  (There are some from the Haunted Home Renovation series, as well, but we’ll do those another time.)

The idea of the series is simple.  Lily Ivory is a solitary Texas witch who, after traveling around the world to find her place in it, now lives in San Francisco.  Lily also has a deep love of vintage clothing.  And a special talent to be able to tell things about the people who have owned those clothes.  So in San Francisco, she opens a vintage clothing shop and, eventually, stumbles upon murders in her adopted hometown.  With the help of some good friends, a cute cop, and a gargoyle-turned-pot-bellied-pig, though, things usually turn out alright in the end.

In a Witch’s Wardrobe is book 4.  In it, Lily heads to an art deco ball, where the vintage clothes are all the rage.  However, it’s not just an easy night out for our lovable hero.  At the ball, a young woman is put under a mysterious sleeping sickness.  Lily is sure the mystery involves a hex and does what she can to find out who wanted to hurt the girl–and why.

Tarnished and Torn, book 5 of the series, Lily heads to an antique jewelry show, hoping to find some vintage goods for her shop.  There, she gets the feeling that Griselda might also be a natural witch.  Only, before Lily can find out, Griselda ends up dead.  And the prime suspect is Lily’s estranged father, a powerful witch in his own right.

Book 6 is A Vision in Velvet.  Lily buys a trunk full of vintage clothes, only to find a cloak that “feels” strange.  It’s her talent for textiles, telling her that something is wrong with the history of the garment.  To make matters worse, Oscar (her gargoyle/pot-bellied pig familiar) goes missing.  Truly, this is the book that makes Lily realize she is in San Francisco to stay.


This is a fun series and I always look forward to the next one on the list.  (Yeah, I know I am at least 2 behind right now!)  It’s been fun to watch Lily’s character grow from a bit of a wandering gypsy soul to someone who has found a home and a family of her choosing.

Have you read them?  What did you think?







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Book Review: “The Women of Duck Commander”

Posted by Nichole on March 26, 2016 in Book Reviews, Non-Fiction |

Let me tell you a little something about my life.  My husband is a country boy.  And I don’t mean that he’s just a “drive the pick up and listen to Blake Shelton on the radio” kinda guy.  He’s a “Hank Williams, let’s go deer hunting, wore his good cowboy boots to our wedding” kind of guy.

The Country Boy/City Girl dynamic in our backgrounds has caused more than a few compromises over the years.  I would like to say that after all these years being married to me, he’s come to appreciate “cop shows” and realizes that music didn’t stop when the twang left country music (in my opinion, that twang phase is like disco clothes–best forgotten and never spoken of again) and he’s even taken me to a few musicals, plays, and art galleries over the years.  On my part, I now know that some pick-up trucks are full of features, I can speak Texan, and am pretty good with a bow and arrow.

So, when Country Boy decided to start watching “Duck Dynasty” I watched a few episodes with him.  For my part, I enjoyed the personal interaction among the family. I mean, who doesn’t have that one crazy uncle?

duckwivesEventually, Country Boy bought me the book The Women of Duck Commander: Surprising Insights from the Women Behind the Beards About What Makes This Family Work”  and I’ll tell you it was interesting.  This isn’t a family that has been rolling in the dough for generations.  It also isn’t a family that shies away from the struggles they’ve been through, both public and personal.  It’s also not a family that always agrees.  With my fascination into human behavior (and let’s face it, a lot of authors are fascinated with human behavior–it’s what makes the characters in our novels “tick”), I can honestly say I enjoyed the memories and stories shared in the book.

Miss Kay, Korie, Missy, Jessica and Lisa Robertson each share some painful events in each of their lives and explain how they’ve overcome those obstacles.  Obviously, the book is also about their relationships and commitments to their families, each other and to God.  If any of those topics offend you, I suggest you skip this one.

Me?  I enjoyed it.  I have no idea how much of the book is true, and how much is just “their truth,” but the writing felt genuine.

Anyone else read this book?  Leave me a comment and let me know!



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Book Review: Liv Bergen series

Posted by Nichole on March 6, 2016 in Book Reviews, FanGirl, Mystery |

I’ve talked about this series before and I just can’t say enough things about it.

If you don’t know anything about the Liv Bergen series, here’s a crash course.  Liv is a strong, independent woman who comes from a family of nine children.  The family is in the mining business, and Liv is definitely at home in the Quarry.  Of the five books currently in the series, the settings bounce from the Black Hills of South Dakota to the Colorado and back again.

I’ll admit I’m a huge fan, and not just because the books are tied to “my back yard.”  I’ve met author Sandra Brannan and she’s about as sweet as you can imagine.

So, having said all that, here’s the break down of the five books currently in the series.

jonahIn the Belly of Jonah

This is the first one in the series and lays the groundwork for the rest.  It explains how Liv ends up leaving the Quarry and how she begins to imagine a life in the FBI and with a certain FBI Agent.

This is a definite psychological thriller and well written.


Lot’s Return to Sodom
lotThe second in the series heads to the Black Hills in August.  Specifically to the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.  In this one we have Liv’s brother accused of murder and Liv trying to clear his name, while staying clear of Lucifer’s Lot — a nasty motorcycle gang in town for the rally.

During the course of this investigation, Liv and her love interest — FBI Agent Streeter Pierce — get to know each other better and learn to work together better.  Again, another well-written psychological thriller.


Widow’s Might

widowNumber three picks up just days after Lot’s Return to Sodom ends.  It’s like reading one really long book.

In this one, Liv stays in the Black Hills area because of another murder.  This one tied to a cold-case serial killer known as the Crooked Man.  She also becomes the “handler” for an FBI search dog.  Liv, with the help of Beulah and Streeter, are on the case, but her personal life…well, that’s a little more complicated.  You see, now there’s another FBI Agent (Jack Linwood) who has caught Liv’s eye.


Noah’s Rainy Day

noahIn this one, Liv heads back to Colorado after finishing her FBI training at Quantico.  While visiting her family for Christmas, a child goes missing from the Denver airport.  As Liv and Beulah, her K-9, search for the child, another child — Liv’s nephew — sees things that could help solve the case.  But he can’t tell a soul.  Noah has severe cerebral palsy and can not speak, run, walk, or even crawl.

This one kept me on the edge of my seat.


Solomon’s Whisper 

solomanLiv starts digging into another cold case, this one involving the death of her 10 year old niece.  And it’s a case that seems tied to a more current murder.

But as Liv works through the emotions of the case, she’s also dealing with the emotions of being drawn to two different men — Streeter and Jack — as well as her self-doubt about being an FBI agent at all.



Despite the names of the books sounding like they come straight from the Bible, there isn’t a religious  aspect to the stories.  Each book would be classified as a psychological thriller and the stories are compelling and grip the reader right at the beginning.

Pick them  up.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.





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Book review: “Death on the Greasy Grass”

Posted by Nichole on March 16, 2015 in Book Reviews, Mystery |

greasygrassI picked this one up because of the title: Death on the Greasy Grass.  I mean, seriously.  Greasy Grass.  How amazingly descriptive is that?

Then I read the book’s summary and I knew I had to buy it.  There’s a Battle of Little Big Horn reenactment, an FBI agent trying to take a few days off, and a murder.  Honestly, could this book be any more up my ally?

FBI Agent Manny Tanno is taking a few days off with his cop-buddy Willie.  They decide to check out a reenactment of the Battle of Little Big Horn–also called the Battle of Greasy Grass Creek.  And, wouldn’t you know it, a modern day murder takes place.

As Manny and Willie look into the murder (Manny because the FBI assigned him to the case, Willie because he’s hanging out with Manny), they are thrust into a mystery hundreds of years in the making.

This is the third in a series.  I enjoyed it so much that I actively went out to get the first two, although I haven’t cracked the spines on them yet.

This is a great novel for anyone who enjoys mysteries, historical fiction, or Native American stories.  The author, C.M. Wendelboe, does a great job of describing some of the more beautiful and remote areas of the Black Hills, which is yet another reason I enjoyed the book.

So tell me, have you read any of the Spirit Road Mysteries?  What did you think?


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Book Review: Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy

Posted by Nichole on December 8, 2014 in Book Reviews, Paranormal |

Here’s another review that’s a little out of my normal reading genre.  Kind of.

The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy isn’t a mystery.  It falls squarely in the romance genre.  So squarely, in fact, that it’s a Nora Roberts trilogy.

However, the setting and the topic appealed to me (Ireland and magic), so I couldn’t resist picking up the first one.  I’m glad I did.

Idark witchn the first book, Dark Witch,  Iona arrives in Ireland from America.  She’s come to find her cousins (Branna and Conner) and her destiny.  That destiny, being one of the three who are called to defeat a terrible, evil demon.  As Iona finds a place for herself in Ireland, her cousins and their close friends (Boyle, Meara and Fin) accept Iona and teach her to use the magic that she’s inherited.

Now, since this is the story of Iona, and this is a romance, she falls for Boyle.

shadow spellIn the second book, Shadow Spell, we find the focus on Meara and Conner.  The demon hasn’t been eradicated and the three cousins and their friends are still searching for the way to end the centuries long battle between good and evil.  Conner and Meara, however, find that the friendship they have shared their entire lives is developing into something more.

Finally, we get to the third book, Blood Magickblood magickwhere the third of the cousins (Branna) and the final friend (Fin) finally decide they were meant to be. And their love, in part, helps to finally defeat the evil that’s roamed the Earth for centuries.

Okay, so that’s the basic storyline.

And not why I picked up this trilogy.

The descriptions of Ireland were amazing.  The concept of the ancient witch’s curse that plagued not only the cousins but the area appealed to my love of paranormal.

Each of the books were quick reads, on top of it.

Did I enjoy them?  Yes.  But more for the good-versus-evil aspect than the romance story.  I will even admit that I skimmed over some of the romance “does he love me, do I hate him” parts to get to the “how do the good guys get the bad guys” parts.

If you’ve read them, tell me what you thought.



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Book Review: “A Haunting Dream”

Posted by Nichole on July 14, 2014 in Book Reviews, Mystery, Paranormal |

I am a huge fan of Joyce and Jim Lavene and all their various series.  Well, at least the ones I’m familiar with anyway.

A Haunting Dreamhauntingdream is part of the MIssing Pieces series and is set in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  In this series, Dae O’Donnell has a gift for finding lost things.  Dae is also the mayor of the small town of Duck.  She’s also used to being the only psychic around.

That last part changes when her neighbor’s ex shows up.  Ann is a trained FBI agent and psychic (who had a bit of a breakdown) and wants her man back.

If that wasn’t enough, Dae stumbles upon a dead body.  And this body is asking for her help—something that’s never happened to the mayor before.

Not enough small-town, real-life, stress for ya?  There’s a mayoral election coming up and Dae has to defend her office.

I’m a fan of the series because the Lavene’s have a way of making their characters and circumstances work.  I’ve been to the Outer Banks and can imagine a town like Duck hidden there.  I know people like the townsfolk they describe.  I like the way Dae just wants to be accepted.

This is an easy read…perfect for a day at the beach!

Keep reading!


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Book Review: “The Cold Dish”

Posted by Nichole on March 2, 2014 in Book Reviews, FanGirl, Mystery |


There are a lot of things I really dislike about winter.  I dislike the cold.  And the fewer hours of sunlight.  And the cold.

I also dislike the fact that A&E doesn’t have Longmire on.

I’ll admit that I am not usually a fan of westerns.  I mean, really.  I’m not a “horse” girl.  I don’t know the difference between a filly and a mare.  My horse skills start and stop at those touristy trail ride places.

My father and husband, however, like the western-genre.

Knowing that Craig Johnson’s Longmire series was being picked up by A&E a few years ago, I convince my hubby to watch an episode and he was hooked.  Not only did he enjoy the western Wyoming scenery, but he didn’t even mind that I had tricked him into watching a “police show.”  It was a win-win.  (Oh, I met Craig Johnson at one of the last Mayhem in the Midlands.  I know he does book signings in the Black Hills area often, but I haven’t been able to meet him at one of those.  Someday, though!)

It was such a win, in fact, that he asked me to rush out and pick up a Craig Johnson novel.  So I picked up a copy of The Cold Dish, the first Walt Longmire Mystery.  And of course, I had to read it, too right?

I was not disappointed!

Johnson does a great job of character development and he definitely knows the Wyoming landscape where he lives and writes.

In The Cold Dish, we not only meet the characters, we get a great mystery that will want readers to get their hands on the rest of the series.  In this one, Cody Pritchard is found dead. Two years earlier, Cody and three accomplices had been given suspended sentences for raping a Northern Cheyenne girl.

I really don’t want to tell you too much more since the plot is so similar to one of the episodes in the first season of Longmire.

I recommend the books, and the television series.  (Which, by the way, has been picked up for a third season, but the season start date hasn’t been announced for 2014.  My guess would be June-ish, but that’s just a guess based on the past two years.)

So, while you’re waiting for season three of Longmire, pick up one of Craig Johnson’s books.  You won’t be disappointed.

Keep reading!


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