My Top Five Books of 2015

 My Top Five List

The last days of December always lend themselves to reflection. Everyone’s posting what topped their lists in 2016. My top five is books, of course! I read a lot of new-to-me authors and interesting books this year because of free book offerings and book sale sites. A lot. I have to say I enjoyed quite a few of them, but I wanted to keep this list manageable. These five stood out!

12 Rose Street by Gail Bowen (A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery #15) 

This is no cozy mystery and Joanne Kilbourn is not your warm and fuzzy type of heroine. Not that there’s anything wrong with cozy or fuzzy when it comes to characters and books. But Joanne Kilbourn is a strong female lead who isn’t afraid to make decisions and take action. LOVE. I also loved how Bowen crafted a story about an inner city area and made it about the greed and avarice of the wealthy. And, of course, politics. Well written, well plotted – well done!

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Cold In The Shadows by Toni Anderson (Cold Justice Series Book 5)

Anderson’s Cold Justice Series was new to me this year and it all started with a free book, the first one in the series. But Cold In The Shadows, number five, is my favourite of the series. Again, love her characters, who are strong, intelligent and driven. It’s short on angst and the over-the-top emotional introspection which seems to be very popular these days. You get the sense Anderson knows her stuff and has done her research.

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Deep by Kylie Scott (Stage Dive Series Book 4)

How I adore this series! Which is strange because I’m not usually a fan of New Adult or rockstar romances. But Scott’s got a great voice and a wicked sense of humour. And once again, it’s full of strong, independent female characters, who aren’t perfect and make questionable choices, but they’re smart, honest, and real. There are depth to the characters and each one is unique. This series is fresh, smart, and appealing.

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Him by Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen

These two! I loved the banter between these two guys and the internal dialogue which was just the right kind of not-too-over-the-top. Again, not a New Adult fan, but here I am picking another one. In fact, I don’t read sports stories either. But hello…the writing! And it’s super sexy and super sweet with no alpha males in sight.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

Read this one for book club. I’ve read a lot of good books for book club. While I enjoy literary works of fiction they don’t comfort or intrigue or whisk me away like genre fiction. But I do love it when an author presents you with a story that makes you question what you would have done in the characters place. Makes you question how noble you really are?

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There you have it! My top five picks for 2015. I’m sure many great books will find their way into my to-be-read pile in 2016. What was you favourite book(s) of the year?

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A Short Story – Waiting For Mason by Karyn Good

Christmas is right around the corner. We’re busy. We need more time. More energy. More peace. I like to post a short story every December. My gift to you.

I wrote this little story a few years back. Some of you may have read it. Some of you haven’t. Our family has camped many times in the Qu’Appelle Valley, which is basically our backyard. We have many fond memories. This story touches on how the valley got it’s name.

WAITING FOR MASON by Karyn Good

In the waning light Willa Harris surveyed her version of the prettiest spot on earth. With its shelter of wolf willows and cottonwoods, the tranquil calm of the lake, it soothed her battered heart. She struck a red-tipped match. Held the tiny flame to the bits of dry grass and twig she’d arranged in the middle of an irregular circle of stones. It whiffed out in a puff of wind.

The second match survived the odds and sparked at the broken bits of branch. She held her breath, delighted when it caught. She needed the heat. Tonight the many miles between the rustic Qu’Appelle Valley and her native Toronto were adding up to doubts. She tossed on a couple of smaller branches. Not about setting down roots here. Or Mason. The dry wood caught and she leaned in closer to catch the flare of heat. She reached for her backpack, the motion jarring her swollen ankle. Could she convince Mason she belonged here, too?

Okay, maybe she could use a crash course in backwoods smarts, on how to survive on ants and tree bark tea, that kind of thing. Hiking without falling victim to a sprained ankle. But she was trying. Hadn’t she’d trekked in alone to their special spot? Set things up? Okay, half set things up, but still it proved she was crazy about Mason Shaw, protector of the wild things. Didn’t it?

The darker the night sky and the brighter the moon, the more she felt like maybe Mason wasn’t coming. What if he hadn’t found her note? What if he didn’t show? What then? It’d be her and the howling coyotes. No. Mason would come looking for her. He was like that, straight up honourable in an old fashioned Camelot style that stretched way beyond appealing. She could count on Mason to do the right thing even when he’d rather not.

Willa massaged her throbbing ankle. In the distance the prairie wolves began their nightly serenade of howls and yips, in front of her the yellow-red flames fluttered and weaved. In back of her a breeze whispered through the fresh-leafed aspens. It wasn’t so bad being out here all alone. To disconnect. Take some time to think.

She never heard a sound, not a footstep, snapping twig, or rustle of clothing. Nothing until he appeared on the other side of the fire blocking her view. She froze at the sight of the bent old man who stared back at her. He lifted a hand in greeting a second before he squatted down across from her and set his rifle on the ground beside him.

Continue reading

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Christmas Couple Time

Christmas couple time? God bless you if you can fit that in. As a romance writer you’d think I’d be better at ensuring my husband and I enjoy some quality couple time during the season of Christmas craziness. But let’s face it, things like movie date night turn into…

movie watching

A nap. I blame the sugar.

I hope it’s the little moments that count. Our annual trip to Tim Horton’s dressed in our pajamas (thank goodness for drive-thrus, cuz otherwise – awkward) for hot chocolate. We drive around looking for the best Christmas lights. Taking a few minutes to sneak some treats and cuddle in front of the Christmas tree. Fondue night.

I’m the planner. Because I don’t consider watching hockey with the fireplace on a date. On the upside, if I fall asleep I won’t miss anything. And naps are important. See above.

I mean I love the idea of building a fort with blankets and pillows and lights and having a picnic in there but all I can think about is who is going to put all that stuff away? Me. That’s who.

But if you’re looking ideas give these links a try!

My Name Is Snickerdoodle – Don’t Be A Grinch Family Night (Okay, not a date night but you could tweak it a bit. But picking a favourite family movie and turing it into a night sounds like a cute idea to me, in a make more work for yourself kind of way.)

The Dating Divas – Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt Date Night (This is a group date night idea which again I found cute! And they’re the Dating Divas. They should know what they’re talking about. And also not a lot of work involved. Invite another couple, or two. Print out the sheet and off you go.)

5 Amazing Things – 5 Amazing Date Night Ideas For Home (besides watching TV) (If you try the Vodka tasting night idea make sure to hide the elf, and not among the vodka bottles, before you start, because…there are a bunch of different kinds of vodka out there. Just saying…)

What’s your favourite way to enjoy some quality time together.

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Some Days…

All you need is love.

all you need is love

The Beatles.

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Shades of Red

Today’s photo challenge theme is RED.

 

In the house of words was a table of colors. They offered themselves in great fountains and each poet took the color he needed: lemon yellow or sun yellow, ocean blue or smoke blue, crimson red, blood red, wine red.  Eduardo Galeano

 

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Red is said to be the first color perceived by man. Are black and white colors? I never remember. It means stop. In Russian the word for red means ‘beautiful’. Is the most common color found on national flags. It can signify love and passion, also hatred and passion.

What’s your favourite something red?

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Holiday Movie Favourites

It’s Holiday Movie Time!

If you’re into the holidays you probably have a favourite holiday movie. And goodness gravy are there ever a lot of them out there. I swear they’ve been on since the middle of November. Hallmark has a whole trove of them. They’ve been redone, reworked, re-everything. I have to confess I don’t watch many of them. I also don’t start watching any of them until mid-December. But I have my favourites!

My Top Five Six Seven Favourite Holiday Movies!

  • Love Actually
  • The Holiday
  • Elf
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • The Santa Clause
  • Die Hard
  • Muppet Christmas Carol

Christmas doesn’t usually dissolve into chaos like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Thankfully, we’ve never left anyone Home Alone. We’ve never had to deal with Gremlins. And we’ve never been the stressed out parents in Jingle All The Way. So, I guess I can safely say real life is nothing like the movies! Thank goodness.

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I cuddle under a blanket, sip hot chocolate, and nibble on gingerbread while laughing at Colin Firth learning Spanish, swooning over Hugh Grant as Prime Minister, heart breaking for Liam Neeson. Emma Thompson is one of my favourite actors. And what’s a holiday movie without porn star stand-ins. It’s got it all. Love’s delightful twists and turns. And that airport scene? And the reunions of real people? Sigh.

What are some of your favourite holiday movies?

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December Has Arrived!

December Is Upon Us!

With the first day of December comes the first day of Advent. The first day of Elf on the Shelf. There’s only a few flakes of snow on the ground and the temperature is on the plus side. Life is pretty sweet!

I don’t really have a plan to conquer the madness of December, but I do have a gift giving and baking list on the go. I’m also trying to keep my calendar up to date. And, as always, I’m determined not to let the idea of holiday perfection rule my days.

There are many things I love about December. The holidays, of course. The first snow fall. Using the fireplace. Drinking hot chocolate. Reading books while cuddled under a blanket. Sweaters. Boots. Holiday music. Holiday movies! And generally settling in for the long winter ahead.

There are a few ways I’ve simplified over the years. Less decorations. I used to think it wasn’t Christmas without a few somethings in every room. Less gifts. This year my husband’s side of the family decided to pick names. On my side of the family we decided to buy gifts for the kids only.

My Tips For A Guilt-Free December:

  • Decide which traditions still work and which ones to ditch and keep in the memory banks.
  • Find a way to give and/or volunteer.
  • It’s okay to say NO to an event, a gift exchange, baking exchange, dinner party, or whatever it is you do not have time for or do not want to attend.
  • Giving up the notion of buying the perfect gift. Put some thought into it, but don’t stress over being the one to buy THE gift.

My holiday mantra:  It’s supposed to be fun, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

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December Planning

I’m also doing a December photo challenge. Today’s theme is Your View Today. The above is mine.

What are your tips for organizing the month of December?

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