Archives for April 2016

Story Time Saturday: There’s A Hippopotamus Under My Bed




There’s A Hippopotamus Under My Bed
written by Mike Thaler
published by Avon Books, 1977

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonBook Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: 
It’s cute! I like the way Thaler forces readers to listen to the words AND look at the pictures to figure out the whole story. The illustrations aren’t just eye candy–they actually add to the plot. The first few times we read it my son had trouble describing what was going on in the pictures (he’s three), but now he’s learned a new skill: listening and looking at the same time!  Sweet!


Would I recommend it: Yeah! Not only is it a cute story, but it’s sneakily helped my son learn a new skill.


About the book – from Goodreads: A youngster befriends an escaped hippopotamus that sooner or later must return to the zoo.



Blue Apron Subscription: Seared Sirloin Steak with Roasted Potatoes and “Creamed” Kale


Hi, Everyone!

Melissa’s posts had me wondering, so I decided to give Blue Apron a try as well. I opted for the two family meals that serve four each.

Tonight: Seared Sirloin Steak with Roasted Potatoes and “Creamed” Kale


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The ingredients! They include everything you need except oil, salt, pepper, and water. It’s pretty awesome!

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The recipe pages are easy to follow and include great pictures!

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Prepped and ready to cook!

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Here are the seared steaks. They were very tasty!

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The finished product.


The recipe was easy to follow, and the meal was very good.


If I make it again: I will definitely make more kale. It was really tasty, but considering kale cooks down so much, there wasn’t enough for a full veggie serving for just my husband and me. But I will save this recipe and make it again! It was delicious!!!

Did my kids eat it: They ate the steak but not the potatoes or kale. They don’t know what’s good.




Gina’s RT Booklovers Convention 2016 Recap

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I was a book convention virgin. I always wanted to go but never found one that called my name . . . Then I discovered the RT Booklovers Convention, a place where romance authors can meet fans, aspiring authors, attend 150 workshops, and even pitch their books. Bloggers can meet their favorite authors and attend the workshops, too. Oh, and there’s free stuff. Lots of free stuff.


This year the convention was in the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas, and I went alone. I was excited and nervous after registering; I wouldn’t know a single person, but I was certain I would be able to make friends easily. Lovers of romance novels are said to be some of the nicest people (or so the blog posts about the convention said). They weren’t mistaken.

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Gina & Sylvia Day

I was able to start discussions with everyone I stood in line with, sat next to, or met at a convention party. Plus, it was exciting to meet new people; I even met J. Kenner’s executive assistant at Starbucks! My advice is this: TALK TO EVERYONE. Even though I’m introverted, I put myself out there and got a positive response.

My favorite part (apart from the free stuff that I got from every panel and party) was getting to interact with the authors. I was SO excited to meet Shayla Black, Sylvia Day, Sabrina Jeffries, and Ann Marie Walker . . . They all have books I love, and I was able to tell every single one of them how much I love their work.

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I paid a little extra for a pre-convention meet up with Sabrina Jeffries at the High Roller, which is a huge Ferris wheel that has a beautiful view of Vegas. We got into our own private pod and enjoyed cocktails during our thirty-minute ride. It was amazing! I loved being able to have a conversation with one of my favorite authors and get to know her better. It was a great way to kick off my RT Booklovers Convention experience, and I’d definitely do it again.


Another unique thing about the convention is that cover models also attend. That’s right, the people you see on those sexy romance covers come to mingle with authors and fans, and let’s face it: you can pick them out pretty easily in the crowds. I didn’t really know many of them, but throughout the days I found one that I thought had nice eyes. I didn’t know his name, so I just called him “Sweet Eyes.” Then, one night at a party, I bumped into him and told him I liked his eyes. This made him smile and he thanked me for the compliment. I assume most of the models don’t get compliments about their, um, FACIAL features. He, of course, is a personal trainer, which explains the hot bod I didn’t have to mention. And instead of “Sweet Eyes,” his name is Justin Edwards.

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Gina & “Sweet Eyes”

Overall I loved this convention! I loved going to all the panels to listen to my favorite authors talk about different topics. I loved going to the parties and mingling with fans, authors, and bloggers. I’ve discovered new books to read and can’t wait to dig into them. So in other words, I’m ready to go next year in Atlanta!




Mother’s Day Kindle Fire Giveaway – 2016

Kindle Fire Giveaway

Mother’s Day Kindle Fire Giveaway

An awesome group of bloggers and authors have joined with me to bring you one fabulous prize!


One lucky winner will receive . . .


A Kindle Fire + Amazon Gift Code to fill it will ebooks ($250 Value)

Alternately the winner can choose $250 in Paypal Cash


Thanks for this fabulous group of authors & bloggers who have sponsored this giveaway!

Sponsor List
I Am A Reader
Simple Wyrdings
Kimber Leigh Wheaton
Cynthia Luhrs Author
Laurie Here – Cont Fiction and More
Heather Boyd, Historical Romance Author
Krysten Lindsay Hager author
Diana’s Book Reviews
Every Free Chance Books
FLYLēF Book Reviews
Tamara Gill
Love. Without You
The Page Unbound
Glistering Bs Blog
Joshua David Bellin
A Leisure Moment
Toi Thomas
Helen Smith
Megan Tayte (romance author)
My Crazy Bookish Life
The Serious Reader
Cool Cat Mysteries
Barefoot by the Sea
Reviews by Martha’s Bookshelf
Author Mary Ting
Lori’s Reading Corner
Beth M. Honeycutt
Jennifer Bardsley
Heather Gray
The Candid Cover
Author Dorothy Dreyer


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway Details

Kindle Fire + Amazon Gift Code ($250 value) or $250 in Paypal Cash

Ends 5/7/16 — Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via PayPal. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the authors, bloggers and publishers on the sponsor list. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.


Boost It Tuesday! – April 26, 2016


Have you noticed that despite ALL of your Facebook “Likes” you are only “reaching” a very small portion of those followers? Does that bother you? It bothers us, and we want to boost each other up. Link up with Every Free ChanceCandace’s Book Blog, & If These Books Could Talk for  Boost It Tuesday!


What is Boost It Tuesday, you ask? Well, we want to help each other out. We are a great community of bloggers and authors, and we should be supporting each other. Share your Facebook address below, then visit the Facebook pages, like 3-5 posts, share or comment on 1 or 2 posts. That’s it. You don’t have to “like” the page if you don’t want to, just “like” some posts. Let’s help expand each other’s page reach. Who knows! You may find a new blog or author to follow along the away. Please be aware that any non-Facebook links will be deleted.


Here are some tips for Boosting. A big thanks to Kate at If These Books Could Talk for the image!

Boost It Poster


As an added bonus, Candace, Kate, and I will be hosting a giveaway each week just to say thanks for the boost!


For this week’s giveaway, head over to the Candace’s Book Blog Facebook page and answer the question in the Boost It post!


After two years of Boost It Tuesday, we have decided to take a break over the summer months–May through August. In August, Candace, Kate, and I will reassess Boost It Tuesday and decide where to go from here. We love visiting all the pages and getting to know all the bloggers and authors!! We just need a bit of a break. 😉 We hope you will continue to give your fellow bloggers and authors regular boosts throughout the summer as their posts show in your newsfeed.


Remember: Like, comment, and share!  Let’s all give each other a boost!

 if these books could talk


Gina’s Review: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project (Don Tillman, #1)

The Rosie Project 
written by Graeme Simsion
published by Simon & Schuster, 2013

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (Nook) (print), Amazon, iBooksBook Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: This quirky little romantic comedy worked its way into my heart. Don and Rosie are my new favorite literary couple. This book has everything from science and psychology to kissing and dancing . . . I especially liked the kissing and dancing. The banter is one of my favorite parts of the book. There are tons of funny, quotable lines in this book.

My book club really knows how to pick the good ones. I can’t wait to read the sequel!




Would I recommend it: YES!


About the book – from Goodreads: An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.



In the Kitchen: Blue Apron Subscription: Shrimp Spaghetti


Hi, Everyone!

In an effort to spend less time meal planning and more time reading, I decided to give Blue Apron a try. It costs less than taking the whole family to a restaurant, and it seemed like a fun way to add some new recipes to my repertoire.

Tonight: Shrimp Spaghetti with Cabbage & Toasted Breadcrumbs


YUM. Just, YUM.

Husband wasn’t too thrilled with the shrimp, but we all enjoyed the flavor of this dish. The cabbage was an interesting addition, but definitely one we liked! Who knew our little family liked cabbage so much?







If I make it again:

  1. More spaghetti!
  2. More cabbage!
  3. More garlic!
  4. Skip the shrimp or sub with chicken
  5. Skip the breadcrumbs

Did my kids eat it: Yes. There were, as usual, no leftovers.


Story Time Saturday: A Cloak for the Dreamer by Aileen Friedman




A Cloak For The DreamerA Cloak for the Dreamer 
written by Aileen Friedman
published by Scholastic Press, 1994

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonBook Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: 
Well, my son likes it.

My mother went to a used book sale at an elementary school and came home with this book, which I think was used as a way to teach basic geometry. It’s a neat, though not at all original, story, but my son doesn’t care a bit for the mathy parts. Perhaps in a few years he’ll want to understand why you can’t sew circles together and why triangles and hexagons work better, but for now, he just likes the colors and the pictures.

I, on the other hand, like that hidden in the mathy bits is a lesson that you don’t have to be what your parents want you to be–you have to be who you are, and that’s okay.


Would I recommend it: I don’t think I’d go out and buy this for a children’s home library, but it’s not a terrible addition considering we got it for free.


About the book – from Goodreads: Once there was a tailor who had three fine sons. Whenever his older sons Ivan and Alex weren’t working, they practiced measuring, cutting, and sewing. But Misha, the youngest, spent every moment poring over maps of the world and dreaming of traveling far and wide.



In the Kitchen: Home Chef Subscription: Crispy Rice Salmon


Hi, Everyone!

In an effort to spend less time meal planning and more time reading, I decided to give some food delivery services a try. They cost less than taking the whole family to a restaurant, and it seemed like a fun way to add some new recipes to my repertoire.

Tonight: Home Chef’s Crispy Rice Salmon with Spinach Salad and Quick-Pickled Vegetables


This was my first Home Chef recipe, and right from the start, I liked it better than Blue Apron. The first delivery box came with a 3-ring binder to help organize recipes, and as we know, I LOVE organization. One point for Home Chef.



And guess what! Not only does Home Chef meet my organizational needs, but it also gives me a quick reference guide for dietary needs, nutritional information, and drink pairing ALL ON THE SAME RECIPE CARD. Two points for Home Chef!


Guess what else, guys. Home Chef also gives you a rundown of the ingredients and necessary supplies, and instead of Blue Apron’s giant, glossy page of “here’s an interesting ingredient in your box this week” gratuitousness, Home Chef just pops a little morsel of info in the bottom corner. Tally points three and four for Home Chef!

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The ingredients were also packaged much more responsibly than Blue Apron–there was significantly less packaging, and that makes me happy.

Also, remember my complaint that Blue Apron never included tomatoes in their recipes? Guess what was in my very first recipe! Yup. Tomatoes. Score points five and six for Home Chef!


Home Chef sends pre-peeled garlic. That alone is worth about a dozen points, don’t you think?


You’re jealous of my Thomas spoon, aren’t you? Yeah. You are.


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As for the actual recipe, it called for a few fun things we’d never tried: honey sriracha sauce, quick pickled veggies, and watermelon radishes.

Aren’t the radishes beautiful?



End result: a delicious, low-calorie, light meal with–believe it or not–MORE VEG than we could eat! FINALLY!

End Score: Home Chef beats Blue Apron by a landslide. I can’t wait to try their next recipe!

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If I make it again:

  1. I’d cut the carrot ribbons smaller. They look really cool, but they were tricky to eat.
  2. Per Husband’s request, I’d use bigger plates.

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Did my kids eat it: Kid #1 ate the tomatoes. Kid #2 ate everything but the fish, which Husband and I didn’t share.




Chrissy’s Review: Trivial Pursuits by Aven Ellis

Trivial PursuitsTrivial Pursuits (Chicago on Ice #2)
written by Aven Ellis
published by Soulmate Publishing, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I could just leave the five-star graphic and walk away. That says it all. But I’ll tell you a bit about how much I liked the latest book from one of my favorite authors, Aven Ellis.


In true Aven Ellis style, Trivial Pursuits has a great heroine, a hot hockey player, some quirky friends and relatives, and a fabulous story. We get to see what Landon (Landy), the playboy and selfie king, and Livy, a jewelry designer, are up to in this Chicago on Ice book. We even see a bit of Aubrey from The Aubrey Rules (see my review here–5 stars, of course!), the book where we first met Livy and Landon. Livy and Landon are so cute together. I love how they met. They each have their own trust and relationship issues. But they work well together. Their chemistry is fantastic.

My favorite character, hands down, was Nana. 😉 I loved her. I never laughed so hard out loud while reading a book! Nana’s scenes had me cracking up, especially during the Connectivity chat scene when the family comes in. It was hilarious! (I’m not going to give it away . . . you have to get the book and read it. So funny!) I really hope to see more from Nana in the future!

This is a fantastic read. It was sweet, romantic, funny.


Would I recommend it: YES!! ABSOLUTELY!!! You should really just read ALL of Ms. Ellis’s books. Seriously.


About the book – from Goodreads: 
Landon Holder is exactly the kind of man Livy Adams should stay far away from.

The flashy, flirty star defenseman for the Chicago Buffaloes is known for hooking up with women all over Chicago. Livy finds herself attracted to Landy, but his sexy good looks and charm are irrelevant. She had her heart shattered by a cheating athlete in college, and Livy vows she will never let her judgment lapse like that ever again.

Yet Livy knows she can’t spend the rest of her life focusing on building her jewelry line during the day and her evenings playing TriviaPlayOrPass! on her phone, either. Even though she does have fabulous conversations with a player named Scott, it’s time to get back in the game—in real life. While Livy tries to figure out her career path in jewelry design, she knows it’s time to take a chance on romance again, too.

But in a strange twist of fate, Livy finds herself getting to know Landy on a much deeper level. Sometimes people aren’t always as they appear to be. Just like a diamond, you have to look closely to see true clarity.

As Livy unwraps the layers around Landy to see the man behind the image, will she have a change of heart? Can she leave her past behind for a future with Landy? Or is it all a game of trivial pursuits?