July Hiatus

Hello, all!
Yes, I realize I missed all of my posts last week.  And yes, I realize I didn't even post that third one I said I was going to. . . #ashamed

I'm not going to go into the spiel of how wild life is right now, but instead I'm dropping in to let my faithful friends know I'm stepping down from my minor blogging hobby for at least the month of July.  
I've been juggling work, baby prep, registry plans, family, Summer stuff, and all that jazz, and it's just too much at present.  As much as I LONG to post weekly, I simply can't make it work right now.  I'll be resigning from my job the second week of July, and then my parents-in-law and my hubby and I are leaving for a Northern road trip for a couple weeks after that.

Come August, I'm hoping to be back to a more relaxed schedule and my regular posts.  In the meantime, I may share some book reviews as they come, and I'll definitely try to catch up (and keep up) with all my favorite blogs---I'm SO BEHIND it ain't even funny.  x__x  

All that said, I'm still tentatively planning on Camp NaNo for July, though I have no idea WHAT I'm writing yet. . .  Needless to say, my goal will be EXTREMELY reasonable.  ;D
Anyone else joining up for Camp??
Do you have a cabin yet??  What's your project for July?  Do tell! I'd LOVE to know!!

I'm at 30 weeks, guys!! AHH!!! In just about two months, I'll be holding a little boy! I can hardly believe it.  *^ - ^*  I've done a horrid job of posting regular pics on Instagram and such. . . But while I'll be breaking from blogging, my social media will still be open.  Maybe I'll be brave and start posting more me-photos. . . *shy smile*

'Nuff said, y'all.
Farewell, for now! 
I shall return!!!
<3 <3 <3

Book Review | Pippa of Lauramore

Pippa of Lauramore
Eldentimber #1
Shari L. Tapscott

Createspace Independent Publishing Platform | February 18, 2016
Fantasy, Medieval, Romance, Action

Act like a lady. Don’t swim in the waterfall. And whatever you do, never steal into the woods for a romantic, moonlit ride.

For as long as Pippa can remember, she’s looked forward to her eighteenth birthday. The number represents freedom—and the end of her boring lessons with dreary tutors. Unfortunately for the princess, it’s also the age she is expected to marry Lionel, the stern prince of Vernow.

Eager to escape her future with the Lionel, Pippa convinces her Father to hold a traditional marriage tournament. Thirty men travel to Lauramore to compete, including Galinor, the dark-haired, blue-eyed prince of Glendon.

Galinor is everything Pippa dreams a prince can be. He’s handsome and strong, virtuous and true. Immediately smitten, Pippa decides she will do everything in her power to ensure Galinor wins the tournament—even if she must convince her friend Archer to win it for him.

Dragons and fairies, poison and lies—Pippa will let nothing stand between her and Galinor’s future.

But despite how well the tournament begins, Pippa may soon learn even the right prince can be the wrong man.

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WARNING: Possible Spoilers

{The Basics}
It's been quite a while since I've stumbled upon a random book that left me gushing praises.  I found this particular one as a free e-book on Amazon via my daily BookBub emails---a secular fantasy to boot!  But it was refreshingly clean! (Despite a few innuendos.)

I LOVED it.  The characters were fabulous and lovable, the plot fun and unexpected, and the story-world was so intriguing!  Definitely makes me want to try out the sequels.  :]

Pippa is a strong, stubborn, wild kind of girl.  Rather rebellious, and certainly not known for obeying ANY rules.  She is, however, kind and compassionate to those she loves, and you know she cares deeply for them.  The whole plot is centered around the marriage tournament, where princes and lords from all kingdoms and neighboring countries travel to Lauramore to compete for Pippa's hand.  It involves many tests which include a scavenger hunt, archery, a dragon hunt (for the dragon's treasure), jousting, and hand-to-hand combat.

{Spiritual Content}
None that I recall.  Though a character or two may send up a prayers for safety or healing or something, there's no mention of deity.

A group of noble ladies are kidnapped for ransom.  [SPOILER] They escape but are chased by the men responsible until they lose them and instead become hunted by a feared glasseln (a deadly cat-like creature with wings).  A girl is slashed in the shoulder by its claws, but no other injuries befall them (they're just terrified out of their wits).

Princes and lords are wounded during the tournament.  While it is a competition, some of the tests are difficult and dangerous.  Some men are wounded by burns and others from other injuries.  A man is stabbed with a poisoned blade, nearly killing him.  A dragon's mate was slain by one of the competitors, breaking a treaty between men and dragons, and the offended comes to the kingdom to exact revenge.  The male dragon seeks out the traitor and ends up taking him in his claws and flying to the man's own kingdom, where he said he would decide how to deal with the man in his own country.

{Language // Alcohol & Drugs}

Festivities amidst the tournament serve alcoholic beverages and cider.

There's a flower, maid-of-the-shadows, that grows deep in caves; it is known for its beauty as well as its hallucinogenic properties.  The kidnappers use it on the girls, which brings on nightmares.

{Romantic Content}
Other than the usual attraction and some minor innuendos to sexuality of men and women (nothing blatant, I assure you!), characters embrace, declare their love, and kiss a time or two.  

Our first scene begins at Pippa's eighteenth birthday party.  She meets the handsome Prince Galinor here and persuades him for a midnight ride through the forest to one of her favorite places, a cave of beautiful lights (flowers).  Nothing happens!  But her father finds them punishes her.  She possesses an enchanted purity ring of gold.  Were anything to. . . happen, the ring would tarnish.  [SPOILER] Though temptations arise, nothing happens (other than some kissing).

Having grown up together for many years, Pippa has never thought of Archer as anything more than her kingdom's master archer.  They have a great relationship that gradually changes to a definite attraction.  It was so sweet to see them grow in their love---especially as Pippa begins to realize she cares deeply for Archer, and that he understands her more than most.  

Prince Lionel is said to be the one favored to win Pippa's hand.  He's a brute, to say the least.  At a feast, he dances with Pippa, handling her rather roughly and bruising her waist.

Irving, another prince from a different kingdom, likes to flirt with the ladies.  (He's one of my fave characters---love his humor!) 

All told, I LOVED this book!  And I'll eventually find the print copy someday.  The following sequels are set in the same story-world, and I'm hoping they're just as good.  :]

The story, the characters, the plot---I could go on and on!  Pippa's character, though kind of wild, was so refreshing, she seemed so real to me for some reason.  Her relationship with her friends and her family was sweet and fun.  And her older brothers are amazing!!  Pippa gets along very well with many of the competitors and friendships are formed.  I loved seeing how that played out.

Overall, it was a lovely story that I greatly enjoyed, and I would definitely recommend to all my medieval, fantasy-loving friends!

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Ages 16+

What's in a Name?

I had such good intentions for my blog posts this week.  O__o  As well as in catching up on the readings of all my favorite blogs. . . #FORGIVEME 

So the remainder of this week will be a little different.  I'll be sharing two new names today (to make up for the lack of post on Monday), a book review tomorrow (Ooooh y'all gonna likey!), and a writerly post on Friday (one that's been in drafts for AGES).  *crosses fingers* 

Three posts in three days?  

Where were we?

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M & F | English, Norwegian

Possibly a variant of Audun, from Old Norse elements meaning "fate, fortune" and "wave" (or "to love").  Otherwise, derived from an English surname, which hails from the Germanic given names Aldwin or Alden, meaning "old friend."  This given name was most likely introduced in the 20th century thanks to the famous English poet, W.H. Auden (1907-1973).  Another known bearer is the American climate activist and businessman, Auden Schendler (possibly born in 1970s).

F | Finnish

Finnish form of Margaret, which is ultimately derived from the Greek margarites, meaning "pearl."

NOTE:  I don't know about you, but my first thought about this name was that it was possibly a feminine alternate of Mark.  The site I use as a resource didn't say anything about this, but if you had a female character who was named after her father, Mark, this would certainly fit, in my opinion.  :]  And maybe her nickname is Etta!

Names & meanings via behindthename.com.
Photos via Pinterest.

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What do you think of these two names?  
Do you like Auden as a girl or boy name?  And what about Aldwin or Alden?  I kinda like Marketta's nickname, Etta.  What of you? Would you have that as the given name of a character who is named after her father, but is one who hates her name?  Or would she be one who loves it in honor of her daddy? 

Book Review | Lone Witness

Lone Witness
Atlanta Justice #2
Rachel Dylan

Bethany House Publishers | May 1, 2018
Christian Fiction, Action, Legal Thriller

When prosecutor Sophie Dawson is the lone witness to a gang-related double homicide, her world is turned upside down. Private security guard Cooper Knight is hired to protect Sophie from the gang, but she's more concerned about prosecuting her latest case than the threat to her life. Sophie wants to stand for what's right, but can Cooper keep her safe?

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WARNING: Possible Spoilers
I was provided a copy of this novel by the publishers in exchange for my honest review.

{The Basics}
Sophie Dawson loves her work as a prosecutor for Fulton County, Georgia.  But when she is the one and only witness to a cold-blooded, double murder late one evening, she's thrown onto the witness stand---an entirely different position than one she is used to.  She has to set aside her prosecutor's shoes and appeal to the jury as a civilian witness, much more difficult than she at first thought.  And to top it off, she now has a target on her back---but not just one, TWO. 

Cooper Knight owns a partnership in a security business.  Sophie's father hires him to protect her, discreetly at first, but that doesn't last long as he soon becomes her bodyguard, 24/7.  And neither of them can help the connection they feel in each other's company.  They have two completely different views of what they wish their future to look like, so can they put aside those differences and see where a relationship might take them?

{Spiritual Content}
This is a novel written in the Christian fiction genre.  In my opinion, it is nowhere near over-the-top "religious" stuff like many books out there.  This one keeps it sweet and simple.  The characters obviously rely on God and their faith through the trials and fears they face.  They pray to Him often, and attend church services.

Double homicide at a gas station: a clerk is gunned down inside the store, as well as a young woman in the parking lot.  They are both shot---one in the head, lots of blood and screaming.

A man is caught lurking outside Sophie's house.  Cooper punches him, but is tasered in the process.  Threatening letters are sent to Sophie in an effort to scare her.  There's a drive-by shooting; Cooper is nicked by a bullet in the arm.  We learn Sophie has suffered panic attacks in the past.

A woman is attacked at her car---the assailant grabs her and attempts to bash her head into the car's hood multiple times.  He is interrupted and she comes away with a black eye and a mild concussion.  A man supposedly commits suicide before his trial (but it's learned later he was murdered).

A car bomb explodes in a church's parking lot, obviously intended for a particular person or two.  Other than a couple cuts, cracked rib, and being knocked out from the explosion, no other major injuries.  A man kills a woman with a point-blank shot to the head.

A defense attorney quits her job as the lawyer for a dangerous gang leader.  He threatens that no one ever leaves him, nearly chokes her (but thinks better of it), and swears she'll regret her decision. 

A woman pulls a gun as incentive for her captive to obey her orders, and is later shot in the leg.  An armed man enters a woman's home, she escapes him, but he chases her down throwing her on the ground.  He punches her in the gut and slaps her face, before he is shot and killed by Cooper.

{Language // Alcohol & Drugs}
A gang leader "started dropping the f-bomb" <-- that is literally what the book says.  No language is used or spelled out, though it may be implied by the use of "he cursed" or "swore aloud," etc. 

Cooper is unknowingly drugged by a sedative in his Coke.

{Romantic Content}
Cooper and Sophie cannot deny the attraction they feel for one another.  I liked seeing how their relationship grew.  They gave each other space when necessary and were supportive of one another.  But they couldn't overcome the connection.  :]  They kiss a few times and embrace for the sake of comfort.

As the second in the Atlanta Justice series, I really enjoyed this action novel.  I like reading about the aspects of the law and what the different positions consist of.  [SPOILER] Though justice does not always prevail, no matter how well you performed in the witness seat, there are still people fighting for it and for those whose loved ones were impacted from whatever crime.

The characters were so very relate-able and the relationships sweet.  I really enjoyed reading about Sophie and her personality.  She knew what she believed and she was willing to stand for it, no matter what it took.  Cooper had a rough childhood and was held back by fear.  It was sweet to see the encouragement and support Sophie, as well as his buddies in the security business, give to him.  He learns he can overcome and the rewards are priceless.

A great novel!  I would certainly recommend to all who enjoy the legal thrillers filled with murder and mystery and action.  However, please NOTE: this is the sequel to a series.  Read the first!

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Ages 16+

What's in a Name?

Welcome back from the weekend, my friends!  I do hope yours was lovely.  :]
GUYS.  We are four days into June.  WUUTTTT.  
So far, my late Spring/early Summer days consist of work, baby prep, doc appointments, vacation planning, and sunny pool days.  
What of you?  What do you most look forward to in the Summer?

Are you ready for some new names?? 
Tell me your favorite(s)!!!

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M | Scottis

Anglicized form of the Old Norse name SomarliĆ°r meaning "summer traveler."  A 12th-century Scottish warlord bore this name---he created a kingdom on the Scottish islands.

F | Ancient Germanic
(possibly) ADD-a-lind

Composed of the Germanic elements adal "noble" and lind "linden tree, lime tree; shield" or "gentle, soft."

M | Medieval Irish

Derived from Irish brecc meaning "freckled, speckled" combined with a diminutive suffix, which makes it kin to the Welsh name BrychanIn early Ireland, this was a common name, borne by at least 13 saints.

F | English

Old Latin.  From the English word meaning "verity, truth."

Names & meanings via behindthename.com.
Photos via Pinterest.