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review 2015-08-20 13:08
National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders
National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects & Spiders - Susan Rayfield,Margery Milne,Lorus Johnson Milne,National Audubon Society

The National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders is a guide detailing North American Insects and Spiders.

First, the good points. The photographs in this book are superb and the guide is fairly well organized. It's also small enough to fit into a largish pocket.

Now, the not so good points. There weren't nearly enough entries, specifically regarding the spiders. While the organization was good, there were small parts that seemed illogical.

However, the litmus test for a field guide is its usefulness and fortunately, I've taken quite a few photos of insects and spiders. Here come the bug pictures!

Buckeye:


Rabid Wolf Spider:


Robber Fly:


Periodical Cicada:


Question Mark:


Red Admiral:


All photos courtesy of Dantastic Photos

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text 2014-11-26 16:02
Wine and Roses: Romances featuring Wineries
Syrah - Nessa L. Warin
Kissing Under the Mistletoe - Marina Adair
Baby, It's You - Jane Graves
One and Only - Bianca D'Arc
It Was Only a Kiss - Joss Wood
The Good Woman - Jane Porter
Wine, Tarts, & Sex (Berkley Sensation) - Susan Johnson
A Kiss of Cabernet (a Love in Wine Country novel) - Pamela Gibson
In Your Dreams (The Blue Heron Series) - Kristan Higgins
Once Tasted - Laura Moore

Thanksgiving is coming! Need some wine? 

 

Here you go! 

 

Wonderful Romances Featuring Wineries (and wine). Drink up! 

 

1. Syrah (All Corked Up, #1) by Nessa L. Warin 

 

All Shawn Neale is looking for when he stumbles into All Corked Up on Christmas Eve is some wine recommendations. What he finds is an instant attraction to Royce Wilkinson, the shop’s owner. After a few weeks of flirting during shopping and some semi-dates at Royce’s wine tastings, they decide on a real date. It goes well, but life isn’t that simple.

Shawn wants to buy Delicto, the local pub he manages. He’s been planning his life around this for years, but when the owner, who believes being gay is an illness, discovers Shawn went out with Royce, he gives Shawn an ultimatum: stop dating guys or he won’t get to buy Delicto. It’s a heartbreaking quandary: Can Royce and Shawn be happy with a secret relationship until Shawn buys Delicto or is Shawn going to have to choose between his dream job and his dream guy?

 

2. Baby, It's You by Jane Graves

 

With only the wedding dress on her back and her honeymoon luggage in the car, Kari Worthington is running away. Determined to put her controlling father, her rigidly structured life, and the uptight groom she left at the altar in her rearview mirror, she escapes to the Texas Hill country . . . and lands on a tall, dark, and gorgeous winery owner's doorstep. All she needs is a job and a place to live until she can get back on her feet. So why is she fantasizing about losing herself in his powerful arms?

For Marc Cordero, freedom is so close he can taste it. He's devoted his life to managing the family business and being a single dad. Now with his daughter away at college and his brother taking over the winery, Marc is ready to hop on his Harley for parts unknown-until a runaway bride bursts onto the scene. Free-spirited and tantalizingly sexy, Kari excites him like no other woman has before. But when irresistible passion turns into something more, will Marc give up his future to take a chance on love?

 

3. Kissing Under the Mistletoe by Marina Adair 

 

Regan Martin stopped believing in Christmas miracles six years ago when she lost everything—her house, her job, and her impeccable reputation in the wine industry—after she fell in love with a man she had no idea was married. Then Regan gets a chance for a fresh start in the Napa Valley. With her dream job, dream home, and her daughter enrolled in a wonderful new school, she starts wondering if holiday wishes really do come true.

 

But she soon tumbles back down to earth when she learns that her new boss is none other than Gabe DeLuca, the scorned wife’s brother. Gabe wants nothing more than home-wrecking Regan Martin out of his life, his sister’s world, and his family’s business. Mostly, he wants the lush beauty out of his head. Yet his attempts to run her out of town have him thinking twice, especially when he sees that Regan may hold the key to tracking down his sister’s stolen start-up capital. Even worse for Gabe, Regan might just be his Christmas wish and hold the key to his heart.

 

4. One and Only by Bianca D'Arc

 

ampire enforcer Atticus Maxwell stands at the edge of his own oblivion…until the faint heartbeat of a desperately wounded mortal woman calls him back. The terrible crash that almost took both their lives has brought him a charming, intriguing woman who just might give him a reason to live again.

Lissa was headed for a conference at a resort in a last-ditch attempt to find a job. Instead, on a rain-slick mountain road that almost killed her, she finds the love of her life. A love with the most eligible, reclusive vineyard owner in Napa Valley—one that isn’t quite human.

No barrier—not even breaking the news to Lissa’s friends—seems too great to hold back their blossoming love. Until they learn the accident that brought them together wasn’t an accident at all, but a murder attempt by an unknown enemy.

Atticus saved Lissa once. Can he keep her that way in the face of a renewed threat?

 

5. It was Only a Kiss by Joss Wood

 

For driven businessman Luke Savage success is the only option. So when gorgeous marketing intern Jess Sherwood waltzes into his office and casually informs him that his newly inherited vineyard has an image problem he's outraged! She's naive, overly ambitious, a know-it-all… And all Luke can do to stop her talking is kiss her senseless.

Eight years later the vineyard needs a boost—and Luke needs a hip new marketing strategy to save it. Jess may drive him crazy but she's the right woman for the job. Their only problem is how to keep their minds on work and off that kiss!

 

6. The Good Woman  by Jane Porter

 

The firstborn of a large Irish-American family, Meg Brennan Roberts is a successful publicist, faithful wife, and doting mother who prides herself on always making the right decisions. But years of being “the good woman” have taken a toll and though her winery career thrives, Meg feels burned out and empty, and more disconnected than ever from her increasingly distant husband. Lonely and disheartened, she attends the London Wine Fair with her boss, ruggedly handsome vintner, Chad Hallahan. It’s here, alone together in an exotic city, far from “real” life, that Chad confesses his long-standing desire for Meg.

Overwhelmed, flattered, and desperately confused, Meg returns home, only to suddenly question every choice she’s ever made, especially that of her marriage. For Meg, something’s got to give, and for once in her life she flees her responsibilities—but with consequences as reckless and irreversible as they are liberating. Now she must decide whether being the person everyone needs is worth losing the woman she was meant to be.

 

7. Wine, Tarts, & Sex by Susan Johnson

 


World-renowned chef Jake Chambers could have had any ing?nue he wanted in California since the kitchen isn't the only room in the house where the hard-bodied hunk has special talents. Still, when he realized there might be more to life than glitz and silicone, he left for Minneapolis to buy a local joint and try to clear his head.

But even though he's no longer serving the glitterati, that doesn't mean he's about to compromise quality and serve a Minnesota wine. However, local vintner Liv Bell-with curves even more delicious than his tapas-has other plans once she lays eyes on this Adonis. Determined to promote her vineyard's juicy bounty, this sun-kissed goddess might just bring Jake around to at least tasting what she has to offer.

 

8. A Kiss of Cabernet by Pamela Gibson

 

Napa Valley vineyard manager Paige Reynoso is furious. After a six-year absence, her boss—big-city entrepreneur Jake Madison—has returned, only to announce he’s selling the vineyard. Paige has always dreamed of buying Garnet Hill, which sits on land where her ancestors first settled, but without the cash, she’s out of luck. And then there’s an even bigger problem…she has a serious thing for the surprisingly tempting man who’s just destroyed her dream.

Jake’s in a tight spot. With his other business ventures struggling, he needs cash—fast. The last thing he needs is the too-lovely Paige convincing him the grapes are an effective long-term investment. Or needing Paige herself, whose spirit and heart bring his to life. But as their attraction grows, Jake knows he’s not in a position to offer her anything beyond this moment. Because Jake has a big secret…and it has nothing to do with sour grapes.

 

 

9. In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins

 

Everyone loves Jack Holland, but Emmaline Neal needs him. Her ex-fiancé is getting married in Malibu and, obviously, she can't go to the wedding alone. In Manningsport, New York, tall, blond and gorgeous Jack Holland is practically a cottage industry when it comes to rescuing desperate women. He knows the drill, Em figures, so he won't get the wrong idea. 

 

What Jack needs is an excuse to leave town. Ever since rescuing four teenagers from a car wreck, he's been hailed as a hero and the attention is making him itchy, especially since his too-pretty ex-wife is back, angling for a reunion. He's always liked Emmaline. She needs a weekend date? No problem. 

 

So when they wind up in bed together, Em chalks it up to red wine and chocolate cake, just one impulsive night not to be repeated. But Jack's pushing for more, and if she lets down her guard, either she'll get her heart crushed again, or discover that Jack's worth more than just dreaming about.

 

10. Once Tasted by Laura Moore

 

Everything has come easily to Reid Knowles, the middle son of a California ranching family. But his charmed life is suddenly complicated when his good friend and neighbor asks him to help run the winery next door. His neighbor’s niece, Mia Bodell, is in charge—and she has made it clear that she’d rather be roped to a steer than to Reid Knowles. Never one to back down from a challenge, Reid vows to win her trust.
 
Her life marked by loss, Mia knows that nothing comes easily—love included. In high school, her heart was crushed by Reid, and even though years have passed, the hurt lingers. Mia is achingly aware that the teen heartthrob has matured into a devastatingly handsome playboy, and the budding winemaker refuses to let down her guard. But one taste of unbridled passion changes things. From Reid’s first intoxicating kiss to his unexpectedly tender seduction, Mia is swept into a passionate affair that could tear her heart to pieces . . . or give her everything she has ever wanted.

 

Did I miss your favorite? Let me know! 

 

 

To vote for the best, go to the Goodreads list: Wine and Roses: Romances featuring Wineries

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review 2014-08-20 10:24
crush - Laura Susan Johnson

This novel was a bit hard to read because of the incest-rape and abuse. But, from someone who has read a bunch of sexual abuse stories, I think this captured the character reactions from someone who was raped quite perfectly. Usually, the character is just sad in the aftermath. But Jamie was: scared, timid, confused, anger, aware, shy and depressed because of what happened. THAT is how it really is afterwards. The time leaps were a little bit off putting but necessary in this story.

Source: darling4coffee.booklikes.com
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text 2014-07-02 16:32
Best Bookshops in Historical Romance
Anna and the Duke - Kathryn Smith
The Shadow of the Wind - Lucia Graves,Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Secrets of a Summer Night - Lisa Kleypas
Splendor - Brenda Joyce
When His Kiss Is Wicked - Kaitlin O'Riley
Seven Secrets of Seduction - Anne Mallory
The Bookseller's Daughter - Pam Rosenthal
The Wild Marquis - Miranda Neville
The Heart of Christmas (A Handful of Gold, The Season for Suitors, This Wicked Gift) - Mary Balogh,Nicola Cornick,Courtney Milan
Gorgeous As Sin - Susan Johnson

One issue I have with Time Travel is how hard it would be to get my hands on books in times gone by.

 

These Historical Romance Heroes and Heroines don't have that problem.

 

Here are where you would find me, if I went back in time: Best Bookshops in Historical Romance.

 

1.When His Kiss Is Wicked  bKaitlin O'Riley

2. Seven Secrets of Seduction by Anne Mallory

3. The Bookseller's Daughter by Pam Rosenthal 

4. The Wild Marquis by Miranda Neville

5. The Heart of Christmas: by Mary Balogh, Nicola Cornick and Courtney Milan 

6. Gorgeous As Sin by Susan Johnson

7. Splendor by Brenda Joyce 

8. Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas 

9. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón 

10. Anna and the Duke by Kathryn Smith 

 

Please recommend more wonderful Bookshops in Historical Romance! 

 

To vote for the best of the best, go to the Goodreads list: Best Bookshops in Historical Romance

 

To get see the most amazing bookstores from all over the world, visit my Pinterest Board: Best Bookstores in Romanceland! There are recommendations from all genres of Romance there as well. 

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review 2014-06-06 00:00
crush
crush - Laura Susan Johnson description


She has a baby in her cart. He’s sitting in the baby seat like he’s supposed to be, his curly blonde hair like a halo, his soft baby legs dangling, one chubby little hand holding the railing in front of him, the other clutching a piece of Red Vine licorice. He’s looking at me, his face and hands coated in sweet, sticky licorice residue.

(…)

I stand on tiptoe again and kiss the baby’s licorice-coated cheek. He smiles, leans down over the safety bar in front of him, and kisses my mouth.

Love’s first kisses.

Then she takes him away from me.


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Jamie is a two-year-old kid when he meets a four-year-old Tammy for the first time. They were meant to be one, but fate chooses to break them apart several times along their lives.

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Two broken souls meant to be one.

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Time goes on, and Jamie is broken by a Daddy that abuses him and a Mommy that beats him.

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Time goes on, and Tammy is broken by his Uncle Price that abuses him and a Dad that behaves like he didn’t exist.

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Jamie is a sad boy.

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Tammy is an angry boy.

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Broken by people who are meant to protect them, they meet again in their teens. But they are separated again. By cowardice, by terror, by no acceptance. To never be happy and never feel complete.

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Destiny makes them meet again. And this time they are determined to not be apart never again. But hate is difficult to get over. Self-hate is even more difficult to erase.

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The story is compelling. Mesmerizing. Addictive. Pure cocain. I couldn’t get enough. It had my heart in a fist in the first two pages. I felt so absorbed by the words that I couldn’t leave them for long. I was lost in Jamie’s sad smile. I was lost in Tammy’s angry acts. I was disgusted. I was enamored. I was hooked. It’s a brutal story. With no shades of gray. It was ugly. It was beautiful. It was magic.

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I tried not to be dragged into sadness, but there were moments I really felt devastated. There were moments I could barely breathe...

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It’s one of those couples meant to be together even before they’re born. Like Garrett Hedlund sings, “You can call it fate, or destiny. Sometimes it really seems it’s a mystery…”, and you REALLY feel that, there is no way to deny it. They paths cross several times during the years. But obstacles and bigotry and pain get them apart from each other. Their inner struggles catch you to never let go. Their thoughts attract you like a moth to a fire. Their feelings hurt but also heal. It’s a battle of opposites. Black and white.

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The pov alternates between Jamie and Tammy. Although the episodes are repeated when the perspective is changed, I didn’t find it redundant. It felt right. You understand each of them from their own positions in the game. A game ruled by more than two players. The chess pieces are moved and we need to see the consequences on the two main victims from the perpetrators. The kings want to be together but their movements are aborted by other pieces, and by their own fears. Because two kings are not meant to exist in the same chess board. They are apart most of the game, and if they get to be together, jaque mate.

description

Jamie had been pursued his whole life. He was a toy for his parents. He was used, manipulated, abused. He lives in self-hate, in sickness. He’s a shadow whose spirit had been chased to be erased. But he survived. He is sad.


Tearfully he whispers, “I have a crush on you…”
“Really?”
“Yes.”
“Big crush?”
“Very big… yes…”
“You love me?”
“Yes,” he nods.
It bursts quietly from my heart, like a bullet, “I love you too…”


description

His life is dull but one day at church the most handsome boy on Earth takes his hand. That unforgiving minute ruins him. There would be no other than Tammy. He never missed anything until Tammy takes his hand. He is destroyed beyond repair and he knows it.


Every sound around us is suddenly muted, except for the water, splashing softly. His smile… oh my God… incredible… compelling… I’m powerless… My heart begins to tremble and skip as I feel my lips stretch wide in response. The palpitations tickle my ribs as we stare at each other, our smiles unchanging, but our eyes transforming. I see it in his, I feel it in mine. Our smiles follow the course of our eyes. Tammy gazes down at me, his eyes and lips gentle, soft, dreamy. He’s in a trance… it’s the same look I’ve caught in his eyes so many times lately… it’s here… now….

My eyes are locked with his, and this moment expands into a small forever…


description

Tammy was a happy boy till the day his uncle stopped using him. Tammy loved his uncle, and loved his touch. He only craved his uncle’s attention, physical and emotionally. But one day his uncle says no, and his devastation makes Tammy chase his uncle pursuing other little boys. He feels replaced. He feels like trash. He hates those little boys. He hates his cousin. He hates everything. He writes stories marked with hate. He begins to harm animals. He is angry.

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His eyes paralyze me…
And he makes no effort to take his arms down…
He’s so close… too close…
I want to kiss him.
He’s trembling. I’m trembling.
Does he know how close I am…?
I see three terrifying words in his eyes as he stares up at me…
I’m afraid I’ve fallen in love with him.


description

His life changes when he is ashamed by his Pastor, the one who doesn’t acknowledge him as his son. He is embarrassed. So he turns into girls to forget the violence. One day he takes Jamie’s hand and nothing would ever be the same.


The most subtle movement, a tiny contraction of his hand around mine, and my focus is fully stolen from Yvette in spite of her iniquitous attentions. I turn my head to the right, remembering the odd little flutter that happened inside me when his fingers curled just a little tighter around mine for that instant. Our eyes meet a second time as he looks up at me. The contact lasts for a few beats, but time is stretched like a rubber band. Those huge eyes open impossibly wider for a split second, and I see something I can’t describe in words. I feel my stomach quiver again and his eyes close, his fingernails gently dig into the palm of my hand…

…and I can barely breathe…

I’ve seen him… I know him… Where have I seen him before…?!


description

There is very much hate in this book. Hate by people who don’t accept people who love people from the same sex. They talk about God a little too much. They talk about animal violence a little too much. They talk about abuse a little too much. I think sometimes it's excessive.

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This is a story about how hate and violence take two people apart. It made me sick that two souls meant to be one have to be apart because of what the people surrounding them believe. How they hurt them. Crush them. I know, nothing new, really, but it’s fucked up. There is enough sadness and there is enough hate in the world, and in their hearts.

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I don’t cry because of the pain.
I cry because I’m happy.
I cry because my dream has come true. Tammy is here. With me.
I cry because I’m afraid. Now I’ve given him my body. I’m his, and I know, deep down in a place I don’t consciously acknowledge, that if he breaks my heart, I’ll die.
If I fuck this up and lose him, it’s all over.


This book is brutal. Ruthless. Heartless. Cruel. Savage. Hopeless.

description


I watched… that’s all I had to do.
And now realization avalanches onto me.
It is a video depicting two adults defiling the body, and crushing the spirit of a beautiful, innocent child.
It is a crush video.


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But it’s also beautiful. Precious. Compassionate. Inspiring. Heartening.


The cold penetrates every layer of me.
My hand tightens around my angel.
God, how I love you, he’d said that day.
I love you, Tammy, I said tonight. I’ll love you always. All my life.


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I felt like my emotions were being played by some kind of puppeteer the whole book. But in a good way.

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“I mean it, Tammy. I’m tired. I’m tired of living with this guilt. I can’t even have sex with you without remembering what they did to me. What they did gets into everything, taints it, ruins it. I can’t enjoy my life. I should never have gotten with you, because I knew, deep in my heart, something would ruin it. I should have stayed alone. At least I was able to get through my day without constantly reliving the torture…”

I can feel his pain, but my own is too great to cosset him right now.

“And I can’t even go back to being alone… not now. You’ve made your mark on me, Tammy. I’ll never again be able to live alone and semi-happy, able to push my mind past how it feels to be totally and pathetically in love with someone. I’ll never again be able to almost ignore how bad it hurts that I can’t have a normal life, ever.” I plaster my hands over my eyes and cry and cry. “Why did you have yo come home? I was doing okay… really I was…”

I’m breaking his heart… I know… but I can’t…


description

It’s difficult for me to find words when I loved the book too much. It’s easier to talk about the ones I don’t. It’s just describing my feelings and put them into letters is sort of turning copper into gold. I don’t have a magic touch to make things shine. I just can melt the copper and with luck it would be similar to a prettier metal. But I hope at least I could make something similar and transmit what the book make me feel.

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