Sunday, October 26, 2014

Style bargains: Autumn edition

I love summer time. I love being warm and not needing a jacket and long sunshiny days and ice cream. I also love Autumn, but it is bittersweet as the days get shorter and the rain waterlogs us.

I spent a week in the woods, camping in a surround of beautiful autumnal color...

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and when I came back I felt a little more prepared for the transition.

and we know I've finally accepted the fact that the season has changed when I make changes to my look. And thanks to some super thrifty tendencies I didn't spend a lot to accomplish it.

 A visit to Goodwill and I was able to score a cashmere blend sweater that just happens to match the new accent colors at work.

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Tags still on it.

My cost? $3.99.

Half price color of the week!

I've been on the hunt for a corduroy jacket for about 2 years and I keep hemming and hawing on the ones I've seen; until this one.

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I really like all the detailing on the pockets and the back.

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My cost? $3.99

Again, the half price color of the week!

I also discovered quite the selection of Essie nail polish at my favorite random store: Grocery Outlet. I picked up 4 colors for $2.99 each.

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Normally $8.00 each.

These few cozy additions to my wardrobe at such great prices and now I'm really feeling good about Autumn.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The last rose of summer

Have you ever suddenly noticed that you've been surrounding yourself with a collection of something? I tend to do this most often with colors (I've been obsessed with aqua for several years now) but sometimes flavors or scents as well (I absolutely love anything citrus scented).

 Recently I noticed I've surrounded myself with a rose garden.

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My favorite moisturizer has rosewater in it - it's a lightweight moisturizer that really absorbs quickly leaving no greasy feeling. I thought I was getting some kind of joke when I opened the huge box and out came this relatively tiny bottle but I've been using it daily since I bought it in April and I still have quite a bit left. I bought it directly from their website.

 I also love the Boots Botanics Rosewater toner (Target) and the Mario Badescu facial spray with aloe, herbs and rosewater (Ulta).

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My divinely scented Passionfruit Rose lip balm is like a treat to wear. I found it on Etsy.

I even drink roses now that my set from Tea Chai Te has arrived.

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The Vanilla Rose Chai is definitely my favorite - so fragrant and delicious!

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Visit their website here.

I can't be the only one with these sudden onset obsessions. Tell me about your latest...although maybe you shouldn't - it might give me ideas...ha. :)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Book lovers unite

I somehow missed a post for July. I will blame it on the camping I did which you can see photos of here and here.

I've found out that today just has my name all over it. First of all we have National Book Lovers Day and then tonight is the August supermoon. If there are two things I love they are books and moon gazing.

So in honor of National Book Lovers Day I thought I would do some book chat.

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I snapped that photo while camping last month. I don't normally take my kindle camping but in this case it was the best option because I couldn't decide what I wanted to read. I ended up reading was The Valley of Fear (aka Sherlock Holmes #7) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Some of the Sherlock Holmes stories I've slogged through but this one was quite good!

The past few years I've been in a terrible book funk and I can barely make it through most of the books I pick up to read. Once in a while I'll get one that really grabs me but for the most part I find them to be quite silly. I still can't decide if that is just the books I'm choosing or if I'm just being a book Grinch or what. Anyone else having trouble finding books they can't put down?

So for this year I did the "Goodreads challenge" for.....20 books in a year. For reference three years ago I read 54 books in a year.

This year I'm only 10 books into my challenge but there are a few that kept me reading into the night/morning.

Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line - Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

I caught a cold in February and my coworkers told me I looked horrible and to go home. They were doing some kind of construction in the apartment above mine so I couldn't sleep and so I thought I'd watch something instead. That something ended up being Veronica Mars which I then proceeded to binge watch until I'd finished the entire series (don't worry this took at least a few weeks).
I may have gotten a little obsessed.

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Get this mug here.

The movie was already out on video at this point so I watched it next and then I was able to get my hands on this book. Fresh on the heels of the show and movie like that was a great way to read this book. I felt like I hadn't missed a beat and I read through this one quickly. The story was interesting and I can't wait for the next one coming out this Autumn....I think?

Lost Lake - Sarah Addison Allen

I don't know what to say about Sarah Addison Allen's books except that they are like the coziest, softest blanket that you can wrap yourself in. When I try to explain what her books are like I lose the words to describe how homey and magical they are and how they make me think that anything will be fine and hope abounds. This one was no exception. I'm an admittedly slow reader but I devoured this story like I was starving and felt quite satisfied when I was finished.

Austenland & Midnight in Austenland - Shannon Hale

Okay. These books were silly. The first was silly and the second was more silly than the first ever thought of being. But I still had a hard time putting them down. I remember reading in bed one night and literally smacking my forehead at what the characters were doing yet....reading in bed until way past bedtime? Yep. I can't explain it. I really don't feel like I want to recommend these due to their immense silliness. Or that I can recommend these. And yet I did get a modicum of enjoyment so there you go.
I only read them because I was loaned the movie (which I watched five times before I returned it) and I thought after that that I just had to read the story that spawned that. The movie is hilariously funny (the more you watch it) and silly but also, in some ways, fantastic.

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I am definitely up for some book recommendations! Have you read something that knocked your socks off or made you laugh or otherwise wowed you? I'd love to hear about it. Obviously I'm not doing very well choosing reading material for myself.

If you'd like to keep up with my reading and are on Goodreads feel free to friend me here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Easy decor projects

Over the weekend I got the inspiration I needed (pinterest, of course!) to do a few projects around the place.

Most of my kitchen is visible from the door and I wanted something pretty for people walking in to see. I've had the idea to do a "coffee station" for quite a while but have been slowly gathering components to it together.

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As I find more pieces (thrifting makes decorating go the long way home) and it really comes together I can let this space evolve. For now I'm loving it! I have an assortment of sugars, cinnamon, cocoa (for the poor man's mocha) and my matcha and melon syrup for my green tea frap. The little chalkboard I bought on and featured in some photos on my instagram. The chalkboard bunting is a free printable found here that I spent forever cut out and affixed over a jute string. Tiny, clear Command hooks hold it in place.

Also in the kitchen area I already hung my canvas art and had this idea about a clipboard for my grocery list. I buy a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables so my list is constant. I took a cheap clipboard and painted it with Plaid Crafts FolkArt Chalkboard Paint.

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This was a brush on paint and the brushes I bought for this project were absolutely horrific. The paint is thick and needed something much smoother hence why I only painted part of this clipboard so far. My intention was to paint it in a pattern or design but with the brushes inability to keep within the lines....that didn't happen. But it still works great!

The canvas art I made by designing the words in picmonkey, printed it with my little home printer and Mod Podged it to a small canvas. This made it easy to hang and I didn't need to frame it.

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The quote is from my favorite scene in Arrested Development. I looked high and low for a clip of this scene and couldn't find anything worth showing which is really sad because it was hilarious.

I also finally figured out how to hang this Eastside Distilling calendar that didn't have any holes in it. The idea of poking a hole in the lovely photography made me sad and then the other day I had an epiphany...

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I've also taken to growing lavender indoors.

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I read somewhere that lavender (and other aromatic herbs) purify the air and I'm obsessed with lavender so any old excuse will do.

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See? Lavender obsessed.
Herbes de Provence goes into many of my dishes (it contains lavender) and I had a lavender lemonade the other day and all I can think about is going back to that cafe and getting another one and maybe a lemon lavender cookie to go with it.

And speaking of obsessed, a fruit salad with the combination of watermelon, strawberries and blueberries is what I eat at least twice a day.

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I hope your life is as delicious as mine has been lately. And remember, if you miss me you can visit me on flickr or instagram where I post more regularly.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Mini gallery

I got a sudden inspiration the other day when Gina tweeted...or of those about some free printable art. I had three art pieces sitting on the arm of my chair waiting for number four to complete the set and they had been that way for two weeks.

I already had an old photo in a frame so I did a color wash on the frame to match my new scheme (color wash being paint plus some water to change the opacity) and I had a painting I rescued from Goodwill, already framed. I also had a canvas I had made based on the glitter state pinterest project. To be honest I based my project off the image and caption alone, the actual directions (follow the pin) are different.

Then I saw this pin and knew I needed to have that. I printed it and Mod Podged it to a canvas to match my home state art project and then I had a nice little set!

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(If you look closely you can see my cat staring out the window in the reflection)

The chevrons are some chipboard shapes that came in this pack of three for $1.00 at a local variety store. I painted them gold and strung them on jute. I already had a little banner thing going on with my leaf banner on this wall so I chose to hang them this way for some interest. $1.00! C'mon.

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Now my whole wall is decorated! This is a momentous occasion let me tell you. This is truly the art of someone who scrounged for materials but I have to say I'm really enjoying it.

  Have you completed any pinterest projects lately?


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Storage as art

I had two problems with my bedroom space. I hadn't hung anything on the walls, and I have about a bajillion too many scarves hung up on the coat rack in the corner.

I actually decided to go for the smaller of the two rooms in my two-bedroom because I had more furniture that needed to go in the library/craft/makeup room. Also the smaller bedroom didn't share a wall and that was really the deciding factor. The point being that there just isn't much in this sleeping space.

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I decided to remedy my two issues with the help of these handy little clear Command hooks I discovered.

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I also used some (a lot) of the Velcro Command strips on this mirror I found at Goodwill (have you ever tried to remove Goodwill price labels? It's like the best glue in the world which is why I didn't even bother trying to remove the label on this since no one will see it anyway.

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 I put them all over the mirror and then snap the wall side ones into place, then it's a cinch to peel the backs and simply stick it to the wall. I've done this for other art and it works great. The heavier the piece, the more strips you want to use. And they aren't difficult to remove as I had already stuck this mirror on the wall and decided I hated the position of it. Sigh.

I used a pencil and a measuring tape to map out spaces 12 inches apart on my wall, stuck my hooks to the wall, and voila.

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It gets some of the scarves out of the way and makes art out of them. It did occur to me this might be slightly tacky and juvenile but I decided there were no decorating rules. I hung up the bag because I think it's adorable and the poor thing is always getting wrinkled in a pile somewhere. In case you're wondering I bought the bag here.

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Above the dresser I hung the mirror where I can use it to see what I'm doing when I put on jewelry. The mirrored tray I've had for ages and the jewelry tree was a Christmas gift from a friend.

 I jumped on the giant blingy statement necklace bandwagon and those things do. not. fit in traditional jewelry storage no matter how many ways I tried. So I used some tiny clear Command hooks (seriously the company just needs to start offering me stock options at this point) to hang them from instead.

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And it turns the necklaces into well-stored art much like the scarves.

Just an FYI - jewelry is more likely to tarnish out in the open like this but if you've got a jewelry buffing cloth and some time in front of the TV you can easily take care of that.

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The dresser was a gift from my old neighbor who I was telling about trying to paint a dresser I'd salvaged (to be featured in another post) and he told me he had a dresser I could have. How great was that? (Those storage boxes to the side were blogged about here way back in 2009)

 I went from blank walls and piles of accessories to dig through to decorated organization.

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What do you think? Tacky and juvenile? Or would you try something like this in your home?

Also, I have to confess my real reason for being so absent from blogging anymore is that I've run out of storage space on blogger and it is just a pain to upload them to an outside site and then get them over here. It just makes blogging not as fun.

I do spend quite a bit of time on flickr and you will find much more of my goings on over there.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Mr. Darcy's Dilemma & Delight - a review

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I have actually been reading Pride & Prejudice spinoff stories for several years. When I worked at a school I saw one of the students reading one and then the idea was new to me so I read a few like Mr. Darcy's Diary and Mr. Darcy's Daughters (the latter of which is a part of a series that I really like). Since then I have read several every year. Somehow - according to my Goodreads lists anyway - I always tend to start and end my year reading these spinoffs. This year I mixed it up by reading this one a few months before the end of the year. I am such a rebel. ;)

Mr. Darcy's Dilemma and Delight is a different type of story about how Elizabeth and Darcy come to fall in love. They've already got some history - the history we all know - and then we find out how evil George Wickham truly is.

The story begins in medias res ('in the midst of things' if you're not a lit nerd like me) with Darcy out doing Darcy things like looking majestic on a horse and contemplating his responsibilities when he hears strange sounds that indicate someone is in trouble. He (unseen) witnesses Wickham walking away from - as further investigation enlightens - Miss Elizabeth Darcy sobbing on the ground. That's as descriptive as it gets, in case you were worried. And I promise that isn't giving away too much of the plot as it is in the synopsis as well.

Darcy mans up and gets help for Elizabeth, even going so far as to help her conceal events from her family (ruination for the sisters as well hanging in the balance).

We really breeze right on past the proud Darcy here and jump right into the most thoughtful and caring man on the planet. This man thinks of everything and creates a provision for it and he has a mindful, caring hand in Elizabeth's healing of her emotional trauma. And working through his doubts of how to care for a broken woman whom he still loves despite his hatred of Wickham and the evil that his actions wrap them into was a wonderful progression to read.

Elizabeth, in the meanwhile, is not a total shrinking violet. Obviously she has her rough patches and anxiety moments but she has an active hand in the restoration of herself that was written in a very gentle and believable way. She wasn't always one way or another because humans are not and emotions sometimes rule and sometimes we have good control over those things. If Austen's Elizabeth were a real person she would be very proud of this representation of her.

In the end, the love Darcy and Elizabeth develop is so full and deep it's like gentle waves washing over all the terrible things they've endured and making it all clean. A truly beautiful thing.

And there is no way you walk away from this book not completely in love with Darcy yourself. You thought the original made you love him? You ain't seen nothin' yet.

Amazon has the kindle version for only $4.99 (as of this posting)!

Fun fact: the cover photo - I totally took that. :)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Budget basic bathroom

I really enjoy white in the bathroom, it really helps it feel clean to me. In this case, things I used just happened to be white and then I was able to collect a few to keep it up. Most of the things I used to organize and "decorate" - I'm using that term quite loosely - came from thrift stores so let me show you how I kept the budget way down and kept a clean look.

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 First of all, because this room just seems to be moisture prone even on no shower days I've decided against hanging art on the walls until I can figure out something that won't be adversely affected by that. I honestly haven't minded as I no longer use this room to do my makeup in the mornings and I don't stand there for an hour staring at nothing.

My shower curtain was a new in the package thrift store find - what a score!

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These cupboards/drawers are hideous and SO HEAVY Need something out of the drawer? Add it to the 12 tasks of Hercules.

I remember when I was first touring this place and getting my key and the apartment manager was pulling on the towel rack to see how well it was attached and was like, "Oh this is a good one." And I looked at her like are you crazy? This thing is wooden! And has watermarks!

What can you do.

On the floor is this adorable doily look bath mat I got from World Market. It was cheaper and cuter than the ones I was seeing at Target, go figure.

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On the counter I have a series of thrifted jars holding my extra soaps, Q-tips and cotton rounds.

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The little glass tray is a new addition, also found at a thrift store. I was amazed at how clean it made things look even though things are still sitting in the same spot.

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In my window, which I posted about previously, is a shutter which adds extra privacy and hair doo-dad storage. 

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I wanted to be able to use this "chandelier" I made (see the original post here) but it wasn't waterproof so first I sprayed it with several coats of clear coat. Now it decorates my lightulb instead of the boring fixture that was there previously. Admittedly this works much better when you have a "normal" light bulb.

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I'm going to estimate total cost for accessories around $40.

Could you go for a mostly white bathroom? Or would you go nuts and have to hang things on the wall? If you have any suggestions for things to hang that wouldn't be dust catchers or moisture wicking bacteria growers I'm all ears.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Minding Molly - a review

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I had planned to not take on any more reviewing tasks for a while since I've been so horribly slow at actually getting my reviews up but when I saw a book about a girl named Molly trying to take control of her life which keeps going end-over-teakettle I felt like I was supposed to read this book.

 This is the third book in the "Courtship of Lancaster County" series. I have a friend who lives in Lancaster County, PA and she takes some beautiful photos of the occasional Amish thing she sees (this one is a favorite) but when I started to read this book I realized how I know absolutely nothing about the Amish and just kept hoping the author wouldn't lead me astray with what I was "learning." There were several words that were unfamiliar (do you know how long it's been since I've even heard the phrase "Pennsylvania Dutch"? Probably high school?) but through context hoped I was getting it. To be fair, most of the words weren't so foreign I couldn't figure most of them out. Dat and Mamm, denke and jah were no brainers but there were others like youngie (which I am still just assuming but...a group of young people? I should google that.) and rumschpringe that left me curious. Sometimes a book will have a glossary explaining words, phrases etc. in the back but this one did not include something like that. Possibly because it was already the third in the series and they figure if you don't have it figured out by now why are you still reading?

Other things like how Molly wore flip flops and carried a cell phone threw me. The arranging for drivers for transportation to places was new to me. Personally I think that sounds great, I hate driving and would love to have a person I could call up that would drive me into the city. The final thing that threw me was a youngie camping trip the characters planned. Instead of being able to concentrate on the story I just kept thinking the Amish go camping? I know people who are not Amish but regular farmers and camping is really rare for them. Especially the dairy farmers I knew because who would milk all the cows? I was halfway through the camping scene before I decided to give up figuring out of that was a real thing or not. When I read in the author's note at the end of the book that she uses Shakespeare as a starting point for her stories and that this one was A Midsummer Night's Dream the camping bit (ie a night in the woods) made just slightly more sense.

Now that my musings are out of the way let's get on to the review.

Minding Molly is the story of Molly Zook who, I believe, is in her early twenties? Maybe twenty? She's currently taken charge of the family farm which grows flowers and nursery stock and hosts a weekend market ever since her dad passed away suddenly (and recently) and it looked like they might lose the farm. Her mom doesn't do well with making business decisions and has been acting so strangely they arrange a CT scan for her, she has a half-brother creeping around trying to buy the place out from under them, her sister doesn't seem interested in helping out around the place and sits around staring into space or writing into a mysterious journal. Then her mom starts pressuring her to marry the neighbor boy who works for them but her best friend is in love with him so she can't do that to her no matter to save their farm or not. Plus she doesn't love him and she wants to at least love whom she marries. The boy working for her best friend's family is from out of state and instantly catches her eye but everything seems to come between them as they try to court.

At home Molly is the organizer, the hard worker, the boss and people respect her authority, decisions and planning. When they decide to go camping everyone suddenly hates her for the same personality/skill set. And everyone - and I mean everyone - groans out their words. I've never read a story where every single page had so and so groaning or so and so moaning. Used appropriately I can understand but this was obviously enough use to catch my attention.

During the camping scene I honestly felt like another story or maybe even another author had taken over the book and plopped it into the plot. Everyone devolved into whining, conniving children. Speaking of children there was a whole thing about a toddler whose parents could not attend so they sent it along on the camping trip with all these young people and their chaperoning couple. Is that an Amish thing? Who in their right mind would actually do this?

Granted, the woods in A Midsummer Night's Dream changed people while they were there but Shakespeare was at least able to put it eloquently. This made me want to bash my head into a wall while they all tramped around the woods glaring at each other and fighting over imagined schemes of stealing boyfriends. I actually reached a point where I thought this was YA fiction (based on the character's behavior) but I don't think it is.

The big question here is will Molly's tumultuous relationships work themselves out? I do feel there was a satisfying ending to the story but I won't be giving away more than that.

There were a few moments in this story that I did like. I connected with Molly in name, in having a father die suddenly, in having a mother start behaving all strangely and in losing the place you loved living and working, There were a few moments with people talking out issues and problems that I thought "yeah that's some good stuff right there." but they were so lost in the rest of the story I just don't feel it was worth slogging through to find them.

The idea of these stories being based on Shakespeare really appeal to me and I want to like it. I've heard the first two were actually pretty good, and the one that's supposed to come after this is a Much Ado About Nothing story line which actually appeals to me and I may give that one a go. Maybe by then I'll have brushed up on my Pennsylvania Dutch.

I received a digital copy of this book for the purposes of review from Bethany House Publishers. Opinions and words are mine.

I really hate writing reviews of books I don't like...this makes me sad.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Stranded - a review

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Another belated review. This time because I was in the middle of packing, trying to find somewhere to live and then moving. Blech. But in contrast to my previous book review, I quite enjoyed this one!

This third in the series follows a few  of the McKennas - a ridiculously talented and wonderful family from Alaska that I would dearly love to hang out with. The people are flawed but loving and I feel the realism in that at the same time it helps me see the flaws in some of my own behaviors towards people. Helpful.

 I actually read the first in the series and reviewed it some time ago and when I saw this was available for review, I bought the second book so I wouldn't miss out and then read this one in proper order. There is character set up for the next pair (as in 'oh yeah they are so getting together') in each previous book so I suggest to start at the beginning and work your way through.

In this story we follow Darcy St. James (a side character from previous stories) investigating the mysterious disappearance of a friend who had taken a job on a cruise line. Darcy then uses her skills from her old position of undercover investigative journalism to get a job on the cruise line and see what happened as not only does no one seem to care, but they seem to be covering up the disappearance.

She runs into Gage McKenna at some point and there's a series of mistrust, semi-trust, life-saving, man anger, etc. I did not enjoy his constant well you're "undercover" so no matter your reasons for doing so you're just a lying liar pants from Liarstown. But they work out their issues in a realistic way, as opposed to I-hate-you-for-most-of-the-book-just-kidding-I-love-you-the-end. Which I have complained about MANY times regarding Christian fic.

There is a lot of outdoorsy adventure and suspense (near-death kayaking! corpse discoveries! Sketchy "romantic" walks with possible murderers!) as in the previous two which I love and seriously I just love all these people can we be friends already?

There's a 4th book on the way. I am going to be all over that.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House for the purposes of review.

Sidenote: I got my review copy as an ebook and I can't remember which specific thing it was, double f's maybe? Some letter combination was left out of the entire story. Is that a normal thing so you don't feel all fancy that you got a free book? I found it super distracting and am impressed I was able to read the story without it. Anyone else experienced anything like that?