I'm from Houston, not sure if that matters or not, but this was my first trip to Canada. My husband and I were only in Toronto for two days so my list of things consisted of attractions we could only experience in Canada. The Aquarium did not make my list. I figured if I've seen one then I must have seen them all and I'm more afraid of everything that can eat you in the ocean than interested in getting to know the different creatures.
Since this was a trip for my husband's birthday though, I gave him full reigns with our itinerary once we got there and had printed out a TripAdvisor list with the top things to do in the area while circling a few of my favorites. Although, the aquarium was on the list, it was not circled or researched any further. Once we checked into the Delta Marriott and made it up to our room, he noticed the roof of the aquarium and replaced the visit up the CN Tower with the aquarium. This was our first stop and I was hoping it'd only take thirty minutes because we had breweries and the hockey hall of fame (more fun things) to see.
Ha. We spent over three hours walking around and my husband ended up having to pull me along because I became mesmerized. I stopped at the vertical tunnel of fish swimming sychronized and was envisioning Finding Nemo as they made shapes together and I was taking videos of the shark exhibit from the entry because it looked so scary and shallow and I was glad to be on the other side of the building. I had no idea there would be a tunnel that would surround you with the sharks and sea life. They had interactive exhibits where you could pet sharks and get a manicure from shrimp. I had a blast and felt like a kid. I immediately wanted to fly my two nieces up there, so I could experience the bewilderment again through their eyes.
I thought Seaworld was cool until now...take me back to the Toronto Aquarium!
This post is way overdo, but life has not been nice to me lately, so this is my first chance to sit down and not have the day over packed with commitments. I have four hours before our next commitment to tell you as much as possible and finally review some of our top stops on our weekend away. I'm going to break this post up into parts, and I'll post another part of our journey each Monday till this adventure run outs (Otherwise this will be one long ass post). So, let's begin with Shannon's Surprise Shindig: Part 1 - Our Crash Pad
I had booked this trip six months before his birthday and if I do say so myself, I did a pretty damn good job of keeping it a secret from him. I had enough time in advance to not be obvious when I said he needed to get his passport renewed and went as far as packing for him before he got home from work and driving us to the airport before he started to get suspicious. When we finally parked at the airport, he still had no idea what he was in for until we took the tram and didn't get off at my normal terminal but stayed on to the international terminal. We got there with enough time to eat before we boarded and I handed over the below little pamphlet I made for him with our itinerary and the top attractions to do in the area because I couldn't hold it in any longer with the bombardment of questions coming my way. I will say it was just as fun planning this escape and seeing his surprise as it was exploring this new part of the world together.
First time to Canada and the beauty of the city made both my husband and I consider never leaving. This weekend was a surprise birthday trip for my husband and a week before our stay, Katherine Leonard, with Guest Services sent us a personalized email noticing that this was our first stay with the hotel and asked if she could arrange anything for us. Her email made me feel welcomed before we even left the states. I responded back that this was our first time in Canada and my husband's birthday and she gave us a complimentary upgrade and had chocolate strawberries and champagne with a note waiting for us in our room on our first night. That started our weekend off perfectly. The hotel is in the perfect location and is beautiful. We went there for the Hockey Hall of Fame and my husband loved the hockey decor around the hotel as they were supporting the induction events happening that weekend.
We had access to the club lounge and the food and views were both magnificent. There was not a bad seat in the lounge with the wrap around floor to ceiling windows. We toured the hotel and the swimming pool, sauna, outside deck, and bar was just a beautiful as the pictures portrayed. This was a very clean, spacious, modern, timeless hotel and I would love to come back here soon. It ended up being a ten minute walk to the HHOF, then the Aquarium, CN Tower, and Steam Whistle brewery were just across the street. Convenient commutes to many top attractions.
Genre: Historical Fiction, WWII
Date of Publication: January 19, 2017
Number of Pages: 344
Kimberly Fish’s debut novel, The Big Inch, was released in February, 2017 and it reveals the lengths to which Texas oilmen, state, and federal governments would go to get Texas crude oil to the troops fighting their first mechanized war. With Nazi threats (and a steady stream of oil tankers sunk by German submarines) speed was necessary, as was OSS intelligence. The Office of Strategic Services was often staffed with female spies and Longview’s World War II efforts were critical for success.
Lane Mercer, sent to Longview, Texas in July 1942, is part of a select group of women working undercover for the fledgling federal agency, the Office of Strategic Services. Assigned to protect the man carrying out President Roosevelt’s initiative to build the nation’s first overland pipeline to hurry East Texas crude to the troops, she discovers there’s more to Longview than the dossiers implied. There’s intrigue, mayhem, and danger. Shamed from a botched OSS mission in France, Lane struggles to fulfill her mission and keep from drowning in guilt. Getting involved in local life is out of the question. Between family, do-gooders, and Nazi threats, she’s knitted into a series of events that unravel all of her carefully constructed, plans, realizing that sometimes the life one has to save, is one’s own.
Kimberly Fish’s Music Play List
Gabe Wilde has never been more ready for a change. Thirty-three and in the midst of a divorce, he’s packed up his second-grade daughter and come home to Birch Bay, Montana. New house, new career, new life. Only, with changes come stress. His daughter is struggling with the transition to their new norm—and Gabe is out of ideas as to how to help.
Erica Bird is mired in her own worries. After impulsively leaving the teaching job she loved, she may finally be free from her cheating ex, but separated from her family and everything she’s ever known, second guesses linger. Substitute teaching in Birch Bay is fine for the time being, but what will her future hold?
When Gabe’s daughter winds up in Erica’s class, the two meet—or rather, reunite. Neither has forgotten their college romance or the tender feelings they once shared, but will their complicated pasts destroy their second chance? Or will old desire lead to a new love when each needs it most?
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Publication Date: February 28th 2017 by Montlake Romance
Current GoodReads Rating: 4.52 Stars
STAYING FOR GOOD
Most Likely Series, Book Two
Montlake Romance, Contemporary
January 24, 2017, First Edition
Paperback & Kindle
Zoe Brown may have been voted Most Likely to Never Leave River Bend, but the paper-thin walls and suffocating air of her family’s double-wide trailer were not what she wanted for her life. Other than BFFs Melanie and Jo, the only thing that kept Zoe sane during high school was her boyfriend, Luke.
She didn’t just leave, she escaped—turning her back on the shame of her black-sheep siblings and imprisoned dad. Now a celebrity chef in Dallas, she can afford all the things she never could have growing up. But when she returns to rustic, ruggedly beautiful River Bend, Zoe has to face all that she abandoned—including Luke.
While Luke was a refuge for Zoe in the past, he knows they inhabit totally different worlds now. Anchored by his parents and his job as a mechanic in his father’s shop, Luke never felt the urge to leave River Bend—until Zoe’s return.
But when the two rekindle their old flame, Zoe is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: remain in River Bend and confront her past before it destroys her, or say good-bye to everyone she’s ever loved…again, this time for good.me for good.
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I’m ready for the next book in the series! I loved this book. Catherine is an author that when she has a new release, her book bumps others down and become first priority on my to read list.
Staying for Good was the perfect pace, the perfect depth, and had the perfect balance.
About the Book
Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Vianne finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her.
As the war progresses, the sisters' relationship and strength are tested. With life changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Vianne and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions.
Hardcover, 1st Edition, 440 pages
Published February 3rd 2015 by St. Martin's Press
Current GoodReads Rating: 4.53 Stars
This was my local book club’s January Book of the Month. It was recommended my one of the fellow avid readers in our group and we all took interest after her enthusiastic recommendation. I’m so glad we did.
TWELVE TANTALIZINGLY TWISTED TALES
by David C. Hughes
Genre: Children's / Horror (ages 8-11)
Publisher: Progressive Rising Phoenix Press
Date of Publication: July 29, 2016
Number of Pages: 176
Who can pass up a scary tale or a spooky ghost story, especially right before bed on a stormy night after eating a sloppy bean burrito? From possessed bunny slippers to a house guarding an ancient secret, Twelve Tantalizingly Twisted Tales features a dozen short stories sure to raise a few goosebumps, conjure a giggle . . . and make you think twice before disobeying your mom the next time she asks you to clean the shower stall.
CLICK TO PURCHASE Amazon * Barnes & Noble * or Signed Copies from Progressive Rising Phoenix Press
About The Author
David C. Hughes defies the premise that engineers can’t write. With almost four decades of writing experience, he left his full-time corporate job in 2013 to launch his writing career. He has a passion for writing and for other writers, and loves to “talk shop” with anyone who will listen.
A former youth leader and deacon, David’s life is resolutely defined by his pursuit of God, and his desire is to convey God’s love, joy, grace, and healing through his testimony. His blog site, “David C. Hughes, Writer,” broadcasts his latest take on what it means to be a Christ-centered man, husband, father, son, brother, and friend in these exciting and challenging times. His God-ordained book, The Epiphany of Joy, and his picture book, Melted Clowns, both won the Texas Association of Authors 2015 Best Book Award. He is also the author of 10 Little Hiccups/10 pequeños hipos, a bilingual counting book.
In July 2016, Progressive Rising Phoenix Press released his latest book, Twelve Tantalizingly Twisted Tales, a collection of a dozen spooky stories aimed at 8 to 14 year olds.
Originally from the town of Maine, New York, David now lives in Granbury, Texas with the loves of his life: his wife, Mary, and his daughter, Hannah. At last count he also has two dogs, a handful of fish, six chickens, and countless geckos.
Author Links: TWITTER * AUTHOR WEBSITE * FACEBOOK * WRITER WEBSITE * AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE * LINKED IN
I received this book in the mail from the author in order to read and provide an unbiased review during this blog tour. My husband decided to open our mail that day and was way too excited about this creepy tale and kept asking me if I had started it yet and how it was, so I finally just relinquished this title to him.
So really this is My Husband's Review:
Prior to me starting my review I feel the need to apologize in advance as it has been many years since I have been asked to not only read a book, but to actually formulate an actual in-depth look at the book. So! Without any further ado. Here we go.
When I first picked up this book I honestly had no idea what to expect. I have read many short stories throughout my years and even carried around a beautiful copy of the tales of the Brothers Grimm with me when my wife and I visited my father overseas last year. I seem to prefer short stories over novels, because my attention span is rather short and my memory lacking. So I anticipated reading maybe one story a night before getting some shut eye. To my surprise, however, I couldn’t seem to put the book down after I rummaged from one story to the next. The tales were simple to follow but somehow managed to drag the readers mind deep into the pages, past the words and into the very lands that were being described in such detail. The characters of the tales were described so vividly, I could picture myself there beside them, chasing a massive pink frog or staring in horror and amazement at a seven foot creature the likes that we have never seen before.
Each of the twelve tales seemed to follow the standard outline of a good story. You had your main character (the protagonist), the villain (antagonist) and something that draws you into the story, such as a magical object or a secret that the character(s) knows but you are not aware of yet. Each story also twists at your imagination, which would have more than likely horrified me and gave me nightmares when I was a much younger boy. Luckily I sleep like the dead so stories, even good ones, don’t seem to come between me and my precious 6 hours of sleep anymore. But as I mentioned above, this book had a tricky way of captivating me. My one story became two, and then three until I realized I was halfway through the book and the clock flashed four numbers at me that told me to go to sleep already. I very much enjoyed the dark paths each story took, filling the readers mind with a curiosity on what will happen next or silently yelling No Way! I also appreciated that even though the stories would scare the sox off my niece, they had innocence to them, whether it was getting square with a bully or two, or dealing with a strange fascination for pistachio ice cream. You can tell that each story was carefully crafted from the beginning all the way to the end, which always seemed to have a clever way of tying everything together.
David C. Hughes did an outstanding job of constructing these twelve short stories that make me reminisce of when I was younger and used to preoccupy my time reading RL Stein, The Brothers Grimm or even Aesop’s Fables. I admire his creativity and writing prowess and feel that this world’s next generations of readers have great story writers waiting to open up the doors to their imagination!