Hi, all! I know it’s been forever and then some since I’ve posted, but life has been a little crazy for the past year or so. Today, I have my friend Laura Hunsaker guest posting today and talking about her new story Dreams of the Past from the Last Chance Beach: Summer’s End bundle. You can read it free in Kindle Unlimited, or buy it for $0.99. Now, here’s Laura…

Hi! Thanks so much for having me. My name is Laura Hunsaker and I write Romance. I think right now, we all need a little Romance in our lives. With everything going on in the world, I wanted to write something happy and low angst, so Dreams of the Past was born. In Dreams of the Past, my heroine Jenny finds her happily ever after. And guys, she really deserves it.

In Dark Past, the first book in my Fatal Instincts series, Jenny is the heroine’s best friend, but something happens that fractures their friendship. That something is pretty terrible and Jenny is trying to heal and move on.

In Dreams, Jenny has nightmares about her past. She’s trying to find a fresh start, and isn’t sure where to go, but she knows she needs to get out of her small town and the memories it holds. She gets in her car and drives to Last Chance Beach where her godmother has a small beach cottage she rents out.

The problem is that someone else has rented the cottage.

Scott Gordon is trying to figure out what to do with his life. He’s a Navy SEAL but after an IED explosion, his leg will never be the same. He’s healed pretty well, but not Navy SEAL well. So he’s rented out Sea Glass Cottage in Last Chance Beach to have a little time to himself.

I mean, oh no there’s only one bed and there’s two of them whatever will they do? 😉

But what I liked about Jenny and Scott is how easily they came together. Writing doesn’t always come easily, and the characters don’t always want to come together. These two fit so well, and so easily that they were a dream to write. It probably helped that it’s summer, it’s a beach setting, and I had some rockin’ music.

For this story, I couldn’t stop hearing The Boys of Summer by the Ataris, so I’d like to think the whole vibe of my story fits. Some other songs that really worked for me were Island in the Sun by Weezer, California Girls, Surfin’ USA, and Surfin’ Safari, or well anything by the Beach Boys, Somewhere on a Beach by Dierks Bentley, Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset by Luke Bryan, and California Dreamin’ by the Mamas and the Papas.

So pull up a chair, dip your toes in the water, and enjoy your stay at Last Chance Beach.

Thanks, Laura, for stopping by! Can’t wait to finally have some free time to sit down and read this!

Lynda the Guppy

I have a guest reviewer here at the Fishbowl today. My friend Lillie. She is a huge Nalini fan, so she graciously volunteered to read and review Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh. for me. Here you go…

I was so incredibly excited when Nalini Singh posted the blurb for Wolf Rain. A new type of empath! I love all the books with the empaths so revisiting them with something new had my expectations high. And this book more than exceeded those expectations.

Memory’s journey to find herself and discover her own self-worth in turns broke my heart and brought fierce joy. She’s now one of my favorite heroines of the series. I wasn’t surprised that I loved her. We often hear about authors writing the book of their heart. In Wolf Rain, Nalini Singh somehow managed to write the book of my heart. It has everything I love.

The surprise for me came from Alexei. I didn’t have any feelings toward him one way or the other prior to this book. I remembered him as a pretty playboy type. But things had happened in Alexei’s life since the last time we saw him on the page. Singh delves deeper into the rogues in Changeling society, something that has been briefly mentioned in past books, an illness that even with all the advances in medical care they now have, Changelings don’t understand how or why it happens. They only know the devastation it leaves behind. And Alexei is part of that devastation. I was just as invested in his journey to forgiveness and trust. And how the things he had faced made him the perfect hero for Memory.

After Heart of Obsidian I questioned what kind of realistic external conflict we could expect to see in this world now that the most powerful person in the world was on the side of good. We’re still seeing them deal with the corrosion of the PsyNet but what else? Wolf Rain starts laying the building blocks for the next big bad in the PsyChangeling world, and while I can’t yet see where exactly we’re going with it, I can’t wait to follow.

Thanks, Lillie, for the great review! I might just have to try this new trilogy. Readers, here’s a secret: Lillie often tells me what to read. I’ve given up arguing with her. It may take me a while, but I always read what she recommends to me.

If you want to keep up with Lillie, she can be found on Twitter talking books, which Chris is the best Chris, and the cows that showed up in her front yard late one night. 

Today I’m taking a look back on what I did in 2018. It’s mostly about my reading stats, but there’s some other info, too.

I worked as a precinct inspector for three elections this year. The last two elections I had really awesome clerks. As much as this introvert hates dealing with that many people, I love working the elections. I love seeing all these people come out and participate in the system, and I especially love watching new voters vote for the very first time.

This is my Instagram Top 9. As you can see, there’s a lot of my Wonder Woman scarf. And, my favorite, is Jo and I during the trip to San Diego right in the middle. It’s mostly knitting-related photos, which is funny because I didn’t knit much this year.

A collage of 9 pictures. Left to right and top to bottom: Wonder Woman scarf completed on a black table; Wonder Woman Scarf on a white comforter; A repost of JustRunKnit's photo of a blue shawl; A repost from O_wow_Waite of author Jess Russell at the RWA Rita awards wearing a skirt with the image of every nominated book printed on it; Me and Jo in San Diego; Wonder Woman scarf in progress; A close up of my face with the Welcome to Stitches sign; A collage of various pics of my mom; Figure skaters with the woman spinning in the air parallel to the ice and the text "So you catch Footballs in your sport? Aww. That's cute."

Speaking of what I knit this year, I only finished 4 things this year. My Antarktis shawl, Wonder Woman scarf, Honey cowl, and my Find Your Fade shawl. I wear my fade shawl A LOT. It’s pretty much with me everywhere. Because I did the scarf pattern, but used a lot more yarn, mine is more shawl-like than scarf-like.

A collage of 4 pictures. Clockwise from top left: Antarktis shawl folded and knit in a bright blue yarn with some purple specks; Honey Cowl in a multi-colored yarn; Wonder Woman scarf which looks like the Wonder Woman symbol. Knit with red on the top, then yellow W logo, and blue on the bottom; Find your Fade shawl knit in 10 miniskeins of a rainbow colors with black.

Here are a few of the things I’ve started knitting this year and are still languishing on the needles. And of course my Citron is still in progress. I’d knit on it more, but the rows are SO DAMN LONG at this point. Ugh.

A collage of four pictures. Clockwise from top left: The cuff of a ribbed mitt in blues and purple; the start of a hot pink shawl; the start of a purple shawl in a half moon shape; and the another purple and black shawl about halfway a long

I also did some cross stitch at the end of the year. Just a couple ornaments, and I can’t find the Santa I finished, darn it! It’s really cute, too.

A square with four images, but it's the same two pictures are repeated in alternate corners. Upper left & bottom right is a cross stitched snowman with a hat and scarf stitched on a wooden ornament; Upper right and lower left is a Christmas tree with blue, pink, and green striped "leaves" and at the bottom it says "Merry & Bright"

Professionally, I edited/proofed 479,269 words. And for series bibles it was 772,287 words. Which means for work I read 1,251,556 words. That…seems like a lot. But really it wasn’t. I’m shooting for more for next year.

SHAMELESS PLUG: I have openings for edits in February, or if anyone needs a series bible done, e-mail me for rates and info.

As for my reading, I have a bunch of interesting stats. At least they’re interesting to me. LOL. I read 228 books this year. My original goal was 250, but sometime in September I knew I wouldn’t hit that, so I changed my goal to 200. Out of the 228 books, 104 were new reads and 124 were re-reads. I knew it would be close between new and re-reads, but I think this is the first year I re-read more than read new.

38 books of the 228 were from authors of color. There may have been more, but those are the only authors I know for sure. I wish I could say I read more individual authors, but really most of those were me glomming Shelly Laurenston and Holley Trent. And now I have Farrah Rochon’s backlist to go through in 2019.

I read 42 audio books, 182 digital books (mostly Kindle and the rest ARCs/manuscripts), and 4 physical books which total over 64,000 pages.

My shortest book was Tabula Rasa by Ophelia Bell (30 pages) and my longest is the Desert Guards compilation by Holley Trent (1,175 pages). The oldest book I read was The Vow by Dallas Schulze, which is a Silhouette Intimate Moments from 1989. The most popular book I read was Becoming by Michelle Obama. No surprise there. LOL. According to GR, 45,850 other people also read it.

The books I’ve read twice this year are:

Kristen Ashley: Rough Ride, Rock Chick Reawakening, and The Hookup

Shelly Laurenston: In a Badger WayBeast Behaving Badly

Dana Marie Bell: Sorry, Charlie

Lila Rose: Breakout

Suzanne Wright: Lure of Oblivion, Wild Hunger


Close-up of my cat Rani's face staring straight at the camera and glaring

How to feel like the worst cat mom EVER in one short story.

Rani gets fed once a day now, and she tends to go through her food in about 20 hours. Right now it’s more like 18. So the time of day she gets fed varies. Sometimes wildly. I try to keep to roughly the same time, but if she’s eaten every speck of her food in about 18 hours, I’m going to feed her early and not make her wait another 6 hours.

A few weeks ago we were snuggled in bed. I was watching figure skating and reading and she was cuddled up to me sleeping. The skating ended and I was tired so about midnight I shut off my lamp and went to sleep.


Around 3:00 am she wakes me up with pitiful meows and gentle taps with her paw. Seriously. She just gently pets my arm. I don’t yet realize I forgot to feed her, so we go back and forth with me trying to get her settled down.

I finally realize the problem, so I get up and feed her and go back to bed.

A few minutes later.

*pat pat pat* Meoooooowwww?

Me, groggily: I fed you!

*pat pat pat* Meoooooowwww?

Go eat!

*pat pat pat* Meoooooowwww?

Now I’m ticked. It’s cold in the house and I don’t want to get out of bed again, and I FED HER. Why is she still bugging me?! And there she is, staring at me like I’ve betrayed her. FINE! I’ll get up and take her to her food! I’ll show her and then maybe JUST MAYBE I can get back to sleep. And standing there, on the cold tile in my bare feet, staring at her empty food bowl, the light finally dawns in my fuzzy, annoyed, and oh so very tired brain.

I hadn’t actually fed her. I dreamed it.

Oops. Don’t I feel like the cruelest cat mom ever.

This is almost, but not quite, as bad as that time mom and I never fed her one morning.

Lynda the Guppy
aka The Fish With Sticks
aka Meanest Cat Mom Ever 

I have friends (and bloggers/reviewers) I know personally and trust who loved this book. Who swore it was Linda Howard returning to when she was awesome. I have one thing to say to all of them…

Were we reading the same book?

I listened to this book, and I was bored out of my freaking mind. When the best character in the book is the DOG, maybe Ms. Howard needed a better beta reader or editor.

Most of this book is told via the Morgan (hero) and Bo’s (heroine) thoughts. And if you can believe it, I finished this book less than 24 hours ago and I couldn’t remember their names. I just had to look them up, they were THAT forgettable.

 There’s very little dialogue between the two. It starts out with Morgan getting shot, he goes to recuperate at Bo’s, and WEEKS (months?) pass. Lots of walking the dog, watching the dog do tricks, watching the townspeople adore the dog, and Bo whining in her head about cooking. Oh, and her scowling and swearing about how much she hates her stepbrother (Morgan’s boss) though we never find out why, other than some vague reference to him being a bratty older stepbrother for 6 months when they were kids. Bo needs to get over it or get a therapist.

The mystery as to who shot Morgan was never really investigated, that we saw. Lots of talks of traps set by Morgan’s boss, and waiting, but Morgan was pretty passive through this entire book, which I didn’t totally buy.

There was more time spent focused on a subplot of a divorce between two townspeople than there was about who was trying to kill Morgan. And that question was answered after a quick conversation that takes place in the last 60 or so pages. Maybe if Morgan had spent more time spent going through his memories and less time spent admiring the dog, the book might be more suspenseful. And interesting.

The only part of this book that felt like Classic Linda Howard was the sex. Once they FINALLY got started it was plentiful and hot. Here Morgan’s a stereotypical LH hero: Has the largest dick the heroine’s ever played with, and he knows how to use it. It’s the best sex the heroine ever had, and she’s walking a little funny.

All in all, though, I was bored and I should have skipped this one. I’ve read worse, but I always expect so much more out of Linda Howard. Now I’m off to re-listen to Mr. Perfect.

RATING: 2 Stars.

Lynda the Guppy
aka The Fish With Sticks

When it comes to cranberry sauce, I love the made from scratch kind. The one I make has a lot of orange in it, and it’s sweet and tart and amazing. It’s super easy to make, so buying the icky canned stuff seems wrong. The kind I make can be used with turkey, mixed with some mayo on a sandwich, as ice cream toppings. Or–if it was a particularly good batch and I’m living by myself and not sharing–straight out of the jar with a spoon.

My mother, however, loved the canned kind. She loved the sound it made when it came out of the can; she loved the lines in the sides; she loved that she could slice it with a knife.

Mom was weird.

When mom was first admitted to the hospital, and they finally found the cancer and started treatment, she was there for over a week. Her blood pressure was naturally very low, and other than the cancer riddling her body, she was pretty damn healthy, so she wasn’t on a restricted diet. The food was pretty bland, so on the first day she was able to keep food down, instead of bringing her flowers I brought her a baggie with salt. She always said that was the best gift I ever gave her.

One day she decided she’d take a chance and ordered the “Turkey Dinner.” It came with turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, veggies and “a side of cranberry sauce.”

She gets served a plate with the turkey and all the other stuff, and a “bowl” of cranberry sauce.

A bowl approximately the size of a cereal bowl and in it is a small square packet of Cranberry Sauce in a packet like jelly in a restaurant.

You know when you go to a restaurant and ask for jelly and you get those little packets you have to open? That’s what this was. Maybe a little thicker, but not by much. If it was more than a teaspoon, I’d be surprised.

We always wondered WHY they served it in a BOWL? Was mom supposed to open it up and dish it up into the bowl? Or did they think it looked more festive? Either way, it was ridiculous. Especially as the bowl was about the size of a cereal bowl, so that should give you a better sense of scale.

Whatever their thinking, we laughed until our sides ached. The nurses came and checked on her because her vitals were going haywire and we were making a racket. All we could do was point and laugh even more.

I have very few good memories of that week, but that was one of them. And it still makes me laugh.

Lynda the Guppy
aka No Ridges For Me
aka The Fish With Sticks

Rani laying on a comforter that surrounds her on three sides with all the sides higher than she is.

A few years ago I was working an election and it was one of the local ones, so that meant we had about 58 voters all day. To give you an idea, the same precinct had nearly 800 voters for this recent presidential election.

Anyway, so I was talking to a couple other poll workers, and we were talking about our pets, and I said something about Rani talking to me. This one woman, turns to me and sneers, “Pets don’t TALK to people. They’re ANIMALS.” My reply was something along the lines of “They hell they don’t! My cat talks ALL THE TIME.” And she does! She’s a Tortie, so she’s very vocal.

Not only do I know Rani talks to me, I think she understands WAY more than she should. Take this morning for example.

I went to bed late, as I like to do, but not too late. Probably around 1:00 a.m. I was a little restless so she went in the other room. That sometimes happens if I’m disturbing her royal highness, but at some point I usually wake up and she’s on my lap or next to me. I woke up around 6:00 a.m. and realized she wasn’t there. And hadn’t been there all night. I used the bathroom and when I came out I could see she was on her favorite spot on the back of one of the couches.

Me: You didn’t come to bed last night? What? You don’t love me anymore?

Hey, I live alone and work from home. I talk to my cat. Don’t judge.

I went back to bed to get a little more sleep, and I hear her jump down from the sofa. (Small house. Quiet neighborhood.) She saunters into the bedroom, gets up on the end of the bed, stares at me for a minute, sighs heavily, and climbs on my lap. Then sighs again as she lies down.

And I laughed because if that wasn’t her saying “FINE. If you’re gonna whine about me not coming to bed, then here I am. But it’s under protest.”

Cat*, a fellow knitter I recently met, has a theory about cats. Dogs won’t let you be uninvolved in their lives. They force you to deal with them. But cats can be independent and indifferent. She thinks cats size up their person and give back what they get. The person thinks cats are aloof and standoffish, then that’s the attitude the cats give them. Like “Fine. You want that? Whatever. I’m good.” And once that pattern is set, there’s no going back. If you change your mind, the cat’s all “No, no. This is what you wanted. This is what you got. Too late now, puny human.”

But if you want a loving cat who cuddles and plays with you, they’ll eventually warm up to you and give that back. I’ve lived with 3 cats, all with WILDLY different personalities, but none were aloof, and all loved being around their person. Rani will play both Fetch and Catch. She spends about 20 hours a day with me, and wants to cuddle all the time.


When she’s not sleeping on the couch.

Lynda the Guppy
aka Rani Minion

*No, really. That’s her name. 

Eight years ago today Barack Obama became the first African American president in our nation’s history. I think about that a lot, and I wonder if the Obama’s celebrate this date. I wonder if they even remember what the date was, as at that point a presidential campaign is so insane they may only know what day it is because it’s election day so it must be Tuesday.

I remember this day eight years ago so very clearly because it was my mom’s 60th birthday. The last healthy one she had. I remember I gave her 60 beautiful roses and had Indian food delivered. She didn’t want to go out because she knew history was being made no matter which way it went, so we ate in front of the tv and watched the election results. After growing up in the 50s and living through the 60s, she was amazed. She voted for him, of course. But she honestly never thought she’d see the day where we had a black president. She was so proud of how far our nation had come that we would elect him.

Four years later she had been gone only three months, and I spent Election Day working my first election and once again hoping for an Obama presidency. I was nervous and scared about working the election, but it was an amazing experience. I was so grateful it was after her birthday that year, because I was a basket case for all of October. Things were Really Not Good for me then, and I basically cried when I breathed for weeks leading up to her birthday.

This year for her birthday I’m going out with a friend to see a fun movie. I can think of Mom’s birthday now without wanting to sob uncontrollably, but it took a few years. It’s still the hardest day of the year for me. I remember the date she was diagnosed with cancer. I remember the date she decided to start hospice care. I remember the date she died. I remember all the amazing Christmas Eves we had together, and all of my birthdays, but her birthday has always ALWAYS been, for me, the hardest day of the year to get through.

I’ll be working the election again, as I have every one since 2012. It’s still an amazing and humbling thing to do. I’ll be honest and tell you I’m more than a little worried about something happening at the polls, but I also know Mom’s watching. And pretty pissed off she wasn’t able to vote for Hillary. She would have been ALL OVER voting for her. And if she was retired by now, I’m sure she would have volunteered for the campaign.

But I know when I cast my vote, she’ll be in the booth with me. She’s the one who taught me how to vote when I was little and we walked to my parents’ polling place. My parents and I are of a similar mind politically, and as the only Democrats in a family of Republicans, it sometimes gets a little dicey. But she’s the one who taught me to think for myself. To look up the issues. To not just be a voter, but be an INFORMED voter. If I had questions, she’d answer them. If I wanted to know how she was going to vote, she’d tell me, but always with the caveat that I should make up my own mind, and not just vote the way she and my dad did.

All during this campaign I’ve ached to talk to her, and I know she would have had a LOT to say about the shenanigans. Most of it would have been colorful. Who do you think taught me how to swear?

So today, on her birthday, I miss her so much. And on Tuesday when I vote, I’ll miss her even more. But I think she’d be proud of what I’m doing and how I’m going on without her. At least I hope so.

Happy birthday, Mom. I wish you were here.

A picture of me on the left with my mom on the right. All you see are our heads and shoulders. I have my arm around my mom and we're in matching blue windbreakers. Taken in 1984.

And don’t haunt me because I posted this picture.

Lynda the Guppy
aka The Bear’s Daughter

I’m starting a new feature here at FishWithSticks. I’ll be posting book deals (and maybe some other deals) hopefully weekly. I’m still trying to figure out when is the best time for deals, so you’ll have to bear with me!

This deal is available as of today, February 23, 2016, and subject to change at any time by the retailer. Be sure to double check the price before you click BUY.

Today, I’m posting Moira Rogers’ Red Rock Pass series. Moira Rogers is also published as Kit Rocha, and I love those books, so I’m looking forward to reading these, too.

I know it’s early, but I already have my first 5-star 2016 book. I just recently reread the ENTIRE JD Robb In Death series, and I loved being able to see how well JD Robb has progressed the series and the characters. These books never remain stagnant. There is always some sort of character development, even if you don’t recognize it at first. I loved rereading them all, and especially my favorites like Loyalty, Midnight, Survivor, etc. But, oh, Brotherhood. *happy sigh* Brotherhood in Death has rocketed to the top of my Favorites list.

Let me just start by saying my love for Dennis Mira (or Mr. Mira, as I call him in my head) is pure and true and strong. I have been DYING for this book since I first heard he was going to be one of the primary characters. So I did what any obsessed reader good reviewer would do. I e-mailed my contact at Berkley and shamelessly begged for an ARC. I’m sure you all heard the squeals of joy when it showed up at my house.

The “cast” in this book was on the smaller side, which totally worked. Some books need all the characters, and those are usually the more fast-paced books, and I love them, but MR. MIRA! He needed as much page time as he could get, and he did. We got to see him with Dr. Mira, his daughter, Eve. I love seeing him with his “Charlie” and I just want to cuddle him.

He had one particular scene with Eve that was one of my favorites. I won’t give you spoilers, but I WILL tell you it made me cry. And apparently the man makes the best hot chocolate ever, so I’m warning you know, you WILL be craving it while reading.

Eve and Roarke took some steps forward in this book as well. Not without some growing pains, of course, because it IS Eve and Roarke, but it’ll be fun to see what comes of it. I’ve also enjoyed the new Battle of the Ties in the homicide department. And now they’ve added socks! Speaking of advancements, go Trueheart! I’ve loved watching him grow up in homicide, but he hasn’t lost any of his Trueheartedness, if you get my drift.

Like I said above, this book gets a 5-star rating from me. It had everything I love best about the In Death books: Great Eve and Roarke scenes, Peabody, McNab, Baxter, Trueheart, good banter, an intriguing mystery, and Mr. Mira. What else do we need?

He’s a quiet hero, Eve, but he’s steadfast and he’s true.

*happy sigh* I think it’s time for a Re-Read.

Lynda the Guppy
aka President of the Mr. Mira Adoration Society
aka The Fish With Stick

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