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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Customer Service

Not our electric car, but probably goes farther.
(and the people are much cuter)
Recently  had an experience that was a little harrowing for me. Not in a life-endangered type way, but  still ratched my anxiety.

We have an electric vehicle. Not one that can go hundreds of miles, but a used one that gets about 45 miles on a charge. Now if you're cruising around close to home, that shouldn't be a problem. Or if you're going ten miles away, shouldn't be a problem, right?! This particular car, if you drive on side streets, gets great mileage. The freeway, however, is another beast altogether.

We were headed about ten miles away, with roughly a 40 mile charge. About two miles from our destination, this is what the mile counter showed: - - - . Yep. Out of miles. We had been searching the charge station app to find an available station, so pulled off the freeway (I know ... ) and headed to the closest one. It was at a business and occupied so we drove a little farther and discovered an apartment complex with two stations. Not plugged in, but non-electric cars were parked in both spots. Ugh. Come on people! You clearly do not understand this dilemma. I'm feeling the stress at this point. We have to turn around because we're now at a dead end (literally and figuratively haha). There's a Carvana near the main street. They have two charge stations. Hooray, we're saved! My husband goes in to ask about using one. No bueno. It's only for their use. WHAT?

I'm going to side note here that I do understand we should have been more responsible. It's not anyone else's fault that we are in this situation. BUT ...

Carvana just got a big thumbs down. Customer service rating: boo (I know I'm not a current customer, but now I'll never be a customer because I know how you treat people).

Tried another few stations (and please don't judge me for my lack of knowledge on using the charging app--admittedly I am tech-challenged) but they had cars plugged in.

Got to our first destination and took care of business there. Still at zero miles, car still moving. We take the major street to a side street toward more charging stations. Oh hello, street closed, no worries, we'll just take the detour. Which, tender mercy of God, landed us right across the street from the charging station we were heading too. Are you ready for the 'but'? But, it's inside a gated parking garage of an upscale apartment complex. I'm dying at this point, vowing to never drive outside my five mile radius in this car again.

Again, my husband (all calm and cool) goes inside to ask about charging the car. Completely different experience from Carvana. The woman inside was so kind and generous. She opened the gate and gave us a parking pass. Bless her! We hooked up and walked back across the street to my favorite lunch place.

What's the point of this story? That it doesn't take much to be kind or have excellent customer service (and 'customers' don't necessarily have to be people that benefit our place of business). Be kind.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Loving Like Jane by Connie Sokol

Available on Amazon
Since last week's was such a heavy topic, I thought I'd switch gears.

by Connie Sokol

Back of the Book: Allie’s dream of writing a best-selling novel for a top literary agent is finally coming true. Except, she's already agreed to go on a bucket list Jane Austen Tour for three weeks with her newly-divorced aunt and widowed mother. To complicate matters, Allie can’t decide what the Best Novel Ever idea should be, and the first three chapters are due in, what else, three weeks. Determined to buckle down, Allie devotes her time to writing while refusing to engage in the trip’s delights, or gorgeous but enigmatic Beckett, the assistant tour director. Despite her attempts to stay focused, Allie is drawn to Beckett's quick wit, Jane Austen wisdom, and deciding if his help will further her dreams or get in the way. Join Allie on her inspiring, hilarious, and romantic adventure as she learns how loving like Jane Austen creates unexpected changes that could lead to the life she loves. I have enjoyed both the fiction and non-fiction I've read from Connie Sokol. And this book was no different. It was such a fun, but kind of long, read. There were a few times when I relaxed thinking the story was wrapping up but it just amped up instead.

My Take: I loved the Austen quotes at the beginning of the chapters and the little tidbits about her life that were woven into the story. I appreciated Allie's determination in finding and writing 'the best novel ever'--and wished my writing process could be so productive (I thought it was a little unrealistic, but that could be strictly based on my lack of ability). I loved Beckett and the romance that developed. I know beach season has wrapped up, but if you're heading there for the holidays, this would be great to take along. Or if it's blizzarding and you want to curl up with a hot cup of tea, bring this book and enjoy a little Austen detour.

I received an ARC. The opinions are my own.

Monday, November 11, 2019

A Cry of the Heart by Debra Rush and Penelope Childers

My friend!

You know I have an interest in raising awareness about human trafficking, so when the opportunity came to read and review this book by Debra Rush and Penelope Childers, I gladly took it.

This book! So well-written about such a dark and heavy subject. I cried and hoped and cheered for Debra during her horrifying ordeal. I highly recommend reading this one. Talk about it with your friends and family. Education is one of our best tools in combatting this.

Here's my posted review on Amazon and Goodreads:

I don't typically read non-fiction simply because I don't generally enjoy it. This book, however, piqued my interest because I have supported or follow organizations like O.U.R., Shared Hope International, and SariBari India. It is so incredibly well-written (with the perfect amount of detail), thought-provoking, and engaging that I had a difficult time putting it down. I don't need to put any of the book details, as they are in the book description and other reviews, but I loved that Debra is so open about her spiritual journey and the way God led her and directed others to her. There are so many organizations out there devoted to helping these survivors. If not Breaking the Chains, find another one and do something. You CAN make a difference in helping victims overcome this tragedy that occurs globally but more specifically in your town or city.

You can get it in paperback or ebook on Amazon.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Cover Reveal!

An Oxford Murder by G.G. Vandagriff

Isn't this cover fun and mysterious? You'll have to wait until November 6th, 2019 to get your copy, but the Pre-Order is available now on Amazon and you don't want to wait for that.

Why? Because there's a giveaway! Yes, my friend, a Giveaway! 

When you pre-order the book, take a screenshot of the Amazon "thank you" page, post it in the comments and you will be entered in the drawing to win a $30 Amazon gift card! How fabulous is that?! Giveaway runs through Sunday night.

The WINNER could be YOU and will be announced on Monday, so don't lose out by waiting!

Now for some fun details from the back of the book: 

A stylish 1930’s mystery set in Oxford with a love triangle, a murder, and a cast of eccentric suspects. 
Fans of Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane will love this tale!

“Vandagriff’s atmospherics are first rate. She amazes me.”—Anna Stone.

After Miss Catherine Tregowyn, poet, and  Dr. Harry Bascombe, her bĂȘte noire, discover a body in the Somerville College chapel, they are declared suspects in a murder inquiry. How can they prove their innocence? The pair decide they must launch their own investigation into the strangling of Oxford don, Agatha Chenowith. But working as a team will not be easy. Their relations are anything but cordial.
It is not long before they uncover motives aplenty. Apparently, Dr. Chenowith was not at all what she seemed. As the surprises about the victim’s secret life multiply, they are awash in a sea of suspects. 
Into this scenario sails the former love of Catherine’s life as he returns from Kenya. Is she going to give Rafe another chance to break her heart? He convinces her to give him a six-month trial, and eager to show his worth, he joins in the investigation. Rafe offers to fly Catherine and Harry in his de Havilland six-seater to the Isle of Man where they must pursue a lead. Inevitably, Rafe and Harry square off in a battle for Catherine’s affections.  
Meanwhile, playing detectives proves to be a dangerous pursuit. Catherine and Harry shortly embroil themselves in a plot much larger than mere murder. No one wants to hear their theory, however. It contains truths too painful to contemplate. And it makes Catherine and Harry’s lives expendable.

And there you have it! I can't wait to see how it turns out. Remember to post a copy of your thank you page in the comments in order to be entered in the drawing which runs through Sunday night. Click here to go directly to Amazon to get your copy.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Upon My Heart Forever

What it's about:

When Clara Moore learns of her brother's unthinkable scheme—to take her to England and force her into a hasty marriage—she knows she must escape New York. But when she finds out who has accepted the job of taking her to Boston, she almost rethinks her own hurried plan. For the handsome man who comes to her aid is none other than her former love, Ethan Barrik. He left her heart in shambles six years before. Can she trust him a second time?

Ethan Barrik is no stranger to struggle. But tracking the enemy, and war-time spying are nothing compared to the pain of regret. Ready at last to leave his past behind, he accepts one final job for a friend, only to discover the person he's really helping is the woman he still loves. Despite her ire, he knows he must make every attempt to make it right—and hope she will find a way to forgive him and give their love another chance.

The lovely cover of Upon my Heart Forever.

Follow the author:

Don't miss the other blogs on this Tour:

May 10th - Peggy Urry

And be sure to ENTER the Rafflecopter contest:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Beneath an Italian Sky

A love match turns into a lonely marriage. Will Clare and Emmett reconcile their differences before it's too late?

From USA Today bestselling author Stacy Henrie, comes BENEATH AN ITALIAN SKY, An American Heiress novel.

American heiress Clare Herschel made what she hoped was a love match when she married the handsome, witty Emmett Markham, the Earl of Linwood. A little over a year into her marriage, though, Clare finds herself wintering in Sicily—alone. She is sure the mild climate is the answer to avoiding another miscarriage and Emmett’s apparent indifference, so she’s determined to remain in Italy as long as possible. The last person she expects to show up at the villa is her husband, especially when Emmett confesses he’s there to convince her to return to England.

As the only surviving son of a marquess, Emmett has done everything his father has asked of him—even agreeing to run for a seat in the House of Commons. However, this latest task comes with a nearly impossible caveat. He must convince his wife Clare to come back to England with him in order for them to appear to be a happy couple for his political campaigning. Emmett isn’t confident Clare will agree to the plan, though, not when she seems to want nothing to do with him or the life they’d begun building before she abruptly left him for Italy.

When a massive earthquake strikes Messina, Sicily, claiming the lives of thousands, Clare and Emmett must set aside their mutual misgivings about their marriage in order to survive and lend a helping hand to others. But in the wake of the destruction, they begin to realize they’ve been given a chance to decide if their love is stronger than the upheavals of the past.

Among Sand and Sunrise (coming October 2019)

Enter the contest and don't miss the other blogs on this tour:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog tour schedule:
April 22nd - Heidi Reads
April 23rd - Peggy Urry

Visit Stacy Henrie on Amazon or Facebook. Be sure to follow her to stay up-to-date on new projects.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Will You Do Something Part 2

More information on preventing sex trafficking with a huge thank you to Ashleigh Becker at SelaDesigns and her work in this fight.

She says:

Just a quick recap: We talked about how good kids end up getting trafficked too and what parents can do to keep their kids safe. This week I want to highlight kids that are high-risk and prime candidates that traffickers seek out.

On Monday, I listened a seasoned detective speak for more than two hours about sex trafficking in the county next to mine. She has more than 10 years of experience working in this area and had countless heartbreaking stories. 

From the time I sat down until the time we walked out of the meeting, my pen never left the paper. The information was so overwhelming I knew I needed to write it down in order to process it more fully later.

My husband looked at me and said, "Boil it down to two highlights. What would they be?" And here's what I said:
  1. I heard the ages 13, 14, and 15 over and over and over again.
  2. A trafficker will spend up to 2 years pursuing and grooming a victim because he can sell her 10-30 times per night and 80% of the time that starts on social media.
Those are the two things I still remain stunned by. 

Let's talk about traffickers for a minute:
  • Many are good looking, charismatic, articulate, muscular and appear to be "nice".
  • Can be men or women. Women traffickers are typically the meanest type. 
  • They have honed a skill and are very good at it.
  • Everything boils down to control over the victim and here's how they get it:
    •  DRUGS - many victims are shot up against their will and then forced to reach a    quota in order to get the drugs their bodies crave
    • Physical violence 
    • Threats to hurt their loved ones
    • Debt bondage
  • Sometimes it's a family business. Boys are raised to believe girls are sex objects that should be sold. Girls are raised to believe they are only good for sex. It is a culture. 
Now, let's talk about high-risk victims:
  • Boys are underrepresented and get trafficked too
  • Runaways and homeless kids are an easy target
  • People looking for freedom in America or from their family
  • Disabled people
  • People with mental health issues
  • Undocumented people (this is especially true in labor trafficking situations as well)
  • People with addiction issues - recruiting often happens at NA & AA facilities and rehab clinics
  • Prior trauma or abuse create vulnerability
  • Anyone labelled a "trouble maker" by society
There's a motto among traffickers, "Promise her heaven. Take her to hell."And that is exactly what traffickers do: promise victims everything they ever wanted, give them a little of it to make it feel real and then take them to hell.

I know this is heavy. I know these words are difficult to read. I know that maybe you don't want to know anymore, but friend, please don't turn away. 

Take the anger, hurt and pain you feel and let it fire you up to raise awareness and be a light in the darkness. What to be a part of the solution? Here's what you can do:
  1. Know a kid that falls in 1 or more of those high-risk categories? Be their place of safety, the adult they can trust to love them no matter what. 
  2. Volunteer at organizations like Big Brothers, Big Sisters who are working to create safety for at-risk teens. 77% of kids in foster care will be trafficked.
  3.  Educate every young person you know about the dangers of putting too much information on social media. Urge them to use private profiles and skip the hashtags.
  4. Keep your eyes open - be aware of people around you. If you see a man in a gas station with multiple young girls who won't look up, seem overly submissive or look malnourished CALL THE POLICE. If you see something that doesn't look or feel right, it probably isn't. If you are wrong no one gets hurt. If you are right, a life gets saved. 
This is a fight worth fighting. You know what the solution is? IT'S YOU! You and I are the solution to this crisis. Just having this knowledge is great, but doing something with it will change our communities.

Thank you for being a voice for the hopeless and defending the cause of the most vulnerable. 

Me: I hope this is something you will take seriously, that you will talk to your children/grandchildren about. It's an ugly topic, but kids need to know how to protect themselves. 

Customer Service

Not our electric car, but probably goes farther. (and the people are much cuter) Recently  had an experience that was a little harrowing...