23 August, 2019

The Great Jewel Robbery by Elizabeth McKenna - [Book Review]

Book Details:

Book Title: The Great Jewel Robbery: A Front Page Mystery Book 1 by

Elizabeth McKenna

Category: Adult Fiction, 204 pages

Genre: Cozy mystery

Publisher: Elizabeth McKenna

Release date: May 28, 2019

Tour dates: August 19-30, 2019

Content Rating: PG-13 (There is no profanity. There is drinking, desire, and a kiss.)

Book Description:

Mystery with a splash of romance…Chicago Tribune reporters Emma and Grace have been best friends since college despite coming from different worlds. 

When Grace is assigned to cover an annual charity ball and auction being held at a lakeside mansion and her boyfriend bails on her, she brings Emma as her plus one. The night is going smoothly until Emma finds the host’s brother unconscious in the study. Though at first it is thought he was tipsy and stumbled, it soon becomes clear more is afoot, as the wall safe is empty and a three-million-dollar diamond necklace is missing. 

With visions of becoming ace investigative journalists, Emma and Grace set out to solve the mystery, much to the chagrin of the handsome local detective.

To read more reviews, please visit Elizabeth McKenna's page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

My Review:

The first thing that caught my attention is the book cover. It's amazing. Very well designed and attractive.

The story is about the jewel robbery in a posh party and the investigation. While Emma, a journalist has to attend a charity auction event with Grace as plus one, things take a different turn when they realize that the jewelry set for auction is stolen.

Since their host Ivy is dear to both Grace and Emma, they decide to take the investigation in their hands. 

This is not a crime thriller or a mystery novel. I felt it is a light read. The plot, the mystery, and the backdrop are fine but it is more of a casual read than a thriller. 

Emma Moore is a fun character, a no-nonsense girl who doesn't take no for an answer. She is brave and intelligent. Even though Emma and Grace couldn't find any clue till the last minute, they use their social skills to talk to guests and get the insider information about family and the event.

Detective O'Mara is an attractive and interesting character. The plot, the motive behind the crime look reasonable but all the plan revealed by the same person is quite boring instead of someone finding out the details.

I would recommend this to readers who love women fiction and casual reads.

My Rating: 3.5/5

PS: I have received a review copy from iread book tours in exchange for a review and this is my honest opinion on the book.

Meet the Author: 

Elizabeth McKenna’s love of books reaches back to her childhood, where her tastes ranged from Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to Stephen King’s horror stories. She had never read a romance novel until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene). She combined her love of history, romance, and a happy ending to write the historical romance novels Cera’s Place and Venice in the Moonlight. Her contemporary romance novel, First Crush Last Love, is loosely based on her life (she eventually married her first crush)

The Great Jewel Robbery is her debut cozy mystery, and she hopes readers will like it as much as they have enjoyed her romances. Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a sassy Labrador. When she isn’t writing, working, or being a mom, she’s sleeping.

Connect with the author: Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

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Ends Sept 6, 2019

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Until Next Time,

15 August, 2019

Sky watch #wordlesswednesday

The cotton candy sky

Can I catch the clouds?

Linking this to #wordlesswednesday hosted by Natasha and Esha.

Until next time,

02 August, 2019

Outside my window #WordsMatter

Outside my window? Thanks to the beautiful nature, I get to see a lot outside my window. Every season changes the scenery but all amaze me equally.

By the way, I reside in a beautiful mountain town called "Colorado Springs " in USA. I get to see mountains every day from our window. How cool is that!

Being from a tropical country near equator, I haven't experienced snow in my life until I reached 28 years. So, I love watching mountains covered with snow. It gives me a feeling that the nature is so pure and Iam grateful to be able to experience it.

If you have assumed the above pic is a wallpaper,  you are mistaken.  Ofcourse, the photo is stylized by Google photos, but this is the real view.

Gorge on the views of snow peaked mountains!

When schools start for my kids, I won't get much time to cherish the beauty of nature but I dream of sipping coffee by the window-side , reading a good thriller any morning without worrying about preparing breakfast. It's not often that these kind of dreams come true,  sigh!

Our duckies also enjoy the window-side!

Weather is not always awesome here. A snow blizzard like this might blind our view sometimes.

This means no school on that day. Opportunity to sleep more 🙂

This also means, we have to clean our car for 15 mins scraping the snow and turning on heaters until hands come back to normal after freezing with cold.

You see! Nature can show it's both sides.

Now, it's summer! The view is completely different. I don't have a picture though to show you. The mountains turned green with trees now. A good sight!

What do you see outside your window? Anything interesting? Do share in comments.

Until next time,

I received this tag from Pragun at https://praguntatwa.com/.
 It’s my pleasure to pass on this tag to Holly at https://jahangiri.us/2017

There are 47 of us on this Blog Hop and it will be spread over 3 days – 2, 3, 4 August. Do follow the #WordsMatter Blog Hop and prepare to be surprised! 

#WordsMatter is the monthly blog hop hosted by CorinneShaliniR  and Parul

28 July, 2019

Attractions near Spearfish canyon and Badlands national park #SouthDakotatrip

We visited the beautiful Spearfish Canyon and unique Badlands National park on the second day of our South Dakota Road Trip. Here is the Travelogue of Day 1 if you haven't read earlier. 

Our day started with a drive to Spearfish Canyon after breakfast from Rapid city. The drive is just 45 mins from Rapid city passing through a historic town 'Deadwood'. 

We didn't stop at Deadwood, but if you have time, I would recommend that. You can watch some entertaining shows going on in the town about the wild west past. The Tatanka Bison Sculptures are a good attraction too.

The drive through the 22-mile Spearfish Canyon national scenic byway is well worth it. There is no entry fee to access this scenic byway.

Bridal Veil Falls :

Within 10- 15 mins from Spearfish, you will come across the 60 ft waterfall, the Bridalveil Falls. This can be seen from the road itself and there is a parking area to stop and take photos too. 

The best time of the year to watch waterfalls in full flow is spring / early summer. We visited in July and the waterfall was good.

Bridal Veil Falls

RoughLock Falls :

The trail to Roughlock falls is an easy 2 mile (round -trip) which starts near the Parking area at Spearfish canyon lodge. The trail is paved and we enjoyed the scenery on the way and the beautiful waterfalls. This trail is good to go with kids. 

Roughlock Falls

Spearfish Falls :

Spearfish Falls is a 47ft waterfall with just a 3/4 mile loop trail. If you don't have time to visit much, I would suggest not to miss this trail. 

The trail to this waterfalls (also called Little Spearfish falls) starts at Latchstring Inn parking area. The path to the trail is beautiful with a lot of flowers and tall trees. The waterfalls are great with gushing water and there are good spots for photos. 

Spearfish Falls

We couldn't find the location of Community caves in our GPS properly, so we had to miss that. From other blogs, I realized later that it's at mile marker 13 and it's difficult to spot it. 

After covering Spearfish Canyon, we drove straight to Badlands National Park. 

Badlands National Park :

Badlands National Park is unique, vast and fascinating. We entered the Park through Pinnacles Entrance. The entry is $25/ vehicle valid for 7 days.

The park got it's name from Lakota tribe who referred this place as 'mako sica' or land bad. Since these lands are arid, black, without water, with rugged terrain exposed to extreme temperatures,  they got this name.

In the afternoon, temperatures usually reach 92 F in summers and so, sunglass, sunscreen, and hat are mandatory. I think, entering the park from Ben Reifel Visitor center might have been good. 

Prairie Grasslands in Badlands

Driving through highway 240 Loop road will take around an hour. There are many overlooks on the way to stop by.

Badlands Loop

I loved the bright colors of 'Yellow Mound Overlook'. Pinnacles Overlook is good to view Sunset/ Sun rise. Big Badlands Overlook, White river Valley overlook and Panorama point Overlook are good for photos. Conata Basin Overlook is popular to watch Sunset.

There are many short trails near the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. The 0.25-mile Window trail which leads to the Badlands wall is an easy trail to do with kids. Door Trail also is an easy 0.75 miles round trip.  

Wall Drug Store :

After Badlands National Park, we drove to 'Wall Drug' store which is 15 mins drive. This place is really worth if you are visiting with kids. Though the Wall drug is famous for it's 5 cent Coffee and free cool water, my kids loved the life-size robot T-Rex, Amazing! 

Wall Drug

We enjoyed the homemade ice cream, donuts and kids loved playing in the splash pad and climbing on horse and bunny sculptures. We took a lot of fun photos, did some shopping and relaxed a bit before driving back to Rapid City. 

Wild West theme in Wall Drug

That's how we ended our Day 2 and relaxed in our hotel swimming pool after dinner in Rapid city. 

So, How did you like my travelogue? Please do let me know in comments.

My Day 3 travelogue will be up in my blog soon. Please stay tuned. 

Until Next time,

26 July, 2019

Beautiful flowers #wordlesswednesday

The beautiful flowers that bloomed last summer.

Linking this to #wordlesswednesday hosted by Natasha and Esha.

21 July, 2019

Best Places to Visit in Rapid City #SouthDakotatrip

Hope you have read my earlier post on how to plan a South Dakota Family trip with kids. That post will help you to finalize on places to visit and decide on the itinerary. This post explains the detailed itinerary of Day 1 of our South Dakota trip which includes the best places to visit in Rapid City.

Rapid City is the second-most populous city in South Dakota. I haven't seen such a city centered around multiple tourist places before. There are many places to engage tourists of all ages. Keeping our kids in mind, we planned to visit Dinosaur Park and Story Book Island first. Since we took accommodation in Rapid city, all the places are within half an hour distance from us.

Dinosaur Park which is on the beautiful Skyline drive has many towering Life-size dinosaurs. There is no entry fee to the park and it has around 6 dinosaur sculptures as far as I remember. Kids will love this attraction for sure. 

The Park also has a gift shop and eatery on the overview deck. Kids can also climb on the dinosaurs and read some information about each type of Dinosaur.

Dinosaur Park

Story Book Island is a beautiful Children's park with multiple themes set up as per Children's stories. This is also a free attraction and kids will enjoy for sure. They can see all models of animals like Bears and bunnies, different vehicles, ships, fountains, castle, carousel rides and what not! 

Story Book Island - Humpty Dumpty Rhyme

Story Book Island

Our next stop was to Chapel in the Hills. This Chapel is the exact replica of chapel - The Borgund Stavkirke of Laerdal, Norway built-in 1969. The architecture is great and every small detail of the wooden carving is amazing. This is also a free attraction open to the public which is worth a visit. There is a small gift shop called 'Stabbur', a museum and a meditation trail / Prayer walk.

Custer State Park is one of the largest national parks in the USA with almost 2 million visitors enjoying the park every year. There are multiple Campgrounds and Resorts inside the park. This park is famous for 3 scenic drives - The Needles Highway, Iron mountain road and Wildlife loop. The entry is $15 per vehicle.

Tunnel in Custer State Park
Needle-like Rock Formations

The Needles Highway is a 14-mile drive through the forest where we can spot Needle-like granite formations, narrow tunnels, and fantastic views. The drive will take around an hour and Sylvan Lake trail at the end of the highway is a must-visit. Sylvan Lake is beautifully surrounded by mountains with rocks in the middle. 

Sylvan Lake

Iron Mountain Road is a winding road of 18-miles with beautiful Black Hills scenery, many pigtail bridges, and tunnels. I enjoyed the drive through pig-tail bridges as I haven't seen these kinds of bridges before. One part of the road is on very high altitude and we had to drive through thick fog. The experience was frightening yet wonderful.

We couldn't cover Wild-life loop but If you want to watch Buffalos, Bighorn sheep, Mountain goats, Elk, Coyotes etc., take this drive for sure. It is an 18-mile drive which might take 1 hr. 

These 3 scenic drives together are called 'Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway'.  The hike to Mount Coolidge Fire tower is fantastic to watch Sunrise. You can try Bison Burger in one of the lodges and paddle at one of the four lakes in the park. 

Our last stop for the day is the famous Mt. Rushmore Memorial. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum carved the 4 United States Presidents faces with the help of 400 workers from 1927 to 1941, which is famous now with more than 3 million visitors visiting each year. Take a picture at Borglum View terrace which gives a good view of the Memorial, then walk the Presidential trail and visit the Sculptor's studio. We have also tasted the Thomas Jefferson's favorite Ice cream flavor. 

Mt Rushmore Memorial

Presidential Trail takes some time when walking with kids on stairs but I recommend it to have a close look at each President's face - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

There is no entry fee to the Mt.Rushmore memorial but there is a parking fee of $10 per vehicle.  

A few other places which we couldn't cover in Rapid City and I suggest you visit are - Cosmos Mystery Area, Reptile Gardens, Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave, and Mt. Rushmore Cave

So, You see? There is a lot to visit in and around Rapid City. 

That's our Day 1 Itinerary. The next day we covered Spearfish Canyon, Badlands National park and Wall Drug store. Day 2 Itinerary is coming soon. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, feel free to follow my social media handles to get my latest updates and travelogues.

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/fantasticfeathers.in
Twitter : https://www.twitter.com/mahathi_ramya
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/mahathiramya/

Until next time,

19 July, 2019

My Gratitude list for June 2019 #GratitudeCircle

June is my birthday month and so, it is always special. It's exactly one year ago that I was in India for my birthday having darshan at Shirdi with my parents. I might not visit India this time again but those memories are still fresh in my mind.

I lost interest in celebrating my birthday after kids, but Mr.husband took this year's celebration to the next level and made it unforgettable. I have cut my birthday cake on Mt.Evans at an elevation of around 14k ft above sea level in the company of hail, fog, and rain.

Here is my gratitude list for June:

1. Travel

Last month I have visited Lake Dillon and did some great hikes around mt. Evans. With scenic beauty all around, my interest in hiking grew these days.

Though I am not still used to long hikes, I am trying. Lake Dillon was serene and our family enjoyed boating. The hike to Saphire point was an easy loop with great views. The hike to St. Mary's glacier was tough and I have seen the largest hail ever.

Read these lovely travelogues that I could post in June:

Idaho Springs, where the Gold Rush Began

The Innovative and Unique Castle 

2. Books

I could read many books in June. I completely stopped dance practice and wanted to rest, so had a lot of time to read books. I am thankful to God for that.

Wedding Shenganias by Adite Banerjie was a cool romantic read.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins was simply great. I enjoyed the mystery. 

My Kids loved "The Adventures of Tavish, Tractor". 

While "The Coven Murders", the crime thriller was Super, The Shiva's stone didn't meet my expectations.

3. Birthday

There is no great gift to me which is happier than travel. The drive to Mt.Evans was exceptional. Though the weather was very foggy, that was a different experience. We could see hail too. 

I am grateful to the sweet family that I have. 

4. Writing twice a week

I enjoyed writing regularly in June. I could write twice a week consistently. But, writing this post is becoming difficult with my sons fighting over every small thing. It's the summer holidays for them, now. 

This post that I wrote about tips to find our hidden talents garnered many views. 

I am grateful for having extra time for blogging and reading books in June.

So, that was about my June. How was yours?
Do let me know in comments.

Until next time,

Linking this to #GratitudeCircle hosted by Vidya Sury.

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