Friday 31 October 2014

Book ~ "The Lodge on Holly Road" (2014) Sheila Roberts

From Goodreads ~ James Claussen has played Santa for years but now that he's a widower, he's lost interest - in everything. So his daughter, Brooke, kidnaps him from the mall (in his Santa suit!) and takes him to Icicle Falls. She's arranged a special Christmas at the lodge owned by long-widowed Olivia Wallace and her son, Eric. And yet … Brooke wants Dad to be happy but she's not ready to see someone else's mommy kissing Santa Claus. 

Single mom Missy Monroe brings her kids to the lodge too. Lalla wants a grandma for Christmas and her brother, Carlos, wants a dog. Missy can't provide either one. What she'd like is an attractive, dependable man. A man like John Truman.  But John's girlfriend will be joining him in Icicle Falls and he's going to propose. 

Of course, not everything goes as planned. But sometimes the best gifts are the ones you don't expect!

It's Christmas time and there's no better place to spend it than at Icicle Creek Lodge.  James is still recovering from the death of his wife last year so Dylan and Brooke, his son and daughter, surprise him and take him to the lodge for the holidays.  Missy is a hair stylist and single mother of two young kids.  She's been saving all year to give her kids a fun Christmas.  John has a special surprise for his girlfriend, Holland.  He's going to propose to her at the inn ... if she ever shows up.  And taking care of everyone is Olivia, the owner of the inn, and her son, Eric.

This is the fifth book I've read by this author (and the fourth in the Icicle Falls series that I've read) and I liked it.  Written in third person perspective, the focus shifts among the characters and you get to know what they are thinking.  I liked the writing style and found it was easy to read.  As a head's up, there is some mild swearing.

I liked the characters.  Olivia has been widowed for many years and would like to find someone.  Eric too is ready to settle down but there's not a lot of options given they live in a small town.  James is still grieving the loss of his wife but he and Olivia discover there is a spark between them.  Brooke is a teacher and she too is looking for love.  I found her reaction to James and Olivia's attraction a bit extreme and she wasn't likeable until towards the end.  Missy and John are attracted to each other but he has plans to propose to super-bitch Holland (everyone but him realizes that she's not a nice person).  Needless to say, everything works out in the end.

I'd recommend this book if you are looking for a nice "feel good" story.  As a bonus, Olivia shares some of her recipes with you at the end of the book.

Ruby's Dinette, Las Vegas, NV

I was heading home from Las Vegas today and had lunch at Ruby's Dinette at the airport.

You order at the counter, are given a number and then you sit down.  Servers (mostly older women) who are dressed in old-school diner outfits deliver your food to you.  I ordered the Rubyburger combo and a chocolate milkshake (it seemed like the kind of place to have one).

Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, NV

I arrived at Caesars Palace on Saturday and am heading home today.  A client of mine had their sales convention here this week and I was in a booth in their tradeshow.  I stayed an extra day (yesterday) to do some exploring as I'd never been here before.

Caesars Palace is a AAA, Four Diamond luxury hotel and casino located on the Las Vegas Strip, between the Bellagio and the Mirage. The hotel has 3,960 rooms in six towers: Augustus, Nobu, Roman, Palace, Octavius and Forum (I was in the Forum tower).  It's a HUGE space and I initially found myself overwhelmed when I arrived.  But once I got my bearings and figured out where everything was I was okay.

The man himself!

Thursday 30 October 2014

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, Las Vegas, NV

I had supper tonight at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville.  It seemed like a fun place ... and it was.

There is music constantly going along with videos.

The Neon Museum, Las Vegas, NV

I went to the Neon Museum this afternoon.  They give hour tours for $18.

The nearly two-acre campus includes an outdoor exhibition space, known as the Boneyard, which features more than 150 signs, four of which are restored, a visitors' center housed inside the former La Concha Motel lobby and the Neon Boneyard North Gallery which houses additional rescued signs and is used for weddings, special events, photo shoots and educational programs.

Important historical pieces in the boneyard include the signage from old casinos and businesses including the Moulin Rouge Hotel, the Stardust, Desert Inn and Caesars Palace as well as many others. Not just neon signage, the museum also houses fiberglass sculptures including a giant skull from the Treasure Island among others.

It was a fun and interesting tour and I'd recommend it.  There were sooooo many old signage from days gone by in every shape, design and colour.  We were led around a circular path with a couple paths going through the middle.

Guy was our guide and he was knowledgeable and funny.  He gave us a lot of the history and information about many of the signage.

It was 27C/81F ... the umbrella was handy

Heart Attack Grill, Las Vegas, NV

I had lunch today at Heart Attack Grill on Fremont Street.

Wine is served in a morphine drip bag

Fremont Street Experience, Las Vegas, NV

This morning I took the bus downtown and checked out the Fremont Street Experience, which is a pedestrian mall and attraction and occupies the westernmost five blocks of Fremont Street.

Fremont Street had Las Vegas' first hotel (the Hotel Nevada in 1906, present day Golden Gate), first telephone (1907),  first paved street (1925), first Nevada gaming license (issued to the Northern Club) first traffic light, first elevator (the Apache Hotel in 1932) and the first high-rise (the Fremont Hotel in 1956). The Horseshoe was the first casino to install carpeting, while the Golden Nugget was the first structure designed from the ground up to be a casino.

For many years, the western end of Fremont Street was the area most commonly portrayed whenever producers wanted to display the lights of Las Vegas.  By 1992, 80% of the Las Vegas casino market was on the Strip. Downtown Las Vegas hotels and casinos sought to build an attraction that would lure more visitors to their businesses.  In addition to casinos and restaurants/bars, there are lots of stores if you are looking for souvenirs, sunglasses, hats, jewelry, etc.

The free Viva Vision light shows (the Viva Vision canopy is the world’s largest video screen) at night are apparently amazing!

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Cirque du Soleil's "O", Bellagio, Las Vegas, NV

I have been at a client's convention all week in Las Vegas as part of their tradeshow.  Today was the last day and they finished the convention by taking everyone to see Cirque du Soleil's O.

O is a water-themed stage production.  The show has been in permanent residence at the Bellagio in Las Vegas since October 1998. O, whose name is pronounced the same way as eau, the French word for "water", takes place in, around and above a 1.5-million-US-gallon pool of water, featuring water acts such as synchronized swimming as well as aerial and ground acts. The O Theatre, which is designed to look similar to a 14th-century European opera house, has 1,800 seats, thus allowing the performance to be watched by 3,600 people a night since the performance usually plays twice in a given day, also designed to meet the special demands of the show.

The ceiling ... and yes, someone spun down from it

Fix Restaurant & Bar, Las Vegas, NV

I had a ticket to see Cirque du Soleil's O this evening, which is at the Bellagio. 

I had supper at Fix Restaurant & Bar, which is also in the Bellagio.

Book ~ "Blond Cargo" (2014) John Lansing

From Goodreads ~ Jack’s son, Chris, was the victim of a brutal murder attempt and Vincent Cardona, a mafia boss, provided information that helped Jack take down the perpetrator of the crime. Jack accepted the favor knowing there’d be blowback.

In “Blond Cargo,” the mobster’s daughter has gone missing and Cardona turned in his chit. Jack discovers that the young, blond, mafia princess has been kidnapped and imprisoned while rich, politically connected men negotiate her value as a sex slave.

Jack, a former cop, is now a private detective.  Vincent Cardona, a mafia boss, helped Jack out when his son, Chris, was hit by a car and now Vincent is calling in the debt.  His daughter, Angelica, has disappeared and Vincent wants Jack to find her.  Two other women who resemble Angelica have turned up dead and Jack hopes he can find Angelica before she ends up with the same fate.  As Jack investigates, he suspects she may have been been kidnapped to be sold as a sex slave and everyone from the mayor, a cardinal, a land developer and a shah may be involved.

In the meantime in his personal life, he is having problems with his girlfriend, Leslie, and he is concerned about his son, Chris.

This is the second book I've read by this author ... it is the second in the Jack Bertolino series (I'd read the first one last year).  You don't have to have read the first one to read this one as it works well as a standalone.

It was an interesting story.  Though I liked the the writing style, I thought it could have been a bit tighter.  There was lots of action and never a dull moment.  It is written in third person, with the focus shifting depending on what was going on.  As a head's up, there is swearing and adult situations.

I liked Jack ... he was a good guy.  I found that there were a lot of characters, though.  I had a hard time keeping them straight sometimes.

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Book ~ "The Unforgivable Fix" (2014) T.E. Woods

From Goodreads ~ Detective Mort Grant of the Seattle PD has finally decided to sell. The home where he and his late wife raised two kids feels too large and too full of old memories. His son is married and raising a family of his own, and despite desperate efforts to find her, Mort has lost touch with his wayward daughter. That is, until the day she walks back into her childhood home and begs for his help.

For the last four years, Allie Grant has been the lover - and confidante, confessor, and counselor - of one of the world’s most powerful and deadly men. But a sudden, rash move has put Allie in the crosshairs of a ruthless Russian crime lord. Mort knows of only one place where Allie will be safe: with The Fixer.

As a hired desperado, The Fixer has killed twenty-three people - and Mort was complicit in her escape from the law. She has built an impregnable house, stocked it with state-of-the-art gear, armed it to the teeth, and locked herself away from the world. But even The Fixer may not be able to get justice for Allie when real evil comes knocking.

Allie took off years ago and has been living with Patrick, a drug kingpin. Patrick does something stupid and, scared of the retaliation against her, Allie returns home to seek protection from her father, Mort, who is a police detective.  Mort asks Lydia, a therapist, to let Allie stay with her.  Lydia was once "The Fixer" ... you could hire her to fix situations.  Against her better judgement and her dislike of Allie, Lydia lets her move into her home.

In the meantime, Lydia returns to her practice and starts taking on new clients.  She also agrees to taken on an intern named Zack to help him get the practice he needs.  Things get complicated when a cop starts investigating the treatment of some of their patients.

This is the third book I've read by this author and the third in the Mort Grant series (I've read all three) ... I liked it.  Though it is part of a series, it can be read as a stand alone as there is enough information provided.  It's written in third person perspective and had more of a focus on Lydia.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

I've like Mort in all three books.  He's a good cop and despite that fact Allie knew what she was doing by hooking up with Patrick, he still welcomed her back as if nothing had happened.  I didn't find Allie likeable at all ... she was extremely manipulative and definitely a survivor.  I found Lydia to be less cold in this book and liked her more than in the last one.

Monday 27 October 2014

Tilted Kilt Pub and Eatery, Las Vegas, NV

I had a long tiring day and felt like going to a pub ... I had a late supper at the Tilted Kilt Pub and Eatery.

There were lots of TVs (with sports) and the tunes were loud and good.

Book ~ "A Letter to My Cat: Notes to Our Best Friends" (2014) Lisa Erspamer

From Goodreads ~ Alluring, elusive, mysterious - the cats in our lives are not always easy to get to know. But as with all pets, they have unique personalities and stories to tell. 

Alongside beautiful four-color photos of their cats, A Letter to My Cat collects personal letters from celebrities offering love and gratitude for all that their cats bring to their lives.

I love reading books about animals and this one sounded cute ... and it was.  If you are a cat lover, you have to check it out!

There are letters to their cats from various celebrities including Rosanna Arquette, Anne Burrell, Joe Perry, Dr. Oz, Gina Gershon, Paige Hemmis ("When life gets crappy, clean the litter box and move on."), Kathy Ireland, Lisa Ray, Stacy London and lots more.

The letters are loving and heartwarming ... they are definitely cat lovers!  The pictures of the cats are gorgeous (I copied these from the website).

Lauren and Gypsy
There is even a letter from Lauren Harper, the wife of our prime minister, to their cat, Gypsy ... here is a part of it:
"You were so thin my husband wondered if I'd brought you home to die.  He was concerned that our children would be left heartbroken.  But before long you even had the prime minister wrapped around your battered paw.

By the time your injuries healed and you began to gain weight, you'd become an integral part of our family.  I wish I would thank the Good Samaritans who rescued you.  They might be surprised to know that the prime minister fills your breakfast bowl.  And that you mingle with rock stars and presidents, philanthropists and though leaders, shedding on everyone equally, regardless of their wealth or stature.  Because of you, we always have a lint roller at the ready."