Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium


This past Sunday we spent a WONDERFUL day at the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium. It was our first time visiting the zoo and we were thrilled that we went! It was neat to ride an elevator up the entrance, which was more than perfect for me and my flip-flop loving self.  We were able to visit with every animal except for one very important new addition: the baby elephant. I think everyone at the zoo wanted to see her because she is ADORABLE and the line was super long! (Click HERE to view pics of the little one)

My favorite exhibits were the Gorilla who was having his lunch (broccoli!) and the Siamangs at The Islands. Those guys had me laughing SO hard with their extremely loud and quite lyrical screeching. Loud enough that even as we were making our way to the world’s largest rodent, the Capybara, we could still hear them!

The Aquarium was fabulous and walking through it was a delightful reprieve from the scorching heat. I just love it when stingrays press against the glass and you see their “faces!” My son was really excited to walk beneath the polar bear exhibit where the walls are glass, giving visibility of the bear splashing around. The penguins were also a hit putting on quite the show themselves, swimming along the enclosure close to their admirers.

Photos taken at the zoo! (Click to enlarge)

At the end of the day, I must say Pittsburgh Zoo is now a family favorite among ours – hands down. Also, if you have youngsters, the play area was phenomenal. Definitely a spot for parents to take a second and catch their breath! If you want to plan your own trip, visit: http://pittsburghzoo.org/ for additional information.

Do you enjoy the zoo? Have a favorite animal? Like a place in particular? Let me know in the comment section. I’d love to hear from you!

Connect with Pittsburgh Zoo on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

We were given complimentary tickets from Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. All opinions are solely our own.

The Accidental Amish Author By Alison Stone (Plus Giveaway)


When I decided I wanted to write romantic suspense, I never imagined I’d end up being the author of nine (and counting!) Amish books. My first attempts at getting published involved regular folks in suspenseful situations. My writing had captured the attention of an editor at Harlequin, but couldn’t get past the senior editor. I had almost given up on my dream of becoming a published author.

I attended the Romance Writers of America conference in NYC several years ago. I went to a Harlequin workshop where an editor announced that she’d like to see more Amish suspense. Hmm? Amish?

My wheels started turning. I remembered the first time I had ever seen an Amish man with his horse and buggy when I was a little kid. My dad explained to me how they lived. No electricity. No cars? Really? A little part of me thought my dad—who had the greatest sense of humor—was pulling my leg. I couldn’t imagine life without Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley, my favorite TV shows at the time.

The Harlequin editor’s request for Amish stories stuck with me. Before I flew home from NYC, I had an idea. What if a plane crashed on an Amish farm? I loved the idea of two worlds colliding. I arrived home, ordered some Amish books, both fiction and nonfiction, and I continued my research by traveling to a growing Amish community in the Conewango Valley, south of my home near Buffalo, NY. (Again, who knew?) The plane crash idea eventually morphed into PLAIN PURSUIT and was released by Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense in 2013.

My Amish books generally have a non-Amish hero and heroine who live and work among the Amish. The Amish community plays a key roll in the story. It’s challenging—and fun—to find unique ways to set murder and mayhem, combined with a sweet romance, against the backdrop of the (usually) peaceful Amish countryside.

Since then, I have written a total of eight Amish suspense stories for Harlequin. I have also released PLAIN OBSESSION, currently available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. The reader appetite for Amish stories has not seemed to dim and I look forward to writing more books.

Here’s the blurb for PLAIN OBSESSION:

Staying safe in Amish country shouldn’t be this hard.

When a close friend is murdered in her NYC apartment, Violet Jackson fears the worst—her childhood stalker has returned. But there’s no evidence she had a stalker, then or now, and no one believes her. Plagued by panic attacks, Violet returns to her mother’s country estate in Hunters Ridge, a quiet Amish community, where she had found her center years earlier.

Bad boy Theo Cooper got the discipline he needed in the army and a dose of reality when his dad got sick. Now, back in Hunters Ridge, he’s running the family’s lumberyard and stepping up to be a father to his young son.

When Violet shows up in Hunters Ridge, Theo can’t believe his good fortune. He always regretted how their budding romance in high school—however unlikely—had imploded the night of senior prom. But Violet’s not interested in romance. She’s determined to get over her anxiety and return to her life in New York. When Violet becomes the target of an apparent stalker, Theo’s protective instincts make him determined to defend the woman he’s beginning to love, even if it means risking the life he’s built in Hunters Ridge—and his carefully guarded heart.

Here’s the Amazon buy link if you’re interested in PLAIN OBSESSION: http://amzn.to/2sLxGbN

I’d love to hear why you love Amish fiction. I’ll give away a print copy of the re-release of my very first book with Harlequin, PLAIN PURSUIT to one random person who comments. It’s paired with the talented, Patricia Davids’ THE AMISH MIDWIFE.

Thanks for inviting me to stop by today. I look forward to hearing your comments.

Winner will be selected at random and announced on Tuesday, July 25th. *Giveaway starts today, Monday, July 17th and ends Monday, July 24th and is only open to US residents*

About the author:

Alison Stone discovered her love of writing after leaving a corporate engineering job to raise four children.

Constantly battling the siren call of social media, Alison blocks the Internet and hides her smartphone in order to write fast-paced books filled with suspense and romance.

Married for almost twenty-five years, Alison lives in Western New York, where the summers are gorgeous and the winters are perfect for curling up with a book—or writing one.

Go to her website at AlisonStone.com to find all her links to social media and a list of all her books.

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Abiding Mercy: Review by Susan Scott Ferrell

Abiding Mercy – A Serious Page-Turner!

When I saw the cover for Ruth Reid’s latest release, Abiding Mercy, I was giddy. Reid knows how to tell a story and I could not wait to see where she was taking her readers with her new Amish Mercies series.

Abiding Mercy follows the life of Faith Pinkham. Faith is a dutiful 16-year-old maedel. She wants nothing more than to be baptized and be a full member of her Amish community. She works hard at her family’s restaurant – even though she and her sister Olivia are less than bosom buddies. And she adores her friend Gideon – who is taken with Olivia. But when a newspaper runs an article about a missing child – kidnapped 15 years earlier – Faith’s world becomes less than predictable.

I was given Abiding Mercy in exchange for my honest review. It was terrific and I couldn’t flip through the pages fast enough. I was thoroughly invested in every character Reid brought to the pages. The ending was a bit rushed, but the novel is a serious page-turner. Grab your copy today!

Susan Ferrell and her husband make their home in the Atlanta Metro area. Although Susan struggles with chronic migraine headaches, she stays very busy as a stay-at-home mom to one very precocious little girl. While catching her breath, she feeds her Amishaholic tendencies by reading vast amounts of Amish literature!

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