Monday, October 5, 2015

CD Review: Hold on: A Modern Tribute to the Music of Michael McLean 

CD Description:

Eric Robertson, a popular producer in Provo, has brought together an impressive list of talented vocalists to sing on new, fresh productions of classic Michael McLean songs. The vocalists include some of the top names from the burgeoning Provo music scene, including Elaine Bradley, from Neon Trees, and Ryan Innes, one of the top contestants on NBC's The Voice. Eric grew up listening to Michael McLean songs and still feels a strong connection to them. This album is an effort to pay tribute to those songs and produce them in a way that will speak to a younger generation of LDS youth. 

Track List:
  1. Hold On, the Light Will Come feat. Scott Shepard
  2. Give a Little Bit of Yourself feat. Catherine Leavy
  3. You're Not Alone feat. Andrew Langdon
  4. Gentle feat. Drew Danburry
  5. I Can't Do Everything feat. Brooke White of American Idol
  6. Homeless feat. Ryan Innes of The Voice
  7. You've Always Been There for Me feat. Elaine Bradley of Neon Trees
  8. Share the Joy feat. Severin Bozung
  9. Be the Joy feat. Eric Robertson
  10. Promise of Light feat. Adam and Darcie Sanders
Tarah's Review:

Back in the day when I dreamed about becoming a singer and being discovered one day (before I realized I can't sing...sad day...sad sad day), I would listen to Michael McLean's music and sing it over and over again. Good memories there :)

So, this CD you can't really tell what any of the song are, in relation to what Michael McLean wrote. However, I really enjoyed the techno feel to it. My kids were dancing around the living room, and since it is McLean music I don't have to worry about it being inappropriate (some of the lyrics are hard to understand). It's upbeat and happy. I don't know that I'd classify any of it as Modern, but just don't go into it expecting the old school stuff, and maybe appreciate some techno, and it's a fun CD. 
Andrea's Review:

I recently saw an interview with Michael McLean and Eric Robertson about this new album. I can't tell you the number of hours I spent as a teenager listening to Michael's music, so when I saw that he was flattered by this tribute, I was excited to listen to it. The first listen was a bit of a shocker with the techno feel and a few songs that were hard to recognize. Listening to the album more than once helps, but if you really liked the original songs, this modern tribute might not be for you.

Rorie's Review:

I have always love Michael McLean's music, so I was excited to get this CD and listen to it. Sadly, this modern tribute just doesn't compare to the original. I found the synthesizer-type music off-putting and definitely not modern. I think I will stick to the actual piano music done by Michael McLean himself. Hold on: A Modern Tribute to the Music of Michael McLean
Label: Shadow Mountain
Released: August 2015
Source: We received CDs in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Blog Tour: Lord Fenton's Folly by Josi Kilpack

Lord Fenton's Folly (1)
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 Lord Fenton's Folly by Josi Kilpack

Book Description:

Lord Fenton is a gambler, a dandy, and a flirt-and he must marry or else he will be disinherited, stripped of his wealth and his position. He chooses Alice Stanbridge for two simple reasons: he once knew her as a young girl, and she is the least objectionable option available to him. However, Alice has harbored feelings for Fenton since their first meeting ten years ago, and she believes his proposal is real. When she discovers it is not, she is embarrassed and hurt. However, a match with the most-eligible bachelor in London would secure not only her future but that of her family as well. Determined to protect herself from making a fool of herself a second time, Alice matches Lord Fenton wit for wit and insult for insult as they move toward a marriage of convenience that is anything but a happy union. Only when faced with family secrets that have shaped Fenton's life does he let down his guard enough to find room in his heart for Alice.


I've been really impressed with Shadow Mountain's Proper Romance line, and Lord Fenton's Folly is a great addition-I've already read it twice. There's plenty of romantic tension without the sex common in many romance novels.

Alice's story tugs at your heartstrings. When she discovers that Lord Fenton's proposal is without love, you can't help but feel sorry for her. The fact that she sticks with it to help her family is courageous. Her interactions with him really make for an entertaining story. Many of those interactions are also sad. The idea of marriage purely for convenience with one or both partners going elsewhere for love (or lust) sounds like it was fairly common.

Lord Fenton was a bit hard to take at times, but it was easier knowing that it was all a reaction due to his father's actions and there is much more to him inside. I enjoyed reading about his growth throughout the story.

If you like clean romance set in the Regency period, be sure to check out Lord Fenton's Folly and the other books in the Proper Romance line.

Fenton groaned and put his saucer back on the tray, making an instantaneous decision that eased his mind quite a lot. To look at every woman he met as a potential wife was irritating, and after only two weeks he was quite tired of it. Perhaps the solution was to orchestrate a match that would not lay all aspects of matrimony at his feet all at once. Perhaps treating it as a business arrangement would help it to be exactly that, thereby freeing him from all the discomfiting realities he was not yet prepared to face.

"I leave for Fentonview on Tuesday and shan't be back for a week. Courting is such a boring prospect, and you yourself said that to become infatuated with anyone might become a complication." He paused, considered one last time what he was going to say next, and decided he felt as good about it as could be expected. "You like Alice Stanbridge and feel she would make a good wife for me?"

Lady Chariton looked confused and perhaps a bit concerned. "I do, but-"

"Then that is good enough for me," Fenton said, rising to his feet and smiling broadly at his mother, who stared back at him in surprise. "I do find her appealing and what's more she is not a silly little thing without a practical thought in her head."

His mother's eyes widened and her eyebrows rose upon her forehead. Fenton struck a pose of consternation, with his thumb and forefinger on his chin as he looked toward the window a moment, then nodded crisply and turned back to his mother who still looked shocked by his pronouncement.

"Yes, I think that Alice Stanbridge is exactly what I should like in a wife, and so I shall see to it before I leave for Hampshire-I see no reason to wait until Michaelmas and might as well get it over with." He leaned in and kissed his mother's hand. "Thank you for your help, Mama. I shall let you know how she responds to my proposal."

About the Author:
JosiJosi S. Kilpack hated to read until her mother handed her a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond when she was 13. From that day forward, she read everything she could get her hands on and credits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then. She began writing her first novel in 1998 and never stopped. Sheep's Clothing won the Whitney award for Mystery/Suspense in 207 and Wedding Cake, book twelve in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery series won in 2014. Josi was also the Best of State winner in Fiction for 2012. Josi currently lives in Willard, Utah, with her husband, children and super-cute - but not very friendly - cat.

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Lord Fenton's FollyTitle: Lord Fenton's Folly
Author: Josi S. Kilpack
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Published: October 2015
ISBN: 1629720666
Source: I received an eCopy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle | Deseret Book

Friday, October 2, 2015

Book Review: Played for a Fool by Stephanie Black

Played for a Fool by Stephanie Black

Book Description: 

Three years ago, the small town of Britteridge was rocked by the senseless murder of Gail Ludlum. Now the people most affected by the tragedy have returned to the place where it all began, and the scene is set for the perfect revenge . . .

Megan O’Connor’s life was shattered when she was unwittingly drawn into a kidnapping plot that ultimately led to the murder of an innocent woman. Though the road to redemption has been long, she’s finally found happiness with her recent engagement to a wonderful man, a pillar of the community. But amid the chaos of wedding planning, the return of Gail Ludlum’s son to Britteridge sets in motion a disturbing sequence of events. Soon Megan finds herself the victim of a series of cruel deceptions that indicate one thing: her past mistakes have not been forgiven or forgotten. As the mischief escalates to dangerous levels, it becomes clear that someone is determined to avenge Gail’s death. And he won’t rest until he’s taken a life for a life.


This was one of those books that I didn't want to put down, and frequently found the extra time to sneak in just a bit more reading. I wasn't aware that this was the second book in a series, but for the most part this book stands on its own well. The only time I felt like I was missing something was when the murder was brought up and it seemed like I should know what happened but missed it somehow. My curiosity is piqued though, so now I need to go read the first book, "Fool Me Twice."

The author brings all of the characters to life really well - boy, I would not want to get on the bad side of the main bad guy! I even felt just a little bit bad for one of the other bad guys, but not enough to want him to get away. :)

Tour Schedule:

Tour Giveaway:

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 Title: Played for a Fool
Author: Stephanie Black
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Published: Sept 2015
ISBN: 1680476505
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.  Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book

Thursday, October 1, 2015

CD Review: My Home Can Be a Holy Place by Jenny Oaks Baker

My Home Can Be a Holy Place by Jenny Oaks Baker

CD Description:

From one of the world's premier violinists comes a new collection of beautiful songs celebrating family and motherhood. The album features classic hymns, such as "Love at Home" and "I Am a Child of God," stunning classical arrangements, including Brahms's "Cradle Song," and beloved children's tunes. The gorgeous track "Love Is Spoken Here" features Jenny performing with all four of her children, ages eleven and younger.

Track list:

  • Love at Home
  • Jesus Once Was a Little Child
  • Songs My Mother Taught Me
  • I Feel My Savior's Love
  • Brahms's Cradle Song
  • I Am a Child of God
  • Love Is Spoken Here

  • Rorie's Review:

    I have heard of Jenny Oaks Baker before, but for some reason, I thought she was a vocalist, so I was really surprised when I started listening to the CD and found that she is a violinist instead. Not that I minded, because I really, really enjoyed this CD. I don't even think I can pick a favorite song, because they were all really good. Definitely one that will go into my music rotation. 

    Tarah's Review:

    This is a really calming music CD. In fact, just last night my kids were extremely wound up and crazy right before bed. I decided to put on this CD, and the kids calmed down and were able to go to bed without much fuss.  I'd recommend it for some easy listening Sunday music, or calm the kids down and put them to bed music. I kind of see it as a lullaby CD.

    Andrea's Review:

    This instrumental CD is great background music, especially on a Sunday. I'll admit I was expecting singing to accompany most of the familiar songs (I suppose because I've rarely heard most of these songs without the lyrics), and the violin gives the songs a different feel than the piano (somewhat melancholy), so it was a different sound than I was expecting. But, it didn't take long to enjoy the songs. The CD is a little over 30 minutes long, so shuffle and repeat is a good way to listen to it.

    About Jenny Oaks Baker:

    Grammy Nominated Artist Jenny Oaks Baker is one of America's most accomplished violinists. She received her Master of Music degree from the renowned Juilliard School in New York City and her bachelor's degree in violin performance from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

    She has released twelve albums since 1998. They consistently chart on Billboard, including the #1 spot on the Top Classical Albums chart. Her album Wish Upon a Star earned a nomination for the 54th GRAMMY Awards for Best Pop Instrumental Album.

    Jenny Oaks Baker has performed as a soloist at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and with the Jerusalem Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Utah Symphony, and the internationally acclaimed Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Jenny performed as a first violinist with the National Symphony Orchestra for seven years before resigning to devote more time to her young family. Jenny and her husband Matthew have four children.

    Title: My Home Can Be a Holy Place
    Music Performed By: Jenny Oaks Baker
    Label: Shadow Mountain Records
    Released: September 2015
    ASIN: B00YJ1GZF0
    Source: We received CDs in exchange for a review.

    Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book


    Tuesday, September 29, 2015

    Book Review: No Place To Hide by Lynette Eason

    No Place to Hide (Hidden Identity, #3)

    Book Description:

    It's not every day you see your childhood friend and one-time crush on national news. Jackie Sellers just wishes it were under different circumstances. She can't believe that Ian Lockwood is wanted in connection with a terrorist plot, and she's determined to find him and help him clear his name. But she's not the only one looking. The FBI wants him captured. The bad guys want him dead. Ian just wants to stay alive long enough to save thousands of innocent lives.

    Lynette Eason throws readers right into the action from page one, propelling them along a dangerous road and asking the provocative question of how far we'd be willing to go if we were up against a wall.

    Book Review:

    I loved the suspense in this book. It was well paced and there was plenty of action going on. Lynette Eason does a great job of writing these in a way that is clean, but not cheesy and tacky.

    This is book three, but I haven't read the other two in this series and wasn't lost at all. So it is definitely a stand alone, but I will say that I'm intrigued enough to want to read the other two. Hopefully my library has them :)

    I was disappointed in the romance area. Don't get me wrong, it was clean, but it just wasn't working. There was too much backstory that was covered by the wrong people. Jackie tells her best friend the reasons why, but she never tells Ian. And he never asks, just accepts. She is always saying, "Not now" and then it just happens. It was weird. But, I did enjoy the fact that Jackie loved her dead husband. I've read other stories where the man loves the dead wife, but normally the dead husband was not a good man, so it was refreshing to me that she had a good relationship with him.

    If you like clean Christian Suspense Romance novels, I would definitely give Lynette Eason a try.

    No Place to Hide (Hidden Identity, #3)
    Title: No Place to Hide
    Author: Lynette Eason
    Publisher: Revell
    Published: May 2015
    ISBN: 0800722108
    Source: I received an eEopy from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

    Monday, September 28, 2015

    Movie review: The Cokeville Miracle

    Movie Description:

    On May 16, 1986, in the small, ranching community of Cokeville, Wyoming, David and Doris Young took an elementary school hostage for several hours before detonating a bomb inside a classroom that held every teacher and student in the school. In the wake of the madness, Ron Hartley, whose children were inside the classroom, must fight his skepticism and unbelief as he hears eyewitness accounts from the students about miraculous, heavenly intervention during the crisis. When tragedy strikes ... what do you see? 

    Rorie's Review:

    I don't remember hearing about this incident when I was growing up, even though it was only one state away. I'm sure it was because I was only 10 and in my own little world of friends and My Little Ponies and whatever else I was into back then.

    Not seeing a rating on the back of the DVD case, I debated whether it would be appropriate for my older kids to watch it with me, but then decided against it because of the subject matter. I'm glad that I chose to do that, as I think watching about kids being kept hostage in school might have been a bit too scary for them. (The movie is PG-13.)

    One thing that just amazed me during the movie was how willingly everyone just went into the classroom where the bad guys were, without even knowing the person telling them to go into that room. So very different from the world we live in today.

    I think the movie was well done and did a good job of telling the story in an engaging way, as well as focusing on the miracles that happened that day. I would recommend this movie to others.

    Tarah's Review:

    Just like Rorie I wondered if this was a movie I could watch with my kids. Not seeing a rating, I told them I'd watch it first and then let them know. While I don't think it was something my children would have understood, and would possibly be scared to watch, I'm glad I was able to see it. The acting was just okay, but I found the message to be beautiful.

    The thing I found most interesting about this movie is that, for me, the movie wasn't about the terrorist or the bomb. The movie still has half of it left when that part happens, and I wasn't expecting that. For me, the movie was about prayer, and finding your way to God.  I loved that message, and I couldn't help but think of the lesson we had in Sharing Time about miracles and how they still happen today, but not everyone can willingly acknowledge them...even in, or especially in a tragedy such as this.

    I'd recommend this movie to others who are looking for upliftment (my spell checker says that isn't a word, but you know what I mean).
    Title: The Cokeville Miracle
    Director: T.C. Christensen
    Studio: +180 Records
    Published: September 2015
    ASIN: B011LW42W2
    Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for a review.

    Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book

    Friday, September 25, 2015

    Blog Tour: Westly: A Spider's Tale by Bryan Beus

    Westly: A Spider's Tale by Bryan Beus

    Book Description:

    This is tale of a caterpillar named Westly who is destined to be a Monarch butterfly and the next king of the butterfly kingdom. But sometimes things don't turn out the way we plan. When Westly emerges from his cocoon he is nothing like he expected. As a spider he must rediscover who he is. Adopted by the "dirt eaters," Westly is determined to make a difference. He is determined to belong, to be loved, and most importantly, to become who he was born to be.


    I've enjoyed reading Westly: A Spider's Tale with my eight-year-old. It's not unusual for him to try to get me to read a lot more than one page to his one page, but I was happy to see that with this book, he stopped me if I kept reading when it was his turn. Although the title, cover, and book blurb give away that Westly is not a butterfly, Westly not knowing what he really was pulled my son into the story.

    There aren't a lot of illustrations, but the few that are sprinkled throughout the book are great.

    I really like the messages found in the book. Westly started out sure of who he was, but he used his position to put himself above others, and get out of work. The other caterpillars revered him as the prince, so his downfall was sad in a way, but it really made him into a much better bug.

    About the Author/Illustrator: Beus – which rhymes with Zeus – is the winner of the Kirchoff/Wohlberg Award from The New York Society of Illustrators. He works full time as an illustrator for magazines, book covers, film and game conceptual art, and more. When not writing and drawing, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Amanda, mindful meditation, drinking root beer floats, and eating far too many Sour Patch Watermelons. Westly is his debut novel.

    Title: Westly: A Spider's Tale
    Author: Bryan Beus
    Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
    Published: September 2015
    ISBN: 1629720682
    Source: I received copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

    Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book