Friday, June 17, 2016

Blog Tour: Willowkeep by Julie Daines

Reviews * Giveaway

Willowkeep by Julie Daines

Book Description:

Charlotte Darby’s ship is sinking. Penniless and alone, she is struggling to care for herself and her young sister in the harsh seaport town of Kingston upon Hull. When a solicitor from London brings news that she is the heir to a vast estate in Kent, it seems her days of rough seas are over. Willowkeep is prosperous and grand, far too much for a shipping merchant’s daughter to manage, and she quickly comes to rely on the help of Henry Morland, the estate’s kind and handsome steward.

Henry has worked hard his entire life, but all the money he’s saved won’t be enough to get his father out of debtor’s prison. Henry’s fondness for Charlotte and her sister is only another reminder of his low status and lack of money. Though he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep Charlotte happy and looked after, as the county’s wealthiest lady, she can never be his.

Courted by a charming man of the ton, threatened by those desperate to get their hands on her money, and determined to keep her sister safe from the same fate that cost her the rest of her family, Charlotte turns to the ghost of the beheaded queen, Anne Boleyn, for help. But no matter the size of the fortune, life—and love—are never smooth sailing.

Andrea's Review:

Willowkeep is an excellent novel. It was sort of My Fair Lady meets a Jane Austin novel (but with deeper issues), and it was a great combination. I read it very quickly and would definitely read it again.

My heartstrings were pulled at by Charlotte's situation. I don't recall characters in other Regency novels having special needs, and I really enjoyed the inclusion of this attribute in Charlotte's sister Susie. Charlotte was one of a kind, especially in her dedication to Susie. Even though she'd lost the rest of her family, she didn't give up. Her inheritance came at the perfect time (even though it came with challenges).

I also loved Henry's character. Susie's attachment to him was endearing, and his efforts to pay off his father's debts really demonstrated his high moral character. He and Charlotte were perfect for each other.

The letters were a great addition to this story. I loved that Henry was able to know Charlotte's true feelings (even though some important details weren't completely spelled out-you can't give everything away in a story and still have a story). :)

If you are looking for a sweet and touching romance, give Willowkeep a try.

Rorie's Review:

I've always been drawn to books where the main character is like a fish out of water - kind of the underdog. This book is like that, and it was very hard to put down.

This is the second book I've read where one of the supporting characters had special needs, although this book focused a lot more on that character. I loved reading about Charlotte's love towards Susie, and how her mama-bear instincts always came out whenever she felt like her sister was being threatened.

Henry was my favorite character by far. Friendly, smart, compassionate, caring, devoted to his family. He was a very brave man to continue to eat Jane's cooking day after day!

This is definitely a book that I would recommend to anyone looking for a good, clean Regency romance.

Tarah's Review:

I devoured this book in no time at all. I loved how Charlotte is a little different then other main female characters, in that she's pretty rough around the edges.  Other characters are strong leads (which Charlotte is too) but they are more refined and proper, and it was refreshing to see a slightly different take.

Henry is awesome. His patience and kindness are the best type of character...that and his continually eating his sisters cooking even though she can't cook at all :) That made for some fun times in their house!

I will definitely be reading this again, and recommending it to my Regency book loving friends. This was a winner from Julie Daines.

Tour Schedule:

June 17th


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Follow Author Julie Daines:

Title: Willowkeep Julie Daines
Author: Julie Daines
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: June 2016
ISBN: 1524400408
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle | Deseret Book

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Blog Tour: Loving Roxie by G.G. Vandagriff

Book Description: 

Roxie Castro comes to Florence, Italy to help her friend Georgia heal after the death of her husband. While there she decides to chase her dream of being an author, collaborating with the gorgeous Professor Stefano Nae in researching the murder of Princess Isabela di Medici. However, when they begin to delve into her history, strange things start happening to Roxie: panic attacks, the resurfacing of buried memories, and a fear that something from her past has come forward to haunt her future.

The professor's help triggers her powerful attraction to him, and this in turn worsens the attacks.The closer they get to solving the mystery surrounding her past, the more tangled her emotions become. Will discovering Roxie’s secret finally free them to explore their newfound feelings or will it snatch away the one chance they have for a lasting love?

Book Review: 

I've never read anything from G.G. Vandagriff before, even though I've heard she's a great Regency author. So, when I saw she was trying out a contemporary romance novel I thought I'd give it a go.

I definitely wasn't expecting it to deal with such heavy topics (the reasons for Roxie's panic attacks, and the behavior of Stefano's dead wife). I was expecting a light fluffy read, and this wasn't it.

I also had to laugh a little about how concerned Roxie is about her looks and how she judges Stefano for his.  I can relate very little to this concern of hers, so I had a hard time with that. Plus, it mentioned in almost every chapter about her wearing jeans to look less attractive. Jeans....really? The baggy sweatshirts I understood, but the jeans? Sexy people wear jeans too, so I'm not sure what that was really accomplishing there.

I struggled a little with the phrasing of conversations. It almost seemed like it was trying to be contemporary, but kept coming out as Regency. I don't know how to describe it, it was just weird. By the end of the book Roxie is phrasing everything like the Italians, and she'd only been there for a little bit of time, didn't speak the language, and didn't spend all her time immersed with the language. It just kept holding me up, and I'd have to go back and reread somethings to make sure I was understanding it right.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Loving Roxie
 Title: Loving Roxie
Author: G.G. Vandagriff
Publisher: Orson Whitney Press
Published: May 2016
Source: I received a eCopy in exchange for a review. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Blog Tour: On the Edge by Stuart Edge

On the Edge: How My Crappy Job Changed My Life
by Stuart Edge

Book Description:

“I think my video just went viral.”

Stuart Edge had a crappy run of things, including his parents’ divorce, anxiety, moving to Mexico and not speaking the language, and a job cleaning porta-potties. But instead of slowing him down, these struggles gave him the inspiration he needed to pursue his daydream—creating videos.

Now a YouTube sensation, Stuart shares his secrets to success and reveals his conversion from self-conscious to confident. For Stuart, being true to his beliefs has made all the difference.


In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not a YouTuber. I don't recall having ever subscribed to a YouTube channel. Sure, I'll spend some time watching YouTube clips from Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show, but the bulk of my entertainment comes from reading. Honestly, when I was offered a chance to review On the Edge I wondered if I should know who Stuart Edge is. I've never been accused of being up on pop culture, but I thought I'd give the book a try.

I found Stuart's book to be very personable. As one who much prefers fiction over non-fiction, I was happy that On the Edge wasn't a chore to read. It is basically the autobiography of 27-year-old YouTube celebrity Stuart Edge. He shares experiences he has had that lead him to making viral YouTube videos. It was a quick read (accompanied by pictures-always a bonus). I enjoyed that the book isn't just focused on how great Stuart and his videos are. He makes a point of sharing how his focus got a bit off track for awhile, but now he's trying to make a difference and do positive videos that aren't just catering to what his audience wants. I thought the final chapter held some great advice, and I liked how Stuart wasn't afraid to include the role faith has played in his journey.

And, it turns out that I have seen at least one of his viral videos before (and now others as well since I couldn't help but check out Stuart's YouTube channel after reading the book).

About Stuart Edge:

Title: On the Edge: How My Crappy Job Changed My Life
Author: Stuart Edge
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.
Published: May 2016
ISBN: 1462118542
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon

Friday, June 10, 2016

Book Tour: Dawn at Emberwilde by Sarah E. Ladd

Dawn at Emberwilde (Treasures of Surrey, #2)

Book Description:

Isabel Creston never dared to dream that love could be hers. Now, at the edge of a forest filled with dark secrets, she faces a fateful choice between love and duty.

For as long as she can remember, beautiful and free-spirited Isabel has strained against the rules and rigidity of the Fellsworth School in the rolling English countryside. No longer a student, Isabel set her sights on a steady yet unexciting role as a teacher at the school, a safe yet stifling establishment that would provide her a steady environment to care for her younger sister Lizzie, who was left in her care after her father’s death.

The unexpected arrival of a striking stranger with news of unknown relatives turns Isabel’s small, predictable world upside down, sweeping her and her young charge into a labyrinth of intrigue and hidden motives.

At her new family’s invitation, Isabel and Lizzie relocate to Emberwilde, a sprawling estate adjacent to a vast, mysterious wood rife with mysterious rumors and ominous folklore—along with whispers of something far more sinister. And perhaps even more startling, two handsome men begin pursuing Isabel, forcing her to learn the delicate dance between attraction, the intricate rules of courtship, and the hopes of her heart.

At Emberwilde, Isabel will discover that the key to unlocking the mystery of her past may also open the door to her future and security. But first she must find it—in the depths of Emberwilde Forest.

Book Review:

I'm not sure how to review this book. I liked it, it was a good read, and Colin is a great leading male, but it was a little slow. There wasn't a lot of action going on, which I kind of expected because the first book in the series has a lot going on. But the suspense and mystery kind of plodded on and as a reader there isn't much that we see to the mystery being solved. I had mentioned the previous novel, but you definitely don't need to read it to understand what's going on. You won't be confused or anything if you read it out of turn.

Because the forest was in the title, and on the cover, and because the mystery is based around it, I kind of expected more from the forest.'s supposed to be dark and menacing, and very little actually takes place there, especially from Isabel, who is drawn to it, but only goes in once.

While I normally love rags to riches stories, this was a little weird to me because it happened to Isabel twice, and I couldn't help think that one: that seems a little excessive, and two: what are the girls at her school thinking about all this?
As a Christian novel, there really isn't much in the way of spirituality. A few scriptures are read, and that's about it. It's clean though, so that's always a big plus. I will admit to wanting a little more from the romance area. Not anything steamy or anything, but they characters barely knew each other and had limited interactions. Lots of thinking about each other, but hardly any real interactions, and when they did they were short and not really about each other.

This is definitely a book that I don't mind having read, and I will keep reading more from this author, but my over all feelings are that for a mystery and for a romance, it's all a little slow.
Dawn at Emberwilde (Treasures of Surrey, #2) 
Title: Dawn at Emberwilde
Sarah E. Ladd
Thomas Nelson
May 2016
Source: I received a copy from the publisher and Litfuse in exchange for a review.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Blog Tour: In-Laws, Outlaws and Everyone In Between by Kathryn Jenkins Gordon


Book Description:

The truth is often stranger than fiction, and it can certainly be more interesting than the history books let on. To prove it, bestselling author Kathryn Jenkins Gordon blows the dust off the past to reveal the exploits of some lesser-known figures in Church history. From the hilarious to the heroic and the zany to the downright villainous, these tales highlight the action-packed lives of some of the Church’s most notorious members.

Witness the attempted rise of the self-appointed “King of the Mormons.”

Experience the heart-pounding plight of a Latter-day Saint girl enslaved by a bloodthirsty Apache tribe.

Read the thrilling tale of a stake president caught in a mobster brawl at stake conference.
Just when you thought you knew everything worth knowing about the early Saints, this quirky cast of characters confirms that there’s always more to the story. Get ready for a rip-roarin’ ride through history as you discover the truth about In-Laws, Outlaws, and Everyone in Between!


I enjoy learning about history, as long as it is presented in an entertaining, non-textbook sort of way. This book definitely does that. I don't think I had ever heard of most of these stories before reading this book. The one about the soldiers building a chapel in Italy using their cigarette rations during WWII was fascinating. So was the story about William Hooper Young, although the first story was uplifting and inspiring and the second was just downright sad and disturbing.

Tour Schedule:


a Rafflecopter giveaway,204,203,200_.jpg
 Title: In-Laws, Outlaws and Everyone In Between
Author: Kathryn Jenkins Gordon
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Published: May 2016
ISBN: 1524400505
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review. 

Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Book Review: How 4 Feet of Plywood Saved the Grand Canyon by Jerry Borrowman,204,203,200_.jpg 

Book Description:

History turns on small points. From the world's most catastrophic game of chicken to the nail-biting success story at the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River, discover fascinating events you've probably never heard of. In this collection of eight true stories from the forgotten pages of history, learn about disasters caused by human error as well as calamities avoided by quick and clever thinking—the lawsuit that launched Abraham Lincoln's political career, the collapse of the Teton Dam, the invention that revolutionized the world of sound, and more. This book is truly love at first sight for lovers of history.

Rorie's Review:

Since I live in the boonies, Media Mail tends to be hit or miss out here, and this time it was a miss. I'm pretty sure this book came to me via horse and cart by how long it took to get to me. At any rate, I've only been able to read about half of it so far.
The description of the book intrigued me - I've always been interested in history, especially the quirky parts of history that you won't really find in a history textbook. Not to mention the title. How could you not want to read more to find out what that's all about?

The first story was about the Halifax explosion, and it captured my attention right away. I had never heard of this terrible tragedy before, but boy, was it a big one! The next few stories kind of slowed down for me though and I found myself having to re-read parts a time or two before I understood what the author was explaining. The stories are interesting, but I think the author put a little too much detail in there, making it a bit on the dry side.

I am still interested in finishing the book - after all, I still haven't found out how a piece of plywood saved the Grand Canyon!

Tarah's Review: 

I'll admit I struggled with this book. I love history, but I like it to read more like a human interest piece rather than an academic paper, and while parts in this book were what I was looking for, I felt that too much of it was bogged down with a lot of details that the lay person wouldn't understand.

The stories themselves were really interesting, and it made me wonder how the author chose which stories to write about since they were all over the place, from dams to volcanos, to floods, to Bose speakers.,204,203,200_.jpg  
Title: How 4 Feet of Plywood Saved the Grand Canyon
Author: Jerry Borrowman
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Published: May 2016
ISBN: 1524400289 
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review. 

Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Blog Tour: The Christ-Centered Home by Emily Belle Freeman

The Christ Centered Home by Emily Belle Freeman

Book Description:

In the hectic scramble of a world that asks us to do everything, be everyone, and make it all look easy, we often lose track of the experiences that really matter most—quiet moments in our homes with our families when we feel the peace of Jesus Christ.

The lessons Jesus taught in the homes of His followers were simple. They were basic. And they were—and are—essential. In The Christ-Centered Home, you will discover how to fill your family’s hearts with the principles Jesus taught in the most sacred of classrooms: the home.

There is a humility that comes when we invite the Lord into our most private spaces. Within the hush we hear the gentle whisper of His voice, we experience the touch of His hand, and we feel the prompting to rise. Invite Him in, and experience the added measure of peace, strength, courage, and hope that comes when Jesus Christ becomes the central focus of your home.

The Christ-Centered Home by Emily Freeman is available wherever books are sold.

Andrea's Review:

The Christ-Centered Home isn't the typical kind of book that I pick up, but as I've been thinking more and more about the obstacles my children are facing (and will face) I've realized that I need to step up the spiritual teaching my husband and I do at home.

I really like how the book is broken up into lessons for twelve months. We try to have a family night each week, and as I read the introduction and the first chapter to myself, I knew that this would be great material for our family night lessons.

The first month says "Invite Him In". I really liked the directive to apply Zacchaeus' story to our lives. We read the ten verses from Luke 19 together, and discussed it focusing on the three important lessons included in the book. The book then directed us to come up with something we could do for the month to invite the Spirit of the Lord into our home. One thing that we've been having a lot of contention over is messes, so our goal was to be more mindful of putting our things away, and helping others with that as well. It might not scream spirituality, but when we're being kind there is definitely a better feeling in our home. And less clutter helps with peace.

A home where Jesus would choose to abide doesn't just happen by chance; it is something we must intentionally create day after day after day.

This first month was definitely a trial run. Although I thought I noticed a difference in the amount of our messes, I realized when I reviewed it with my family this week that even though I was thinking about our goal throughout the month, it wasn't on the forefront of their minds. I wrote the goal down in the book, but didn't hang it up somewhere (as advised) as a reminder for everyone. I also should have taken the time each week to review it with them. We'll concentrate on it this last week of the month (with a visual reminder this time).

I'm looking forward to applying the rest of the lessons over the next year. The format is one that seems like it will work well with our family.

Tarah's Review:

The minute I read the title of this book I knew I wanted to read it (even though I'm not big on non-fiction).  As a family we've been thinking a lot more about how to make our home a happier one, and how to make choices that would lead us closer to the Savior. This book has helped focus our otherwise random and sporadic efforts.

There are so many things I like about this book. But the best thing so far is that my kids are really on board. I brought up something I had read in here while we were roasting hotdogs and through-out the week my kids would bring it back up, or we'd have a teaching moment. Then something would happen and I had just read something in the book about what just happened and it brought up even more opportunities to talk to my kids about making our home a place where the Savior would want to come in.

I also really like that I'm getting personal stuff from it too. Like this, for example, "If we get lost in the person the world things we are, we may never become the person the Lord knows that we can be." Isn't that beautiful? I love that, and ironically enough it's something that I've been thinking a lot about prior to reading this book.

If inviting the Savior into you home is something you've been trying or thinking about, I'd definitely give this book a try.

Title: The Christ-Centered Home
Author: Emily Belle Freeman
Publisher: Ensign Peak
Published: April 2016
ISBN: 1629721557
Source: We received a copies from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book