Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Spotlight: Crooked House by Marlene Bateman

Crooked House by Marlene Bateman

Book Description:

Someone is trying to kill Liz Johnson and it’s up to quirky private investigator, Erica Coleman, to find out who. Erica is no stranger to murder and mystery, which is why her best friend’s daughter, Megan, turns to her when unaccountable and potentially fatal “accidents” threaten her roommate’s life.

Once Erica arrives at the ramshackle old mansion known as Crooked House, matters go from disturbing to deadly as it becomes clear someone is trying to kill Liz.  As Erica begins to unearth secrets, she discovers a twisted web of love, money, greed, and deception. Although the police and friends sometimes find Erica’s OCD annoying, those traits help her sift through evidence and see clues that others miss. Erica must draw upon her all her investigative prowess to keep Liz safe and unmask the killer before he can accomplish his deadly objective.

With a dash of romance and surprising twists, this thrilling mystery will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page. As with all Erica Coleman mysteries, ten delicious recipes are included.

Excerpt from A Death in the Family:

“I’m scared.”

Erica’s heart turned over when she heard the quaver in her young friend’s voice on the phone.

Then Megan asked, “Can you come?”

 “Of course.” Erica’s reply was automatic. She would do anything she could to help. Although she often received emotionally-laden phone calls in her job as a private investigator, there was a difference when the call came from the teen-aged daughter of her best friend. The very fact that Megan—who was usually so calm and composed—sounded scared, put Erica on high alert.

“I think someone’s trying to kill my roommate, Liz,” Megan said.

“What makes you think that?”  Erica asked. “Has someone threatened her?”

“No, but Liz has had a couple of serious accidents lately—at least she says they’re accidents, but she could have been killed each time.”

Erica made an effort to reel in her skepticism. “Tell me about them.”

“First, someone tampered with her car. The brakes went out and Liz ended up driving across someone’s yard and hit a tree. Fortunately, she was okay. The second one happened downtown. Liz was on the sidewalk waiting for the bus when someone shoved her and she fell into the road. A truck was coming and if a guy hadn’t pulled her back, Liz could have been killed.”

Still, they could have been accidents, Erica thought, at least until the third one occurred—this time at Crooked House.

About the Author:

Marlene Bateman was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She is married to Kelly R. Sullivan.  Her hobbies include gardening, camping, reading, and enjoying her four cats and three dogs. 

Marlene’s first novel was the best-selling Light on Fire Island. Her next novel was Motive for Murder—the first in a mystery series that features a quirky private eye with OCD, Erica Coleman.  The next book in that series, (they do not have to be read in order) is A Death in the Family.

Marlene has also written a number of LDS non-fiction books under the name Marlene Bateman Sullivan. Those books include:  Gaze Into Heaven; Near-death Experiences in Early Church History, which is a fascinating collection of over 50 documented near-death experiences from the lives of early latter-day Saints, Heroes of Faith, and Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines.  Marlene also wrote three books that contain documented accounts in early LDS church history about when a person either saw or heard an angel; Visit’s From Beyond the Veil, And There Were Angels Among Them, and By the Ministering of Angels.

Title: Crooked House
Author: Marlene Bateman
Publisher: Covenant Communications Inc.
Published: April 2015
ISBN: 162108521X

Now Available for Purchase in bookstores & online:

Amazon | Deseret Book | Seagull Book

Also by Marlene Bateman:


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Book Review: Remember Me by Lara Van Hulzen

Remember Me by Lara Van Hulzen

Book Description:

Detective Ben Russo is in trouble.

He just can’t remember why.

When a car accident lands Ben in the hospital, he can’t recall anything about his life. What he does know is he’s enchanted by a tiny nurse named Tess, but can’t shake the feeling they’re both in danger.

After being left at the altar, Tess Jansenn moves to a new town and starts over. When her ex-fiancĂ©, Ben, shows up in the ER where she works with no memory of her, she must decide – tell Ben who he is or let him remember on his own.

Can Tess forgive and forget what drove them apart, and when Ben remembers, will the consequences of his choices make it too late for love?

Andrea's Review:

When my review copy of Remember Me first arrived I was drawn to the cover. I'll admit I was slightly put off by the font when I opened the book though. That sounds so superficial, but the font is very non-standard for a novel. It made me question the quality of the book. Even though the story sounded interesting, it took me awhile to actually sit down and read it.

I am happy to say my speculations due to my font-aversion were unfounded. The story was quite enjoyable. I was very curious about Ben and where he'd been since leaving Tess. And, why he'd left her in the first place.

Tess had such a great support system in Mike and Emma. The setting and her relationship with her friends really made for a comforting setting. Something she desperately needed after being jilted.

Once I really sat down and got going with the story, it was a fast read. There were a few swear words, but otherwise the story was clean. The romance was good, and there is some action that kept things moving along.

Tarah's Review:

I loved the premise of this story, and found it very intriguing. However, I did feel that the overall story wasn't as polished as it could be, and that it needed to be edited a little more.  I also didn't appreciate the swearing in it. I think that the more she writes the more polished and finished her books will feel. Overall, I'd give another one of her books a try.

About the Author:

Lara Van Hulzen received her BA in Journalism from Point Loma Nazarene Universtity in 1994. Her first published article was when she was a senior in high school. She has worked as a book reviewer for the past 18 years with various organizations such as Crossings Doubleday, YouthWorker Journal, and She is a member of Romance Writers of America as well as Inspire Christian Writers and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband and three children in Northern California.

Title: Remember Me
Author: Lara Van Hulzen
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Published: October 2014
ISBN: 1502450062
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle

Monday, April 20, 2015

Book Review: The Continuous Atonement for Teens by Brad Wilcox

Book Description:

Brad Wilcox's The Continuous Atonement is a landmark work that helps to clarify what the Atonement is—and what it isn't. It corrects misperceptions and offers hope to those who struggle again and again.
This teen adaptation will help teenagers better understand and apply the Atonement in their lives and help them teach the nuances of the Atonement to others, whether on a mission, at home, or with friends. As they better understand and apply the Atonement, its transforming power will have a lasting effect in their lives.
Each chapter opens with a teen-appropriate question and includes subheadings to clarify content, new stories relevant to teens, and a Prepare to Teach section to help readers internalize and share what they're learning. This shorter edition will be printed in paperback, perfect for teens to carry with them through their busy days.

About the Author:

BRAD WILCOX has lived in Ethiopia, Chile, and New Zealand; he and his family now make their home amid the Rocky Mountains. Brad taught sixth grade before obtaining his PhD in education from the University of Wyoming. His contributions as an author and teacher have been honored by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and his work has appeared in Guideposts magazine and Reader's Digest. He once served as a member of the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America and has addressed thousands of youth and adults across the United State, Europe, Australia, and Japan. He and his wife, Debi, are the parents of four children.

Book Review:

I don't have teenagers yet and won't for a few more years, but this book appealed to me because I teach the 16-18 year old youth in church, and I'm always looking for things that can help me explain topics that we study in class. This book did not disappoint. I have probably about half of the pages dog-eared and have already marked certain areas that I'd like to really remember.

This book isn't just for teens though. Even though I know how important the Atonement is, I haven't really given it a whole lot more thought than "boy, I'm glad that happened." This book helps someone like me to understand it even better and gives me a lot to think about in regards to how I am living my life.

This is definitely a book I would recommend to anyone and I am looking forward to telling my church class about it.

Title: The Continuous Atonement for Teens
Author: Brad Wilcox
Publisher: Deseret Book Company
Published: March 2015
ISBN: 162972016X
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Deseret Book  Amazon

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Book Review: Daily Tortilla by Ricardo James

Book Description:

Sopes, Tamales, Pozole, Huevos Rancheros -- you've never had Mexican food like this! Daily Tortilla starts with the basics of tortillas, beans, rice, and salsas, and then builds to an incredibly delicious repertoire of dishes found in any family dining room in Mexico. Say adios to Americanized Mexican food -- this is authentic, south-of-the-border flavor at its finest!

About the Author:

RICHARD M. JAMES (Ricardo) grew up in the kitchen. He learned the art of cooking by trial and error. The errors ended up in the garbage, but the trials got better and better. At age nineteen he traveled to Mexico to serve as a missionary among the people, in their homes and in their kitchens. Richard is the father of five and now resides in Utah. He occasionally, with his family, visits Mexico to gather more traditional culinary ideas and techniques. 

Book Review:

I was an exchange student in Mexico, and I came to love the food there. I was happy when my sister asked me to review this book. I was able to make several of the recipes, and am looking forward to making several more. Some favorites were the Agua de Mango, Queso Fundido de Chorizo, Gorditas, Picadillo and Enchiladas Suizas. I did adjust some of the recipes as needed to accommodate my family's taste - we're not really big into spicy dishes.

I was excited to try making homemade enchilada sauce, but when the author says to keep a watchful eye on the roasting chiles, he means just that. Because if you burn those, the whole dish is ruined. Trust me on this. I am no quitter though, so I went and purchased more dried chiles and plan  to make the sauce again soon. Next time I will pay much closer attention to the chiles. :) I am also looking forward to conquering my fear of homemade tortillas.

This is definitely a cookbook that is a keeper.

Title: Daily Tortilla
Author: Ricardo James
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.
Published: May 2014
ISBN: 1462114113
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Cedar Fort  Amazon

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Book Review: Have Gavel, Will Travel by Robert Braithwaite

Book Description:

What happens in a national park doesn't stay in a national park. It often ends up in Robert Braithwaite's courtroom-or sometimes on his kitchen table. Over a lifetime of administering justice, he saw everything from canoodling nudes to sheep hunters with drones to downright dangerous drug cartels. This collection of cases is so outrageous and bizarre you'll have to read it to believe it.

About the Author:

In a twenty-seven year judicial career, Robert Braithwaite has been a circuit judge, a district judge, a juvenile judge, and is now a U. S. magistrate judge. He has heard cases ranging from parking tickets to divorce to rape and murder. As a part-time magistrate judge he now hears criminal cases arising in the southern half of Utah, usually occurring in five National Parks, National Forests and federal lands. Needless to say, he rides a circuit, hearing cases in four diverse locations: St. George, Big Water, Moab, and Salt Lake City.
He lives in Cedar City with his wife who is an artist. Together they have raised four children.

Book Review:

This was a fun book to read. This book gives the reader an interesting insight into life as a judge, written in an entertaining way. Even at the end, when the author lists several legal terms and explains their meaning, his dry sense of humor comes out. I enjoyed reading all of the various anecdotes of life in the courtroom. There is some minor swearing sprinkled throughout the book.

Title: Have Gavel, Will Travel
Author: Robert Braithwaite
Publisher: Plain Sight
Published: January 2015
ISBN: 1462115934
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Blog Tour: Failsafe by Traci Hunter Abramson

Failsafe by Traci Hunter Abramson

Book Description:

In the wide-open landscape of Pennsylvania, Charlotte Martin and her father live a peaceful life on their farm. . . or so it seems. In truth, the rural locale provides the perfect front for the father-daughter NSA operatives as they expertly carry out their mission: using a high-tech computer system, they protect a team of undercover agents. Some would kill to have access to this system, and it makes Charlotte and her father prime targets. It was only a matter of time before this nightmare unexpectedly crashed down on them, and only Charlotte escaped with her life. Before Dwight Martin died, though, he initiated the failsafe lockdown, and now Charlotte's the only one who can access the system.

Writer Jake Bradford left the serene Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia for the hustle and bustle New York to pursue his dreams and never looked back. Until now. Entrusted with his ailing grandmother's care, Jake knows he needs help and he can't believe his luck when a lovely young woman providentially appears on his doorstep. Charlotte creates a new persona for herself and quickly develops a bond with Jake's grandmother. But it's the connection she feels with Jake that makes it almost too easy to lose sight of her reality: she is being hunted by men who will stop at nothing to access the intelligence she protects. With time running out, can the couple find a future together, or will Charlotte's secrets tear them apart?

Andrea's Review:

Failsafe was just an ok read for me. I liked the idea of the story, but it was easy to put down for a few days at a time.

I'm not sure if I just wasn't in the mood for it, or if the quirks of the story were too much for me (the details given about Jack's novel made it sound very strange, and Charlotte crossing the country on horseback in old time clothing also seemed far fetched-yes, the clothing part was explained, but I guess I didn't love the explanation).

Jack and Charlotte were good characters though, and the way the story was written seemed like a realistic amount of time for a relationship to come about. The suspense was also good, and it's a clean read. The book cover is well done and would catch my attention in a book store or library.

Tarah's Review:

While this isn't her best book ever written, I enjoyed it and would read it again. Charlotte's clothes didn't bother me because I felt that they were explained well enough to make it plausible, and while I was hoping for more from the ex-girlfriend and the old rival, I enjoyed both the main characters, their interactions with each other, and those around them. I appreciate how Traci Hunter Abramson is just writing good clean fiction. While I like LDS fiction/Christian fiction, I like to find just a good clean novel as well, and I'm glad she is branching out to that. The world needs more of it, so kudo's to her for providing that to those of us who are looking for it.

Blog Tour Schedule:

April 18th (Cheryl)

Tour Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Title: Failsafe
Author: Traci Hunter Abramson
Publisher: Covenant Communications Inc.
Published: April 2015
ISBN: 1680470302
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle | Deseret Book

Monday, April 13, 2015

Blog Tour: A Heart Revealed by Josi S. Kilpack

A Heart Revealed by Josi S. Kilpack

Book Description:

Amber Marie Sterlington, the Rage of the Season in Regency-era London, has her pick of men, and she knows what she wants most in a husband: a title and a fortune. Why would she ever marry for something as fickle as love? And why would she ever look twice at Thomas Richards, a third son of a country lord?

But when Amber's social standing is threatened, the character of her future husband becomes far more important than his position. After a public humiliation, she finds herself exiled to Yorkshire. Alone except for her maid, Amber is faced with a future she never expected in a circumstance far below what she has known all her life. Humbled and lonely, Amber begins to wonder if isolation is for the best. Who could ever love her now?


This was a great story. Good job to Josi S. Kilpack on her first published Regency novel.

It was different from others I've read in several ways. Early on I had extreme dislike for one of the main characters. She was so awful. Her interactions with others were all to boost herself higher in society. Her experience in the story was unusual-I've definitely never read anything like it before in a Regency novel, but I thought it was great. Amber's parents were quite disappointing.

Thomas was a great character. He was genuine and didn't care about what society thought. He was a good person and I liked his interaction with the other characters.

The outcome was somewhat predictable but there were many surprises along the way that kept the story entertaining.

I'm excited that Josi has started writing about this era. If you are looking to read a clean, Regency novel, check out A Heart Revealed.

About the Author:

Josi Kilpack
Josi 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 accredits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then. She began writing her first novel in 1998 and never stopped. Her novel, Sheep’s Clothing won the Whitney Award 2007 for Mystery/Suspense. Lemon Tart, the first book in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery series was a finalist in 2009.  Josi currently lives in Willard Utah with her husband, children and super-cute cat.

Title: A Heart Revealed
Author: Josi S. Kilpack
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Published: April 2015
ISBN: 1609079906
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle | Deseret Book