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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Blog Tour: Trek DVD

Reviews * Giveaway
 
Trek: The Movie

Andrea's Review:

I had the opportunity to take my 14-year-old to see Trek in theaters earlier this year, and it was such a fun experience. It's not unheard of for the acting in films like this to leave much to be desired, but I was pleasantly surprised by the good acting. The cinematography was also excellent. It seems a little cliche, but I laughed and I cried. It really was the "feel good movie of the summer" for me.

Once the DVD was released I brought my family together to watch it. There is a lot of humor, but there are also touching, tender moments throughout the film. My daughter was going on Trek and I thought it'd be fun for my son to get a general idea of what the kids do when they go.

Being a show about LDS youth going on a church field-trip of sorts, I was bothered by the inclusion of a swearword (or possibly two-I only noticed one, but one of my kids said there was another one). It was mild as far as swearing goes, but I'm never a fan. And, honestly, we saw a pre-screening when we went to the theater, so I was hopeful that it wouldn't make the DVD. Keep that in mind if you are planning on showing your younger children. Also, there's a scene with an injury that might make some uncomfortable, and some kissing (although those scenes were typically humorous).

I would happily invite my 14-year-old and 11-year-old to watch this with me again.

Tarah's Review:

LDS movies are kind of hit and miss for me. They seem to be either really good, or really bad in a cheesy I really can't watch this anymore way. So I wasn't really sure what to expect with Trek. I was mostly intrigued because I've never been on a Trek. They started doing them in my home ward after I was out of Young Women's. I've always wanted to do one, and so I was super curious about the movie.

Because it was an LDS movie I assumed that I could watch with my whole family. I didn't worry about my 5 year old watching it with me. My other kids were in and out the whole movie, except my 7 year old. She watched the whole thing, and I'm pretty sure she liked it. She was crying and trying to surreptitiously wipe her tears, and I had to laugh because I was doing the same thing right next to her! I will say, however, that I was super disappointed with the swear word I heard in the movie. Why? What was the point? What did it add? I got me thinking that maybe I shouldn't be letting all my kids watch this, and that made me sad. I wanted it to be a family movie. When I watch a church movie I don't want to have to worry about the content.

I was expecting the focus to be more on the actual trek, but it was more of a personal redemption story. I liked that. A little sad that the actual trek part was kind of glossed over, but what can you do? Yes, it was a little cheesy. Yes, some of the characters were over the top. But all in all it was a cute movie with a good message.

Trailer:


Message from Alan Peterson, Director of TREK The Movie:

It’s exciting to anticipate the DVD/BluRay release of TREK, the movie. Being with audiences in theaters is the fulfillment of any director’s dream.  But, the reality of independent film is that you can’t get a movie into enough theaters so that everyone who wants to, can see it.  July 3rd is a day that lots of TREK fans have been waiting for.  Now, everyone can enjoy the laughs and lessons of TREK whenever they want.  One of our goals in producing the movie was to create a story that would honor the wonderful tradition of this hands-on experience unique to our faith.  Trek provides a critical chance to connect with our past. Why is this important?  I’ll let Elder Russell M. Ballard explain:

"I have a deep conviction that if we lose our ties to those who have gone before us, including our pioneer forefathers and mothers, we will lose a very precious treasure. I have spoken about “Faith in Every Footstep” in the past and will continue in the future because I know that rising generations must have the same kind of faith that the early Saints had in the Lord Jesus Christ and His restored gospel.” (General Conference, October 2017, The Trek Continues!)

It is too easy to forget what our pioneer ancestors sacrificed for their faith and for our good. I hope families can sit down together and share the movie and talk about how grateful we should be for the men, women and children who marched into the unknown following a prophet of God so long ago. And, I hope they will talk about the challenges they face today as members of the church as we march forward into the unknown.  Do you feel like Tom and wonder where God is?  How do we connect with Him? What do we do when we feel weak and alone? Hopefully, TREK helps us know that our Heavenly Father is there and that He cares.



Giveaway:

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Monday, July 16, 2018

Book Review: The Orphan's Wish by Melanie Dickerson

The Orphan's Wish (Hagenheim, #8)
Book Description:

From the streets to an orphanage in a faraway kingdom, Aladdin has grown up alone. Until he meets Kirstyn. With a father who is the duke of Hagenheim and a mother who is the patroness of the orphanage where Aladdin lives, Kirstyn is a member of the most powerful family in the land . . . and way out of his league. Despite the difference in their stations, Aladdin quickly becomes Kirstyn’s favorite companion for taking walks in the forest, and their childhood friendship grows along with them.

Through his scrappy skills, intelligence, and hard work, Aladdin earns a position serving in the duke’s house. But he knows it isn’t enough to grant him his one desire: Kirstyn’s hand in marriage. If he hopes to change his station in life and feel worthy of marrying Kirstyn, he must leave Hagenheim to seek his fortune.

But once Aladdin leaves, no one is around to protect Kirstyn, and the greedy men desperate to take advantage of her father’s wealth take notice. Now, more than Aladdin’s background stands in the way of the future he’s worked so hard to obtain. His only hope is to rescue Kirstyn and somehow manage to win her hand as well.


Book Review:

Has Melanie Dickerson changed to writing YA novels? Did I miss something somewhere? It seems like her earlier work was for an adult audience. I don't mean that any of the content was inappropriate or anything, it just seemed less juvenile than her current writings. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy a good YA novel, except I'd like to be expecting it, and this just seemed...well, a little juvenile.

It's an interesting take on the Aladdin story. I didn't have any problems with the changes the author made. I kind of like it when the author takes liberties like that. I want to read something different from all the rest of the versions. And since there aren't a lot of versions of Aladdin (that I've read anyway) it was fun for me to read those changes. I also didn't have a problem for Germany to be involved in this telling. I don't think there was some deeper meaning. I think the author has set up a lovely world and family in Germany, and it made sense to move some of the setting to this time and place.

All that being said, I hate love triangles. I especially hate love triangles when the people don't really love each other. It makes for awkwardness, and I hate reading about awkwardness. It's definitely a personal opinion, but that kind of ruined this book for me. Other than being a little juvenile it was a fine story, but then the love triangle happened and I just cringed and kept reading because I hate stopping in the middle of a story.

If you don't mind love triangles, are looking for a quick clean read, and are a fan of Melanie Dickerson's newest stuff, definitely give this one a try.
 
The Orphan's Wish (Hagenheim, #8) 
 
Title: The Orphan's Wish
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Published: June 2018
ISBN: 0718074831
Source: I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Blog Tour: Pretty Much Perfect by Sally Johnson

Reviews * Giveaway
Pretty Much Perfect by Sally Johnson

Book Description:

Camille Weston, a recently returned missionary, anticipates returning to college for her degree and perhaps to meet a nice guy. A sensible young woman with her future mapped out, Camille would never do something dangerous—like pick up a stranger on the side of the road. And yet, inexplicably, she does just that. This is one split-second decision that changes everything.

Determined to lend assistance, Camille gets more than she bargains for when she is roped into helping Liam, a handsome British man, with more than just a ride. As they are thrown together over the coming days and their mutual attraction grows, they realize they just . . . click. That is, until she makes a shocking discovery: the mysterious stranger is William Liam Jones, lead singer of the popular band Gear. Camille has never been one to swoon over a celebrity, and she knows her and Liam's lifestyles could never be compatible. But how can she convince her heart to listen to logic?

Rorie's Review:

"You realize you don't have any pants on?" I asked as I rolled the window down.

How could you NOT like a book that starts out this way? It had me laughing quite a lot with little quips like this throughout the story. I liked Camille and Liam right off the bat. Their characters were so...real. Camille's parents were a hoot too. Imagine your parents letting some complete stranger basically move in because he's stranded.

The relationship between Camille and Liam developed in a quirky but fun way, although I really wanted to shake Camille a few times to get her to start trusting a little bit more. I can completely understand her hesitation with getting involved in a relationship with Liam though, based on their very different lifestyles. I really appreciate how she was able to stick with her values, even when "no one would know." But it still made me roll my eyes that she was so quick to accuse him of wrong doing, instead of trusting him.

One complaint I had with this story was the way the police were portrayed. Camille has three interactions with them throughout the book, and every single one of them made the officer out to be the big, scary bad guy. That bugs me. Police aren't the bad guys. They're there to protect us from the bad guys.

Anyway, aside from that complaint, I LOVED this story. It made me laugh, it made me cry, there was humor and some really heartfelt moments. Definitely one that I will be reading again.

Andrea's Review:

My sister started reading Pretty Much Perfect before I did, and she texted '"For a guy I'd picked up off the side of the road in his underwear, he sure could come off as a pretty normal, very likeable guy." If the rest of the book is this funny, I'm hooked! 😁'. That quote from the book and her reaction definitely had me intrigued.

With expectations super high (and the fear of potentially being let down that comes with that), I was happy that I was pulled right into the story. I liked the interactions between Camille and Liam from the get-go. Their meeting was random and pretty funny. I really liked that Camille was oblivious to who Liam was for quite awhile (they both needed that in order to really get to know each other).

Once the truth came out the mood of the story changed quite a bit, and honestly I missed the humor that was replaced with angst. I think Camille's feelings were realistic given the situation, but the yo-yo of feelings wasn't as fun to read about. Don't get me wrong, it didn't ruin the story, but I just didn't devour the second half like I did the first half.

I like the cover. It would catch my attention in a bookstore. Although, I don't recall the story saying that Liam played guitar (did it? Sometimes in my rush to read an awesome story I skip over little details) and Camille didn't play either, so I was a little distracted as I read wondering when the guitar was going to come into play.

Pretty Much Perfect is a clean read. Overall, I enjoyed the story and I can see myself reading it again. I would also read more by this author.

Tarah's Review:

I was hooked the moment I picked this book up! I was laughing and shaking my head at the absurdity of picking up some random stranger in his underwear. I loved the old man jeans and the funny clothes. Sadly, I had to put the book down to finish some other things, and even more sadly when I picked the book up again the humorous portion was over. I was really in the mood for a funny novel, so I was slightly disappointed by that. You know that feeling where you want a book for a certain mood? Anyway, the first bit totally hit the nail on the head, and then because of my mood the rest of the story was slightly a let down. Not because of the writing or anything, it was totally a mood thing. Plus, had I been thinking about this authors previous book that I read The Skeleton in my Closet Wears a Wedding Dress I would have been prepared for the emotions in this novel. Honestly, I'm surprised Liam lasted as long as he did and was as patient as he was. The back and forth was a little hard on my emotions.

All that being said, I loved the ending. I think too often in our search for happily ever after we jump too fast into things, and I loved how this story ended. It was exactly right, and it made me happily sigh as I closed the book.

I will definitely recommend this to my book reading friends who like contemporary LDS romance, and I will be reading more from this author as well.
 
Tour Schedule:


Tour Giveaway:

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  Title: Pretty Much Perfect
Author: Sally Johnson
Publisher: Covenant Communications Inc.
Published: July 2018
ISBN: 152440392X
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Blog Tour: The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham



   
The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham 

Book Description:

Seven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em finally arrived at a new home in Iowa after riding the orphan train. But secrets from her past haunt her, and her new life in the Western wilderness is a rough one. When her guardian is shot and killed, Em, now nineteen, finally has the chance to search for her long-lost sister, but she won't be able to do it alone.  

For Azure Springs Sheriff Caleb Reynolds, securing justice for the waifish and injured Em is just part of his job. He's determined to solve every case put before him in order to impress his parents and make a name for himself. Caleb expects to succeed. What he doesn't expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart. Debut author Rachel Fordham invites historical romance readers to the charming town of Azure Springs, Iowa, where the people care deeply for one another and, sometimes, even fall in love. 


Review:

The Hope of Azure Springs is an enjoyable debut novel. Fordham created an interesting story with characters you couldn't help but care about. The pacing at times was slower than I wanted, but I was intrigued by Em's situation and kept picking it back up.

I don't recall learning about orphan trains before, so I'm grateful that this story made me want to learn more about that event in U.S. History.

I felt bad for Em. Losing first her dad, then her mom, living on the streets and then separated from her last relative, her sister, as she was the last pick on the orphan train. She’d been through so much and then had such a hit to her confidence by that situation.

I didn’t really like Caleb at first, but he grew on me-just like he did for Em. The more we get to know a person, the more (or less) attractive they can become. Their relationship felt realistic and not rushed.

This is a sweet and clean story. I’d probably read more from this author.
 

Praise for The Hope of Azure Springs:

“With unusual charm and warmth, Rachel Fordham opens the door to Azure Springs, a place as memorable as the people who inhabit it—namely the unique Em, a hero of a sheriff, and an assortment of heart-tugging, endearing townsfolk. A memorable story of faith, family, and happy endings!” ~Laura Frantz, author of The Lacemaker

“The Hope of Azure Springs is full of love and laughter, hope and happy endings. This delightful book about the resilience of the human spirit and the power of love will keep you turning pages until the very end. After you read Rachel Fordham’s satisfying story, you’ll want to give the world a hug.” ~Jennifer Beckstrand, author of A Courtship on Huckleberry Hill

“A tender story about loss, life, and the beauty that lies within each of us.” ~Stacy Henrie, USA Today bestselling author and RITA award finalist “Authentic. Strong. Memorable. The Hope of Azure Springs and its refreshingly realistic heroine will remain in readers’ hearts long after they’ve reached the stirring conclusion. With eloquently drawn scenes that will tug at a reader’s heart and a beautifully redemptive love story, Rachel Fordham’s debut offers a tender look at the meaning of beauty and self-worth.” ~Joanna Politano, author of Lady Jayne Disappears

“As The Hope of Azure Springs unfolds, readers will find a well thought out and intricately put together love story about an uncommon heroine. Fans of Melissa Jagears and Jane Kirkpatrick will enjoy Rachel Fordham’s books now and for years to come.” ~Dawn Crandall, author of the award-winning series The Everstone Chronicles

   
Author Rachel Fordham 

Rachel Fordham has long been fascinated by all things historical or in the words of her children “old stuff”. Often the historical trivia she discovers is woven into her children's bedtime tales. Despite her love for good stories she didn’t attempt writing a novel until her husband challenged her to do so (and now she’s so glad he did). Since that time she’s often been found typing or researching while her youngest child naps or frantically writing plot twists while she waits in the school pick-up line. In addition to her passion for storytelling, she enjoys reading, being outdoors and seeing new places. Rachel lives with her husband and children on an island in Washington state.   

CONNECT WITH RACHEL


Blog Tour Schedule:

July 9th
I Am A Reader - Spotlight
My Life. One Story at a Time. - Review
Cover Lover Book Review - Review
BookHounds - Spotlight
Susan Heim on Writing - Spotlight
Diana's Book Reviews - Spotlight

July 10th
Locks, Hooks and Books - Review
Literary Reflections Book Blog - Review
Literary Time Out - Review
Julie Coulter Bellon - Review
T's Stuff - Spotlight
Tianna Holley, Author - Spotlight

July 11th
Pause for Tales - Review
The Becca Files - Review
Why Not? Because I Said So! - Review
A Writer's Life - Spotlight
Hearts & Scribbles - Spotlight
Katie's Clean Book Collection - Spotlight
Min Reads and Reviews - Spotlight

July 12th
Simple Wyrdings - Review
Reviews by Room With Books - Review
Paulette's Papers - Spotlight
Here We Go Again Ready - Spotlight
FLY HIGH! - Spotlight

July 13th
Mythical Books - Spotlight
Bound 2 Escape - Spotlight
Stacking My Book Shelves! - Spotlight
Cassandra M's Place - Spotlight
Bookish Reviews by Denise Blogs - Spotlight

   

Blog Tour Giveaway:
  
$25 Amazon Gift Code or $25 in Paypal Cash 

Ends 7/24/18 

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.    

Friday, July 6, 2018

Blog Tour: Kiss of the Spindle by Nancy Campbell Allen

Kiss of the Spindle by Nancy Campbell Allen

Book Description:

A steampunk Sleeping Beauty story from the author of Beauty and the Clockwork Beast.

Doctor Isla Cooper is cursed. Literally. Each night, at the stroke of midnight she falls into a death-like sleep from which she cannot be awakened for six hours. To make it worse, the curse has an expiration date—after a year, it becomes permanent. And the year is almost up.

In a desperate attempt to find Malette—the witch who cursed her—Isla blackmails her way onto Daniel Pickett's private airship bound for the Caribbean, only to discover she's traveling with three illegal shapeshifters and the despicable Nigel Crowe, a government official determined to hunt down and exterminate every shapeshifter in England. Isla and Daniel must work together to keep the identities of the shapeshifters hidden while coming to terms with their own hidden secrets, and their blossoming attraction to each other.

Filled with suspense, intrigue, and plenty of romance, Kiss of the Spindle is steampunk Sleeping Beauty story. It is a race against the clock as Isla and Daniel try to hunt down the elusive Malette before Isla's death-like sleep becomes permanent.

Andrea's Review:

Steampunk isn't typically my genre of choice, but I'm a huge fan of Proper Romance novels, so I jumped at the chance to read Nancy Campbell Allen's latest novel, Kiss of the Spindle. An additional incentive was that my favorite childhood Disney cartoon was "Sleeping Beauty", and I was excited to see what Allen would do with her Steampunk version.

I really like what Allen did with this story. I liked the spin on Isla's condition-that she slept like the dead every night. A spindle is involved in the story, but not in the way Disney used it.

The characters were great-we don't get the three good fairies, but the three supporting character's that Daniel is transporting really add a lot to the story.

This wasn't the type of story that I couldn't put down, but it was enjoyable.

Rorie's Review:

When I first read Beauty and the Clockwork Beast, it took me a bit to get used to the whole steampunk style of writing, but that book quickly became one of my favorite novels - in fact, I just finished listening to the audio book (again) before starting to read this book.

I've always enjoyed the Sleeping Beauty story, and I really like fairy tale retellings. This book definitely did not disappoint, and I know it will be one that I will re-read or listen to over and over again.

Obviously, this story is not an exact retelling of the original fairy tale. It is very different, in fact. But I loved how the author wove so many elements of the original story into hers. The spindle, the castle, the three fairy godmothers, etc. They're all in there.

This was one of those stories that I never wanted to end. I quite enjoy Nancy's writing style and am looking forward to reading future novels from her.
 
Tarah's Review:
 
I forget how much I enjoy steam punk until I read one. Unfortunately I don't read them often because it isn't my go to genre. I haven't read very many, but I have really enjoyed those that I have read, and Kiss of the Spindle is no exception to that. What a fun take on a classic fairy tale. Allen does a marvelous job getting all the elements of this tale in there, but without making it forced or contrived. This book has a wonderful flow to it, that makes everything that happens seem natural (for the steam punk world, anyway).
 
All characters are fun to read about. I got swept up right away in their story.  Good, bad, good and bad, I wanted to know more. Each character seamlessly appears. There aren't too many that it's hard to keep track of them. And we are never wondering why they made an appearance in the first place.
 
This was a book that I couldn't put down until it was finished. All else slipped away as I entered a magical world that I didn't want to end. I can't wait for Sam's story. I wonder what fairy tale Allen is going to do for him. 
 
Title: Kiss of the Spindle
Author: Nancy Campbell Allen
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: July 2018
ISBN: 1629724149
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
 
Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book
 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Blog Tour: The Price of Jade by Liz Hastings


Book Description:

With its lush rainforests and awe-inspiring ruins, Guatemala has always played a central role in Matt Miller's life. The stunning land where he once served as a missionary is now a vital part of his importing business, and after years of anticipating a trip to the exotic country with his wife, Cathy, and teenage daughter, Melissa, it's finally happening. But what begins as a dream vacation soon spirals out of control as the Millers face every parent's worst nightmare: their daughter has disappeared without a trace.
Every second counts as Matt and Cathy throw themselves into the most urgent search of their lives—a search that becomes frantic when a ransom note arrives. As Matt traverses dense jungle and remote villages, relying on the help of an unlikely band of Good Samaritans, it is clear that Melissa's kidnapping was far from random. There is a network of greed and deceit that runs deep, and no one can be trusted. Desperate to protect his family, each step leads Matt closer to a ruthless killer. And what he discovers points to a greater deception than he could have imagined . . .

Review:

This story has potential. There were parts where I was completely drawn into the story and couldn't wait to pick it back up again, and then there were parts where the story kind of dragged on and felt...forced. I really didn't feel any connection to Cathy and Matt. Their relationship came across as very superficial to me. At times there were so many different characters being introduced that I had a hard time keeping track of who was who. 
 
I did enjoy the part of the story where the captives and captors were trekking through the jungle. That was the part where I didn't want to put the book down. 
 
This is the author's first book and I think she'll only get better as she goes. I would read another story from her.

Tour Dates: 


Giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/91ek-Apob3L.jpg 
Title: The Price of Jade
Author: Liz Hastings
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: July 2018
ISBN: 152440523X
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
 
Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Book Review: Falling for You by Becky Wade

 Falling for You (A Bradford Sisters Romance, #2)
Book Description:

Willow Bradford is content taking a break from modeling to run her family's inn until she comes face-to-face with NFL quarterback Corbin Stewart, the man who broke her heart--and wants to win her back. When a decades-old missing-persons case brings them together, they're forced to decide whether they can risk falling for one another all over again.

Book Review:

I was kind of disappointed in this book. Maybe it was because I had such high expectations from the last one, True to You. I loved Willow in that book. Corbin was also great in that book, for the little parts he made an appearance. But sadly both just feel a little flat for me in this book. I'm not even sure why, other than maybe their relationship was too angsty. Plus, Corbin is the quintessential stereotype of a jock, and that personality has never done anything for me. I like my leading men to be sweet, not jerks.

I think my biggest issue with the book (and this is probably a spoiler so beware if you keep reading) was when Corbin and Willow got pregnant. He never felt the guilt that she felt, and honestly, the author never gave a good reason why Willow felt guilty. Corbin asks why is was such a big deal (besides the fact he was a jerk about it), but the author never gives a good clear answer about why it's important to wait until marriage for that type of relationship. In fact, she almost had them do it again. It just really bothered me.

Also, the mystery portion of this book was just...weird. I didn't feel it was needed, and I didn't feel like it added anything to the story, besides distract from all the other weirdness. 

I am looking forward to Britt and Zanders story, so here's hoping that their story is less angsty and has a better moral to it.

Falling for You (A Bradford Sisters Romance, #2) 
 
Title: Falling for You
Author: Becky Wade
Publisher: Bethany House
Published: May 2018
ISBN: 0764219375
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.