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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Blog Tour: For Elise by Sarah M. Eden

Dual Review * Giveaway

 
For Elise by Sarah M. Eden

Book Description:

In the sprawling gardens of their neighboring estates, childhood friends Miles and Elise spent countless pleasant days together in the spirited adventures of youth. They were inseparable—until Elise vanished without a trace. Miles searched, but Elise could not—or would not—be found . . .

After years spent laboring on the family plantation in the West Indies, Miles Linwood is shocked by the unexpected news: he has inherited a distant cousin's estate and the title of Marquess of Grenton. Miles’s return to England is tarnished by only one thing—he is still haunted by Elise’s mysterious disappearance. So when he glimpses a woman with a startling resemblance to his lost friend, he’s shaken to the core. This is no mere shadow of the past: it is truly Elise.

She slipped away once, and he cannot lose her again.

Andrea's Review:

Sarah M. Eden does it again! Another excellent Regency Romance, and as always, you don't have to worry about any questionable content.

I was quite intrigued by why Elise disappeared, and what Miles had done to cause her deep distrust. I really felt for Miles. Elise went through several very traumatic experiences, and I certainly felt for her as well, but Miles' not knowing passed his anguish on to the reader.

Although not as upbeat as some of Eden's other novels due to some heavier subject matter, I was very engaged. The mystery was well done-I kept going back and forth on who the bad guy was.

I also liked the romance. Yes, it was predictable, but it was gradual and believable. The friendship was endearing, and I was so happy with how it grew and developed.

Tarah's Review:

Again, you just can't go wrong with anything written by Sarah M. Eden. I agree with what Andrea said, and there are only so many ways you can say, "It was a great book!"

I will say that I was expecting a little more to come out about why Elise disappeared. I thought it was getting set up for that experience to lead us to the current mystery, but the person who caused Elise all the pain in the first place (well, okay...one of the people...it's so hard to write when trying not to give away anything...sigh) is never identified or reasons given or anything. I don't know that it was needed, but it seemed like such a big part of the novel.

I really like how Sarah's characters aren't perfect. Miles was going through a hard time and his behavior hurt others. I think it says a lot that Elise was able to forgive him for that, even though that really isn't hashed out either. It was more, like Andrea said, gradual acceptance of what happened and letting it go.

So my quick two cents: I would buy it, I would recommend it, and I would love to talk to people about what they thought about it :)

About the Author:

Sarah M. Eden is the author of multiple historical romances, including Whitney Award finalists Seeking PersephoneCourting Miss Lancaster, and AML's "2013 Novel of the year" Longing for Home. Combining her obsession with history and affinity for tender love stories, Sarah loves crafting witty characters and heartfelt romances. She holds a Bachelor's degree in research and happily spends hours perusing the reference shelves of her local library. Sarah has twice served as the Master of Ceremonies for the LDStorymakers Writers Conference and acted as the Writer in Residence at the Northwest Writers Retreat. Sarah is represented by Pam van Hylckama Vlieg at D4EO Literary Agency.


Blog Tour Schedule:

*September 15th: http://www.charissastastny.com/, http://www.minreadsandreviews.blogspot.com/
*September 16th:  http://www.iamareader.com/, http://ilovetoreadandreviewbooks.blogspot.com
*September 17th: http://literarytimeout.blogspot.com/, http://bookgeekreviews.com/
*September 18th: http://lisaisabookworm.blogspot.com/, http://www.fireandicereads.com/
*September 19th: http://mybookaday.blogspot.com/, http://brooklynberrydesigns.com
*September 20th: http://rockinbookreviews.com/, http://www.wishfulendings.com/

Tour Giveaway:

$50 Amazon Gift Card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Title: For Elise
Author: Sarah M. Eden
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Published: September 2014
ISBN: 1621087875
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle | Deseret Book | Seagull Book

Monday, September 15, 2014

Movie Review: Believe


Movie Plot:

In the early 80’s the legendary Manchester United football manager Sir Matt Busby helps a wayward boy fulfill his dream.

Having lived with football all his life and survived the tragic 1958 Munich plane disaster in which 8 of his promising young players were killed, Matt, still haunted by the ghosts of the “Busby Babes” comes out of retirement for one last coaching challenge, to transform a young group of scallywags into a dream team to compete for the upcoming Manchester United Football League Cup.

A funny and touching family film, Believe tells the story of how Matt is finally healed, while continuing to inspire generations of dreamers and leaving the world’s greatest football team as his legacy.

Review:

I'm usually up for a feel-good sports movie, and Believe sounded like something that would be appropriate for the whole family. I'm happy to say that I wasn't disappointed. The main lesson of believing in yourself is a great one, and the acting and overall production were very well done.

I was intrigued right from the beginning with the young boy, Georgie, running away from the two adults through the shopping area. One of the adults, Sir Matt Busby, is played by Brian Cox. I've seen him in a few other movies where he always played a bad guy, so wondering if he was going to be the bad guy again was doubly intriguing.

At the risk of sounding cliche, I laughed, and I cried. I would definitely recommend seeing Believe. You might occasionally have a hard time understanding the thick accents, but there's no problem understanding the message of the film. I really liked the portrayal of loyalty, honesty, and faith in yourself and those around you.

Trailer:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Blog Tour: Hope After Suicide by Wendy Parmley



Book Description:

After her mother took her own life, Wendy Parmley learned firsthand the heartache, despair, and loneliness that accompanies losing a loved one to suicide. At one point she even contemplated taking her own life as well. In this uplifting true narrative, you too can discover how to:

  Forgive yourself and others
  Open your heart
  Seek help when you need it
  Draw closer to the divine

Embrace the light and learn how to heal your soul and overcome loss as you read this touching and tender account of a woman opening her heart years after her mother’s suicide. 

Purchase Hope After Suicide: One Woman’s Journey from Darkness to Light at:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books & Things
 
Review on Goodreads

Rorie's Review:

I very hesitantly agreed to read this book. I tend to stick to books that have somewhat happy endings, and I wasn't sure how I would handle reading a story about someone dealing with her mother's suicide. I can't say that I enjoyed this book, because this isn't the type of book that you enjoy reading. I was captivated by it, however. I finished the book in a few days, something that is unusual for me. I found myself choking back tears several times while reading about all of the horrible things that the author and her family went through.

I would have liked to have had more information on the author's siblings - what they went through and where they are today, but, like the author states, those are their stories to tell, not hers.

All in all, this is a hard book to recommend, due to the heaviness of the subject matter, but it is full of hope and that is something that could be very helpful to someone who is going through a similar situation.

About the Author:

(Photo courtesy of Alyse Neibaur at Diamond Eye)

Wendy Parmley suffered a disabling bike accident in September 2011.  Unable to return to her 20 year nursing career because of the continued effects of her injuries, Wendy began the slow and painful penning of her angel mother’s story and Wendy’s healing journey following her mom’s suicide death.  Wendy’s mom took her own life when just 31 years old, leaving behind her husband of thirteen years and their five young children.

Wendy has long advocated for suicide prevention and has participated on various professional and community based groups dedicated to that end.  She also recognizes the need to unashamedly support those who must continue to live in the painful aftermath of a loved one’s suicide and passionately lends her voice to that cause.

Prior to her bike accident, Wendy worked in nursing leadership for 14 years, earning her MBA degree from Brigham Young University in 2007.  Despite her continued limitations, Wendy is grateful to spend more time with the love of her life, her husband Mark.  She is ever grateful for his support and the support of their three married sons and their wives, their amazing daughter, and their beautiful two grandchildren who fill their life with sunshine.




Monday, September 8, 2014

Blog Tour: Ring Around the Rosie by Julie Coulter Bellon

Review * Giveaway


Ring Around the Rosie by Julie Coulter Bellon

Book Description:

Revenge is a dish best served cold . . .

As the ex-wife of a law enforcement officer, Sarah Reed has known loneliness and loss. In order to cope, she makes a life for herself that's full of routine while building a wall of ice around her heart. Everything about her is as predictable as she can make it until a tiny detour for her ex-husband, Ron, changes her life forever. Caught in a bomb crisis, Sarah is taken hostage by a man who wants Ron and everyone around him to suffer---and his idea of suffering is more terrible than Sarah had ever dreamed.

Captain Ron Reed has seen the worst of humanity in his job with the Hostage Negotiation Team, but he never expected his past to come back with a vengeance---literally. Aaron Starks, a criminal explosives expert, has stolen next-gen bomb technology and uses it to force Ron to bargain for the lives of his team and his ex-wife, Sarah, the woman he still loves. But the situation escalates when Ron discovers that Starks has an even bigger objective in mind---using the bomb to show how vulnerable America and her people truly are.

Ron is willing to risk everything to save his country and those he loves, but when negotiations break down, will his sacrifice be too little too late?

Review:

Ring Around the Rosie is an excellent addition to Julie Coulter Bellon's Hostage Negotiation Series. It has been awhile since I read the rest of the series, but I didn't feel lost at all, and loved the inclusion of characters from the previous books. It was also great that the main character, Ron, was a new focus in the series, and I connected with him right off.

Sarah was a bit of a mystery to me at first, but I came to connect with her as well. She had some quirks, but they made her more likable (the huge purse for one).

This book is a little different in that you know who the bad guy is. Of course, his devious plans are where the suspense comes in, and Ring Around the Rosie is an enjoyable ride.

I also really enjoyed the idea of second chances in this book. Ron and Sarah's marriage ended badly, and they really needed this time (horrible as the situation was) to finally discuss what had driven them apart. Lack of communication is a huge relationship killer, and it was sweet that they could address their past.

If you are looking for a clean, romantic suspense, give Ring Around the Rosie (and the rest of the Hostage Negotiation Series) a try.

Excerpt:

Her words were cut off by a blast of hot air and fire, an explosion so large it blew them all backward. Ron hit the floor hard and lay there dazed and groggy. Glass and debris rained down. Confetti-sized menus and napkins floated like snowflakes in slow motion all around him. For a second the entire world was a silent tunnel with him at the end of it. It would be so easy to just close his eyes and let the blackness suck him down into unconsciousness. But he couldn’t. Not yet. Get up. Get everyone out.

“Sarah?” he croaked. He tried again. “Sarah?” His legs felt like lead and the urge to just lie back was stronger than ever. No. Keep moving. “Claire?” He coughed and tried to catch a breath, but couldn’t get the oxygen to his lungs. With a shallow intake of air, he turned over on his stomach and used his arms to raise himself to a sitting position. The inside of the diner looked like a destructive madman had rearranged it. The booths were toppled or stacked on top of each other. The hostess station was next to him now. The only thing that was still standing where it had before the blast was the four walls, the ceiling, and the antique counter. “Sarah,” he called again. “Bart? Colby?” The little girl. Was she still in the back with her mother?

No one answered. Where is everyone? He crawled forward. Sarah had been nearly right beside him. Now there was no sign of her. He rubbed his eyes and coughed. Moving slowly, he prayed she was alive. It didn’t take long to find her sandwiched between an overturned booth bench and the podium for the hostess station. With some effort he managed to maneuver close to her, the adrenaline kicking in as his blood pounded through his system. Don’t let her be dead. Not like this.

Praise for Ring Around the Rosie:

"Julie Coulter Bellon proves once again she is a master at capturing her audience from the very first page . . . Unlike most suspense novels, the most suspenseful portion of Ring Around the Rosie is the first two thirds of the book . . . Suspense readers as well as anyone who just enjoys an absorbing story will enjoy this one."  ---Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine

Julie Coulter Bellon is one of my favorite romantic suspense writers, and this book is her best so far! It charters deep emotions and a complex plot. At the same time it traces the resurrection of a marriage. It has good writing, good plotting, and a very satisfying ending.  ---Award-winning romance author, G.G. Vandagriff 

About the Author:

Julie is married with eight children and eleven published books. She loves to travel and her favorite cities she's visited so far are probably Athens, Paris, Ottawa, and London. She would love to visit Hawaii, Australia, Ireland, and Scotland someday. She loves to read, write, teach, watch Castle, Hawaii Five-O, and eat Canadian chocolate. Not necessarily in that order.        


Blog Tour Giveaway:

Prize #1---$30 Amazon Gift Card 
Prize #2---Booklovers Basket
Prize #3---Four Book Set of Hostage Negotiation Team series 
Ends 9/15/14 

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. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Title: Ring Around the Rosie
Author: Julie Coulter Bellon
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Published: July 2014
ISBN: 150060058X
Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for a review.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Book Review: All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant

All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes


Book Description:

Kat inspected rows of the same old cupcakes. They seemed to blink back at her, as if they knew she was capable of so much more.

Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie s bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.

But when Lucas Brannen, Kat s best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary . . . and a job at a famous bakery in New York.

As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself her is suddenly in danger of slipping away.

The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kat s senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams . . . or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana."


Book Review:

The cute cover caught my attention (because I'm a cover snob...sadly, it's true) but by the time I got around to reading this I had forgotten what it was about and why I was interested in it, so I was hesitant. However, considering I stayed up until one in the morning finishing the book (after I went to bed the first time I got up again to finish...I couldn't just let it sit there) I think I can safely say I enjoyed this book.

I love how the book had both Kat and Lucas's points-of-view. I love knowing what each character is thinking and why they do what they do. I know this isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I enjoy knowing.

I enjoyed aspects of the competition, but since that's not what the book is about, there isn't a whole bunch there. So don't have any expectations that you are going to get a lot about the competition. You won't.

As with a lot of romance stories, the main problem seems to be communication. Especially at the end of the book you kind of want to shake the characters and shout at them, "Just talk to each other! This isn't going to go away!"

If you read any other reviews on Goodreads the parts that people had problems with didn't actually bother me. Kat changing her mind about her town is realistic in my mind. Sort of a, "You don't appreciate what you have until you don't" type thing. Another issue was with her family. This didn't bother me either because I didn't really feel it all had to be resolved. Kat just needed to make up her own mind and get her own confidence, which she does. That's life. People are people and things are going to be hard at times, even if we've received an answer to a prayer. I feel that if it all would have been solved then the book would have ended too much like it was wrapped in a pretty bow. It all felt more realistic this way. My only complaint is that at the end the solution really seemed obvious to me, but it took the characters forever to get there. But again, that's probably reality for ya.

Content wise this is a clean christian (but not preachy) romance. There is some kissing, but no swearing. It is a light-hearted quick read.

All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes
Title: All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes
Author: Betsy St. Amant
Publisher: Zondervan
Published:September 2014
ISBN: 031033845X
Source: I received an eCopy from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Blog Tour: Girls Who Choose God by McArthur Krishna and Bethany Brady Spalding


Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Courageous Women From the Bible
by McArthur Krishna and Bethany Brady Spalding

Book Description:

From Eve to Esther, from the Samaritan woman at the well to the widow with her two mites, many women in the Bible have made courageous choices. All through the ages, women have chosen to help, to solve problems, to stand up for others, to strengthen families, and to follow God no matter what. Girls Who Choose God invites young readers (and those who love them) to make important choices of their own, following the examples of great women in the scriptures. With breathtaking illustrations, beautifully told stories, and insightful discussion questions, this delightful book is perfect for sharing, reading aloud, and drawing children into the scriptures.

Review:

When I heard about Girls Who Choose God, I thought it would be a great book for my daughter (even though her reading level is well beyond picture books, the message is for all ages). After she read it I asked her what she thought. She said it was inspirational (her words). She was familiar with most of the women in the book, but some were new, and she enjoyed learning about them. The illustrations aren't a style she enjoys, but they aren't out of place with the story.

As a parent, I appreciated the two choices spelled out for each woman, and then the questions posed to the reader. The scriptural references were also a nice addition.

About the Authors:

McArthur Krishna inherited her grit from her Utah pioneer great-grandmothers. With a master’s degree in communications from BYU, she co-owned Free Range, an award-winning marketing  business focused on telling social justice stories. In 2011, she moved to the Magic Land of India and started writing books. More of her stories can be found at mcarthurkrishna.com.

Bethany Brady Spalding likes to stir things up in the kitchen and in the community. She has founded programs to promote health and nutrition in the USA, South Africa, and India. Bethany currently leads a regional coalition in Richmond, Virginia, to create a healthier food environment for at-risk children. She loves to cook and climb mountains with her husband, Andy, and their three adventurous girls.

About the Illustrator:

Kathleen Peterson has illustrated twenty books, mostly for young people, on topics ranging from world religions to Hawaiian legends. Her art can be found in galleries throughout the West and at www.kathleenpetersonart.com. She and her husband, Steve, live on a farm in Spring City, Utah.

Purchase:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Blast: Thirty-Two Going On Spinster by Becky Monson

thirty two


Thirty-Two Going on Spinster by Becky Monson

Book Description:


Julia Dorning is a spinster, or at least on the road to becoming one. She has no social life, hates her job, and lives in her parent’s basement with her cat, Charlie.

With the arrival of Jared Moody, the new hire at work, Julia’s mundane life is suddenly turned upside down. Her instant (and totally ridiculous) crush on the new guy causes Julia to finally make some long-overdue changes, in hopes to find a life that includes more than baking and hanging out with Charlie.

But when the biggest and most unexpected change comes, will the new and improved Julia be able to overcome it? Or will she go back to her spinster ways?

Purchase your copy for just $2.99!!

Praise for Thirty-Two Going on... Spinster: 

"Oh my, oh my. I have just finished wiping the tears of laughter from my eyes. This is seriously funny." ~Julie Darley (Never judge a Book by its Movie)

"This was a refreshing change of pace for me to read. Some good clean romance was found in it’s pages and that is a rare find these days. It was some great chick-lit. I would not have thought this was Becky’s debut book, it was so well done." ~Liberty Ann (SnifferWalkBooks) 

About the Author:

Becky MonsonBy day, Becky Monson is a mother of three young children, and a wife. By night, she escapes with reading books and writing. In her debut novel, Becky uses humor and true-life experiences to bring her characters to life. She loves all things chick-lit (movies, books, etc), and wishes she had a British accent. She has recently given up Diet Coke for the fiftieth time and is hopeful time will last... But it probably won't. Becky runs a large book club on Facebook called "This Chick Reads".
  
   

BookBlast Giveaway:

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 9/30/14
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.  
a Rafflecopter giveaway