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Monday, October 23, 2017

Book Review: Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey

Blind Spot (Chesapeake Valor, #3)
Book Description:

FBI agent Declan Grey is in the chase of his life--but isn't sure exactly what he's chasing after. Threatened by a terrorist that "the wrath is coming," Grey fears something horrible is about to be unleashed on American soil. When his investigation leads him to a closed immigrant community, he turns to Tanner Shaw to help him. She's sought justice for refugees and the hurting around the world, and if there's anyone who can help him, it's Tanner.

Tanner Shaw has joined the FBI as a crisis counselor . . . meaning she now has more opportunity to butt heads with Declan. But that tension also includes a spark she can't deny, and she's pretty sure Declan feels the same. But before anything can develop between them, they discover evidence of a terror cell--and soon are in a race against the clock to stop the coming "wrath" that could cost thousands their lives.
  


Tarah's Review:

Okay, it took me a long time to even want to start this book. I enjoyed the other books in the series (especially the one right before this Still Life) but I read them so long ago I couldn't remember them, and well, I think the cover is ugly. Plus, when I started the story the prologue didn't pull me in and I put the book down for a week or so. However, once I got into the story and remembered the characters I was hooked.

I always liked Declan in the other books, so I was glad that he got his own story. I'm a little disappointed Griffith got a lot of time in this book though. I'm all for bringing in all the characters and even having the next books main characters have a showing (which they do in this book, and wow...super excited for the next book. Super excited!) but I hate having past characters play a big role, especially since the case he was working on wasn't exactly pertinent to this story. I guess she needed a way to get all the characters in the story sort of working together, but every time the point of view switched to Griffith I was slightly annoyed.

I would not suggest reading this if you haven't read the others in the series. The story might make sense, but having the whole story behind all the characters would be super helpful. Especially concerning Luke.

Speaking of Luke, cliff-hanger ending! Ahhh, the suspense is killing me. When is his book supposed to come out? Ya, really can't wait to finish this off with his story. I was totally taken in by this story and had a hard time putting it down to go to sleep.

Andrea's Review:

I didn’t realize this was a third book in a series when I started reading it. I recognized most of the characters from having read the first book a long time ago, but felt lost. And I was confused about why the author kept switching back and forth between two very unrelated cases. Apparently that was just a way for her to get all of her characters in one story. It would have been much more enjoyable to have two separate stories. I was also put off at times by dialogue that didn’t flow.

That said, when the focus was mostly on Declan and Tanner’s case, the story got pretty intense, and the intensity kept me reading.

Like the first book I read in this series, faith plays an important part for the main characters and there is time out for their prayers.

I was intrigued by the Luke angle, and that actually has me interested to read the next book (assuming it’s about him).

Blind Spot (Chesapeake Valor, #3) Title: Blind Spot
Author: Dani Pettrey
Publisher: Bethany House
Published: October 2017
ISBN: 0764212966
Source: We received copies from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Book Review: Topaz Reign by Teresa Richards

 https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/517eNg8h5aL.jpg



Book Description:

Fairy tales are simply tales, told and re-told, but changed over time. It has been four months since Maggie learned the dark truth behind the tale of the Princess and the Pea and freed Princess Lindy from the cursed Emerald. Lindy is now back in the past where she belongs, queen of her tiny Scandinavian country, and Maggie is a fully reformed ex-stalker. Except … she can’t stop doing internet searches on Lindy and her country. One morning, Maggie wakes to find history turned on its head. Apparently, you can’t destroy a centuries-old curse without consequence. In order to prevent the changes in history from wiping out the present, Maggie resurrects her stalking gene and learns that fairy tales don’t stay dead for long. Or at all. Back in 1623, Lindy is juggling a threat to her family, a handsome new guard she’s not supposed to have feelings for, and a cursed Topaz with ties to the tale of Thumbelina. When past and present collide, Lindy and Maggie are brought together again, and another of Andersen’s tales turns from twisted fiction to chilling fact.

Rorie's Review:

I enjoyed Emerald Bound, but I really, really liked Topaz Reign. This story drew me in from the beginning and kept me entertained throughout. I enjoyed how each of the characters grew and developed in this story.

Lindy struggles to live life as the queen, and feels like she's messing everything up. She really misses Garon and wishes he was with her to offer her support. Maggie is trying to readjust to normal life with Garon at her side now, but she almost obsessively researches any information she can find about her friend in the past. When she notices that history has drastically changed, she and Garon know that something has gone wrong and they have to fix it.

I enjoyed how the author wove the future and the past together and how she eventually brought Garon, Lindy and Maggie back together. There are some unexpected twists and turns in this story - things I never would have guessed at - which is a good thing, because you never quite know what's going to happen next. I'm not sure how I feel about the ending of the story though. I need to process that a bit more to decide if I like how it ended or not.

Definitely a good, quick read that I will be adding to my bookshelf.

Tarah's Review:

Yes, this was a fun book to finish the series with. Right away I got pulled in, but I will say that I was a little disappointed when it kept changing points of view back to Maggie. I felt like she already had her story, and she could have still been in this story without the switches back and forth.

I would have liked more between Lindy and her love interest. There was a little bit, but then towards the end it was all summed up and I feel like I missed out on some great characters falling in love, and their story on how they got there.

The ending...hmm...not sure about the ending. I can't say much without it being a spoiler, but even though I had no problems with the time travel, magic diamonds, scifi stuff in general I did struggle with the end for Maggie. I know that doesn't make sense, but I don't want to ruin it for anyone who has yet to read it. And read it you should, because it's a fun, quick, YA read.
 
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/517eNg8h5aL.jpg Title: Topaz Reign
Author: Teresa Richards
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Published: September 2017
ISBN: 1773394339
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon Barnes & Noble

Friday, October 20, 2017

Blog Tour: 100 Favorite Verses From the Old Testament by Shauna Humphreys

Reviews * Giveaway
100 Favorite Verses From the Old Testament by Shauna Humphreys

Book Description:

Studying—and truly understanding—the Old Testament can feel like an insurmountable task. But in this wonderful compilation of 100 of the most beloved Old Testament verses, author Shauna Humphreys reminds readers that this sacred book of scripture is brimming with treasures of wisdom for those prepared to seek them. Presented with complementary spiritual insights, vibrant explanations, and personal applications, each verse will motivate readers to delve into these sacred and powerful teachings as never before. Whether used in personal study or incorporated into family discussions or Church lessons, this inspiring volume is sure to enlighten the mind and stir the heart.

Andrea's Review:

My attention was grabbed when I read the part of the book description for 100 Favorite Verses from the Old Testament that said "truly understanding the Old Testament". I read the Old Testament years ago as part of a seminary class, and several years after that I attempted it on my own. However, I was so put off by what I couldn't understand that I soon gave up.

When 100 Favorite Verses from the Old Testament arrived in my mailbox I was very surprised to find a 200 page book. Although I wasn't anticipating two pages per verse (I'm not sure how else you'd understand the verses without some good explanations-I just hadn't thought that part through), I was very impressed with the look of the book. It is a lovely, stitched leather (faux?) hardcover with debossed titles and silver gilded pages. It will fit very well next to your scriptures.

This isn't a one sitting kind of book. It's a study guide of sorts, or maybe something you'd use for family nights or devotionals. My goal is to read a chapter a day (so one verse and explanation per day), and it has been an enjoyable experience so far. The author gives some great insights, and there is definitely food for thought.

Rorie's Review:

First off, this book! It is so nice looking - almost elegant, really. Second, while I haven't finished the whole book yet, I am very pleased with the presentation so far. I really struggle with scripture study, especially in the Bible, because I have such a hard time understanding what a lot of the scriptures even mean. As a result, I have purchased several styles of scripture help books. Many of them I've ended up reselling or donating, because they just didn't give me the additional help that I need to gain some great scriptural insights. I think this one will be a keeper though. I really like how the author focuses on one scripture at a time and then spends two pages talking about it, linking other scriptures to it, and giving some great insights.

This is not a book that is best read in one sitting. This is something that I have added to my daily scripture time, and I read/study one verse a day, along with my other reading that I'm doing. This is a small enough book that you can take it with you and pull it out to read when you're waiting for carpool pickup, in line at a store, or at the doctor's office. I'm very happy to add this book to my collection.

Tour Schedule:






Tour Giveaway:

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Title: 100 Favorite Verses From the Old Testament
Author: Shauna Humphreys
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: October 2017
ISBN: 1524403938
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle | Deseret Book

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Book Review: The Moonlight Meeting: The Nocturnals by Tracey Hecht


The Moonlight Meeting: The Nocturnals


Book Description:

In The Moonlight Meeting, Tobin, a sweet pangolin, Bismark, a loud-mouthed sugar glider, and Dawn, a serious fox, introduce their nighttime world to early readers. The story emphasizes friendship, sharing, and humor. Includes bonus animal glossary.

Rorie's Review:

I thought this was a really cute book. My kids all read it right after we got it in the mail. It was easy enough for my 6-year-olds to read, but still entertaining for my 9-year-old (who loves all things Nocturnal.) This is definitely a book that will be read over and over again. 
 
Here are reviews from two of my boys (I couldn't get one from the other 6-year-old.)

Micah - I liked how Bismarck acted. He acted funny. I like how Dawn came through the bushes. I also like how Tobin pooped out stinky stuff.

Braden - I like how the book was just like the first book in the beginning. I like how Bismark acted like he owns the woods. My favorite character is Dawn because she is so smart and can figure out problems faster then the others. Tobin is very protective about others and he cares about others. 

Tarah's Review:

How fun is this book?! Not only was I really excited when I got it, but my 6 year old was thrilled. She is just starting to read "chapter" books, and she thought she was the coolest thing ever to read this book just like her older siblings. They previously read the older version of the Nocturnals, and she knew all about it. In fact, it's a good thing I quickly read it before I handed it to her because I haven't seen it since. She plays games pretending to be the fox and my other kids think it's funny to talk in an accent like Bismark.

Do you have an early reader? Check this book out for them. It's super cute.

The Moonlight Meeting: The Nocturnals
 Title: The Moonlight Meeting: The Nocturnals
Author: Tracey Hecht
Publisher: Fabled Films Press
Published: September 2017
ISBN: 1944020152
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Book Review: Adventurers Wanted: The Axe of Sundering by M.L. Foreman

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81VxjBCnF7L.jpg 
Book Description:


The long-awaited final volume of the Adventures Wanted series. Whalen Vankin is the worlds greatest wizard, and he has only ever personally trained two other wizards. One is Alexander Taylor, a young man who has earned a reputation as a brave adventurer, a warrior, and man of honor. The other is Jabez, Vankin's nephew and a man whose choices have led him down a different, darker path.
Dark magic has covered Westland, and evil is stirring. Whalen and Alex must journey together into the heart of danger, confronting a sea serpent, battling their way through a goblin army, and facing down more than one dragon. Alex must find the legendary Axe of Sundering the one weapon that offers a chance to defeat Jabez and protect the land from the dark wizards plans. But finding it will be an adventure of its own as the only pathway to the Axe leads through the underground tunnels and secret passages of Castle Conmar.
But Jabez has one final weapon at his disposal: the powerful Orion Stone, which could spell the end to Whalen and Alex both.


Rorie's Review:


I didn't realize this was the 5th book in a series until my son pointed it out to me. He has the first book, and enjoyed it, but he didn't want to read this one until he's had a chance to read the other three books. 

I have to agree with him. Some books work well as stand-alone novels, but this one did not. There were a lot of things that were mentioned that I know would have made much more sense if I had read the first 4 books. Maybe that's why I felt like there wasn't a whole lot of depth to these characters and really, the whole story line. 

While this book just wasn't for me, I think my oldest two kids would really get into this series. We just need to get the middle three books now so they can read them all. :)


Tarah's Review:

I'm going to agree with Rorie on this one. Starting on the fifth book of this series was probably not the best idea I've ever had. It certainly was an entertaining book, but because we didn't know a lot about the characters they all seemed to be missing something. A lot of things weren't explained either. I'm assuming Alex's O'Gash was like his dragon personality or something, but no explanation was given in this book and I was left to my own devises to figure something out.

It's a beautiful cover though, no? In fact all of the covers in this series are great looking, so kudos to the design team there.

I'm interested in the other books of the series, but will probably only read them if they fall into my lap. I do think my kids would like them though. I'm hesitant to let them read this one first, just because it's the last book, but I think they would enjoy it.


https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81VxjBCnF7L.jpgTitle: Adventurers Wanted: The Axe of Sundering
Author: M.L. Forman
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: October 2017
ISBN: 1609079345
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 


Monday, October 16, 2017

Book Review: An Inconvenient Beauty by Kristi Ann Hunter

 An Inconvenient Beauty (Hawthorne House, #4)
Book Description:

Griffith, Duke of Riverton, likes order, logic, and control, and he naturally applies this rational approach to his search for a bride. He's certain Miss Frederica St. Claire is the perfect wife for him, but while Frederica is strangely elusive, he can't seem to stop running into her stunningly beautiful cousin, Miss Isabella Breckenridge.

Isabella should be enjoying her society debut, but with her family in difficult circumstances, her uncle will only help them if she'll use her beauty to assist him in his political aims. Already uncomfortable with this agreement, the more she comes to know Griffith, the more she wishes to be free of her unfortunate obligation.

Will Griffith and Isabella be able to set aside their pride and face their fears in time to find their own happily-ever-after?


Book Review:

I will admit that after Hunter's last book I was hesitant to pick this one up, but the first couple books and novella were just so good that I decided to give it a try. Starting with the cover, I don't really love it, but I do appreciate that it matches the rest of the series.

I really enjoyed Griffith in the other novels (although they can all be read by themselves in any order), so it was fun to see what made him, him. I enjoyed how the story started when he was just a boy at school. It was fun to see Ryland as a boy as well. My favorite thing about Griffith is how he tries to pick his wife. It definitely isn't something that is seen often, and I thought it was refreshing.

My favorite part with Isabella is when she is walking with Griffith and she starts smelling the trees. I found a lot of humor in that :) It was also fun for me to see the old characters make appearances and relate to each other. I am a sucker for family series, and this family is just a great family.

It's not the best book in the series, but I really enjoyed reading it, and I will read it again. If you are looking for a clean, light, easy, entertaining read, this will do the trick.


An Inconvenient Beauty (Hawthorne House, #4)
Title: An Inconvenient Beauty
Author: Kristi Ann Hunter
Publisher: Bethany House
Published: September 2017
ISBN:   0764218271
Source: I received an eCopy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Blog Tour: Topaz Reign by Teresa Richards

Topaz Reign by Teresa Richards

Book Description:

Fairy tales are simply tales, told and re-told, but changed over time.

It has been four months since Maggie learned the dark truth behind the tale of the Princess and the Pea and freed Princess Lindy from the cursed Emerald. Lindy is now back in the past where she belongs, queen of her tiny Scandinavian country, and Maggie is a fully reformed ex-stalker.

Except … she can’t stop doing internet searches on Lindy and her country.

One morning, Maggie wakes to find history turned on its head. Apparently, you can’t destroy a centuries-old curse without consequence. In order to prevent the changes in history from wiping out the present, Maggie resurrects her stalking gene and learns that fairy tales don’t stay dead for long.

Or at all.

Back in 1623, Lindy is juggling a threat to her family, a handsome new guard she’s not supposed to have feelings for, and a cursed Topaz with ties to the tale of Thumbelina. When past and present collide, Lindy and Maggie are brought together again, and another of Andersen’s tales turns from twisted fiction to chilling fact.


Purchase: Amazon | Kindle

Tour Giveaway:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Interview:

What inspired you to write Topaz Reign?

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it really started with a dream. I’d recently finished writing a different book I was really excited about, but was more women's fiction than young adult. Then one morning I woke up from one of those dreams that make perfect sense while you’re in them but fall to pieces when you wake up. It involved having to rescue a friend from certain death by getting a marble-like stone out from under her bed--I know, super random and weird. But it changed my direction.

I realized that the stone thread from that dream would make a really cool YA twist on the fairy tale The Princess and the Pea. I love reading fairy tale retellings, and the idea of twisting one up that hadn’t been done before was so exciting. Immediately, the story spun to life inside my head, and I stopped thinking about that first book and started working on this one. Even once Emerald Bound was finished, I felt there was still so much more I wanted to see the characters do, and so many more places I could take it, that I knew I wanted to do another. Hence, Topaz Reign.

Is there a message in Topaz Reign that you want readers to come away with?

I really didn’t write this book with the intent to deliver a message, but I hope readers come away with a new appreciation for family. I also hope readers will realize that it’s possible to be strong even when you lose your support network and the odds are stacked against you, but it’s also okay to accept help when it’s offered. 

Who is your favorite character in your book, and why?

I love both of my leading ladies—Maggie and Lindy. But this book was about Lindy coming into her own, while Emerald Bound was more about Maggie. I love the person that Lindy became through Topaz Reign. She handled herself with dignity and poise even in the toughest of circumstances, and I admire her for that.

What are your hopes/goals as an author, and what other projects do you have in mind?

I write because I love it, but writing something you know you’ll be able to share with other people makes it that much better. I love talking with teens about writing (and, really, all things life) and I hope to inspire them to chase their dreams in a way I didn’t have the courage to do when I was their age. I signed with a literary agent about a year ago, with the goal of bringing my stories to a wider audience. We have a book currently on submission with editors, a YA contemporary suspense, and another YA contemporary that I’m working on. I don’t want to say too much about either project, but the first features a piano playing lottery winner, and the second involves roller-skating gymnasts. How’s that for vague?

Do you have any unusual habits while you write?

Well, right now I’m sitting in the back seat of my car, in a deserted parking lot, writing on my laptop while I wait for the library to open. Does that count as unusual? I have five kids between the ages of six and sixteen, so I have to make use of every moment I can. I often find myself writing in the car as I wait for somebody’s class/lesson/school activity/club to end, or waiting outside the library before it opens because I had to take one of my kids to school or to a doctor appointment before school and it would be a waste of time to go home. There are fewer distractions in the car (actually, like none—it’s not comfortable enough to lay down for a nap, and there’s no tv or internet or dishes or laundry) and I’m often able to focus better.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love music. I play the piano when I need a mental break (it’s better than a therapist, I’d say) and I’ve always got a song stuck in my head (which I sing out loud in all sorts of places I shouldn’t, like the grocery store and the movie theater). I also enjoy watching movies and spending time with my family and friends. And reading, of course. Always reading.

What is your favorite book, and why?

Oh, man, that’s like asking me to pick my favorite child. There are so many books I love, and for different reasons. The Book Thief is at the top of my list, just because it’s so surprisingly different in the way that it’s written. And, of course, the story is amazing. I also love a little book called Ella Minnow Pea for being so clever. And then there’s the Cinder series and the Splintered series, both fairy tale retellings that I adore. And there are so many others. So, yeah, I’m sorry but I can’t pick just one. Books are the best!

Tour Schedule:

Tuesday, October 3--Katie's Clean Book Selection
Thursday, October 5--Singing Librarian Books
Thursday, October 5--Cindy's Treasury of Good Tales--review

Friday, October 6--Blooming With Books
Saturday, October 7--Cindy's Treasury of Good Tales--Guest post, Interview with the Topaz Reign Characters
Saturday, October 7--By Robin King
Sunday, October 8--Head Over Books
Monday, October 9--Why not? Because I said so!
Tuesday, October 10--EmmyMom 
Tuesday, October 10--Five Take Flight
Wednesday, October 11--Kindle And Me 
Wednesday, October 11--Getting Your Read On
Thursday, October 12--My Book A Day
Friday, October 13--Brookie Cowles
Saturday, October 14--LDS Women's Book Reviews 
Saturday, October 14--Literary Time Out