Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Book Review: The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson

The Noble Servant (A Medieval Fairy Tale, #3)
Book Description:

She lost everything to an evil conspiracy . . . but that loss may just give her all she ever wanted.

Since meeting Steffan, the Duke of Wolfberg, at Thornbeck Castle, Lady Magdalen has not been able to stop thinking about him. She knows—as a penniless lady with little to offer in terms of a dowry—she has no real hope of marrying such a highly titled man, so it comes as a great surprise when she receives a letter from him, asking for her hand in marriage.

But all is not what it seems at Wolfberg Castle. Steffan has been evicted by his scheming uncle, and his cousin has taken over the title of duke. Left for dead, Steffan is able to escape, and disguised as a shepherd, hopes to gain entry to the castle to claim the items that will prove he is the true Duke of Wolfberg.

Journeying to the castle, Magdalen has no idea what awaits her, but she certainly did not expect her loyal maidservant to turn on her. Forcing Magdalen to trade places with her, the servant plans to marry the duke and force Magdalen to tend the geese.

Without their respective titles—and the privileges that came with them—Steffan and Magdalen are reunited in the shepherd’s field. Together they conspire to get back their rightful titles. But they must hurry . . . or else they risk losing it all to the uncle’s evil plan.

Book Review:

Let's start with the cover. While I think it's a beautiful cover, it doesn't scream Melanie Dickerson to me. Any one else think that? Maybe it's the title. That didn't seem to match any of the other books of hers either. I mean, this has nothing to do with anything, I just thought it was interesting that it was so different.

I was a bit surprised with this story, with how fast Steffan and Magdalen figured out who each other were. I think I was expecting most of the story to be of the discovery, but instead it happens really quickly at the beginning, and the most of the story focuses on how to restore each of them to their titles and privileges.

This made me want to go back and reread Beautiful Pretender since this is the next book. However, that being said, even though I didn't remember anything from Beautiful Pretender I didn't have any problem following along with this story, so if this is the first Melanie Dickerson book you are picking up you will be fine and not lost at all.

The Noble Servant (A Medieval Fairy Tale, #3) 
Title: The Noble Servant
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Publisher: Fabled Films Press
Published: May 2017
Source: I received an eCopy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Book Review: Deep Extraction by DiAnn Mills

Deep Extraction (FBI Task Force #2)
Book Description:

A pacemaker should have saved oil and gas magnate Nathan Moore's life. Instead, it provided his killer with a seemingly perfect means of execution.A bombing at one of Nathan's oil rigs days earlier indicates his death could be part of a bigger conspiracy, a web Special Agent Tori Templeton must untangle. But her first order of business is separating the personal from the professional--the victim's wife, her best friend, is one of the FBI's prime suspects.Clearing Sally's name may be the biggest challenge of her career, but Tori finds an unexpected ally in the newest member of the task force, recently reinstated Deputy US Marshal Cole Jeffers. As Tori and Cole dig deeper into Nathan's personal and business affairs, they uncover more than they bargained for. And the closer they get to finding the real killer--and to each other--the more intent someone is on silencing them for good. 

Book Review:

I don't know. I'm probably a little alone in this, and maybe because I wasn't in the mood for this book, but it didn't really seem up to Mills usual standard.  I found it hard to follow. The writing just wasn't smooth and seemless. A lot of it was a little confusing. There was a lot going on, and sometimes that is really great, but it just didn't....mesh. Maybe it was the content. I don't love stories about affairs and cheating spouses. Maybe it was because I didn't really love any of the characters.  Tori and Cole weren't anything that stick with you and make you want to pretend you could be just like them. Normally a book like this will grab me and pull me in and I'll read it late into the night, but I took days to finish this. I had no problems putting it down and picking up something else.

It's book two in the series, and I don't remember reading book one so I can't say if any of the characters cross over or anything like that. I wasn't lost, and it didn't seem like a series so it could definitely be read as a standalone.

It wasn't bad, it just wasn't what I was expecting or wanting. I won't be rereading this, but I will keep trying this author since I like her other stuff.

Deep Extraction (FBI Task Force #2)
Title: Deep Extraction
Author: DiAnn Mills
Publisher: Tyndale House
Published: April 2017
ISBN: 149641098X
Source: I received an eCopy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Blog Tour: Wrong for You by Jenny Proctor

Reviews * Giveaway
Wrong for You by Jenny Proctor

Book Description:

Lane Bishop is a hardworking, intelligent, young woman. With her recent move to Chapel Hill, she is determined to leave behind the drama and effort of keeping up with the dating scene. Even so, Lane somehow manages to get dragged out by a gaggle of girls to go watch boys play soccer. Just watching is not Lane’s forte, so she joins in the fun and leads her team to victory.

Rather than feeling intimidated by the vivacious beauty on the opposing team, Jamie Hamilton is intrigued. Risking his “untouchable” dating status, he decides to pursue Lane—with a little help from his older brother Simon. With Simon’s behind-the- scenes assistance, Jamie proves irresistible, even to a disillusioned dater like Lane. But as she gets to know both brothers, Lane can’t help but wonder—beneath the grand gestures and romantic words, is she falling for the wrong guy?

Andrea's Review:

I really enjoyed Wrong for You! It was the kind of book that I didn't want to put down once I started, and with the great characters and fun story line, I will definitely read it again.

Wrong for You was more mind candy than deep thoughts (just the type of book I'm usually in the mood for), but it did have times where the characters really struggle, and although it was somewhat predictable, it was an enjoyable ride seeing how everything turned out.

Lane made for a wonderful main character. Perhaps part of her draw was that she was more mature than some of the other women around her, but her competitive nature added a very entertaining aspect to the story. I loved that she jumped right in to the soccer game (that wasn't a pickup game looking for more players). When she was turned down she didn't give up and sit down, she went to the other side. The scene demonstrated right off that Lane wasn't a quitter. She also had a lot of passion for her job, even though she was thrown some pretty big curve balls right off.

Jamie was an interesting character. He was likable in some ways, but I preferred Simon. It bothered me a bit that Simon was feeding Jamie information on what Lane liked, but I also appreciated that Simon noticed those things. And, I liked the relationship the Hamilton brothers had. The group texts between them added a fun aspect to the story.

I'll admit that I don't love the cover. It does fit with the story, but it's not a style that would catch my eye at a bookstore. However, if you feel the same way, ignore that feeling and get right to reading. It really was a great book. 

I look forward to reading more from this author.

Tarah's Review:

How is it that I had no idea that Jenny Proctor has written four books? I thought Wrong for You was her second book. This both excites and depresses me. It's depressing because I'm not sure my library has these books, and it's exciting because I really appreciate Proctors stories. She is able to write great characters, a compelling storyline, and good clean entertainment.

I love the cover. I think it's super cute and clever. I'm not sure I'm a huge fan of the white background, but every time I picture it with a different color it doesn't work, so I guess the white is the best choice. Don't the little stick figures make you smile though?

I will say I was a little hesitant to read this because it sounded like a love triangle, and I really hate love triangles. However, that's not what it was at all, which was a relief to me. I was worried how everything was going to turn out because part of what made this book awesome was the relationship with the Hamilton brothers.  And I wanted everyone to have a happy ending. I like happy endings. I know that's not how it always in in real life, but if I'm reading fiction then happy endings are sort of mandatory for me.

I can't wait to recommend this to my friends. I've already gone back and reread my favorite parts.

Rorie's Review:

This is my kind of book. Engaging right from the get-go. The characters had a lot of depth to them and I really felt like I got to know them all pretty well. I absolutely loved how Lane didn't let Jamie intimidate her at the soccer game, and instead, totally showed him up on the field.

Every part of this book was enjoyable. I loved reading about Lane's new job, her friends, her family (sending missionaries to look her up after they're released? Hilarious!) Little things like that helped make the story flow so well. Simon? Well, I really liked Simon. He is more of the quiet, reserved type. Not as impetuous as Jamie, and better at thinking things through.

This book teaches the reader that honesty and communication can go a really long way in a relationship. I had no idea how they were going to successfully pull off the Thanksgiving weekend charade. It was definitely entertaining though, that's for sure.

Jenny Proctor is now one of my favorite authors. I can't wait for her next book to come out. :)

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Title: Wrong for You
Author: Jenny Proctor
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: May 2017
ISBN: 1524403067
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle | Deseret Book

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Book Review: The Fallen Star by Tracey Hecht 

Book Description:

 In The Fallen Star, Dawn, Tobin, and Bismark awaken one evening to a disaster: all of the forest's pomelos have been mysteriously poisoned! As the Nocturnal Brigade sets out to investigate, they encounter Iris, a mysterious aye-aye, who claims monsters from the moon are to blame. While the three heroes suspect a more earthly explanation, the animals of the valley are all falling ill. And then Tobin gets sick, too! The Nocturnal Brigade must race to find answers, and the cure, before the pomelo blight threatens to harm them all.

In The Fallen Star, the third book in the non-episodic middle grade series, The Nocturnals, the adventure of the three unlikely friends—Dawn, a serious fox, Tobin, a sweet pangolin, and Bismark, a loud-mouthed sugar glider—continue with teamwork, friendship, and humor.

Rorie's Review:

My son has been anxiously awaiting the third book in this series ever since he finished the second one. He was over-the-moon excited when I handed it to him when I picked him up from school one day. He immediately started reading the book and pretty much didn't come up for air until the next day when he finished it. I'm pretty sure he would have read all night long if I had let him.
Now, my son has loved reading ever since he was old enough to learn how - something that I am entirely grateful for. But I am still so glad for books that get him so excited that he wants to learn everything he can about the characters or places featured in this book. In this case, pangolins and sugar gliders - two animals he had never heard of before reading this series. Now, he will tell anyone who is interested what a pangolin is, what they look like, and any other tid-bit of information he can find on them. For that reason (and many others) I consider The Nocturnals series a huge hit. 

Now, on to his review. He may love reading, but he's not so fond of writing reviews. It took a whole lot of doing, but I finally managed to get him to write more than three sentences about the book:

"I really like the falling star. My favorite character is Bismark. I like how he thinks that Dawn likes him. My favorite part of the story is when they find out what the glow was. I like how it features different animals that are very unique like sugar gliders and pangolins. I like how the animals can talk in stories like this one. I really think that makes the stories unique. I really hope the author makes another story of the Nocturnals because I don't think three books make a good ending point. So I hope you make another book like this. I really want to know what happens."

There you have it. A huge hit for the 9-year-old set. I have to say, I'm with my son on this one. I really do hope the author writes more books in this series.

Tarah's Review:

 Two of my children were very excited when The Fallen Star came in the mail. I greedily horded it however, and wouldn't let them read it until I was finished. They were very excited when I told them they could now read it.

I will admit that this time in the story, the sugar glider Bismark was a little too much for me. I sort of wished he would be quiet and let the story go on. He seemed to pipe up more in this story than the other ones, but it's possible I am not remembering correctly. And, I think the kids will still really like him, even if I thought he was annoying.

The best part of this story was the end. I'll admit I wasn't sure how they were going to make this in to realish situations, but they did and I was like, "Oh, that's cool." But the end...I like the moral of the story. That, I hope, resonates with my kids the most when they fight over who gets to read this first :) The Fallen Star
Author: Tracey Hecht
Publisher: Fabled Films Press
Published: May 2017
ISBN: 1944020055
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Book Review: Keeping Kinley by Annette K. Larsen

 Keeping Kinley (Books of Dalthia #5)
Keeping Kinley by Annette K. Larsen

Book Description:

"Rylan made me feel like things were possible. Like I was possible, and he was possible, and we could be possible together."

Kinley is content tending her apple orchard, until a chance meeting with a childhood friend changes her priorities. Spending time with nobility is not socially acceptable, but Rylan rejects the norm. He pursues her with an easygoing charm, though she doesn’t dare hope that their relationship will be a reality.

When Kinley’s livelihood is threatened, any thoughts of a relationship are set aside as she’s thrust into Rylan’s world, where commoners and nobility don’t mix. The Rylan she encounters there is not the quirky and carefree friend she thought she knew. Can she trust what her heart has told her and believe in him, or will she be forced to accept that her dreams are only that—dreams?

Andrea's Review:

Annette K. Larsen is an author I can depend on to write a great book that is clean! I love that about her.  

Keeping Kinley grabbed my attention right off and was a very pleasant ride to the end. It's a sweet story with very likable characters. And, I'm a sucker for a commoner catching the eye of a "higher class citizen" (Cinderella type) story.

Kinley didn't fit the mold for her "class", and I really liked that about her. She bettered herself, even though most of her station didn't understand why she'd want to read. And, as it turned out, it really helped her older brother too, so benefits all around.

I would read this (and all of Annette's other books) again.

Tarah's Review:

When my sister told me to go read the first couple chapters of this on Kindle Scout I was hooked. I finished it right away (stayed up way too late). Larsen is able to write stories that just drag you in and won't let you go until you finish. I love that she writes strong characters that are real. Not only that, but the story is super clean. I would have no problem having any teen read Keeping Kinley.

I will admit that it seemed like a very similar story line to Just Ella, except reverse. Rylan isn't royalty, but he is in a higher class than Kinley.  I especially enjoyed when it brought up the prejudices that both classes felt toward Gavin and Ella.

While this is the 5th book in the Dalthia, it can be read as a stand alone book (but if nothing else you really should read Just Ella because that has been this author's best).  I kind of hope that Bram gets a story. He was an interesting side character that I wouldn't mind reading more about.

Keeping Kinley (Books of Dalthia #5) Title: Keeping Kinley
Author: Annette K. Larsen
Publisher: Kindle Press
Published: May 2017
Source: We received copies from Kindle Scout Program for voting for this book.

Purchase: Amazon

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Blog Tour: Shatter by Nikki Trionfo

Shatter by Nikki Trionfo

Book Description:

When a mysterious explosion kills her sister, Salem Jefferson becomes convinced the death was no accident—it was a conspiracy. But no one else at her high school believes her, and all she has so far is one clue. She knows Carrie hired a gang member to protect orchard workers. Problem is, Salem doesn't know who.

To find out, Salem pursues the gang-bangers who rule her town, especially classmate Cordero. As her distrust of Cordero heats up, so do the number of suspects in Carrie's death. Teachers and school officers are orchard owners. They have every reason to stop farm workers from demanding higher wages. With Carrie's killers still out there, Salem's not sure who she can trust. Meanwhile, the people who live on orchards and the people who pick them are drawing lines in the sand.

The only way for Salem to learn the truth is to slip behind those enemy lines.

The only way to survive is to find a way back out.

Andrea's Review:

Shatter is an enjoyable story that I read quickly. It kept me on my toes, which I appreciate for suspense novels (if you aren't going back and forth on who the bad guy is the whole suspense part is a little lacking).

The flashbacks/jumping around in time made things a little confusing at first. They were very important to the story but the first few times it just confused me.

The discussion questions at the end were thought provoking. The story really has some deep issues, and an angle that I haven't really read before concerning gang members.

The ending was a bit underwhelming. After the big thing that happens it seemed like there should be a lot more happening (at least legally) than just talking about riding home.

As a debut novel I think it was a strong effort. The story was engaging, but could have used some tightening up.

Tarah's Review:

For a suspense novel I really approve of the cover. It looks a little freaky and a little mysterious. After you read the novel, the words at the top of the cover confuse me a little bit, but it is what it is.

Salem is an interesting character. She's trying to figure out who she is without her sister that she relied so much on. And when we meet her it is right after her sisters death, so her emotions are very high. I think because of this, because she didn't really know who she was, I had a hard time really getting to know her. The flashbacks at the beginning of the book were also really confusing. The information in them is important, but it messed with the flow of the story.

Congrats to the author for her debut novel. It's kind of a big deal :)

Rorie's Review:

I'm usually up for a good suspense, who-done-it style book (as long as it's not too scary, my imagination tends to get the best of me.) The description of this book had all the makings of a good murder mystery, but the story just never really came together for me. 

The first half of the book goes back and forth between present and past so frequently, it's almost enough to make you dizzy. I had a hard time concentrating on the storyline because it switched so much. Thankfully, that went away after the first half of the book and the story did flow a bit better after that.

I never felt like you got to know any of the characters in depth very well, and that's a really important part of a book for me. I find it hard to relate to the characters at all if I don't know them. The whole story just didn't quite do it for me. The author is very promising though, and I plan on reading more of her books as they are published.

Tour Schedule:
Title: Shatter
Author: Nikki Trionfo
Publisher: Sweetwater Books
Published: May 2017
ISBN: 146212013X
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle | Books & Things

Friday, May 12, 2017

Book Review: An Unseen Angel by Alissa Parker

An Unseen Angel
A Mother's Story of Faith, Hope, and Healing After Sandy Hook
By Alissa Parker

Andrea's Review:

I thought this would be a really hard book to read, and it was. I had to read in small bits (sometimes just a chapter at a time) because the tears/crying headache were too much. Sandy Hook was such a horrible event in our country. I cannot imagine sending my kids to school and getting a call that there's been a shooting, and then never seeing my child alive again. The act of the gunman is unthinkable. These little first graders were 100% innocent. It was truly a heartbreaking incident.

Time and time again as I read this book I thought about how good people are. Some of the acts of kindness (often by strangers) may have seemed like small things to the givers, but they all added up to huge actions that helped a family in a horrible time of crisis. The police officer washing and returning the clothing, the gifts of stuff animals and flowers from the airline employees, the police escorts, the co-workers donating their paid time off. So many things that just made me think about the goodness in this world.

It is inspiring to see that Alissa and her family were not destroyed by this tragedy. They suffered immensely, but they held strong to each other and their faith and lifted each other up in their worst moments. 

One of the most important messages to me in this book is the message of forgiveness. I've never dealt with anything remotely close to this situation (and I hope I never have to), but I have been hurt and held onto bitter feelings. I can testify that when you let those bitter feeling go your life is so much better! Those feelings are truly a weight that holds us down. Forgiveness is an important part of the healing process. Alissa's ability to get to a point to recognize that Adam Lanza is also a child of God, loved by our Heavenly Father, helped her on her road to forgiveness. It was a major struggle, but over time she was not only able to forgive him, but to feel love and compassion for him.

Rorie's Review:

Have plenty of tissues nearby. And don't read this book when you're in a public place, like your son's piano lessons for example. I knew from the moment I chose to read this book that it would be difficult. Heartbreaking. And it was. But this book is not about the tragedy of losing her beautiful daughter. It is about how she was able to heal from that horrible tragedy. This book is full of sorrow and pain, but it is also full of hope, peace, forgiveness, and love. 
I have always thought that if I lost one of my children, the only way I'd be able to make it through it would be because of my faith. I can't even begin to imagine the pain and horror and heartache that the Parker family went through. I love that Alissa stated that she never thought to blame God for this tragedy, instead she immediately turned to Him to help her through the tragedy.
My heart warmed at reading just how many wonderful people stepped up and helped out after the shooting. It was so wonderful to see how much good there is, especially in the face of such horrible evil.
This is a tough book to read, especially if you have young children, but it is oh, so worth the tears and heartache, because it leaves you feeling uplifted and at peace. An Unseen Angel
Author: Alissa Parker
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: April 2017
ISBN: 1629722790
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book