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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Blog Tour: Keeping Kate by Lauren Winder Farnsworth

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Keeping Kate by Lauren Winder Farnsworth

Book Description:

Orphan Kate Evans is determined to make a life for herself on a Utah ranch, taking care of a little girl named Addie. But when she meets her irritable employer, Kate is forced to confront the past she’s been running from—and face a future she never dreamed possible. This latter-day twist on the classic Jane Eyre is a romantic and gripping read.

Review:

Modern retellings can be quite enjoyable, and being a fan of Jane Eyre, I thought it would be fun to see what Lauren Winder Farnsworth did with her retelling. In some ways, retellings can be a little hard since most of the surprise is eliminated if you're familiar with the original. But, it can be entertaining placing all the modern day characters as you read along.

Farnsworth did a good job of sticking to the original story, so if you like Jane Eyre, I think you'll be happy with Keeping Kate. That said, I was reminded that parts of Jane Eyre drag on (the audio book is over 18 hours long). True to the original story, Keeping Kate goes on much longer than most modern romances. Granted, the part after the initial falling in love is a big chunk of what makes the story interesting, but if you are a bit of an impatient reader you might find yourself wishing Kate's situation would progress faster.

I don't want to spoil anything, so I won't go into much detail, but I actually found myself hoping that the story would stray from the original as far as the love interest was concerned since I liked one of the men much better than the other. Also, there is a relationship that is severed during the story that felt a little heartless. I understood that keeping in touch could have complicated things, but I just thought the person left probably wouldn't understand why they were deserted.

Keeping Kate is a clean and enjoyable story. The main character is a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), and many of her decisions reflect her commitment to living the gospel. Although religion is a big part of Kate's life, the religious parts don't come across as preachy.

The setting is great, and I thought the author did a good job modernizing the story.

About the Author:

Lauren Winder Farnsworth was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is an avid reader, a chocolate enthusiast, a musicophile and a CPA…who somehow also finds time to indulge in her real obsession—writing. She obtained bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from the University of Utah, and the only entity that holds more of her heart than her alma mater is her husband, Bryan. Lauren currently lives in South Jordan, Utah, where she spends entirely too time watching Gilmore Girls and looking for excuses not to clean.  


Title: Keeping Kate
Author: Lauren Winder Farnsworth
Publisher: Cedar Fort Publishing & Media
Published: January 2015
ISBN: 1462115632
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Blog Tour: Betrayed by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen

Review * Giveaway



Betrayed by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen

Book Description:

1851: Niagara Falls, New York
The evidence has been well hidden the Thayers were confident that it was safe from the clutches of the ruthless Murphy Gang. But it has all been in vain. The lawless group is closing in on the family homestead, and seven-year-old Penny is given only one instruction: Run.

After two long years eagerly anticipating her fiancé's return, twenty-year-old Julia Barrett is ready to make a fresh start with Adam Wolcott even if it means putting her dream of traveling west with the Mormons on hold. But when Adam's return is overshadowed by the unexpected arrival of a young orphan girl in desperate need of help, Julia is drawn into a dangerous mystery that will threaten all she holds dear.

Charged with the protection of little Penny, Julia quickly finds herself relying on the help of Tom Harrison, an endearing young man who has long admired her from afar. Torn between two suitors, Julia soon uncovers a shocking trail of corruption and deceit-a discovery that pulls her inescapably into the race to locate telling evidence that Penny's family gave their lives to protect.

Review:

Usually when I read books that have love triangles in them, I have a hard time choosing between the two men. This book was different for me. I found myself disliking one of the characters from the get-go and really hoping that Julia would make the "right decision" and choose the guy I liked. Julia tended to bug me a little bit when she would make poor decisions based on her emotions, but I did admire how fiercely she fought to keep Penny safe.

My favorite supporting character was probably Seymour and I wish that he had more of a role throughout the story. I was completely surprised by the plot twist near the end of the book. I thought I had all the bad guys figured out by that time. It's good to be surprised like that. All in all, Betrayed was a good, clean read.

About the Author:

Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen was raised in Rexburg, Idaho. She received her first typewriter there were no home computers then when she was ten years old, and she has studied writing since she was twelve. She is the author of two previous suspense novels, Missing and Trapped. The mother of three amazing children, she loves to travel with her husband throughout the world in search of fascinating settings, intriguing characters, and surprising/inspiring stories. 

Betrayed Blog Tour Schedule:

*http://www.iamareader.com/, http://www.blogginboutbooks.com/
*http://ilovetoreadandreviewbooks.blogspot.com/, http://www.charissastastny.com/
*http://mybookaday.blogspot.com/, http://ldsandlovinit.blogspot.com/, and http://katiescleanbookcollection.blogspot.com/
*http://www.bonnieharris.blogspot.com/, http://literarytimeout.blogspot.com/
*http://minreadsandreviews.blogspot.com/, http://www.ldswomensbookreview.com/wordpress/, and http://www.wishfulendings.com/
*http://gettingyourreadonaimeebrown.blogspot.com/, http://www.rockinbookreviews.com/

Blog Tour Giveaway:

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Title: Betrayed
Author: Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Published: January 2, 2015
ISBN: 1621084817
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Blog Tour: Wedding Cake by Josi S. Kilpack

Wedding Cake (1)  

Wedding Cake by Josi S. Kilpack

Book Description:

After years of mysteries, murder, and mayhem, the big day has arrived, and Sadie wants nothing more than for her wedding to Pete to be completely uneventful. When she receives a threatening, anonymous text message just days before the ceremony, she's determined not to let it interfere with the celebration she has carefully planned for months. But as the threat escalates from a distant fear to a frightening reality, Sadie realizes just how much she's underestimated the situation. Desperate to put an end to the games, lies, and manipulation that has shadowed her life, Sadie, her fiance, Pete, and her children pull out all the stops. What they don't know, however, is just how far Sadie's nemesis is willing to go to make good on the thread she made to Sadie three years ago. Will the wedding go off without a hitch, or will "'til death do us part" come far too soon? There's no turning back for anyone in the riveting conclusion to this twelve-volume culinary mystery series.


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Review:

I was first introduced to Josi S. Kikpack's Culinary Mysteries in 2010, and I couldn't read the books fast enough. Sadie is such a fun main character. Her experiences over the series have changed her somewhat, and although I miss her personality from early on, I thought that Wedding Cake was a good ending to an enjoyable series. You don't really find the laugh out loud/awkward Sadie moments in this one that were common in the beginning of the series, but readers that like a more serious book with some intense action are sure to enjoy this series finale.

Throughout the series readers get to know Sadie and her children, along with Pete and some good friends. I liked the inclusion of many of the characters in this finale. 

And, as always, I liked the culinary aspect of the book. The recipes that are included always sound so delicious.

Excerpt:

           At the top of the stairs, Shawn knocked on the door and then put his ear against it, listening for any movement on the other side. Sadie was frozen just like Shawn for ten seconds until he pulled back. Shawn knocked again, paused again, and then tried the knob. It didn’t move in his hand. He looked down the stairs and shook his head at Sadie, obviously disappointed. He headed back down the steps and Sadie, in turn, started up them. They met at about the halfway point.

           “I’ll play lookout for you,” Shawn said, his expression showing his reluctance to step out of the center ring. “I’ll call your phone with any alerts so make sure you answer it.”

           Sadie nodded, then stepped ahead of him and continued up the narrow stairs while wondering where Jane was if she weren’t home. She’d hacked Sadie’s email less than an hour ago, where had she done it from? Or could she have been here when she’d done the hacking and then left in order to execute the next devious plan on her list? What that might be reminded Sadie of everything Jane had already done and the resulting fresh wave of anger helped solidify her motivation for being here.

           At the top of the stairs Sadie pulled out her pick set and got to work. Apparently, picking a lock wasn’t as much like riding a bike as one might think; Sadie felt as though she were all thumbs and the summer heat didn’t help as the sun at her back made her increasingly uncomfortable. She finally got the lock on the doorknob undone but then let out a breath of frustration when she realized the deadbolt was engaged as well.

           Deadbolts were already the hardest type of lock to pick, but this one was particularly tricky since it was rather old. The pins were either rusted or just stiff—Sadie doubted the landlord changed the locks between tenants, which was simply an unsafe practice, not to mention creating great difficulty for her attempts to break in. She wished she’d thought to grab her WD-40 from home. It wasn’t the best product to use in a lock—it got sticky as it dried and would probably ruin the lock entirely given a few weeks to pick up dirt, dust, and metal shavings from inside the casing—but it would work for the immediate situation and Sadie didn’t keep liquid graphite on hand like she should.

           Finally, with sweat dripping from her hairline and down her back, she got the last pin to pull back and the lock opened. She looked down at Shawn as she turned the knob, surprised he hadn’t come up to help her. Not that he knew anything about picking locks, but simply because of the time it took her and the increasing anxiety that each second cost them both. He just nodded and waved her inside.

           Sadie pushed the door open on well-oiled hinges—not a squeak or a grind to be heard—and then shut it quickly as she blinked in order to help her eyes adjust to the darkened interior. The mini-blinds had been twisted closed, muting the daylight that could otherwise filter in but also hiding her from anyone who might see her or notice the lights on. She flipped the light switch next to the door and took in the apartment. Calling this a second floor apartment was generous; she would refer to it as an attic space since both walls sloped with the roofline.

About the Author:

Josi Josi S. Kilpack hated to read until her mother handed her a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond when she was 13. From that day forward, she read everything she could get her hands on and accredits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then. She began writing her first novel in 1998 and never stopped. Her novel, Sheep’s Clothing won the Whitney Award 2007 for Mystery/Suspense. Lemon Tart, the first book in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery series was a finalist in 2009. Josi currently lives in Willard Utah with her husband, children and super-cute cat.

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Blog Tour Giveaway:

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 2/10/15
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.  

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Wedding Cake 
Title: Wedding Cake
Author: Josi S. Kilpack
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: December 2014
ISBN: 1609079329
Source: I received an eCopy from the publisher in exchange for a review.
 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Book Review: Like a Flower in Bloom by Siri Mitchell

Like a Flower in Bloom
Book Description:

For years Charlotte Withersby has worked as an assistant to her father, an eminent English botanist. As she approaches the old age of twenty-four, her father pushes her out into society, swayed by an uncle who believes God's only two roles for women are marriage and motherhood. When one of the Withersbys' colonial correspondents, Edward Trimble, returns to England, he's drafted as the new assistant so Charlotte is free to marry. This suits Edward's plans quite well, since the last thing he wants to do is reunite with the family he is ashamed to call his own.

Though Edward proves himself vexingly capable on the job, Charlotte won't surrender the job without a fight, and schemes with her best friend to regain her position. Perhaps if a proposal seems imminent, Charlotte's father will see his error and ask her to return. Charlotte tries to make headway in her town's social life, but reveals herself to be unaware of all the intricacies of polite society. Though Edward pitches in, tutoring her in society's expectations, she just seems to make things worse. And the more she comes to know of her father's assistant, the more trouble she has imagining life without him. Caught in a trap of her own making and seeing the hopelessness of her prospects, will Charlotte get to keep her work or will she have to cede her heart?


Book Review:

I like awkward heroines :) That is probably just because I can relate to the social awkwardness that they go through. Charlotte, while brilliant, was socially awkward, but I loved that she didn't realize that. She didn't care and had other "more important" matters to deal with, but she still tried. I think that was my favorite thing about her character. She didn't just go halfway with anything. She really tried to understand and figure things out.

Edward was great. Easy going and highly capable, it was obvious from his mannerisms and knowledge that something was going on with him. However, I was surprised, not by who he was, but by what happened. Wasn't expecting that, and I loved that I was a little surprised.

While I liked the secondary characters, sometimes I felt like they were a bit much. Two men really propose to Charlotte, and neither really wants to? Is that weird? I felt it was a little weird.

While I did laugh, and got to a point where I didn't want to put the book down because I got "to the good part", that part was very much near the end, and I felt like parts of this book dragged a bit. Other reviewers said this was caused by all the botany talk. That may or may not be the case. I didn't get an overwhelming feeling that there was just too much detail in that respect, but the story was slow in the beginning. 

Like a Flower in Bloom
 Title: Like a Flower in Bloom
Authors: Siri Mitchell
Publisher: Bethany House
Published: January 2015
ASIN: 0764210378
Source: I received a copy from Bethany House in exchange for a review.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Blog Tour: The Recipe Hacker by Diana Keuilian

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Book Description:

Break the recipe code for your favorite foods! Free of grains, gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and soy, The Recipe Hacker is a mouthwatering collection of your favorite comfort foods with a healthy twist. Learn to use easy ingredient substitutions to transform traditional dishes into real, healthy comfort food masterpieces, without sacrificing any of the flavor! Enjoy healthier, whole-food versions of Key Lime Pie, Crispy Orange Chicken, and Banana Pancakes. Dozens of recipes and delicious flavors will keep you coming back for more. Enjoy all the comfort foods you crave and keep your body (and skinny jeans) happy at the same time!

Brianne's Review:

As a fan of Paleo, Whole30, and gluten free recipes, I was super excited to try out Diana Keuilian’s new recipe book The Recipe Hacker. Diana takes everyday comfort foods and puts a healthier twist on them, using real ingredients without dairy, soy, gluten, and refined sugar.

There are a lot of recipes in the book ranging from baked goods to main dishes to sauces, and each one comes with a beautiful colored picture of the finished product. The recipes are easy to follow, though sometimes there are a few specific measurements left out and you have to guess what she intended.

We tried to test at least one recipe from each section and ended up making the orange chicken, cauliflower fried rice, graham cracker crust, sweetened condensed milk, Key Lime pie, and Lazy-man’s Ranch recipes. 

We first tried the orange chicken by the book and made them battered. We found the sauce to be delicious but the battered chicken was gummy and unappetizing. We made the orange chicken a second time, without the batter, and it was a success.

While the “graham cracker” crust in the Key Lime Pie was sweet and tasty, the rest of the pie was a disaster. The coconut cream sweetened condensed milk took twice as long to cook down as the recipe stated and ended up not being very sweet at all. The pie only bakes for 15 minutes and while it looked done, it ended up a gooey mess.

Our hands down favorite recipe that we will be using all the time is her Lazy-Man’s Ranch. The product was a creamy smooth ranch dip/dressing that is my husband’s new favorite. Props to her on making an egg free paleo ranch!

Each recipe post comes with a fun Quick-Tip. Sometimes it is a tip for the recipe, sometimes a motivational blip. You can tell her passion for healthy eating in her writing and it was nice to get a feel of her background. She must have an inside joke on her blog Real Healthy Recipes about putting things in her hair because at least three of her recipes had a suggestion to “put it in your hair” (Lazy Man’s Ranch, Sweetened Condensed Milk, and Caramel Sauce).

One thing to note is that in her Jalapeño Cornbread Skillet recipe, she writes that “corn is a grain that contains gluten.” This is a false statement as corn does not contain any gluten and is used as a replacement in many gluten free diets.

I’d still like to try out a few of her recipes, more of the baked goods (Fluffy Egg white biscuits, Pretzel bites), breakfasts (waffles, cinnamon rolls), and desserts (chocolate cake, zucchini brownies), but they will have to wait until after our Whole30.

About the Author:

Diana Keuilian is passionate about creating wholesome versions of your favorite foods. She removes the gluten, dairy, soy, grains and cane sugar from traditional comfort food recipes like cake, tacos, cookies, waffles, enchiladas and more. This hobby propelled her to start the popular blog, RealHealthyRecipes.com, where she shares hundreds of delicious recipes and mouthwatering photos. She lives in Southern California with her husband and two young children.

For more recipes, or to contact Diana, visit RealHealthyRecipes.com and www.facebook.com/RealHealthyRecipes.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Review: A Timeless Romance Anthology: All Regency Collection




Book Description:

Six Award-Winning Authors have contributed new stories to A Timeless Romance Anthology: All Regency Collection. Readers will love this collection of six regency romance novellas.
 

In THE WEDDING GIFT: A PRIDE AND PREJUDICE STORY, an enchanting novella by Anna Elliott, the story opens two weeks before Elizabeth Bennet’s wedding to Mr. Darcy. He has given her the perfect wedding gift, and now she must come up with one for him. But what do you give a man who has everything? Elizabeth soon discovers that the gift of love is more important than any one thing.
 

DREAM OF A GLORIOUS SEASON, a sweet novella by Sarah M. Eden, we meet Elizabeth Gillerford who envies her sister only one thing—that she’s been intended for Julian Broadwood since they were children. The trouble is that Elizabeth is hopelessly in love with Julian too. When Julian discovers that Elizabeth has been denied a Season because her older sister is yet unwed, he undertakes his own stealthy measures to introduce her to society, only to find himself falling in love with her himself.
 

In THE MENDER, a captivating story by Carla Kelly, Thankful Winnings takes a sea voyage with her cousin on the Ann Alexander, in a last adventure before she settles down to marry one of her beaus. Unexpectedly they come upon the aftermath of a fierce ship battle, and Thankful is commissioned to help in the place of an injured surgeon on one of the Royal Navy ships. Adam Farnsworth, surgeon, has been at sea for years. Tired of war, but devoted to his post, it takes a resourceful lady such as Thankful to give him the hope of love and help heal his own wounds, the ones that show and the ones that don’t.
 

In BEGIN AGAIN, a charming novella by Josi S. Kilpack, Regina Weathers gives up on marrying for love the day that Ross Martin walks out of her life. Now, fifteen years later, Ross shows up at a ball and thinks he can woo Regina. But she is set on her lonely path and stitched-up heart, no matter the excuse Ross gives for his years of silence and neglect. When Ross insists he wrote many letters during his military years, Regina discovers a secret long-since buried by her father, and the revelation might be enough to thaw the coldness of her heart.
 

In Annette Lyon’s endearing story, THE AFFAIR AT WILDEMOORE, Mrs. Ellen Stanhope escorts her three daughters to a ball. As her oldest flirts with a beau, Ellen is reminded of her courtship and early years of marriage with Anthony, before tragedy struck with the death of their infant son. The marriage has faded and dulled. Not until she sees Anthony dancing with a woman he courted years before does Ellen realize how much she misses him, still loves him, and yearns for him to yet feel the same way for her.
 

In the delightful novella, THE DUKE’S BROTHER, by Heather B. Moore, Mr. Gregory Clark is having an awful day, and it only gets worse when he’s ran over by … a woman. Mabel Russell reluctantly visits her sister in London for the Season, even though she’d rather stay in the country cataloging insects and aphids. When she runs into Gregory Clark, quite literally, she’s afraid to show any interest, especially since he’s a member of the dreaded ton. But getting to know Gregory becomes an unexpected delight.

Review:

I've read most (if not all) of The Timeless Romance Anthology collections, and this latest collection, All Regency, is probably my favorite. I'm a big fan of clean Regency, and this is a fun collection. I liked the variety of stories each author contributed, and the novellas were quick reads.

The Wedding Gift: A Pride and Prejudice Story by Anna Elliott took me a little bit to get into because Elizabeth Bennet's character didn't really mesh with what I had in my head for her. But, after awhile her strong personality seemed to come out more, and her adventure was entertaining.

Dream of a Glorious Season is a winner by Sarah M. Eden. I really enjoy her writing, and this was a sweet story. Julian is somewhat blind initially, but I enjoyed reading about him coming to understand his true feelings. Elizabeth was a great character, made more endearing by having to put up with her awful family.

The Mender was a good story. The Quaker way of talking was somewhat distracting, but it grew on me and/or toned down as the story went on. Thankful's adventure held my attention. Carla Kelly's writing rides the boundaries of clean for me, and there is usage of the Lord's name in vain a few times.

Begin Again is the first Regency I've read by Josi S. Kilpack, and it makes me very excited to read her new Regency novel (A Heart Revealed) that is coming out in April. This was a very enjoyable story. The resolution came somewhat quickly, and I wanted more at the end (because I came to really like the characters in the brief time I knew them and wanted more of their story).

The Affair at Wildemoore by Annette Lyon isn't your typical young love romance. It focused on a couple who had been married for quite awhile, but has let their love fade. It was nice to have a different season of life for the main characters, and it was touching that they both secretly wanted to re-kindle their romance.

The Duke's Brother by Heather Moore had a very sweet ending. I really liked the quirky main character-her interest in insects was definitely unusual for the time, but it endeared her to me. Other than one swear word it was a great story.

Title: A Timeless Romance Anthology: All Regency Collection
Authors: Anna Elliott, Sarah M. Eden, Carla Kelly, Josi S. Kilpack, Annette Lyon, Heather Moore
Publisher: Mirror Press
Published: January 2015
ASIN: B00RR8AJ72
Source: I received an eCopy from one of the authors in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Kindle


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A new way to see our reviews


What is your favorite way to follow blogs? We've decided to add LTO to Bloglovin to give you another option for seeing our reviews. If you like following blogs this way, please check us out.