Sunday, May 29, 2011

Upcoming Giveaway

I am so excited to announce my next giveaway!

Michelle Davidson Argyle (a fellow WHS alumnus) is a published author. Her newest novel, Monarch, will be released on September 15th.

I will be reviewing this contemporary thriller in early September, and one of my lucky readers will get a chance to win their own copy. You can read an excerpt on Michelle's website.

The official giveaway post will be up in mid to late August. Be sure to check back for the details on how to enter.

Congratulations on your success Michelle!

Can't wait for the giveaway? You can pre-order a copy today.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


RosesRoses by Leila Meacham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book and I had a love/hate relationship. At times I felt ready to pull my hair out, and other times I was searching for the nearest tissue.

The story was about deciding what is most important in your life, and living with the consequences of those choices. It also showed how our posterity is affected by our actions.

Leila Meacham did a great job creating a story that pulls the reader in. Her characters were well developed (although so many of them were selfish, blind idiots-argh, I'm still mad at the cycle of idiocy).

As a reader, I appreciate names that flow as well as the rest of the story. I hated the name of the town. Howbutker halted my progress each of the times it was mentioned over the 609 pages of the novel.

I also really disliked Lucy's crude manner. It did help build up dislike for her character, which I'm sure was the point, but I wish it had been toned down. That and the use of certain profanity. There are other ways for certain points to be made.

But, overall, I did enjoy the story. The last section wasn't as captivating for me as the rest of the book, but the ending was pretty satisfying.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Winner of Ammon

And the randomly selected winner of the signed copy of Ammon is . . .

Congrats Sandy. Email your address to me at andrea at legacyvideoproduction dot com.

Thanks to everyone for entering. I'll have giveaways from time to time, so be sure to check back often.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Today is the last day to enter the giveaway for Ammon

Don't forget to enter the giveaway for the signed copy of Ammon before midnight tonight. Feel free to spread the word.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird PondThe Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A friend recently mentioned that this was on her list of books to read. I couldn't remember if I'd read it or not. The title was definitely familiar, and another friend thought we read it in Middle School. But, I started it and nothing was coming back to me (which happens when I read books I've already read). But, maybe I just can't remember that far back.

Anyway, it was a very enjoyable story about a 16-year-old that travels from Barbados to the Connecticut Colony to live with her aunt and uncle. Her parents died, and she was living with her grandpa, but when he died she left Barbados to avoid being forced into a marriage with a 50-year-old (ick).

The story takes place in the later 1600s. Most of the people in Wethersfield are Puritans. They have little to no tolerance for different beliefs, and this makes it very hard for Kit to fit in. Plus, she's used to a life of luxury, and now she has to work hard day in and day out.

She befriends an old Quaker woman that lives on the outside of the colony. Many believe that Hannah is a witch, but Kit comes to know that she is just a kind, lonely woman. She goes against her uncle's wishes and continues to visit Hannah whenever she can.

There is a political division in the Colony between those who are loyal to the King of England and those who want to be able to govern themselves.

It was very interesting to read about the political struggles and the bigotry that abounded in Wethersfield.

I also enjoyed the romances in the book. It's so interesting to read about people who chose to marry for reasons other than love.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Thousand Voices

A Thousand Voices (Tending Roses #5)A Thousand Voices by Lisa Wingate

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There's nothing like finding out you just read the last book in a series after you're finished reading. But, it says something for "A Thousand Voices" that it could be read as a standalone book. I didn't feel lost about any of the characters or situations while reading the book. Nothing in the book itself indicated a series-it was only searching for it on GoodReads that I found that it's book 5 of the Tending Roses series.

Dell Jordan has spent the last two years trying to find herself. College didn't appeal to her after high school graduation, so she spent a year on an orchestra exchange in Europe, and then a year working at an orphanage in Ukraine. But upon her arrival at home, she still feels lost.

She was adopted when she was 13. She loves her adopted family, but at times she can't help but focus on how she doesn't fit it (mostly physically because she's half Choctaw Indian and they're white). She sets out to discover who she is, and who her "real" family is.

The journey is somewhat painful, but she learns about her Choctaw heritage, and meets some wonderful people along the way.

I really enjoy Lisa Wingate's writing. She does a great job developing her characters, and her stories keep my attention.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Word Gets Around

Word Gets Around (Daily, Texas #2)Word Gets Around by Lisa Wingate

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was another fun novel by Lisa Wingate that takes places in the small town of Daily, Texas. Some of the characters from "Talk of the Town" were included, but the main characters were Lauren (a Daily native that comes home to help her dad after being away for 2 years) and Nate (a screenwriter that unwillingly comes to town as a favor to his actor friend).

Lauren is great with animals, and her dad asked her to come to town to help train a horse for a movie that the whole town is excited about. She hasn't been back since she healed from the accident that nearly took her life. She's been scared to come home, and is now forced to face her fears.

An enjoyable story with fun characters. And, a fast read.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Forgotten Garden

The Forgotten GardenThe Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A writer friend of mine recently blogged about how she doesn't do epic stories. I found her post and the comments to be quite interesting. Most people didn't seem to be a big fan of epic novels, which I could relate to. It's not that I mind a long novel. If the content is interesting, bring it on. But, I struggle when it takes a long time to get to the point. Perhaps this is because I'm not patient. My time is valuable, so if there's too much jumping around, mingled with lots of characters and details that aren't seeming to connect, I've been known to throw in the towel and give something else a try.

"The Forgotten Garden" isn't one of the fast moving stories that I typically favor. It took nearly half of the 549 pages before the book became something I was really into.

Why did I stick things out for so long? Well, a friend read this awhile back and really liked it. I was curious to understand what drew her in. Also, the author gave just enough information in all of the jumping around between time and characters that I wanted to find out how the mystery was solved.

When Nell turns 21 her father tells her a secret that he's been withholding from her. When she was 4 he found her alone on the dock where he worked, and no one came for her. She hadn't known who she was or where her family was, so he and his wife raised her as their own.

Nell spent the rest of her life wondering who her real parents were, and why they would have abandoned her. She did some searching, but due to circumstances beyond her control, she wasn't able to solve the mystery before she died.

Nell's granddaughter, Cassandra, learns of the mystery upon Nell's death, and takes it up.

The story jumps around from the early 1900s to 2005 (back and forth and in between). The point of view jumps around between Nell, Cassandra, and the several relatives that are discovered as part of the mystery.

The jumping around and some of the fantastical aspects of the story reminded me of a soap opera. You get hooked, but it takes forever for any type of resolution.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Russell's Christmas Magic

Russell's Christmas MagicRussell's Christmas Magic by Rob Scotton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Russell saves Christmas with his determination and ingenuity!

My aunt gave this book to my kids a few years ago for Christmas. The story and illustrations are wonderful, and I look forward to reading it with the kids every year.

Itsy Bitsy Spider

Itsy Bitsy SpiderItsy Bitsy Spider by Kate Toms

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If the familiar verse isn't enough to catch your kids' attention, the wonderful pictures in this book should keep them entertained. Plus, the added story about determination is great for kids of all ages.

Gotta Go! Gotta Go!

Gotta Go! Gotta Go! (Sunburst Book)Gotta Go! Gotta Go! by Sam Swope

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another favorite book to read with my kids. A fun story about the life cycle of a caterpillar/butterfly. The repetition of "gotta go, gotta go" is fun for the kids to repeat throughout the story.

Ridin' Dinos with Buck Bronco

Ridin' Dinos with Buck BroncoRidin' Dinos with Buck Bronco by George McClements

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I haven't thought to post reviews of the books I read with my kids, but this one was so cute. It inspired me to read it with an accent (although I may have sounded more Southern than Cowboy). Very fun story that teaches a few things about dinosaurs.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Time for Dancing

A Time for DancingA Time for Dancing by Davida Wills Hurwin

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was a very sad story about a teenager that is diagnosed with cancer (at stage 4). The point of view alternates every chapter between the teen with cancer (Juliana) and her best friend (Samantha).

Being sick is so hard on Juliana in every aspect of her life (feeling rotten, going through treatments, relationships changing, etc.). Samantha tries her best to continue to be a good friend, but it is very challenging.

This was a hard book to read. The subject matter was very emotional, and reminded me of my loved ones' battles with cancer. But, the "enjoyment" of the book was also hindered by the profanity and innuendos included.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I recently posted a review of H.B. Moore's newest novel, "Ammon". The author has given me an autographed copy of "Ammon" for one lucky reader. All you have to do is leave a comment below to be entered to win.

For an additional entry, follow this blog. Leave another comment letting me know that you've done this.

Good luck!

*The winner must have a mailing address in the United States. The winner will be announced on May 26th.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Talk of the Town

Talk of the Town (Daily Texas, #1)Talk of the Town by Lisa Wingate

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Part of the reason I decided to read this book was because it is published by Bethany House. When you don't really know what you're getting into with a book, it's nice to know that certain publishers will at least give you something clean.

This story is about Mandalay Florentino, a 30-something associate producer for a reality TV show called American Megastar. Her tyrannical boss sends her to Daily, Texas, to prepare for the top five reveal show for contestant Amanda Anderson.

Daily is the definition of small town. Gossip spreads like wildfire, and the people are quite quirky.

Amanda faces many challenges trying to plan the reveal show without letting the townspeople know the big surprise.

The point of view alternated every other chapter between Mandalay and Imagene Doll (Daily native). At first I was put off by the switching, but both characters were entertaining and it ended up not being too distracting.

An enjoyable read with a little bit of suspense and romance.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Driven: An AutobiographyDriven: An Autobiography by Larry H. Miller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm so torn on the rating one gives for an autobiography. Would people think my rating was about the author's life or the quality of the book? That in mind, I'll clarify my rating. I am giving this book 5 stars, not because the writing was excellent, or that Miller should be given sainthood, but because I think that keeping a record of one's life is very important. I think Miller deserves 5 stars for sharing his life and the lessons he learned.

I really struggle reading non-fiction. It takes me back to all the textbooks I had to read in college. It's not that non-fiction can't be interesting or entertaining, but generally it doesn't appeal to me as much as most fiction does.

However; growing up in Utah, I'm definitely familiar with Larry H. Miller, and I decided to give his book a try so I could learn more about him.

I'm happy that I made it through, and in less than a month (this is huge for me), even though I had several fiction books calling my name.

Miller's life really was interesting. He grew up poor, with a mother who didn't seem to understand him (she even called the police on him a few times and he didn't know why). He didn't go to college, but he was driven from very early on to do the best he could with whatever he did. He married his high school sweetheart. She practically raised their five kids on her own while Miller was working hours and hours to provide for the family and become the best at his profession. He regrets that he didn't spend more time with his family.

His hard work paid off monetarily. He was the owner of many car dealerships and other businesses. He owned the Utah Jazz. He was generous with his money, and didn't want it to change him and his wife. They lived fairly simply, although he did "splurge" on a huge house for them in Salt Lake, and on cars (he especially liked Shelby Cobras).

He gave some great advice in the book about being on the same page as your spouse as far as money is concerned. He didn't hide that fact that he didn't take care of himself as he should have; which eventually lead to his early death.

Miller's life was inspiring, imperfections and all.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mummy's the Word

Mummy's the WordMummy's the Word by Kerry Blair

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had no idea what to expect from this book. I'd never heard of it, but the bright green cover caught my eye in the library. Kudos to the cover designer for choosing a color that would stand out.

We all know you can't judge a book by it's cover though, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that I LOVED the story.

Samantha Shade is a twenty-something aspiring PI. She works for her Uncle's private detective agency, Nightshade Investigation, and is manning the agency while he's on vacation. She hopes to prove herself while he is gone so she can take over when he fully retires, thus fulfilling her lifetime dream.

Unfortunately, things don't go as smoothly as she had hoped. Not only are her current cases going south, but she manages to interfere with police work as well.

There were a lot of twists and turns and little details I never saw coming. I loved the characters, and the romance.

I can't wait to read the next Nightshade Mystery.


AmmonAmmon by Heather B. Moore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was immediately drawn into H.B. Moore’s story “Ammon”, based on the scriptural account of Ammon in the Book of Mormon. The action, excitement and humor of the opening chapter drew me in instantly.

Ammon and his three brothers were very rebellious, and were doing all they could to drive people away from the church of their father Mosiah, the King of Zarahemla. They were brought to repentance after an angel rebuked them, and they were determined to spread the Gospel to the Lamanites, the enemy of the Nephites. They renounced their birthright, and left their homeland to preach to the Lamanites.

“Ammon” starts as the brothers and two others are traveling in the wilderness at the beginning of their mission. They split up, in hopes that they will come across as less of a threat to the Lamanites, and will be able to teach more people. The story follows Ammon’s journey to the Land of Ishmael where King Lamoni reigns.

I love the author’s talent at bringing scriptural figures to life. Ammon is a popular character in the Book of Mormon, mostly known for his defeat of rebel Lamanites that were trying to scatter King Lamoni’s sheep. Ammon is the “arm guy”. It was intriguing to have his possible feelings brought out. I liked thinking of him as more than just a great missionary and defender of the king’s flocks.

I was somewhat torn with the romance between Ammon and Elena. Romance is definitely not a focus in the scriptures, but I love a good romance, and it added a lot to Ammon’s character to see this side of him.

At the same time, I wondered how likely it was that Ammon would have been in a position to be able to have a relationship. These concerns were addressed in the book, and I don’t know if I would have enjoyed the story as much without the romance element. But, it still left me conflicted.

It appeared that there was a lot of research behind this book, and it was well used. I had fun doing a small bit of “research” myself to look up pictures of the tapirs and quetzals that were referred to in the book.

I definitely recommend “Ammon”. Add it to your summer reading list. Maybe you’ll also be inspired to re-read the actual account in The Book of Mormon.

*I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the author.