Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Emerald City

Emerald CityEmerald City by Alicia K. Leppert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Seattle waitress Olivia Tate goes through the motions of living everyday, but life for her is torture. Sleeping is nearly impossible, and eating has no appeal. Her emotional scars are so deep that one night she decides she can't take it anymore.

Olivia is saved by Jude, a neighbor she's never seen. He helps her recover and she can't help falling for him. But she knows that he's keeping something important from her. She tries to protect her heart while digging for the truth.

The emotions described by author Alicia Leppert immediately drew me in to Emerald City. Although parts of the story reminded me of a certain 1998 movie, it was entertaining and suspenseful.

Once Jude's secret was discovered the pace changed quite a bit, and the story seemed to set itself up for a sequel.

Leppert's debut novel was an enjoyable read.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I Don't Want to Kill You

I Don't Want to Kill You (John Cleaver, #3)I Don't Want to Kill You by Dan Wells

Teenage sociopath John Cleaver is determined to destroy the demons that are terrorizing his town. The problem is, he can't track the demon until it kills.

This is a really tough book for me to rate because it is not the kind of book I like. In fact, I avoid this type of book. It was super creepy (as a horror book should be), and parts were gross (probably pretty common in the genre too). I almost gave up reading a couple of times, but then I pushed ahead since I'm trying to read all of the 2011 Whitney Award Finalists.

I'm avoiding giving stars on this because I don't want to taint the overall rating. I didn't like the story, but I think if you are into this type of book, you'd probably really enjoy it. (Although, I'm not sure why anyone would enjoy reading about serial killers, and blood and gore, and mental illness, etc. etc. Such dark, unhappy stuff that will require me reading something else to try to clear my mind before I go to sleep.)

Monday, February 27, 2012


GiftedGifted by Karey White

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Susan and Brent's dreams come true when they are picked to adopt a newborn baby. They've waited for years for this chance, and everything seems so bright and perfect once they get baby Anna.

Over time they come to realize that Anna has some special gifts-gifts that affect everyone in Anna's presence. Susan and Brent soon stress over the gifts and are constantly on guard to make sure Anna and those around her are ok.

I had a hard time getting into this book. I'm not sure if it was the story or the writing, but I ended up doing a lot of skimming.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Count Down to Love

Count Down to LoveCount Down to Love by Julie N. Ford

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Count Down to Love is like a season of The Bachelor. The point of view is from one contestant, Kelly Grace, who appears on the reality TV show as a favor to her producer cousin (and because she is in desperate need of money to pay off her cancelled wedding).

Kelly agrees to be on the show with the understanding that the bachelor will not keep her around after each rose ceremony (yes, it is that much like the real TV show). But, Kelly and Dillon meet and have some sort of connection. Dillon goes against the producers suggestions to get rid of Kelly, and Kelly accepts the rose (meaning she agrees to stay).

Even though the idea wasn't new, it was a cute story with some likable characters.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pride and Popularity

Pride and PopularityPride and Popularity by Jenni James

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This modern day remake of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is excellent! The high school situations were believable and entertaining. The characters were great, and of course the story was wonderful (it's hard to go wrong with an Austen remake).

It was fun placing each character with the original story. Some were obvious (like those who represented Elizabeth Bennett and her family), but it took me a little while to realize who represent Wickham. He had me fooled for awhile. What a scroundrel!

Sort of knowing what was going to happen, but wondering how it would come about was fun.

I would definitely recommend this to the all of the young women I work with. It had a great romance and realistic situations without crossing any lines. Thank you Jenni James for a good, clean book!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Girls Don't Fly

Girls Don't FlyGirls Don't Fly by Kristen Chandler

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Myra is a high school senior with heavy responsibilities at home, and a future focused on what her boyfriend is going to do. Then he dumps her and she's left to figure out what she really wants. She's always been a doormat-a people pleaser, so finding what she wants is difficult (and met with plenty of opposition).

Even though I wasn't the target audience for this novel, I did find much of it enjoyable. I was happy for Myra when she found something she was really interested in, and when she thoughtfully made choices that would help herself and those around her.

The book would have been better without the profanity and some of the other content. Was it realistic for the teenage crowd? Probably. Was it necessary? Not IMHO.

On a side note, I got this from the library and it had lots of (cat?) hair in it. I hope this didn't affect my opinion of the novel, but I was totally grossed out. My reaction reminded me of Myra.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Before I Say Good-Bye

Before I Say Good-ByeBefore I Say Good-Bye by Rachel Ann Nunes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rikki ran away from Utah when she was 19, hoping to never return. But, 20 (hard) years later she finds that coming home is the only hope for her children.

This book exceeded my expectations. At times I struggle with LDS fiction when it's not humorous or historical, but this was smooth and the story really drew me in. And I cried, a lot. It was touching and made me think about my priorities, especially where my family is concerned.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Wedding Letters

The Wedding Letters The Wedding Letters by Jason F. Wright

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rachel and Noah meet in a very non-traditional way and fall in love. Noah's family and the area he grew up means a lot to him, and comes to mean a lot to Rachel. But, family ties weren't strong for her, and coming to grips with what she can have, while coping with her past might be too much to bear.

I was immediately drawn into The Wedding Letters with Wright's description of Rachel and Noah's meeting. Very creative.

But most of the first half of the book seemed like revisiting The Wednesday Letters. I really enjoyed that book, but it had been wrapped up well, and more stories/letters from most of the same characters didn't capture my attention as much as I'd hoped.

The last half of the book was more interesting with Rachel's story, and although somewhat overdone, the letter idea is really sweet (with some very good advice).

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Isabelle Webb: The Pharaoh's Daughter

Isabelle Webb: The Pharaoh's DaughterIsabelle Webb: The Pharaoh's Daughter by Nancy Campbell Allen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Isabelle Webb is a former Pinkerton Spy who finds herself traveling from India to Egypt to recover her teenage ward and another girl that was abducted. She's traveling with James (her suitor) and his brother Phillip. When they arrive in Suez they find Genevieve Montgomery, Isabelle's benefactress from her youth. Genevieve has been in contact with the missing girls, and they all join up together for an expedition.

The legend of powerful jewels causes mystery, intrigue, and danger on the expedition.

This is my first Isabelle Webb novel. At times I felt that it would have been helpful to have read the other novels for backstory and some clarification on characters.

I was reminded somewhat of the Amelia Peabody mysteries, although I wasn't as drawn to this as to those.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows

I Am Half Sick Of Shadows: A Flavia De Luce NovelI Am Half Sick Of Shadows: A Flavia De Luce Novel by Alan Bradley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I heard about the latest Flavia de Luce novel being released I happily gave my bookmobile library a heads up to order it. I was apparently not the only person interested in reading this though because it took months for my hold to get filled. However, it was worth the wait!

Christmas is approaching and Colonel de Luce lets his girls know that due to their financial strain, he has rented their house to a movie company. They will remain at their home during the filming, but certain areas will be off-limits. Excitement abounds, especially when the famous actors start to arrive.

Flavia is excited (along with the rest of the village), but she doesn't lose focus on her current chemistry project that will involve catching St. Nick.

I loved the flow of this novel. Flavia is such a great character. Kind of like Sherlock Holmes (except female and 11-years-old).

The build-up to the tragedy was just right, and Flavia's sleuthing was superb.

I was very happy about some breakthroughs in familial relationships (even though they may have been small), and I am always touched by Flavia's care for Dogger.

Excellent book!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Wickedly Charming

Wickedly Charming by Kristine Grayson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was among a bunch of free Kindle books that I downloaded awhile back. I was a bit surprised when I noticed it in my Kindle library (the cover is . . . well, not the kind of book I would typically read). I hesitated deleting it right off because I was pretty sure the site that recommended it was a site of a lady with high morals. So, I looked up what it was about.

A modern day story that tells about the people who our Fairy Tales are based upon. They lived in another kingdom(/world), but came here through portals. They live extremely long lives and age very slowly (so you can't tell they're a few hundred years old). The main point is that the Grimms Brothers and Disney got things really wrong, and some of these people are upset about being misportrayed (especially Snow White's step-mother).

It sounded really interesting, so I (hesitantly) decided to give it a try. The writing was great (other than some swearing), and the characters were wonderful. I really did like it, especially because the "romance" was so tame (initially). But suddenly it wasn't just an accidental touch of the hands, and I was sad when the premarital sex was thrown in.

One of those "so good except for" books. Sigh. I guess in some cases you should judge a book by its cover.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A (HUGE) Reading Challenge

It's no secret that I love reading, and I'm always looking for great books to read. Earlier this week I received an email from LDSWBR (a blog I'm subscribed to) about a reading challenge.

I have heard about books being nominated or winning Whitney Awards, but until the other day I hadn't looked into the details of a Whitney Award. From the WA website:

The Whitneys are an awards program for novels by LDS authors. Elder Orson F. Whitney, an early apostle in the LDS church, prophesied “We will yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own.” Since we have that as our goal, we feel that we should also honor those authors who excel and continually raise the bar.

As I mentioned in my review of Olivia, I am always happy to find books written by LDS authors (especially if they're for a national audience). My excitement stems from hoping that I've found a good book that is clean (so many iffy books out there).

Anyway, I decided to take a huge plunge and join this challenge. It is to read all 35 books by April 23, 2012. You also need to become a member of the Whitney Academy (I was accepted!), and then you can vote on the best novel of the year.

This is a huge undertaking. I have already read 8 of the 2011 Finalists, so I think this goal is possible. Although, I am going to try to complete one category at a time (you can vote for the best in any of the 7 categories if you've read all 5 of the books in each category), because it is very possible that life will get in the way of meeting the goal by the deadline. But, I am definitely in for reading all 35 books.

So, there will be a couple of reviews posted on other books that I just finished reading, but then be prepared for Whitney Award Finalist reviews!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Olivia Launch Party (and Contest)

The Newport Ladies Book Club authors will be at the Olivia launch party this Saturday! It is at the Fort Union Deseret Book from 1:00-3:00. Go for the authors, signed books, food and door prizes. Sounds like a great party!

There is also a "spread the word" prize offered on the TNLBC site, so if you like oodles of free books, visit their site and help spread the word.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Midnight in Austenland Giveaway Winner!

I love giveaways-such fun. Special thanks to Bloomsbury for this opportunity and to my children for helping me click the button to see who won.

The lucky winner for a hardcover copy of Midnight in Austenland is . . .

Congratulations Tarah! Just send me an email (andrea at legacyvideoproduction dot com) and let me know what address you want Bloomsbury to mail it to.

Thanks again to everyone who entered!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Persuasion: a Latter-day Tale Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway for Persuasion: a Latter-day Tale eBook.

And the winner is . . .

Congratulations! The publisher will send you the eBook.

Thanks to everyone who entered. Make sure to check back tomorrow to see if you won the copy of Midnight in Austenland.

Last Day to Enter for a Copy of Midnight in Austenland!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Today is the last day to enter the giveaway for a hardback copy of Shannon Hale's newest novel Midnight in Austenland. Enter here.

I will post the winner tomorrow. Good luck!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Last Day to Enter the Persuasion: a Latter-day Tale Giveaway

Just a reminder that the giveaway for Persuasion: a Latter-day Tale eBook ends tonight at 11:59 PM. Enter on this post. I'll post the winner on Valentine's Day. Good luck!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Shayla Witherwood: A Half-Faerie Tale

Shayla Witherwood: A Half-Faerie TaleShayla Witherwood: A Half-Faerie Tale by Tamra Torero

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Shayla Witherwood has been raised by her grandparents, and has traveled across the country in their RV for as long as she can remember. After her grandpa dies, her grandma decides it's time to park the RV and enroll Shayla in public school. The thing is, Shayla isn't your average junior in high school. She's a half-faerie, and being the "new-girl" is only a small part of her worries. She has to make sure she controls her magic so no one finds out her secret.

This was a pretty cute story. It has plenty of stereotypical high school drama, with a little bit of romance and mystery. If you want an easy, light read, be sure to check this out when it is published this May.

Thanks to and Cedar Fort for this advanced copy.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Olivia (The Newport Ladies Book Club)Olivia by Julie Wright

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received Olivia in the mail yesterday and was very excited to start reading this first book in The Newport Ladies Book Club series. The series is written by four authors well-known in the LDS market (Julie Wright, Josi S. Kilpack, Annette Lyon, and Heather Moore). Part of what drew me to The Newport Ladies Book Club is that it is intended for a national audience. It always makes me happy seeing LDS authors using their talents for a broader market.

I don't always read book dedications and acknowledgements, but for some reason I did with this one. The tears started flowing during Julie Wright's acknowledgements as she talked about women (both friends and kind strangers) who have offered a smile or a shoulder to cry on. My friends (which include my family) are so important to me. I depend on them and really appreciate them!

Olivia tells the story of a 40-something mother of four that finds herself struggling. Her husband has become very distant, and she's not sure who she is anymore. One particularly bad evening she sees a flyer for a book club and decides to join. The friends she makes and the books she reads help her cope with her problems.

It was good that I kept a tissue handy, as I needed it a few times during the novel. There are some light moments, but overall it's pretty heavy. Although the focus is on Olivia, each of the book club members has had some significant trials. I couldn't relate to many of their issues (thankfully!), but I could definitely relate to the importance of good friends and being there for those around you.

A very touching story and a great start to the series.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

At Season's End

At Season's EndAt Season's End by Eric Hendershot

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Author Eric Hendershot tells a story about a family of migrants during the Great Depression. They travel back and forth across the United States working whatever jobs they can to survive.

The book description tells that Sal and her brother end up having to take care of themselves after "tragedy strikes". I expected the focus of the story to be on how the young teens survived, but the tragedy didn't occur until very late in the story.

I really wanted to like At Season's End, but it didn't draw me in. I did find the migrant lifestyle during the Depression very interesting, but the overall story was just ok.

I read an advanced reader's copy via At Season's End is scheduled for publication May 8, 2012.

Monday, February 6, 2012


ShiftingShifting by Bethany Wiggins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading that a GoodReads friend LOVED this book, I have been anxious to get my hands on a copy. Unfortunately, none of the libraries I have access to carry it. I love owning books, but typically only buy them when I find a great deal. However, when I got a gift card to B&N, I couldn't resist buying Shifting.

Maggie Mae has been in the foster care system since she was five-years-old, transferred from home to home (some good, some very bad). The frequency of the transfers increased once she turned 16 and started being picked up by police for indecent exposure. She's not that kind of girl, but no one would believe the truth.

Maggie is almost 18, and she is very ready for her final foster home, and graduation from high school. If only she can stay out of trouble.

Full of mystery based on Navajo legend, this is a very entertaining read packed with emotion and romance.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Persuasion: a Latter-day Tale Blog Tour. Review, Author Interview, and Giveaway

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy of Persuasion: a Latter-day Tale. Its publication date has finally arrived, and to celebrate I have an interview with author Rebecca H. Jamison, and a giveaway courtesy of Cedar Fort Books.

Persuasion: a Latter-day Tale was a very enjoyable read. Just in case you missed my review, here is the Book Summary:

When Anne broke off her engagement seven years ago, she thought she’d never see Neil Wentworth again. But when Neil’s brother buys the house she grew up in, it seems fate has other plans in store. Anne is unprepared for the roller coaster of emotions that come when Neil returns and starts dating her younger friend.

Convinced that Neil could no longer have strong feelings for her, Anne pushes away all thoughts of the past. But when the handsome man she’s been dating decides he can’t live without her, Anne must come to terms with her past.

Fans of Jane Austen’s Persuasion will enjoy this modern version of her most romantic story.

And now a little about the author:

Rebecca Jamison met her husband on a blind date. His first words to her were, "Do you want to get together and play spin the bottle?"(He was trying to avoid another bad blind date, but she went out with him anyway.) Rebecca grew up in Vienna, Virginia. She attended Brigham Young University, earning a BA and MA in English. In between college and grad school, she served a mission to Portugal and the Cape Verde islands. Rebecca and her husband have six children. She enjoys running, dancing, making jewelry, reading, and watching chick flicks. You can learn more about her at or!/RebeccaHJamison.

On to the Interview:


Congratulations on your first published novel! Your bio says that you've been writing for years for fun. What inspired you to submit your novel for publishing?

Unlike most writers, I wasn’t anxious to submit my novel to publishers.  It was so fun to write it, and I didn’t want the fun to end. Plus, I was scared of rejection.  I had to force myself to share.  My mantra was, “The world needs more clean romance novels.”

What would you say was the high and low of becoming published?

The best thing about being published is that I have an excuse to write another novel.  A close second is getting to know so many wonderful writers.  There haven’t been a lot of lows.  I will say, though, that it’s sometimes hard to balance the marketing aspect with the writing.

One would assume you are a big Jane Austen fan since Persuasion: a Latter-day Tale is a modern retelling of Austen's story. Are you in fact a big Austen fan, and what is your favorite of her novels?

I’m a huge fan of Jane Austen.  Just ask my husband.  He’s sat (or slept) through tons of Jane Austen movies.

Persuasion is my favorite of her novels.  The first time I read it, I was so sad it was over that I went back and read it again the next day. It’s quieter and slower than Pride and Prejudice, but there’s so much feeling.

You've written that the main character has some things in common with you. Were any other characters based (at least in part) on people you know?

I didn’t model any of the characters on anyone I know but I did borrow little stories here and there.  For example, one of my friends took a box full of deodorant to a singles ward dance.  She thought the guys needed a hint.

Who is your favorite character in your book?

Besides my main characters, I really like Marcy, Anne’s roommate.  She’s a tall, African-American divorcee, who manages to date a lot more than Anne.  I loved writing the dialogue between Anne and Marcy because Marcy is so confident and spirited.

In many English classes students are required to dissect novels to determine what the author was trying to say. Now is your chance to lay everything out on the table. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to come away with?

At its simplest, my novel is about fear and not letting fear rule your life.  To quote Anne, “I’m probably not the best person to give advice, but I think if you make decisions because you’re afraid of something, then you’re going to have a lot of regrets.”

You grew up in Vienna, Virginia. Is that close to where your story takes place?

The setting is McLean, which is right next to Vienna.  They’re both about fifteen minutes outside of Washington, D.C.  I modeled Anne’s childhood home after my grandparents’ house, which was in Maryland, but it seems to fit just fine in McLean.

Do you have plans to submit other novels for publishing? If so, do you plan on sticking with the LDS market or would you like to write for a national audience?

My first novel was written for the national market, and I haven’t published it yet.  I wrote it for my Master’s Thesis, and it was about African immigrants in Portugal.  I might go back and revise it some day.

Before I started writing Persuasion: A Latter-day Tale, I never thought I’d write a Romance.  So there’s no telling what I’ll do in the future.  Right now, I’m working on another Jane Austen adaptation with LDS characters.

Special thanks to Rebecca for taking the time to answer my questions!

And now for the giveaway! 

One LiteraryTimeOut follower will receive a free eBook of Persuasion: a Latter-day Tale from publisher Cedar Fort. To enter the giveaway follow this blog (by clicking the Join This Site button in the upper left) and comment letting me know you've done so.

For additional entries you can share this post on your blog, on Facebook, and/or on Twitter. Make sure you come back here and comment separately (with the links) for each of these.

You can also get an additional entry for each person you send here. They just need to comment telling me that you sent them (ie. Andrea at LiteraryTimeOut sent me).

The giveaway will be open until 11:59 PM on February 13th. I will use a random number generator to select the winner (so be sure you have a separate comment for each entry). I will post the winner on February 14th.

Good luck and happy reading!

*For other stops on this Virtual Blog Tour go here.