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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Review: Tres Leches Cupcakes by Josi S. Kilpack

Sadie is back! And by back, I mean she's out of her depressed funk (at least mostly) that bound her in Banana Split. Yay!

In Tres Leches Cupcakes Sadie is in New Mexico working undercover for the Bureau of Land Management at an archeological dig site. She isn't in the know about what the BLM is investigating, but she does her job, and tries not to get involved more than she's been asked to. But, trouble seems to follow Sadie, and more is unearthed than expected at the dig site.

This eighth book in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery series has some fun new characters, and I enjoyed the setting in Santa Fe. A desert setting with artifacts, a balloon festival, cupcakes, bar fights, jail time, and a mystery unfolded Sadie-style makes for a very entertaining read.

Tres Leches Cupcakes is a good, clean read with several delicious sounding recipes included, and a smidgen of romance. You can buy it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Deseret Book, and Seagull Book.

I enjoyed the sneak peak of the next book in the series, Baked Alaska. Could it be that Sadie and Pete are moving forward with their relationship?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

I've heard good things about Divergent, so I was very excited to get my hands on a copy. It's long (487 pages), so I thought it might take me awhile to get through it. One day later I was finished! So entertaining.

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.


Tris' struggle was very interesting to follow. Being selfless was ingrained, but she really fought it at times. Sometimes that was actually pretty sad. The idea of only being one thing (honest, selfless, brave, peaceful or intelligent) is just crazy, but it makes for a fascinating read.

I like the reminder dystopian novels give about how important it is for society to work together. Sure, the situation presented in Divergent seems far-fetched, but being divisive causes so many problems.

I'm excited to read the next book in the series, Insurgent.

*As far as content goes, there is violence, a few swear words, and some intimacy (no sex, but it is talked about).

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review: All the Broken Pieces by Cindi Madsen

What if your life wasn’t your own?

Liv comes out of a coma with no memory of her past and two distinct, warring voices inside her head. Nothing, not even her reflection, seems familiar. As she stumbles through her junior year, the voices get louder, insisting she please the popular group while simultaneously despising them. But when Liv starts hanging around with Spencer, whose own mysterious past also has him on the fringe, life feels complete for the first time in, well, as long as she can remember.

Liv knows the details of the car accident that put her in the coma, but as the voices invade her dreams, and her dreams start feeling like memories, she and Spencer seek out answers. Yet the deeper they dig, the less things make sense. Can Liv rebuild the pieces of her broken past, when it means questioning not just who she is, but what she is?

I was able to read an ARC of All the Broken Pieces, and while I was really into the story, I was totally conflicted by the ending. I'm a sucker for happy endings, but this didn't scream happy to me. It was . . . a resolution that had some positive outcomes, but a moral issue was only half way resolved. I can't get the unresolved part out of my head.

I thought the characters were well done, even if it did take Liv quiet awhile to dig into the details of her accident. And although I could have done without the swearing, the story was well written.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Blog Tour, Review and Giveaway: Perchance by Lila Felix

Welcome to my stop on the Perchance Blog Tour for Indie author Lila Felix.


About the Book:

Remi Harris has a plan. Graduate high school, go to college, become a history teacher, be self-sufficient unlike her mother who is a struggling single mom. And the word ‘boy’ has no place in her plan.

Cooper Neal has been sent to his estranged father’s house to spend his Senior year getting to know him. And maybe, just maybe, there will be some cute girls in the small town.

Cooper sees Remi and he falls hard. Remi sees Cooper and wonders if she can do both. The question is; will he ruin her plans, or will she let him be a part of them?

Review:

Perchance is a well written and sweet coming of age/first love story that tugs at your emotions from the first page.

I was struck by how bad Remi's life was when she volunteered to leave her mother and siblings to live with an aunt she'd never met. But, leaving was to help her mom-quite self-less for a seventeen-year-old. Her situation made me care for her right off (and count my blessings).

Cooper's situation wasn't nearly as bad as Remi's, but his history also drew me to him. And I liked him even more each time he showed that his feelings for Remi were so much more than physical attraction.

I liked the alternating points of view, and the almost journal-entry-like way much of the story was told.

There were a few instances where I was concerned that Remi and Cooper were going to completely succumb to their hormones, but both kept their parents' mistakes in mind and knew what they needed to do for a promising future.

Content: language and several kissing scenes.

About the Author:

Lila Felix lives in the south with her husband and three wild, wacky children. She loves to read and is addicted to all things zombie apocalypse related. She is also a huge fan of the Food Network and tries, sometimes disastrously, to replicate the recipes.

Lila is also the author of Emerge (available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble). To learn more about Lila and Perchance visit the other stops on the Blog Tour.

I asked Lila why she decided to go the Indie route, and this is what she had to say:

Honestly I never expected Emerge or Perchance to do well. I wanted to get them on Amazon just to say 'I did it.'  I really thought no one would like them or even buy them. So, sending it to a publisher to look at wasn't ever in my plans. And at this point I am happy to be Indie. I get to talk directly to my fans (What? I have fans?) and other Indies have been super supportive of me. I can't imagine it any other way.

Author Blog | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter


Buy the Book:



Blog Tour Giveaway:

A signed paperback of Emerge by Lila Felix and some awesome swag. US ONLY! Giveaway: A gifted copy of Emerge or a pdf of Perchance. INT Giveaway. INT ONLY!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Heads Up: Beyond the West Sea by Misty Moncur

I love getting updates from Wattpad that Misty Moncur has started posting a new story! I was able to read the first two chapters of Beyond the West Sea (which I think is the final book in the Daughter of Helaman series), and those two chapters are excellent! Now I just have to be patient for the rest of the story to be posted. ;)


Friday, October 19, 2012

Review: Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom is an excellent writer! Have a Little Faith touched me deeply, and it reignited my desire to take a World Religions course. So often people fear and hate what they do not understand. It would make such a difference if we just tried to understand!
 

Mitch shares a few life changing experiences in Have a Little Faith. He was asked by his childhood Rabbi to give his eulogy. The "Reb" wasn't on death's door, so Mitch had several years to visit with him and prepare. The lessons he learned along the way are lessons that we can all benefit from!

I read a library copy, and ended up taking a lot of notes that I thought I'd share. Most are quotations from the book.
 

"The most inspirational man I knew only reached his potential by helping a child reach his." P. 39
 

"Mitch," he said, "faith is about doing. You are how you act, not just how you believe." P. 44
 

"I think it is the first time I've heard that God might love the 'enemy' as well as us." P. 76


Mitch asked how the Reb knew that God existed, and gave a pretty good case about science and cloning and mysteries being solved-haven't we outgrown God and Jesus? Reb said, "When you come to the end, that's where God begins." P. 76

Talking about a car bomb in Israel ,"life is what God gives us," P. 88

"Abraham's instinct was correct. You must first argue against violence and destruction, because these are not normal ways of living." P. 91

"My friends, if we tend to the things that are important in life, if we are right with those we love and behave in line with our faith, our lives will not be cursed with the aching throb of unfulfilled business. Our words will always be sincere, our embraces will be tight. We will never wallow in the agony of 'I could have, I should have.' We can sleep in a storm.

"And when it's time, our good-byes will be complete." P. 93

The secret to happiness is to be satisfied and be grateful "for what you have. For the love you receive. And for what God has given you." P. 102

Second death- being forgotten. Avoided by having our families remember us. P. 128

"Jesus - I call him the greatest recycler I know! . . . Jesus . . . he lifts me up. He rearranges me. He repositions me. By myself, I'm no good - but he makes all the difference!" P. 136

"Remember, the only difference between marital and martial is where you put the 'I'." Without marital commitment you miss "A happiness you cannot find alone." P. 144

"The genius of life is its variety." P. 160

"you can touch everything and be connected to nothing." P. 165

". . . you can embrace your own faith's authenticity and still accept that others believe in something else." P. 168

A month of mourning and mourning rituals-very interesting! P. 181

Man in prison (Usur) would say the Muslim prayers, but end it with "In Jesus name, amen." When asked about it he said, "I don't know if it's Allah or Jesus Christ after this life. I'm just trying to get in . . . " P. 201

"If you could pack for heaven, this was how you'd do it, touching everything, taking nothing." P. 210

"Mitch, it does you no good to be angry or carry grudges. It churns you up inside. It does you more harm than the object of your anger." P. 211

"Nothing haunts like the things we don't say." P. 212

" . . . in some ways, we all have a hole in our roof, . . . with a little faith, people can fix things, and they truly can change, . . . " P. 244

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Blog Tour & Review: The Unlikely Gift of Treasure Blume by Lisa Rumsey Harris

It's Blog Tour time again, and today I'm happy to spread the word about Lisa Rumsey Harris' debut novel, The Unlikely Gift of Treasure Blume.


About the Book:

With her love of sweaters, goofy hair, and awkward manners—not to mention her family curse—Treasure Blume knows love is not in her future. That is, until she matches wits with Dennis Cameron, a divorced chef with a six-year-old daughter. Full of mischief, mayhem, and laugh-out-loud humor, this is an unlikely love story you’ll want to read over and over again!

My Review:

This was a very enjoyable story that had me laughing from the get-go. Treasure's blind date experience was hilarious. It was also a bit sad, but it was a great introduction to our main character.

Treasure repels the bulk of society, but gets along really well with young children and senior citizens. She loves to wear sweater sets and polyester, watch old musicals, and loves her crazy, balding cat.

Even with all of her quirks, she is totally loveable-readers are immune to her "curse". I admired her ability to let others' disdain roll off her back, and her willingness to reach out to those in need (be it a student or an elderly neighbor).

This is a fun read with a clean romance, not to mention that it has a great message about finding the treasures around us (because they are there if we just make the effort to look).

About the Author:

I loved Lisa's profile from her website (picture and description):

I'm a writer, mother, wife, and teacher. By day, I teach Honors writing classes at BYU. By night, I write fiction and creative non-fiction. In between, I do laundry, stop fights, french braid hair, lose my sanity, and rarely cook.

Lisa is from Downey, Idaho, where she grew up writing stories and riding horses. She lives in Orem, Utah, with her multi-talented husband, her two adorable sunshine daughters, and her ancient Siamese cat.

You can follow Lisa on Facebook and her website, and you can learn more about her and The Unlikely Gift of Treasure Blume by visiting the other stops on the Blog Tour.

How to Get Your Own Copy:
 
You can enter to win a copy of The Unlikely Gift of Treasure Blume on Goodreads and on I Am a Reader, Not A Writer. Or you can pre-order it through Cedar Fort, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. It is scheduled for release on November 13, 2012.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Anderson

Welcome to The Reluctant Bachelorette Blog Tour hosted by I Am A Reader Not A Writer. Visit the other tour stops for reviews, author interviews, excerpts, guest posts, and more.

Review:

Even though this is the third reality dating show themed book I've read this year (who knew it was such a popular topic?), The Reluctant Bachelorette has a unique spin. A small farming town has been hit hard by the sluggish economy, and many farms are going under. The residents love their town, and in a last ditch effort to save the farms, they create their own online bachelorette show. The online audience pays money to vote on which bachelors stay, and the money goes toward saving the farms.
The bachelorette, Taycee, was roped into the show by her friend, and she's less than thrilled about the idea. Especially when her old crush, Luke, becomes one of the bachelors.

I really enjoyed the characters in this book. I struggled a bit with Taycee's name at first, but quickly got over it. She had a fun personality, and her interactions with Luke were entertaining (especially since she was constantly fighting her feelings for him).

Being able to relate to aspects of a story always make it more enjoyable for me. In this case, crushing on a brother's friend (a definite perk of having an older brother) and living in a small town and loving it helped me understand how Taycee was feeling.

I don't love the part of the bachelor/bachelorette show where things start to get intimate (nothing past kissing in this book), and I appreciated that Taycee didn't like being a player either. She was in a tough position where she felt she had to give the audience what they wanted in order to save her town.

This is a fun, quick read with a clean romance. I'm looking forward to reading other books by Rachael Anderson (who also loves a spoonful of peanut butter dipped in milk chocolate chips-obviously a woman with good taste!).

About the Author:

Rachael Anderson is the author of four contemporary romances: Divinely Designed, Luck of the Draw, Minor Adjustments, and The Reluctant Bachelorette. She's the mother of four, can't sing, doesn't dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.




Author Links:

Facebook | Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon author page


You can buy The Reluctant Bachelorette Kindle version for only $0.99 through the end of October.

 

Tour Giveaway - October 1st to 31st

Grand Prize:
*Print copy of The Reluctant Bachelorette (Ebook for International winner)
*$15 Amazon Gift Card
*Copy of the DVD Sneakers (US only)
Print copy of The Reluctant Bachelorette
3 Kindle Ebook Copies of The Reluctant Bachelorette

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 15, 2012

Review: Audiobook, The Screwtapes Letters & Screwtape Proposes a Toast by C.S. Lewis

I enjoy listening to audiobooks while I work on household projects. I recently downloaded The Screwtape Letters audiobook via Pioneer (Utah's Online Library). It also includes Screwtape Proposes a Toast, and is read by Ralph Cosham (who does an excellent job).

A masterpiece of satire, this classic has entertained and enlightened readers the world over with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life and foibles from the vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to "Our Father Below." At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, C. S. Lewis gives us the correspondence of the worldly-wise old devil to his nephew Wormwood, a novice demon in charge of securing the damnation of an ordinary young man.

Even though I can't always give 100% attention to an audiobook, I thoroughly enjoyed Screwtape's letters to Wormwood, and his toast to fellow demons. There was so much food for thought. Many of the demons "tricks" are things/attitudes that I've seen often in my life. This is definitely a book to read (there were so many parts I would have marked).

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Review: Intrinsical by Lani Woodland

Sixteen-year-old Yara Silva has always known that ghosts walk alongside the living. Her grandma, like the other females in her family, is a Waker, someone who can see and communicate with ghosts. Yara grew up watching her grandmother taunted and scorned for this unusual ability and doesn't want that to be her future. She has been dreading the day when she too would see ghosts, and is relieved that the usually dominant Waker gene seems to have skipped her, letting her live a normal teenage life. However, all that changes for Yara on her first day at her elite boarding school when she discovers the gene was only lying dormant. She witnesses a dark mist attack Brent, a handsome fellow student, and rushes to his rescue. Her act of heroism draws the mist's attention, and the dark spirit begins stalking her. Yara finds herself entrenched in a sixty-year-old curse that haunts the school, threatening not only her life, but the lives of her closest friends as well. Yara soon realizes that the past she was trying to put behind her isn't going to go quietly.

While I love to own books, I don't typically buy them unless I've read them first (unless it's part of a series that I really like). However, awhile back I read a good review about Intrinsical, and I enjoyed the sample I found online. So, when I saw a heads-up that the eBook was available for only 99 cents, I bought it (along with its sequel).

The idea of being a Waker was intriguing to me, and the boarding school setting (which just went co-ed) added a great element to the story. Yara and her friend Cheri made a good duo. Yara was fairly serious while Cheri kept things on the lighter side (most of the time).

Not too far into the story a major event took place that totally threw me for a loop. I had no idea how the situation would be resolved (as it seemed that there was no coming back from it). But, I was happy with the resolution.

If you like reading ghost stories (especially close to Halloween), consider adding Intrinsical to your list. It's mysterious without being overly creepy. There are plenty of serious moments, but there are light moments along with a well-paced romance.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Review: A Timeless Romance Anthology (Winter Collection)

This anthology has six romantic short stories by popular authors Sarah M. Eden, Heidi Ashworth, Annette Lyon, Joyce DiPastena, Donna Hatch, and Heather B. Moore.

Donna Hatch is new to me, but I have read (and enjoyed) many books by the rest of the authors, so I was really excited to receive this eBook for review. And, I was very happy with Donna's story, A Winter's Knight. I'll be looking for more of her books!

All of the stories had sweet, clean romances. I can't quite decide if not wanting some of the stories to end so soon is a negative or a positive. There were great characters in wonderful settings. They were also pretty perfect to read during a busy week. I typically had enough time to get through a story per day in the free moments I had.

This anthology was released on October 1st, and is available as an eBook for $3.99 on Kindle, Smashwords, and Nook.You can read more about each story on the Timeless Romance Anthologies blog.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Review: Take My Heart by Marie Higgins

Switching roles and the pursuit of freedom come together in the hunt to discover who can be trusted and who is really the traitor during the Colonial times. Mercedes Maxwell’s sister’s last wish was for Mercedes to find evidence against Kat’s husband, William Braxton, and have him hung as a traitor to the crown. Mercedes isn’t na├»ve when it comes to capturing traitors, because her own deceased husband had once been an agent for the King when they lived in England.

When she meets William Braxton for the first time, all is not as it seems. Portraying her twin, Mercedes knows this is the only way to get close enough to William to discover his secrets. What she finds along the way are little surprises she hadn’t counted on, especially when she begins to give her heart to a man who may be a spy against the crown.

I haven't read very many books that take place in the Colonial Period, but being a fan of historical fiction in general, I was excited to read Take My Heart. The author, Marie Higgins, refers to her books as "sweet historical romances." I think that is a great way to describe Take My Heart. It was a bit lighter on historical details than I was anticipating, but I did get a feel for both sides of the political issues of the time. This was unique because most of what I've read during this time period only focuses on the Patriots' viewpoint. The Loyalists' side was very interesting to read about.

Mercy's character was very likeable (and so opposite from her sister). Her kindness to William's children was endearing and her actions were selfless. Even pretending to be her sister was done in honor of her loyalty to her country and her family. I also appreciated that she was open minded, and was able to change direction when she saw a better way.

The cover image had me a little concerned about the content, but I thought Higgins did a nice job of not dwelling on certain aspects that other authors tend to give too much detail to. For example, a married couple has intercourse, but other than knowing that it happened, there are no details. I appreciate being left outside the door for moments like that.

I'm looking forward to reading more of Marie Higgins' books, especially to see how she writes about other historical periods.

*I received an e-copy of Take My Heart in exchange for a review.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Book Club: Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

This has been a crazy, busy week. One of those weeks where Tuesday feels like Friday. Some of today's busyness is preparation for hosting book club tonight-this is very good busy! Time with friends, some yummy food, and discussion on what is probably the most enjoyable book I've read all year: Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson.



I read (and reviewed) it back in June. I've since read it at least one more time, and purchased the print copy (because when you love a book, owning the physical copy is so much more satisfying than owning a digital copy). I did try listening to the audiobook when I had to spend a lot of time in the car. The reader and I didn't get along, but I still LOVE the book.

So, tonight my friends will come over and we'll enjoy some wassail (we aren't tea drinkers), cucumber sandwiches, and scones (along with some other goodies). We'll talk about this wonderful novel, and relate to each others' experiences of not being able to put the book down.

I can't wait!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Book Blast: The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Anderson

Unknowingly cast as the bachelorette for her town’s charity event, Taycee Emerson wants out. Especially when she discovers her old teenage crush, Luke Carney, is one of the bachelors and it's up to the viewers--not her--to decide which bachelors stay or go.

Coerced into participating, Taycee does what any self-preserving girl would do. She launches a subtle attack on Luke’s good name with the hope of getting him voted off the show. Unfortunately, Luke's an eye-for-an-eye kind of guy, and when he discovers what she's up to, it means revenge.


But when their pranks go south, will they screw up any chance they have at a future together, or will they be able to forgive and forget and prove that love really does conquer all?







About the Author:
Rachael Anderson is the author of four contemporary romances: Divinely Designed, Luck of the Draw, Minor Adjustments, and The Reluctant Bachelorette. She's the mother of four, can't sing, doesn't dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.


 
Author Links:

Facebook | Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon author page






Giveaway Details:

$50 Amazon Gift Code compliments of Author Rachael Renee Anderson
Ends 10/31/12

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open to anyone who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code. 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's permission. 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. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Review: The Breath of Dawn by Kristen Heitzmann

Corporate turnaround specialist Morgan Spencer, dubbed the "success guru," has a Midas touch in business. But losing his wife sent him to the brink, and his two-year-old daughter, Livie, is all he's living for--until they encounter a woman whose trouble just might draw him out of his own.
 

Four years ago Quinn Reilly did the right thing. Now the man her testimony put in jail is getting out. Though she has put up barriers to protect herself and those around her, she has come to care for the Spencer family, especially the winsome Livie and her mercurial father. Unwilling to put them at risk when the threats begin, she requests something she hopes the super-successful Morgan might be able to deliver.

Fixing problems is what Morgan does best, but his counter proposal takes them in a direction neither is equipped to handle. Determined to confront the past, will they survive to build a future?

I have mixed feelings about this book. I've read (and liked) every Kristen Heitzmann book my library has, so when I saw the ARC for her latest book The Breath of Dawn on NetGalley, I was very excited to read it.

I was pulled in right away. Quinn's unique occupation and personality (not to mention her name) made for a wonderful main character. Morgan, successful, handsome and heartbroken, was great too. For quite awhile I was very into their story, but the pace slowed and dragged at times during the 416 pages.

I struggled with the parts about mental illness and evil spirits. Also, it seemed that the Lord's name was taken in vain several times. Some of that may have been a call for a heavenly help, but the way it was done rubbed me the wrong way.

I was surprised that there was sex in this novel, as I can't recall it in any other Bethany House published novels that I've read. There weren't details, and the couple was married, but I guess it stood out because the marriage was looked at as a business proposition instead of a loving relationship. They voided what they'd agreed to out of lust instead of love, at least initially.

Those issues aside, I enjoyed the overall story. I would recommend reading this as an e-book though, so you have the dictionary option right at your fingertips. Heitzmann seemed to be testing the limits of her vocabulary (or the thesaurus).