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Friday, February 28, 2014

Blog Tour: Hope Springs by Sarah M. Eden (Longing for Home Volume 2)


Hope Springs by Sarah M. Eden

Book Description:

In this much-anticipated sequel, Kate Macauley finds herself drawn even deeper into the explosive feud between the American farmers and the Irish immigrants in the small Wyoming town of Hope Springs. As Kate struggles with her decision to stay and make a home for herself, two men compete for her heart. But when the violence escalates into a full-scale war, Kate wonders if any of them will be able to survive the winter.

Hope Springs is the story of one woman’s determination to make a life for herself against all odds, and her struggle to untangle the conflicting feelings of her heart.

Review:

Hope Springs is a really great story. The first book in the series, Longing for Home, was good, but Hope Springs absolutely made Katie's story!

The feud between the Irish and the non-Irish in Hope Springs was heartbreaking. I loved Katie's character and her determination to help those around her. It would have been so easy to throw in the towel and leave, but that's not Katie. Through extreme adversity she did her best to make things better for everyone.

I cried at least once. Hope Springs is a sweet, touching, and clean story that not only has a great romance, but has a wonderful lesson about loving others even when they are different. It also has a good depiction about how prejudices are divisive and dangerous.

This is quite a bit longer than most of Sarah's stories, so it took longer to read, but several times I didn't want to put it down and ended up staying up much too late.

If you are a fan of romance novels, you can't go wrong with Sarah's books.

About the Author:

Sarah M. Eden is the author of several well-received historical romances, including Whitney Award finalists Seeking Persephone (2008) and Courting Miss Lancaster (2010). Combining her obsession with history and an affinity for tender love stories, Sarah loves crafting witty characters and heartfelt romances. She happily spends hours perusing the reference shelves of her local library.



Title: Longing for Home, Vol. 2: Hope Springs
Author: Sarah M. Eden
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: February 2014
ISBN: 1609078101
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.
Purchase: Amazon | Kindle | Deseret Book | Barnes & Noble

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Prejudice Meets Pride Cover Reveal Giveaway

Prejudice Meets Pride  
Prejudice Meets Pride by Rachael Anderson

After years of pinching pennies and struggling to get through art school, Emma Makie’s hard work finally pays off in the form of a dream job offer. But when tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to turn down the job and make a cross-country move to Colorado Springs to take temporary custody of her two nieces. She has no money, no job prospects, and no idea how to be a mother to two little girls, but she isn’t about to let that stop her. Nor is she about to accept the help or of her handsome new neighbor, who seems to think she’s incapable of doing anything on her own. Fun, heartwarming, and romantic, Prejudice Meets Pride is the story of a guy who thinks he has it all figured out and a girl who isn't afraid to show him that he doesn't. It’s about learning what it means to trust, figuring out how to give and to take, and realizing that not everyone gets to pick the person they fall in love with. Sometimes, love picks them.    

RachaelAuthor Rachael Anderson

USA Today bestselling author Rachael Anderson is the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She 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.



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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Blog Tour: Skinny-licious by Shauna Evans RN

Tour Schedule
Skinny-licious: Lite and Scrumptious Recipes for a Slimmer You
by Shauna Evans, RN

Book Description:

Eat yourself skinny! Registered nurse and award-winning cook Shauna Evans proves that you don’t need to give up your favorite foods in order to slim down. You can enjoy tasty recipes like Lime and Cilantro Shrimp Skewers, Stuffed Red Peppers, and Cherry Chocolate Cake, all while losing weight and feeling great. Healthy cooking has never been easier!

Review:

I loved the description of this recipe book. Who doesn't want to lose weight while eating what they want? Also, Skinny-licious is a great looking cookbook. The hardcover format makes it durable in the kitchen, and the pictures are mouthwatering. I passed the book around my family when it arrived to have them pick what they wanted to eat. My daughter loves cooking and was probably the most excited about it. My husband wanted pictures of every recipe. That is always nice, but a benefit most recipes books don't seem to have.

Before testing any recipes, I took the time to read Shauna's story at the beginning of the book. I have to be honest that her weight loss strategy really threw me. She found that she was able to lose weight successfully by fasting. The whole idea of skipping meals to lose weight doesn't sound healthy, and goes against everything I've ever heard about being healthy. But, reading further, I agree with the concept of not eating late at night, and the need to give our bodies time to cleanse themselves. The system she follows is eating during an eight hour period, and fasting for 16 hours. I haven't jumped on board with this idea, partially because it means skipping breakfast (not something I want to do), but I am trying not to eat late in the evening.

Skinny-licious includes a nice variety of recipes with fairly easy directions. My ten-year-old had no problems making the peanut butter cookie recipe on her own. They were tasty, and possibly even better because I didn't have to make them. :) I can't see that they are healthy in any way, but it was definitely a yummy treat.

I expected a book like this to have nutrition facts for each recipe, but since the focus is more on when we eat than what we eat, I can understand why that isn't included. I don't know that many of the recipes on their own would help with weight loss given some of their ingredients, but I can see if you are eating these combined with the 8:16 eating method that you could lose weight.

About the Author:

Shauna Schmidt Evans was born and raised in northern Utah beneath the Wasatch Mountains. She was a competitive athlete. Her high school cheer squad was 9th in the nation and she took fourth place in her age category when she ran her first St. George marathon at the age of eighteen. She has completed three half marathons and three full marathons. Shauna graduated from Brigham Young University in nursing with a bachelor of science degree. At BYU, she taught in the anatomy lab. She married Joe Evans, BYU back-up quarterback to Ty Detmer in 1992. They have five fit, athletic children. Shauna has been a water aerobic instructor and continues her nursing education in subjects regarding nutrition, exercise, and overall good health. Health and fitness have always been of special interest to her. She is the author of What Goes With What: Baby Rooms Made Easy and Sweet and Savory: Award Winning Recipes Made Easy. She has won over ten recipes contests including B98.7 and Select Med’s Healthy Recipe Contest in March 2013. She has appeared on The Daily Dish, Good Things Utah, Studio Five, and Channel 13 News and has taught at The Home Show Expo in Salt Lake City.

Title: Skinny-licious: Lite and Scrumptious Recipes for a Slimmer You
Author: Shauna Evans
Publisher: Front Table Books, an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc.
Published: January 2014
ISBN: 1462113249
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle

Monday, February 24, 2014

2013 Whitney Award Finalists

It's that time of year again. The 2013 Whitney Award finalists were recently announced, and academy members are reading like mad trying to complete as many categories as possible so they can put in their votes.

I'm looking forward to posting some dual reviews with Tarah to see how much we agree or disagree on some of the finalists. We will mostly likely do these posts about each category (General, Historical, Romance, Mystery/Suspense, etc.), so they will come when we've both completed a category.

In the meantime, here are links to some of the finalists that I've already blogged about:

Mile 21 by Sarah Dunster

Ruby's Secret by Heather B. Moore

Esther the Queen by Heather B. Moore

Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson

Longing for Home by Sarah M. Eden

Rocky Road by Josi S. Kilpack

I, Spy by Jordan McCollum

Echo in Time by C.J. Hill

Heart of the Ocean by Heather B. Moore

Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

Each year's finalists and winners are a great place to look when you are trying to find something to read. I haven't loved every book I've read since discovering the Whitney Awards, but some of my favorite books have been finalists and/or winners.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Blog Tour: Fire on Ice by Jeremy C. Holm


Fire on Ice: Gospel Lessons Learned from a Lifetime of Sports
by Jeremy C. Holm

I'm not a huge sports fan, but there are definitely times that I get caught up in inspirational sports stories. Having Fire on Ice released right now with the Olympics going on is great timing. This isn't the kind of book that sucks me in from start to finish (non-fiction rarely does that for me), but I enjoyed reading a section here and there, and particularly enjoyed the short athletic experiences that were shared, along with the lessons that were learned from them. Tying those lessons into a spiritual connection seems like a great idea, especially for big sports fans.

Book Description:

Racing down an icy track at 80 miles per hour leads you to think of many things. For Jeremy C. Holm, it made him think of God. In Fire and Ice, Holm shares his experiences as a bobsled pilot and coach, presenting a message of faith and personal courage that will inspire you to come closer to Jesus Christ and reach for that ultimate prize of eternal life.

About the Author:

Author, journalist, motivational speaker, graphic designer and avid bob sledder, Jeremy Holm is a man of many talents. A student of World War II history and a connoisseur of books, Jeremy sees his books as old friends. As a motivational speaker he enchants his audience with stories of his academic achievements, athletic adventures and hilarious experiences from the life of a single college student. One of Jeremy’s greatest desires is to help each person find the courage to go after their own dreams, or as he says, their own personal “Olympics” in life.


Title: Fire on Ice
Author: Jeremy C. Holm
Publisher: CFI, an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc.
Published: 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4621-1367-5
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Grand Finale for Wildwood Creek by Lisa Wingate...



There is a mystery in Wildwood Creek's history, a mystery that affects Allie's present...

Wildwood CreekWildwood Creek
by Lisa Wingate
Christian Romance
Paperback, 384 pages
February 4th 2014 by Bethany House Publishers

Allie Kirkland has never been one to take wild risks. But when she’s offered a costuming assistant’s job on a docudrama in the hills near Moses Lake, she jumps at the chance. She’s always dreamed of following in her director-father’s footsteps, and the reenactment of the legendary frontier settlement of Wildwood is a first step. The family expectations will have to wait.

But in 1861, the real Wildwood held dangerous realities. Town founder Harland Delevan held helpless residents, including young Irish schoolteacher Bonnie Rose, in an iron grip. Mysterious disappearances led to myths and legends still retold in the folk songs of Chinquapin Peaks. Eventually, the entire site was found abandoned.
When strange connections surface between Allie and the teacher who disappeared over a century ago, everyone in Wildwood, including Allie’s handsome neighbor on the film set, Blake Fulton, seems to be hiding secrets, and Allie doesn’t know who she can trust. If she can’t find the answers in time, history may repeat itself . . . with the most unthinkable results.

Bethany House



Lisa, the Writer
Part IV of IV:

What sacrifices have you had to make to be a writer?

Writing two novels per year for two different publishers these last several years has been very time-consuming, especially while raising a family, driving carpools, and shuttling forgotten sports equipment to stadiums all over a three-county area. I'm still a mom, and I don't want to miss anything, which often means that I'm up late or up early to finish my writing. I think for me, the sacrifice has probably come in terms of giving up time for hobbies and other things I like to do outside of the writing business.

What keeps me going is the pure love of story and at times the letters from readers.  There is nothing more powerful than knowing that your words on a page affected a life, helped to inspire growth, or just walked through the dark night of the soul with someone. A few years ago, a reader wrote to tell me she’d couldn’t sleep on as the first anniversary of her young granddaughter’s death approached, so she picked up one of my stories.  The book took her away from that pain for a while. It made her laugh, and that was what she needed.  There’s an incredible sense of human connection in that.  A story can literally transport the mind, and body, and soul to another place. It never fails that when I’m having a “down” day, a note will come in from a reader and remind me that the human side of story is what matters most.

What advice would you give other writers?

It's gauche to talk about money, but don't do it for the money. Everybody seems to think that becoming a full-time writer is the measure of success, but I would urge writers coming along to really take their time about making the decision to give up another career and write full time. Being financially dependent on writing as your livelihood adds a new level of stress. I've seen the way too many young writers make that jump too quickly, and that always seems to be the question at conferences, “Are you a full-time writer?” I don’t think you’re any more legitimate because you write full time or don't. In truth, it’s more important to find out how to preserve the magic and enthusiasm that kept you sitting down at the computer when no one was paying you to write, and you weren’t sure anyone ever would.

Did you miss the other three parts about Lisa, the other guest posts, or reviews?
Catch them now!

2/11: LDS and Lovin' it - Review
"I quite enjoyed this book, the characters, the plot, the mystery, everything really."

2/12: Mythical Books - Guest Post
"Well, to begin with, that our journeys, struggles, and challenges are never without purpose."

Christy's Cozy Corners – Excerpt
I imagine the words as he’s lookin’ at me, hear the echo as he spies Maggie outside the door. It troubles me not so much for myself, but for my sister. . . .

I Am A Reader, Not A Writer - Guest Post
"It’s impossible not to wonder, from the safer vantage point of a modern life, if I could have endured what those pioneer women endured. If I were in the shoes of my ancestors, would I have the metal to survive?"

2/13: Kelly P's Blog – Excerpt
The man trails the steeple along his bottom lip. “Yes,” he says quite slowly, thinking the words in the speakin’. “Yes, you will do nicely, I believe.”

2/14: Mel's Shelves - Review
"I love a good mystery and this book delivered!"

2/16: Brooke Blogs - Guest Post
"There is also, undoubtedly, a bit of my own hidden dream in Allie’s opportunity to join the historical reenactment — to go back in time."

Tell Tale Book Reviews – Excerpt
I felt something . . . happening, but I didn’t know what.

Paulette's Papers - Guest Post
"The story is a combination of folk legend, historical fact, and wild flight of fancy. I like to think of it as part historical, part contemporary, part romance, part adventure, and part drama."

"It was mysterious, and interesting, and exciting to read."

The Written Adventure – Excerpt
“One final thing,” she added. “Are you familiar with the name Bonnie Rose?”
The interview had taken another hairpin turn. “No, not that I know of . . .”

2/19: Getting Your Read On - Review
"Like I said, the ending was my favorite part. The mystery climaxed, the action picked up, the romance finally entered and I got a Happily Ever After."

Bookworm Lisa - Guest Post
"There were two special challenges in writing Wildwood Creek. The first was definitely the research...
The second challenge in writing Wildwood Creek involved the actual threading together of Allie and Bonnie's stories."

2/20: The Wonderings of One Person - Interview
"I think we all have mysteries that linger in our family histories or in our hometowns. Those tales are told at family gatherings, in the corners of local caf├ęs, and around cook fires at Scout campouts. It’s impossible not to wonder, when hearing the retellings of things that have been passed down by word-of-mouth for generations, how much is true?"

Platypire Reviews - Review
"Wildwood Creek is the sort of book that drew me in from the first page, and I had to keep on reading to find out what was going to happen."

"If you are a fan of romance, historical fiction, and/or cozy mysteries, this story is for you. The author has created a completely scintillating story written in exquisite style."

"The way the characters and storyline were woven together was brilliant!"

Reviews By Molly - Review
"I try to remind myself of the things that really matter and to stay focused on what will be significant in a year, five years, ten years, and so on."


Lisa Wingate Author PictureLisa Wingate is a journalist, inspirational speaker, reviewer for the New York Journal of Books, and the author of over twenty novels.  Her novels combine elements of history, romance, mystery, and women's fiction with nuggets of Southern culture, from the sublime to the humorous. She is a seven-time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol award nominee, a Christy Award nominee, an Oklahoma Book Award finalist, a Christianity Today Book Award nominee, an Inspy Award nominee, and a two-time Carol Award winner. Her works have been selected for Booklist’s Top Ten List in 2012 and in 2013. Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others, as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.




Tour-Wide Giveaway
February 10 - March 2nd  US Only
Found out more about this amazing giveaway on the Launch and here.
See Rafflecopter for restrictions.

1 Winner, 1 Amazing Prize Pack from Bethany House and Lisa Wingate:
   $50 Amazon Gift Card
   Print copy of Wildwood Creek by Lisa Wingate
   Handmade-by-author Prayer Box with notepads 

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Review: Victoria's Promise by Julie Wright


Victoria's Promise by Julie Wright

Book Description:

A luxurious mansion. Thirty stunning bachelorettes. One very eligible bachelor. All of the ingredients are in place for a successful reality dating show, and behind the scenes, Tori Winters is set to pull the romantic strings as assistant director of Vows. Despite her distaste for public exhibitions of love—which spelled the death of her last relationship—Tori intends to give the public exactly what they want: scintillating footage of a bevy of beauties vying for the attention of Christopher Caine. But Chris, a consummate Southern gentleman and the star of Vows, seems almost too good to be true—and soon, even Tori finds herself falling under his spell. Despite legal obligations to avoid fraternizing with the talent, it’s clear her feelings are anything but unrequited. With the support of her friends in the Newport Ladies Book Club, Tori must make a life-altering decision: is she willing to jeopardize all she’s worked for in order to embrace her own fairy-tale ending?

Review:

Have you ever read a series and with each new book felt like, this is the best one yet! ? That's definitely how I felt about Victoria's Secret. This isn't a deep story, but I think that I enjoyed that the conflicts in this book are quite different from those found in the rest of the series. This was more like a fairytale, and Chris was a wonderful main character.

I'll admit that after reading about the same book club nights in the previous six books in the series, I found myself skimming those sections. I love the friendships gained from the book club, but really just wanted to get to the rest of Tori's story.

One of my favorite lines in the book was:

"Every relationship needed a spider killer." - p. 67

I totally agreed with that line, and it was bits like this that helped me relate to Tori. She has this job that isn't relatable, and is surrounded by gorgeous people and glamorous settings, but she's still a down to earth girl.

Victoria's Secret is filled with emotion. I really felt for Tori at times.

I loved how it ended. I wanted more of the main characters' story, but it really was a sweet ending.

Title: Victoria's Secret
Author: Julie Wright
Publisher: Covenant Communications Inc.
Published: January 2014
ISBN: 1621084825
Source: I received an eCopy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Review: Feasting on Food Storage by Jane P. Merrill and Karen M. Sunderland


Feasting on Food Storage:
Delicious and Healthy Recipes for Everyday Cooking
by Jane P. Merrill and Karen M. Sunderland

Book Description:

Your food storage contains delectable delights when you know how to use it!

Eating stored food rotates your food supply, saves you money, and supports your health, and it keeps you prepared for any emergency. In addition to learning the ins and outs of food storage, try over 200 mouthwatering recipes, including:


-Brown Sugar Muffins
-Creamy Taco Soup
-Chicken Cacciatore
-Texas Sheet Cake Brownies

 

Feasting on Food Storage is filled to the brim with tips and tricks, like how to best plan your meals, how to store water, or how to implement short- and long-term storage. Plus, enjoy bonus sections for baby food, home remedies, and gluten-free options.
 

From the mother-daughter effort of Karen M. Sunderland and Jane P. Merrill, this cookbook is a must-have addition to your kitchen shelf. Armed with these recipes and practical techniques, you can store what you eat and eat what you store.
 

A food storage feast is at your fingertips!

Review:

I'm typically drawn to recipe books by their covers. Photographic examples of the delicious food inside often captures my attention. Feasting on Food Storage has a decent cover, but probably wouldn't stand out on a shelf by the pictures; however, the title caught my attention. Food storage doesn't often bring to mind delicious food, and sometimes not even healthy food (since I usually think of fresh when I think of healthy), but the title was really intriguing.

As far as recipe books go, I found it lacking in that it doesn't have pictures of any of the recipes, and it's paperback (I prefer spiral bound or at least hardcover in the kitchen). Also, there aren't any nutrition facts. BUT, its format would be very handy in emergency situations. It's a great size to have in an emergency pack, and if you are using it to eat to survive, you probably wouldn't be thinking about nutrition facts.

I really liked the conversion charts and substitution tips. The baking tips and emergency notes are good, and even though not too many recipes jumped out at me (could be due to a lack of pictures), what I did make was very easy and pretty tasty.

This is not your typical recipe book. It has additional information that helps you prepare for an emergency (including what to put in emergency, first aid, and sanitation kits). It also tells you how to create a family disaster plan, and has some great information in the home remedy section.

If you are looking for some help in getting prepared for an emergency situation, I'd definitely recommend getting a copy of Feasting on Food Storage.

Title: Feasting on Food Storage: Delicious and Healthy Recipes for Everyday Cooking
Author: Jane P. Merrill and Karen M. Sunderland
Publisher: Front Table Books, an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc.
Published: December 2013
ISBN: 1462112897
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle

Monday, February 17, 2014

Blog Tour: Do Not Attempt in Heels compiled by Elise Hahl and Jennifer Knight

Tour
Do Not Attempt in Heels:
Mission Stories and Advice from Sisters Who've Been There 
Compiled by Elise Hahl and Jennifer Knight 

Book Description:

Whether a sister has already worn a missionary badge or is still planning to wear one, this collection of personal stories from the mission field is sure to inspire and entertain. Feel the elation, exhaustion, humor, frustration, and faith of these dedicated sister missionaries. Share the spirit of the divine work of sister missionaries with Do Not Attempt in Heels

Editor Interview:

E=Elise Hahl
J=Jennifer Knight

What inspired you to write Do Not Attempt in Heels?

E: When I was preparing for a mission, my mission prep teacher handed each class member a collection of stories and talks about missions. We read one each week. Each story was absolutely wonderful and really helped me, but I don't remember any one of them being written by a sister missionary, and as I learned on my mission, the elder experience isn't always identical to the sister experience. Fast forward ten years (okay, twelve) and the time was finally ripe for a sister missionary book because of the age change. When our publisher asked me if I was willing to put together some sort of compilation for sisters, I was really excited about the idea, and Jenn was excited too when I asked her to be my partner in crime. This kind of book is really a dream for both of us. What we put together is a sister-version of the packet our mission prep teacher handed us--something I wish I could have read before my own mission. 

How did you decide what to include, and what was the compilation process?

J: It was a very unscientific process. We asked friends and friends of friends. We asked for recommendations from mission presidents we knew, and we prayed. I really feel like the essays that came into our hands were the ones that needed to be in this book.

E: I actually flagged down a person I didn't know after her talk at church because I had this strong feeling that she'd be great for the book. She was kind enough not to make me feel like some weirdo stalker, and she ended up writing a great essay about deciding to serve a mission. Jenn had a similar situation in her own ward while watching someone speak.

What do you hope for people to gain from reading your book?


J: We hope to give girls who are trying to decide about serving a mission a good idea of what to expect. We were really trying to take a snapshot of the different phases and feelings you experience on a mission, and I think we achieved it: the joy of a call, the pain if homesickness, the heaviness of discouragement and the euphoria of watching someone's life change for the better. Then there are all the quirks of mission life: companionship issues, crushing on an elder, finding the balance between the letter and the spirit of the laws, roaches and sweat and physical exertion. There really is a little bit if everything, and that's exactly what we were going for!

E: Hopefully, these stories can help sister missionaries to be patient with themselves and to help them know that they're not alone--we've been through it all! But we also hope it will inspire them to know just what they are capable are doing. There are some truly amazing stories in here about sisters changing the dynamics of their wards, falling in love with the scriptures, helping unlikely candidates to become rock-solid converts, etc.

Were you surprised by any of the issues you collected from returned sister missionaries, or the topics mission presidents suggested that you include? And, if you weren’t surprised since you’ve been there, what do you think readers might find surprising?

E: I was a little surprised by how willing these exemplary sister missionaries were to tell stories about the times they felt weak. But I was so glad--those stories makes the book very personal and I think it will help people, both on and off the mission.

J: I'm not surprised by what we got, but a little worried that we were going to paint a really heavy picture of mission life. We all wrote about times that were turning points for us and a lot of these were really hard! But in the end, I feel pretty good about the mix. It does show that a mission is no walk in the park and it requires serious mental and emotional preparation, but the joy and personal growth make all the hard times worth it.

Do you have other writing projects in mind?


J: Ask me after I can get a full nights sleep! I wrote my Masters thesis on church attendance of single adult Christians in the US, and I've been itching to do more research on some of the interesting things I found. Elise jokingly suggested a "DO Attempt in Heels" book about post-mission dating life. I thought that was pretty funny.  This is all in the pretend world where life happens exactly as I want it to and I could devote as much time as I need to a fun project. This could be my first and last writing project, we will just have to see!

E: I'm working on a project with my dad, who served as a mission president in Brazil. He kept all the weekly letters his missionaries sent him and wanted to organize them into a book. Some of the stories are just incredible. But Jenn's right--a full night's sleep would also be really nice at this point! Someday...

About the Editors:


Elise-HahlElise Babbel Hahl served in the Brazil Manaus mission, located in the heart of the Amazon, where she learned the real meaning of humility and humidity. Afterward, she completed her studies in English at Stanford University, married her mission pen pal, and went on to earn a master’s degree in writing from Johns Hopkins University. Her work has been published in Choosing Motherhood, Whereabouts: Stepping Out of Place, Education Next magazine, and recorded on “The World in Words” podcast. She lives with her husband and four children in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area.

Jennifer-Knight Jennifer Rockwood Knight thrives on action, whether it’s raising her four children, writing, running, teaching, or traveling abroad. She recently finished a thesis examining declining church attendance among Christian singles in the United States, which culminated in a master’s in liberal arts in extension studies from Harvard University. After that arduous pursuit, her husband, Kurt, now tries to encourage more relaxing activities like knitting and sleeping. It doesn’t work.


Title: Do Not Attempt in Heels: Mission Stories and Advice from Sisters Who've Been There

Editors: Elise Hahl and Jennifer Knight
Publisher: CFI an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc.
Published: February 2014
ISBN: 1462113915

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle | Deseret Book

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Book Review: The British Brides Collection




Book Description:

Explore English gardens, London ballrooms, and Scottish castles as nine brides-to-be experience all the legendary drama and epic romance that British literature is known for. Each of the nine short stories will sweep you away to a different era of time spanning over 500 years of history in the British Isles. Penned by an exclusive selection of Christian fiction authors including Kelly Eileen Hake, this collection will become a cherished favorite for fans of faith-based romance.

Book Review:

I really struggled with this collection. In fact, after the first two books I was really tempted to stop reading.
In Woman of Valor I didn't love the main characters, especially Oliver. He was mean and aloof and Helen didn't like him either, until suddenly she did. It didn't flow well. At one point in the book Helen says that she would have treated him better if she would have known he was a Christian.  Really? You have to be a Christian to be treated well? That isn't very Christ-like.
A Duplicitous Facade was just a weird story. The sister is terrible, the father is terrible, and Melodia and Rolf don't have much to recommend either of them. It just wasn't written well.
Love's Unmasking had a lot of potential to be a really cute story but it just didn't quite make it. They spend the whole story trying to convince each other that they shouldn't marry. They end up falling in love, and it's all just a bit much.
A Treasure Worth Keeping was probably the best story in the collection. You get to know Stephen and Paige and they are both likeable. It's pretty predictable, but cute and fun.
Apple of His Eye started out really well, but continued to get cheesier and cheesier. It's about apples, and at one point he says she's the apple of his eye. Really? It was just a little much.
Moonlight Masquerade wasn't bad and had a little mystery thrown in. The kissing scene was a little disjointed and came out of no where.
Fayre Rose also wasn't bad. Again, it was predictable, but not bad.
Fresh Highland Heir probably would have been okay, but by the time I got to this story, I was just ready for the book to be over. Celeste seemed to be a rather weak character and wasn't a favorite of mine.
English Tea and Bagpipes was cute about two different cultures coming together. It was well written as well.

The British Brides Collection: 9 Romances from the Home of Austen and Dickens


Title: The British Brides Collection
Author: 
Publisher: Barbour Books
Published: March 2014
ISBN: 1628361689
Source: I received an eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Spotlight: Twelve Stones to Remember Him by Teresa Hirst

Spotlight * Guest Post


Twelve Stones to Remember Him: Building Memorials of Faith from Financial Crisis


Book Description:

The Lord commanded the children of Israel to mark their miraculous crossing of the Jordan River with a memorial of twelve stones. Modern prophets encourage us to remember God s hand, even as we come upon life’s challenges. With the economic upheavals of the last several years, many Latter-day Saints have faced financial setbacks such as unemployment, reduced income, or the loss of a home.


This book contains true stories of individuals and families who’ve crossed financial crises with faith. From their journeys, you will learn to witness the power of God in your life. More fully trust in Him, even in uncertain times. Build spiritual memorials to cope with trials. Leave a legacy of love greater than money.


Guest Post from Author Teresa Hirst:

My husband discovered my hidden love note slipped between two folders in his bag while riding a train 1000 miles from home. His coworker captured a photo of my penned message written across the front of the envelope, “Do not open until February 14.”

I shared that same warmth of discovery in a homemade card he left for me on another day of love when we were apart. Without any extra money for even a purchased one, his heartfelt remembrance became a treasure to me.

Expensive, elaborate celebrations, or even proximity to each other didn’t bring that feeling. Simply being remembered did. Love springs into and from our heart. But recalling memories—of love given and received—can spark our minds to know and then feel love.

During a challenging time of financial crisis in our family, the simple yet abundant manifestations of God’s love nurtured and sustained me. Recognizing, receiving, and recalling these evidences of God’s love helped me remember that He loved me, even with bleak physical circumstances.

“It was very funny that in the midst of all of this, we felt so much . . . gratitude,” Emalee shares from her own trial in Twelve Stones to Remember Him. “My heart was overflowing to the point of tears at how loved I felt and how blessed I felt and all the things I could see. I know because I prayed to be able to see. I felt almost like my eyes and my heart were opened to things that nobody else saw.”

This pattern to remember divine love in the very moment of loneliness, sickness, sorrow, or anxiety is not a shallow response to real challenges. It takes time and practice to trust in gifts that are intangible, answers that won’t go viral, or peace that seems imperceptible.

Even still, remembering God’s love invites gratitude and humility into minds and hearts. Increased faith motivates us to remember others and express love. And those become the notes of true love we all want to hold close.


About the Author:

Teresa Hirst grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, studied journalism at Brigham Young University and graduated in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in communications. She has worked for a newspaper, in public relations, and as a freelance writer and editor.

Today, Teresa observes and tells insightful stories—both nonfiction and fiction—that characterize our emotional experience with life. She lives in Minnesota with her family and loves cooking, sentimental movies, and Sunday afternoon walks. To learn more, Like her author page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TeresaHirstAuthor
 or visit www.teresahirst.com .

Book Signing Event:

Meet Teresa in person on your lunch break on Friday, February 28, at noon at Eborn Books in Salt Lake City at 254 S Main St.

Title: Twelve Stones to Remember Him: Building Memorials of Faith from Financial Crisis
Author: Teresa Hirst
Publisher: Walnut Springs Press
Published: January 2014
ISBN: 978-1-59992-898-2

Purchase Links: Amazon | Kindle | Deseret Book | Barnes & Noble

Thursday, February 13, 2014

CD Tour: Touching Sky

Touching Sky
Review: 
I wasn't sure what to expect with this CD, but the little snippets I heard had a good sound. When I got it in the mail I immediately stuck it in the car to listen to. I LOVED IT! Plus, my kids loved it too. I'm not a music person, so I won't analyze it or anything, but I will say that not only is the music fun to listen to, the words are really powerful. Stephanie's song, I Am Divine has a powerful message that I hope my children will grow up with and understand. In fact, after the song played in the car I paused it and asked my kids if they understood what it was saying (they were 3 & 5, so it's doubtful). I cried. Every time I really listen to that song, I cry. We are divine, and I hope I can teach that message to my kids.

I've already recommended this CD to people. I wouldn't categorize it as Sunday music (music that we listen to on Sunday) because it is more up beat and peppy, but I have it playing all the time in my house, and the kids will ask for it. Definitely recommend this one.

Touching Sky:
With a fresh and energizing sound, Stephanie Boyd’s debut album Touching Sky will put a smile on your face and a skip in your step. Unique lyrics, heartfelt vocals and top quality production will inspire and uplift you. With brand new original songs and a novel take on some favorite hymns, this CD will stay with you every day of the week.


 

 Music Video

Stephanie About Stephanie Growing up in New York, Stephanie was drawn to the power of music from a young age. While she was originally trained in classical singing, Stephanie always gravitated towards more upbeat and modern music. With her debut album, Touching Sky, Stephanie combines her love of traditional messages with fresh music. Since moving to Utah, Stephanie has worked closely with well-known artists including Jenny Phillips, Tyler Castleton, and Michael McLean. She was also featured soloist with Sally DeFord. She has a master’s degree in environmental science she and her husband have enjoyed building and selling businesses together. Stephanie is married with four children (and one on the way!) and likes to read, garden, run and bake fun birthday cakes.  


  Blog Tour Giveaway $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 3/9/14 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, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, February 7, 2014

Blog Tour: Rules of Engagement by Amber Gilchrist

Dual Review * Giveaway


Book Description:

For Annemarie Whitted, her youngest sister’s engagement starts as a happy event, and ends as a slap in the face when she comes to the harsh realization that she’s a failure at relationships, a person in stasis. Annemarie is motivated and organized, a woman on a mission, and she’s getting married now.

Her Rules of Engagement ensure she’ll make the right choice, and her committee will find her potential eternal companions. She assigns the job to her closest sister, Lisa, and Lisa’s husband, Tanner. Of course, Tanner comes with baggage— his brother, Ben, Annemarie’s lifelong nemesis.

The war between the two of them gives a brand new meaning to Annemarie’s Rules of Engagement, and his presence isn’t helping her at all. Especially when he disapproves of her methods and questions every step she makes. Especially when their forced proximity makes each of them really see each other for the first time. Especially when she discovers that her heart has secret corners she never knew, and that the Rules might have been her biggest mistake of all.


Book Reviews:

Andrea's Review:

Amber Gilchrist's novel Glitch was a lot of fun to readso I jumped at the chance to review her new novel, Rules of Engagement.

I really enjoyed the characters. They were quirky, and there was a lot to laugh at. Some were creepy, but I loved a lot of the interaction and bluntness.

The person Annemarie was going to fall for was pretty obvious right from the beginning, but the journey was still enjoyable. The amount of pain the lack of honest communication brought on was somewhat frustrating, but it kept things exciting too.

I was a bit distracted by what felt like an overuse of a thesaurus in the first part of the book, some typos, and the main character's unusual last name, but the great characters and sweet romance made up for that.

This is a clean romance that I'd recommend, and I would read more from this author.

Tarah's Review:

If it tells you anything, I've read it twice already. I love the way Amber Gilchrist writes. It's serious and real, but still entertaining. While I don't understand Annemarie (I'm not OCD or Type A) my heart breaks for her. Ben's character I can relate to a little better because I know some people like him, and they make life interesting, that's for sure.

When I get really into a book I don't notice things that might bug me if the book wasn't so good. So, the "overuse of a thesaurus" I didn't notice, and the main character's last name didn't slow me up at all (although I have read books where the names totally did that). There are some minor grammatical errors, but nothing huge.

Content wise there was no swearing or violence, and romance wise there is some french kissing. Overall it is a clean sweet romance, that not only would I read again (for the third time), but I would highly recommend it to others and actively seek out more from this author.

About the Author:

Amber Gilchrist lives in New Mexico with her husband and three children. She writes YA for upper teens, as well as LDS Romantic Comedies. She calls her lifetime of jumping from one job to another 'experience' for her books and not an inability to settle down. Amber loves mysteries and a good, happy romance. She also loves to laugh. Sometimes she likes all of them together.

A fan of quirky movies and indie books, Amber likes to be with her family, is socially inept, and fears strangers and small yippy dogs. She alternates between writing and being a mom and wife. She tries to do both at the same time but her kids don't appreciate being served lunch and told, "This is the hot dog of your discontent." So mostly she writes when everyone else is in bed.

Amber loves to hear from readers and can be reached at ambergilchristbooks@gmail.com
If you would like to be added to her newsletter please email your address to be notified about future releases and events.


Giveaway:


Rules of Engagement  (ABQ.LDS.YSA, #2)


Title: Rules of Engagement
Author: Amber Gilchrist
Published: January 2014
ASIN: B00HMUU76I
Source: I received an eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase : Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Blog Tour: Porcelain Keys by Sarah Beard

Review * Giveaway

Tour Schedule

Porcelain Keys by Sarah Beard

Book Description: 

Aria's life is full of secrets--secrets about her mother's death, her father's cruelty, and her dream to go to Juilliard. When Aria meets Thomas, he draws out her secrets, captures her heart, and gives her the courage to defy her father. But when tragedy strikes and Thomas disappears, Aria is left alone to transform her broken heart's melody into something beautiful. 

Porcelain Keys is a captivating love story that will resonate long after the last page is turned.

Review:

I was really impressed with Sarah Beard's debut novel, Porcelain Keys. It pulled me in immediately, and had some very likable characters.

There are some intense issues, but I really appreciated Beard's ability to get the reader emotionally involved without being depressing. Even in the most difficult parts of the story I felt like there was hope.

This is a clean read, and I'd definitely read more from this author.

About the Author:

SARAH BEARD is the author of Porcelain Keys, a YA contemporary romance. She has a degree in communications from the University of Utah and splits her time between writing and raising three energetic boys. She is a cancer survivor and a hopeless romantic. She enjoys reading and composing music, and lives with her husband and children in Salt Lake City, Utah.



Tour Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Title: Porcelain Keys
Author: Sarah Beard
Publisher: Sweetwater Books, an imprint of Cedar Fort Inc.
Published: February 2014
ISBN: 1462113966
Source: I received an eCopy from the author in exchange for a review.
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Spotlight: Magic Within by Sara Fitzgerald

Spotlight * Giveaway


Magic Within by Sara Fitzgerald

Book Description:

Nancy, a purple-haired witch, has never fit in with the kids in town. She has always felt something was deeply wrong with her. When Josh, her best friend, is attacked by a werewolf, Nancy seeks a potion to save him from the werewolf curse within him. But Josh’s fate--werewolf or human--is his to decide, when the potion is injected during his transition at the full of the moon.

Nancy, too, must make a choice. Her mother, her best friend, and a steadfast young man all see the magic within her. Can she finally accept who she is and give love a chance?

About Author Sara Fitzgerald:

Sara lives with her husband and seven-year-old daughter in Salt Lake City. She loves romance, intrigue, writing and exploring the city with her family. Her two favorite parts of the day are reading bedtime stories with her daughter and hanging out with her husband.


Giveaway:

Author Sara Fitzgerald is offering one eCopy of Magic Within to a Literary Time Out follower. Entering is easy, just use the Rafflecopter form below by February 12, 2014. Good luck and happy reading!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Title: Magic Within
Author: Sara Fitzgerald
Publisher: Champagne Books
Published: February 2014
ASIN: B00I7DYJ0Y

Purchase: Kindle | Barnes & Noble
 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Blog Tour: A is for Abinadi by Heidi Poelman

A is for Abinadi: An Alphabet Book of Scripture Heroes

Book Description

"A is for Abinadi" is the perfect tool for playfully teaching your children the ABCs while also learning about the heroic men and women of the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

Book Review

Well my kids really liked this book. I enjoyed how they are learning while reading. I like how it's good for a lot of different ages. My 3 & 5 year old can learn and review their letters, while my 7 & 8 year old can learn about the people in the scriptures (and my other two can learn about that too). While I didn't love how the book looked, my 8 year old told me that was her favorite part. We also enjoyed finding different items that were hidden on each page.

A is for Abinadi: An Alphabet Book of Scripture Heroes


Title: A is for Abinadi
Author: Heidi Poelman
Publisher: Cedar Fort Publishing
Published: February 2014
ISBN: 1462113699
Source: I received a hard copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Blog Tour: Day of Defense by Scott Thormaehlen

*Guest Post*


Day of Defense: Positive Talking Points for the Latter Days by Scott Thormaehlen

Guest Post:

I want to thank Andrea for allowing me to share a post with her friends and audience on her blog.  I spent some time in South Carolina while serving in the United States Air Force as a meteorologist.  Through my experiences with other Christians and searching online, I was exposed to a new world of how nonmembers view The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I hoped to put together a simple book that would allow investigators to quickly review their stumbling blocks or misconceptions in light of what the Church and Bible teach. 

I draw mostly from the Bible than I do from too many LDS-unique sources to allow the Bible believer to match the book they revere and are familiar with to LDS doctrines.  The publisher is Cedar Fort, Inc. in Springville, UT who publishes primarily to LDS audiences.  Therefore the book is geared to the LDS audience have to be the initial wave of individuals to be aware of this book and the ones to share it with the non-member audience. 

Each chapter begins by briefly stating the negative commentary that critics bring against Mormonism, then goes on to illustrate where and how Mormon theology fits with the Bible and in the overall historical context. This book seeks to show that the Bible covers Mormonism and to help mend the way much of the world perceives Mormonism in relation to Christianity and the ancient text. 

In the Introduction of ‘Day of Defense’, I state the purpose of my book in this way:

“The primary goal of Day of Defense is to act as a guide to help Mormons and those interested in Mormonism be aware of common misconceptions and negative commentary that create a wall between the world and the truth of the Restoration.”

I closed my introduction with this quote from Elder M. Russell Ballard:

“The growing prominence of the Church and the increasing inquiries from others present us with great opportunities to build bridges . . . and pass on accurate information. But it can also present a greater possibility of misunderstanding . . . if we allow others to define who we are and what we believe rather than presenting it ourselves” (Ballard, Faith, Family, Facts, and Fruits).

Last Sunday I gave a talk in church on being in the world but not of the world.  During the research for my talk I found a quote from David O. McKay, who says:

“The solution of the great world problems is here in the Church of Jesus Christ. Ample provision is made not only for the needs of individuals, but also for the nation and groups of nations. I realize that it is a great claim. … It is simply the application of God’s plan to the world problems (Gospel Ideals, Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1953, p. 5).

In my final thoughts in ‘Day of Defense’, I close by saying:

“C. S. Lewis echoed Christ’s sentiments when he said, “Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage” (Lewis, 46). The great campaign of sabotage, of course, means sabotaging the tactics that Lucifer uses to divide us and keep us from becoming one as Christ’s children. As we overcome our own lustful desires, greed, envy, hatred, dishonesty, and slothfulness, we turn our worst potential as humans into positives. If we seek to be more grateful, loving, honest, giving, and responsible in all the environments, circumstances, and every-day situations we find ourselves in, then we have “overcome the world” and have become a true disciple of Christ.”

In this book I do not address Blacks and priesthood, women and the priesthood, but I briefly touch on homosexuality. I also do not get into problems people have with the Book of Abraham or specifics about early LDS polygamy.  I hope to address these in a second book that focuses on concerns that ex-mormons would find interesting. 'Day of Defense' was inspire largely from what other Bible believers misunderstood.

I believe for any Latter-day Saint, the goal of removing intellectual barriers between potential converts and the Church is a worthy and achievable goal.  I hope that all Latter-day Saints get ahold of this book and the misconceptions can make way for the Church do perform its intended purposes.  

Scott Thormaehlen
scott-thormaehlen@yahoo.com

Follow Author Scott Thormaehlen:



Title: Day of Defense: Positive Talking Points for the Latter Days
Author: Scot Thormaehlen
Publisher: CFI, an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc.
Published: May 2013
ISBN: 1462111726

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle | Books & Things