Monday, December 28, 2015

Book Review: He Delivered Even Me, He Will Deliver Even You by Misti Stevenson 

Book Description: 

Even Me Even You: When I was in the midst of my 23-year trial with OCD, anxiety, and depression, I had little hope to ever be fully healed. I knew of no one who had been. Now that I have been led through my Gethsemane and, with the help of the Savior, am finally healed, I can’t keep quiet about it. I was an avid journal writer from a young age, so this book takes those who want to know how to literally be healed of mental and emotional illness on a live-time, emotion-filled journey. Most books on this subject only tell how to deal or cope with mental illness. My experience brings a new idea that mental illness is curable in this life—I am the proof of this happy idea! What I would’ve given to know of one person who had been healed when I was in the midst of my pain. I wrote my story to inspire others suffering similar challenges—to give them the hope and perspective I wish I had had in the midst of my struggles.


Even though I haven't had to deal with OCD or depression, this book description intrigued me. I also like to occasionally go outside of my comfort zone for what I typically read, so I agreed to read and review this. 

That being said, I found that I had a really hard time relating to the author, and it took me quite a while to figure out why. Finally, the author helped answer that for me. In one section, she was writing about how her husband was trying to be supportive but really couldn't empathize with her. Then, this is the part that really stuck out to me. She wrote: "My trial had been hard for him to really understand without actually going through it, just like it would be hard for me to understand someone else that couldn't walk when walking comes so easily to me." That described it perfectly for me. The fact that I can't relate to all the trials the author went through doesn't at all diminish how difficult they were for her to go through.

If you are struggling with issues like the author did, this book can hopefully offer you some support as well as ideas of where to turn. It really struck me that through all of the years that Misti suffered with her OCD, she never turned away from her beliefs - just the opposite, her trials helped to make her faith stronger, and she relied on the Lord more and more to help her get through each day. That is a lesson that every single one of us can take to heart, regardless of what we might be going through. In the end, what really matters is turning our lives over to the Lord and letting Him guide us.

About the Author: 

Misti J. Stevenson lives near Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and five children. She loves being a dance teacher, and is known for her canned salsa, blackberry jam, and homemade rolls. She is a huge fan of yoga and loves walking early in the morning with her friends—and she plans on doing both forever. She has always been an avid journal writer, but this is her first book. 
Title: He Delivered Even Me, He Will Deliver Even You
Author: Misti Stevenson
Publisher: KayLynn Flanders
Published: June 2013
ISBN: 0989426807
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review. 

Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Spotlight: Covenant Christmas Round Up

Are you one of those people who puts off Christmas shopping until the last minute? Do you struggle with gift ideas? Do you want to share the true reason for the season with family and friends? If so, hopefully this post will help you.

Covenant Communications has several products that would make great gifts this season.

For those that like Christmas stories, songs, recipes, etc. all in one place, consider It's All About Christmas. It has fun, vintage pictures, trivia, and more all in one great book.

Words of Christmas is a beautiful book that would be great to read with your family. The twenty-five words are important reminders about what we should be thinking about this time of year.

The three inch marble Christus statue is also a great reminder about who we should be thinking about this Christmas Season (and throughout the year).

A Songbook for LDS families would be a great gift for musically inclined friends and family. You'll enjoy over 40 songs from Janice Kapp Perry, spiral bound in an attractive cover.

Do you have anyone on your list who enjoys DVDs? No Ordinary Shepherd and He Knows my Name are great films that depict people's lives being touched by Jesus.

He Knows My Name (DVD)- Rebekah is fascinated by the man her neighbors call Jesus. Her mother is not so sure. One day she brings Jesus home - a simple act that will forever change their lives. 

No Ordinary Shepherd (DVD)- The young shepherd boy, has always treasured his father's tale of that starlit night filled with wonder of angelic heralds and a tiny Bethlehem stable sheltering the chosen Messiah. The young shepherd later encounters a miracle of his own. 

*I received review copies in exchange for a post.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Review: Home and Away by Dean Hughes

Home and Away by Dean Hughes

Book Description:

Norma Hayes has always tried to make Christmas special for her family, but this year it is going to be difficult. Money is tight, and wartime rationing is taking its toll as well. Harder still, her oldest son, Glen, is on the front lines of the battle in Europe.

Glen Hayes wants nothing more than to be home for Christmas. He holds a sprig of lavender in his pocket. The scent reminds him of his mother. The memory of home may be the only thing that is keeping him alive and sane during the horrors of war.

Dennis Hayes is sixteen and longs to see his older brother again. He also longs to have a relationship with his father, but most important, Dennis is determined to buy something special for his mother this Christmas—the one gift he feels certain she deserves.

So many families have had their hopes dashed in World War II. Will the Hayes family make it through?


Home and Away is a touching story about a family during WWII. It is a quick and clean read, and I found myself even more interested in the story as it took place in my home state.

Dennis was a great son. I love how he stuck up for his mom and wanted to give her a nice present for Christmas. Money was so tight, and his willingness to sacrifice for her really meant a lot. He definitely had his faults, but it was great to see him grow and overcome some challenges.

His dad was a tough character to love. It was hard to relate to him, but his behavior was somewhat understandable. At times you really felt for him too, and I was very happy for the changes that took place by the end of the story.

It was interesting to read about some of the different perspectives about serving in the war. It was a tough time to live in, and I was glad that Dennis' eyes were opened.

The war chapters were pretty sad, as you'd expect. But they showed the importance of family as Glen was able to be comforted thinking about home during the hardest times.

If you enjoy historical fiction, and are looking for a story to fit with the Christmas season, be sure to check out Home and Away.

Title: Home and Away
Author: Dean Hughes
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Published: September 2015
ISBN: 1629720933
Source: I received an eCopy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Review: Heir to Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

Heir to Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

Book Description:

Philip Wyndham has never envied his older brother for being the heir to Edenbrooke. He would much rather carve out his own destiny than live under the constraints of that position. But when his older brother dies unexpectedly, Philip's life is turned upside down as duty requires him to give up the life he planned. Philip takes on his new role as the most sought-after bachelor in London with alternating reluctance, boredom, and resentment. But all that changes the night fate leads him to an inn, where he meets the incomparable Marianne Daventry.

Andrea's Review:

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson is one of my favorite novels, so I was very excited for the opportunity to review the prequel novelette, Heir to Edenbrooke.

I loved it! You know going into it that it will be short (hence being a novelette). However, the length and where it ended didn't bother me because I had Edenbrooke handy on my Kindle app and I started reading it again as soon as I finished Heir to Edenbrooke. 

Philip is such a wonderful character! I really enjoyed getting to know him a little bit better, and it was fun seeing things from his perspective.

Tarah's Review:

I was so mad when I finished this book. Not because it was bad, or disappointing or anything like that. Quite the contrary, it was excellent. I loved it. I was mad because it was a novella, and I wanted a full length novel. I wanted more! Philip is so great. You can't help falling in love with him in Edenbrooke, and then finding out more behind everything just makes you like him all that much more. I know it will never happen, but I'd love for Julianne Donaldson to make this a full length novel instead of a short one.

If you liked Edenbrooke you really need to pick this up, and devour it, and then, reread Edenbrooke to finish the satisfying feeling :)

About the Author:

Julianne Donaldson grew up as the daughter of a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot. She learned how to ski in the Italian Alps, visited East Berlin before the wall came down, and spent three years living next to a 500-year-old castle. After earning a degree in English, she turned her attention to writing about distant times and places. She lives in Utah with her husband and five children.

Title: Heir to Edenbrooke
Author: Julianne Donaldson
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: November 2015
Source: We received an eCopy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Blog Tour: Asleep on the Hay by Ben Sowards

Asleep on the Hay (1)
Blog Tour Schedule
Asleep on the Hay: A Dust Bowl Christmas by Ben Sowards

Book Description:

It’s Christmas Eve when a knock comes at the door of Paul’s family farmhouse. A small family is stranded due to a broken-down truck and seeks shelter for the evening. Paul’s grandfather not only welcomes them in, but offers them dinner and a bed for the night. Even though it is a season of giving, Paul’s heart is not filled with charity. It’s the height of the Dust Bowl and food is scarce. Why should he share what little he has with strangers? Worse, in order to help the sick baby, Paul will have to sell his beloved calf to buy a part to fix the truck. Angry, he retreats to the barn, where he sleeps and dreams of faraway Bethlehem. In his dream, he visits Mary and Joseph, and their newborn son, Jesus. The family offers Paul food and shelter and warmth—extending to him the love and charity he lacks and teaching him of the true meaning of Christmas.

  Asleep on the Hay 1   Asleep on the Hay 2   Asleep on the Hay 3   


Asleep on the Hay depicts the true meaning of Christmas in a short and beautiful story that children and adults of all ages can appreciate. With the consumerism abounding around us, it's hard to imagine a time when there were no presents under a tree (or a tree for that matter), and where those around you would be in such dire straits that they'd need to rely on the goodness of strangers giving the last they had to help. This is a good lesson for children to learn, and for adults to remember.

The illustrations are stunning. Mr. Sowards is a truly talented artist. This would be a great book to display during the Christmas season.

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About the Author & Illustrator:
ben sowards Ben Sowards is the illustrator of many well-loved picture books, including A Christmas Dress for Ellen, Seven Miracles that Saved America, and Christmas Oranges. Ben Sowards teaches others to paint both traditionally and digitally at Southern Utah University, where has directed the illustration program since 2001.

$25 Blog Tour giveaway

$25 Blog Tour Giveaway Giveaway:

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Ends 12/30/15
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the publisher. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. 
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Asleep on the Hay Title: Asleep on the Hay
Author: Ben Sowards
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Published: October 2015
ISBN: 1629720674
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book

Monday, December 14, 2015

Blog Tour: It's All About Christmas

Review * Giveaway

It's All About Christmas

Book Description:

Like heirloom ornaments on a splendid tree, It’s All About Christmas will put you and your family in a festive frame of mind for a glorious holiday season. Stuffed with stories, songs, poems, Christmas history, joyful traditions, recipes, and activities, this delightful book celebrates all things Christmas—from the sacred story of the Nativity to the lore of Saint Nick. Opening this book is like tearing the paper off a much–anticipated gift, offering new surprises with each turn of the page. Generously illustrated with scores of vibrant vintage images, It’s All About Christmas will remind you of Christmases past, help you appreciate Christmas present, and guide you to creating memories for the Christmases to come.


It's All About Christmas is packed full of Christmas treasures that can help keep the Spirit of Christmas in your home. It includes everything from Christmas stories, to recipes, from songs to symbolism. I particularly enjoyed the trivia sprinkled throughout the book. It was also enjoyable learning the backgrounds to familiar Christmas Carols.

The vintage pictures are a great reminder of a time when Christmas wasn't so commercialized-when there was more focus on the true meaning of Christmas and spending time with those we love.

This book includes something for everyone, and I can see this easily becoming part of family Christmas traditions.

Tour Schedule:

Dec. 14th:
Dec. 15th:,
Dec. 16th:
Dec. 17th:,
Dec. 18th:,,,
Dec. 19th:,,


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*I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Book Review: Sweets & Treats with Six Sister's Stuff

Sweets & Treats with Six Sister's Stuff
100+ Desserts, Gift Ideas, and Traditions for the Whole Family

Book Description:

Who doesn't love dessert? The Six Sisters have gathered together more than 100 of their best dessert recipes into one cookbook that the whole family will enjoy. From cakes and cupcakes and cookies to pies and brownies and ice cream, this cookbook has the easy-to-make, family-friendly recipes you've come to expect from the Six Sisters.

Along with the sweet treats you can make at home are dozens of gift ideas and at-home craft projects that will help you make the most of your desserts. Learn how to make cake stands, start new traditions around birthdays and holidays, and prepare simple but memorable gifts for friends and neighbors.

Full-color photographs of each recipe and craft bring every mouth-watering treat to life.


The six sisters of really know how to make delicious food. I love their recipe book A Year With Six Sisters' Stuff, and jumped at the chance to review their newest cookbook, Sweets & Treats with Six Sisters' Stuff. 

I'm a sucker for treats (which is totally catching up to me as I get older, but I digress), and this cookbook has some great recipes. Some of the recipes are more involved than others, and I appreciated that variety. Sometimes you have hours to bake, and other times you need something that you can throw together in 15 minutes. This is also a very visually appealing cookbook. Each recipe has a full-color picture of the finished product! It is so helpful to know what it should look like. 

I've tried several recipes so far, and my favorite is actually the very first recipe in the book. The Cake Mix Cookie Bars are so delicious (it's hard to go wrong with sweetened condensed milk), and they were very easy to make. I will definitely be making these again.

I also made the Cheesecake Brownies. These were also fairly easy to put together, and my co-workers loved them. I was a little worried while they were baking that they didn't look anything like the picture, but once I cut them they looked right. And honestly, they were so yummy no one seemed to care what they looked like.

Image Courtesy of the Publisher
The Oreo Cheesecake Bites were also a big hit at my home and office. They are very rich, so you could get quite a few "bites" out of the 9x13 pan.

I've made two of the cookie recipes so far. The Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies are the first pudding cookies I've ever made. I'm not a butterscotch fan, but my husband loves it, so I really made these with him in mind. The dough was very crummy, and although it seemed ok and tasted fine when I test cooked one cookie (that I'd smooshed together), I ended up adding more butter to make the dough easier to work with.

I also made the White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Cookies. Part of the draw to these was that they reminded me of my grandma. One of the ingredients is Jiffy Raspberry Muffin Mix, and my grandma always had Jiffy mixes at her house. I loved helping her in the kitchen, and it was often my job to mix up the muffins. The cookie dough requires chilling, so they aren't as quick of a cookie recipe as I prefer, but they are tasty. Mine tended to break when plated. I'm not sure if that's standard or if I cooked them a bit too long.

Overall this is another great cookbook by Six Sisters Stuff. I'm excited to add it to my recipe collection, and my family and co-workers are anxious to taste test the next recipes I try.

Image Courtesy of the Publisher

Image Courtesy of the Publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Book Review: Christmas Wonders by Robyn Buttars

Book Description:

Have a wonder-filled Christmas, people in Lukes new hometown greet one another as Christmas approaches. With no memory of a Christmas celebration, ten-year-old Luke feels excluded from the towns tradition, until he finds his deceased mothers nativity set. Touched by Marys protecting embrace of the Baby Jesus, Luke experiences his first Christmas Wonder. His discovery is the catalyst for a search that leads to a soul-changing season for neighbors as Luke finds his connection to heavenly love.  Robyn Buttars, author of the best-selling and award winning novella Christmas Rose, weaves an unforgettable holiday story for the entire family.


This is such an engaging story. My heart ached for Luke with all the loss he had suffered in his short life, as well as the lack of interest shown to him by his father. I fell in love with the townspeople who took Luke under their wings and helped him to come out of his shell and find his own Christmas Wonders. This story is fairly short, but it packs a punch.

I love the idea of looking at your life to find your own Christmas Wonders. It's kind of hard to give more detail without giving important parts of the story away, but just know that this book is definitely worth the read.

About the Author:

Robyn Buttars is an award-winning author of books for children and adults. Her first novella, Christmas Rose, won first place in the League of Utah Writer's Contest and was a holiday bestseller. Her home is Lewiston, Utah, and she and her husband, Kent, are the parents of six children. She is a registered nurse and enjoys traveling, composing, and reading.
Title: Christmas Wonders
Author: Robyn Buttars
Publisher: Familius
Published: October 2015
ISBN: 194293405X
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book

Friday, December 4, 2015

Review: Power of the Matchmaker

Power of the Matchmaker

Book Description:

Mae Li has been in love with Chen Zhu for years, and he with her. But when the matchmaker arrives at the Zhu family home, she recommends another village girl for Chen.
Heartbroken, Mae Li watches as Chen does his duty by marrying another. Mae flees her village with the clothes on her back and her only possession—a pearl embedded comb, given to her as a goodbye gift from Chen Zhu.

Upon Mae’s arrival in Shanghai, she quickly learns that she’ll starve within days unless she sells her prized comb or joins a courtesan house. She goes to the Huangpu River and promises the River God that she’ll always be selfless if he will save her from becoming a prostitute . . . Her wish is granted when Ms. Tan, the matchmaker of Shanghai, finds Mae. But Mae must completely change her future and her name if she is to become the next matchmaker.  


Power of the Matchmaker is a fast, clean read, and one that has me quite interested to see how the 12 novels that follow this prequel turn out.

Mae Li's story, though short, pulls at the reader's heartstrings. I couldn't help but picture Disney's Mulan while I read portions of the book, although Mae Li's "soldiering" is to survive and make a new life for herself.

Although her life doesn't turn out as she expected, she is able to find purpose and help others find their true loves.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Review: A Rare Nativity by Sam Beeson

A Rare Nativity by Sam Beeson
Images by Nine & Terral Cochran

Book Description:

We have all heard the song The Twelve Days of Christmas, and we have all seen the traditional Christmas crèche. Now, author Sam Beeson and photographers Nina and Terral Cochran combine these two classic Christmas icons to create A Rare Nativity.

Upon reading the first lines of the book, it is clear the narrator holds a bitter grudge as he sends his enemy crude and discarded gifts: On the first night of Christmas I gave my enemy a briar from a tanglewood tree. On the second night of Christmas I gave my enemy two rotten eggs.

Night after night the gifts pile up shards of glass, rusty nails, gnarled twigs, and more. What the narrator's enemy decides to do with each of these odious gifts is nothing less than a Christmas miracle. The photographic creation of the rare nativity at the end of the book is both a work of art and a wonder to behold.


A Rare Nativity is a beautiful book with an important message on forgiveness. The 12 Days of Christmas brings to mind the song, and that isn't one that I particularly enjoy. But, the idea of sharing things with someone for 12 days is a great one for this time of year. A Rare Nativity is exactly what it says on the cover, "an unexpected twist to the 12 Days of Christmas". Instead of sharing 12 nice things with a friend, or person in need, this version shows giving garbage to an enemy.

So often we have a hard time letting go of things our "enemies" have done to us. We want to give the ugly and mean back to them, and this story, along with the photos, tells that those ugly and mean things can be made into something beautiful and meaningful. We need to open our hearts to forgive those who have caused us to hurt.

We read this book as a family, and I think it touched each of us. The story itself is a great one, but the images really helped the message sink in. I'm happy to add this to my Christmas collection.

Title: A Rare Nativity
Author: Sam Beeson
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Published: September 2015
ISBN: 1629720623
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon | IndieBound

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Blog Tour: Ella by Jessilyn Stewart Peaslee

Ella by Jessilyn Stewart Peaslee

Book Description:

Reserved yet resilient, Ella Blakeley lives with her cruel stepmother and stepsisters, without hope of escape—until the day Prince Kenton announces a ball that changes everything. Even without mice, magic, or fairy godmothers, Ella might discover a life that’s better than she ever dreamed. This intricately woven twist on Cinderella is an enchanting book you won’t be able to put down.

Andrea's Review:

I typically enjoy fairy tale retellings, and Ella was no exception. You won't find fairy godmothers, and talking animals in Peaslee's version, and I couldn't help but picture the movie version Ever After for much of the time I was reading. But, part of the enjoyment is that this version doesn't follow the typical storyline.

The characters are very well done, and you can't help but become emotionally attached to Ella. She is so mistreated, and yet she pushes through instead of running away because of a promise she made to her father. Time after time she shows her loyalty.

This is a very quick, clean read, that I'd happily recommend and read again. Jessilyn Stewart Peaslee is an author to watch for.

Rorie's Review:

I've enjoyed every retelling of Cinderella that I've watched or read,  and this story was no exception. I've always wondered why Cinderella just didn't up and leave since her step family was so horrible and abusive to her, and this book finally gives the reader a valid reason for it.

Of course,  the romance is an important part of this story,  and I thought it was really well done.  None of this "falling madly in love with someone you just barely met and know nothing about," which is something that has always bugged me.

All in all,  I really enjoyed this book. (I read it in less than two days.) It has all of the elements that make a really good story for me - romance that builds up over time,  good values,  conflict of some sort and an ending that doesn't feel rushed or incomplete.  I will definitely read future books from this author.

Tarah's Review:

I'm a sucker for fairy tales and their re-tellings, but I will admit that I think Cinderella is slightly over done. However, with this retelling it brought out and answered all the problems I have with Cinderella. Why doesn't she just leave? Answered! Falling in love in one night? Answered! A shoe that will only fit her (this one bugs me the most....really, how many of you don't know someone else with your shoe size? Either Cinderella has freakishly large or tiny feet, or they are shaped different for this scenario to work) Well, in this book that problem is addressed and I loved it!

The characters were really well written and even though it's a re-telling there are some surprises thrown in.  As a plus, the surprises don't come out of nowhere. The ground work is laid early on in the story, and that makes for a great read.

Final plus of the book? It was a sweet romance that was clean. Always nice. I can't wait for more from this author.

About the Author:

JESSILYN STEWART PEASLEE was born the fourth of seven children into a family of avid readers, music lovers, movie quoters, and sports fans. Jessilyn graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in English, and also studied French and the Humanities. She loves playing catch with her boys, singing, playing the piano, making Orange Julius and popcorn, and watching movies with her husband and five boys. She is very grateful to them for being so supportive while Mommy wrote her “girl book.” Jessilyn grew up in the beautiful high desert of Southern California and now resides in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. As you read this, she is probably folding laundry . . . or should be.

Blog Tour Schedule:

November 16: Deal Sharing Aunt
November 17: Utahtopia • The Stubby Pencil’s Library
November 18: Wishful Endings
November 19: Reading for Sanity
November 20: Babs’ Book Bistro
November 21: Reidhead Random-ness
November 22: Bookworm Nation
November 23: My Book a Day
November 24: Mel’s Shelves • The Cover Contessa
November 25: Readalot • Emmy Mom
November 26: Blooming with Books
November 27: Katie’s Clean Book Collection • Hardcover Feedback
November 28: Making Life a Bliss Complete • The Hand That Rocks the Cradle
The View from My Window
November 29: JeanzBookReadNReview • Rockin’ Book Reviews • Literary Timeout
Crossroad Reviews

Title: Ella
Author: Jessilyn Stewart Peaslee
Publisher: Sweetwater Books an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc.
Published: November 2015
ISBN: 1462117457
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle | Books & Things

Friday, November 27, 2015

Blog Tour: By the River by Jennie Hansen

Review * Giveaway
By the River by Jennie Hansen

Book Description:

It was supposed to be a relaxing early-morning run, but the path along the river trail quickly turns into the scene of a nightmare for recent college graduate Kira Paxton. An unintended exploration of a secluded riverbank leads to a gruesome discovery that sets her on a collision course with danger: it is the body of a young woman. In shock, all Kira can manage to do is scream . . .

From the moment Ford Kettering hears cries for help along the trail, he is drawn irrevocably into a mystery in which he plays a shocking role. Ford, a local high school teacher, had a recent classroom clash with the victim-now, he's a person of interest. As Ford and Kira bond over their shared ordeal, they work together to prove Ford's innocence and soon, their attraction is undeniable. But it seems that Kira's nightmare is far from over. What begins as a series of close calls and acts of vandalism soon escalates, putting Kira's own life in jeopardy. It appears that Kira saw something that day along the trail, something that has made her a target. With Ford's help, she is determined to track down the killer before she becomes the next victim.

Tarah's Review:

I wonder why I'm drawn to books that have people who like to run. Seriously, I hate running, but reading books about running makes me think that I should be doing it, so I do, and yep...still hate running. That is neither here nor there, but mental note for myself....I don't have to go running when I read a book about runners....

If you are expecting a deep thoughtful read when you pick up By the River you might be disappointed. But if you are looking for a quick fluffy read with added suspense this is a good book to give a try.

I wasn't able to totally relate to the characters, and I'll admit Kira drove me nuts sometimes, but her character was spot on for what the author was trying to portray.  I was also looking for more with the "after" part of the mystery. I can't say anything without spoilers, but one of the endings seemed a little abrupt, and the other didn't have the closure that I was looking for.

While it is a quick read, it did take me a couple days (and a few other books in between) to finish. But, it is clean and not preachy, so you gotta love that :)

Rorie's Review:

This book sounded so good, but it just didn't do it for me. The main hang-up I had was that the relationship between Kira and Ford didn't seem realistic to me. It just happened way too fast and it didn't have much depth to it. I like to read books where the people have to work at their relationship.

With mysteries, I always try to figure out who did it before the suspect is revealed, and this book was no exception. The author did a really good job of keeping the "whodunnit" under wraps until the end.

Andrea's Review:

By the River has an interesting premise, but sadly, it fell flat for me. I was curious about who the bad guy was, so I didn't completely give up; however, lots of skimming was involved.

My initial hangup came from Ford asking Kira out to lunch right after they'd come across the murder victim. He waited until they'd left the scene and were back at the parking lot, but seriously, who does that? They were complete strangers, and it was hard to believe that either of them would have been in the frame of mind to be attracted to each other in such a situation. Kira's job would have made a great opportunity for them to run into each other again.

I was also hung up on the news reporting that Kira had been the person who found the body. It seems very unlikely that the police would have given the media that information. I'm definitely not a law enforcement expert, but the willingness of the detective to work so closely with civilians (and not tell them to leave the investigation to the police) seemed a little unusual as well.

This was the kind of book I could put down for a few days at a time before picking it back up again. The last third of the book picked up a little for me, and the inclusion of some twists and turns helped me finish it a lot faster than I started.

Tour Schedule:

Nov 23rd:,,
Nov 24th:,
Nov 25th:,,
Nov 26th:,,
Nov 27th:, 

Tour Giveaway:

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Book Review: Sterling Bridge by Chad Robert Parker 

Book Description:

Tensions are high in small-town Tooele, Utah, during the Great Depression, but coach Sterling Harris knows football is the answer. With his job on the line, he makes a bold play to find victory for his team and unity for his town. Based on a true story, this inspiring book gives you a fresh perspective on the past and hope for the future.


At a little over 100 pages, this is a very short book - easy to read in one day. I grew up in Northern Utah, but have only been to Tooele once or twice in my life. It was heartbreaking and more than a little bit aggravating to read about the division between the Oldtown and the Newtown residents. I just don't understand that way of thinking. At any rate, it was interesting to see the slow (sometimes very, very slow) change that took place in the townspeople as they finally let some of their barriers down and got to know each other better.

The story kind of read like a movie script - lots of dialogue, but it was missing the background stuff, and because of that, I found myself getting lost and having to re-read sections a time or two to figure out what I missed.

If you are a fan of football, this is a good story to read. There are a few games in the course of the story that the author goes in to play by play. If you understand football terminology, you will probably find this exciting. If you don't, you might find yourself a bit lost. :) 
Title: Sterling Bridge
Author: Chad Robert Parker
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Published: November 2015
ISBN: 146211735X
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Book Review: The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson

The Golden Braid

Book Description:

The one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower.

Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man around. And her skills as an artist rival those of any artist she’s met. But for a woman in medieval times, the one skill she most desires is the hardest one to obtain: the ability to read.

After yet another young man asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides they need to move once again, but this time to a larger city. Rapunzel’s heart soars—surely there she can fulfill her dream. But Mother won’t let her close to a man. She claims that no man can be trusted.

After being rescued by a knight on the road to the city, and in turn rescuing him farther down the road, Rapunzel’s opportunity arrives at last. This knight, Sir Gerek, agrees to educate Rapunzel in order to pay back his debt. She just has to put up with his arrogant nature and single-minded focus on riches and prestige.

But this Rapunzel story is unlike any other and the mystery that she uncovers will change everything—except her happily ever after.

Book Review:

Right away I was taken in by the cover. Isn't it beautiful and totally eye-catching? Then I realized who the author was, and did a little pre-teen squee and clap :) Then I realized it was a retelling of Rapunzel. Does it get any better than that? I love this story, so I was excited to see what Melanie did with it, and honestly, it did not disappoint. There was a lot of happiness going on in the space of a minute or so.

It needs to be said that while it can be read as a stand-alone, it coincides with The Princess Spy and if you are going to read that book I highly highly recommend you read that before you read this one. If you have read it, chances are you are going to want to go back and read it again :)

My favorite character probably was Gerek. I liked his stuck up attitude, and the way it slowly changes to really see Rapunzel. Even when he is stuck up, you can tell he is a good person, and that makes it more believable/likable to me.  The change wasn't out of the blue, because you could see it there the whole time.

This is one of Melanie's better books, and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who likes Christian Historical Fiction.

The Golden Braid
Title: The Golden Braid
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Published: November 2015
ISBN: 0718026268
Source: I received an eCopy from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Blog Tour: One Last Spring by Sian Ann Bessey

One Last Spring

Book Description:

Wales, 1884

The quiet village of Llanwddyn has long been a safe haven for Gwen, a young Welsh country girl whose life has been fraught with tragedy. Following the untimely death of her parents, it was her aunt's home in Llanwddyn that provided Gwen and her brother a refuge from their grief. Now, with the unwelcome news that the village is to be razed in the name of progress, an inescapable wave of change has begun.

When her brother departs to follow his dream of sailing the high seas, Gwen is left alone to navigate the shifting world around her. She soon finds herself relying on the support of her brother's best friend, Lewis, a gentle blacksmith whose kindness stirs her heart. Resigned to the fact that Lewis may never see her as more than a child, Gwen is soon swept off her feet by Thomas, a prosperous young Englishman. Torn between two men and two very different paths, Gwen has little time to determine what course her heart will follow. With time running out for her beautiful valley, will love come too late?

Rorie's Review:

It took me a few chapters to really get into this book, but once I did, I was hooked. I've read a few books that are set in Wales, and the names always get me. I just need to take a crash course on the correct pronunciation so my brain doesn't stumble every time I come to a Welsh word. 

Other than my own lack of pronunciation abilities, I really enjoyed the story. I like how the relationships with Gwen and Lewis and Gwen and Thomas developed. I always like the romance better when they have to fight for it in some way. Both Thomas and Lewis were very likeable characters, but I had my heart set on one of them, and throughout the story was really hoping that Gwen would choose the "right" one. :)

I didn't know that this novel was based on true events, so that part was interesting to read at the end. The reason why the dam was built in the first place really shocked me. I don't want to give too much away, so I won't say any more about that, but it was an eye-opener. 

Tarah's Review:

When I first saw this was a love triangle I was a little hesitant to read it because I'm not really into the whole, "I have some many people falling for me and I have to choose" bit.  However, I am so glad I decided to read this book. And as for the love triangle, it isn't a typical love triangle and that made all the difference for me :)

I haven't read too many Welsh books because, honestly, the name really really throw me off.  The names weren't difficult, and there were Welsh phrases but the author kindly included a glossary for words and phrases. I really appreciated that.

I enjoyed the Author's Note at the end. It made it an already enjoyable story even more enjoyable.  I'm kind of hoping that if we see more from this author it is the story of the "other" guy.  

One Last Spring
Title: One Last Spring
Author: Sian Ann Bessey
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Published: November 2015
ISBN: 1680476386
Source: We received a copy from the author in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Book Review: True To You by Liwen Y. Ho,204,203,200_.jpg 

Book Description:

Wanted: A man with the four C’s (Chinese, Christian, Cash and Career). Ability to cure hives a definite plus.

Melanie Koo may be a physician skilled in helping others, but the one thing she can’t fix is her own love life. That’s why her mother comes up with the perfect remedy-an arranged marriage. Being the dutiful daughter that she is, she agrees to this loveless match … until a chance meeting leads her straight to the cure for her hopeless heart.

Ben Peters is everything Melanie was not looking for in a guy, but she can’t help but be drawn to his passionate and kind nature and, not to mention, those adorable dimples. For once in her life, she considers breaking parental expectations to go after what she wants. The only thing standing in her way is a five foot one traditional Chinese mother and her scheming ways.

Now Melanie has to make the biggest decision of her life. Will she stay true to her family or will she choose to believe that true love can be colorblind?


This was a fun, easy read. It did take me a few chapters to really get into it, but I'm glad I didn't set it aside. Melanie and Ben are the kind of people I would like to meet in real life, and Melanie's sisters always made me laugh with their antics. 

The whole marrying someone because it's what your mom wants is hard for me to wrap my mind around. I'm definitely for honoring parents, but not at the expense of marrying someone that I don't love. I did like how the author included some Cantonese phrases (and what they meant.) That was a fun little touch. :)

When I looked this book up on Amazon, I was surprised to find that it was the second book in a series, but after looking at the description of the first book, it doesn't seem that the two are related at all. I definitely didn't feel like I was missing any back story when reading this book.

All in all, this was an enjoyable book to read and I would recommend it.,204,203,200_.jpg 
Title: True to You
Author: Liwen Y. Ho
Publisher: 2 Square 2 Be Hip
Published: April 2015
ISBN: 0692428917
Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Book Blast: A.L. Sowards' World War II Espionage Trilogy

A.L. Sowards' World War II Espionage Trilogy Veteran's Day eBook Sale


Espionage (Book 1): France, 1944: Nobody expects Peter Eddy to survive his first commando mission—to retrieve a code book stolen by the Nazis—so when he does come back alive, his success is rewarded with an even more daunting assignment. Partnered with French Resistance leader Jacques Olivier, Peter must identify which of three Allied contacts in Calais is a double agent and use the traitor to help implement a strategic Allied diversion that might win the war. Peter secretly crosses the English Channel to confront the suspects one at a time. But what appears to be a clean assignment soon turns disastrous, and even the aid of Jacques and his sister Genevieve can’t prevent a Gestapo triumph. As the Allied invasion approaches, treachery in the least likely places leads to fresh graves in the bloodied European soil—and only the power of loyalty and love can transform tragic endings into new beginnings.

sworn enemy 

Sworn Enemy (Book 2): After narrowly escaping her Nazi captors, French Resistance worker Genevieve Olivier has fled to Allied territory with the help of American Lieutenant Peter Eddy. Their connection is undeniable, forged in the crucible of danger. But despite their blossoming feelings for each other, they must both finish the work they began . . . In the safety of England, Genevieve hopes to find purpose as a nurse—all the while unaware that the Gestapo still seeks the woman who slipped through their grasp. When she is called upon to resume a life of danger as a French spy, will her desire to prove herself be her downfall? Recruited by an elite special-ops team intent on thwarting the Nazis, Peter finds himself engaged in a personal battle as well—there is a traitor among his comrades. Deep in the Carpathian Mountains, Peter combats an unknown foe. The stakes are high as he fights to save the lives of his teammates. They are miles apart, yet as Genevieve and Peter fight for their own survival, they find a common well of strength in their faith—and their determination to be reunited.

deadly alliance 

Deadly Alliance (Book 3): When Peter Eddy and his commando team inadvertently upset the Soviets during their most recent mission, they never imagined the diplomatic nightmares that would ensue. They have one chance to redeem themselves: tasked with destroying a bridge in Nazi-occupied Bosnia, Peter and his war-weary team reluctantly agree to drop behind enemy lines. The assignment should be a simple one—were it not for the fact that they are being deployed on a suicide mission. Genevieve Olivier is devastated by the news of Peter’s disappearance. After all they’ve endured in this war, the determined OSS worker is unwilling to simply let go of the man she hopes to spend her life with. Desperate for information, her work as a courier soon escalates into a counterintelligence duel with a Fascist assassin—and Genevieve is his newest target . . .

Praise for Espionage, Sworn Enemy, and Deadly Alliance:

This historical fiction WWII series is amazing! Seriously tense action, intrigue, death-defying danger, strong characters, and even a hint of romance. Sowards really does her research and makes readers feel as if they are right in the middle of the action in different settings throughout war-torn Europe. These aren't your normal WWII books; they are much better. ~Charissa Stastny, author of the Bending Willow Trilogy

A.L. Sowards is a master at telling sides of stories from history that aren't overdone or commonly shared. These books took me on an unexpected journey and they each brought up issues that I hadn't really thought about before. I loved learning information about this time period, while being thoroughly entertained by the events happening to some beloved characters. ~Katie, blogger at Katie’s Clean Book Collection

A.L. Sowards has been a favorite author of mine for years. I was enraptured by the first book in her World War II series, Espionage, and fell more in love with the characters with each book. Her knowledge of World War II is unreal and the way she weaves the historical aspects in is so gripping I could hardly set these books down. I would highly recommend this series, especially if you're a fan of historical fiction. ~Cami Checketts, Author of Shadows in the Curtain

Intrigue, horror, and romance all wrapped up in this brilliant WWII trilogy. A.L Sowards did an amazing job at bringing the time period to life for me. I highly recommend all three books in the Espionage series. ~Bookworm Lisa, blogger

 add to goodreads  

About the Author:

AL SowardsA.L. Sowards has always been fascinated by the 1940s, but she's grateful she didn't live back then. She doesn't think she could have written a novel on a typewriter, and no one would be able to read her handwriting if she wrote her books out longhand. She does, however, think they had the right idea when they rationed nylon and women went barelegged. Sowards grew up in Moses Lake, Washington. She graduated from BYU and ended up staying in Utah, where she enjoys spending time with her husband and children or with her laptop. She does not own a typewriter. She does own several pairs of nylons. Her books are known for heart-pounding action, memorable characters, careful historical research, clean romance, and family-friendly language. Several of her novels have been Whitney Award finalists in the historical fiction category.


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Monday, November 9, 2015

Movie Review: Miracle Maker: A Christmas Tale

Miracle Maker: A Christmas Tale

Film Synopsis:

It all starts with one little seed of love."The Miracle Maker is coming!" Everyone in the tiny hamlet is excited when they hear the news that the renowned man of wonders is coming to their village. But the humble traveler who appears isn't what anyone expected. They were looking forward to someone magnificent who would change their lives. But it seems this man can barely take care of himself, let alone fulfill the dreams of others. However, miracles can come in all shapes and sizes-and sometimes from unexpected places.



The Miracle Maker is a cute family film that focuses on hope and kindness. It has the feel of a Hallmark movie-the story and acting doesn't compare to big budget Hollywood films, but it is well done. I watched it with my family, and it was fun for us to pick out actors we've seen in other similar films. It was also fun that the main town scenes were filmed in a location near where we live.

If you are looking for a feel good holiday movie appropriate for the entire family, give the Miracle Maker a try.