Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Review: Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey

Sabotaged (Alaskan Courage #5)

Book Description:

Growing up, goody-two-shoes Kirra Jacobs and troublemaker Reef McKenna were always at odds. Now paired together on Yancey's search-and-rescue canine unit, they begin to put aside old arguments as they come to see each other in a different light. Then a call comes in from the Iditarod that will push them to their limits.

Kirra's uncle, a musher in the race, has disappeared. Kirra and Reef quickly track the man, but what they discover is harrowing. Frank's daughter has been kidnapped. In order to save her, the man must use his knowledge as a mechanical engineer to do the kidnapper's bidding or she will die. Kirra and Reef, along with the entire McKenna family, are thrown into a race to stop a shadowy villain who is not only threatening a girl's life, but appears willing to unleash one of the largest disasters Alaska has ever seen.

Book Review:

This is Book 5 of the Alaskan Courage Series. While you can read it as a stand alone, if you have any intention of reading any of the other books in the series, you really should go in order because the characters are the same for all of them, and you'd miss out on a lot of stuff just reading the last book. That being said, I was kind of sad that this book wasn't more about Reef's and Kirra's relationship.  They apparently got their time in the last book, and so the fun beginning stages and the development weren't really there. We just get to jump right in. I also kind of wish there was more about Reef's development, but I guess that was sort of gone over in the last book too. He goes from being a bad boy accused of murder to having found a strong faith and makes a complete 180. While that's awesome, because it's done over a couple of books we don't really get to see that change happen.
I love knowing all the characters and their stories, so I really dig books like this. It was fun to see it all come together in the end with everyone in the family together.  I'm not the type of person who can just read one book and then be done with it (if it's a series), so if I read one, I have to go back and reread all of them, even if the others didn't really do much for me. In this series, the first two were the best, and then I just kept reading because you have to finish the series.  If you haven't read this series before, definitely try the first two in the series, as those were the best and had the most development.

Sabotaged (Alaskan Courage #5)
Title: Sabotaged
Author: Dani Pettrey
Publisher: Bethany House
Published: February 2015
ISBN: 076421196X
Source: I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Blog Tour: Teaching Children About Sex Using the Temple as Your Guide by Cherri Brooks

Tour Schedule

Book Description:

It’s time for the talk. Teach your children the truth about sexual intimacy in a world of shifting values and ideas. With expert advice and age-appropriate wording, you learn how to use the temple as a beautiful analogy to discuss with your kids the sacred subject of sex. Timely and clear, this book is a must-read for parents, teachers, and leaders.

Rorie's Review:

I was a bit hesitant to review this book, because talking to my kids about sex makes me pretty nervous. But, just because it makes me nervous, that doesn't mean I can stick my head in the sand and make it go away. This book will really come in handy for me because recently my school district tried to add a sex-ed program that was completely inappropriate. With the things I learned in this book, I can now arm myself with proper information to teach my children.

I have dog-eared several pages in this book. One of the things that stuck out to me in particular was when the author said that we should approach talking to our children about sex the way that we talk to them about the temple. We don't constantly tell our children all the negative things about going to the temple (i.e. "Only sinful people can't go to the temple") instead, we focus on using encouraging words and give our children something to look forward to. While we definitely want to teach our children why we wait until marriage for sexual relations, we also want to teach them why it is a beautiful and sacred thing and something to look forward to and not be scared of.

I thought as a mother of four boys, I was off the hook when it came to talking about "girl stuff" such as menstruation, things that happen during puberty, etc. No such luck for me. :) The author points out that each gender should understand the basics of what is happening with the other gender so they can be empathetic to the changes that are going on.

There is so much information in this book that I know I will need to read it multiple times before I can process it all. I am glad that I have something based on my own values that I can turn to to teach my children about sex.

Andrea's Review:

First, I need to say that I'm not typically one for parenting books. I definitely don't have all the answers, but I prefer talking to people I know over reading a stranger's ideas.

That said, my children are getting to the point that I know I need more preparation than I have to talk to them about sex. My parents didn't really talk to me about sex, so I don't have any sort of blueprint to go from when it comes to approaching this. When I was given the opportunity to review this book, I decided that it was probably a good idea to check out what the author had to say, especially because it is given from an LDS standpoint (the values held by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

This was not a comfortable read for me, and I'm still nervous to talk to my children (although the author points out several times that it's ok to feel that way). I didn't necessarily agree with everything that I read, but overall I thought the book had a lot of good information.

I liked that the book was broken down into age groups. Some of the potential questions asked in certain age groups shocked me, but they are probably realistic and it's good to be ready for them.

The most important thing that I took from the book is that it is imperative that we talk to our children throughout their younger years in a way that helps them understand how special our bodies are. We can give the wrong impression and make them feel shame and guilt if we focus on the negatives and don'ts all the time. If we are open and teach them starting when they are young, they will most likely feel comfortable coming to us with questions they have. We can be sure they are getting good information when we take the initiative, instead of leaving it to media, friends, etc.

About the Author:

Cherri H. Brooks grew up in Centerville, Utah and attended Utah State University where she earned her M.S. in Family and Human Development. She is the author of the LDS Living Magazine article, “Talking to Kids about Sex.” Her blog is She lives in Clarksville, Tennessee, with her husband and three children.

Title: Teaching Children About Sex Using the Temple as Your Guide
Author: Cherri Brooks
Publisher: CFI and imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc.
Published: February 2015
ISBN: 1462115497
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.
Purchase: Amazon | Kindle

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Book Review: The Lazarus Game

Book Description:

"You've got to go in after him."
"Go in?"
"Inside the game. Carter, you have to play the game to save him."

It was created to change the world. With the power to resurrect the minds of history's brightest stars, the Lazarus Game promises to pool mankind's generations of geniuses and merge them in a modern utopia.

But teenage genius Carter Chance has discovered the deadly secret behind this popular virtual reality, and now he's the only one who can stop his generation from destroying themselves for a computer-generated fantasy.

This action-packed sci-fi thriller delves deep into your perceptions of reality, life, and the value of a soul.

Book Review:

I have to admit, for most of the book, I really did not like Carter. He is very arrogant, rude and condescending to everyone around him.  Thankfully, after being introduced to the reality of the Lazarus Game, he comes to realize that the world does not revolve around him, and those who care about him are actually kind of important.

I know I read the description of the book before I reviewed it, but I must have forgotten it, because the identity of the bad guys came as a complete, albeit pleasant, shock to me. I don't know if anyone has ever made those people into bad guys before.

The one downside that I found with this book were the several typos. I'm hoping that these were there simply because I received a review copy, and it hadn't gone through the final edit yet. Granted, typos don't affect the storyline, but it was definitely noticeable.

All in all, this was an enjoyable read. I always like to read stories where unpleasant people change for the good, and this was one of those books.

Title: The Lazarus Game
Author: Stephen J. Valentine
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Published: February 2015
ISBN: 1462115543
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon   Books and Things

Monday, February 23, 2015

Book Review: Deadly Echoes by Nancy Mehl

Deadly Echoes (Finding Sanctuary #2)

Book Description:

After a youth filled with tragedy and upheaval, Sarah Miller's life is finally settled with all echoes of the past silent at last. She happily calls Sanctuary her home and spends her days teaching at the local school.

Sarah's joy at her recent reunion with her sister, Hannah, and meeting the niece she didn't know she had is too soon interrupted when Deputy Sheriff Paul Gleason informs Sarah her sister has been killed.

As she learns more about Hannah's death, the circumstances are eerily similar to their parents' murder. Sarah enlists Paul's help in digging deeper into the murders the police are dismissing as burglaries gone wrong. Paul's concern encourages Sarah's growing feelings for him, but as their investigation peels back the layers of lies almost twenty years old, they get close to uncovering the truth one person will do anything to hide--even if that means coming after the last remaining members of the Miller family.

Book Review:

Apparently I've been reading a lot of series books lately :) This book is book 2 of the Finding Sanctuary Series. I've never read this author before and obviously didn't start out with book 1. While it would have been nice to have read the first book, it wasn't absolutely necessary. In fact, there are so many characters in the story that I didn't know who the first story was even about.  They all sounded like they would make interesting stories. I love the idea of a small community looking out for each other like they did in this novel. I was not expecting it to have a Mennonite slant to it, and that threw me for a little bit. I don't know much about that culture, so I was a a little confused but I loved how the main character took the parts she liked from the different cultures and incorporated it into her own life. People would be a lot nicer if we looked at the good parts of things that were different than just focusing on how different they are...and now I'm getting down from my preaching box :)
I loved how Sarah figured out that she didn't need to keep comparing herself to others, that God made her for a reason, and who He made her was good enough.

Paul is great, but I didn't really get the romance between the two. I mean, it was stated and said, but...I just didn't feel it.  I don't know that you could really classify this as a romance novel because they decide to put everything on hold till all the suspense if over. Although, I did enjoy the part where Paul chokes on his cake when Sarah outright asks him if he likes her. That made me laugh a little :) I think the thing I struggled with the most of the first person point-of-view. I think the story would have flowed better with a different-point-of view. It just made it really hard for me to really engage with the novel or any of the other characters. While I didn't guess outright who the bad guy was...I wasn't surprised by him either.

Overall it is a quick easy mind-candy type read. I can't really see myself reading it again, but if you have some time for a clean christian romantic suspense, it's definitely an option.

Deadly Echoes (Finding Sanctuary #2)
Title: Deadly Echoes
Author: Nancy Mehl
Publisher: Bethany House
Published: January 2015
ISBN: 0764211587
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Book Review: A Plague of Unicorns by Jane Yolen

A Plague of Unicorns

Book Description:

Young James, an earl s son, is a bit bothersome and always asking the oddest questions. In despair the last of James tutors having quit his mother sends him off to be educated at Cranford Abbey. She feels the strict regimen will do him a world of good. But Cranford Abbey has its own problems. It has been falling into disrepair. The newly appointed Abbot Aelian takes it upon himself to save the abbey with the use of his secret weapon: a recipe for golden apple cider passed down in his family for many generations. He believes that by making and selling the cider, the monks will raise necessary funds to restore the abbey to its former glory. Abbot Aelian has everything he needs almost. One obstacle stands in his way, unicorns that happen to feast specifically on the golden apples. Abbot Aelian and his men must fight off the unicorns to make the cider. He and the monks try to form a battalion to fight off the beasts; next they import heroes to fight for them. But the heroes run off, monks are injured, and a herd of ravenous unicorns continue munching. After no success, the abbot finally calls upon the most unlikely of heroes, one suggested by no other than young James. That hero is small and unprepossessing but possesses the skill to tame the beasts. Though wildly skeptical, Abbot Aelian must risk everything and believe in this recommended stranger or risk the fall of Cranford Abbey.

Book Review:
My eight year old son really enjoyed this novel, and would look forward to me reading a chapter or two every night (most of the chapters are super short). Maybe it's because kids have more imagination than I do, but I was really hoping there would be...more to the story. I loved the premise. I loved the relationship between James and his sister. I liked that my children (I read it to all of them, but my eight year old was the one that really loved it) learned a little about a different religion. Not really the religion, but more....things that we don't have in our religion. Like Abbots, and oblates, and Abbey's, and well....things like that. We had to look up quite a few things because I had no idea what they were either :) I wish the characters were developed more, and I wish that there was resolution to more of the things that happened in the book. Did the priests end up selling the cider and save the Abbey? What is the reunion like between James and his family? There were more things, but my son had no problem with any of it, so like I said, maybe I just lack imagination. I thought some of the titles of each chapter were entertaining. My younger children really enjoyed the illustrations in the book.  There aren't a lot of them, but they would look at each for some time before I was allowed to keep reading.
So while I found it lacking for me, I can picture my eight year old rereading this at night when he is supposed to be sleeping :)

A Plague of Unicorns
Title: A Plague of Unicorns
Author: Jane Yolen
Publisher: Zonderkidz
Published: December 2014
ISBN: 0310746485
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Book Review: Deception on Sable Hill by Shelley Gray

Deception on Sable Hill (Chicago World's Fair Mystery #2)

Book Description:

It's mid-September of 1893 and Eloisa Carstairs is the reigning beauty of Gilded Age Chicago society. To outsiders she appears to have it all. But Eloisa is living with a dark secret. Several months ago, she endured a horrible assault at the hands of Douglass Sloane, heir to one of Chicago's wealthiest families. Fearing the loss of her reputation, Eloisa confided in only one friend. That is, until she meets Detective Sean Ryan at a high-society ball.

Sean is on the outskirts of the wealthy Chicago lifestyle. Born into a poor Irish family, becoming a policeman was his best opportunity to ensure his future security. Despite society's restrictions, he is enamored with Eloisa Carstairs. Sean seethes inside at what he knows happened to her, and he will do anything to keep her safe-even if he can never earn her affections.

Book Review:

First, I have to say that this is the second book in a series and maybe it is because I didn't love the first book, but I didn't really feel that it was necessary to read the first book. There is enough backstory that you aren't lost, and the characters in the first book are maybe mentioned once or twice (except for Douglass Sloane, who is dead and is mentioned more, but that's because that backstory is definitely needed for this novel). I actually wasn't going to read any more from this author, but you know how they put a little blurb in the back of the book about the next book? Well, I read that and it got me hooked.
If you are going into this novel expecting suspense and intrigue, there is some of that, but....just enjoy it as a romance novel and you won't get frustrated. The bad guy is not obvious until the end of the book, and his motivations are interesting.
I enjoyed (and this is going to sound terrible of me) that bad things happened to Elosia (not the bad thing from the first book, but the bad thing from this book...are you confused yet?). I'm only saying this because normally in the books I read the girl is saved from whatever bad thing happens. I felt like these bad things helped Eloisa's character to grow.
I enjoyed Elosia trying to figure out her purpose in a society that really didn't give women any purpose besides marrying well. Sean was great, and I'm looking forward to a book about his sister and partner.
While this isn't a book that I would reread if I had other things to read, if you are into this part of history (Chicago World Fair time) I'd give this novel a try.

Deception on Sable Hill (Chicago World's Fair Mystery #2)
Title: Deception on Sable Hill
Author: Shelley Gray
Publisher: Zondervan Fiction
Published: February 2015
ISBN: 0310338506
Source: I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Book Blast: The Wife Maker by Karey White

Wife Maker 
The Wife Maker by Karey White 

Book Description:

Charlotte has spent years as the husband maker, sending every guy she dates off to enjoy marital bliss with the next girl he dates. But things have now changed, and she's determined to use her husband-maker abilities one last time--on herself. And she finally knows exactly who she wants. Angus has loved Charlotte since they were teenagers, but he's tired of waiting for her to realize how good they could be. She's broken his heart one too many times, and it's time to move on with his life. Maybe a position halfway across the country will be just what he needs to get over her. But when Charlotte won't let him go without a fight, Angus has to decide if he's willing to let her in again or if she's too late.

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Wife Maker (1) 
Blog Tour Schedule

About the Author:
Karey WhiteKarey White grew up in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Missouri. She attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University. Her first novel, Gifted, was a Whitney Award Finalist. She loves to travel, read, bake treats, and spend time with family and friends. She and her husband are the parents of four great children. She teaches summer creative writing courses to young people and is currently working on her next book.


$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 3/13/15 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 author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.     a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, February 13, 2015

Blog Tour: The Rules in Rome by A.L. Sowards

Review * Giveaway

The Rules in Rome by A.L. Sowards

Book Description:

With Hitler’s forces firmly entrenched in Europe, countless heroes seek to end the madman’s reign. Bastien Ley is one of the best. Working in Italy for the Office of Strategic Services, he’s been tasked with sabotaging German convoys. When his team kills an officer headed for Rome, the man’s similarity to Bastien is undeniable, and seeing an opportunity to turn the tide of the war, Bastien makes a bold decision: he will assume the dead officer’s identity. He becomes Dietrich, an Iron Cross–wearing German officer—an ideal position from which to infiltrate the Nazi ranks in Rome. To help with his stressful assignment, his superiors send him a reinforcement in the form of the lovely Gracie Begni, an intelligent and eager radio operator with absolutely no undercover experience.

With a gulf of resentment between them, these two agents must find a way to portray a couple in love. Soon their reluctant alliance becomes much more as Bastien and Gracie find themselves getting lost in their feelings for each other. But as they engage in battle against the deadliest foe the world has ever known, the pair quickly realizes their love may be doomed. As the Rome Gestapo threatens to destroy all they’ve worked for, will Bastien and Gracie survive their charade?


Wow! The Rules in Rome is an excellent WWII Romance! There is a lot more to it than romance (suspense, action, intrigue, etc.), but I loved the romance.

A.L. Sowards does a fantastic job writing historical fiction. I really enjoyed her characters. Gracie sounded like such a wonderful person. She has low self esteem (thanks to her mother), but she's decided to do what she can for her country. I liked how both of the main characters had been born in Europe, but at a young age had immigrated to the United States.

The journey was very exciting and intense. I love how Sowards is able to depict the horrible war time situation without going over the top.

I was very distraught when my review copy ended before the story was over. I wondered if this was part of a series with a cliff hanger ending. Thankfully, the rest of the story was sent to me (no cliff hangers), and I was very happy with how it ended. I found out that The Rules in Rome is a standalone novel, but the author has plans to write about Bastian's younger brother.

Sowards is an excellent author. I'm excited to read anything else she writes.

Tour Giveaway:

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Tour Schedule:

About the Author:

A.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.

Title: The Rules in Rome
Author: A.L. Sowards
Publisher: Covenant Communications Inc.
Published: February 2015
ISBN: 1621088820
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle | Deseret Book

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Book Review: Only the Brave

Book Description:

As this standalone sequel to The Undaunted begins, four years have passed since the first Mormon pioneers made the harrowing journey to carve the Hole-in-the-Rock trail to the region of the San Juan River in southeastern Utah. In that time, the settlers have dug in deep to try to establish roots in this untamed and unforgiving desert, but life is still far from easy. Biting winds, devastating floods, scorching heat, barren terrain, and tensions with everyone from Indians to outlaws to competing ranchers have threatened the pioneers' ability to thrive—or even survive. 

But the call from Church leaders to establish peaceful, stable settlements in the volatile region still stands, so young Mitch Westland and his family must find a way to make a home amid the harshest of circumstances. They soon learn that their only chance of success lies in uniting together with the other faithful Saints—including the Zimmers and their charming daughter, Edie. Can the families withstand the blows that seem to come every step of the way as they struggle against man, nature, and their own fears to heed a prophetic call? Many settlers will try to conquer that rugged territory, but only the brave will prevail. 

Book Review: 

I'm glad that this book is a stand-alone sequel to The Undaunted, which I have not had a chance to read yet. Even though I grew up in Utah, I didn't know much at all about the pioneers' struggle to settle in the San Juan area, so this book was quite the eye opener to me. As with his other books, I appreciate that the author adds historical footnotes at the end of each chapter.

As I think about these pioneers and all they went through to settle these new lands, the thing that sticks out to me is the heat. Boy, I'm sure glad we have air conditioning these days! The Moab area can get pretty hot in the summer - I can only imagine how uncomfortable they were!

I read this book right after reading "A Generation Rising" also by Gerald Lund. I found the other book more captivating, but I did enjoy this one enough to look forward to reading the sequel when it comes out, as well as reading "The Undaunted" so I can learn more about the brave San Juan pioneers.

About the Author:

Elder Gerald N. Lund received his B.A. and M.S. degrees in sociology from Brigham Young University. He served for thirty-five years in the Church Educational System, and he served as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy from 2002 to 2008. He is a prolific and bestselling author of both fiction and nonfiction and is best known for his historical novels, including The Work and the Glory series, Fire of the Covenant, The Kingdom and the Crown series, and The Undaunted. He and his late wife, Lynn, are the parents of seven children.
Title: Only the Brave: The Continuing Saga of the San Juan Pioneers
Author: Gerald N. Lund
Publisher: Deseret Book Company
Published: December 8, 2014
ISBN: 978-1629720265
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Deseret Book Amazon

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

CD Review: Embark by John Bytheway


In this motivating talk related to the 2015 youth theme, John Bytheway explains what it means to truly embark — to get fully on board in the service of God with all your heart, might, mind, and strength. Using scriptures, powerful stories, and his characteristic humor, John explains that with the Savior's help, we can remain on board and eventually stand blameless before God at the last day.


Even though John Bytheway's talks are geared toward the teenage crowd (and this talk being the theme for the youth this year) I always find things that I can use and improve in my life. I love that I can have this talk playing while I'm making lunch or cleaning or something and my kids, who are still small, can be listening too it too. My older kids (who aren't any older than 9) even found parts of it funny.  They didn't get all the jokes, but if I was laughing they would ask me to explain it :) This is the kind of media I like having in my home. I don't worry about content and it brings the Spirit, plus a dash of humor. And on a side-note, John Bytheway has even changed his introduction. It isn't the same joke about the port-a-potty. That was kind of nice :)
So whether you have teenagers or not, if you are looking for a good pick-me-up want to listen to something fun and meaningful today, this CD would be a great one to try.

Embark! 2015 Youth ThemeAudio CD (December 2014)
Number of Discs: 1
Format: EP
Label: Deseret Book Company
ISBN-10: 1629720054

Monday, February 2, 2015

CD Review: Madilyn Paige 


This stunning self-titled debut EP features a set of tunes notable for their raw emotion and beautiful soundscapes. Madilyn wrote or co-wrote every song on the album, drawin from her own struggles as a teenager and her heartfelt expressions of the joy she finds in life. The first track, "Irreplaceable," begins with aching introspection and soars to an assurance of self-worth; the folloring track, "Foolish Game," was written right after Madilyn left the TV show The Voice and gives insight into the inevitability of discouragement in life and the realization that you can rise above the games that people play. An epic movie score string section combines with powerful rhythms on "Undercover," a breathtaking song about overcoming sadness and seeking the light all around you. The final track, "Little Things," playfully reminds us that the little things in life are the source of true joy.

Madilyn Paige is a singer-songwriter from Provo, Utah. As a young child, she lived in Japan. She took up singing after she moved back to the U.S. She loves making music videos and short films with her friends and has performed in various local competitions.


Madilyn Paige's debut CD is something that I am happy to add to my family's collection. I actually ended up listening to it three times in a row. Granted, the first time was while I was preparing dinner, and it was also the witching hour, so I only got to hear snippets of each song. However, what I could hear, I enjoyed. When my house was quieter, I was able to listen to the whole thing and thought it was good enough to have my husband listen when he got home.  I think my favorite song is probably "Spotlight" with "Irreplaceable" a close second.
Audio CD (February 3, 2015)
Number of Discs: 1
Format: EP
Label: Highway Records

Purchase: Barnes & Noble | Amazon