Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Book Review: No Place To Hide by Lynette Eason

No Place to Hide (Hidden Identity, #3)

Book Description:

It's not every day you see your childhood friend and one-time crush on national news. Jackie Sellers just wishes it were under different circumstances. She can't believe that Ian Lockwood is wanted in connection with a terrorist plot, and she's determined to find him and help him clear his name. But she's not the only one looking. The FBI wants him captured. The bad guys want him dead. Ian just wants to stay alive long enough to save thousands of innocent lives.

Lynette Eason throws readers right into the action from page one, propelling them along a dangerous road and asking the provocative question of how far we'd be willing to go if we were up against a wall.

Book Review:

I loved the suspense in this book. It was well paced and there was plenty of action going on. Lynette Eason does a great job of writing these in a way that is clean, but not cheesy and tacky.

This is book three, but I haven't read the other two in this series and wasn't lost at all. So it is definitely a stand alone, but I will say that I'm intrigued enough to want to read the other two. Hopefully my library has them :)

I was disappointed in the romance area. Don't get me wrong, it was clean, but it just wasn't working. There was too much backstory that was covered by the wrong people. Jackie tells her best friend the reasons why, but she never tells Ian. And he never asks, just accepts. She is always saying, "Not now" and then it just happens. It was weird. But, I did enjoy the fact that Jackie loved her dead husband. I've read other stories where the man loves the dead wife, but normally the dead husband was not a good man, so it was refreshing to me that she had a good relationship with him.

If you like clean Christian Suspense Romance novels, I would definitely give Lynette Eason a try.

No Place to Hide (Hidden Identity, #3)
Title: No Place to Hide
Author: Lynette Eason
Publisher: Revell
Published: May 2015
ISBN: 0800722108
Source: I received an eEopy from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Movie review: The Cokeville Miracle

Movie Description:

On May 16, 1986, in the small, ranching community of Cokeville, Wyoming, David and Doris Young took an elementary school hostage for several hours before detonating a bomb inside a classroom that held every teacher and student in the school. In the wake of the madness, Ron Hartley, whose children were inside the classroom, must fight his skepticism and unbelief as he hears eyewitness accounts from the students about miraculous, heavenly intervention during the crisis. When tragedy strikes ... what do you see? 

Rorie's Review:

I don't remember hearing about this incident when I was growing up, even though it was only one state away. I'm sure it was because I was only 10 and in my own little world of friends and My Little Ponies and whatever else I was into back then.

Not seeing a rating on the back of the DVD case, I debated whether it would be appropriate for my older kids to watch it with me, but then decided against it because of the subject matter. I'm glad that I chose to do that, as I think watching about kids being kept hostage in school might have been a bit too scary for them. (The movie is PG-13.)

One thing that just amazed me during the movie was how willingly everyone just went into the classroom where the bad guys were, without even knowing the person telling them to go into that room. So very different from the world we live in today.

I think the movie was well done and did a good job of telling the story in an engaging way, as well as focusing on the miracles that happened that day. I would recommend this movie to others.

Tarah's Review:

Just like Rorie I wondered if this was a movie I could watch with my kids. Not seeing a rating, I told them I'd watch it first and then let them know. While I don't think it was something my children would have understood, and would possibly be scared to watch, I'm glad I was able to see it. The acting was just okay, but I found the message to be beautiful.

The thing I found most interesting about this movie is that, for me, the movie wasn't about the terrorist or the bomb. The movie still has half of it left when that part happens, and I wasn't expecting that. For me, the movie was about prayer, and finding your way to God.  I loved that message, and I couldn't help but think of the lesson we had in Sharing Time about miracles and how they still happen today, but not everyone can willingly acknowledge them...even in, or especially in a tragedy such as this.

I'd recommend this movie to others who are looking for upliftment (my spell checker says that isn't a word, but you know what I mean).
Title: The Cokeville Miracle
Director: T.C. Christensen
Studio: +180 Records
Published: September 2015
ASIN: B011LW42W2
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book

Friday, September 25, 2015

Blog Tour: Westly: A Spider's Tale by Bryan Beus

Westly: A Spider's Tale by Bryan Beus

Book Description:

This is tale of a caterpillar named Westly who is destined to be a Monarch butterfly and the next king of the butterfly kingdom. But sometimes things don't turn out the way we plan. When Westly emerges from his cocoon he is nothing like he expected. As a spider he must rediscover who he is. Adopted by the "dirt eaters," Westly is determined to make a difference. He is determined to belong, to be loved, and most importantly, to become who he was born to be.


I've enjoyed reading Westly: A Spider's Tale with my eight-year-old. It's not unusual for him to try to get me to read a lot more than one page to his one page, but I was happy to see that with this book, he stopped me if I kept reading when it was his turn. Although the title, cover, and book blurb give away that Westly is not a butterfly, Westly not knowing what he really was pulled my son into the story.

There aren't a lot of illustrations, but the few that are sprinkled throughout the book are great.

I really like the messages found in the book. Westly started out sure of who he was, but he used his position to put himself above others, and get out of work. The other caterpillars revered him as the prince, so his downfall was sad in a way, but it really made him into a much better bug.

About the Author/Illustrator: Beus – which rhymes with Zeus – is the winner of the Kirchoff/Wohlberg Award from The New York Society of Illustrators. He works full time as an illustrator for magazines, book covers, film and game conceptual art, and more. When not writing and drawing, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Amanda, mindful meditation, drinking root beer floats, and eating far too many Sour Patch Watermelons. Westly is his debut novel.

Title: Westly: A Spider's Tale
Author: Bryan Beus
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Published: September 2015
ISBN: 1629720682
Source: I received copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Book Review: Thank You, Lord, for Everything by P.J. Lyons

Thank You, Lord, for Everything

Book Description:

Love surrounds you, beauty, too.

Notice how God blesses you!

Clap your hands, shout and sing:

Thank you, Lord, for everything.

A comfortable and relaxing rhyme tells the story of God s great blessings in this padded cover board book. P.J. Lyons engaging text and Tim Warnes playful illustrations remind readers how much they have to be thankful for."

Book Review:

What a fun rhyming book! Not only that, but the pages are illustrated beautifully and are full of color and lots of details.  I read this to two four year olds and they both really liked the book. I asked what their favorite thing about it was and one said the pages (meaning the illustrations) and the other said when the little bear got out of bed.  To quote them, "I liked it!" said with a big smile on their face. As a mom, I like the message of giving thanks in all things. I also appreciate the padded board book so my two year old doesn't destroy it, but can actually look at it and explore it at her leisure.  I can see us reading this again and again, especially this coming Thanksgiving season.

Thank You, Lord, for Everything
Title: Thank You, Lord, for Everything
Author: P.J. Lyons
Illustrator: Tim Warnes
Publisher: Zonderkidz
Published: September 2015
Source: I received a copy from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for a review.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Blog Tour: Heart's Journey by Kristen McKendry

Review * Giveaway

Heart's Journey by Kristen McKendry

Book Description:

Adventure is in her blood, so when wealthy eighteen-year-old Rachel Hamilton’s treasure-hunting father disappears in the wilderness of British Columbia, she considers only one course of action: she will embark on a quest to find him. But for a well-bred woman with little understanding of the world beyond her upper-class existence, the harsh realities of the trail quickly become apparent. Woefully unprepared for the hardships of crossing a wild and unsettled continent, Rachel is hungry, lost, and distraught when handsome frontiersman Peter finds her in the middle of nowhere. Taking pity on the castaway, Peter promises to escort her to the safety of civilization. Little does he realize he’s taking on a naïve and foolishly brave girl who will test the limits of his patience. But he also discovers the same naïve girl will blossom into a strong, competent, and captivating woman as they undertake an epic journey that will forever alter both their lives.

Andrea's Review:

I really enjoyed Heart's Journey. For the most part this isn't a fast paced novel, but that fit well with the pace of the journey across the country in the wilderness. Even with that in mind, it wasn't a slow read. I read as much as I could over a weekend, and stayed up entirely too late trying to read "just a few more pages".

I really liked the characters. Rachel grew so much throughout the story, and I really liked who she became through everything she endured. I don't think that Peter really changed much throughout the story, but he didn't need to. His heart was opened a bit as the story progressed, but time and time again the reader was shown his goodness, and selflessness. There were some minor characters who added quite a bit to the story as well.

I'm a fan of historical fiction and I enjoyed reading about the different situations in crossing Canada, the interactions with travelers, settlers, and natives.

I wanted a little more near the end, but the epilogue tied things up nicely. This is a clean story, with an enjoyable romance. I would read more by this author.

Tarah's Review:

 I've got to admit that this story wasn't my cup of tea. I'm wondering if it's because I'm judging it from a previous book I've read by this author. I read Garden Plot of hers, and it's funny and entertaining with a mystery thrown in. Maybe I was expecting something like that, and if I was focusing more on the fact I was reading a historical novel I might have enjoyed it more. It was just a little too slow for me.

I enjoyed the growth that Rachel went through. I enjoyed her the whole book, even though you could tell she was really naive and inexperienced at the beginning. I thought she acted her age very well, and wasn't written to have a more mature personality than would normally be the case.

While I liked Peter, I didn't necessarily like him for Rachel. Don't get me wrong, he has great qualities and was very nice and thoughtful towards her, but with all the lecturing he took on more of a dad role than a romance role. Since his character is more "the strong silent" type we didn't get to see a lot of what changed in him towards Rachel.

The pace of the book matches the journey they went through, but I think I was hoping for more....more action or something.

Tour Schedule:


Tour Giveaway:

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Heart's Journey Title: Heart's Journey
Author: Kristen McKendry
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Published: September 2015
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle | Deseret Book

Monday, September 21, 2015

Book Review: Mysteries of Cove Fires of Invention 

Book Description:
Trenton Colman is a creative thirteen-year-old boy with a knack for all things mechanical. But his talents are viewed with suspicion in Cove, a steam-powered city built inside a mountain. In Cove, creativity is a crime and invention is a curse word.

Kallista Babbage is a repair technician and daughter of the notorious Leo Babbage, whose father died in an explosion an event the leaders of Cove point to as an example of the danger of creativity. Working together, Trenton and Kallista learn that Leo Babbage was developing a secret project before he perished. Following clues he left behind, they begin to assemble a strange machine that is unlikely anything they've ever seen before. They soon discover that what they are building may threaten every truth their city is founded on and quite possibly their very lives.

Rorie's Review: 

I tend to gravitate towards books like this one, where people are living in a dystopian society. I am always curious to find out how the society got to be where it is in the book - sometimes I'm frustrated because the author doesn't go into enough background detail to fulfill my curiosity, but I'm happy to say that did not happen with this book.

I can't even imagine having to live in a society where pretty much every choice is made for you and you are severely punished if you try to create things. I was immediately drawn into the story, and loved getting to know all of the main characters.

My oldest son also read the book and states "It was good! I want to read another one." He was really surprised to find out why they built a city in the mountain (so was I, actually.) This is definitely a book I will recommend to adults and children alike.

Andrea's Review:

I was initially drawn to review Fires of Invention because I thought my 11-year-old would probably enjoy it (which she did). But, I'm happy to say it's not just a book for middle graders.

I liked the characters and enjoyed the mystery. The idea of this society was very interesting. I was surprised about why it was created (very unique idea that I didn't see coming at all-the lie was much more believable). Several characters hearts were softened by the end of the story, which is something I always enjoy.

The resolution seemed to happen somewhat quickly after quite a lot of build up, but it was an enjoyable story. I am curious about what happens next.

If you enjoy clean, middle-grade books (or your children do), be sure to check out Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention. Title: Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention
Author: J. Scott Savage
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: September 2015
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Book Review: Rodeo Rescuer by Lynette Eason

Rodeo Rescuer

Book Description:


No matter where she runs, rodeo clown Tonya Waters's stalker always finds her. Now he's managed to track her down on the rodeo circuit. If bull rider Seth Starke hadn't saved her, she'd be dead. But when the handsome cowboy is injured in the ring and Tonya rescues him, Seth seems more determined than ever to keep her safe. But can she risk staying at his Tennessee ranch and bringing danger to his family? As her stalker gets more violent, Tonya and Seth vow to outsmart him before he makes good on his ultimate threat: if he can't have her, no one will.

Wrangler's Corner: Family comes first

Book Review:

 I enjoy rodeo's. I can't tell you anything about them, other than they are fun to go to. I don't understand why you get points for something and not for another, but the small town rodeo's I've been too have been a lot of fun. I've never really thought much about the clowns though, so this was a fun story, not only to have it about a rodeo clown, but that the rodeo clown is a girl.

While I really enjoyed this story and finished it rather quickly, I found the dialogue hard to follow in some parts. This could be a formatting problem with the version that I was reading, but a lot of the time it seemed like the characters were discussing something and then all of a sudden they were on to something else. Or it didn't seem as natural as I was expecting it to.

The mystery was really well done, and I expected it to go a different way than it did. This is a clean story, which honestly surprised me because of the publisher. I thought Harlequin published racey novels, and maybe they do, but this one and other Love Inspired  ones I've read have been clean, with no sex or swearing or anything like that. I picked this out because I enjoy the author, and was pleased to discover that there are more books to this series. It's book two, but can definitely be a stand-alone novel.

I've been please so far from everything I've read by Lynette Eason, and if you enjoy a clean suspense/mystery novel, she is a great author to try.

Rodeo Rescuer
Title: Rodeo Rescuer
Author: Lynette Eason
Publisher: Love Inspired
Published: September 2015
ISBN: 0373677022
Source: I received an eCopy from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Blog Tour: Simply Anna by Jennifer Moore

Simply Anna by Jennifer Moore

Book Description:

Suffering from a cruel heartbreak, Lord Philip Hamilton has been driven to seek refuge from the painful memories haunting London, and his father’s Jamaican sugar cane plantation provides just the escape he needs. Philip finds solace in his hard work and takes comfort in the fact that his distance from society ensures that his heart will be protected from future entanglements. Protected, that is, until the unexpected appearance of a mysterious woman with no memory of her past. The only clue to her identity is a necklace inscribed with a name: Anna. In a matter of weeks, this gentle, intelligent, and impossibly beautiful stranger turns Philip’s world upside down. But as the bond between the pair grows, the threat of Philip losing his heart once more is only the beginning of the dangers that await. Island renegades and a ruthless band of pirates clash in a swashbuckling battle, and it soon becomes clear that these villains may be the key to unlocking Anna’s past . . .

Tarah's Review:

After Becoming Lady Lockwood I'll admit I've been a little disappointed with the others books of Moore's that I've read. Don't get me wrong, they are good, and I liked them, but they were just missing something that Lady Lockwood had. Simply Anna has it...whatever "it" is.  In fact, I'm going to say that I enjoyed it more that Becoming Lady Lockwood.

I was worried about Philip in the first little bit of the book (very spoiled and "Ton"ish, but I love how he grew and developed. I love how Anna was able to become herself by not knowing who she was. All of the minor characters are great...well...some are cruel and vindictive, but they are written well.

I will say that I don't love the cover.  It fits well into Moore's other books, but something about That being said, this book is part of other books of Moore's. However, it can definitely be read as a stand-alone.  If I had one complaint about the book, I will admit that I wanted more from the Lockwood's and Sydney and Emma. We don't get to hear anything about what happened when she went missing, and what they did when she was found. Actually, the story never tells us that she is found, but they are all together later. So, I'd have liked more from that point-of-view. 

This was a book that I could sit back and devour (as my kitchen will and dirty dishes will attest to right now). It isn't a long read, or may it is but just doesn't seem like it because you can get so wrapped up in the story.  I loved it, and recommend it.

Andrea's Review:

I wish I'd had more reading time since I received my review copy three days ago, because Simply Anna is an excellent book so far and I can't wait to find out what happens next.

I've been really impressed with the compassion of Anna and Philip. Neither character fits the mold of society, and it's very admirable. Their interaction with each other is great. Both are fighting feelings due to Anna's amnesia, but they work well together and when they have moments to just be themselves it is such a comfortable relationship.

I enjoyed the small bit at the beginning with some characters from Moore's previous books. She writes great characters and intriguing stories. Moore is an excellent author, and I've loved these clean stories.

Tour Giveaway:

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Simply Anna
Title: Simply Anna
Author: Jennifer Moore
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Published: September 2015
Source: We received ecopies from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Book Review: Bearskin by Jamie Robyn Wood

Book Description:

When Conrad, Moiria, and Heppson's evil enchantress mother tries to convince them to follow her dark ways, they must each decide where the line lies between good and evil, magic and mythology. Based on a lesser-known fairy tale, this young adult book features an impossible romance, an intricate plot, and twists you won't see coming.

Rorie's Review:

You know the saying "you can't see the forest for the trees"? Well, let's change that to "you can't see the story for the words." There are just too many words in this story. The story idea intrigued me, but I had to keep re-reading sections because I kept getting lost, due to the excessive use of flowery language. I understand the necessity to paint a picture with words, but it is possible to take it too far, and sadly, that was the case in this book.

That being said, once I was able to get past the extra words, the story was enjoyable. It was a bit difficult to keep all of the characters straight, but I grew to really like the Guardians and Heart. I had never heard of the Bearskin fairy tale before, but now that I've read this book, I'm going to look up the original fairy tale.

About the Author:

Jamie Robyn Wood is a full-time wife and mother, and a part-time fantasy writer and essayist. Over the years she has handed out money at banks, taught ballet, and managed to make dinner for her family semi-regularly. Jamie never imagined the wind could blow so hard and so cold until she moved to the Midwest. Now she prefers to hunker inside the house with a story to write. Bearskin is her first novel. She, her husband, their five children, and their "pet" squirrels currently reside in Coralville, Iowa.

Tour Giveaway:

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Title: Bearskin
Author: Jamie Robyn Wood
Publisher: Sweetwater Books
Published: September 2015
ISBN: 1462117163
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon Barnes & Noble

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Book Review: A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter

A Noble Masquerade (Hawthorne House, #1)

Book Description:

Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother's old school friend, a duke--with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she's heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marcus, her brother's new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned.

When Marcus accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity about her lack of suitors shifts into confusion at her growing feelings for two men--one she's never met but whose words deeply resonate with her heart, and one she has come to depend on but whose behavior is more and more suspicious. When it becomes apparent state secrets are at risk and Marcus is right in the thick of the conflict, one thing is certain: Miranda's heart is far from all that's at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.

Book Review:

Immediately after finishing this book I got online to see if Kristi Ann Hunter had written anything else. Much to my happy surprise there was a free novella on Amazon (don't you love it when that happens?). I think that's a mark of a well written, entertaining book, when you look for more from the same author. Originally I wasn't too excited about the book. The cover is beautiful, and the back synopsis was interesting, but I just wasn't in the mood for it. However, when I was helping my husband with something and I had to wait sometimes I thought I would kill some time and just read a little bit. Well, that little bit turned into the whole book. My husband just shook his head and asked if he was making dinner that night :) (It's awesome when both of you love to read so you understand the perils of a good book...dinner and cleaning? Not so much. Devour book? Yes please).

I could nit pick and say somethings that I didn't love about each character, or how I wasn't super surprised by the bad guy,  but honestly, I was entertained, it was well written, and it was clean. That's a winner in my book. I was able to relate to Miranda's feelings, and I really liked Marsh. A Noble Masquerade is something that I would add to my library and read again and again.

A Noble Masquerade (Hawthorne House, #1) 
Title: A Noble Masquerade
Author: Kristi Ann Hunter
Publisher: Bethany House
Published: September 2015
ISBN: 0764214322
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Book Review: A Tale of Light and Shadow: Secrets of Neverak by Jacob Gowans 

Book Description:

Henry Vestin always believed that, despite being a carpenter with no training in swordplay or survival, he could lead Isabelle and his friends to safety. He thought he could defy an emperor and protect Isabelle from harm. He was certain that love and friendship would help them survive.

He was wrong.

The second volume in the Tale of Light and Shadow series follows Henry and his friends after the disastrous battle at the Iron Pass. Horrors await the band of travelers in strange new lands. Crippled and broken, Henry must rely on his friends more than ever. New allies and foes find them at every turn, but which are friendly and which are deadly? Isabelle, now a slave in Neverak, finds herself surrounded by enemies, uncertain about the fate of her friends, and relying on only herself to survive. The Emperor moves forward with his plans of conquest, spurred on by the Seer's dark prophecy, but he has not forgotten those who defied him.

Return to the world of Atolas, where swords and daggers extend life or end it, where feuds and friendships influence kingdoms and courtships, and where magic is feared by all but a few.

Book Review:

It has been awhile since I read the first book in this series, so it took me a few chapters to refresh my memory about who was who and what had happened in the first book. I remember that I really enjoyed the first book, and this one is no different. I haven't had a chance to finish it yet, but I find myself reading "just one more" chapter (or two or three) before I turn off the light at night. :) The author does a really good job of bringing all of the characters to life - for good or for bad. Emperor Krallick just makes my skin crawl. I really like James and love seeing where he is going in the story.

All in all, this is a very enjoyable book, and I am really looking forward to finishing it to see what happens to Henry, Isabelle and the rest of the group.

About the Author:

Jacob Gowans is a resident of Arizona, working as a dentist for the Indian Health Services. He is husband and father to four children. When not working or writing, he enjoys watching sports, reading YA novels or the works of Stephen King, running, and chasing his kids around the house.He was raised in Papillion, Nebraska, lived for two years in Baltimore, and graduated from dental school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Title: A Tale of Light and Shadow: Secrets of Neverak
Author: Jacob Gowans
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Published: July 2015
ISBN: 1609079787
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review. 

Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book