Friday, January 29, 2016

Review: Larry H. Miller—Behind the Drive: 99 Inspiring Stories from the Life of an American Entrepreneur

Larry H. Miller—Behind the Drive:
99 Inspiring Stories from the Life of an American Entrepreneur
Compiled by Bryan Miller

In Driven: An Autobiography, business mogul Larry H. Miller shared his painful and joyful lessons about the many facets of his life and legacy and candidly spoke about the people and circumstances that influenced him. In Behind the Drive, the tables are turned as we hear firsthand from both famous and obscure people whose lives were influenced, inspired, and even transformed by the compassion, generosity, and leadership of Larry. More than 100 individuals share personal stories about the man who they came to know and love as a philanthropist, a Good Samaritan, an angel in disguise. Quite frankly, Larry H. Miller was addicted to helping people. It didn't matter who they were. It didn't matter what he was doing at the time. When Larry heard the call for help, he unassumingly went about to make things better. The marvel of Miller isn't what he did to shape a community or touch a life, it's how he did it—one person at a time. Readers might ask how did Larry H. Miller have the time to personally impact so many lives? The answer—Larry chose to use his time a little bit differently than most. Behind the Drive pulls back the curtain and shows us the difference one person can make when he's driven to serve.

Joseph's Review:

I’ll start out by saying that I was a big Utah Jazz fan back in the Stockton, Malone era.  I would spend many an hour watching or listening to games agonizing over loses and reveling over wins.  I have always had great respect for Larry Miller and what he did to keep the Jazz here in Utah and help make them relevant. 

A while ago I read the book Driven and enjoyed learning about Larry Miller and how he lived his life and the impact that he made on our community and the lives of many people. He truly was driven and had many talents that made him successful. Reading the book Behind the Drive by Bryan Miller was another opportunity to gain perspective and understanding of Larry Miller. The traits of an incredible memory, mastery of numbers, risk taking, relentless work and a kindness towards his fellow men were all exemplified in this book. (I guess if you’re going to write a book an easy way to do it is to ask 99 people to write two or three pages each on stories that exemplify Larry Miller and bind them all together).

I thoroughly enjoyed the stories from these 99 people from all walks of life. From young children, to employees, successful business people, religious leaders, sports personalities and neighbors, they each gave insight to a very complex and giving man. Each of these stories point out character traits, both good and bad, that made Larry Miller so successful.

Behind the Drive is a very easy read and very entertaining. It was well worth my time and was inspiring to read what a difference one man can make in the world.

Cameron's Review:

I was a young boy when Larry H. Miller was really starting to make a name for himself in our community. As a very big fan of the Utah Jazz, and a kid who was very dedicated to sports, what he built with the Utah Jazz franchise went far from unnoticed. I paid attention to as much as I could when it came to how the team was run and what they did to be successful. I even paid attention to his softball teams, as my father’s construction team also played in a league, which was, if I recall correctly, a level below Larry H. Miller’s teams.

Fast forward several years as I grew up, and as with most people who followed what was going on with sports in Utah, Larry H. Miller really did have his hands in just about everything. Basketball, baseball, racing, etc. But then it started to grow to educational contributions, religious endeavors, and other very worthy causes. Not only was he now the guy who was very involved with owning the Jazz in a hands on way, but he was making his mark everywhere else as well.

I eventually ended up reading his book Driven and as someone who is very involved with sport management and business, found his approach and drive to succeed to be very helpful.

So when I had the chance to read Behind the Drive I certainly jumped at the opportunity. This was a very easy book to read, and with the format, is one that can be read in a very short amount of time, or can be done over an extended period. As I read it, one of the things that I came away with was just how much influence for good that he had. To have that many people contribute to the book is pretty
impressive. The other thing that I liked was how you got a feel for the way that Larry progressed throughout his life. He was willing to work on his weaknesses and deal with them to the very end. I found that to be motivational. Not one of the 99 stories implied that he was doing what he did with an extremely selfish attitude.

Yes, he demanded success and refused to fail, but it seemed like he had a constant internal battle to make sure he was also trying to do what was right and make a difference for the better. 

Overall, this was a book I would recommend to anyone. As I mentioned, it’s an easy read, that can be rather motivational in respects to making a difference, admitting to weaknesses, and enduring to the end.

Title: Larry H. Miller—Behind the Drive: 99 Inspiring Stories from the Life of an American Entrepreneur
Author: Bryan Miller
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Source: We received review copies from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle | Deseret Book

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Review: My Fair Gentleman by Nancy Campbell Allen

My Fair Gentleman
My Fair Gentleman by Nancy Campbell Allen

Book Description:

In this Regency twist of My Fair Lady, Jack would rather be at sea than fixing the mistakes of his grandfather, the late Earl of Stansworth. Instead, he finds that inheriting his grandfather's wealth and title—and securing the welfare of his sister and mother—means joining the ranks of high society and living with the aristocracy. Luckily, Ivy Carlisle, the granddaughter of a dear friend of Jack's late grandmother, is willing to teach him etiquette and properly introduce him into society. Jack soon learns that his challenge isn't surviving his new lifestyle but surviving the conspiracies against him—as well as keeping himself from falling madly in love with his new tutor.

Andrea's Review:

I have been very pleased with Shadow Mountain's Proper Romance novels, and My Fair Gentleman by Nancy Campbell Allen did not disappoint. I got it in the mail on a Monday afternoon and finished the book the next evening (sadly work interrupted finishing as quickly as I would have liked). 

I was immediately pulled into the story. Jack had an appeal right off. I suppose it was a bit of a bad boy attraction (which I haven't really thought of as being my thing, but it worked very well in this story, especially because he wasn't really bad). He was stubborn, but his love for his mother and sister trumped his personal desires, and that definitely added to his appeal.

Ivy was a great character as well. Her sister's shame on the family made a big difference in her life. She tried so hard to be proper and please her parents, but she was also very kindhearted, and that lead her to not fit society's proper mold at times. I loved the interaction she had with her grandmother, and the strength and support that gave her.

It was just an all around great story that I'm excited to read again. 

Tarah's Review:

If you are going to read this book may I suggest that you start it when you have the time to actually finish it, because you are NOT going to want to put it down until you are done.  I started it when I had to keep doing other things, and the annoyance I felt was great.  So learn from my experience, and only start this when you have time to read the whole thing :)

I will say that I didn't love the cover. It's so sad being a cover snob, but honestly, nothing about the cover makes me want to pick this up and read it, except for the tiny blurb up top that says, "A Proper Romance".

It goes without saying that I loved the main characters, but I really enjoyed Jack's best friend and his sister. I'm kind of hoping they get their own book, they were that good....and maybe Pug can play a part in their story too :)

Clean - check. Regency fiction - check. An entertaining read - check. Recommended - check. 

Rorie's Review:

This is NOT the kind of book I typically read. I tend to shy away from books that announce they are romance novels. This was also made very clear to me when my husband saw the cover and teased me to no end about it. :) That being said, I'm so glad I decided to give it a try. This was such an enjoyable book to read. Although I need to google a few words - what on earth is a "pelisse" and a "ton?" 

Reading stories set in Regency times is both fascinating and appalling. I can honestly say that I really related to Jack and his reluctance to enter into the lifestyle of the rich. Granted, manners are always a good thing, but good grief! I know I've said this before, but I am so very, very glad that I was not born way back then.

OK, now to the story. Jack's character is rough, and he's got quite a temper - completely understandable, considering how he grew up and what his grandfather did to his entire family. His complete dedication to his mother and sister is heartwarming. Ivy is such a fun character. I can picture us being friends. :) 

The romance developed perfectly, and it was very believable. All of the characters in the book were brought to life really well. I really liked some and really couldn't stand some others. Definitely a book I would recommend.

My Fair Gentleman Title: My Fair Gentleman
Authors: Nancy Campbell Allen
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: January 2016
ISBN:  162972095X
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle | Deseret Book

Monday, January 25, 2016

Blog Tour: Abby's Crossing by Darryl Harris
Book Description:

Fall 1862 Following her husband's tragic death, young widow Abby Butterfield Browett's first responsibility is to her son. Her desire to provide a secure future for her child has led her to accept a proposal of marriage from Isaac, a man twice her age. In her heart, she knows that Isaac lacks the fire and zest for life that defines Abby, but her son will be cared for. Can she be happy with only that? Despite her reservations, Abby joins her fiancé on the journey to the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, unprepared for the challenges that begin soon after they embark. When their trouble turns dangerous, it is a group of rough frontiersmen that come to their aid. The incident provides Abby the excuse she needs to turn back and postpone the wedding and in truth, she simply can't forget the connection she felt with Scooter, the leader of their rescuers. But as hostilities arise between the local Indians and the white frontiersmen, Abby's focus turns again to the safety of her son. When the young boy disappears following an attack, Abby disregards propriety and turns not to her fiancé for help, but to Scooter. In the face of unimaginable odds, the pair embarks on a quest to find Abby's son, a journey that will test their courage and faith as never before . . .

Rorie's Review:

This book just fell flat for me. I can't really pinpoint why, but I had a really hard time getting lost in the story. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. It was just OK. I was still able to finish it in just a few days though. I'm having a hard time coming up with a review for this book, and I think it's because nothing really stood out to me. The part I enjoyed the most was the climax near the end, but after that was resolved, the book went back to being just OK again. 

Tarah's Review:

First, let me say that I think anyone who writes and can get a book published needs to be given kudos. That takes serious talent, and more hard work and effort than I can fathom. So, kudos to Darryl Harris for being a published author.

All that being said, I struggled through this book. I kept wondering why I was struggling, and here is what I came up with. First, it reads more like a history than a novel. Yes, there is a story line, but there is so much history that I feel like the story gets lost. Second, I found the story to be really pretentious. I was going to classify Abby as really judgmental, but on further reflection she isn't judgmental so much as thinking she's just better than everyone else. Granted she never says anything like that, but with the way her thoughts toward other people are geared it comes across as ... well ... pretentious.  Scooter's reactions were somewhat baffling to me as well. Abby just sees a massacre and can't find her child, and he expects her to say goodbye with a hug or something? What?!?  Not much about their relationship seemed real to me, and that made me sad.

While this wasn't a book for me, if you really like Utah Pioneer History, you may really enjoy this book. There were lots of stories from up in the Logan area that I wasn't familiar with.

Blog Tour links:

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Title: Abby's Crossing
Author: Darryl Harris
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Published: January 2016
ISBN:  1621088324
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for a review. 

Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book


Cover Reveal: First Light (Forever After Series, Book 1)

Book Description:

Seventeen-year-old Adrielle doesn’t believe in magic; she merely possesses it, though no one has ever mentioned that her unusual gifts—exceptional speed, a flair for fire, and an intimate knowledge of flora—aren’t things she was born with. When Adrielle starts a fire that burns down the family home, she must deal with both her grief and her siblings’ hurtful rejection.

While journeying to far away Tallinyne, in search of her older, estranged sister—the only relative who might take her in—Adrielle is separated from her escort when the carriage is beset by thieves. Alone, she is thrust into a dangerous and unfamiliar world where she encounters fairies and gypsies, a wild boar, a drunk cook, and an evil queen whose curse is sweeping death across the land. Adrielle also finds love, falling hard for a kind, funny, handsome—and completely unavailable prince.

From the glowing pearls tucked beneath her mattress and keeping her awake at night, to Queen Nadamaris’s curse that seems to thwart Adrielle’s every effort, Adrielle struggles to navigate a world of magic she never imagined, where people she knows and loves are not always what they appear to be. With the glowing pearls—and her fondest desire—within her grasp, she is forced to make a choice no girl should ever have to—satisfying her own heart or saving the kingdom.

Release Date: February 25, 2015

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Book Review: With This Ring?: A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone Awry by: Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, Melissa Jagears

With This Ring?: A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone Awry

Book Description:

Four top historical romance novelists team up in this new collection to offer stories of love and romance with a twist of humor. In Karen Witemeyer's "The Husband Maneuver," Marietta Hawkins decides to grab the reins when the ranch foreman she loves seems to be leaving forever. Regina Jennings offers "Her Dearly Unintended," where friends stranded by a rising river pretend to be newlyweds when a dangerous stranger arrives.

Mary Connealy's "Runaway Bride" finds a Texas ranger getting more than he expected when he rescues a young woman fleeing a dangerous arranged marriage. And Melissa Jagears' "Engaging the Competition" finds a young woman forced to assist the man she's often sparred with after an accident leaves him helpless. Each tale is a fun blend of history and romance that will delight readers.

Book Review:

The Husband Maneuever by Karen Witemeyer
This was a cute story that follows a minor character from on of Witemeyer's other books. I love love love that it had a story in the story, and I love the ending, crossed out part of the story. That was cute and clever. 
Marietta is a strong character and I loved getting to know her a little better. Her little scheming were awesome. 
It's hard not to like Dan. He has such a good character and it just upstanding. 
This was a lovely little story. 

Her Dearly Unintended by Regina Jennings
I didn't love this one as much. The female lead was soooo aggressive the whole time and that made it a little unbelievable at the end.  If she wasn't such a stinker I would have liked this book a lot more. 

Runaway Bride by Mary Connealy:
I was really enjoying this story when all of a sudden it just had too many "What?!?!'s" Maybe because this was a novella, but this might have been better as a longer story that could be flushed out more and didn't have you jumping from one extreme to another. 

Engaging the Competition by Melissa Jagears:
This was my second favorite story in the collection. I have so much sympathy for Harrison and being blind. I can totally relate to that. I just read another review and the reviewer didn't like this story at all, and while I can understand all of her points, and even agree with them, I just thought this was an entertaining read. 
With This Ring?: A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone Awry

Title: With this Ring? A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone Awry
Authors: Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, Melissa Jagears
Publisher: Bethany House
Published: January 2016
ISBN:  0764217720
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

DVD Review: Just Let Go

Movie Description:

Henry Ian Cusick, Emmy Nominee, as Chris Williams in the true story "Just Let Go". After surviving a drunk driving accident that killed his pregnant wife and two kids, Chris Williams struggles to 'just let go' and forgive the young man who caused it.

As we begin the New Year, this message of forgiveness is an important reminder, that forgiveness can bring peace to your soul. “It has allowed a terrible tragedy … to be turned into, in many aspects, a tremendous blessing. That has been one of the most fascinating things to experience,” Williams said in a interview with the Deseret News. “To see the lives blessed since the crash, it has been overwhelming how many positive things have come from it.”

Andrea's Review:

The tears started flowing almost immediately as Just Let Go began. It is a heart wrenching story (one that I was familiar with). I cannot imagine the pain that would come from having any loved one killed, not to mention having more than half of your family killed by a drunk driver. Chris' story is really amazing. It made me ask myself what sort of things I hold onto. Certainly nothing even remotely close to Chris' situation, and he was able to let it go. Why do I hold onto an unkind word or action? This is really a great movie to help put the important things in our lives into focus. It also is a reminder of how fragile life is.

This movie was very well done. The acting and cinematography were excellent, and I would highly recommend it (have tissues handy!).

It is rated PG-13. There are a couple of mild swear words, and some blood from the accident scenes.

Rorie's Review:

Don't start watching this movie without a box of tissues nearby. I never ended up sobbing throughout it, but I think had I been watching this movie without my kids coming in and out, that would have been different.

I had seen the previews for this movie, and I think I remember hearing about the story when it initially happened. Throughout most of the movie, Chris seems to be living in a fog - just going through the motions, but not really living, due to the grief caused by losing his family. I can't even imagine that kind of pain, and I also can't imagine being strong enough to forgive the person who destroyed my family.

It amazes me that Chris was able to work through the pain and finally forgive. What an amazing example to all of us. Even though most of us will not have to go through something so tragic, we can choose to let go of so many other things that cause us pain and bitterness.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Blog Tour: Double Play by Ranee S. Clark

Review * Giveaway
Double Play by Ranee S. Clark

Book Description:

Sophie Pope is devastated when she hears the news: her former boyfriend, college football star Anthony "Rocket" Rogers, is engaged to be married. Determined to win him back before he says I do, Sophie hatches a foolproof plan to stop the wedding. But when Rocket's best man, aspiring baseball player David Savage, thwarts her plot, she realizes the game is up. For David, though, it's just beginning . . .

David knows that Sophie is just another pretty face, and he's more than happy to save his best friend from her shallow advances. She's not his type at all, so he's baffled by his response to an awkward encounter with Donovan, another of Sophie's former flames. Despite himself, David feels driven by an inexplicable need to protect her. Pretending to be Sophie's new fiancé leads to unexpected sparks between the pair, and soon they're searching for excuses to spend time together. But when a curveball threatens to send them in opposite directions, will Sophie and David step up to the plate for the possibility of true love?

Andrea's Review:

I got this book confused with another book blurb I'd read, and it took me a bit to realize the character I was expecting was not going to make an appearance. Even after I straightened that out, I was still a bit thrown that the focus was on Sofie. She'd been the "bad guy" in the first book (well, one of them). She was so shallow and so . . . opposite of everything I like in most human beings. ;) However, throughout the book the reader really gets to know her a lot better. Some of those shallow traits come across differently as we learn more about her. She started using her talents for good instead of evil, and became quite likable.

Luckily I did like David (he was great in Playing for Keeps and I'm glad he was given his own story), and his likability helped get me through the first part of the book. His character was sort of opposite of Sofie. He seemed perfect initially, and as the story went on we came to see some of his faults. But, that made him somewhat more relatable. I was pretty invested in seeing him make choices that would lead to happiness in his life.

It took some time to draw me in, but after awhile I didn't want to put it down. I liked that there was a lot less focus on BYU and athlete worship than in the first book. This is a clean, fast read.

Rorie's Review:

Before I started reading this book, I didn't realize it was a spin-off of "Playing for Keeps," which I read a few months ago. It took me a few chapters before I remembered what happened in the previous book, and after that, it was easier for me to get into the story. That being said, this book stands on its own pretty well. I don't think you need to read "Playing for Keeps" first. (But that was a good book too, so I do recommend it.)

Let me just say that I could not relate to Sophie at all. I am so much the opposite of her when it comes to fashion. I frequently have to ask my husband if what I'm wearing matches, and he wears red shorts with an orange t-shirt. ;) At any rate, Sophie definitely comes across as pretty shallow for a good portion of the book, but I still couldn't help but start to like her after awhile. She is very insecure based on an incident in her past, and had built up a pretty thick wall to shield herself from more hurt.

I did really like David's character. He seemed to be the perfect guy, but as we come to find out, even he had a few issues that he needed to work through. All in all, I really enjoyed this book. :)

Tarah's Review:

I'll admit that starting out, I wasn't too excited about reading this. I liked David in Playing for Keeps but I didn't like Sophie at all. At all. And the first few chapters were the same Sophie. In fact, in this book she's referred to as a "Mean Girl".  But I kept reading, and I'm really glad I did. I enjoyed this book quite a bit.  It was a light, easy, fast read, but it had a number of things that I enjoyed. I was surprised at the turn this book took.  I was expecting more football, and more BYU, but instead I got baseball and topics like modesty and judgment. These themes really got me thinking. I know people like Sophie, and it became easier and easier to relate to the things she was going through. And honestly, what's not to love about David? He's pretty awesome. Whether you read the first book or not (this one can stand alone) I'd recommend giving his one a try.

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Double Play

Title: Double Play
Author: Ranee S. Clark
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Published: January 2016
ISBN: 1680478974
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for a review. 

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle | Deseret Book

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Review: The Billionaire Bride Pact

Review * Giveaway

The Passionate One by Jeanette Lewis

As the creator of the Billionaire Bride Pact, Erin Parker is determined to see it through. And now that wealthy, gorgeous Brennan Avery has been cast as her costar in a play destined for Broadway, things couldn’t be better. But Erin’s best friend, Matt Walters, isn’t ready to give up on her. He has a plan to escape the friend zone and prove to Erin that there are more important things than money and fame.

Available now for only $2.99 or free for Prime members - Amazon

The Resilient One by Cami Checketts

Alyssa Armsworth, a world-renowned photographer, has no intentions of honoring the Billionaire Bride Pact she made as a teenager to avoid getting her bra hung from the camp flagpole. Marriage is the last thing on her to-do list and when her father forces his wealthy friends on her, she runs to Maui.

She plans to lay low, take some great pictures, and eat fresh fish--until Beckham Taylor arrives. Stuck in the same hotel and spending days on the white sand with the handsome ex-NHL star wouldn't be all that bad except Alyssa's done something in the past that Beckham could never forgive. Before she can confess, her misdeeds are thrust onto the front cover of a well-known magazine. Alyssa must overcome her fears or live without Beckham.

Available now for only $2.99 - Amazon or free for Prime and KOLL members.


I've read books by both authors of The Billionaire Bride Pact before, and this sounded like an interesting new series (with great covers-well done). The pact came about while playing M.A.S.H. at a summer camp, and that actually brought back some fun memories. I can't tell you the number of times I played M.A.S.H. growing up.

That said, I was a little put off by the whole idea of the pact. Sure, it sounds innocent for girls at a summer camp, but the idea that adults would still be focused on that seemed very shallow. This was very much the focus in The Passionate One. I can understand Erin feeling that she had a responsibility to the pact since it was her creation, but it made her very difficult to like. She was so awful to Matt, and I just wanted him to move on and find someone else who would appreciate him. He was a wonderful character! Thankfully, Erin grows up through the story and sees the light. I was happy for the change of heart.

The Resilient One didn't focus on the pact. Alyssa had no desire to see it through, so she was a much more likable character. She was also strong, and worked hard to overcome obstacles in her life. At times the story really pulled me in and held my attention. At other times it sort of dragged on, and was a little unrealistic, but overall I liked the characters, and granny was a hoot.

Both stories are clean and worth the read if you have the time.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Book Review: Whispers in the Reading Room by Shelley Gray

Whispers in the Reading Room (The Chicago World's Fair Mystery #3)

Book Description:

Lydia’s job at the library is her world—until a mysterious patron catches her eye . . . and perhaps her heart.

Just months after the closure of the Chicago World’s Fair, librarian Lydia Bancroft finds herself fascinated by a mysterious dark-haired and dark-eyed patron. He has never given her his name; he actually never speaks to a single person. All she knows about him is that he loves books as much as she does.

Only when he rescues her in the lobby of the Hartman Hotel does she discover that his name is Sebastian Marks. She also discovers that he lives at the top of the prestigious hotel and that most everyone in Chicago is intrigued by him.

Lydia and Sebastian form a fragile friendship, but when she discovers that Mr. Marks isn’t merely a very wealthy gentleman, but also the proprietor of an infamous saloon and gambling club, she is shocked.

Lydia insists on visiting the club one fateful night and suddenly is a suspect to a murder. She must determine who she can trust, who is innocent, and if Sebastian Marks—the man so many people fear—is actually everything her heart believes him to be.

Book Review:

I've got to say that out of all the Chicago World's Fair Mystery series this was by far and away my favorite.  It's been awhile since I've read the others, but I think this one wasn't quite as dark and didn't have such rough topics.  I've also got to admit that Sebastian reminded me a lot of Elizabeth Camden's main character Bane. Sort of the bad boy turned good story. And it's a good story. Personally, I'm not much for the bad boy image, but I do love a good happy ending :) This ending seemed a little weak to me. Don't get me wrong. It definitely ended and it was a good ending, but it all just kind of happened. There was a lot of stuff going on in the first three quarters of the book and then, BAM it all just got resolved and finished.

While liked the main characters, (Lydia has a great job, what's not to love about being a librarian?) I really enjoyed the minor characters. Mr. Hunt and Bridget were great and I wanted more from them. Maybe that's why this ending didn't satisfy as much as I was hoping.

If you've read the other two books, you definitely need to finish with this one. And if you haven't read the other two books, this one can actually stand alone. Some characters are the same, but they are minor minor and it wouldn't affect the story at all if you didn't know their back story.

This is a clean story with some religious elements thrown in (which I really loved, they were well written and actually fit into the story) but nothing that would be considered preachy.

Whispers in the Reading Room (The Chicago World's Fair Mystery #3)

Title: Whispers in the Reading Room
Author: Shelley Gray
Publisher: Zondervan
Published: November 2015
ISBN: 0310338492
Source: I received an ecopy from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Blog Tour: Broken Things to Mend by Karey White

Broken Things (1)

Book Description:
Celia is in desperate need of a change--a change of scenery, a change of pace, and a complete redo of all relationships. Not knowing what else to do, she opens a map, closes her eyes, and lets fate decide her future. Then she packs her meager belongings and buys a one-way ticket to a little town on the fringes of Oregon's Deschutes National Forest called Sisters. She's wanted a family for years. Will she find one in Sisters? What Celia doesn't plan to find is a strange Chinese woman whose meddling ways keep throwing her in the path of a handsome, but reserved, forest ranger. But no matter how kind or dependable Silas seems to be, there are some things in Celia's past that neither of them can escape, and this time, the damage might be too much to mend.


This story has a pretty sad beginning for both of the main characters, but even though they've both been through very difficult things, the focus of the story is more on the hope they find and moving forward. There are still ups and downs, but the growth of both characters is heartwarming.

Pearl's part as the matchmaker is great. Of course, no one knows that's what she does, but it was fun seeing how she was able to work her magic with two generations.

This is an enjoyable series and I look forward to the next installments. Although this one has some difficult issues, it is as clean as possible.

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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.

Blog Tour Giveaway:

$50 Amazon Gift Card or $50 in Paypal Cash
Ends 2/2/16
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.

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broken things to mend 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Book Review: At Love's Bidding by Regina Jennings

At Love's Bidding (Ozark Mountain Romance #2)

Book Description:

After helping her grandfather at their Boston auction house, Miranda Wimplegate discovers she's accidentally sold a powerful family's prized portrait to an anonymous bidder. Desperate to appease the furious family, her grandfather tracks it to the Missouri Ozarks and makes an outlandish offer to buy the local auction house if they promise not to sell anything until he arrives.

Upon their arrival, however, they discover their new business doesn't deal in fine antiques, but in livestock. And its manager, ruggedly handsome Wyatt Ballentine, is frustrated to discover his fussy new bosses don't know a thing about the business he's single-handedly kept afloat. Faced with more cattle than they can count--but no mysterious painting--Miranda and Wyatt form an unlikely but charged partnership to try and salvage a bad situation getting worse.

Book Review:

I don't know if it was the holidays, or what, but it took awhile for me to get through this book. Not once I really started reading it, but the first little bit I read with days in between, and that normally doesn't happen with me when I read.

I liked it. Cute cover, interesting back blurb, and my kind of story. There was just something missing that I can't put my finger on. Which is part of the problem. I just barely read this, and I can't really remember much about it. Even going back and rereading other's reviews I can't remember loads of details about the book.  I remember liking the overall storyline. I remember liking Miranda finding out who she is, and I remember liking what happens to Wyatt, but...I don't know. Maybe it's because the story would have moved along better if more of it took place in Miranda's home town. I do remember that it was entertaining seeing Wyatt out of his element, but how he still handled himself well.

I'll still read more from this author, and I'm not sad that I read this book. I just wish it had that something extra that made it more memorable.

At Love's Bidding (Ozark Mountain Romance #2)

Title: At Love's Bidding
Author: Regina Jennings
Publisher: Bethany House
Published: December 2015
ISBN: 0764211412
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Review: The Secret Life of Daydreams by Lucinda Whitney

The Secret Life of Daydreams by Lucinda Whitney

Book Description:

Sometimes the dream you never planned for is the one you can’t live without.

Six years after a painful divorce, Josh Conrad is happy traveling the world as a photographer. When he arrives in Portugal, he plans to complete the assignment as quickly as possible. What he doesn’t plan for is Sofia, the girl he baptized eleven years earlier on an LDS mission, and soon he’s making excuses to prolong his trip.

Sofia Monteiro leads a structured life in Braga, Portugal, teaching high school by day and caring for her mother by night. After she reconnects with Josh through mutual friends, the memory of a failed relationship and her new graduate program are enough reasons to stay away from him.

As they collaborate on a project, Josh is wary of repeating his old mistakes and Sofia hesitates to spend time with an American who’s only passing through.

Can two people with wounded hearts bring themselves to trust their dreams to each other?

Andrea's Review:

I was intrigued by this story. I've known some people who remind me of Josh's character, and I was very curious about his reasons for leaving his religion and family behind. Josh's profession created a somewhat nomadic lifestyle for him, and as exciting as all of the traveling could be, I was saddened by how he left behind the religion he held so dear at one point in his life. I was curious about his reasons, and although that was touched on, I wished more time and details had been given to that.

Overall I enjoyed the story, even though it felt like a first book (a bit more editing would have been helpful). I was thrown a bit by the use of Portuguese words throughout the novel. You got the general idea of what was being said, but it seemed strange to include them when it appeared that most of the conversing would have been in Portuguese.

I liked the themes of the importance of family, self worth, redemption and forgiveness.

Tarah's Review:

Let's start with the cover, shall we? I'll admit, I don't love it, but I totally approve of how they got the little details right. Josh does have a beard and she has long curly hair. I appreciate when the cover matches what the story talks about in the book. Little things....little things.

It took me a little bit to get into this book, and honestly, I'm still not sure what I think about it.  Once I got into it, I couldn't stop reading, and when I had to, it made me think about the characters and what they were going through and about choices, and consequences, etc.

Josh carried this story for me, and I wish there was a bit more about his choices. We get a "this is what happened" but not really getting into the nitty gritty.

I love that this took place in Portugal. The author was able to create a very vivid image of every day life over there (so it really wasn't surprising to read about the author and find out she lived there). I was a bit thrown by the use of Portuguese in the book. It would have been helpful to maybe have a list or something in the back of the book telling us what the words meant. Most of the time you could figure it out, and sometimes it seemed similar to Spanish (not that I speak that either), but sometimes I was just a little confused.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and the things that it made me think about. Honestly, it probably isn't one I'd reread just because it was more on the heavy side (not a lot, but a little bit) and I tend to reread my fluff novels. But it definitely isn't one I regret reading.

*We received an eCopy in exchange for a review

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Blog Tour: Three Little Words

Review * Giveaway

Book Description:

The road to true love never did run smooth, but a few bumps along the way make it all the more thrilling. This timeless truth is showcased in Three Little Words, a charming compilation of short stories written by a trio of popular LDS romance novelists. Readers are invited to follow the journeys of three young women as they encounter love where they least expect it.

Rescuing Bailey by Jennie Hansen

For as long as she can remember, Bailey has loved the boy next door. But despite her feelings, his schedule and his little brother keep getting in the way. Will her childhood crush finally blossom into something real, or will she discover that true love is waiting just around the corner?

Three Little Words by K.C. Grant

The bet is simple: Elizabeth, a speech therapist, has three days to teach a country bumpkin with a drawl as thick as molasses how to speak like a gentleman. But as she gets to know her charming student, it soon becomes clear that there may be more to him than meets the ear.

A Crying Shame by Aubrey Mace

Cassidy is in love with the idea of love, though after her most recent breakup, the possibility of finding Mr. Right seems hopeless. But when she meets a handsome classmate in her painting class, she may end up learning more about chemistry than about art.

Andrea's Review:

The description of this compilation of novellas was appealing, so I ignored my hesitance (I haven't been a fan of Jennie Hansen's books in the past) and I'm happy that I did. If you are looking for light, clean romances, consider Three Little Words.

Rescuing Bailey turned out to be the best Jennie Hansen book I've read, and my favorite story in this book. I liked the boy next door angle and not seeing the true feelings of someone who has been in your life for years. It made the story fun. I liked the characters and the happy ending.

I believe that Three Little Words is the first story I've read by KC Grant. It reminded me of a modernized My Fair Lady. It was cute even though it was predictable. There was a surprise or two though, and the journey was fun.

A Crying Shame is also a cute story, but super short. I haven't been to a paint night before, but it made for a fun setting. I liked the characters and the overall story, but it was over much too soon for me.

Tarah's Review:

Rescuing Bailey: I didn't love the last book I read from this author, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one (with the exception of the names, I get hung up on names, and sometimes they just really seem to affect the flow of the story).  It was just the right length and gave me all the happiness I needed for this little novella.

Three Little Words:  I was looking forward to this one the most after reading all the blurbs on the back of the book. Sadly, it fell a little flat for me. For all her teaching about how speaking can elevate your status (which I agree with) Elizabeth seemed to have difficulties speaking, and while that was a little thing, it was a little book so it just grated on me the whole time.

A Crying Shame:  I love this author and look forward to reading and re-reading her books. My only complaint with this book was that it was a novella. This definitely could have been a full length novel that I would have devoured and really gotten into, but all of a sudden it was over and I was sad to be pulled away from the story that was entertaining and fun. Since I can't read a longer version of this story I will just have to go back and re-read this one again and again :) 

Tour Schedule: 

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Tour Giveaway:

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Title: Three Little Words
Authors: Jennie Hansen, K.C. Grant, Aubrey Mace
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: January 2016
ISBN: 978-1-68047-896-9
Source: We received a copies from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Purchase:  Amazon