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Monday, April 24, 2017

Book Review: For Love and Honor by Jody Hedlund

For Love and Honor (An Uncertain Choice, #3)
Book Description:

Lady Sabine is harboring a skin blemish, one, that if revealed, could cause her to be branded as a witch, put her life in danger, and damage her chances of making a good marriage. After all, what nobleman would want to marry a woman so flawed?

Sir Bennet is returning home to protect his family from an imminent attack by neighboring lords who seek repayment of debts. Without fortune or means to pay those debts, Sir Bennet realizes his only option is to make a marriage match with a wealthy noblewoman. As a man of honor, he loathes the idea of courting a woman for her money, but with time running out for his family’s safety, what other choice does he have?

As Lady Sabine and Sir Bennet are thrust together under dangerous circumstances, will they both be able to learn to trust each other enough to share their deepest secrets? Or will those secrets ultimately lead to their demise?
 



Book Review:

Beautiful cover, no? It makes me want to pick up this book and read the back to make sure it sounds as good as it looks. Maybe someday I won't judge a book by it's cover, but I just really really appreciate a good looking one :)

While this is book three in the An Uncertain Choice series, I feel like it's a stand alone novel. I've only read the first one, and I wasn't lost in this book at all. There were maybe a few parts I wasn't quite sure what Sir Bennet was talking about, but not enough to ruin the story, and maybe just enough to make sure you go back and read the other two in the series. I can't believe I missed number 2...I'll have to fix that soon.

So this is teen fiction. It's not going to be as deep and maybe developed as an adult novel. But I think if you know what you are getting into before you read it, it shouldn't be a problem at all. When my daughter gets old enough to read books like this I don't see any problem with her reading this (content wise). There is kissing, but it is kept clean and tasteful. Not overly descriptive or uncomfortable.

Sabine and her grandmother are great characters. Sir Bennet took a little time to grow on me, and honestly he wasn't my favorite even at the end of the book. He's good, just not great.  Sabine goes through some character building and soul searching. I'm not sure that Bennet ever really does. I would have liked him to grow a little bit more than he does.

This is a book that I'm happy to add to my collection, and will probably go back and reread when I'm in the mood for a quick full length story.

For Love and Honor (An Uncertain Choice, #3)
Title: For Love and Honor
Author: Jody Hedlund
Publisher: Zondervan
Published: March 2017
ISBN: 0310749301
Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Blog Tour: Chasing Red by Lauren Winder Farnsworth

Reviews * Giveaway
Chasing Red by Lauren Winder Farnsworth 

Book Description:

Ryder Redmond can’t wait to begin her new life in New York City, with her first real job after college. But the big city gets a little more complicated once she meets the charming and mysterious Damian Wolfe. On the surface he seems perfect, but her friend Hunter is suspicious of his all-too-straight smile and his motives towards Ryder. With her heart on the line, Ryder will have to decide just how much she trusts the handsome city slicker.

Andrea's Review:

Chasing Red is a very entertaining read. I was somewhat taken in by Damian and his charm (who wouldn't want to catch the attention of a gorgeous, successful man?), but I did have some concerns about him. However, I'll be honest that right from the beginning I wanted Ryder to end up with Hunter. That wasn't even a focus, but he just seemed like such a nice guy and good office friend.

I really liked Ryder's roommate, Lily. What a funny, quirky girl, who was really a blessing to Ryder. The relationship Ryder and her dad had was great and I liked how the story worked on repairing relationships that weren't so great. I'm glad Ryder held true to her convictions although I worried a few times.

I didn't realize that this was a re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood before I read it. Seeing that on the cover now though (I don't really notice covers when I read eBooks) everything makes sense. I'm laughing at myself now when I type the characters names and see how they each fall into their roles.

I loved the inclusion of accounting in this story. I just took business law and accounting classes, and it was fun to see aspects of those classes included in the story.

Chasing Red is clean and a book I'd read again.

Tarah's Review:

I'm a little torn how to write this review. Let me just start by saying I loved this story, and by the end I was satisfied with how it all turned out and I didn't feel I wasted my time reading it. Oh, but during the reading I was filled with ... AH... moments! It wasn't a comfortable read for me. Not because there was anything inappropriate, but I just was anxious and wanting Ryder to make good choices and do good things, and it was just...AHHHH. I know, I'm not explaining it well. I was joking with my sister that I was filled with angst while reading this and I just can't read too many books like that. My body can't handle it :) However, I had calmed considerably by the end and I've already gone back and re-read the parts I liked.

The cover says that this is a re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood. I love re-tellings. I'm not going to say that I recognized that this was a retelling though. Maybe I'm just not familiar enough with the Red Riding storyline, but it wasn't readily apparent to me. Looking back I suppose in one part of the story particularly I can see the fairy tale.  It was just a little obscure...for me anyway.

I would definitely read more from this author, I'll just make sure I have my non-anxious books to break up the tension for me :)

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Chasing Red Title: Chasing Red
Author: Lauren Winder Farnsworth
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Published: April 2017
ISBN: 1462120032
Source: We received eCopies in exchange for an honest review. 

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle | Deseret Book

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Blog Tour: Defiance by A.L. Sowards

Reviews * Giveaway
Defiance by A.L. Sowards

Book Description:

Eight years after immigrating to the United States, German-born Lukas Ley embodies the American dream: successful athlete, gorgeous girlfriend, loving family. But beneath the surface, eighteen-year-old Lukas is driven by ambition, resolved to avenge the murder of his father at the hands of the Nazi regime. Unfortunately, a failed physical throws his plans for flight school off course. Unlike his war-hero older brother, Lukas's purpose is unclear. He can't fly, and in the eyes of the military, he's good for only one thing—the front lines.

From the foxholes of war-ravaged Luxembourg to the devastation of an enormous German offensive, Lukas's journey is fraught with peril. But when he's taken as a prisoner of war, he realizes life is about to get much worse. In the enemy camp, Lukas is viewed as a German fighting for the wrong side. Ripped from the innocence of an idealistic youth, he becomes a man beaten by the horrors of war. Now his only hope of survival is to hold tightly to his faith in God and his love of family and home. But even if he manages to make it out alive, can he ever be whole again?

Andrea's Review:

A.L. Sowards' new book Defiance is a must read for WWII fiction fans! It is an excellent story that I devoured. And, like Sowards other historical fiction novels, she is able to engage readers and really make them feel the horrors of war without bogging them down with graphic, gory, details.

Sowards creates such deep characters. You can't help but become attached to them. I really liked Lukas, and I ached for him and his fellow soldiers. The friendships Lukas made were bright spots in a dark time. And the loss of many of those friends was deeply felt.

I loved those that reached out when someone was about to give up-those that helped others carry on.

There was a great message about forgiveness (both of others and yourself). This also felt perfect to read near Easter with the significance in Lukas' life of the atonement and Christ being able to make him whole.

It has been over two years since I read the story about Lukas' older brother, Bastian. While both books are stand-alone, I definitely want to go back and re-read The Rules in Rome to refresh my memory about all that Bastian went through. Although his part in Defiance is pretty small, he is a great character that really helps Lukas both before, during, and after the war.

Defiance is well written, and I highly recommend it, along with Sowards' other books.

Tarah's Review: 

My husband looked at the cover of this novel, and then looked at me, and then looked at the cover and said, "This isn't your typical read." It's true...it's not, but boy did I stay up way too late finishing it. I'll even admit I peeked at the end before going back and devouring the rest of it.(I know that makes a lot of people cringe, but I can enjoy my books better when I know what's coming).

This story reminded me a lot of Unbroken, but probably only because they are both POW's and got singled out by a guard, and it's a war story. Although this one isn't as graphic. Same scenarios, just cleaner.

I appreciated the friendships, I felt the heart-break of the actions of these men. I cried when Lukas realizes who he's become, and that he feels he can't or doesn't want to go back to his family.

I can't wait to recommend this book to different people than I normally recommend books to, and also to the regular people.  I will definitely be looking at this author and see what else she has written.

Rorie's Review:

Wow. So much description in this book. Description so rich, you almost feel like you're there with them. Not necessarily a pleasant thing, since most of the book centers around the horrors of war and surviving as a P.O.W.

Lukas is such a strong character. I liked him from the start and my respect for him only grew as his time at war went on. Even though his experiences in the war changed him, he still was a good person...even if he didn't think so for a while. 

I loved reading about how Lukas formed close friendships with various men in his squad. The experiences they went through forged a close bond where they all had each other's back, and would even put themselves in harm's way to help protect each other. 

This book is one I will recommend to anyone who is interested in WWII, or even if they're not, this book is just that good. Heartbreaking, hard to read at times, but full of hope too.
 
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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: Defiance
Author: A.L. Sowards
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: April 2017
ISBN: 152440215X
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle | Deseret Book

Monday, April 17, 2017

Book Review: Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano

Behind the Scenes (Apart from the Crowd, #1)
Book Description:

Miss Permilia Griswold, the wallflower behind "The Quill" gossip column, knows everything that goes on in the ballrooms of New York. When she overhears a threat against the estimable Mr. Asher Rutherford, she's determined to warn him. Away from society's spotlight, Asher and Permilia discover there's more going on behind the scenes than they anticipated.

Book Review:

After reading the novella At Your Request I was pretty excited about Behind the Scenes. Permilia seemed like a very interesting character to get to know, and I enjoyed her brief interactions with Asher.

If you are going into this book expecting depth and realism, you will probably be disappointed. However, if you go into this book expecting over the top characters and an enjoyable time, you will find yourself immersed in the story and giggling from time to time at the ridiculousness of it all.

As usual, the supporting characters are always good for more laughs and good for the story. This story is set up nicely so you can get to know just enough of Gertrude to be interested in her story when it comes out (November 2017 I think).

Behind the Scenes (Apart from the Crowd, #1)

Title: Behind the Scenes
Author: Jen Turano
Publisher: Bethany House
Published: April 2017
ISBN: 0764217941
Source: I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Blog Tour: The Vicar's Daughter by Josi Kilpack


Book Description:

Cassie, the youngest of six daughters in the Wilton family, is bold, bright, and ready to enter society. There's only one problem: her older sister Lenora, whose extreme shyness prevents her from attending many social events. Lenora is now entering her third season, and since their father has decreed that only one Wilton girl can be out at a time, Cassie has no choice except to wait her turn.

Evan Glenside, a soft-spoken, East London clerk, has just been named his great-uncle's heir and, though he is eager to learn all that will be required of him, he struggles to feel accepted in a new town and in his new position.

A chance meeting between Evan and Lenora promises to change everything, but when Lenora proves too shy to pursue the relationship, Cassie begins to write Mr. Glenside letters in the name of her sister. Her good intentions lead to disaster when Cassie realizes she is falling in love with Evan. But then Evan begins to court Lenora, thinking she is the author of the letters.

As secrets are revealed, the hearts of Cassie, Evan, and Lenora are tested. Will the final letter sent by the vicar's daughter be able to reunite the sisters as well as unite Evan with his true love?


Andrea's Review:

The Proper Romance collection from Shadow Mountain has another winner with The Vicar's Daughter by Josi S. Kilpack. One thing that I love about these books is that in addition to being clean, they are all so different. Don't get me wrong, I'm up for reading most clean romance novels, but it's nice to have the variations in locations, social status, and characters. 

I wondered how long Cassie would keep up the letter lie, but was glad it didn't go on for more than half the book. Then I wondered what would happen for the rest of the book. It was a sweet story with a happy ending. I'm glad Cassie grew up through her experience. She did so as penance in a lot of ways, but it made her a better person. 

I liked Evan and his family. What an awkward situation to switch classes and not know what is expected and have so many people judging you. It was interesting especially with Evan to think someone was his friend and then he still spoke unkindly behind Evan's back.

I liked how everything turned out in the end. This is a quick, clean read that I'd recommend.


Rorie's Review:

I love the proper romance books that I have read, and was excited to read another one from Josi Kilpack. This story was a little different, in that Cassie was not one of the "elite" women. The lifestyle that she led was quite a bit different than the gentle bred of their time. That made the whole tone of the book seem a bit different than the typical proper romance books that I have read.

I admired Cassie's ingenuity in trying to make things work between Evan and her sister. Even though it turned out so wrong, she did have the best intentions when she started. Well...sort of. :) 
 
I liked all of the main characters. Evan was like a fish out of water in his new lifestyle, but he handled it the best he could. I loved how protective he was with Cassie, even after she hurt him.
 
The book was kind of slow and easy to put down until the middle when Cassie's deception was discovered. I honestly had no idea how this book could end well without hurting Cassie, Evan, or Lenora. I think the author did a great job of resolving that issue so that everyone was content in the end.

Tarah's Review:

I was not expecting to like the book as much as I did (I stayed up way too late reading it) especially because there wasn't any big devastating conflict. Don't get me wrong, there is conflict, but normally stories throw something like a kidnapping, or a marriage or something, and while this story could have done that, the characters were smart enough to say NO and I loved them for it.

I'm surprised that I liked Cassie too. She is selfish and self-centered, but she was real and didn't want to be either one. I'm sad to say that I could relate to her, and I actually felt she wasn't being treated very fair by her parents, and their lack of shown love (especially by the mother) was heart breaking. It seemed no one cared about Cassie until she fit their mold and her other sister got the whole story from her. 

Evan was great. Not perfect and obviously like a fish out of water, but real and genuine. I like that he tried so hard. He just made me happy. 

This was a satisfying read for me and I will be recommending it to my friends.

The Vicar's Daughter (Proper Romance)Title: The Vicar's Daughter
Author: Josi Kilpack
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: April 2017
ISBN:
1629722812 
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  

Purchase:  Amazon | Deseret Book

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Blog Tour: Miss Whitaker Opens Her Heart by Jennifer Moore


Book Description:

Australia, 1814

As a young child bound for a strange country, Sarah Whitaker dreamed of life with her father on his sprawling Australian ranch. But her hopes were shattered when she learned of his death and of her new role as heiress of the largest sheep farm in New Wales. Orphaned in a land greatly populated by petty criminals exiled from England, the future seemed grim. But now, ten years later, Sarah has defied the odds and become a successful businesswoman much to the chagrin of her male counterparts. Hardened by the dishonesty of both her fellow ranchers and the felons in her employ, Sarah has learned one important truth: no one is to be trusted.

Daniel Burton is a lucky man. Sentenced to death for his role in a horse-race scandal, Daniel was granted reprieve thanks to the influence of his wealthy relatives. Now, rather than death, Daniel faces exile in Australia an opportunity to put past mistakes behind him. But when he purchases land with the intention of farming it, he unwittingly arouses the wrath of his new neighbor, Sarah. What begins as a battle of wits, however, soon becomes a warm friendship and perhaps something more. But when Daniel's secret past is revealed, will Sarah be able forgive yet another deception?


Andrea's Review:

I'm a big fan of Jennifer Moore's books, and was very excited for the chance to review Miss Whitaker Opens Her Heart. As per usual, I just dove in without re-reading the description I'd initially read a month or so before. Everything is a surprise that way. :) I was immediately drawn to Sarah. I loved how the sailors were so kind to her, and let her "help" them on the long journey to Australia. I was heartbroken for her upon her arrival and wondered what would become of her. When we jumped forward in time I enjoyed how she didn't fit the mold (a character trait that intrigued Daniel as well).

Daniel was perhaps not as easy to love when we first met him, but being depressed and remorseful fit his circumstances before he arrived in Australia. As the story went on Daniel definitely grew on me. He was greatly blessed compared to others who had committed crimes, and I appreciated that he was very mindful of that. His experiences seemed to help him see the good in those around him, and he was able to make a difference.

I don't recall reading any other books about criminals being sent to Australia, and how they lived there. It was very eye opening! The characters and setting pulled me in and kept me entertained throughout.

This was a very enjoyable story that I'd read again and would recommend.


Rorie's Review:

I loved that this book was set in Australia. One of my bucket list items is to go there someday. I found it interesting to read about the time when Australia was a penal colony, and the attitudes of the free people against the convicts and ex-cons. (Which I guess is pretty similar to some people's attitudes today, come to think of it.) I can totally understand Sarah's lack of trust for people since she had been burned so many times. It can't have been easy to be a woman running a business in that day and age. I'm sure there were plenty of people who either thought she'd be an easy mark, and did their best to take advantage of her.

We didn't get to know a lot about Daniel's background, only that he had lived a wild life for a while and was truly sorry for his actions. It was interesting to read about the dynamic between Sarah and Daniel, especially knowing Sarah's opinion on ex-cons.

The book seemed to end pretty abruptly. I do wish that there had been more to the conclusion than there was.


Tarah's Review: 

I was so excited when I got this book in the mail. I wanted to get started right away, but figured it would be better to wait until my trip so I had uninterrupted time to dive right in. I love that Moore writes in places that are generally not written about. You hear about convicts being sent to Australia, but you never read about them. Now you get to! And you won't be disappointed.

With her descriptive writing you get lost in the story right away. Everything from Sarah's loss, to Daniel's poor choices and where that leaves him. And oh the angst you feel for him when he is trying to tell her about his past. Gah! Just tell her already!

 I loved this quote from the book, "One thing I've learned, my friend, is every person you meet has different needs, and when we wish to be a valuable part of the person's life, we must learn them....Caring for a person in the way they require, even when it's not how we'd wish to."

My one issue with the book was that it was all resolved just a little too quickly. You have most of the book leading up to the conflict, and with most of the book finished it just seems to fix itself rather quickly. While it would be nice if forgiveness was that fast and straight forward, it wasn't super realistic in my mind. Granted, it isn't going to stop me from rereading it, or recommending it to my friends. I'm happy to have this on my self to enjoy again and again.

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Miss Whitaker Opens Her Heart
Title: Miss Whitaker Opens Her Heart
Author: Jennifer Moore
Publisher: Covenant
Published: April 2017
ISBN: 1524402176
Source:  We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Book Review: To the Farthest Shores by Elizabeth Camden

To the Farthest Shores

Book Description:

Naval officer Ryan Gallagher broke Jenny's heart six years ago when he abruptly disappeared. Now he's returned but refuses to discuss what happened. Furious, Jenny has no notion of the impossible situation Ryan is in. With lives still at risk, he can't tell Jenny the truth about his overseas mission--but he can't bear to lose her again either.

Book Review:

Elizabeth Camden is the author I go to when I want more than "fluff" to read. Her stories are always very emotional and real. I love the historical time frames that she writes about (without shoving the history down your throat.), and she really manages to bring her characters alive.

All that being said, I struggled with this book because I didn't love Ryan. I wanted to. He was a good guy, but I mostly wanted to slap him. I also didn't love Jenny. Not really sure why, but maybe because I just wanted her to make a decision and stick with it. All her back and forth, while real, was annoying to me. This story also didn't go in the direction I wanted it to go. I struggled with some of the content wishing it would have gone differently.  I did enjoy Finn's character though. Well, by the end of the book anyway, when he cleans himself up from his addiction.

I'm not sure this is a book that I would pick up and read again. Maybe if she comes out with a story on Finn and I need to refresh my memory, but probably not. It also probably isn't a story I would recommend to others. I will still keep reading this author though, because her writing is really great.

To the Farthest Shores

Title: To the Farthest Shores
Author: Elizabeth Camden
Publisher: Bethany House
Published: April 2017
ISBN:  0764218808
Source: I received an eCopy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

DVD review: Story Tellers: an Evening with Colorful Characters

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/8191eMZoJJL._SL1500_.jpg 


Description:

One cold night in the Utah Territory, three opinionated men, seemingly by chance, find themselves sharing a campfire as they tell tales, swap insults, and expound on their personal beliefs and philosophies. However, one of the men is not there by mere coincidence. Join Porter Rockwell, Mark Twain, and J. Golden Kimball for an entertaining and intriguing evening with three of the most colorful characters of the Old West. 

Rorie's Review:

I read the description of this DVD before watching it, so I knew what to expect, but I still went into it thinking there would be a story line or a plot or something, so I kept waiting for that to happen. Just be aware, this is not that kind of a movie. It is exactly as it says: three men sitting around a fire, telling stories. Once you accept that, this is an enjoyable movie. 

I thought the all of the actors did a good job, but I really liked the one who played Porter Rockwell. I enjoyed all of the stories that they told as well. And their sense of humor made my husband and I laugh several times. Probably not a movie that kids would sit through, but my husband and I enjoyed it.

Andrea's Review:

My first impression after turning this movie on was that I loved seeing some familiar landscapes. The inclusion of Bridal Veil Falls caught my attention, and I was very impressed with the cinematography. I loved the fall colors!

I’m not sure how they came up with the idea for this, but it made for an entertaining movie. I am familiar with all three characters, but didn’t know much about J. Golden Kimball. It was fun learn a bit more about him. I enjoyed the interaction between all three characters, but my favorite was definitely Porter Rockwell. While on the whole it’s a pretty light movie, there are times with high emotion. I really liked the ending where we learn why one of the men wasn’t there by happenstance. His reason added to his character.

This is a clean, entertaining movie that I'd watch again. 

Trailer:

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Review: Reign of Error by Christy Barritt

Reign of Error by Christy Barritt

Book Description:

Sometimes in life, you just want to yell “Take two!”

When a Polar Plunge goes terribly wrong and someone dies in the icy water, former TV detective Joey Darling wants nothing to do with subsequent investigation. But when her picture is found in the dead man’s wallet and witnesses place her as the last person seen with the man, she realizes she’s been cast in a role she never wanted: suspect.

Joey makes the dramatic mistake of challenging the killer on camera, and now it’s a race to find the bad guy before he finds her. Danger abounds and suspects are harder to find than the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. But when Joey finds a connection with this case and the disappearance of her father, she knows there’s no backing out.

As hard as Joey tries to be like her super detective alter ego, the more things go wrong. Will Joey figure this one out? Or will her reign of error continue? 


Review:

I really enjoyed the first book in this series was was excited when I heard the author was coming out with the second book so quickly after the first one (I hate waiting a long time for a sequel to be released).

Joey is an interesting character. She gets involved where she shouldn't, but she seems very real. She has a good goal, but doesn't always go about it in the best way. There were times I wanted to shake her for not sharing information with the authorities, but it was somewhat understandable since she wasn't sure who she could trust and how everyone was involved with her father's disappearance.

I liked the potential for a couple of relationships presented in the last book, and those carry through this book as well. Sometimes the love triangle thing bothers me, but it didn't seem bad in this book because Joey is still getting to know Jackson and Zane. We get to learn good and bad about both of them, and it's sort of fun trying to decided who would be best for her.

The use of similes in this book was excessive, but it did keep the mood light in the midst of life threatening situations.

I had in my mind that I was not really close to finishing the book when it ended (the paperback I have had another 40+ pages of previews at the end), so the ending felt a bit rushed. The immediate issue in the story was resolved, but it was left open to solve a few ongoing situations.

I was happy to hear that the next book was just released, so it'll be nice to have very little waiting to find out what's in store for Joey.

Title: Reign of Error
Author: Christy Barritt
Publisher: CreateSpace
Published: February 2017
ISBN: 1543218571
Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Book Review: A Knack for Embarrasment by James D. Beers

A Knack for Embarrassment
Book Description:

Have you ever wondered why a thrown flat rock never flies straight? Spent a long and sleepless night in a den of snorers? Did you ever blow up cuisine in the microwave and then try and hide it? Follow the author and his family and friends in their rollicking adventures as they sled down the dreaded Sleddin' Road, ride in a Volkswagen Rabbit that smokes more than a locomotive, and practice Premeditated Bear Situation Thinking while out in The Woods. Just try not to laugh as you read about the cutthroat cookie decorating contest from Christmas 2007 or as the author guinea pigs his younger brother in a game of spit wads. Enjoy these entertaining short stories as they keep you rolling with laughter and reminiscing about your own adventures and mishaps. 

*** Born in Idaho, raised on ice cream, and schooled in calamity and disaster, author James D. Beers writes the stories of his life from a unique and humorous perspective in A Knack for Embarrassment, his first collection of short stories.
 
Rorie's Review:

How can you not laugh at the cover to this book? Especially if you have boys and can totally imagine them doing the same thing. (To be honest, I'm completely surprised that none of my boys have gotten their heads stuck in a chair yet.) (I'm sure it's only a matter of time.)

The author lived quite an adventurous life growing up. (Maybe some slight exaggeration was added on his part?) I really got a kick out of the sledding story. And the rock throwing story. I don't think I'll let my boys read these stories because they might get some ideas that I don't necessarily want them to have...maybe when they're much older.

All in all, this is a fun collection of stories to read. I found myself giggling out loud several times throughout the book.

Tarah's Review:
 You know...sometimes there is just something to be said for a collection of short stories. Don't have a lot of time while waiting to pick your kids up from school? No problem. It's a short story. Trying to escape the kiddos for awhile while hiding in the bathroom? No, they won't let you stay there long, but it's okay because it's a short story. Anyway, you get the idea. Sometimes short stories are just what the doctor ordered.

This collection of stories reminds me of those books you find in a restaurant (normally found in smaller towns) that they have on the table to keep you entertained while you wait for your food. I found some stories to be funnier than others, but I did get a kick out of the snoring section :)

A Knack for Embarrassment
Title: A Knack for Embarrassment
Author: James D. Beers
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Published: December 2016
ISBN: 1541234588
Source:We received copies from the author in exchange for an honest review.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Blog Tour: You are the Mother Your Children Need by Christie Gardiner



Book Description:

The woman you want to be . . . the one who has within her every talent, gift, and ability to be what her children need? She’s already there. She is you. Motherhood is the toughest job you’ll ever take on: there is no interview, no job description, and no salary. When you get the position, it can be all too easy to feel underqualified and overwhelmed. But with a sweet message of encouragement, Christie Gardiner reminds women there are as many ways to be a good mother as there are mothers in this world—and there’s no one more capable of raising your children than you! In this uplifting book, mothers are encouraged to let go of the quest for perfectionism and recognize the divinity within. Discover how to own your strengths and weaknesses, and allow your true self to shine! With practical advice on learning to accept failure, holding on to your identity, and harnessing the divine help available to mothers, women will gain the confidence to embrace their uniquely perfect qualifications for the job of motherhood.

Review:

I don't read a whole lot of non-fiction books - I prefer to use my reading time to escape into fantasy. :) But I also know there is a lot to be said from bettering yourself by reading books that can help make you a better person. This book is one of them. Mommy guilt is a very real thing. It's on constant replay in my head "I should be doing more of this. I shouldn't have done that. My kids are doomed." etc, etc, etc. But, while I do strongly believe in constantly trying to better oneself, this book is really good at pointing out that what one mother's strengths are might not be your strengths. And that's OK.

We don't all have to be the "Pinterest-worthy party mom", or the "my kid is always clean and wearing fashionable clothes mom" or even the "we have Family Home Evening every Monday night like clock-work kind of mom." Nothing is wrong with any of those moms. And if you're not that kind of mom, that's totally OK too.

Oo, if I'm not careful, I'm going to spoil the whole book for you. There is so much good information in this book. Chapter 6 was painful for me to read, because I really needed to read it, and not only read it, but actually act on it. That will be a huge challenge for me.

Please keep in mind, this book is not meant to make you feel guilty. It's meant to offer you encouragement and to buoy you up. I have so many pages marked in this book to go back to and re-read. This book is definitely a keeper.

Tour Schedule:
March 20th: http://lisaisabookworm.blogspot.com/
March 24th: http://literarytimeout.blogspot.com/http://sweetlymadejustforyou.com/http://brooklynberrydesigns.com/
Giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/91-qn1YZh3L.jpg 
Title: You are the Mother Your Children Need
Author: Christie Gardiner
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: March 2017
ISBN: 1524402842
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase:  Amazon  | Deseret Book 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Blog Tour: Condemn Me Not: Accused of Witchcraft by Heather B. Moore

Review * Giveaway


Condemn Me Not: Accused of Witchcraft
by Heather B. Moore

Book Description:

“This woman was one of the most impudent, scurrilous, wicked creatures of this world; and she did now throughout her whole trial discover herself to be such a one. Yet when she was asked what she had to say for herself, her chief plea was that she had led a most virtuous and holy life.” —Reverend Cotton Mather, 1692

USA Today Bestselling author Heather B. Moore brings the life of her 10th great-grandmother to center stage. Susannah North Martin, accused of witchcraft in 1692, joins five women in the Salem Jail, all sentenced to death for their crimes. Amidst tragedy, Susannah finds hope and compassion as she remembers a well-loved life, and readers discover that love reaches far beyond the grave as Susannah faces the magistrates in Salem.

Review:

I don't remember having read any books about the Salem witch trials other than The Witch of Blackbird Pond. That was so long ago that I don't remember much about it, but I was intrigued when I heard Heather B. Moore was writing about her 10th great-grandmother who had been accused of witchcraft. I can't even imagine this situation. What a sad time in history.

This was such an interesting story, and it was full of emotion (both good and bad). One of the things that drove me crazy with the accusations was that if these women were so powerful, why wouldn't they have been able to free themselves from jail? Why did so many jump on the accusing bandwagon even when rational people would have been able to see that it was ridiculous? I appreciated that Moore addressed those types of questions by including parts in the story that indicated that the accusers often had something to gain (i.e. land).

There were quite a few disturbing moments, but one that stood out as something I hadn't heard before was the court having the accused strip completely so they could examine them. How mortifying!

I'm not always a fan of flashbacks, but it was nice to have a break from the horribleness of jail to some happier times in Susannh's life. I was so happy that she had been able to find love and happiness in her life, and that this event didn't occur until she was old.

As far as content, besides the obvious disturbing situation and details that went along with it, there were a few pretty passionate scenes and fade to black (marital) sex.

It was very eye opening with a bittersweet ending. I learned a lot.

Tour Schedule:


Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Title: Condemn Me Not: Accused of Witchcraft 
Author: Heather B. Moore
Publisher: Mirror Press
Published: March 2017
ISBN: 1941145957
Source: I received an eCopy via the tour host publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon

Monday, March 20, 2017

Book Review: Beauty & the Beast by K.M. Shea

 Beauty and the Beast (Timeless Fairy Tales, #1)

Book Description:
Once upon a time Elle made a mistake. A small miscalculation sends her through the roof of an enchanted chateau. Stranded until her broken leg mends, Elle is unwillingly forced to rely on the good will of the sour chateau owner —the cursed Prince Severin.

Prince Severin—the commanding general and staunch supporter of his brother the crown prince—is cursed to look like a beast until a maiden falls in love with him. He has given up all hope of shattering the curse, and has only disdain for Elle.

Unfortunately, the pair can’t seem to avoid each other thanks to the meddling of the chateau’s cursed servants. Eventually Elle’s playful manners and Severin’s hidden gentleness draw the pair together.

But not all love stories can end that easily. After all, Elle is not what she seems, and Severin’s life is placed in danger when hostilities flare between his brother and the monarchs of a neighboring country. When Elle risks everything to save Severin, will he be able to forgive her for her lies?


Book Review:

I thought since the new Beauty and the Beast movie was coming out, it would be fun to do a review on the Beauty and the Beast story. I've had this book on my kindle for who knows how long. I don't know where I got it (I'm assuming it was free on Amazon once) and I didn't know anything about it, other than it was a retelling, and we all know what a sucker I am for those :) Besides the fact that the cover had nothing to do with the content of the book (well, I guess she does wear a rose colored dress, but that isn't at all how I pictured it in my mind) can I say that I was pleasantly surprised by this retelling?

Elle is a great character. It took awhile to get her, and honestly it wasn't until the end of the book that I really understood her and what made her, her.  I like the twist on the curse with the servants and I thought the description of the Beast was fitting. He was a great character. I also enjoyed his relationship with his brother (although his brother is not my favorite character).

This matches the (I want to say original story, but I'm not sure I've ever read that...so I guess I'm thinking Disney) story well enough, but it has some differences that I really liked and approved of. I can't wait to read it again, and I'm excited that I saw she had written other fairy tale retellings.  Can't wait to get started on those!

Beauty and the Beast (Timeless Fairy Tales, #1)

Title: Beauty & the Beast
Author: K. M. Shea
Published: December 2013
ASIN: B00H8XT2T2

Friday, March 17, 2017

Blog Tour: Love, Jane by Ranee S. Clark

Reviews * Giveaway
 Love, Jane by Ranee S. Clark

Book Description:

Jane Reeves and Sean O'Callaghan seem to be a match made in heaven—but the timing is all wrong. Jane has her heart set on serving a mission, and she can't delay telling Sean the news any longer: not only has she quietly submitted her mission papers, but she's also leaving in a month ... for Alaska. Shocked and devastated, Sean struggles to come to terms with Jane's decision. Unable to deny the depth of their feelings for one another, Sean makes a promise to wait for her.

Life unfolds for both Jane and Sean, with communications limited to weekly e-mails. But with just a few months left in Jane's mission, Sean's messages stop. When she receives the dreaded "Dear Jane" breakup along with the news that she has been replaced by Sean's former flame, Jane knows the future she envisioned now belongs to another woman. But upon her return home, Jane quickly realizes some things are worth fighting for—perhaps, most of all, a shot at true love. 

Andrea's Review:

I read the description for Love, Jane a month or so before I got it, and didn't re-read it when it arrived. I prefer that over having a fresh blurb in my mind (they can give too much away). Having done that, the first section of this book was FULL of angst! I just kept thinking that Sean was going to be so hurt when Jane finally got the guts to tell him about her plans. The emotions were so intense during that part! I liked the characters, but Jane not telling Sean about moving forward with her mission plans was just mean. Her likability during that part was on shaky ground.

The book has two other sections that weren't quite as emotionally intense as the first section, but those sections definitely had their moments of high emotion. At times I really wasn't sure how things were going to pan out for our main characters. I really had grown to like them, and wanted their happiness.

Initially I didn't realize this was a spin off of two other books this author has written (Playing for Keeps and Double Play), but since I liked those books, that was a pleasant surprise. They gave me some background into some minor characters in this book, but you can read this on its own without feeling lost.

This was a really enjoyable read for me. It is LDS fiction (the main characters are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and the mission is for their church. There is discussion of faith and personal conviction, and I liked how the author included those aspects in a natural way that felt real without being preachy. It was a clean, quick read with a great romance that felt very believable.

Rorie's Review:

I have one thing to say. Communication! Really, is that so very hard? Well, ok, yes. Yes it is. Our family has a running joke about how well we communicate. But even I tend to get frustrated reading about it, when I know it would just be so very easy to open your mouth and say something and then there would be no problems at all...you know, for everyone else, not me. :)

So, Jane has communication issues. She doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, so she leaves things unsaid. Pretty important things. And then they fester and grow in to something that blows up in her face.

Sean has nice-guy issues. He's too nice to everyone. He wants to help everyone and not let anyone down, but it's often at his expense.

Both of these characters are good people, but they have that major flaw that makes what could be a happily-ever-after couple turn into a bit of a nightmare of resentment and misunderstandings for them. And then Victoria comes in to the picture. I just didn't like her. She seemed too cold and calculating and not at all Sean's type.

I was happy with the ending, and the book was enjoyable to read, but I did find myself in a constant state of annoyance that Sean and Jane couldn't just talk their issues out already. :)

Tarah's Review:

What a beautiful cover! I love the balloon, the skirt, the heels, and I really love the font on the title. Yes, I am aware how geeky that makes me sound, but I love a good font. Plus, I enjoy when the title is part of the book. Things like that make me happy.

I'm not sure that you would say this is part of a series. I haven't seen anything that says it is (but sometimes I don't notice the obvious). You could read this and not read the other two novels, and you would be fine. Minor characters play a part, but not a big enough one that it would be confusing. Everything pertinent is mentioned in the writing.

If you are reading this book you are most likely aware that it is LDS fiction. Especially since it is about Jane serving a mission. So obviously religion is a part of the book and you won't be surprised by it.

If you liked the other books by Ranee Clark, you will definitely want to give this one a try.
 
Tour Schedule:


Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
Title: Love, Jane
Author: Ranee S. Clark
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: March 2017
ISBN: 1524401366
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase:  Amazon | Kindle | Deseret Book

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Book Review: Dragonwatch: A Fablehaven Adventure by Brandon Mull

Dragonwatch: A Fablehaven Adventure by Brandon Mull

Book Description:

In the long-awaited sequel to Fablehaven, the dragons who have been kept at the dragon sanctuaries no longer consider them safe havens, but prisons and they want their freedom. The dragons are no longer our allies....

In the hidden dragon sanctuary of Wyrmroost, Celebrant the Just, King of the Dragons, plots his revenge. He has long seen the sanctuaries as prisons, and he wants nothing more than to overthrow his captors and return the world to the Age of Dragons, when he and his kind ruled and reigned without borders. The time has come to break free and reclaim his power.

No one person is capable of stopping Celebrant and his dragon horde. It will take the ancient order of Dragonwatch to gather again if there is any chance of saving the world from destruction. In ancient times, Dragonwatch was a group of wizards, enchantresses, dragon slayers, and others who originally confined the majority of dragons into sanctuaries. But nearly all of the original Dragonwatch members are gone, and so the wizard Agad reaches out to Grandpa Sorenson for help.

As Kendra and Seth confront this new danger, they must draw upon all their skills, talents, and knowledge as only they have the ability to function together as a powerful dragon tamer. Together they must battle against forces with superior supernatural powers and breathtaking magical abilities.

How will the epic dragon showdown end? Will dragons overthrow humans and change the world as we know it?

Rorie's Review:

Brandon Mull has done it again with this newest addition to the Fablehaven series. I was drawn in immediately, and even though it has been several years since I read Fablehaven, I quickly recalled most of the story line and characters. I do want to go back and re-read those books, since I have forgotten a lot of the details. Plus, while my oldest has read and loved the series, my second son has only just begun, and these are great books on CD to listen to in the car.

Seth's impulsiveness and mischief-making always kind of bugged me, (that must be the parent in me talking) so I was happy to see his growth and determination to do what was right in his new role as caretaker. Both Kendra and Seth learned a lot about themselves, although I think this book focuses more on Seth's growth.

I'm anxious to find out what happens in the next book in this series. It will be interesting to see what role Knox and Tess play in the upcoming books too.

Andrea's Review:

It's been years since I read the Fablehaven books, but I was pleasantly surprised that I remembered so many details. Dragonwatch seemed to pick up right from where I remembered the Fablehaven books leaving off.

I thought my son would really enjoy this series, but he was hesitant to read it. He has liked other fantasy books in the past though, so I think I'll try introducing him to the Fablehaven books first.

Dragonwatch is an entertaining, easy read, perfect for middle grade readers looking for a fun adventure.

Tarah's Review:

I haven't actually read the Fablehaven series so I wasn't sure what to expect with Dragonwatch. All I knew is that my 10 year old really enjoyed Fablehaven. Even though I haven't read the other, I was pleasantly surprised by this book, and am looking forward to going back and seeing what started it all.

If you haven't read Fablehaven would you be lost with this book? Yes and no. I was able to really enjoy it even though I didn't have any context for the previous books. However, I never really felt lost, just a desire to go find out what I missed.

I can't wait for the next book in the series...for more reasons than one. First, it really was good and I am excited to follow Kendra and Seth on their journey. Second, the ending wasn't an ending I typically enjoy. Not a cliffhanger so much, but it definitely left everything open for more. I normally only read books like this when the whole series is out so I can binge read them all at once and not wait on pins and needles for the next. So, you win some, you lose some.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61bmy953K8L.jpgTitle: Dragonwatch: A Fablehaven Adventure
Authors: Brandon Mull
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: March 2017
ISBN: 1629722561
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Blog Tour: Unexpected Love: A Marriage of Convenience Anthology

Unexpected Love: A Marriage of Convenience Anthology

Book Description:

Around the turn of the century, matches were made for all sorts of reasons–whether to keep a family together or simply to make ends meet. But love has a way of turning up in the most unexpected places! With four historical romance stories in one, this fun anthology will sweep you from the dance floors of aristocracy to the hearths of country living, leading to love through the most unusual circumstances.

Andrea's Review:

Unexpected Love is a fun collection of novellas that all have a marriage of convenience. The four novellas are Ashbrook Abbey by Heather Chapman, First Comes Marriage by Paula Kremser, The Price of Her Heart by Mandi Ellsworth, and Beauty and the Beholder by Ashtyn Newbold. All four authors are great. I enjoyed all of the stories. The Price of Her Heart took me a bit to get into (the setting and characters are quite a bit different than the other stories), but it grew on me and I ended up really liking it. 

Although there were some pretty serious moments in some of the stories, they were easy reads. Perfect for when you just want a quick and enjoyable story. This is a clean collection, and I'd read it again.

Rorie's Review:

Every time I read novellas, I find myself kind of disappointed. The stories are so short that I just don't feel like I get to really know the characters...there's not enough time to have them come to life.

There are four stories in this book, and while two of them sadly did feel that way to me, I found that I enjoyed the last two stories. My favorite was probably "Beauty and the Beholder." Both Fanny and Percy have lost so much, and neither of them wants to be together, but after a lot of rough starts (a whole lot of them...) they finally start to break through their barriers and come to understand each other.

I also enjoyed "The Price of Her Heart" even though it took me a bit to warm up to it. Geoffrey just seemed like a good, respectable man through and through, and Faith was a fun, feisty character.

I don't know that I'll read many other novellas, but if you enjoy short stories, this is a fun, easy read.


Tarah's Review:

Honestly, sometimes I'm just in the mood for a really good short story. When I'm not in the mood to read (gasp!) novellas will normally break me out of my funk. Sometimes I just need instant gratification. Granted, they still have to be well written and they have to feel like the whole story. I don't want to feel jipped when I read. I'm happy to report that the novellas in Unexpected Love are complete novellas, and well written.

I had my favorites out of them. Beauty and the Beholder was up there and The Price of Her Heart  and First Comes Marriage were fun too. I did struggle a little with Ashbrook Abbey. I had a hard time liking Ambrose. He ended up a good character, but it took me a while to warm up to him, and lets be honest...there isn't a lot of time in a novella to warm up to characters.

Out of all of them I think I'd like to see The Price of Her Heart as a full length novel. I liked it, and it was fun, but I think it had more potential to be drawn out and explored a bit more.

I've already reread some of them, and will most likely pick this book up again and again when I need my instant gratification fix :)

Tour Schedule:


3/14/2017http://literarytimeout.blogspot.com/
3/15/2017http://livetoread-krystal.blogspot.com/
3/16/2017https://seeker-of-happiness.squarespace.com/
3/17/2017http://www.rockinbookreviews.com/
3/18/2017amandanicolle.blogspot.com/
3/19/2017http://www.kindleandme.com/
3/20/2017http://hardcoverfeedback.blogspot.com/
3/21/2017writingwormblog.wordpress.com
3/22/2017http://geolibrarian.blogspot.com/

http://heidi-reads.blogspot.com/
3/23/2017http://gettingyourreadonaimeebrown.blogspot.com/

http://lisaisabookworm.blogspot.com

www.melsshelves.blogspot.com

http://www.singinglibrarianbooks.com/
3/24/2017http://www.bookworm2bookworm.wordpress.com

www.ablisscomplete.com
3/25/2017kakirecommends.com
3/26/2017www.thethingsilovemost.com
3/27/2017mybookaday.blogspot.com
3/28/2017http://katiescleanbookcollection.blogspot.com/
3/29/2017www.BloomingWithBooks.blogspot.com


3/30/2017jorielovesastory.com

http://tressaswishfulendings.blogspot.com/
3/31/2017www.thedragonsnook.com

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/A1TH4iufE2L.jpg

Title: Unexpected Love: A Marriage of Convenience Anthology
Authors: Heather Chapman, Paula Kremser, Mandi Ellsworth, Ashtyn Newbold
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Published: March 2017
ISBN: 1462119794
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book