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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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Tour Schedule:

*April 21sthttp://melsshelves.blogspot.com/http://www.wishfulendings.com/

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: