Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Blog Tour: Winds of Change by Jean Holbrook Mathews

Reviews * Giveaway
Winds of Change by Jean Holbrook Mathews 

Book Description:

The year is 1854, and change is in the air throughout India. Within the walls of her grand home in Calcutta, Sarah McCune anxiously awaits the future. After eighteen months at war, her husband, a sergeant in the Bengal Army of the East India Company, has made an extraordinary proposal: leave all the comforts of their life in Asia for an unknown future in America. As recent converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sarah and her husband are drawn to the promise of Zion. So, despite their fears regarding the dangerous voyage before them, they and their four children embark on a journey of faith that will test the limits of their conviction and define generations to come. This breathtaking saga, based on the historical journals of one Latter-day Saint family, invites readers to experience the sacrifices and perils of these early pioneers as they faithfully seek a land of promise.

Andrea's Review:

I'm a big fan of historical fiction, so when I was given the opportunity to read Winds of Change I was excited to learn about the time in Calcutta and the East India Company since I'm not very familiar with that.

When I opened the package I was intrigued by the cover. It's one that would catch my attention at a bookstore/library.

This story is based on real people and events, but the presentation was a challenge for me to get into. I found myself doing a lot of skimming.

I struggle with stories where I don't care for the main character, and Matthew was very off-putting. He had moments of strength and kindness (especially as he was leading people across the American wilderness), but more often than not the story told of events where he wasn't being kind or thoughtful to his family or servants. I know the time period makes a big difference, but he was the ruler of his house. He wasn't interested in anyone else's opinions. Sarah stood up to him once, and eventually it worked out, but I cannot imagine being married to someone like that.

Rorie's Review:

I think it must be kind of difficult to write historical novels, where you are basing most of your story on journals and letters and trying to keep it as real as you can. I think the author does a good job of bringing in the history of the family, but sadly, the book was just not that interesting to me. It read more like a journal than a novel, and I found my attention wandering over and over again. Perhaps if I had gone into it expecting it to be less novel and more journal, then I would have enjoyed it more.

I have always found history fascinating, but I have to be in the mood to read it, and lately I have really been craving a good, keep-me-up-too-late novel, so maybe that's part of the reason why I didn't like the book.

I was surprised how much of the book took place in India. When I first read the description, I assumed that most of the book would focus on the family's journey to the Salt Lake Valley, but that doesn't come into play until nearly half-way through the book.

Tarah's Review:

Beautiful cover, no? I'm not entirely sure what it has to do with anything in the book, but it is something that I would pick up off the shelf out of curiosity.

I'm not sure what I was expecting going into this book, but I think I was expecting more fictional story, less historical journal. Which was probably stupid of me since that is exactly what the description of the book describes.

The point-of-view switches quite a bit. Everyone from Sarah, to Matthew, to Henry, to friends of the McCunes. There really didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the switching. I'm assuming it was what information the author was able to find and base the story around.

There were some interesting tidbits in this story, and the more I read about the early pioneers the more convinced I am that I would have made a terrible pioneer. I am filled with awe at these wonderful women who were so strong in their families and faith, but from my frame of reference (Which doesn't fit, I know...different times, places, cultures, and traditions) didn't get any recognition for their sacrifices.

While this book wasn't exactly my cup of tea, I do know some people who would probably really enjoy it, and I can't wait to see what they think of it.

Tour Schedule:

Tour Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Winds of Change
Title: Winds of Change
Author: Jean Holbrook Mathews
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: May 2017
ISBN 13: 978-1-52440-057-6
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for honest reviews.

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle | Deseret Book

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Spotlight: Love, Kennedy a film by T.C. Christensen

If you loved the movies 17 MIRACLES, EPHRAIM’S RESCUE
and THE COKEVILLE MIRACLE, from T.C. Christensen
you are in for a treat with his upcoming release
LOVE, KENNEDY - in theaters throughout Utah on Friday, June 2.

A touching and inspiring story about Kennedy Hansen, a young girl who battled juvenile batten disease and the incredible legacy of love she left behind.

Movie Trailer:

Message from T.C. Christensen:

I'm drawn to faith-based true stories. The life of Kennedy Hansen touched me when I was first introduced to her story. This beautiful young woman trusted God’s plan even when those around her questioned why Kennedy had to endure such trails. Before writing the script, I had the opportunity to read through hundreds of journal entries, with the turning of each page, I began to understand her personality. She was kind, compassionate, funny, teased, loved cheerleading, had faith, adored boys (especially Jaden), uplifted those around her, and had great family support including a funny little brother. We had the honor of filming Love, Kennedy in the Hansen’s home, the high school Kennedy attended, and other unique locations specific to her life. I hope when you see the movie that you are inspired by the warmth and love of Kennedy Hansen’s life.

Message from Jason Hansen (Kennedy’s dad):

In life, we all have a story. Some stories are happy, some are sad, some are long and some are short. It is human nature to treat our life as a story book full of different chapters that portray our lives. Our family’s story began with a dream. A dream that was given to me that all now makes sense.  In that dream, I was shown my family, my story and what was to come. Unfortunately, part of our dream and a chapter in our life was losing our beloved Kennedy. Yet, through losing her, we also gained her. We gained her through so much more of understanding that when hard things come, you can be positive, you can be loving, understanding and provide an array of love to all of those around you.  Those hard things have proven to allow us to grow as a family and share. Share the deepest parts of our souls and the hardest parts of our minds and hearts.

Kennedy’s story could not just be shared by anyone, it needed to be shared by someone who would not be afraid to tell the truth about her life.  What really happened throughout her life and what she really believed.  T.C. Christensen is that someone.  He took to heart the rawness, reality and true life story of Kennedy, our family and the experiences that we endured.  He spent time reading, pondering, questioning and asking.  He did nothing hasty, yet everything perfectly.  He wanted to make sure, that if he was going to tell her story, that the most important parts were shared.  And guess what?  He did that!

When you see the film, you will see our Kennedy and know the kind of person she was. She loved boys (especially Jaden). She loved her family.  All of us, just not one or two of us.  The movie shows the special relationship that she has with each one of her family members.  She loved cheerleading and music and always dreamed of being normal.  And lastly, she loved her Savior and Heavenly Father with perfect faith which in turn allowed her to love EVERYONE whom she met.

Clip from the Movie:

Film Synopsis:

LOVE, KENNEDY tells the inspirational true story of Kennedy Hansen, a funny, loving young woman whose health suddenly begins to fail. It takes years to find the cause – Juvenile Batten Disease – an extremely rare, horrible and inevitably terminal diagnosis. After living only 16 short years, Kennedy leaves behind an incredible legacy of love and friendship. But her story doesn’t end with her passing, it’s only then the true miracles really begin.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Book Review: Safety in Blunders by Christy Barritt

Safety in Blunders by Christy Barritt

Book Description:

Hollywood sweetheart Joey Darling’s adventures and mishaps continue in the third book of the charming mystery series set in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

My name is Joey Darling, and I’m a disgrace to imaginary detectives everywhere.

When actress Joey Darling discovers a mermaid tail with drops of fresh blood on it while hiking in a remote nature preserve, she knows something suspicious is going on.

As details surface, Joey realizes she’s dealing with a problem she has encountered one too many times: someone desperate for fame who falls victim to a predator. With the help of her neighbor Zane Oakley and the opposition of local detective Jackson Sullivan, Joey hunts for answers, unaware of the deadly net in which she’s about to entangle herself.

Joey knows she’s a fish out of water when it comes to cracking cases, but can she use her talent—acting—to help find the missing woman? Or will Joey end up swimming with sharks?


I've really enjoyed The Worst Detective Every Mystery Series by Christy Barritt. The third book in the series (out of five, I believe) is a great addition. Sometimes series can run dry, but I'm still very interested in Joey, her potential love life, and the mysteries she gets herself involved in while she's trying to find out where her father disappeared to.

Joey does tend to stick her nose in where she shouldn't, but in much of what we are introduced to in this series, her hand is forced. In this particular case, it was great seeing that she was very interested in helping someone to not fall to a predator as she had seen before in her line of work.

The setting and characters make for a very entertaining story. And the romance is great. It's clean and realistic with a slow and believable pace. She's got feeling for two men, but is fighting anything happening due to her recent heartbreak. 

There are intense moments with the mystery, but Barritt also keeps things light. The ending of this book was excellent and definitely has me looking forward to the release of book 4 in the series.

Title: Safety in Blunders
Author: Christy Barritt
Publisher: River Heights
Published: March 2017
ISBN: 1544816251
Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Purchase: Amazon | Kindle

Friday, May 26, 2017

Blog Tour: J. Golden Kimball: The Remarkable Man Behind the Colorful Stories by Kathryn Jenkins Gordon


Book Description:

He is J. Golden Kimball, and when he is gone, there will never be another. He was the original product, and when Providence had finished him, the pattern was lost and never found again. LDS Church history is comprised of the accounts of multitudes of men and women who set the groundwork for the Church. And while there are plenty of ordinary individuals woven into that patchwork of history, there are also a handful of unique individuals who enliven the past and provide inspiration for the future. Known as the "swearing Apostle," J. Golden Kimball is just such a character, one whose legacy of colorful language is surpassed only by his fierce loyalty to the gospel.
In J. Golden Kimball: Little-known Insights into a Remarkable Man of God, readers are invited to come to better know this legendary man made famous by his unique humor and powerful testimony. From a chronicle of Kimball's youthful adventures to the legacy he forged in his more than forty years as a General Authority, gear up for a rollicking ride through the life of one of the liveliest servants of the Lord.


This book reads more like a blog post than a novel. Lots of side remarks by the author in parentheses. (Not that this is a bad thing. It's exactly how I write.) (See? Just like that.:-))
The author did a good job bringing the reader into J. Golden Kimball's life, helping us get to know him better. Before reading this book, the only thing I really knew about him was that he had a bit of a foul mouth. And that point is brought home time and again in this book. But we also get to learn about how strong his faith and devotion to the gospel were, something I think is much more important to focus on.
I love the quote from Elder Hugh B. Brown near the end of the book where he says "He has kept a sense of humor in the Church, and believes the "trip to Heaven" should be a joyous one. Every group is made happier by his presence, and when he leaves us the angels will greet him with a smile."
I'm glad I had the opportunity to read this book so that I could better come to know this remarkable man.
Tour Schedule:
May 24th:
a Rafflecopter giveaway Title: J. Golden Kimball
Author: Kathryn Jenkins Gordon
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: May 2017
ISBN: 1524403563
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Deseret Book Amazon

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Book Review: The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson

The Noble Servant (A Medieval Fairy Tale, #3)
Book Description:

She lost everything to an evil conspiracy . . . but that loss may just give her all she ever wanted.

Since meeting Steffan, the Duke of Wolfberg, at Thornbeck Castle, Lady Magdalen has not been able to stop thinking about him. She knows—as a penniless lady with little to offer in terms of a dowry—she has no real hope of marrying such a highly titled man, so it comes as a great surprise when she receives a letter from him, asking for her hand in marriage.

But all is not what it seems at Wolfberg Castle. Steffan has been evicted by his scheming uncle, and his cousin has taken over the title of duke. Left for dead, Steffan is able to escape, and disguised as a shepherd, hopes to gain entry to the castle to claim the items that will prove he is the true Duke of Wolfberg.

Journeying to the castle, Magdalen has no idea what awaits her, but she certainly did not expect her loyal maidservant to turn on her. Forcing Magdalen to trade places with her, the servant plans to marry the duke and force Magdalen to tend the geese.

Without their respective titles—and the privileges that came with them—Steffan and Magdalen are reunited in the shepherd’s field. Together they conspire to get back their rightful titles. But they must hurry . . . or else they risk losing it all to the uncle’s evil plan.

Tarah's Review:

Let's start with the cover. While I think it's a beautiful cover, it doesn't scream Melanie Dickerson to me. Any one else think that? Maybe it's the title. That didn't seem to match any of the other books of hers either. I mean, this has nothing to do with anything, I just thought it was interesting that it was so different.

I was a bit surprised with this story, with how fast Steffan and Magdalen figured out who each other were. I think I was expecting most of the story to be of the discovery, but instead it happens really quickly at the beginning, and the most of the story focuses on how to restore each of them to their titles and privileges.

This made me want to go back and reread Beautiful Pretender since this is the next book. However, that being said, even though I didn't remember anything from Beautiful Pretender I didn't have any problem following along with this story, so if this is the first Melanie Dickerson book you are picking up you will be fine and not lost at all.

Andrea's Review:

I was very excited to read Melanie Dickerson's new novel, The Noble Servant, because I really liked A Spy's Devotion. This was an enjoyable story that I read quickly; however, the dialogue was a little off. I'm not sure what it was, but it wasn't bad enough that I didn't want to keep reading.

The story itself was very interesting. I was quite entertained by Steffan and Magdalen being stripped of their identities, and trying to make things right while trying to blend in. 

I don't see myself reading this again but I don't regret reading it. It was clean and entertaining.  

The Noble Servant (A Medieval Fairy Tale, #3) 
Title: The Noble Servant
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Publisher: Fabled Films Press
Published: May 2017
Source: I received an eCopy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Book Review: Deep Extraction by DiAnn Mills

Deep Extraction (FBI Task Force #2)
Book Description:

A pacemaker should have saved oil and gas magnate Nathan Moore's life. Instead, it provided his killer with a seemingly perfect means of execution.A bombing at one of Nathan's oil rigs days earlier indicates his death could be part of a bigger conspiracy, a web Special Agent Tori Templeton must untangle. But her first order of business is separating the personal from the professional--the victim's wife, her best friend, is one of the FBI's prime suspects.Clearing Sally's name may be the biggest challenge of her career, but Tori finds an unexpected ally in the newest member of the task force, recently reinstated Deputy US Marshal Cole Jeffers. As Tori and Cole dig deeper into Nathan's personal and business affairs, they uncover more than they bargained for. And the closer they get to finding the real killer--and to each other--the more intent someone is on silencing them for good. 

Book Review:

I don't know. I'm probably a little alone in this, and maybe because I wasn't in the mood for this book, but it didn't really seem up to Mills usual standard.  I found it hard to follow. The writing just wasn't smooth and seemless. A lot of it was a little confusing. There was a lot going on, and sometimes that is really great, but it just didn't....mesh. Maybe it was the content. I don't love stories about affairs and cheating spouses. Maybe it was because I didn't really love any of the characters.  Tori and Cole weren't anything that stick with you and make you want to pretend you could be just like them. Normally a book like this will grab me and pull me in and I'll read it late into the night, but I took days to finish this. I had no problems putting it down and picking up something else.

It's book two in the series, and I don't remember reading book one so I can't say if any of the characters cross over or anything like that. I wasn't lost, and it didn't seem like a series so it could definitely be read as a standalone.

It wasn't bad, it just wasn't what I was expecting or wanting. I won't be rereading this, but I will keep trying this author since I like her other stuff.

Deep Extraction (FBI Task Force #2)
Title: Deep Extraction
Author: DiAnn Mills
Publisher: Tyndale House
Published: April 2017
ISBN: 149641098X
Source: I received an eCopy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Blog Tour: Wrong for You by Jenny Proctor

Reviews * Giveaway
Wrong for You by Jenny Proctor

Book Description:

Lane Bishop is a hardworking, intelligent, young woman. With her recent move to Chapel Hill, she is determined to leave behind the drama and effort of keeping up with the dating scene. Even so, Lane somehow manages to get dragged out by a gaggle of girls to go watch boys play soccer. Just watching is not Lane’s forte, so she joins in the fun and leads her team to victory.

Rather than feeling intimidated by the vivacious beauty on the opposing team, Jamie Hamilton is intrigued. Risking his “untouchable” dating status, he decides to pursue Lane—with a little help from his older brother Simon. With Simon’s behind-the- scenes assistance, Jamie proves irresistible, even to a disillusioned dater like Lane. But as she gets to know both brothers, Lane can’t help but wonder—beneath the grand gestures and romantic words, is she falling for the wrong guy?

Andrea's Review:

I really enjoyed Wrong for You! It was the kind of book that I didn't want to put down once I started, and with the great characters and fun story line, I will definitely read it again.

Wrong for You was more mind candy than deep thoughts (just the type of book I'm usually in the mood for), but it did have times where the characters really struggle, and although it was somewhat predictable, it was an enjoyable ride seeing how everything turned out.

Lane made for a wonderful main character. Perhaps part of her draw was that she was more mature than some of the other women around her, but her competitive nature added a very entertaining aspect to the story. I loved that she jumped right in to the soccer game (that wasn't a pickup game looking for more players). When she was turned down she didn't give up and sit down, she went to the other side. The scene demonstrated right off that Lane wasn't a quitter. She also had a lot of passion for her job, even though she was thrown some pretty big curve balls right off.

Jamie was an interesting character. He was likable in some ways, but I preferred Simon. It bothered me a bit that Simon was feeding Jamie information on what Lane liked, but I also appreciated that Simon noticed those things. And, I liked the relationship the Hamilton brothers had. The group texts between them added a fun aspect to the story.

I'll admit that I don't love the cover. It does fit with the story, but it's not a style that would catch my eye at a bookstore. However, if you feel the same way, ignore that feeling and get right to reading. It really was a great book. 

I look forward to reading more from this author.

Tarah's Review:

How is it that I had no idea that Jenny Proctor has written four books? I thought Wrong for You was her second book. This both excites and depresses me. It's depressing because I'm not sure my library has these books, and it's exciting because I really appreciate Proctors stories. She is able to write great characters, a compelling storyline, and good clean entertainment.

I love the cover. I think it's super cute and clever. I'm not sure I'm a huge fan of the white background, but every time I picture it with a different color it doesn't work, so I guess the white is the best choice. Don't the little stick figures make you smile though?

I will say I was a little hesitant to read this because it sounded like a love triangle, and I really hate love triangles. However, that's not what it was at all, which was a relief to me. I was worried how everything was going to turn out because part of what made this book awesome was the relationship with the Hamilton brothers.  And I wanted everyone to have a happy ending. I like happy endings. I know that's not how it always in in real life, but if I'm reading fiction then happy endings are sort of mandatory for me.

I can't wait to recommend this to my friends. I've already gone back and reread my favorite parts.

Rorie's Review:

This is my kind of book. Engaging right from the get-go. The characters had a lot of depth to them and I really felt like I got to know them all pretty well. I absolutely loved how Lane didn't let Jamie intimidate her at the soccer game, and instead, totally showed him up on the field.

Every part of this book was enjoyable. I loved reading about Lane's new job, her friends, her family (sending missionaries to look her up after they're released? Hilarious!) Little things like that helped make the story flow so well. Simon? Well, I really liked Simon. He is more of the quiet, reserved type. Not as impetuous as Jamie, and better at thinking things through.

This book teaches the reader that honesty and communication can go a really long way in a relationship. I had no idea how they were going to successfully pull off the Thanksgiving weekend charade. It was definitely entertaining though, that's for sure.

Jenny Proctor is now one of my favorite authors. I can't wait for her next book to come out. :)

Tour Schedule:

Tour Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Title: Wrong for You
Author: Jenny Proctor
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: May 2017
ISBN: 1524403067
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle | Deseret Book

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Book Review: The Fallen Star by Tracey Hecht 

Book Description:

 In The Fallen Star, Dawn, Tobin, and Bismark awaken one evening to a disaster: all of the forest's pomelos have been mysteriously poisoned! As the Nocturnal Brigade sets out to investigate, they encounter Iris, a mysterious aye-aye, who claims monsters from the moon are to blame. While the three heroes suspect a more earthly explanation, the animals of the valley are all falling ill. And then Tobin gets sick, too! The Nocturnal Brigade must race to find answers, and the cure, before the pomelo blight threatens to harm them all.

In The Fallen Star, the third book in the non-episodic middle grade series, The Nocturnals, the adventure of the three unlikely friends—Dawn, a serious fox, Tobin, a sweet pangolin, and Bismark, a loud-mouthed sugar glider—continue with teamwork, friendship, and humor.

Rorie's Review:

My son has been anxiously awaiting the third book in this series ever since he finished the second one. He was over-the-moon excited when I handed it to him when I picked him up from school one day. He immediately started reading the book and pretty much didn't come up for air until the next day when he finished it. I'm pretty sure he would have read all night long if I had let him.
Now, my son has loved reading ever since he was old enough to learn how - something that I am entirely grateful for. But I am still so glad for books that get him so excited that he wants to learn everything he can about the characters or places featured in this book. In this case, pangolins and sugar gliders - two animals he had never heard of before reading this series. Now, he will tell anyone who is interested what a pangolin is, what they look like, and any other tid-bit of information he can find on them. For that reason (and many others) I consider The Nocturnals series a huge hit. 

Now, on to his review. He may love reading, but he's not so fond of writing reviews. It took a whole lot of doing, but I finally managed to get him to write more than three sentences about the book:

"I really like the falling star. My favorite character is Bismark. I like how he thinks that Dawn likes him. My favorite part of the story is when they find out what the glow was. I like how it features different animals that are very unique like sugar gliders and pangolins. I like how the animals can talk in stories like this one. I really think that makes the stories unique. I really hope the author makes another story of the Nocturnals because I don't think three books make a good ending point. So I hope you make another book like this. I really want to know what happens."

There you have it. A huge hit for the 9-year-old set. I have to say, I'm with my son on this one. I really do hope the author writes more books in this series.

Tarah's Review:

 Two of my children were very excited when The Fallen Star came in the mail. I greedily horded it however, and wouldn't let them read it until I was finished. They were very excited when I told them they could now read it.

I will admit that this time in the story, the sugar glider Bismark was a little too much for me. I sort of wished he would be quiet and let the story go on. He seemed to pipe up more in this story than the other ones, but it's possible I am not remembering correctly. And, I think the kids will still really like him, even if I thought he was annoying.

The best part of this story was the end. I'll admit I wasn't sure how they were going to make this in to realish situations, but they did and I was like, "Oh, that's cool." But the end...I like the moral of the story. That, I hope, resonates with my kids the most when they fight over who gets to read this first :) The Fallen Star
Author: Tracey Hecht
Publisher: Fabled Films Press
Published: May 2017
ISBN: 1944020055
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Book Review: Keeping Kinley by Annette K. Larsen

 Keeping Kinley (Books of Dalthia #5)
Keeping Kinley by Annette K. Larsen

Book Description:

"Rylan made me feel like things were possible. Like I was possible, and he was possible, and we could be possible together."

Kinley is content tending her apple orchard, until a chance meeting with a childhood friend changes her priorities. Spending time with nobility is not socially acceptable, but Rylan rejects the norm. He pursues her with an easygoing charm, though she doesn’t dare hope that their relationship will be a reality.

When Kinley’s livelihood is threatened, any thoughts of a relationship are set aside as she’s thrust into Rylan’s world, where commoners and nobility don’t mix. The Rylan she encounters there is not the quirky and carefree friend she thought she knew. Can she trust what her heart has told her and believe in him, or will she be forced to accept that her dreams are only that—dreams?

Andrea's Review:

Annette K. Larsen is an author I can depend on to write a great book that is clean! I love that about her.  

Keeping Kinley grabbed my attention right off and was a very pleasant ride to the end. It's a sweet story with very likable characters. And, I'm a sucker for a commoner catching the eye of a "higher class citizen" (Cinderella type) story.

Kinley didn't fit the mold for her "class", and I really liked that about her. She bettered herself, even though most of her station didn't understand why she'd want to read. And, as it turned out, it really helped her older brother too, so benefits all around.

I would read this (and all of Annette's other books) again.

Tarah's Review:

When my sister told me to go read the first couple chapters of this on Kindle Scout I was hooked. I finished it right away (stayed up way too late). Larsen is able to write stories that just drag you in and won't let you go until you finish. I love that she writes strong characters that are real. Not only that, but the story is super clean. I would have no problem having any teen read Keeping Kinley.

I will admit that it seemed like a very similar story line to Just Ella, except reverse. Rylan isn't royalty, but he is in a higher class than Kinley.  I especially enjoyed when it brought up the prejudices that both classes felt toward Gavin and Ella.

While this is the 5th book in the Dalthia, it can be read as a stand alone book (but if nothing else you really should read Just Ella because that has been this author's best).  I kind of hope that Bram gets a story. He was an interesting side character that I wouldn't mind reading more about.

Keeping Kinley (Books of Dalthia #5) Title: Keeping Kinley
Author: Annette K. Larsen
Publisher: Kindle Press
Published: May 2017
Source: We received copies from Kindle Scout Program for voting for this book.

Purchase: Amazon

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Blog Tour: Shatter by Nikki Trionfo

Shatter by Nikki Trionfo

Book Description:

When a mysterious explosion kills her sister, Salem Jefferson becomes convinced the death was no accident—it was a conspiracy. But no one else at her high school believes her, and all she has so far is one clue. She knows Carrie hired a gang member to protect orchard workers. Problem is, Salem doesn't know who.

To find out, Salem pursues the gang-bangers who rule her town, especially classmate Cordero. As her distrust of Cordero heats up, so do the number of suspects in Carrie's death. Teachers and school officers are orchard owners. They have every reason to stop farm workers from demanding higher wages. With Carrie's killers still out there, Salem's not sure who she can trust. Meanwhile, the people who live on orchards and the people who pick them are drawing lines in the sand.

The only way for Salem to learn the truth is to slip behind those enemy lines.

The only way to survive is to find a way back out.

Andrea's Review:

Shatter is an enjoyable story that I read quickly. It kept me on my toes, which I appreciate for suspense novels (if you aren't going back and forth on who the bad guy is the whole suspense part is a little lacking).

The flashbacks/jumping around in time made things a little confusing at first. They were very important to the story but the first few times it just confused me.

The discussion questions at the end were thought provoking. The story really has some deep issues, and an angle that I haven't really read before concerning gang members.

The ending was a bit underwhelming. After the big thing that happens it seemed like there should be a lot more happening (at least legally) than just talking about riding home.

As a debut novel I think it was a strong effort. The story was engaging, but could have used some tightening up.

Tarah's Review:

For a suspense novel I really approve of the cover. It looks a little freaky and a little mysterious. After you read the novel, the words at the top of the cover confuse me a little bit, but it is what it is.

Salem is an interesting character. She's trying to figure out who she is without her sister that she relied so much on. And when we meet her it is right after her sisters death, so her emotions are very high. I think because of this, because she didn't really know who she was, I had a hard time really getting to know her. The flashbacks at the beginning of the book were also really confusing. The information in them is important, but it messed with the flow of the story.

Congrats to the author for her debut novel. It's kind of a big deal :)

Rorie's Review:

I'm usually up for a good suspense, who-done-it style book (as long as it's not too scary, my imagination tends to get the best of me.) The description of this book had all the makings of a good murder mystery, but the story just never really came together for me. 

The first half of the book goes back and forth between present and past so frequently, it's almost enough to make you dizzy. I had a hard time concentrating on the storyline because it switched so much. Thankfully, that went away after the first half of the book and the story did flow a bit better after that.

I never felt like you got to know any of the characters in depth very well, and that's a really important part of a book for me. I find it hard to relate to the characters at all if I don't know them. The whole story just didn't quite do it for me. The author is very promising though, and I plan on reading more of her books as they are published.

Tour Schedule:
Title: Shatter
Author: Nikki Trionfo
Publisher: Sweetwater Books
Published: May 2017
ISBN: 146212013X
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon | Kindle | Books & Things

Friday, May 12, 2017

Book Review: An Unseen Angel by Alissa Parker

An Unseen Angel
A Mother's Story of Faith, Hope, and Healing After Sandy Hook
By Alissa Parker

Andrea's Review:

I thought this would be a really hard book to read, and it was. I had to read in small bits (sometimes just a chapter at a time) because the tears/crying headache were too much. Sandy Hook was such a horrible event in our country. I cannot imagine sending my kids to school and getting a call that there's been a shooting, and then never seeing my child alive again. The act of the gunman is unthinkable. These little first graders were 100% innocent. It was truly a heartbreaking incident.

Time and time again as I read this book I thought about how good people are. Some of the acts of kindness (often by strangers) may have seemed like small things to the givers, but they all added up to huge actions that helped a family in a horrible time of crisis. The police officer washing and returning the clothing, the gifts of stuff animals and flowers from the airline employees, the police escorts, the co-workers donating their paid time off. So many things that just made me think about the goodness in this world.

It is inspiring to see that Alissa and her family were not destroyed by this tragedy. They suffered immensely, but they held strong to each other and their faith and lifted each other up in their worst moments. 

One of the most important messages to me in this book is the message of forgiveness. I've never dealt with anything remotely close to this situation (and I hope I never have to), but I have been hurt and held onto bitter feelings. I can testify that when you let those bitter feeling go your life is so much better! Those feelings are truly a weight that holds us down. Forgiveness is an important part of the healing process. Alissa's ability to get to a point to recognize that Adam Lanza is also a child of God, loved by our Heavenly Father, helped her on her road to forgiveness. It was a major struggle, but over time she was not only able to forgive him, but to feel love and compassion for him.

Rorie's Review:

Have plenty of tissues nearby. And don't read this book when you're in a public place, like your son's piano lessons for example. I knew from the moment I chose to read this book that it would be difficult. Heartbreaking. And it was. But this book is not about the tragedy of losing her beautiful daughter. It is about how she was able to heal from that horrible tragedy. This book is full of sorrow and pain, but it is also full of hope, peace, forgiveness, and love. 
I have always thought that if I lost one of my children, the only way I'd be able to make it through it would be because of my faith. I can't even begin to imagine the pain and horror and heartache that the Parker family went through. I love that Alissa stated that she never thought to blame God for this tragedy, instead she immediately turned to Him to help her through the tragedy.
My heart warmed at reading just how many wonderful people stepped up and helped out after the shooting. It was so wonderful to see how much good there is, especially in the face of such horrible evil.
This is a tough book to read, especially if you have young children, but it is oh, so worth the tears and heartache, because it leaves you feeling uplifted and at peace. An Unseen Angel
Author: Alissa Parker
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: April 2017
ISBN: 1629722790
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Blog Tour: Sense & Second Chances by Brittany Larsen

Reviews * Giveaway
Sense & Second Chances by Brittany Larsen

Book Description:

Emily Carter is on the fast track to success when the unthinkable happens: a tragic accident claims the lives of her parents. Now Emily must set aside her dreams and raise her two younger siblings, Annie and Bryce. Emily and Annie are sisters, but that doesn’t mean they are anything alike. Whereas Emily reacts to the tragedy with her characteristic stoic calm, passionate Annie spirals into depression. Just when things seem like they can’t get any more difficult, Emily’s older half-brother and his fiancĂ©e arrive not to help, but to claim the family home he’s inherited from their parents. Without a place to call their own, Emily must take action—and fast. 

When an exciting employment opportunity arises in Utah, the displaced Carters decide to build a new life in a new home. But it soon becomes clear that their future prospects will go far beyond professional, as each sister is faced with an unexpected romance. Yet love is never simple, and in matters of the heart, one sister must proceed with caution while the other needs to take a leap of faith . . .

Tarah's Review:

Well, this was a book that I couldn't put down. I picked it up and just devoured it in hours. I loved Larsen's first book Pride and Politics (oooo, I should go reread that....) and I loved this one too.

Larsen writes the characters in a way that really makes you feel for them, cheer them on, want to thump some sense in them, and just melt when the timing is right.

If you read her first book, then you know Larsen is writing LDS fiction. The Mormon church is referenced and talked about and integrated into the story as well as the Jewish religion and culture. I loved the messages that came from having these two religions in the story, and the message of loving each other and suspending judgement. Isn't that something we all need to hear?

There is more substance to this novel than my typical fluff novels, but it's still super entertaining. It brings up difficult topics, questions, and situations. I can't wait to recommend this to my book reading friends. This is a book I can see myself rereading.

Andrea's Review:

Sense & Second Chances was an enjoyable read. I will admit I was a little thrown when the main characters were suddenly dating. It seemed like that was mentioned before they'd really gone out. I felt like I'd skipped a page or something between where they met and talked to being an item. But, other than that I enjoyed reading about them.

It was interesting seeing how Emily hurt so much by sticking to standards, but then seeing it turn out really well in the end. That was important. Sometimes we may think that it's not worth it, but this was a good demonstration that although we might not be immediately blessed for staying strong, in the long wrong it will be good.

Seeing Annie have a moment of weakness where she let her standards slip really had some devastating results. It was also important to see how judging played into the story. We all do it, but sometimes we really judge unrighteously. It isn't up to us to determine someone's intentions. Of course we need to be careful, but "casting the first stone" is important to keep in mind. I know I often fail at that.

This was a clean and entertaining read.

Rorie's Review:

I always get a kick out of reading a book and having it mention my hometown (or, near my hometown in this case.) I'm still trying to figure out how they drove through Heber to get to Park City when they flew there from California though...because the airport's in Salt Lake...unless they flew into the small airport in Heber, then that would work. See, all I have to do to solve my questions is just type them out. :)

Aside from that silliness above, I really enjoyed this book. I can't even imagine how tough it would be to lose your parents and then suddenly be thrust into the role of guardian. Not only are you grieving your loss, but you've got to be responsible for two younger siblings, one of whom is going through some rough mental health issues.

When Emily was trying to figure out where to move her family to, my first thought was "How could you not jump at the chance to move to the ranch and get out of LA?" Full disclosure. I am a country girl. I abhor city life. I did it for 5 years and that was 5 years too many for me. Now, before people start coming for me with torches and pitchforks, I realize there are some people who thrive living in the city. Emily seemed to be one of them. I just couldn't wrap my head around it. I was happy when they picked the ranch though. :)

I also really liked Joel. Emily and Joel hit it off almost immediately, but I could understand her reasons for not wanting to get too close to him. Differences in beliefs can cause so many problems in a relationship. I appreciated that she was more concerned with how Joel converting to the LDS faith would affect his whole life and relationship with his family than she was about her own feelings. I really liked that it was made clear in this book that someone needs to search out the truth for themselves, they can't just do it for someone else.

The author did a great job of helping us get to know all of the characters in the book. The difference between a good book and a so-so one (for me) is if I can get lost in the story, or if it just feels like I'm reading words on a page. I definitely got lost in this story. Two thumbs up from me. :)

Tour Schedule:

* May 12th

Tour Giveaway:

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Title: Sense & Second Chances
Author: Brittany Larsen
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: May 2017
ISBN: 1524401617
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Purchase:  Amazon | Kindle | Deseret Book

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Book Review: Once There Was a Mom by Emily Cox

Once There Was a Mom
Once There Was a Mom by Emily Cox
Book Description:

''Mom'' was the biggest word in her world. It made her want to dance, and it made her want to hide. And on some nights, when the house was dark and still and the moon peeked through the window, it made her wonder.

For every mom who has ever wondered if all the little things she does in a day made a difference, Once There Was a Mom offers hope and encouragement. Take it from someone who, like you, has read story after story, sung lullaby after lullaby, and even taken the batteries out of the toys once in a while! The truth is, little things are much more important than we may think. With contemporary, stylized illustrations by artist Destin Cox, this charming gift book will bring a smile to the face of mothers of any age.

Tarah's Review:

I wasn't sure what to expect when I got this book in the mail. I'll admit that I'm not a huge fan of Mother's Day. It always makes me feel guilty about something that I am or am not doing. I didn't really want to read about how mother's are tender and loving and children are amazing.  So I was pleasantly surprised with this cute book. I loved the dichotomies in it.

''Mom'' was the biggest word in her world. It made her want to dance, and it made her want to hide. And on some nights, when the house was dark and still and the moon peeked through the window, it made her wonder.

That, for me, pretty much sums up my feelings on being a mom. I love it, and sometimes I do want to hide, and sometimes I wonder about what it is that I am doing. I love how the book focused on this instead of saying, "A Mom should be this".

I like books that make me think about them after the fact. This was one of those books, which is powerful for being so short and written like a children's book.  Oh, and the illustrations are delightful!

Andrea's Review:

I think I'm in the minority when I say that I like Mother's Day. I'm all for a day of recognition where my hubby makes me a nice meal, and my kiddos give me homemade presents. I know I'm far from a perfect mother, but from talking to many other moms, I'm lucky that it isn't something that weighs me down on a regular basis.

Once There Was a Mom is a sweet book for any mom (whether you are a Mother's Day fan or not). It's very short (perfect for the mom who hardly has time to read), but loaded with little instances where all mothers can relate.

There is a page that talks about a mom coming home and the children yelling that they missed her. I noticed that with my sister last week. She visited for a couple of days and when she called her family to say she was heading home they were all shouting with joy!

Motherhood is rough at times. And it can feel thankless, but as moms we make a HUGE difference in our kiddos lives. I think this would be a great book for any mom that needs a little reminder about the difference she is making, and how her kids are making her different too.

Rorie's Review:

This is such a cute little book. I love the whimsical illustrations, and most importantly, the message of the book. I love being a mom. I chose to do this, and I don't for one minute regret it. My life is so much more complete now than it was before. But yes, it can be very mundane and crazy and so much fighting and so many messes. Every single day. Sometimes I think I'm the worst mom out there, and sometimes I think I might be doing something right.

So this book comes along and reaffirms that yes, life as a mom is wonderful. It is also crazy hard, but that's part of what makes it worth it, right? So yes, I love this book. I will keep it in a prominent place on my bookshelf and pull it out and read it whenever I need a reminder of why I chose this glamorous job. :)

This book would be a great Mother's Day gift for any of the moms in your life...or even the moms-to-be, to help them know just how worthwhile this calling in life is.

Once There Was a MomTitle: Once There Was a Mom
Author: Emily Watts
Illustrator: Destin Cox
Publisher: Deseret Book
Published: April 2017
ISBN:  162972307X
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for honest reviews.

Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Review: Fire and Steel Vol. 4: The Proud Shall Stumble by Gerald N. Lund

Fire and Steel Volume 4
The Proud Shall Stumble by Gerald N. Lund

Book Description:

It's a truth that has stood for centuries: pride goeth before the fall. And Germany, emboldened by an increasingly popular dynamo, is becoming proud.

Across the ocean in America, people have been enjoying years of plenty since the Great War. Electricity in every home, shiny new automobiles lining the streets, roaring new music, shocking new clothing styles—a whole nation wanting nothing more than to let loose and get rich. But beneath the glittering surface, the economy's foundation has already begun to crumble.

On opposite sides of the world, the Eckhardt and Westland families are as caught up in the fast-paced times as anyone else, and they find their personal lives deeply affected by the shocking events occurring on a global scale. Though they all seek to follow a wise path, the way becomes hazy when powerful forces aim to cloud their judgment. Will they be able to recognize the darkness before they sink further into it? More dark days lie ahead, and the families stand to lose everything if they don't cling to the light.

Join the Eckhardts and Westlands in this fourth volume of master storyteller Gerald N. Lund's gripping tale of war, family and the fight for what's right.

Rorie's Review:

I know I've read at least one book in this series, but I can't remember if I've read all three previous to this one. Thankfully, that doesn't really matter too much to be able to follow the story. I have enjoyed Gerald Lund's books ever since The Work and the Glory came out, so I always jump at the chance to read his new books. Not only is he a good story-teller, but I learn so much more about history than I ever would have otherwise.

This book takes place in-between WWI and WWII, switching back and forth between the Eckhardts in Germany and the Westlands in the United States. I have to say that the timeline at each chapter heading was a bit distracting. Most of the time I didn't even read it, and just continued on to the story.

It was fascinating to learn about Hitler and how he began his rise to power. I can see how people were taken in by him. He was such a smooth-talker and very persuasive. It is easy to see why so many people followed him but at the same time it's bewildering - probably because I can look back and see what a psychotic person he was. It's scary to read his words and see how many people blindly followed them. I was shocked to read how many people cheered and agreed with Hitler when he was taking about how the Aryan people were so superior to everyone else. I mean, I definitely knew he felt that way, but to see how many others did too just boggles my mind. I know there are still people today that feel that way, but I just can't understand how anyone can think they're better than someone else just because of their race.
Parts of the book dragged on a bit, especially when they were going over the intricacies of stocks. Even though that part did drag on, I feel it was necessary to help explain why and how the Depression started.
I really enjoyed reading about the Westland family, and want to go back and read the earlier books so I can find out what happened with Frank - that's something I don't remember at all from what I have read. This story definitely left a lot of room for future books in the series, so I can't wait for them to come out.

Andrea's Review:

As a teenager I loved reading The Work & The Glory series by Gerald N. Lund, so when the opportunity came to read his latest novel, The Proud Shall Stumble, I was really excited (even though I hadn't read the prior three volumes in this series). I didn't really feel like I'd missed important details from the other books in the series, but I'm sure I could have appreciated the characters a lot more knowing their backstory.

It took me awhile to get used to the book being divided up into times sections (i.e. a date and time at a certain location). Initially it felt like a timeline instead of a story, but as it went on and I grew to know the characters it drew me in more. It was a bit jarring jumping from the guts of the chaos Hitler created in Germany in 1923 in his attempt to rise to power to a family in Monticello, Utah. The characters were connected though, and it was interesting reading about the feelings of the characters (both in Germany and in Utah) that seemed like good, sane, people who felt like Hitler was a good guy. Hindsight is 20/20, but I have wondered how so many people were taken in by the mad-man. The book shed some light on that.

The book started in Germany, and I was a little surprised that so much of the end was about the Westland family from Utah instead of the people surrounding Hitler. But, I learned quite a bit, and the notes at the end of the chapters were great to be able to tell fact from fiction.

Title: The Proud Shall Stumble
Author: Gerald N. Lund
Publisher: Deseret Book
Published: May 2017
ISBN: 1629723169
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for honest reviews.

Purchase: Deseret Book | Amazon