Thursday, April 25, 2019

Blog Tour: Wizard for Hire: Apprentice Needed by Obert Skye

Wizard for Hire: Apprentice Needed by Obert Skye

Book Description:

Ozzy Toffy’s adventure, which began in Wizard for Hire, continues when one dark and windy night, he gets out of bed, jumps out his window, and walks straight into the ocean.

More than ever, Ozzy could really use the services of Rin, the wizard he hired to help find his parents—but Rin is missing, despite Ozzy’s continual attempts to contact him. And Clark, the mechanical bird his father left him, is as peculiar and vain as ever.

When a mysterious package arrives, Ozzy and his good friend Sigi are sure that the plane ticket and thumb drive they find inside are from Rin. Trying to get Clark through security at the airport proves complicated—as most things are with Clark. But when they arrive in New York, they discover there’s even more adventure in store for them.

Will Rin return and save the day? Will Ozzy figure out why he keeps walking into the ocean? Can Sigi find a way to trust her delinquent father? Will someone please appreciate Clark the way he’d like to be appreciated? For once?

Wizard for Hire: Apprentice Needed is a story filled with humor and excitement that shows us the magic in everyday things.

Collin's Review:

This book was hard to read. . .but only because my kids kept taking it and were reading it every time I tried to. From my kid's reactions, and my own views, this book is well worth the read.  Even now, as I write this review, I went to go grab the book to look over some parts for a better description, and the book had once again disappeared in to the clutches of my daughter.

Obert Skye's descriptions and dialog are wacky and off the wall as usual.  Just like the first book, we are left guessing until the end if Rin really is a wizard, or is just crazy like everyone assumes. However, the twist at the end caught me way off guard.  I can't wait until the next book in the series!  There is a lot more to this story than was revealed in the first book for sure!

Rorie & Braden's Review:

I enjoy Obert Skye's writing, and it's always fun to dive into another one of his adventures. He has a quirky sense of humor and I laugh out loud several times when I'm reading his books. I'm glad that I have been able to introduce him to my kids who just devour the books. My 10-year-old especially was looking forward to getting the newest installment of Wizard for Hire. Here's his review:
I liked Apprentice Needed. It was a very good book. I would recommend it for everyone. 

I like how the author makes Rin so funny. He makes Rin a real wizard that no one believes in. I love that almost every part is funny. I love how Clark likes anything metal.
Tarah's Review:
 This is a book were I was left with more questions than answers, but I was strangely okay with that. That would normally drive me nuts, but it didn't with this book. All it did was make me excited for book 3. 

I enjoyed how we got to know Ozzy a little better, and how Sigi's personality was able to shine in this book. I will admit that I struggled with Rin. This probably suggests that I've lost all ability for magic in my life, but I just kept thinking, "dead-beat dad" whenever Sigi would try to talk to him and he wouldn't respond unless he was spouting what he read on motivational plaques. I did like him more toward the end, but I could feel the frustration that both Ozzy and Sigi had with him. Ozzy wanted to believe him, but it was a struggle.

My kids loved this book, and already went back and reread the first one. I imagine that they will be picking this one up again in the near future.
Title: Wizard for Hire: Apprentice Needed
Author: Obert Skye
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: April 2019
ISBN: 1629725293
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Blog Tour: A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd

A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd

Book Description:

Hawaiian Islands, 1779

As the second daughter of a royal chief, Maile will be permitted to marry for love. Her fiancé is the best navigator in Hawaii, and he taught her everything he knows how to feel the ocean, observe the winds, read the stars, and how to love.

But when sailors from a strange place called England arrive on her island, a misunderstanding ends in battle, and Maile is suddenly widowed before she is wed.

Finding herself in the middle of the battle and fearing for her life, Maile takes John Harbottle, the wounded man who killed her fiancé, prisoner, and though originally intending to let him die, she reluctantly heals him. And in the process, she discovers the man she thought was her enemy might be her ally instead.

John has been Captain James Cook's translator for three voyages across the Pacific. He is kind and clearly fascinated with her homeland and her people and Maile herself. But guilt continues to drive a wedge between them: John's guilt over the death he caused, and Maile's guilt over the truth about what triggered the deadly battle a secret she's kept hidden from everyone on the island.

When Maile is tasked with teaching John how to navigate using the stars so he can sail back to England, they must also navigate the challenges of being from very different cultures. In doing so, they might also find the peace that comes when two hearts become one.

Rorie's Review:

What an enjoyable story. I have visited Hawaii several times, and absolutely love it there. I have heard a bit about the story of Captain James Cook, and I think I learned about the story of the battle on the cliffs as well (unless there was more than one battle that ended that way...) and this story helped humanize and bring to life these events. This is one reason why I enjoy reading historic fiction so much.

I really enjoyed riding along while the relationship between Maile and John developed. She was such a strong woman, and I can't even imagine how hard it was for her to heal and care for the very person that killed her fiance, but she was able to (eventually) look past the horror of that battle and get to know the real John Harbottle.

This was one of those stories that I had a hard time putting down. I have read a few of Ilima's other books, and she definitely has a talent for telling a story and bringing the characters to life. I highly recommend this book - especially to my friend, who shares the same name as the main character. :)

Andrea's Review:

A Song for the Stars is an excellent addition to the Proper Romance line from Shadow Mountain. It is quite different from the other books in the line, but a wonderfully written account that kept me intrigued. I loved that the main characters were the author's fourth-great-grandparents.

I don't recall having known about how Captain James Cook was killed. The author does note that she adjusted some things for the sake of the story, but much of what was shared (both about Cook and the history of the people) was eye opening and makes me want to learn more.

This is very different from Todd's dystopian novels, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I couldn't help but think of Moana and Pocahontas (the Disney versions) while I was reading the book. I loved the strong female lead, and the sweet romance that developed (against the odds). I'm looking forward to reading this again.

Tarah's Review:

I have never read a story set in the Hawaiian Islands, let alone where the main character is Hawaiian. I loved it. I loved delving into the culture (why couldn't the women eat bananas? I'm going to have to google that...I don't think it ever said why). My favorite thing about this story though, was how Maile and John were both able to look past their selves and see the why of the other culture. How great is it that even though one culture does something horrifying, after a moment of feeling that horror, John was able to ask the reason behind it and find out the love and respect that comes from the gesture instead of the first impression. Maile does the same thing, even when she doesn't agree with what's going on. She jumps onboard and makes it work by seeing others and how things could be. I just loved those moments in the story (and there were many).

I will admit that I struggled with the point of view for the first quarter of the book. I'm not sure why. It seemed a little choppy way to tell the story, although normally I don't mind a story like that. It's quite possible I just wasn't in the right frame of mind for it, but after a little bit I got into story and forgot about the point of view.

This was a beautiful story, set in a beautiful setting, and I can't wait to read more from this author, and I can't wait to read this particular story again. 
Title: A Song for the Stars
Author: Ilima Todd
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: April 2019
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book 

Friday, April 5, 2019

Blog Tour: Miss Adeline's Match by Joanna Barker

Reviews * Giveaway
Miss Adeline's Match by Joanna Barker

Book Description:

Miss Adeline Hayes is the perfect lady's companion: pleasant, conversational, and unceasingly proper. But when her closest friend, Charity Edgeworth, breaks off her arranged marriage without explanation, even Adeline's superior skills are put to the test. Charity's father banishes the two young women to the country, sending Adeline with a charge to find Charity a husband or suffer dire consequences.

As Adeline takes on the role of reluctant matchmaker, she discovers more than one obstacle in her path. Not only does Charity prefer escaping in books to socializing, but Adeline soon finds her own attentions distracted by the standoffish--and irritatingly handsome--Mr. Evan Whitfield. Amidst an eventful foxhunt and the unexpected arrival of Charity's former betrothed, Adeline simply doesn't have time for a battle of wits with Evan. But the two are continually drawn together until Adeline begins to question her tightly guarded convictions about love and marriage.

However, when secrets are revealed and truths made known, Adeline must face her most fearsome obstacle yet: herself.

Rorie's Review:

This is the author's second novel, and she hit a home run with this one. (Sorry, we're sleeping, breathing and eating baseball over here right now. It's on the brain.) I was drawn into the story right away and had a hard time putting it down. Adeline is a likeable "mother-hen" character, and she has devoted her life to helping Charity manage hers...even when she shouldn't be. She is so determined to keep Charity safe and secure that she doesn't take into account what would really make Charity happy. 
Evan has a very gruff exterior, especially at first, but he still comes across as a likeable character, especially once we see the little things that he is always doing for other people.  

Have you ever yelled at a character in a story? Well, I did in this one. Adeline makes a pretty big judgment call and I could very clearly see just how wrong it could go. I really appreciated how the author does not let her off the hook easy at all, and let's be honest, I'm having a really hard time writing about this without giving out any spoilers, so you'll just have to read the book. 

The romance was sweet and the story line flowed well. I felt like the author did a great job letting us get to know all of the characters. This book is definitely a keeper.

Andrea's Review:

Miss Adeline's Match is a very enjoyable read. I didn't like the cover at all and would probably pass by it on a shelf, but if you find yourself feeling the same way, ignore the cover and dive in. It is a quick, clean read and I was so intrigued by what had happened for Charity to call off her engagement. And also how Adeline would handle things with her closest friend amidst the pressure given by her employer.

Adeline seemed to be a very good friend, until she wasn't. One decision she made (although she had good intentions) was so cringe worthy. The author really did a great job of keeping me interested in how that decision would turn out.

I liked the relationship between Adeline and Evan. It started out very rocky and grew at a fairly realistic pace. I enjoyed reading about their growth (both individually and as a couple) throughout the story.

I can see myself reading this book again.

Tarah's Review:

Every time I opened this book I got excited about what was going to come (expect when I started. I admit the cover slowed me down. It isn't my favorite in the world and I hesitated to pick up the book). I loved reading about a strong female character that knew, and enjoyed, her way around society. I also enjoyed Charities character that didn't, and would prefer to read. A lot of regency stories are about women who don't quite fit into their time, and while I do enjoy those (quite a bit actually), I found it refreshing that Adeline fit her "mold"...or at least knew how to navigate it.

The book was fairly predictable to me once Adeline made her bad decision regarding Charity. I'm okay with that though. I like knowing where a book it going. Also, Evan really reminded me of Mr. Darcy with his cranky attitude toward people and his quiet acts of service. He does get more likeable than Mr. Darcy though, for which I was grateful. I never quite understood the draw there regarding Mr. Darcy, but to each her own.

I can definitely see myself reading this one again, and will happily put it on my bookshelf for others to read as well.

Tour Dates:


a Rafflecopter giveaway Miss Adeline's Match
Author: Joanna Barker
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: April 2019
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book 

Friday, March 29, 2019

Blog Tour: Holy As You Are by Christie Gardiner

Book Description:

When referenced in the scriptures, the word holy means to "set apart for a sacred purpose." It is a description all women who seek to follow Christ want to embody—but the struggle between the ideal of a holy life and reality can seem far apart. In Holy as You Are, best-selling author Christie Gardiner seeks to close the gap, reminding women of the holy attributes they already possess and how they can accomplish extraordinary ordinary things that will forever change the landscape and heart-scape of their worlds.
With a wealth of spiritual guidance and upbeat wisdom that doesn't shy away from difficult topics, this inspired volume challenges readers to look at their tragedies and triumphs and everything in between as sacred opportunities to choose holiness. What if ordinary is extraordinary? What if you are Holy as You Are?


I will admit, I had a hard time starting and getting into this book. I usually prefer to read fiction, and just wasn't in the mood for a non-fiction book. Plus, every time I would sit down to read it, it was nearly bedtime and I wouldn't last too long before falling asleep. Once I really sat down and paid attention to the messages the author was giving me though, I enjoyed the book.

With "self-help" type books like this one, I typically mark passages when they stand out to me, but I was hesitant to do that with this book because it's so pretty! I know, that's a silly reason, but still. I do regret not doing it though, because there were a lot of things that jumped out at me and no matter how great something is, if I don't write it down, I will soon forget it.

The chapter on ministering made me feel about as guilty as a girl can get. I'm sure that wasn't the author's intention, but I am absolutely horrible at ministering, and every time it is brought up, I feel guilt. This chapter did get me seriously thinking about how to be a better (seriously, I have no idea what to call myself in that role now. Ministering sister? Ministerer? I'm pretty sure that's not a word.) Anyway, it got me thinking and I have come up with a plan to act and actually do. So I guess in this case, that guilt was a good thing.

I enjoyed the part where she said to take time to find quiet. I found it especially fitting because that very morning I had just listened to a podcast that was focused on something very similar. The part on gratitude and finding joy also came at a great time, because I recently decided to focus on finding joy in even the mundane tasks - something I am NOT very good at. Late last night when I really wanted to go to bed and ended up having to plunge a nasty clogged toilet yet again, I started to grumble (as usual) about all these messes that always fall on me to clean up, and then was reminded about finding joy. Now, I don't think there's all that much joy in a clogged toilet, but even just chanting "find joy, find joy, find joy" helped me stop grumbling and switch gears so that I wasn't cranky and resentful. Baby steps. But it worked.

I could go on and on about all of the good nuggets of wisdom that I found in this book, but I'll just recommend that you go and read it and find out what speaks to you instead.

Tour Dates:

a Rafflecopter giveaway Holy As You Are
Author: Christie Gardiner
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: March 2019
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Purchase:  Amazon Deseret Book 

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Blog Tour: The Five Legends: A Journey to Heal Divided Hearts

The Five Legends: A Journey to Heal Divided Hearts 
The Five Legends: A Journey to Heal Divided Hearts

Book Description:

Drawing on 30 years of helping families, this profound fable by the Anasazi Foundation illustrates the true anguish of conflict and explains how we can end war within ourselves, within our families, and even between nations.

Created in 1988 by renowned wilderness pioneers Larry D. Olsen and Ezekiel C. Sanchez (a Totonac Indian whose native name is Good Buffalo Eagle), the Anasazi Foundation invites young people, through a primitive living experience, to effect a change of heart. For over thirty years, their teachings have helped families begin anew and walk in harmony in the wilderness of the world.

Inspired by their wisdom, this book tells the story of two brothers whose warring hearts threaten to destroy their lives and their community. Trapped in a canyon, the two brothers are rescued by a mysterious old man who perceives their need for peace. He offers to guide them home -- inviting them to open their hearts toward a New Beginning. When they agree, he teaches them the five legends of peace. And as they walk forward, they learn that we are free to create peace in our own lives--and how to do it. This discovery saves not only the brothers but ultimately their people. This poetic narrative offers us all a hopeful way out of the canyons of war, leaving behind the warring within.


Tarah's Review:

I wasn't expecting to like this book, and despite it's small size I thought it would take me a long time to read it. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed it a lot, and finished it quite quickly.  I've already given it to my son to read because I think that he will like it immensely.

I loved the premise behind the book. How peace comes from each of us individually, and that we need to look in our own hearts and stop blaming others. This was told in a story format about two brothers who tore their people apart. When they come together again they are both needing help, and an old man helps them home. While helping them home he tells them these five legends, and eventually helps them each heal their own hearts.

There were so many lessons in this book, and so many things that I think we can all relate too. A wonderful story will teach these lessons without shoving them down your throat, and that is what this book does. 

Andrea's Review:

The Five Legends isn't the type of book that I typically seek out, and it honestly took me awhile to sit down and get started. The foreword had a lot of Navajo words and being unfamiliar with the language I stumbled over the mental pronunciation and it halted my progress. However, when I sat back down a second time to finish the book, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

One of the things that stood out to me is how similar the messages from each of the Five Legends were to what I have been taught in my religion. It helped tie two seemingly different groups together and the knowledge that we have similar beliefs brought a peaceful, united feeling. For me that was the main takeaway. We need to look for what we have in common and work together in life.

I would recommend this book to anyone. It is a quick, clean read with a wonderful message.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Five Legends: A Journey to Heal Divided Hearts 
Title: The Five Legends: A Journey to Heal Divided Hearts
Author: Larry D. Olsen and Ezekiel C. Sanchez
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Published: January 2019
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Blog Tour: Waiting for Fitz by Spencer Hyde

Waiting for Fitz by Spencer Hyde

Book Description:

Addie loves nothing more than curling up on the couch with her dog, Duck, and watching The Great British Baking Show with her mom. It’s one of the few things that can help her relax when her OCD kicks into overdrive. She counts everything. All the time. She can’t stop. Rituals and rhythms. It’s exhausting.

When Fitz was diagnosed with schizophrenia, he named the voices in his head after famous country singers. The adolescent psychiatric ward at Seattle Regional Hospital isn’t exactly the ideal place to meet your soul mate, but when Addie meets Fitz, they immediately connect over their shared love of words, appreciate each other’s quick wit, and wish they could both make more sense of their lives.

Fitz is haunted by the voices in his head and often doesn’t know what is real. But he feels if he can convince Addie to help him escape the psych ward and get to San Juan Island, everything will be okay. If not, he risks falling into a downward spiral that may keep him in the hospital indefinitely.

Waiting for Fitz is a story about life and love, forgiveness and courage, and learning what is truly worth waiting for.

Rorie's Review:

This type of story is one that I normally don't read and I wasn't sure what to expect. This is definitely not a fast-paced, action packed story. Instead it reads more like a memoir and is fairly slow paced throughout most of the book. There is a part near the end that had me on the edge of my seat, but after that issue was resolved it went back to being slow paced. I don't think that this is a bad thing for this type of story, just be aware that that is the writing style. 

I learned a bit about mental health challenges by reading this book, and it gave me even more things to think about. I think it would be a good book for teenagers and even adults to read who are either dealing with mental health issues themselves or they know someone who has those challenges. This story does not have a happily-ever-after, all the problems are solved ending, but it is a good, realistic ending. 
This was a well written story and one that I would recommend to others.
Andrea's Review:
I was somewhat nervous about this book because of the unpredictability of mental illness. Was it going to be depressing and have a sad ending? Thankfully it has a happy ending. There is definitely tragedy, and it’s dealing with heavy issues, but Addie’s first person telling and her humor lightened things considerably.

This is the first thing I’ve read by Stephen Hyde. He did a great job of writing from a teen girl’s point of view (which I had been worried about because many don't have the skill to pull that off). The story is well written and engaging. I was able to connect to some of the characters and really felt for many of them.

I loved the support Addie’s mom gave her. It was exactly the opposite experience of at least one of the other characters, so that contrast really made you feel so many emotions. 

The description of the mental hospital was very interesting. I like how normal things seemed in the ward at times, and then Didi would yell out some show title. :) 

I can see myself reading this again, and I recommended it to my teenage daughter (who also liked it and thought Addie's situation was very interesting). Waiting for Fitz is clean with one mild swearword and some brief violence.
Tarah's Review:
I generally roll my eyes when I see a review on a book that says, "poignant", but honestly, this story really was. It was a very touching story, and reading the author's notes and realizing this was, to some extent, his experience, made it even more so. I honestly didn't think the author could pull off writing from a teen girls perspective, but he nailed it on the head.

I loved how Addie would surround herself with words and play with them, and Fitz was right on it with her. The book quotes Tom Stoppard who says, "I don't think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little." I enjoyed that this book wasn't as depressing as I was expecting it to be, but instead it was filled with hope (mostly, but the non-hopeful times were realistic).
I'm glad we got to see the relationship with Addie and her Mother. I loved that her mom would play Comedy or Tragedy with her and seemed to try really hard to understand her daughter. The love that she showed her was amazing, and it makes me want to be like that with each of my kids.
I already have someone in mind that I think would love this book, even though she normally only reads non-fiction. I also think this would be a great book for a book club to dive into. Waiting for Fitz
Author: Spencer Hyde
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: March 2019
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book 

Friday, March 22, 2019

Blog Tour: Catherine's Intrigue by Paige Edwards

Reviews * Giveaway
Catherine's Intrigue by Paige Edwards

Book Description:

To fulfill her mother's last request, twenty-four-year-old historic design specialist Catherine Pressley-Coombes travels to England in order to investigate an elusive family line. Armed with an illegible diary, she is determined to discover the identity of her mysterious ancestress. Distracted by an Elizabethan manor and unused to British country roads, Catherine runs her car into a ditch. Luckily, Nick Davidson, a handsome, hard-working local rides in on his tractor to save the day. As the down-to-earth manager of his family's estate, Nick also happens to be one of England's most eligible aristocrats.

Nick is certainly not the kind of man Catherine would fall for a man dogged by media and rumor. So why does she find the English lord so irresistible? Even though she can't overlook their differing values and beliefs, as she and Nick spend time together, their attraction deepens. While she battles through romanwa tic turmoil, Catherine is beleaguered with far more sinister concerns: a series of unexplainable misfortunes that are not mere accidents. With her heart on the line, Catherine discovers her life is in jeopardy, and she has no idea who the perpetrator is but she has a growing suspicion that the danger might be connected to whatever secrets lie hidden in her ancestor's diary.

Andrea's Review:

We are told that we shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, and while that is true, I can't help it (at least at first glance). Even now as I type this review I had to turn Catherine's Intrigue over because I REALLY don't like the cover. If you feel the same way, please don't give up on the book!

Sometimes a book description will really throw me too. And honestly, it should have an impact on what you decide to read, but if you find yourself cringing at the uber cheesiness of the back cover's first paragraph, please (once again) don't give up on this book!

Paige Edwards did a very nice job with her debut novel. The story was well crafted and intriguing. The loose ends were tied up nicely, and while there is violence, I would classify this as clean suspense as it wasn't overly graphic.

The romance is clean, and although it develops rather quickly, the story is spread out and we get to see the relationship build and become much more solid.

The religious aspect plays a significant role, but flows fairly well with the rest of the story.

Catherine's Intrigue is worth the read, and I look forward to reading more from this author.

Tarah's Review:

I was lucky that I read the eCopy of this book, because honestly, that cover is not doing this book any favors. I would absolutely not pull that off the shelf and think, "Hey, what's this book about?" I would cringe and put it back on the shelf. Please don't let that stop you. While the writing is maybe not the strongest in the world (and maybe that was due to the editing of the eCopy I was reading...maybe it was unfinished) this is a good story with characters that you want to get to know more of as you keep reading.

The style of story reminded me heavily of Traci Hunter Abramson - A clean romantic suspense novel, where sure, things may happen a little quickly, but you get so wrapped up in the story you don't really mind that the romance was pretty fast.

I do hope that Catherine's brother gets his own story, and I will definitely give his story a go. Nice work for a first novel by Paige Edwards.

Rorie's Review:

This story starts off kind of rough and it took me awhile to start enjoying it, but thankfully, it does pick up after a bit. I was a bit thrown off by some of the English phrases and words that were used, because I really didn't know what they were (not the author's fault, I'm sure they are authentically British, I am just not very knowledgeable in that area.) And do they really eat beef cheek and eel? I knew that eel was a meal eaten in Regency times, but they still do that? I'm not sure how I would feel if I was at a dinner where that was served. But as I get older, I realize that I'm a lot more picky than I used to think I was, so again, that's just a me thing.

Once the story smoothed out and I really got into the plot, I did enjoy it. The main hangup with Catherine and Nick's relationship is fixed in a predictable way, but it was done in a way that meshed well with the story and didn't feel forced at all. I liked how the author switched back and forth between the development of their relationship and the mystery/thriller part of the story.

I would read other books from this author.

Tour Schedule:

*March 22nd:,,,

Tour Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Title: Catherine's Intrigue
Author: Paige Edwards
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: March 2019
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Blog Tour: A Monster Like Me by Wendy S. Swore

A Monster Like Me by Wendy S. Swore

Book Description:

There are trolls, goblins, and witches. Which kind of monster is Sophie?

Sophie is a monster expert. Thanks to her Big Book of Monsters and her vivid imagination, Sophie can identify the monsters in her school and neighborhood. Clearly, the bullies are trolls and goblins. Her nice neighbor must be a good witch, and Sophie’s new best friend is obviously a fairy. But what about Sophie? She’s convinced she is definitely a monster because of the “monster mark” on her face. At least that’s what she calls it. The doctors call it a blood tumor. Sophie tries to hide it but it covers almost half her face. And if she’s a monster on the outside, then she must be a monster on the inside, too.

Being the new kid at school is hard. Being called a monster is even harder. Sophie knows that it’s only a matter of time before the other kids, the doctors, and even her mom figure it out. And then her mom will probably leave — just like her dad did.

Because who would want to live with a real monster?

Inspired by real events in the author’s life, A Monster Like Me teaches the importance of believing in oneself, accepting change, and the power of friendship.

Rorie's Review:

Everyone needs to read this book. Young, old, in-between, everyone. There is so much that we can all learn from the characters in this story. I laughed, I cried - both happy and sad tears, I was heartbroken and filled with joy. I know I'm completely gushing, but that's just how good this book was. Sophie's life as a "monster" was so hard to read about, especially when the bullying came to a head. I felt her despair and ached for her. Despite all the bad, I could see how many people she had that loved her and saw past the mark on her face. 

Aside from the story being really good, I enjoyed all of the excerpts from The Book of Monsters that we got to read at the beginning of each chapter. These excerpts had a lot of valuable life lessons in them as well. 

This is definitely a keeper and one that I will encourage all of my kids to read.
Andrea's Review:
I was drawn in right away and really felt for Sophie, especially regarding the situation in the grocery store. And, reading that those words were what really happened to the author made it even worse. 

There were several touching moments where the reader got to witness the best in people, and the worst in others (the bullies at school). It was eye opening to get a glimpse into one of the bully’s home lives to understand a little better about why he was probably acting the way he was.

The messages about kindness and how our actions, not our appearance, are what makes us a monster or not were wonderful. 

I didn’t notice that the book said how old Sophie was. Some things made me think she was in middle school but then other things (like her very active imagination) made her seem younger. Her obsession with monsters actually became a bit much for me, but I think the intended audience would probably really enjoy that.

The story left things hanging a bit at the end, but enough is implied that it gives the reader a happy ending. It is definitely worth the read and one I'd like my kids to read.
Tarah's Review:
Another great Middle Grade read that everyone should read, but make sure you have some tissues with you! I know the bulk of this story is about bullying, and about believing in yourself, but the part I loved most was about Autumn. It really struck me how friendly she was, and how accepting. Maybe we should all take that lesson to heart more than anything. Especially since her life wasn't all roses either. She was going through some pretty hard times, but was happy, patient with others, helpful and friendly. When my kids read this, that is the lesson I want them to take away. Life is going to be hard, and sometimes it isn't going to go how you want it to, but you have a choice about how you respond to your trials and those people around you. 
All of the minor characters made for a great read. I didn't love that Sophie immediately classified everyone and put them in a little box and then refused to let them be something different, but we definitely do that in our own lives, don't we?
This was a good read that really makes you think.
A Monster Like Me
Title: A Monster Like Me
Author: Wendy S. Swore
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: March 2019
ISBN: 1629725552
Source: I received an eCopy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book   

Friday, March 15, 2019

Blog Tour: Sanctuary by Traci Hunter Abramson

Reviews * Giveaway
Sanctuary by Traci Hunter Abramson

Book Description:

Kristi Hartinger has come to terms with her life as a single, thirty-something woman. She was in love . . . once. But following her boyfriend's tragic death, no one else could capture her heart. And nothing else could fill that void, though the serenity of the ocean came close. Two years ago, Kristi left the craziness of her Wall Street career behind and embraced a simpler life on her family's private island off the coast of Maine. As a resident of the small beach community, she anticipates a quiet future—until she comes face-to-face with her past.

Ace Samson is dead, or so the world believes. As a member of a secret organization known as the guardians, he was forced to fake his death years ago, leaving everything behind when he became an agent. So when he is selected to offer a potential new recruit a job with the organization, Ace braces himself: for the first time in more than a decade, he must face the woman he loved—and left.

Kristi's world is rocked by Ace's sudden reappearance, and she's soon drawn into his world of danger and cover-up. But when Kristi herself becomes a target, Ace will do whatever it takes to protect the only woman he has ever loved.

Andrea's Review:

I enjoyed the last Guardians book I read, so I had high hopes for Sanctuary. The cover was great, and I really liked the idea of the story (a romance is destroyed when the man "dies" only to come back twenty years later). I typically enjoy the first love, second chances trope.

Sadly, I found Sanctuary to be drawn out and it didn't really hold my attention for much of the story. The action really picked up near the end and that pulled me in. It has a happy ending of sorts, but it really left me scratching my head. It's been a year and a half since I read the last book, so I think I was missing some important points about the Guardian program. The guardians that are focused on in this story are out in public often (At least Ace is). They typically try to blend in, but don't go out of their way to hide their faces or disguise themselves, except in an area they grew up. I didn't understand why Ace couldn't just get a face lift or something to change his appearance so he and Kristi could openly be together with her family.

Tarah's Review:

I've really enjoyed this Guardian series, so I jumped on the chance to read Sanctuary. I really really liked Ace in the other books and I was excited to see him get his own book. However, I found that this book wasn't quite up to my cup of tea. It was well written, and it had an interesting story line, but I never really connected with the characters so I struggled with their struggles. It took me awhile to finish this book when I normally can finish these in a day.

I completely understood Kristi's hesitations in being in a relationship with Ace. I didn't quite understand why she was so important to the Guardian program (she seemed to get a lot more out of it than she was putting in), but the whole conflict between Ace and Kristi wasn't resolved to my liking. The overall conflict was solved well, but I didn't like the relationship resolution. I'm also confused about who the next book in the series will be about. We've kind of hit all the major characters, and so if there is going to be a new book then they will have to be a character we don't know about.

I'll keep reading from this author and reread her other books, but this one was a miss for me.

Rorie's Review:

I have read a handful of Traci's books and every time I do, I'm reminded at how much I enjoy them and also how much I really need to go back and read the earlier books in the series. So much to read, so little time to do it. One of these days it will happen.

Anyway, I remember some of the details from the last book in the Guardian series, and I was happy to see that Renee and Kade had a pretty big role in this story.

The whole "dying" and giving up your entire life, including any loved ones is such a heartbreaking idea for me to think about. I can understand why the Guardians have to do it, but I still can't even imagine leaving everything you've ever known behind.

I don't know how realistic the whole hiring Kristi bit was - one would think that it could really backfire and ruin everything for the Guardian program. But, this is fiction and it worked for me.

I enjoyed this story and tried my best to find every spare minute in a busy week to read it. The ending made me sad, but I'm not sure that the author could have come up with any realistic way to give this story a fairy-tale, everyone is happy sort of ending.

Tour Schedule:

Tour Giveaway:

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Title: Sanctuary
Author: Traci Hunter Abramson
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: March 2019
ISBN: 1524407380
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Blog Tour: Seven at Sea by Erik Orton and Emily Orton

Book Description:

Working the night shift as a temp in a high-rise cubicle, Erik Orton knew something had to change. He felt the responsibility of providing for his wife and their five children the youngest with Down syndrome but craved a life that offered more than just surviving.
Watching the sailboats on the Hudson River during his sunset dinner breaks, Erik dared to dream. What would it be like to leave the hustle of the city and instead spend a year on a sailboat, somewhere beautiful, as a family? Despite having no sailing experience, his wife Emily s phobia of deep water, and already stretching every dollar to pay rent and buy groceries, the family of seven turned their excuses into reasons and their fears into motivation. Sure, they would miss their friends, they could go broke, they could get injured or die. Worst of all, they could humiliate themselves by trying something audacious and failing. But the little time they still had together as a family, before their oldest daughter left for college, was drifting away. The Ortons cast off the life they knew to begin an uncertain journey of 5,000 miles between New York City and the Caribbean, ultimately arriving at a new place within themselves.
A portrait of a captivating and resilient family and a celebration of the courage it takes to head for something over the horizon, this is a deeply compelling story told alternately by Erik and Emily for all those who dream of leaving routine in their wake.

Wow. Just. Wow. I can't even imagine leaving my comfortable life to go live on a sailboat for a year. Probably because I'm really paranoid about one of my kids drowning, and mostly because of seasickness and I don't handle puking at all.  (Yes, seasickness tops drowning because I have more faith in my kids learning how to swim well than I do my being able to handle puking.)

There is nothing at all similar with me and the Orton family. First off, living in (and liking!) New York City. Second, being brave enough to give up everything for a year to sail. While I can't quite wrap my mind around the desire to do something like that, I can definitely admire it. Their whole family went through so much trial and error, joy, calamity, you name it, in the year they were gone. I'm sure they all grew so much in that short time. It took me a little while to get into the book, but about 1/3rd of the way through I was hooked, and finished it in just a few days. I've been to a few of the islands that they visited, so it was fun to read about their experiences there while reminiscing about the fun times I had on those same islands.

If you're the adventurous type (or even if you're not,) this is an entertaining book to read. Erik and Emily are very conscientious about family togetherness and I can get behind that 100%. We may not live the same lifestyle, but there are so many things that we can agree on. Seven at Sea
Author: Erik Orton & Emily Orton
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: March 2019
ISBN: 162972551X
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

DVD Spotlight: Jane and Emma

Now Available on DVD
Jane and Emma

Movie Synopsis: 

JANE & EMMA is based on the life of Sister Jane Manning, one of the first black Mormons. She returns to Nauvoo to find that Joseph Smith, her prophet and friend, has been assassinated. Jane spends a ceaseless night with his widow, Emma Smith, sitting watch over the body of the prophet as a whirlwind of loss and confusion leaves them wondering how either one of them will be able to move forward. Through the long night, Jane wonders if the prophet’s promise to extend the blessings of eternity to her has died along with him. The film explores the possible events of that night, including Jane’s endeavor to remain amongst the Mormon people and Emma’s struggle to cope with her heartbreaking loss. Poignant issues of racism and polygamy threaten to break their bond of friendship. In the end, will Jane and Emma have the courage to follow the path each believes they must take?

Movie Trailer:


Friday, March 8, 2019

Blog Tour: A Guarded Heart by Heidi Kimball

Reviews * Giveaway
A Guarded Heart by Heidi Kimball

Book Description:

Three years after a shocking scandal destroyed her family and forced her into isolation, Eleanor Hayward finally has an opportunity to put her painful history and dashed hopes behind her. But reentering society is no simple task. In her cousin's glittering ballroom, Eleanor is stunned when she comes face-to-face with the man who broke her heart those years before.

Edmund Fletcher thought he had laid the past to rest until he unexpectedly encounters the woman who so nearly became his wife. Soon to be engaged to another, Edmund knows he must let go of the complicated feelings he harbors for Eleanor. However, when the Hayward scandal resurfaces and the truth behind their parting is revealed, Eleanor and Edmund are left reeling. Tormented by thoughts of what could have been, they realize it is impossible to rewrite history. But is there a future in which they might both find happiness—and true love?

Rorie's Review:

It is crazy to me how much people in high society were punished for the misdeeds of someone else in their family. It seems completely ridiculous to me, but apparently it was all-too common back then.

I really enjoyed this story, but there were a few very minor things that I had issues with. First, there were a lot of people to keep track of, and I kept forgetting who was who. I'd have to go back a few chapters until I found out who that certain person was. Second, I didn't realize right away that this story went back and forth between present day and the past, so it took me a minute to figure out what was going on. These issues are easily fixed though, and didn't bother me enough that I didn't like the story.

Both Eleanor and Edmund have an unpleasant history, and they both battle feelings of not being good enough because of it. It is because of these issues that they don't really communicate all that well.

My heart ached for Eleanor, her father and Samuel. I wish things could have turned out differently there, but I couldn't think of anything else that would have been believable.

This story is full of heartache, sorrow, happiness and joy. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

Andrea's Review:

I liked the story but the jumping back and forth in time was a bit much. Thankfully the year was included when that happened so you could keep track of things, but I was anxious for the story to continue and it kept going back to tell the whole backstory in pieces.

That aside, I did enjoy the story. It was clean and had a sad story of heartbreak and second chances. I felt bad for Eleanor and all she went through-being shunned for the rumored acts of her brother, even by her closest friends. Luckily she had a relative who reached out after three years and helped her make some steps toward happiness.

Edmund was a great guy who also had been dealt some big blows that unfortunately lead to rush judgment.

I’m not sure if I’d read this again due to all the flashbacks, but it was a good story.

Tarah's Review:

I actually didn't mind all the flashbacks, but when the first one came I did do a double take to check the years. After that, I just expected it, and was glad for more backstory. I love knowing the whys of things, so I'm a huge fan of backstory, and I liked how this one was presented.

This book went really fast for me. I sat and devoured it in a day, much to the detriment of all else around me. I was taken into the story and wondering how everything with Eleanor and her brother and Edmund was going to work out.

I felt the pain of both characters, and the misunderstandings that stood in their way. Thinking about it later I felt like these were actually a good thing for their relationship and I was happy with the way the author brought everything about.

I will definitely be reading this again, with a box of tissues, and I will recommend it to my book reading friends.
Tour Dates:

a Rafflecopter giveaway A Guarded Heart
Author: Heidi Kimball
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: March 2019
ISBN: 1524406864
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book 

$25 Romance is in the Air Giveaway Showcasing Author Kimberley Montpetit

The Fiance's Secret by Kimberley Montpetit 

He's a successful entrepreneur who almost has it all. She's the long-ago crush—the girl who got away. When they meet again, fireworks explode once more. But will a buried secret steal their second chance at a happy ending? 

Troy Thurlow let the girl of his dreams get away fourteen years ago, back when he was a high school football star. Now he’s a highly successful executive with a life most people only dream of. Still, he's never stopped thinking about Jasmine, and wondering what would have happened if he'd ever had the courage to ask her on a date. When he meets her by chance on a New York business trip, he's determined to take this second opportunity and run with it. That is, if his past doesn't catch up with him first . . . 

Jasmine Cervantes does “happily ever after” for a living, arranging dream-destination honeymoons for the fabulously rich and famous. But, so far, her own fairy-tale ending has eluded her. That is, until the boy she couldn’t stop dreaming about in high school barges unexpectedly into her office one day. 

When the two start a whirlwind romance they begin to see that fate is giving them a helping hand. Until Jasmine ends up on Italy’s most romantic coast without him. Missing him desperately, she begins to believe that Troy is truly “the one.” 

But he's hiding something that could change everything . . . 



“I have a confession to make,” she said, kicking up the sand with her toes. 

“You—confessions?” Troy teased, but he seemed to tense as if unsure what she was about to tell him.  
“I heard rumors that you were living out of the country. I figured I’d never see you again.” 

“So why didn’t you come to our ten-year reunion?” 

“I was on an important honeymoon trip right then. With Standing Ovation,” she quickly added with a laugh. “Not my own.” 

Troy chuckled, but she thought she saw his jaw clench a little. “I figured that’s what you meant.” 

“October in the South Pacific is very nice. That’s when the reunion was, right? At that point, the couple who wanted to honeymoon in Bali was our biggest client we’d ever had so I couldn’t tell my VP no.” 

“I guess our lives weren’t meant to cross right then. Extended business trips that sometimes kept me away for a few months. Especially at the beginning of the founding of DREAMS. We were hustling like crazy. All of us keeping insane schedules.” 

“That makes sense. Assumptions are often not true. Isn’t that human nature?” 

They paused at the shoreline, warm waves tickling Jasmine’s ankles. She wrapped her other arm around Troy’s waist, snuggling into him tighter while he put his other arm around her, while they stood staring out at the Atlantic. 

“You feel fantastic, Jasmine,” Troy whispered, brushing his lips against her hair. 

“I was just thinking the same thing about you,” she whispered in return, her voice barely above the sound of the rushing ocean. 

The water was black, but under the starlight, the waves were a soft, frothy white breaking along the shore. 

Troy turned so that they faced each other, and Jasmine snuggled into his chest, his body warming hers in a perfect fit. She was dizzy with his closeness, longing for more. 

“I can hear your heart pounding,” she told him, gazing up into his face. 

“My heart’s going crazy because I’m overcome by the most beautiful woman in the world. If I go into cardiac arrest, just kiss me and I’ll come right back.” 

“Like Sleeping Beauty kissing the prince instead of the other way around?”


The Executive's Secret is Free starting Friday, March 8th


5 stars! LOVED THIS ONE! I ended up binge reading it until I could barely keep my eyes open but it was totally worth it!

This book pulled at my heartstrings. I loved how the characters were developed so that I could clearly feel their emotions. This book was clean but still involved passion and I appreciate that. I loved every second.

Love, love, loved this book!!!!! If you want a book that will leave you feeling happy, satisfied, and so much more then read this book.



Author Kimberley Montpetit 

When she was in Paris, Kimberley Montpetit spent most of her souvenir money at the La Patisserie shops with their beautiful and delicious pastries. She grew up in the fabulous city of San Francisco, loves all things chocolate, and now lives in a small town along the Rio Grande with her engineer husband and three sons. 

She once stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland and didn't sleep a wink, sailed the Seine in Paris, rode a camel in the ancient world wonder of Petra, shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria. 

Kimberley also writes Award-winning Middle-Grade novels with Scholastic and epic Young Adult novels with Harpercollins under the name, Kimberley Griffiths Little.  



Giveaway Details: 

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway 

Ends 3/28/19 

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Kathy from Clean Wholesome Romance and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.