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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Blog Tour: To Die, To Sleep by Stephanie Black

 
Book Description: 

After surviving a difficult year, Natalie Marsh is heading for Ellsberg Keep, an exclusive mountain resort that promises to provide the tranquility she desperately needs. She's eager to relax and to reconnect with her estranged cousin Lily, who works as the Keep's nurse—a reunion that begins abruptly when an accident on the winding mountain roads lands Natalie in the infirmary in the care of her cousin. They have little time to bond over childhood memories, however. Everything is thrown into chaos when the owner of the Keep is rushed to the medical wing, wildly delusional and raving about a murder plot.
Despite Lily's care, the owner dies. Is his death simply an accident, or are his frenzied suspicions true? Determined to help Lily cope with the loss of her patient—and the accusations that she's to blame for his death—Natalie searches for answers and is swept into a mystery that grows more puzzling as frightening hallucinations torment the dead man's son. When a staff member who asks too many questions disappears, it is clear that this idyllic resort harbors someone with deadly intent—and Natalie may not survive to uncover the truth.
 
Rorie's Review: 
 
Imagine going on a vacation to recover from some horrible happenings in your life, only to find yourself stuck in an overpriced retreat where people keep dying. That is Natalie's life in this book. 

The author does a great job of keeping the reader guessing about who the bad guy is. Even when Natalie figured it out for real, I wasn't entirely convinced she was right, because it wasn't who I thought it was going to be.

I think Anthony and Finn were probably my favorite characters. The entire Ellsburg family had me shaking my head in disbelief at times. Definitely an interesting bunch of characters. Also, the setting for this story? It was supposed to be this posh (overpriced) getaway up in the mountains. To me, it came across as this spooky, dark and drafty fortress - probably due to all the dying and crazy people, but also due to the cover of the book. 

This was one of those books where I'd tell myself I'd read "just to the end of the chapter," and finally have to force myself to put the book down 4 chapters later. Not too creepy to read alone at night, but suspenseful enough that I had to keep reading in order to find out what was going to happen next.
 
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Title: To Die, To Sleep 
Author: Stephanie Black
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: November 2019
ISBN: 1524409138
Source: Review copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.
 
Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book 

Friday, November 15, 2019

Review: Bouncing Back by Brandon Carter

Bouncing Back by Brandon Carter

Book Description:

Ever feel like life is kicking you while you're down? That there is no light at the end of the tunnel or want to give up on hoping?

Brandon Carter's book is called "Bouncing Back." It's about his life before and after having brain surgery about 10 years ago. Brandon went from having a successful life as a semi-pro baseball player, to having to learn to walk and talk again post-surgery. He would not accept "no" or "you can't" as an answer, and he fought hard to become who he is today. He overcame the odds to become a youth leader and coach in his church, get a 4.0 GPA in college, and become a scoutmaster. It was during this process that he learned to lean on Christ for his strength, and he has a very strong testimony today because of it.

This story is one of hope and proves that you can do anything no matter who may tell you that you can’t!


Review:

I don't read many memoirs (or much non-fiction for that matter), but an old friend of mine was very touched by Brandon's story and sent me a copy of his book to read.

There's no denying that Brandon's story is inspirational. Coming back after being knocked down in the prime of your life by surgery and many life altering aftereffects due to a brain tumor isn't something that everyone has the willpower to do. Brandon's doctor told him he would never walk again, but he refused to believe that. He worked hard to regain his physical abilities, and he didn't stop there. He came back to the church of his youth after being estranged from it for years and found happiness and fulfillment in his callings and associations. He wanted to improve himself, so he went back to school and did very well.

Brandon shares that his speech was affected, but I didn't truly understand what he meant until I watched one of his videos online. Having watched that I think his accomplishments are even more impressive in this harsh world.

The support he received at the time of his diagnosis and through the surgery and years of recovery was very touching.

The story is told in a bit of an unorthodox manner, jumping back and forth throughout his life. He acknowledges that it might be confusing, and includes a timeline of events in one of the later chapters. While you don't get the polish out of this book that you would with a traditionally published story, it has a wonderful message and is worth the read.

Giveaway:


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Title: Bouncing Back
Author: Brandon Carter
Publisher: Independently Published
Published: August 2018
ISBN: 1717972241
Source: eCopy from a friend. All opinions expressed are my own.

Purchase: Amazon

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Blog Tour: Maggie's Place by Annette Haws

Review * Giveaway
 Maggie's Place by Annette Haws

Book Description:

Years ago, Mary Margaret Sullivan changed her name, boxed up her previous life, moved into the Eagle Gate Apartments, and hid her painful memories in her chicken-wire storage unit in the basement. But secrets have an inconvenient way of surfacing when least expected.

Three weeks before Christmas, an elegant man in a penthouse, a young woman named Carly—homeless and ill with pneumonia—and two calculating thieves invade Maggie’s carefully reconstructed life, and in different ways, each is connected to Maggie’s difficult past. As Maggie and friends nurse Carly back to health, hearts begin to heal with a hope for the future. But all is not as it seems. When faced with the shocking truth, Maggie must rely on her wits, her friends, and her own strength as never before.

Review:

Maggie's Place was such a pleasant surprise. While the description caught my attention, I wasn't sure what to expect from the author. I'm happy to say that Annette Haws really delivered with this novel.

Maggie is a senior citizen with limited means and a mysterious past. Life seems to have given her more than her fair share of lemons, and I found myself very invested to see if she would get a happy ending. I loved her friends, and felt so bad about her strained relationship with her children.

My emotions took quite the ride throughout the story. I literally laughed and cried and loved the themes of love, redemption, and forgiveness.

I highly recommend Maggie's Place, and am looking forward to reading it again.

About the Author: 

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A people watcher from an early age and a native of a small college town on the northern edge of Utah, Annette Haws examines the tribulations and the foibles of characters playing their parts on a small stage. A graduate of Utah State University, Annette also did honors graduate work in American Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Iowa and the University of Utah. Annette’s best memories from her years teaching in the public school system are coaching mock trial and a; particularly, an all girls team of ninth-graders that advanced to win the state championship.

After spending fourteen years in the classroom, Annette set aside her denim skirts and practical shoes to pursue her interest in writing fiction. Three of her short stories, “Fish Stories,” “The Gift of Tongues,” and “Come to Zion” have been published in Dialogue Journal. Her first novel about the travails of a school teacher, Waiting for the Light to Change, won Best of State, A Whitney Award for Best Fiction, and the League of Utah Writers award for best published fiction. Her second novel, The Accidental Marriage, a delightful story of a new marriage that runs amuck, was released in December of 2013. In Maggie’s Place, Ms. Haws tackles young love, homelessness, suicide, knitting, dementia, and the personal baggage that encumbers people entering the third act of their lives.

She is the mother of four above average children and is the spouse of a patient husband. 


Join Annette Haws tonight,
November 14th, from 7:00-9:00 PM at 
The King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City
for the Maggie's Place launch party. 

Tour Giveaway:

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Title: Maggie's Place
Author: Annette Haws
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: November 2019
ISBN: 1524410160
Source: Review copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Book Review: The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden

The Spice King (Hope and Glory, #1)
Book Description:

Gray Delacroix has dedicated his life to building an acclaimed global spice empire, but it has come at a cost. Resolved to salvage his family before they spiral out of control, he returns to his ancestral home for good after years of traveling the world.

As a junior botanist for the Smithsonian, Annabelle Larkin has been charged with the impossible task of gaining access to the notoriously private Delacroix plant collection. If she fails, she will be out of a job and the family farm in Kansas will go under. She has no idea that in gaining entrance to the Delacroix world, she will unwittingly step into a web of dangerous political intrigue far beyond her experience.

Unable to deny her attraction to the reclusive business tycoon, Annabelle will be forced to choose between her heart and loyalty to her country. Can Gray and Annabelle find a way through the storm of scandal without destroying the family Gray is fighting to save?


Book Review:

I have really enjoyed books by Elizabeth Camden, but I was hesitant to read this book because of the title. I'm not big into spices.  I consider salt my spice of choice and generally leave everything else out, so even though it's weird, that worried me about reading this book. I felt like I wouldn't be able to relate. My silly fears were unfounded, and while there was some spice stuff in the book, it wasn't as heavy as I thought it would be. Really it was more in the first quarter of the book, and it was interesting. But I digress.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I think one of the reasons I liked it was because the romance was a little different than I'm used to. There wasn't any hemming or hawing about does he like me, is she interested. They were both open with their feelings and there wasn't any stress in that area. The conflict came from people choices, and how those choices affected families. It was different, and I loved it.
I also found the food regulations very intriguing. I will admit I'm not super picky about what goes into my food, so reading about what businesses would put in their food and try to pass it off as something different was very eye opening. The cost aspect of it for the general person was an area I'm glad was also brought out in the story.
This was definitely another winner in my book by Elizabeth Camden, and I can't wait for the rest of the series. Gray's siblings stories are going to be very good!


The Spice King (Hope and Glory, #1)

Title: The Spice King
Author: Elizabeth Camden
Publisher: Bethany House
Published: September 2019
ISBN: 0764232118
Source: I received a copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Spotlight: The Forgotten Carols



The Forgotten Carols stage performance is a show that recounts the story of Christ’s birth as told by little known characters in the nativity story. The accounts from the Innkeeper, the Shepherd and others, reminds us of what the world has forgotten about Christmas.

Michael McLean, the creator and performer in the show, has been putting this performance on for 28 years now. After 28 years McLean says he has actually changed it up. He tells us the actors and songs remain the same, but he added a magical twist. He urges all who haven’t and even those who have to come see what he has in store this year.

The Forgotten Carols have 19 performances starting November 26th and goes until December 23rd. Buy tickets, find showtimes, and more information on their website www.forgottencarols.com.

Giveaway:

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Blog Tour: The Heart of the Rebellion by Sian Ann Bessey


Book Description:

September 1400 
King Richard II of England is dead. And after three years in His Majesty's service, Rhys ap Tudor and his brother Gwilym are finally free to return to their ancestral home in North Wales. Their long anticipated homecoming is overshadowed, however, by the harsh changes they encounter in their once peaceful land. The new king, Henry IV, rules with an iron fist, and the country is ripe for rebellion. Instantly thrust into the forefront of the conflict, the proud Tudor brothers enter the fight for their freedom.
Lady Catrin Buckley is alert to the unrest swirling around her. As the daughter of an English father and a Welsh mother, she knows too well the trouble her lineage poses. Her own battle, however, is one of the heart: she is to be married to a man she neither knows nor loves. Then an unexpected encounter with the enigmatic Rhys ap Tudor changes everything. Soon, Catrin finds herself swept into a rebellion that could not only change history but also rewrite her own future.

Rorie's Review:

I had heard of the Tudors before, but wasn't sure if they were real people or not. It was interesting to read the author's note at the end that gave the reader more information on these very real people. I always enjoy extra information with these historical novels. 

As usual, I completely butcher Welsh pronunciation, but this time it didn't make my mind stutter as much as it has in the past, which made for a much smoother reading. 

I really enjoyed this story. Catrin and her relationship with her father, Rhys and others that she came in contact with just made the story for me. I do wonder what happened to her father though. I may have to reread it and see if I missed that information in there somewhere. It is so easy to get lost in these stories. I always enjoy reading book from this author.

I'm not usually one to comment on the cover of a book, but I absolutely love this one. I kept looking at it, just taking everything in. Catrin's dress is beautiful and the scenery is breathtaking. Whoever chose this cover did an amazing job.

Tarah's Review:

All I know about Tudor times I learned on the Great British Baking Show, so this was an interesting time frame for me. I was pulled into the story right away, and couldn't wait to see what happened next.
I loved the interactions between Catrin and Rhys. Rhys is a great lead character. His interactions with his brothers and his soldiers were well done, and I would have liked to have had more of that in the story.
I felt like the pacing of the book was a little off. It never dragged, but it went from a slower pace to a very quick battle and then nothing. It seemed like the battles were super simple and quick, and I struggled with that.
I'm super curious about what happened with Catrin's father. I wished the story would have delved into that. I feel like a lot was missing from that aspect of the story, and it would have flushed things out a little more had we been privy to what happened to him and what he thought about his daughter's decisions. Even if it came from her maid's point of view, I felt like we needed more from that area of the story.
It was a quick read, it was entertaining, and the history behind it made me curious to know more. I will pass this along to others.

Giveaway:
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Title: The Heart of the Rebellion
Author: Sian Ann Bessey
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: November 2019
ISBN: 1524409731
Source: Review copies from the publisher. All opinions expressed are our own.

Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book

Friday, November 1, 2019

Blog Tour: A Different Kind of Strong by Daniel L. Trotter


A Different Kind of Strong by Daniel L. Trotter


Book Synopsis:  

On October 14, 2011, Daniel Trotter began a forty-day fast. He was consumed by the question and desperate to know, what do I do? After thirty days in the wilderness, God sent him home with an answer. It was, “Come back to Me.”

For decades, Daniel was held in thrall to alcohol, drugs, porn, and depression. He had friends, but life had lost all meaning.

During a radical thirty-day fast, Daniel encountered God – and great temptation. Afterward, he lost his wife, and his home, but he gained a new perspective – God’s. He went back to school and graduated with honors. God blessed him with a remarriage to someone who understands his heart and shares his faith. He has found peace and purpose.

Daniel found freedom in God’s love and in following God and living according to his precepts. Daniel’s memoir will show you how God can heal every physical, mental and emotional hurt and help you to become whole.

Review:

I don't read a lot of non-fiction, but found A Different Kind of Strong to be a worthwhile and eye-opening read. One of the best things about the book is that we should never give up hope on someone who has lost their way. Many people probably thought that Daniel wasn't ever going to get clean-that he was a "lost cause", but against the odds he came to realize that he needed to change. And I loved that he had a few people in his life that he could always call on that loved him and were a positive influence-no matter what he'd done. I hope that I can be that kind of person for someone.

Daniel tells his story by going back and forth between the past and the present. Some of his history is quite shocking-maybe even surprising that someone would be willing to share those dark parts of their past with the world. But, we wouldn't truly be able to understand his transformation if he'd held back. You don't often hear about people doing a complete 180 with their lives, and Daniel's story is inspiring.

Never starting with things like drugs, alcohol, and pornography can save you from so much self destruction and hurt. Also, the company you keep makes such a huge difference in your life. We all know these things, but Daniel's story shows really drives it home.

There were a few things that I would have liked more details on (i.e. his fast), but that didn't detract from the messages in the book.


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Tour Giveaway:

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Title: A Different Kind of Strong (Second Edition)
Author: Daniel L. Trotter
Publisher: Open Door
Published: August 2019
ISBN: 1733149503
Source: Review copy from the author. All opinions expressed are my own.

Purchase: Amazon