Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Blog Tour: Inventing Vivian by Jennifer Moore

Book Description:

Ladies of London’s High Society are known for their social graces and poise. Vivian Kirby boasts neither of these enviable qualities, though she does offer impressive conversation on chemical compositions. Unfortunately, it appears that not many men want a brilliant wife. So it is that Vivian finds kinship with a group of young women who embrace each other’s differences: The Blue Orchid Society.

After an extended stay in China, Lord Benedict has returned transformed to his family’s estate, where an encounter with Vivian, whose scientific knowledge he once undermined, leaves him determined to make amends. He arranges to help forward her research—anonymously, of course. Through letters, Vivian establishes a warm friendship with her secret benefactor, even as she’s unexpectedly drawn into a murder investigation that forces her to work alongside Benedict to unearth the truth. Soon, Vivian fears she may be falling in love with two men, never suspecting that they are one and the same.


I have been looking forward to reading this book ever since I finished "Solving Sophronia" back when it first came out. I get a kick out of each of the members of the Blue Orchid Society, and look forward to getting to know each one better. 

I'll admit, I am about as opposite from Vivian as a person can get. I am most definitely NOT scientific- and math-minded, but it was so fun to pretend like I understood anything about the stuff that excited Vivian. All of her inventions were beyond cool though, especially being in that time period when women were supposed to be seen and not heard. 

Opposites definitely attract in this story, because Vivian and Lord Benedict could not be any more different... in some ways, but in the ways that really matter, they were a lot more alike than probably even they thought. 

I don't know whose story will come next, but I am already looking forward to it. 


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Title: Inventing Vivian
Author: Jennifer Moore
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: June 2021
ISBN: 1524418943
Source: I received a copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Book Review: The Cost of Secrets by Tyson Abaroa

Book Description:

Museum curator Ray Peralta knows that at the best of times, the Superstition Mountain Museum is a magnet for treasure hunters chasing the legendary Lost Dutchman's Mine. But this winter, his small desert town on the outskirts of Phoenix worries him as the visitors clear out and the vigilantes move in. Generally, the Sons of Liberty roll into Phoenix Valley for a week each winter with their souped-up army jeeps and dirt bikes to conduct drills in the desert and wreak havoc on the town before they leave. But this year, there is an undeniable tension in the air, and within days of the group's arrival, instead of the usual trail of destruction, they leave a wake of death.

There are secrets lurking in the Superstition Mountains not related to any treasure. Countless people have lost their lives in that sweltering desert, and it isn't the heat that has taken them. How did they die? That's the real mystery. And in the midst of the riddle stands Ray, a man who swore an oath of secrecy—and he'll die before he breaks it.


Every now and then it's nice to step away from the romance books that I typically read and go for something completely different. This book definitely fit that bill. I'm thinking it's part of a sequel, because there are so many unanswered questions. I'm not sure if there was a book before this one or not, but it seemed like the reader should know more of the back story than we learn about in this book. 

This was an entertaining read and I enjoyed that it was set in the Superstition Mountains, since I went on a hike there several years ago and loved it. It's always fun to read books that are set in locations I'm familiar with. 
Author Bio:
Whitney Award Winning author, Tyson Abaroa,  was born in Provo, UT but raised in Gilbert, AZ. His freshman year of high school he was assigned to write an essay on what he’d be when he grew up. He turned in a step by step plan to become world dictator. That should have been his first clue that maybe he should keep imagining. In July 2001 between his junior and senior year of high school he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserves. After graduating high school, boot camp, and MOS school; his unit was deployed to build a fuel hose line in support of the invasion of Iraq. After this deployment he served in the Chile Santiago East Mission. He married soon after returning home and just before his first 
anniversary was deployed again. This time to Djibouti, Africa as part of a provisional security company. Tyson’s ADHD has led to an eclectic career after the Marine Corps. He has been a credit card collector, a claims processor, a Track Director for USA BMX, and now a Pest Control Technician. He draws from his experiences and develops stories to write about in his spare time.


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Title: The Cost of Secrets
Author: Tyson Abaroa
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: June 2021
ISBN: 1524417890
Source: I received a copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book 

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Book Review: Strong Like the Sea by Wendy S. Swore

Book Description:

Even though twelve-year-old Alexis was born in Hawaii, she won't surf or swim with her friends-not since the ocean and its hidden creatures swept her out to sea. Instead, she grabs her best detective hat and decodes her mom's latest challenge.

Alex's mom works in counterintelligence and leaves codes, ciphers, and puzzles behind for Alex to solve, always with a "treasure" at the end. It's a brilliant game between them, and Alex loves figuring out her moms puzzles-especially the tricky ones-but when an emergency at sea puts her mom in possible danger, solving the next one suddenly feels far more urgent.

Friends help as Alex races to decipher each clue before time runs out, but when the trail leads to grumpy old Uncle, his enormous dog Sarge, and a sea turtle unlike any other, the challenge changes into something bigger than any before. With storms on the horizon and lives on the line, Alex must face her fears to solve Mom's challenge and save those she loves. With her ohana to help, she must be strong like the sea. 


I've had the privilege of visiting Hawaii a handful times in my life, and reading this story not only brought back so many of those fun memories, but also made me want to go back again soon. 

I enjoyed getting to know Alex and her ohana. Her mom and dad, yes, but mostly her Uncle Tanaka. He definitely would have intimidated me, so it was extra fun to really get to know him. 

There are a few different stories interwoven in this book, but they all come together really well at the end. This is a feel-good story, one that shows the reader that you can do hard things (something I tell my kids probably more often than they'd like...) I look forward to passing this story on to my kids and hope they enjoy it as much as I did.

About the Author:

Wendy S. Swore and her family are farmers. She writes part-time, particularly in winter when her farming chores give her time to plant seeds in her imagination. Her debut novel, A Monster Like Me, was the 2019 Gold Winner for Juvenile Fiction from Foreword Reviews. She is a member of SCBWI.

Wendy S. Swore is the author of A Monster Like Me, nominee of the Arizona Grand Canyon Reader Award, the Oklahoma Sequoyah Award and winner of the Foreword Reviews Indie Gold Award for Juvenile Fiction. 

Title: Strong Like the Sea
Author: Wendy S. Swore
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: May 2021
ISBN: 1629729027
Source: I received a copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book

Friday, May 28, 2021

Book Review: Like Unto Moroni by H.B. Moore, Rebecca Connolly, and Jen Geigle Johnson


Book Description:

Amid the devastation of political and religious strife, there arose a leader so mighty that even thousands of years after his life, he is still lauded as a stalwart example of faith and fortitude. Captain Moroni's acts of heroism and faith in the face of adversity are well documented in the Book of Mormon, and his words and actions stand as an example of spiritual heroism. But who are the Moronis of our day? Who are the bold leaders who have the strength and faith to guide us through these tumultuous last days? The answer to this question is beautifully addressed in Like Unto Moroni. It is you, the faithful Latter-day Saints of this dispensation, who are the great heroes of our day. Individuals who, like Moroni, strive each day to progress in testimony and faith. In learning about the life and legacy of this great Nephite leader, you will learn to tap into your own well of spiritual strength as you fortify your home and family.


Coming in at 64 pages, this book can easily be read in one sitting. It might be short, but it gives the reader a lot to ponder. Anyone who has studied the Book of Mormon before knows how great Moroni was, both in spiritual and temporal matters. This book goes over several reasons why he was so successful and how we can emulate that to be successful in our own lives. This would make a great graduation gift for a high schooler who is getting ready to head out on their own - or really, if would make a great gift for just about anyone. We can all be better in some way or another, and you really can't go wrong looking to Moroni as your example.
Title: Like Unto Moroni
Author: H.B. Moore, Rebecca Connolly, and Jen Geigle Johnson
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: May 2021
ISBN: 1524419249
Source: I received an e-copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Book Review: When the Atonement Becomes Personal by Toni Sorenson

Book Description:

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is our hope that life can get better . . . that we can get better. To find strength in our struggles, it is vital to look to the One who understands our pains and afflictions, the One who never forsakes us. Christ atoned for our sins, but what does that really mean, and how can we harness the relief He provides? The answer to this question and many others is made simple in When the Atonement Becomes Personal.

As one who works with the downtrodden and marginalized, author and therapist Toni Sorenson offers unique insight into the individual nature of the Atonement. Her signature warmth and engaging tone become a powerful catalyst for understanding as she intersperses scripture with personal narrative, not shying away from real problems and solutions. She outlines ways we can reconnect when we feel distanced from our Creator. She sheds light on paths we can take to restore self-worth when life has grown impossibly hard and dark. In this unique and hopeful approach to the gospel's most complex topic, embark on a journey of self-discovery into why the Atonement does not become truly powerful until it becomes truly personal.


This book has SO much information in it! It's definitely not one that can be read quickly, you need to take your time so you can absorb and ponder the information you learn. 

I'll admit, I haven't ever studied the atonement in depth before. I know what it is, I know what happened, and I know how important it is, but I have never really made it personal. 

One thing that really stood out to me (OK, there were a lot of things that stood out. This book is covered in yellow highlighter now) is that it's our job to love others, and not withhold that love because they don't meet up to our standards and expectations. Really, the main theme of this book is love. Love like Jesus did (and still does.) 

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about how to make the atonement mean so much more in a personal way.
Title: When the Atonement Becomes Personal
Author: Toni Sorenson
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: February 2021
ISBN: 1524417165 
Source: I received an e-copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.
Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book  

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Blog Tour: Royal Spy by Heather Frost

Book Description:

A DECOY recruited to be a spy.

A PRINCE compelled to become an assassin.

A SERJAH pressured by an unwanted crown.

A WORLD covered in shadows.

Mere months ago, Clare was just a kitchen maid. Now, she is a decoy for Princess Serene and a novice spy, caught in the royal family's web of secrets. While journeying to Mortise to finalize the princess’s betrothal to Serjah Desfan, Clare lives for the stolen moments she has with Bennick, the bodyguard who is quickly claiming her heart. But when a notorious assassin is hired to kill her, Clare’s life and the alliance hang in the balance.

In Ryden, Grayson prepares to leave for Mortise with his brother, Liam. Their orders are to ignite a war between their enemies, and Grayson has been tasked with assassinating Princess Serene. It may cost his soul, but he is ready to comply, as long as he gets something in return: freedom for Mia, the girl he loves. But the more time he spends with his brother, the more he begins to wonder if Liam is what Grayson wishes he had the courage to be . . . a traitor.

Desfan feels trapped. By his disapproving council, his impending marriage to a stranger, and the imminent arrival of enemy princes who may not want the peace they profess. When a dangerous drug threatens his people, Desfan jumps at the chance to rely on his swords instead of politics. But his investigation uncovers more than he bargained for—a plot that may destroy Mortise from within.

Eyrinthia hovers on the edge of war. Spies. Rebels. Traitors. All must choose a side.


Lord Francin waved toward the door. “Please, take some time to rest. I have final preparations to make for tonight. A storm is coming in, which means most of the guests will want a room for the night.” He shook his bald head as he turned, leaning on his cane as he headed for the stairs. “Simpering fools,” he muttered under his breath.

         Clare grinned after him, aware of Bennick turning to face her. “I don’t think I’ve met another nobleman like him.” She glanced up at Bennick, perfectly aware that they were the only ones left in the corridor. The warmth in his intent gaze warmed every part of her. “I don’t think you were paying much attention to his tour, though.”

         Bennick’s eyes remained fixed on her. “You’re right. I barely heard a word he said.”

Something low in her gut tightened. Her smile widened and her voice turned lightly teasing. “That’s a shame.”

Bennick eased closer. “Oh?”

You didn’t hear him mention the private sitting room in this very wing that no one ever uses?” She shook her head. “A pity.”

His chin dipped along with his voice. “Well, I may have heard him mention it, and I admit I was intrigued.”

Heat spread through her chest. “Did you manage to hear where it is located?”

         “I admit that I did not.”

Hmm. That’s too bad.”

         “Ah, but I trust you were paying attention.”

The flirtation felt good. Normal. And Clare wanted to embrace it fully. She grasped his hand, squeezing his fingers. “Luckily for you, I was listening, and we have a few moments.” She tugged him down the hall and he followed without hesitation, the two of them glancing around to make sure they remained unobserved.

         They slipped into the room at the end of the hall, and Bennick nudged the door closed with the heel of his boot. The room was dimly lit, since the drapes were drawn, leaving the sunlight barely peeking around the edges, but Clare didn’t need to see much to know that they were actually, truly alone for the first time in weeks, and that Bennick wanted this moment just as much as she did.

         Her fingers curled in his uniform and she dragged him closer, their mouths coming together easily in the semi-dark. His hands were also moving, one curling around her side while the other dragged up her back until he cradled the back of her head.

Her fingers lifted to his face, then got lost in his hair and her heart pounded as her back was somehow pressed against the wall. Had they moved? Crossed the room? Or was it the door beside her? It didn’t really matter, especially as Bennick eased closer, until there was no space between them.

Her skin hummed and warmth exploded in her chest when he tilted his head, changing the angle of the kiss. He captured her mouth, taking over what she had started. His body curved around hers, as if he could not resist some invisible pull.

They were both breathing raggedly when he finally dragged his mouth away from hers. His stubbled jaw rasped against her cheek as he ducked his head, his lips at her ear, his voice rough with emotion. “That wasn’t exactly what I thought would happen when I closed the door.”

Her short laugh was breathless. “What did you think was going to happen?”

I don’t know. I thought maybe we would talk. Sit together. Maybe kiss a little.”


He leaned back, his eyes serious even though his mouth twitched. “Never apologize for that.”

Her hand drifted across his cheek. “Did you want to talk now?”

Talking isn’t as enjoyable as what we were just doing.”

Rorie's Review:

Book #3 needs to come out really soon, that's all I've got to say about that. 

But not really, because I do actually need to review the book, and I don't think one sentence will cut it, even though that one sentence says quite a bit, I think. 

So yeah, I really liked the story. And it definitely ended on a cliff-hangar, which is why #3 needs to hurry up and come out already. These books are not stand-alone. You would be so lost if you tried to start with this book. I was even a bit lost because it's been awhile since I read Royal Decoy. It took me several chapters before I was able to remember what had happened previously and who all the characters were. 

This was a story that I didn't want to put down, and kept reading "just one more chapter" because I just needed to know what was going to happen. 

There are several editing errors in the book, but that didn't detract from the story too much. I'm already looking forward to finding out what happens in the next book.
Andrea's Review:
Heather Frost does a great job writing an intriguing story. I agree with Rorie about wanting book three to come out soon. There are so many loose ends and I’m very curious to know what will happen with everyone-especially Grayson. His family situation is insane.

I liked each of the pieces of this story, but did find it to be a bit confusing/overwhelming going back and forth and having so many characters.
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Twitter: @HeatherFrost


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Title: Royal Spy
Author: Heather Frost
Publisher: Self-published
Published: May 2021
ISBN: 1734891920
Source: We received copies from the author. All opinions expressed are our own. 

Monday, May 17, 2021

Book Review: Eye for an Eye by Stephanie Black

Book Description:

A Romantic Suspense Novella

After a family tragedy nearly destroyed Mallory Ingram, she’s fighting to get her life on track. When her sister and brother-in-law open their home to her, Mallory is certain that moving across the country will allow her to focus on a hopeful future. That future looks even more promising when her enrollment at a local university connects her with the charming Darien Thomas. 

However, when illegal drugs turn up in her sister’s house, the first person accused is Mallory, and suddenly, she doesn’t know who to trust. Mounting evidence of Mallory’s guilt is straining the tenuous bond she has just begun to develop with her sister after years of living separately. Desperate to prove her innocence and keep the harmful patterns of the past from hijacking her future, Mallory reaches for Darien’s help to discover the truth.

But the truth may be more dangerous than any of them imagine.

Rorie's Review:

I completely forgot this was a novella until I saw that I only had 20 minutes left in the story. That surprised me more than it should have, considering I did actually know it was a novella. 

Novellas can be tough, because it's hard to get good character development when you only have a fraction of the time to do it in, but Stephanie did a good job with Mallory and Darien. If they ever show up in a full length novel, I won't be sad about that. 
There wasn't really a lot of "who done it" with this story - the reader is led to the culprit without a lot of guesswork - but it was very believable. 

Stephanie was able to bring her trademark suspense into the story, and it had me at the edge of my seat at times. While I would have loved this to be a full-length novel, it was well done and a very quick and easy read. 

Andrea’s Review: 

I don’t usually seek out novellas because they often don’t give the character development that I prefer, but I was impressed that the character development wasn’t lacking in this novella. I enjoyed the mystery and was kept guessing for most of the story. I felt bad for Mallory, especially with the distrust from her own sister. The romance seemed a bit rushed and the end of the book felt abrupt. I would have liked a bit more to that.


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Title: Eye for an Eye 

Author: Stephanie Black

Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.

Published: May 2021

ISBN: 1524418188

Source: We received a copy from the publisher and Netgalley. All opinions expressed are our own.

Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book