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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Book Review: In Times of Rain and War by Camron Wright

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Book Description:

During World War II, an American soldier encounters a German woman living a secret life in bomb-blighted London.

In September of 1940, during the Blitz in London, Audrey Stocking is blending in with other civilians who are trying to survive the nightly bombings, but she has a secret. She's not British; she's German. Her fake passport and nearly perfect English allow her to blend in as she works hard to help evacuate British children into the countryside. Audrey longs to reunite with her family in Hamburg, but her double life, the bombings, and the watchful British Military Intelligence have forced her to stay put. And then there are the paralyzing nightmares . . .

Lieutenant Wesley Bowers, an American soldier training with London's Bomb Disposal Company 5, meets Audrey when an air raid leaves an unexploded bomb on the floor of her flat. She is attractive, intelligent, and compassionate, and there's an immediate connection between them. As they get to know each other, Wesley realizes Audrey is the one bright spot amid the war's unending bleakness and constant threat of death. But will he still feel the same if he discovers the secrets she is hiding? Secrets even Audrey is unaware of?

In Times of Rain and War is a gripping and heartbreakingly beautiful story about the strength and resilience of the human heart and spirit, reminding us there is always hope in hard times.

Rorie's Review:

I must not have read the blurb on the back of this book, because I didn't realize until I got to the author's note at the end that it was based on a true story. And I'm sitting here with a lump in my throat and not really sure what to think about the story. Oh, it was good, don't get me wrong. Very well-written, with excellent characters that I felt like I really got to know.  (Driver was one of my favorites.) But man, war just sucks! The things that any of the soldiers had to experience are mind- blowing and heartbreaking and nauseating and insert any other adjective here. Then you have the air raids over London and, in Lilli's letter near the end, the retaliating strike over Hamburg. It's all so heartbreaking. So yeah, I'm not sure how to feel about this book. It's definitely not a light, easy beach read. Bring tissues, be prepared for some heavy stuff, but also get ready to fall in love with Wes, Audrey, and all of the other characters.

Tarah's Review:

This book came out at a perfect time for me. I work in a high school and the history teacher is going to use historical fiction in her WWII unit and honestly I can't wait to recommend that this book a part of the lesson. There are so many things to this novel and the time period. I was fascinated by the "bomb squad". I can't even imagine trying to diffuse something that you aren't really sure how it works. I also loved the letters. Audrey quotes her father and says, "A well written letter is a rare and cherished thing". Honestly, it's a lost art isn't it? When was a the last time you received or wrote, a meaningful letter to someone. It got me thinking, and it's that the mark of a good book?

Andrea's Review:

I really enjoyed In Times of Rain and War. It didn’t end the way I was expecting, but it was still a happy ending (one of my must haves) and made for a realistic story. I liked the little explanations sprinkled throughout that taught as well as entertained. The main characters were very likable and their situations tugged at my heartstrings.

If you enjoy World War II historical fiction I would recommend this book. I can see myself reading this again.

Title: In Times of Rain and War
Author: Camron Wright
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: April 2021
ISBN: 1629728543 
Source: We received copies from the publisher and Netgalley. All opinions expressed are our own. 

Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book

Friday, April 9, 2021

Blog Tour: Until Vienna by Heather B. Moore

 
 
Book Description:

Georgina Ballard has been disappointed in love more than a few times, a fact that she is uncomfortably aware of amid her sister’s wedding preparations. When her elderly aunt Rowena bids Gigi to accompany her on an art tour across Europe, Gigi hesitates but eventually resigns herself to the train journey alongside a group of aged art connoisseurs, if only to mollify her aunt.

Once aboard the Orient Express, Gigi is pleased to discover that not everyone on the tour is in their twilight years: Clyde Haskins, an energetic young art professor from the University of London, will serve as the group’s tour guide. Clyde is equally intrigued that a young lady has joined the tour, and Aunt Rowena and her friends immediately set out to play matchmaker. Clyde and Gigi both find humor in Aunt Rowena’s antics despite knowing that each is determined to keep their heart carefully guarded. Yet, the enchantment of their European exploration weaves an undeniable spell between them. When their journey ends, can their holiday love story endure the obstacles of real life?

Review:

The idea of going on a month-long tour of Europe sounds amazing. The idea of going on a month-long art museum tour does not, so I could understand Gigi's trepidation at going. (I think she was way more interested in the art than I would be though.)

I am so curious about Nicholas. I remember him from the first book in this series (I still need to read the second one) and I can't wait to find out what his story is. I can only imagine how...entertaining it would be to accompany aunt Rowena and her friends. They are definitely a feisty bunch, that's for sure. Of course, the best relationship of all was the one between Gigi and Clyde. It was fun to tag along with them while they were getting to know each other. 

This book is definitely a stand-alone, but I recommend reading the first two anyway, because why wouldn't you want to?
 
Giveaway:
 
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0ae98b8a260/
 
Read the first chapter here:
 
https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B08PQ82135... 
 
Title: Until Vienna
Author: Heather B. Moore
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: April 2021
ISBN: 1524415421 
Source: I received a copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Mission Stories - Movie Spotlight

About the movie:

Mission Stories is an upcoming anthology film based on true stories from the mission field.

Highlighting three conversion accounts, these stories will remind us of our Heavenly Father’s loving invitation to be healed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Message from the director:

When I initially approached Mission Stories I thought I may not be the best choice to direct because I did not serve a mission. However, as I developed these stories I recognized how much missionary work has touched my life. In fact, in one of these stories a character is based on me. Through this experience I’ve learned just how powerful love, faith, and forgiveness are and that redemption is available to all of us no matter the circumstances of our lives. Everyone has a story to tell and I believe in the power of sharing stories. I hope that audiences will be touched by the themes of mercy and redemption in these stories.

- Bryce Clark

 

Website:

 

www.missionstories.com 

 

Trailer:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zAOLGNcpRo 

 

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Kiss Me Now by Melanie Jacobson

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Book Description:

He’d be the perfect guy…if he wasn’t trying to ruin her life.

Ian would do anything for his grandmother, so when Gran suddenly announces she’s leaving the family property to her pretty new neighbor, Ian is on the case. He’ll use every one of his sharply-honed skills as a private investigator to expose the gold digger and save Gran.

Brooke is living her best life far from the city and career that tried to destroy her. She’s happy spending her summer renovating the house she inherited and gardening with her elderly neighbor, Miss Lily. But when Miss Lily’s handsome—and obnoxious—grandson shows up, making wild accusations and dragging up Brooke’s past, Brooke must convince Ian he has her all wrong.

But what happens when their chemistry proves even more dangerous than Ian’s accusations?

Escape into this fresh new romantic comedy full of two-time Whitney Award winner Melanie Jacobson’s trademark wit and warmth.

Rorie’s Review:

Imagine moving to a new community, becoming good friends with your neighbor, minding your own business, then all of a sudden, your neighbor's grandson comes down and accuses you of trying to scam his grandma! Would you take it well? I would not. I am a little too good at holding grudges, so I think that Brooke handled the situation pretty well, all things considered. 

This was a fun book to read. I really do enjoy a good enemies-to-friends-and-maybe-even-more type of story. Miss Lily stole the show time and again with her wit and wisdom, and it was a lot of fun watching Brooke and Ian's relationship develop. I definitely wouldn't be sad if her teacher friend got his own story some time in the future as well. :)

Andrea’s Review:

This was a perfect get-away during a long drive. I very much enjoyed the enemies-to-friends (and more) relationship between Ian and Brooke. 

Ian’s love for his grandmother was endearing. Her desire to be a matchmaker due to her love for him was also endearing. Her spunk was a great addition to the story.

Brooke had so many layers and it was enjoyable getting to her core and finding out what had made her leave her DC life.

The small town setting and people were also great. I am looking forward to learning what’s next.
 
Title: Kiss Me Now
Author: Melanie Jacobson
Publisher: Four Petal Press
Published: March 2021
ASIN: B08ZHT56N1
Source: We received e-copies from the author. All opinions expressed are our own. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Book Review: Dear Clara by Shelly E. Powell

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Book Description:

He thinks she is a rare beauty. She knows he is charming on paper. Both hope for romance, but when letters are no longer enough, Clara must face the truth and decide whether to let go of pride or protect her heart.
                                     
For the first time in her life, Clara Everton has done something truly improper. She has written to a gentleman she hardly knows, simply to avoid an unwanted marriage proposal and perhaps to prove to herself that her first London season was not such a disappointment after all. As one letter grows into many and her feelings for James Thayne deepen, Clara begins to wonder whether a letter is as innocent a thing as she once thought. Meeting Mr. Thayne in person shakes her hopes, and she must reconcile herself to the unexpected truth. Yet, as circumstances continue to bring them together, Clara can't help but question whether opening her heart to Mr. Thayne is riskier than protecting it.

Review:

This story started out leaving me guessing, and kept me guessing right up to the very end. This was really three smaller stories wrapped up in one, which at times was a bit much. Most of it was focused on Clara and Mr. Thane, and for the most part, I liked both of them, with one minor exception. They were absolutely horrible at communicating with each other. They could have cleared up so many misunderstandings if they had just taken the time to actually talk to each other. I did find their initial predicament somewhat amusing, although I guarantee I wouldn't have if it happened to me. 

The other two side stories with Francis and Mr. Shaw did end up playing a part in the end, but I'm not convinced they were really necessary. Well, Mr Shaw's probably was, but the story still would have worked well without spending as much time on Francis.
 
About the Author:
 
As soon as Shelly Powell was old enough to write, she was crafting stories to share with family and friends. Her earliest works featured princesses and mermaids, which she willingly portrayed on the makeshift stages of home and school. Although her interests have expanded since then, she still finds writing to be a thrilling process and a unique way to connect with others. Shelly loves a happy ending but also believes in happy beginnings. She hopes to write many stories in the years to come. Shelly enjoys running, yoga, drawing, and spending time with her sweet husband and amazing kids 
 
Title: Dear Clara
Author: Shelly Powell
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Published: February 2021
ISBN: 1462138330
Source: I received an e-copy from the author. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Cover Reveal: Royal Spy (Fate of Eyrinthia #2) 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.

Links:

Website: www.HeatherFrost.com

Royal Spy Kindle Pre-order: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08Y8C69P6?ref

***Hardcover Pre-order Coming Soon!***

Pre-order Gift Form: https://forms.gle/uQtyD4SboRAeNBtYA

***Pre-order Royal Spy and fill out the form to receive an EXCLUSIVE scene from Bennick’s POV: The Decoy and the Bodyguard***


 

Royal Decoy (Fate of Eyrinthia #1) on Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085299HQN

***Read Book 1 Today – Available on Kindle Unlimited***

About the Author:

Heather Frost writes mostly YA fiction and has a soft spot for tortured characters, breath-stealing romance, and happy endings. She is the author of the Seers trilogy and the Fate of Eyrinthia series. She has a BS in Creative Writing and a minor in Folklore, which means she got to read fairy tales and ghost stories and call it homework. When she's not writing, Heather likes to read, travel, and hold Lord of the Rings movie marathons. She lives in a beautiful valley surrounded by towering mountains in the wilds of Utah. To learn more about Heather and her books, visit her website: www.HeatherFrost.com.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Blog tour: In Harm's Way by Traci Hunter Abramson

Book Description:

For years, Troy has lived in the shadows as a Guardian. As part of this secret government taskforce, he has agreed to oversee the team’s base of operations on a remote private island in Maine, replacing fellow agent Ace and his wife, Kristi, for a year.

When Troy steps in to hold down the fort, however, he does not anticipate company. So when Kristi’s sister, Jocelyn, appears on the island, looking for a getaway, Troy is unnerved by her presence—hiding his top-secret work from the beautiful visitor is a recipe for disaster. 

It’s been years since Jocelyn has been able to relax, and the family island is the clear antidote to the chaos of the business world. Expecting solitude, she is taken off guard by the presence of the handsome house sitter living in her sister’s home. Though she and Troy fall into an easy friendship, beneath his calm demeanor, he is an enigma. It’s clear the man who is quickly stealing her heart has a secret, but the truth is beyond Jocelyn’s wildest imaginings: Troy is involved in stopping a political coup, and their relationship threatens to place Jocelyn squarely in the crosshairs of a deadly assassin. 

Excerpt:

Senator Walter Royce didn’t pay attention to the posted menu outside the busy restaurant in Montmartre as he walked through the entrance. He had one purpose for being here, and it had nothing to do with the food.
“Un,” he told the host, holding up one finger to make up for his complete lack of a French accent. On the surface, his trip to Paris was nothing more than a quick family getaway, but in reality, it was a much-needed excuse.
The host said something in French, and Walter shook his head apologetically. “I’m sorry. I don’t understand. Do you have an English menu?”
The younger man nodded and showed him up a half flight of stairs to the dining area. Walter took his seat at a table in the center of the room, and the host handed him a menu.
“Merci.” Once alone, he glanced around the establishment. Through the windows, he could see the tables filled with patrons lining the sidewalk and waiters breezing in and out of the kitchen. In contrast, the indoor dining area was nearly empty. Four locals chatted in French over the remnants of their lunch, and on the far side of the room, an older couple studied their menus.
Walter glanced furtively at each person. Everywhere he looked, he expected to see someone staring at him, someone noticing why he was really here. He had spent the morning with his wife and daughters at the Eiffel Tower, taking the appropriate photos to make sure everyone would see him as the tourist he claimed to be. He had bowed out of their shopping plans, but he doubted he would be able to sneak away again without raising suspicions.
His stomach jumped with nerves, and he struggled to focus on the menu before him. When the waiter arrived to take his order, Walter indicated his choice by pointing.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the party of four stand up to leave at the
same time the host approached to seat another guest. Anticipation snaked through him. Was that him? The infamous Gavrie Morozov? A well-known Russian opera- tive, the man was a chameleon. He also had the skills needed to solve Walter’s problems and put him back on track to his destiny.
A moment after the host left, a heavily accented voice carried to him. “Why am I here?”
Walter started to turn around to see the man now seated behind him. “Don’t look at me,” the man commanded. “Just answer the question.”
Walter forced his gaze to stop at the window. Trying to focus on two women seated outside, he willed his heartbeat to slow. “I need help.”
“What kind of help?”
“My former bank notified me that someone was looking into my old account information,” Walter said. “Someone knows I’m working with your people.”
“Who knows?”
“I’m not sure, but I think it’s the guardians.” Walter lowered his voice further. “And I think I know who’s helping them.”
“It sounds like you need someone eliminated.”
Walter’s stomach curled. He had killed a man himself only a few weeks before. The nightmares from that moment still haunted him, and now here he was, negotiating to take another life. When his alliance with the Russians started more than a decade ago, he never anticipated he would be in this position now.
Silence stretched for several seconds before Walter said, “I don’t know if there’s another choice.”
“My associates need something in return.” “What?”
“Access to the detailed budget.”
Walter sucked in a deep breath. The requests from the Russians in the past had been more subtle, but complete access? If they knew where the money was going, they would know everything, including military plans and intelligence objectives. Walter was supposed to be the key to balancing the volatile relationship between the two superpowers, not the gofer giving one a significant leg up on the other. What would the Russians do if he refused? Would they cut off his funding? Or eliminate him in the most final sense of the word?
“Even if I give you access, what good would that do?” Walter asked. “I can’t make changes significant enough to make a difference.”
“You’re on the Senate Intelligence Committee. You have access to information we need.”
The noose around his neck tightened. He didn’t have any other option. “I’ll make it happen.”"
“Good,” the man said, his accent thickening. “While you’re at it, I suggest you propose to trim expenditures in a few places, especially anything that might be providing funding to the guardians.”
“I tried that before.”
“Try again.” The voice was low but firm. “Now, where do I find this problem of yours?”
“In Washington, DC,” Walter said. “You’ll find him on Capitol Hill.” Walter pulled a folded envelope from his back pocket and dropped it to the floor. He looked down as though noticing its presence for the first time, then cleared his voice. “I think you dropped something.”
The other man leaned down and picked it up. “So it seems.”"

Review:

Abramson does it again! Every time I pick up a new Guardian book, I feel like it's a family reunion. I enjoy reacquainting myself with all of the old characters while getting to know the new ones. This particular story had the added bonus of not only being set on a beautiful, rugged island (well, I picture it as being absolutely beautiful...) but the main character, Jocelyn, is in to photography, something I also love. I enjoy having those little things that help me relate to a character better. 

Several of the regulars were back in play throughout this story - Kade, Ace, Renee, Kristi, and the Whitmore's, of course. When I get to know a character in a previous story, it's always nice to have them show up in future books. I miss them! 

This story had the perfect amount of suspense and romance. Definitely one that was hard to put down. I highly recommend it.
 
Giveaway:
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
Title: In Harm's Way
Author: Traci Hunter Abramson
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: March 2021
ISBN: 1524414670 
Source: I received a copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book