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Friday, December 23, 2022

Come to Him This Holy Night by David T. Warner

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Book Description:

This year, millions of viewers of The Tabernacle Choir's annual Christmas concerts on PBS will be celebrating the joyous culture of Christmas in Ireland.

This one-of-a-kind giftbook introduces three Irish holiday traditions as shared by acclaimed film and television actor, Neal McDonough. Each tradition is an opportunity to make Christmas more meaningful for ourselves and others, wherever we live and whatever our heritage.

One of these traditions is preparing homes and hearts for the new year. Besides cleaning the barn and cottage, the holidays are for renewing relationships, reconciling differences, and returning kindnesses.

Another world-renowned Irish tradition is placing a lighted candle in the window―a reminder that long ago the Holy Family sought shelter but found no room at the inn. Over the centuries, a candle in the window has become a symbol of openheartedness, signaling to others that they are welcome within.

Finally, across Ireland, Christmas is ushered in by adorning the house with holly. But a simple wreath of thorned green leaves and bright red berries is more than decoration. It is a symbol of Christ's suffering for all humankind and an assurance that because of Him, heartache can give way to hope and peace.

The book also includes a piano/vocal score of the song "Come to Him This Holy Night," performed in concert by The Tabernacle Choir with Mr. McDonough. The new text was written to the tune of a beloved Irish folk song and connects each of the Irish traditions to the timeless account of the Nativity.

Come to Him This Holy Night is a unique giftbook of story and song that will bring Christmas joy to people everywhere.

Review:

This is a short book, but it is filled with beautiful artwork, stories, and lyrics. I look forward to attempting to play the song included at the end of the book - or just looking it up and listening to it the way it was meant to be heard. (My piano skills are very rusty.)
This book would be a great addition for anyone who enjoys reading a different Christmas book each night. I enjoyed reading about the Irish traditions. I have no desire to do the polar plunge and holly is most definitely not something found in the desert where I live, but I can definitely make sure to continually give thanks for my many blessings.

Title: Come to Him This Holy Night
Author: David T. Warner
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: September 2022 
ISBN: 1639930604
Source: I received  a copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.
 
Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Blog Tour: The Best Mistake by Traci Hunter Abramson

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Book Description:

Following a knee injury during the final Stanley Cup game, professional hockey player Miles Donnelly finds himself sidelined in the hospital with his career hanging in the balance. His only hope is to work with a doctor to rehab and rebuild the strength in his knee. The catch: he has to remain in New York City for the next two months rather than return home to Montreal. 

After her father is incapacitated by a heart attack, Manhattan socialite Linda Bancroft trades house parties in the Hamptons for taking over management of the family’s real estate empire. But her first day on the job, she faces imminent disaster after an unscrupulous employee is fired. She needs a new apartment manager, and fast. The unlikely solution to her problem comes in the form of an injured—and dangerously handsome—hockey player looking for a place to stay. Thrown together by chance, Miles and Linda quickly realize there is something deeper between them than just friendship. But when outside pressures begin to strain their relationship, they must confront an impossible question: Can two people from entirely different worlds truly build a future together? 

Review:

This is a quick read, and gives the reader the back story of Miles and Linda, long-time friends of Amaliyah's family. The first time the two of them met was entertaining, and even though their relationship happened quickly (this is a novella, after all. No time for dawdling.) it didn't feel forced or "insta-love" at all. I enjoyed tagging along as they got to know each other better, and weathered the storms that came from their mismatched relationship. Definitely a must read if you're a fan of the Dream's Edge series.

Title: The Best Mistake
Author: Traci Hunter Abramson
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: December 2022 
ASIN: B09XQQK1VC
Source: I received  an e-copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.
 

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Blog Tour: Esperance by Heather Frost

Book Description:

Twelve strangers. Six marriages. One year in Esperance.

Amryn has many reasons to hate the empire. Her latest is her forced marriage to General Carver Vincetti, better known as the Butcher. If he learns even one of her secrets, he will kill her. And Amryn has many secrets. Not only is she an empath with forbidden magic, she's also a newly recruited rebel intent on destroying the empire—starting at Esperance.

Carver knows the rebels have infiltrated the remote temple of Esperance. His job is to hunt them down before they can wreck the emperor’s new peace. Despite the demons that haunt him, Carver is intent on his mission—but he’s not prepared for Amryn. From her fiery red hair to her surprising wit, his new wife has captured his attention. The attraction that flares between them is undeniable. Now he just has to determine if she’s the enemy.

When the newly married couples become targets in a violent game, Esperance becomes more dangerous than anyone anticipated. Carver and Amryn are about to discover that no one is exactly who they appear to be—especially each other.

Esperance is book one in a New Adult fantasy romance series by Amazon bestselling author Heather Frost. If you love enemies-to-lovers romance, surprising twists, and an action-packed story you can’t put down, you’ll love Esperance!

Excerpt:

Carver’s warm breath teased the nape of her neck before Amryn felt the cool salve of the aloe mixture. Every hair on her body lifted as he brushed the salve carefully over her burned skin. She could feel the rough callouses on the pads of his fingers, but his touch was infinitely gentle.

Ahmi had applied this salve last night, but it had felt nothing like this.

Sorry,” he murmured. His voice was so low and deep, it resonated throughout her entire body.

Her fingers tightened on the end of her braid, which she still held. “Sorry?”

I had no idea you were getting sunburned yesterday. If I’d realized, I wouldn’t have kept you so long in the yard.”

She forced herself to speak past the tightness in her throat. “Unfortunately, sunburns are common for me. My pale skin can burn in Ferradin, even on a cloudy day.”

His short laugh brought a sharp exhale against her neck. With the ointment covering her skin, the sensation was heightened, making her shiver.

His fingers lifted, only to return a moment later with more aloe. His touch started just below her ear and glided down the side of her neck, to the edge of her nightgown’s wide collar at her shoulder. Her skin tingled.

She peeked into the mirror just as his eyes flicked up, and their gazes locked.

The air was charged, and nothing in her experience had prepared her for a moment like this. The surge of attraction they both felt made her lungs tighten. Her toes curled against the stone floor.

His throat rolled as he swallowed. He eased back a half-step, still keeping her stare in the mirror. “Can you turn?”

She should say no. She should take the salve from him, thank him for his help, and leave to do the rest herself. Getting close to him for the rebels was one thing, but this . . .

This was something else entirely.

Her body moved without her giving the order. She twisted to face him, her lower back now pressed against the hard edge of the counter. She tilted her chin up. She couldn’t meet his gaze, so she stared at his jaw as he leaned in, the crisp smell of the aloe mixing with the spicy sandalwood scent that was purely him.

The brush of his fingertips against the curve of her cheek made her knees weak. She gripped the counter’s edge behind her, silently ordering herself to stop reacting to a stupid, medicinal touch, but her body didn’t seem interested in listening. While his smooth touch drifted over her cheeks, offering relief to the burn on her skin, it only strengthened the burn low in her belly.

Feeling the heat and intensity of his emotions did not help.

As he angled his head for a better view of the side of her face, she caught sight of the small scar on his chin that she’d noticed at the altar. Out of all the scars on his body, it would be the easiest to ask about. But despite the strange intimacy of the moment, she didn’t feel like she could.

His fingers skimmed along her jaw, leaving a tingling trail. Then his fingertips dipped to her throat.

Her breath caught.

His fingers stilled, then curled away.

She nearly leaned in to follow his retreating hand, but he was only scooping up more of the ointment to apply to her throat.

A tremble skated through her entire body at his gentle touch.

When he finally shifted back, she could feel the pulse of his reluctance.

Strange, how it echoed her own.

She had to crane her neck to meet his eyes. “Thank you, Carver.”

His throat flexed as he swallowed. “You’re welcome.”

The moment felt weighted, and neither of them moved.

A distant knock on the main suite door made her jump. She straightened sharply, and Carver took a deliberate step back, the jar of ointment dangling from his long fingers.

Thank you,” she whispered again, because she didn’t know what else to say. Then she ducked her head and fled to the safety of the bedroom.

Review:

This is the start of a new series by the author who wrote the Fate of Eyrinthia series. I thoroughly enjoyed that series, so I jumped at the chance to read this story. Please note, if you like your stories to be solved, finished, and neatly tied up with a bow in one book, this might not be for you. (Although you should really try it anyway, because the storyline is just that good.) This book is clearly just the beginning and while the reader isn't left on a cliffhanger, the story definitely isn't finished by the end of this book.

This author does a great job at bringing her characters to life and making you either love or hate them. I had my guess at who the bad guy was, but it kept changing as I got further into the story. I was fully invested in the characters and the story line, and didn't want to stop reading. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

About the Author:

Heather Frost is an #1 Amazon bestselling author of YA/NA fantasy romance. Her books have been Whitney Award and Swoony Award Finalists, and Royal Decoy was a 2022 semifinalist in The Best In Indie Awards. 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. Heather lives in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains in northern Utah. To learn more about Heather and her books, visit her website: www.HeatherFrost.com.

Title: Esperance
Author: Heather Frost
Publisher: Self-published
Published: November 2022 
ASIN: B0BDK388D6
Source: I received  an e-copy from the author. All opinions expressed are my own.

Purchase: Amazon 

Monday, November 7, 2022

Blog Tour: Come, Gentle Night by Stephanie Black

Book Description:

After her entanglement in several homicide investigations, psychologist Natalie Marsh is determined to avoid further trouble. But when her intern needs help monitoring and calming family drama for the duration of a party, Natalie steps up. After all, acting as a peacemaker at a fundraising gala seems relatively risk-free in comparison to her past escapades―what could happen at a dance? When an argument between feuding guests becomes assault, Natalie realizes the situation is more complicated than she anticipated, with one man at the center of it all: Rowan Montrose.

Four years ago, Rowan’s brother was convicted of murdering his wife. But Rowan believes there’s more to the story, suspecting that the real murderer is walking free. His romantic interest in the younger sister of a police detective renders him more determined than ever to clear the family name. Familiar with Natalie’s reputation, he seeks out her assistance. Natalie tries to decline―she’s no private detective―but as frightening incidents unfold, it’s clear she’s in the middle of this whether she wants to be or not, and breaking through the layers of deception that hide the truth may have lethal consequences.

Review:
I had to laugh at just how much Natalie and Gideon just did NOT want to be a part of this story. They did their best (well, sort of) to avoid it, but I don't think they actually know how to avoid these issues. Especially Natalie. :) While they might not have been thrilled to get sucked in to yet another kerfluffle, I was quite happy to see them there. They both make for a good story - probably more so with their reluctance.
I am not a Shakespeare fan at all, not even a little tiny bit, so I didn't notice that this was a slight retelling of Romeo and Juliet until it was pointed out to me. Afterwards, I did notice some similarities, but not really all that many, because I'm pretty sure I slept through the Shakespeare unit in school. Either that, or I just didn't understand any of what I read, which is probably most likely.
Super-confusing ancient authors aside, I highly recommend this book. And this series. And this author. 
Giveaway:
Title: Come, Gentle Night
Author: Stephanie Black
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: November 2022 
ISBN: 1524420492
Source: We received an e-copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.
Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Book Review: To Capture His Heart by Nancy Campbell Allen

To Capture His Heart by Nancy Campbell Allen

Book Description:

Seaside, England, 1886

Eva Caldwell is an accomplished and well-known photographer who often works with the local constabulary to assist in documenting crime scenes, which means she also often works alongside the handsome and charming detective, Nathan Winston. She appreciates his intellect and how he treats her like an equal, but Eva's heart is still healing from a past relationship, so, for now, she decides to keep her feelings for Nathan a secret.

One evening, Nathan arrives on her doorstep asking for a personal favor. Would Eva be available to photograph his mother's legendary, week-long dinner party and matchmaking event? The catch is that Eva would also have to pretend they are courting in order for Nathan to avoid the many single women seeking his attention.

Though wary of the charade, Eva agrees. Spending a week with the two things she loves most--her detective and her camera--sounds simple enough. And if she wants to imagine that Nathan's pretend courtship of her is real, well, what's the harm in that?

But when a criminal from Nathan's past threatens revenge on the detective, Nathan must be extra vigilant to keep his mother and the rest of the partygoers safe. He confides in Eva, and as the two work together to solve the mystery and apprehend the criminal, they find that they might capture more than they expected--each other's heart. 

Rorie's Review:

You know those stories that you can just get lost in and can sit and read for hours and hours, not wanting to stop for those pesky real life things that you have to do? Well, this is one of those books. For some reason, I've always gotten a kick out of the "pretending to be in love" trope, but usually the characters don't actually like each other when they start the charade. That Eva and Nathan both secretly liked each other already was a fun twist to the story.

I enjoy a good romance, but definitely appreciate some mystery and suspense thrown in to keep things exciting. This author melds both storylines together masterfully. This is the kind of story that I don't want to end and wish there was more of it. Hopefully Charlotte will be getting her own story soon, so we don't have to leave this world behind for too long.

Andrea's Review:

To Capture His Heart is another great addition to the Proper Romance Series from Shadow Mountain. Allen has created a great group of characters, and it was fun to have the focus on Eva this time. She and Nathan "pretending" to like each other made for an entertaining story, and the mystery kept me on my toes. All of the characters were well-developed, and I couldn't help but be interested in what happened to them. It was a very fast read, and one I can see myself reading again. 

About the Author:

NANCY CAMPBELL ALLEN is the award-winning author of nineteen published novels and several novellas, which encompass a variety of genres, ranging from contemporary romantic suspense to historical fiction. Her most recent books, which include Regency, Victorian, and steampunk romance, are published under Shadow Mountain’s Proper Romance brand, and the What Happens in Venice novella series is part of the Timeless Romance Anthology collection published by Mirror Press. She has presented at numerous conferences and events since her initial publication in 1999.

Her agent is Pamela Pho of D4EO Literary Agency.

Nancy loves to read, write, travel, and research, and enjoys spending time with family and friends. She nurtures a current obsession for true crime podcasts and is a news junkie. She and her husband have three children, and she lives in Ogden, Utah, with her family, one very large Siberian Husky named Thor and an obnoxious but endearing Yorkie-poo named Freya.


Title: To Capture His Heart
Author: Nancy Campbell Allen
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: October 2022 
ISBN: 1639930515
Source: We received copies from the publisher. All opinions expressed are our own.


Thursday, October 6, 2022

Book Review: The Questmaster's Trap by Frank L. Cole


Book Description: 

Hello, Brave Reader: You’re just in time to roll the Die of Destiny and play a game of Champion’s quest. The wizard Questmaster Hob has summoned the Wild Crows on a new adventure. But not everything is what it seems.

A new, sinister Questmaster creates chaos for Lucas, Miles, and Jasmine. They are ill-prepared to fight stronger, challenging monsters, including an evil centaur who has taken a magical ally hostage. As the Wild Crows journey to rescue her, they encounter shadow elves, troltusses, and giants. They also learn new skills and strategies, and discover their quest is more than just a game this time. The fate of the world of Champion’s Quest―including the lives of the wizards Hob and Bogie―hangs in the balance.

Can the Wild Crows prevail? Will the luck of the dice be in their favor? Can they gather the right magical items and overcome their weaknesses? It will take true champions and a bit of luck to win this gripping, fantastical, high-stakes adventure.

Rorie's Review:

When I agreed to read this book, I thought we already owned the first one in this series. It wasn't until I started reading it that I realized this isn't a series we've read yet. I was able to read and enjoy this story, but I really feel like you should read the books in order. They do make multiple references to things that happened in the first quest, and that left me feeling a bit lost. 
It seems like the Champion's Quest is similar to Dungeons and Dragons, only the characters are actually in the game (again, I'm sure all this was explained in the 1st book.) This was a quick read, and despite my confusion, I enjoyed the story. I need to get the first book and read that now so I can get all the backstory. 

Collin's Review:

When I had the chance to review this book by Frank L. Cole, I was excited, as I have enjoyed his other books that I have read.  I was not aware of this series though, and haven't yet read the first book in the series.  However, I do enjoy role playing games, and so even though I have not yet read the first in the series, I still enjoyed this book.  Frank L. Cole did a great job of providing enough backstory that I didn't feel that I was missing a whole lot, even though I felt that "Oh, they must have met that character, or been in this situation in the previous book"  I was impressed by the way that the characters in this story worked together to solve the seemingly insurmountable problems they encountered.  Trust and friendship were a big part of the story.  I highly recommend this story. . .And now, I need to go find the first book in the series to go read it as well!  I also look forward to the next book, and the next adventure by the Wild Crows and see how the gamemaster work together in their next adventure!

Title: The Questmaster's Trap
Author: Frank L. Cole
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: October 2022 
ISBN: 1639930493
Source: We received copies from the publisher. All opinions expressed are our own.

Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Book Review: In the Shadow of a Queen by Heather B. Moore

In the Shadow of a Queen by Heather B. Moore

Book Description:

Based on the true story of the free-spirited daughter of Queen Victoria.

 

Princess Louise’s life is upended after her father’s untimely death. Captive to the queen’s overwhelming mourning, Louise is forbidden to leave her mother’s tight circle of control and is eventually relegated to the position of personal secretary to her mother—the same position each of her sisters held until they were married. 


Already an accomplished painter, Louise risks the queen’s wrath by exploring the art of sculpting, an activity viewed as unbefitting a woman. When Louise involves herself in the day’s political matters, including championing the career of a female doctor and communicating with suffragettes, the queen lays down the law to stop her and devotes her full energy to finding an acceptable match for her defiant daughter. 


Louise is considered the most beautiful and talented daughter of Queen Victoria, but finding a match for the princess is no easy feat. Protocols are broken, and Louise exerts her own will as she tries to find an open-minded husband who will support her free spirit. 


In the Shadow of a Queen is the story of a battle of wills between two women: a daughter determined to forge her own life beyond the shadow of her mother, and a queen resolved to keep the Crown’s reputation unsullied no matter the cost.


Zoie's Review:


Coming from someone who isn’t drawn to romance novels, I really liked this book. The book takes places over a span of about a decade. Princess Louise grows from a child into a woman. This book is written in a way that the time progresses naturally, even though it is over a significant amount of time. Louise’s points of view seem fitting for her age throughout the novel. There are plenty of tragedies that the characters have to deal with, but the tragedies aren’t overwhelming. The book is well balanced between tragedy, working past the tragedy, and everyday life. Even with the many characters (Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, their nine children and others), it is easy to follow their lives. Louise’s struggle to be independent while also being under the constraints of royalty is written in a way that it is admirable. Overall, this was a very good book, and I would recommend it. It’s easy to read and entertaining.


Rorie's Review:


I have always enjoyed historical fiction, so this story caught my eye. The way the story is written drew me in right away, and I finished the book in just a few days. While there really isn't anything "exciting" about this story, it was intriguing to read about Princess Louise's life. I can't even imagine being a royal and having little to no say in even the minute details of my life. I found it fascinating to learn about this family, and even read most of the chapter notes at the end of the book, because they helped give me more of a glimpse into the lives of Louise and her family. 


About the Author:


HEATHER B. MOORE is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of more than seventy publications. She has lived on both the East and West Coasts of the United States, as well as in Hawaii, and attended school abroad at the Cairo American College in Egypt and the Anglican School of Jerusalem in Israel. She loves to learn about history and is passionate about historical research. 


Learn more about Heather and her books at www.hbmoore.com.



Title: In the Shadow of a Queen 
Author: Heather B. Moore
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: October 2022
ISBN: 9781639930500
Source: I received an advanced review copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.