Friday, March 29, 2013

Review: Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

When Mallory’s boyfriend, Jeremy, cheats on her with an online girlfriend, Mallory decides the best way to de-Jeremy her life is to de-modernize things too. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in 1962, Mallory swears off technology and returns to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn’t cheat with computer avatars). The List:

1. Run for pep club secretary
2. Host a fancy dinner party/soiree
3. Sew a dress for Homecoming
4. Find a steady
5. Do something dangerous

But simple proves to be crazy-complicated, and the details of the past begin to change Mallory’s present. Add in a too-busy grandmother, a sassy sister, and the cute pep-club president–who just happens to be her ex’s cousin–and soon Mallory begins to wonder if going vintage is going too far.

Last year I learned about author Lindsey Leavitt when I read her book Sean Griswold's Head. I was reading a lot of YA at the time (getting through two YA finalist categories for the 2011 Whitney Awards), and Sean Griswold's Head really stood out among the finalists. It was such a good book-clean and very entertaining, so I was quite excited when I heard that Leavitt was coming out with another book.

Thanks to NetGalley, I was able to download a review copy of Going Vintage. Sadly, I had built up the book (or author) so much for a clean read, that when there was a lot of making out and some swearing right off, I was disappointed and I put the book down for a few months.

I thought about Going Vintage several times after I put it down, and I decided to give it another try when I finished most of the other books on my "to-review" list.

Going Vintage is entertaining. It's not as good as Sean Griswold's Head, and definitely not as clean (I actually wouldn't call it clean. There's no sex, but I consider more than that when I label a book clean).

Mallory was an interesting character to follow. Her decision to de-modernize and her determination to complete the items on her grandmother's list from 1962 made for a unique story. Her relationship with her sister, Ginnie, was great. Ginnie was supportive of Mallory's somewhat crazy idea, and there for her when Jeremy tried to get back in the picture. I also really liked Oliver.

Once I got into the story, I found it to be a fast read. The idea of a social experiment is intriguing, and there are some sweet moments.

*Content: several make-out scenes, profanity, and some crude references.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Blog Tour: 40 Days With the Savior by Connie E. Sokol

Tour Schedule

Do you desire a more Christ-centered Easter?

You’ll experience a more fulfilling Easter season with this collection of inspirational thoughts on trying to become more like the Savior. For forty days, enjoy a daily scripture and personal insight on a character trait of Jesus Christ. Learn more of who He was and what He taught.

As you read these daily devotionals, you’ll feel a joyful connection to the character of Jesus Christ, understand how much He is involved in your life, and discover how knowing Him better makes your life better, too.

My Review

40 Days With the Savior is a great book that is perfect for those looking for a way to add some spiritual direction to their lives each day, especially those that don't have a lot of time. Reading one of Sokol's daily devotionals only takes a few minutes, and the topics she has chosen about the Savior give a quick boost to self-confidence with reminders that we are not alone. Our Savior is here for us, and He knows how we feel and what we are going through.

I particularly enjoyed the questions/direction given at the end of each devotional. After reading the topic, scripture verse(s), and a few paragraphs about how the topic can relate to our lives, a question or direction is posed about how we can think about the topic throughout the day, or something we can do related to the topic. I think this is a wonderful way to get your day moving in a good direction.

~Connie donates 100% of the profits from her books to charity~


"Connie Sokol, the queen of simple yet effective, has done it again. What a great resource for quick, daily things that we can do to draw closer to the Savior. This easily fits into our busy lives, reminding us of what matters most."
~Peggy Urry, President-elect, American Night Writers Association

“I LOVED this book! Connie brings these scriptures home with real, everyday moments. I can savor these bite-size gems throughout my busy day with little ones. The teachings are powerful, and her added insights brought them home for me in a new way."
~Amy Chandler, Founder My Story Matters

“Connie Sokol’s new book, “40 Days with the Savior”, is just the little push I needed to feel the Savior’s presence in my daily life. Using personal stories, scriptural accounts, and meaningful insights, she helps readers draws closer to Jesus Christ and become a more Christ-centered person. I loved her daily nuggets of wisdom, with titles like, “He Did the Right Thing” and “He Gently Corrects”, to prompt a change of behavior. My Easter will be more meaningful this year!”
~Jodi Marie Robinson, Author of “Women of Virtue” and “A Royal Guardian”

“Connie Sokol has thoughtfully shared fresh insights to well know scriptural phrases. The simple meditations in 40 Days with the Savior are enlightening and empowering. This is an easy way to draw closer to Jesus Christ throughout the Easter season and during the rest of the year. After reading this book I feel my burdens are lighter.”
~Margaret Turley, Author of Save the Child, Administrator Writers Unite to Fight Cancer

Author Connie Sokol

Connie Sokol is a mother of seven, and a sought after national and local speaker. She is a monthly contributor on KSL TV’s “Studio 5” and regular blogger for KSL’s "Motherhood Matters" blog. She is a former TV and radio host for Bonneville Communications, and columnist for Deseret News and Utah Valley Magazine. Mrs. Sokol is the author of several books including the award-nominated romance Caribbean Crossroads, Faithful, Fit & Fabulous, Life is Too Short for One Hair Color Series, and Motherhood Matters as well as talk CDs and podcasts. Mrs. Sokol marinates in time spent with her family and eating decadent treats.

Blog Tour Giveaway
$25 Amazon Gift Card
Ends 3/31/13
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code. 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. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review: The Great & Marvelous Change by Clifford P. Jones

Reading non-fiction is often a challenge for me, but when Clifford P. Jones, author of The Great & Marvelous Change, asked me if I would consider reviewing his book, I decided to take on the challenge.

Shortly after Christ's death and resurrection, he spoke to Lehi's seed, describing the marvelous change he had wrought: the law of Moses was fulfilled, death was conquered, and the faithful could inherit eternal life (see 3 Nephi 9:13-22). His words evoked hours of astonished silence. Later, thousands of those who had heard his sayings gathered at the temple to marvel and wonder about "the great and marvelous change which had taken place" (3 Nephi 11:1).

This book explores the intriguing possibility that the multitude went to the temple to learn more about the Atonement--the greatest and most marvelous change in time and eternity--and that Jesus Christ came to them to reveal the knowledge they sought.

Jones presents a convincing argument that the Nephite people who were present when the Savior visited the Americas after His Resurrection were there to discuss the Atonement and not the destruction that occurred at the time of the Crucifixion. The bulk of the book explores some theories held by students of The Book of Mormon that may be incorrect, and gives many examples regarding wording, timing, traditions, etc.

While parts of The Great & Marvelous Change definitely made me think more deeply about the setting just before the Savior came, I have not had issue with why the people were gathered together. Readers who have studied the existing theories will probably find Jones' arguments enlightening.

Even though Jones is definitely pushing for his theory, I appreciated the inclusion of sentences like this:

"Of course, no evaluation will be sufficient to identify Mormon's intended meaning with complete certainty for readers." (page 76)

The Great & Marvelous Change wasn't a "page turner" for me, but it seemed to be well researched. And whether you accept Jones' theory or not, The Great & Marvelous Change is a good reminder of the importance of accepting the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in each of our lives.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Mystery/Suspense Finalists - 2012 Whitney Awards

It is hard to pick a favorite finalist from the 2012 Whitney Award Mystery/Suspense category. Each of these books was appealing in many ways, and they are all clean! But, if I had to pick just one, I think I'd go with Tres Leches Cupcakes by Josi S. Kilpack. Deadly Undertakings was right up there, but Tres Leches Cupcakes was a little more comfortable to read (Luke did a great job of not going overboard with the creepiness; however Deadly Undertakings is definitely more creepy than Tres Leches Cupcakes). Tres Leches Cupcakes is book 8 of the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery Series, and the main character's quirkiness makes for some light spots in the midst of the mystery.

Banana Split Code Word Deadly Undertakings Line of Fire Tres Leches Cupcakes
Josi S. Kilpack Traci Hunter Abramson Gregg Luke Rachel Ann Nunes Josi S. Kilpack

This is a great group of books, and a mystery/suspense lover should definitely be able to find one they like among these.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Historical Category Finalists - 2012 Whitney Awards

I'm making my way through the 2012 Whitney Award Finalists, and last night I finished up the Historical Category (click the titles to see my individual reviews).

Espionage My Loving Vigil Keeping Spinster’s Folly The Five Books of Jesus Within the Dark Hills
A. L. Sowards* Carla Kelly Marsha Ward James Goldberg* Sian Ann Bessey

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, and there are some great books among these finalists. It's hard to pick just one, but I'd probably go with Espionage by A.L. Sowards. I really liked learning about the old mining lifestyle portrayed in both My Loving Vigil Keeping and Within the Dark Hills, but Espionage's WWII European setting, and the American solider spying in enemy territory was very intense. The story has some religious/spiritual aspects, and I like the way they were included. It didn't detract from the rest of the story like it does in some novels. I did want more at the end, but it was well written with great characters, and a very enjoyable read.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Blog Tour: Replacing Gentry by Julie N. Ford

Tour Schedule

Replacing Gentry

When Marlie agrees to attend a cadaver ball at Vanderbilt Medical School, she did not expect to actually see any cadavers. Or, that a strange apparition would issue her a chilling message.

Despite the cadaver's warning, Marlie is married a year later to Tennessee State Senator, Daniel Cannon, and living in a plantation-style mansion with two step sons. Add to the mix her growing suspicion that something is amiss with the death of Daniel’s first wife, Gentry; and newlywed Marlie is definitely in over her pretty Yankee head.

What begins as an innocent inquiry into her new husband’s clouded past, ends with Marlie in the midst of a dangerous conspiracy.

A modern twist on the classic Gothic romance novels of Rebecca and Jane Eyre, Replacing Gentry follows Marlie’s precarious journey as she learns the truth about the man she married.


I was drawn to Replacing Gentry by the cover and the book blurb. This story has a little bit of everything-secret groups, ghosts, romance, mystery. Although having so many elements left some room for polish, I found the story to be intriguing.

The main character, Marlie, had a tendency to be drawn to people or situations that often lead to trouble. I didn't always love or understand her choices, but her determination and desire to make the best of her situation made her quite likeable.

Replacing Gentry is a fast read with twists and turns that kept me guessing on some aspects of the story right up until the end.

There is some swearing, mention of sex (both marital and extramarital), and discovery of violent crimes.

Replacing Gentry will be released on April 9th
Preorder on Amazon

Author Julie N. Ford

Julie N. Ford graduated from San Diego State University with a BA in Political Science and a minor in English Literature. In addition, she has a Masters in Social Work from the University of Alabama. Professionally, she has worked in teaching and as a Marriage & Family Counselor. She is the author of two women’s fiction novels, The Woman He Married and No Holly for Christmas, published in 2011. In addition, she wrote a romance/chick-lit novel, Count Down to Love, also published in 2011. Count Down to Love was a 2011 Whitney Award finalist. Her next novel, Replacing Gentry, is due for release April 9th, 2013.

Currently, she lives in Nashville, TN with her husband, two daughters and one hedgehog.

Tour Giveaway
$50 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
Open to US only
Ends 4/30/13

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Friday, March 8, 2013

March Authors Kindle Fire Giveaway

Kindle Fire HD Giveaway!

The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HD (US Only)

Or $199 Gift Card (International)

Or $199 in Paypal Cash (International)

Sponsoring Authors

The Stone Guardian by Theresa McClinton

Blood Oath (Gabby Girls Adventure, #2)Return of the Dragon Riders: Book Two of the Dragon Stone Saga (Dragon Stone Saga, #2)Hidden HeartA Tale of the Other Kind (Therian, #1)AuraPrison NationFamily Magic (Hayle Coven, #1)The Conduit (Gryphon, #1)Shifting PrideFire Within (Guardian Witch #2)Fall of Sky CityReflectionThe Light of Asteria: Kailmeyra's Last Hope (Kailmeyra, #1)Kiss Me, I'm Irish (Time For Love #1)Grace DollThe Stone GuardianLegend UnleashedInnovera Yakov: The Journey of A Thousand EyesThe GiftedFor What It's WorthForbidden Temptation of a VampireOwlet (Society of Feathers, #1)Cascade Brides: The Complete SeriesTwenty-Five Years Ago TodayAlexander Drake's Extraordinary Pursuit

Giveaway Details
1 winner will receive their choice of a Kindle Fire HD (US Only), $199 Amazon Gift Card or $199 in Paypal Cash (International).
Ends: 3/31/13

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. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Review: Geek Girl by Cindy C. Bennett

Jen's life of partying and sneaking out has grown stale. So on a whim, Jen makes a bet to turn Trevor, a goody-two-shoes geek, into a "bad boy." As she hangs out with Trevor, however, she finds it's actually kinda fun being a geek. But when Trevor finds out about the bet, Jen must fight for the things she's discovered matter most: friendship, family, and, above all, love.

I first heard about Geek Girl quite awhile ago. It sounded like a fun story, but my library didn't carry it and I hesitate to buy books before I've read them. I was part of the recent blog tour for Cindy C. Bennett's new book, Rapunzel Untangled, and as luck would have it, I was able to get a review eCopy of Geek Girl from the author.

I liked Jen, the main character, quite a bit. I don't really gravitate toward people who throw off a "stay away from me" vibe, but one of the great things about Geek Girl is learning what is behind Jen's standoffish/rebellious personality. She has been in the foster system for quite awhile, and although she's currently living with a great foster family, she's had many bad experiences and doesn't develop bonds with the families she lives with.

Her goal to "turn" Trevor was really interesting. Based on his reaction to her initial contact, I thought he was probably a gonner. I didn't know much about him, but he seemed like a genuinely good guy, and I was torn that Jen would be a bad influence on him.

Without spoiling everything, I'll just say that I'm happy with how things turned out. It was a rough road with ups and downs. Geek Girl deals with some serious issues, but I liked the way they were handled. The overall story wasn't a downer, and you see the importance of getting to know people and what makes them who they are. The ending wasn't extremely strong, but overall I really liked Geek Girl.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Blog Tour: Baked Alaska by Josi S. Kilpack

Tour Schedule

An Alaskan cruise is the setting for amateur detective Sadie Hoffmillers latest adventure. Sadie plans to spend time relaxing with her two grown children, Breanna and Shawn, and her boyfriend, Pete, while enjoying the luxury and cuisine of an elegant cruise ship and helping to plan her daughters upcoming wedding. But even as the crew prepares to leave port, Sadie has suspicions about the voyage ahead and the relationship between her normally easygoing son and a mysterious female passenger he obviously knows but refuses to discuss. When the woman is discovered unconscious during the second night at sea, Sadies apprehension escalates. Over the last few years, Sadie has developed an extreme dislike for secrets and it would seem her son is keeping one from her. *Includes eight new mouthwatering recipes, tested and approved by the official bakers of Sadie's Virtual Test Kitchen.


I've been a fan of Josi S. Kilpack's Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mysteries for a few years. Sadie and her quirky ways always make for an entertaining read, and Baked Alaska is a great addition to the series.

One of my favorite things about Baked Alaska was that Sadie's adult children and her boyfriend Pete were all together. This is new in the series, and I liked having everyone involved with each other. I also liked how the issue of adoption and birth mothers was addressed.

The cruise ship setting was fun, and definitely made me want to try an Alaskan cruise someday. I have been on one cruise, and I remember feeling bad for some of the cruise employees for how long they have to be away from their families. I didn't think about any mysteries while I was on board, but I'll admit that Baked Alaska made me wonder if anything happened and was kept quite on my cruise.

Parts of the mystery in Baked Alaska were predictable, but that didn't diminish my enjoyment of the story. Sadie is a bit unpredictable, so it's always interesting to see what crazy situations she'll get herself stuck in.

I loved the ending of Baked Alaska! I won't ruin it with any spoilers, but I was really happy with what happened.

As usual, the recipes included sound delicious, and there is a preview of the next book in the series, Rocky Road. I'm excited for its release, especially because I'm familiar with the area it takes place.

Praise for Baked Alaska

Josi Kilpack has done it again. You would think that all these events that occur in Sadie's life wouldn't be natural, but Josi Kilpack has a way of making you believe that it just "happens" and it is normal. I have grown to love Sadie's character, even if she is a busybody, you can't help but cheer for her as she attempts to solve a mystery or crime. One of my favorite series. :)
~Goodreads Reviewer Lacey McNeill

About the Author

Josi S. Kilpack grew up hating to read until she was thirteen and her mother handed her a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond. From that day forward, she read everything she could get her hands on and credits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then. She began her first novel in 1998 and hasn’t stopped since. Her seventh novel, Sheep’s Clothing, won the 2007 Whitney Award for Mystery/Suspense, and Lemon Tart, her ninth novel, was a 2009 Whitney Award Finalist. Josi was the Best in State winner in literature for 2012 and currently has two books (Banana Split and Tres Leches Cupcakes) as finalists in the 2012 Whitney awards.

Josi currently lives in Willard, Utah, with her family.

Blog Tour Giveaway
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 3/20/13

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. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway