Thursday, April 20, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Chasing Red by Lauren Winder Farnsworth


Ryder Redmond can’t wait to begin her new life in New York City, with her first real job after college. But the big city gets a little more complicated once she meets the charming and mysterious Damian Wolfe. On the surface he seems perfect, but her friend Hunter is suspicious of his all-too-straight smile and his motives towards Ryder. With her heart on the line, Ryder will have to decide just how much she trusts the handsome city slicker.


When Ryder Redmond sets off for New York City with luggage and a job in hand, she has no idea what she is headed for.  A romance with a gorgeous investment banker certainly wasn't in her plans.  Nor was a roommate looking for a shot at a Broadway career.  And the protective lawyer from work certainly complicates things.  

Ryder is a fun character who has made me smile from the first page. I've also found her experiences in reaching New York fun to read about, both the good ones and the bad ones.  The other characters are also all really interesting as well, especially Ryder's roommate, Lily.  Hunter was my pick out of the guys from the very beginning.  

Damian is gorgeous with a great job and a wealthy family and he's a member of Ryder's church.  To Ryder's way of thinking, he's perfect!  And he's interested in her!  But things get more and more frustrating and confusing as almost everyone who cares about her warns her away from him.  As the relationship continues to develop it becomes obvious to both the reader and everyone else in Ryder's life that it's not a good relationship and that something is off about Damian.  But Ryder has blinders on and refuses to listen to anyone, even her adored father.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, except for the times I wanted to smack Ryder upside the head for not listening to those who cared about her.  Even her own discomfort at trying to fit into Damian's world gets pushed aside in the face of her infatuation.  But her relationships with Lily and Hunter are delightful and fun.  The details about life as an accountant were surprisingly interesting so I wasn't surprised to discover that the author has training and experience as one.  I also enjoyed Ryder's adventures and misadventures adjusting to life in a big city and an incredibly demanding job.  And her snarkiness was certainly amusing at times.

All in all a great contemporary read that I highly recommend to those who enjoy clean romance with some great plot twists.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Defiance by A.L. Sowards


Eight years after immigrating to the United States, German-born Lukas Ley embodies the American dream: successful athlete, gorgeous girlfriend, loving family. But beneath the surface, eighteen-year-old Lukas is driven by ambition, resolved to avenge the murder of his father at the hands of the Nazi regime. Unfortunately, a failed physical throws his plans for flight school off course. Unlike his war-hero older brother, Lukas's purpose is unclear. He can't fly, and in the eyes of the military, he's good for only one thing—the front lines.

From the foxholes of war-ravaged Luxembourg to the devastation of an enormous German offensive, Lukas's journey is fraught with peril. But when he's taken as a prisoner of war, he realizes life is about to get much worse. In the enemy camp, Lukas is viewed as a German fighting for the wrong side. Ripped from the innocence of an idealistic youth, he becomes a man beaten by the horrors of war. Now his only hope of survival is to hold tightly to his faith in God and his love of family and home. But even if he manages to make it out alive, can he ever be whole again?


A.L. Sowards has become one of my favorite historical fiction writers.  She seems to have a knack for creating great characters, intense, intriguing plots, and powerful historical settings.  Defiance certainly fits that description.  The fact is that war is hell and those of us who haven't experienced it really can't fully understand what it's like.  The main character of Defiance is a young German immigrant who unfortunately discovers this for himself.  Luke's family immigrated to the United States have his father was arrested and killed by the Nazis so he has more reason than many to want to see the Nazis defeated.  He has dreams of becoming a pilot but poor eyesight derails that plan and he ends up in the infantry.

As part of the allied force pushing toward Germany, Luke experiences combat first hand and the horrible things that come with it.  But things get even worse when he gets taken prisoner.  He finds himself forced to do things that he never would have imagined.  Frankly this sort of story can be hard to read sometimes because of all the awful things that happened to so many people.  At the same time I find these stories inspiring as well, that people sometimes managed to survive in the face of such horrors.  Another remarkable book by one of my favorite authors.


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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A PROPER ROMANCE BOOK REVIEW: The Vicar's Daughter by Josi S. Kilpack


Cassie, the youngest of six daughters in the Wilton family, is bold, bright, and ready to enter society. There's only one problem: her older sister Lenora, whose extreme shyness prevents her from attending many social events. Lenora is now entering her third season, and Cassie has no choice except to wait her turn.

Evan Glenside, a soft-spoken, East London clerk, has just been named his great-uncle's heir and, though he is eager to learn all that will be required of him, he struggles to feel accepted.

A chance meeting between Evan and Lenora promises to change everything, but when Lenora proves too shy to pursue the relationship, Cassie begins to write Mr. Glenside letters in the name of her sister but her good intentions may lead to disaster.

As secrets are revealed, the hearts of Cassie, Evan, and Lenora are tested. Will the final letter sent by the vicar's daughter be able to reunite the sisters as well as unite Evan with his true love?


Josi Kilpack has written another winning historical romance.  I've really come to love this A Proper Romance series by Shadow Mountain.  There hasn't been one that I haven't absolutely adored.  Kilpack's books though have a unique feeling of depth to them as her characters make mistakes, then have to deal with the consequences.  There are even times when I don't like the characters, or at least want to jump into the book and tell them not to do certain things. 

Cassie longs to be out in society but because of her parents rules, she must wait until her sister, Lenora, finds a husband.  The problem is that Lenora is so painfully shy that she avoids social events whenever possible.  After hearing about an encounter between Lenora and Evan Glenside at the latest ball, Cassie decides that this may be her chance to help her sister find a match.  What she doesn't expect however is to fall for Evan herself.  And like most such deceptions, the truth comes out eventually, but not until things have moved far enough along between Evan and Lenora that a scandal results.  And now Cassie, Lenora, and Evan, as well as their families must live with the consequences.

I really enjoyed getting to know Cassie and Evan, the letters were especially fun.  But it's especially touching to watch Cassie as she grows up and starts to think more about others.  And poor Evan, what a sweet man, who is having to not only adjust to a rise in social status, but now he must face a damaged reputation.  Thankfully, Cassie works hard to try to undo as much of the damage as she can.  Not only has Kilpack written a beautiful romance, but also a touching story of repentance and forgiveness and the need we all have to change and improve.  This book is definitely going on my favorites shelf.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Miss Whitaker Opens Her Heart by Jennifer Moore


Australia, 1814

As a young child bound for a strange country, Sarah Whitaker dreamed of life with her father on his sprawling Australian ranch. But her hopes were shattered when she learned of his death and of her new role as heiress of the largest sheep farm in New Wales. Orphaned in a land greatly populated by petty criminals exiled from England, the future seemed grim. But now, ten years later, Sarah has defied the odds and become a successful businesswoman—much to the chagrin of her male counterparts. Hardened by the dishonesty of both her fellow ranchers and the felons in her employ, Sarah has learned one important truth: no one is to be trusted.

Daniel Burton is a lucky man. Sentenced to death for his role in a horse-race scandal, Daniel was granted reprieve thanks to the influence of his wealthy relatives. Now, rather than death, Daniel faces exile in Australia—an opportunity to put past mistakes behind him. But when he purchases land with the intention of farming it, he unwittingly arouses the wrath of his new neighbor, Sarah. What begins as a battle of wits, however, soon becomes a warm friendship—and perhaps something more. But when Daniel's secret past is revealed, will Sarah be able forgive yet another deception?


Jennifer Moore has hit it out of the park again.  Just when I think she can't possibly come up with another unique historical romance, she manages to do it.  And what's even more interesting, and enjoyable, for me is that it's connected to her previous books.  One of the things that I love about her book's is how real the characters feel.  With strengths and weaknesses, struggles and obstacles to overcome, and yet they learn to love each other anyway.  Daniel Burton makes some huge mistakes, ones that get him sentenced to death, but thanks to his sister's brother-in-law, who happens to be a duke, he is spared death and transported to Australia instead.  As he struggles to come to grips with his mistakes, he meets Sarah Whitaker, a brave young lady who runs the sheep farm next to his.  The two clash at first because of Daniel's sympathy toward the convicts in the area and Sarah's lack of willingness to trust them.  I found reading about the colony and the policies and treatment of the convicts interesting to read about, it's a topic I didn't know much about previously, but as always, Moore has done her homework and it shows.  Miss Whitaker Opens Her Heart is another in a growing body of historical romance that continues to shine.


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Friday, April 7, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Deadly Inheritance by Clair M. Poulson


Andi Buckner and her twin brother, Bolden, have had enough of the rough streets of Detroit. When they can no longer bear the drugs and abuse within their home, the twins make their escape: Bolden to the military, and Andi to wherever the wind takes her. With few belongings and no specific destination, Andi eventually finds herself across the table from a kind old man in a quaint cafe in Spring Hollow, Montana. Louis "Gramps" Granger, a retired cop, takes Andi under his wing. Andi soon finds a peace she's never known as she roots herself in the small town, working at the cafe and living in a cabin on Gramps's property. But her peace is short-lived...

When an enemy from Gramps's past murders the old man, Andi's need to see justice served draws her into an investigation far beyond her own abilities. But hundreds of miles away, her twin brother senses her despair and heeds her silent plea for help. Andi is soon reunited with her brother as well as with Bolden's friend, private investigator Mason Crowther. Together, the trio delves into a mystery and soon discovers that the murderer's motive goes far deeper than any of them imagined. With the truth almost within reach, they find themselves directly in the path of a killer who will stop at nothing to finish what they've started...


Clair Poulson has done it again.  He's written a compelling mystery with interesting characters and plenty of exciting twists and turns.  Andi is a sympathetic character from the beginning as she flees a dysfunctional family life in Detroit for the peaceful small town life of Spring Hollow, Montana.  And her new found friendship with Louis Granger, a retired detective, that everyone in town calls Gramps helps her feel right at home.  But Andi's peaceful existence is complicated greatly when she finds Gramps murdered on their favorite hiking trail.  With the help of the local sheriff as well as her twin brother Bolden and her brother's friend, private investigator Mason Crowther, Andi hopes to find the murderer of her friend.  But in the process, Andi finds herself in the line of fire.  But thanks to the efforts of Gramps, she may just have the skills required to survive.  There is of course some romance going on in and around the excitement between Andi and Mason.  An enjoyable read for those who enjoy suspenseful romantic mysteries.


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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

BLOG TOUR: An Unseen Angel by Alissa Parker


When Alissa Parker lost her daughter Emilie in the Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting, she started a life-changing journey to answer soul-searching questions about faith, hope, and healing. As she sought for the peace and comfort that could help mend her broken heart, she learned, step by step, how to open her heart to God's Grace and will.

One step brought her face to face with the shooter's father, where in a pivotal and poignant meeting, she was given an opportunity to forgive. Another step brought her into the sheltering compassion of her community as family, friends, and even strangers reached out to buoy her up with their shared faith. And several miraculous manifestations of Emilie's continued presence and influence lifted her heart and will validate the faith of every Christian.

The story of Alissa and Emilie reminds us that the bonds of love continue beyond this life and that despite tragedy and heartache, we can find strength in our family and our faith.


I clearly remember the day that Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 children and 6 adults.  I was at the elementary school I work at now.  I remember the horror I felt as the details started to come in.  But the emotions I felt were nothing compared to those of those who lost a loved one that day.  Alissa Parker's 6-year-old daughter was among the twenty children whose mortal lives ended that day.  In this book, she walks the reader through her experiences both leading up to that day and the year that followed.  I'll admit that I shed plenty of tears reading this tender account of a mother's love for her daughter, and the grief that followed her loss.

As Alissa and her family struggled to deal with this tragedy in their lives, they sought for a way to somehow find healing in the face of utter heartbreak.  I can't really do Alissa's account justice, I can just recommend that you read it.  Yes, it's a story of tragedy and grief, but it's also a story of family, friends, and compassion.  It's a story of evil choices made and the resulting anger and bitterness that often accompany such things.  But it's also a remarkable story of forgiveness, and peace, and God's love.  The photographs that accompany the story reveal a beautiful little girl who touched the lives of many, far beyond her years, both in life and death.

I admire Alissa's willingness to share such an incredibly difficult experience with the world.  And even more so the tender experiences of prayers answered.  While the story revolves around a tragic event, it still manages to show beauty coming from ashes and the love that God has for his children and His willingness to help us through the challenges we face.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

LDS BOOK REVIEW: Worth the Wrestle by Sheri Dew


Why can’t I seem to conquer weaknesses that plague me?” “How do I know if I’m receiving revelation?” “Will the Lord forgive me after what I’ve done?” “Why can’t we seem to get ahead financially even though we faithfully pay our tithing?” “What if the Church’s position on gay marriage bothers me?”

Those are just a handful of the countless questions Sheri Dew has heard people ask over the years. “May I answer these questions,” she writes, “and any questions you may have, by posing a different question: Are you willing to engage in the wrestle? In an ongoing spiritual wrestle?”

In Worth the Wrestle, Sheri examines the process of asking good questions—whether those questions be doctrinal, procedural, historical, or intensely personal—and learning how to get answers. She demonstrates how to live by faith while seeking greater light and knowledge. And she testifies of principles that are worth wrestling for and of understanding that can be gained in no other way.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Questions are Good
Chapter 2: Wrestling
Chapter 3: Receiving Answers
Chapter 4: Walking by Faith
Chapter 5: Cherishing Keys
Chapter 6: Standing as Witness
Conclusion: What is Worth Wrestling For?


Sheri Dew is a native of Ulysses, Kansas, and a graduate of Brigham Young University. She has written a number of books, including the biographies of two Presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Presidents Gordon B. Hinckley and Ezra Taft Benson. She served from 1997 to 2002 as Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, and since March 2002, she has served as the Chief Executive Officer of Deseret Book Company. She now also serves as an executive vice president of Deseret Management Corporation.


Questions about life and about God are common to all of us.  I know I have many of my own.  Maybe that's why I found this book perfect for me.  I have a lot in common with Sister Dew, being still single at an age long past when I'd hoped to be married.  And I still have plenty of questions about it.  I really appreciated the candor with which the author explains the importance of being willing to search for answers, to 'wrestle' for answers so to speak.  The Lord wants us to invest ourselves in finding answers to our questions, in a matter of speaking, He wants us to demonstrate that we care enough for an answer to put forth the effort to get one.  Using personal experiences, scriptures and scripture stories, as well as quotes from LDS general authorities (that as members we consider to be prophets, seers, and revelators) showing the need to really invest ourselves in finding answers.  Asking questions can lead to answers when they are asked from a position of faith rather than doubt, believing that God can and will lead us to the answers in His own time and way.  In fact, Sister Dew suggests some really good questions for readers to start with.  The part I especially related to was the chapter on receiving answers, where the author suggests asking the Lord to show us how we as individuals perceive His responses.

For those who wonder if it's okay to have questions about the LDS church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), its policies, doctrines, and practices, as well as questions about the Lord Himself, I highly recommend this book.  I found the book both informative and inspiring, and a powerful reminder that the Lord wants us to learn, He doesn't leave us comfortless, and He will answer our questions if we find the courage and persistence to ask.  He will even give us the right questions to ask if we feel lost.  I also agreed with Sister Dew's point that once we've received answers, it's important to then stand as a witness for those things that we have learned.  A wonderful read that I loved and will undoubtedly read again.

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