Wednesday, May 28, 2014

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Missing Lily by Annette K. Larsen

Missing Lily Tour


missing lily

“You don’t know who I am,” I whispered. He didn’t move—either away from me, or closer—and after an interminable moment, I stepped back and hurried out of the house. He didn’t follow me as I fled into the night.

Lylin was not used to being alone—much less alone, hurt, and lost. So when she is separated from her guard and forced to abandon her horse, she counts herself lucky to stumble upon a manor house. Still frightened by those who chased her into the night, she keeps her identity a secret, calling herself Lily as she accepts the help of kind servants, and the compassion of Lord Fallon. When they fall into an easy friendship, she wonders if her secrecy was too hasty. However, as she gets to know the manor and its residents, Lylin discovers that she’s not the only one hiding secrets, and it may be a very good thing that her host doesn’t know her true identity as a member of the royal family.  

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Annette
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I was born in Utah, part of a crazy, fun family of nine. I grew up in Flagstaff, AZ and St. Louis, MO before striking out on my own college adventure in Virginia. I decided to try my hand at writing novels after I was married and living in Idaho. I write clean romance because it’s my favorite genre, but often difficult to find.

I have Charlotte Brontë to thank for the courage to write novels. After being bombarded with assigned reading about women who justified abandoning either their families or their principles in the name of love, I had the great fortune of reading Jane Eyre. And that was it: finally, a heroine who understood that being moral and making the right choice was hard, and sometimes it hurt, but it was still worth it. After rereading it several years later, I realized that if I wanted more books to exist with the kinds of heroines I admired, then I might as well write a few myself. My books are about women who face hard choices, who face pain and rejection and often have to face the reality of sacrificing what they want for what is right. The consequences are often difficult or unpleasant, but in the end, doing what’s right will always be worth it. I believe there is no substitute for good writing or good chocolate. Fortunately, one often leads to the other.

Not yet read Just Ella?
It is on sale for $3.99 for the duration of the blog tour.
Grab your copy on Amazon.

REVIEW

Larsen has delivered another thoroughly exciting romance full of unexpected surprise, some good, some bad. Lylin is a very likable protagonist and one I sympathized with right away.  And Rhys, sigh, I have always been a sucker for the good guys and Lord Fallen is definitely one of those.  And the romance is everything I look for in a romance, realistic in terms of the struggle with feelings and the complications that can develop around relationships.

The story pulled me in immediately and never let go. I had a really hard time putting the book down to go to work. The writing is good, the story is compelling, the characters interesting and well-developed, even the bad guy elicited some empathy from me.  I'm having a hard time coming up with words to describe this book. I strongly suggest that you go out and read the book yourself and you will know what I mean. Highly recommended.

EXCERPT

I found a cloak in the wardrobe and put it on, then quietly unlatched the door, hoping to leave without anyone’s notice.

Rhys sat on the floor, leaning against the wall opposite my door, sleeping. It broke my heart to see him there, obviously waiting for me to come out. But with any luck, he wouldn’t discover my departure until later. I slipped through the door and crept past him, trying to keep my breath quiet even with my nerves jumping every which way. I reached the top of the stairs before his voice stopped me.

“Where are you going?”

I looked back. His head still rested against the wall, but his eyes were fixed on me.

I faced the stairs again, contemplating running down them. I cleared my throat. “I’m just going for a walk outside to clear my head.” My foot stepped down.

“The sun is down.” Confusion infused his voice as he stood to follow.

My pace increased. “I won’t be gone long.”

He grabbed my arm, stopping me. “What has you so upset?”

I tried to hold his gaze. He hated me, even if he didn’t know it. “I’m just…worried.”

“That’s not it.” How could he know such a thing? “There’s something else.”

I tried to invent a lie, but my thoughts wouldn’t cooperate. He moved closer to me, making my neck grow hot. I swallowed, desperately searching for something to say, or even something to focus on besides the warmth spreading through me. I ignored it. I didn’t know this man, he may very well be a traitor, a conspirator. But all I could feel was his proximity.

“Won’t you tell me?” he pled. I made myself look at him and his eyes delved into mine, searching for any clue to explain my behavior.

I closed my eyes, whispering, “I can’t.”

“Please?”

I opened my eyes at his pleading tone, then opened my mouth, trying to say something. His eyes locked on my parted lips and I stopped trying to talk. He lowered his head, glancing at my eyes before refocusing on my mouth and moving closer. He was going to kiss me. Half of me wanted it, desperately. The other half was terrified. It was all wrong. This was wrong. He was wrong.

I turned my face away and he froze.

“You don’t know who I am,” I whispered. He didn’t move—either away from me, or closer—and after an interminable moment, I stepped back and hurried out of the house.

He didn’t follow me as I fled into the night.

BLOG TOUR GIVEAWAY

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 6/15/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com 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 and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Friday, May 23, 2014

LDS BOOK REVIEW: His Holy House by Robert A. Boyd


ABOUT THE BOOK

Gain a new appreciation for the beauty and grandeur of the Lord's sacred temples with this stunning collection of photographs by Robert A. Boyd. His Holy House features full-color photos of nearly sixty Latter-day Saint temples located throughout the United States and Canada. Each image has been crafted with a professional artistic eye, reflecting the fine quality and exquisite detail with which the temples were built.

The detail shots of ornate windows, beautiful stonework, and carved wooden doors remind us to appreciate every inch of the Lord's house. Other images display the temples highlighted dramatically against gorgeous landscapes or show the changing beauty of the seasons contrasted with the unchanging beauty of the temples. Also scattered throughout the book are inspirational scriptures that speak of the blessings available to us through our temple worship.

Robert A. Boyd's photography does exactly what good art should do: please the eye, uplift the heart, and inspire the soul. His work is remarkable. —James C. Christensen

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

For almost ten years Robert A. Boyd has been creating images of temples around the world in a unique fine-art style. A professional photographer for nearly twenty years, Robert once traveled the world photographing for clients. One day his mother-in-law expressed her longing for some beautiful pictures of the temple. She suggested that in his travels he should use his talents to photograph the temples in an artistic style. As soon as he turned his viewfinder towards this objective, it seemed as if new, beautiful scenes were now there, ready for him, every time he went to photograph.

The temple has long played a significant role in the life of Robert and his wife Eleah. Particularly, the passing of their first child, and the subsequent adoption and sealing of 3 additional children, have driven home the importance of the temple to the Boyd family. The blessings we receive in the temple have been a great source of peace and joy to them, and that has served to endear a great love of the temple in their hearts.

Today Robert is fortunate to work full time both creating temple art, and also overseeing the fine art printing process for his own art work, and that of other artists. He feels very blessed to be a part of something that is so meaningful to so many, and he hopes to share his feelings of the beauty of the temple as he strives to illuminate his photographic art with peace, light and balance. He lives in Utah with his wife and their five beautiful children.

REVIEW

This has got to be the most beautiful book I have ever seen! I mean, WOW!  The sheer amount of work that must have gone into this is mind-boggling.  The book is a collection of photographs of temples from around the United States and Canada.  The photos have been taken during various times of the day and during different seasons which creates a kaleidoscope of possibilities.  There are also close-ups of various parts of the temples including different shots of the Angel Moroni, stained glass windows, and other outside decorations.  Some photos focus on the buildings themselves while others look at the temple within its setting.  The inspirational scriptures that are included on some pages have clearly been chosen very carefully and appropriately, emphasizing the importance and value of temples.  A beautifully designed book that is worth every penny!



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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

BLOG TOUR/GIVEAWAY: Prejudice meets Pride by Rachael Anderson

Prejudice Meets Pride Tour Banner

Prejudice Meets Pride by Rachael Anderson Book Cover


ABOUT THE BOOK

After years of pinching pennies and struggling to get through art school, Emma Makie’s hard work finally pays off with the offer of a dream job. But when tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to make a cross-country move to Colorado Springs to take temporary custody of her two nieces. She has no money, no job prospects, and no idea how to be a mother to two little girls, but she isn’t about to let that stop her. Nor is she about to accept the help of Kevin Grantham, her handsome new neighbor, who seems to think she’s incapable of doing anything on her own.
Fun, compelling, and romantic, Prejudice Meets Pride is the story of a guy who thinks he has it all figured out and a girl who isn't afraid to show him that he doesn't. It’s about learning what it means to trust, figuring out how to give and to take, and realizing that not everyone gets to pick the person they fall in love with. Sometimes, love picks them.
Coming Soon...


Coming Next in the Meet Your Match Series



Rachael
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A USA Today bestselling author, Rachael Anderson is the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can't sing, doesn't dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.




REVIEW

I haven't finished reading this yet, but what I have read I've really enjoyed. Rachael Anderson really knows how to tell an enjoyable romance! It's already amusing and sweet at the same time. Too bad I actually have to work today or I'd finish it right now. ;)

EXCERPT

“This box is getting power, so it’s not a power issue.” Kevin was at the control box, checking it out. “Are you sure you programmed it right?”

“Yes,” Emma said crossly. Did she really not come across as someone with a brain? “I do know how to read instructions.”

A hint of a smile appeared on his face. “I’m sure you do.” He paused, as though trying to think of another reason her sprinklers weren’t working. “I’m assuming you turned on the stop and waste valve, right?”

Emma bit her lip. He’d assumed she’d done that, which meant any intelligent, logical person would understand what he was talking about. But Emma had no idea what a stop and waste valve was or why she’d need to turn it on. She’d never rented a house with a yard and didn’t know much about sprinklers. The house had water, why didn’t the yard? It didn’t make sense.

The corner of Kevin’s mouth pulled up, and he shook his head as though he couldn’t believe Emma was that clueless. He scanned the garage once more then strode forward and grabbed a rusted, metal T-shaped tool that hung between two nails. He carried it out into the front yard, squatted down, and pried off a green lid in the front corner of the grass. Then he plunged the end of the tool down, fiddled with it for a moment, and turned it slowly to the left.

Emma watched in fascination. So that was the stop and waste valve. Huh.

A spurting noise sounded, and little black tubes popped up all over the front yard, spraying a small amount of water only a foot or two in diameter. The girls squealed in delight, but Emma frowned. That wasn’t right.


“What the—” Kevin spluttered, jumping off the grass and onto the driveway. His hair and shirt were drenched, and no wonder. A tall fountain of water shot from the ground in the far corner, landing in the place where he’d just stood.

BLOG TOUR GIVEAWAY

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 5/31/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com 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.  

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

BLOG TOUR: Marriage isn't for You by Seth Adam Smith


ABOUT THE BOOK

What is the best marriage advice you ever received?

For author Seth Adam Smith, it was the advice from his father, who said, "Marriage isn't for you. It's about the person you marry." These few words completely change the way Seth looked at his relationship with his wife. His thoughts on the subject became an online phenomenon. Paired with beautiful images, they are now available as a book—the perfect gift for newlyweds, those who are celebrating an anniversary, or anyone who wants to learn how to make a relationship stronger.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SETH ADAM SMITH was born in Anchorage, Alaska. Since 2004, he has produced videos and articles for businesses, nonprofit organizations, youth groups, artists, and political causes. He is the editor-in-chief of ForwardWalking.com. He and his wife, Kim, live in Florida.

REVIEW

With so many marriages ending almost before they begin, the advice in this book is invaluable.  And it isn't overly complicated.  Basically, the idea is that marriage isn't about you, it's all about the person you marry.  It isn't about you being happy, it's about making the other person happy.  I seem to remember President Spencer W. Kimball, previous President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints saying once that selfishness was the greatest threat to marriage, "Every divorce is the result of selfishness on the part of one or the other or both parties to a marriage contract."

Smith shares the same idea here in words that are both succinct and profound. And he makes it clear that this is something that he has struggled with as does any married couple. Love after all is said and done and experienced is ultimately about the one you love, not about you. Great advice in a beautiful designed package, perfect for sharing or for simply reminding oneself of what is truly important.



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

LDS BOOK REVIEW: Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons by Zandra Vranes & Tamu Smith


ABOUT THE BOOK

You’ve read the title, and now you’re scratching your head, wondering if this book is for real, right?
It is. Yes, the authors are bona fide Mormons. And hilarious, too! They call themselves Sistas in Zion.
Did we mention they’ve got enough faith to move mountains? Well, they haven’t moved any mountains just yet, but that’s not stopping them from keeping right on praying and believing and knowing that the gospel of Jesus Christ is worth it.
Their unique perspective on their own diary entries will have you laughing one minute and exclaiming “Amen!” the next. They talk about personal experiences and lessons they’ve learned about relationships, sisterhood, standing up for what you believe, embracing diversity, and dealing with adversity—what being a Christian is all about.
The Sistas’ humorous and poignant outlook on life will strengthen your faith and remind you of the joy to be found in living a Christ-centered life. You’ll soon realize that the authors aren’t mad-mad—they’re crazy-mad, funny, and inspiring!
Zandra and Tamu throw open the windows and let fresh air blow into our church culture. The beautiful basic truths of the gospel stand fast in the breeze. In fact, truth seems even more evident when separated from the expected descriptions. The sistas will make you smile, chuckle and even laugh out loud at times. They'll make you glad they're your sisters in the gospel--and most of all glad for the gospel of Jesus Christ. 
—Virginia Pearce
WOW! Absolutely delightful! It wasn’t what I was expecting but once underway the Sistas in Zion drew me in as few things have. It has been years since any book, even those I’ve helped write, rested so easily in my hand. Take a copy home and settle in and let gentle humor speak Gospel truths in manageable bites. 
—Darius Gray
"In a day full of tip-toeing and guarded talk it's such a breath of fresh air to have two 'Sistas in Zion' who just tell it how it is. No sugar-coating. No beating around the bush. Just the truth as they see it, that sets us free. In their "Diary of two Mad Black Mormons" Sista Laurel and Sista Beehive will have you pounding your leg in laughter one minute, and nodding your head 'A-men' the next. Their perspective on the Gospel different and quite unique, which is what makes this book a must read." 
—Bryan Kehl

Sistas in ZionABOUT THE AUTHORS
Zandra Vranes and Tamu Smith are popular multimedia personalities and the authors of the online blog -SISTASinZION.com. Zandra (Sista Laurel) and Tamu (Sista Beehive) also host a weekly online radio program, Sistas in Zion Radio. Their media identities, which focus on humorous aspects of faith and Mormon culture, seek to uplift, inspire, bridge religious divides, and create healthy dialogue.
Zandra and Tamu are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter—day Saints. They enjoy the fact that their Christian values and their work coincide.
Their lives are blessed by amazing family and friends. Zandra is thankful for her boo, the love of her life. Tamu enjoys spending time with her husband of twenty years and their six wonderful kids.

REVIEW
What a delightful book!  With selections that are both insightful and charming, Sista Beehive and Sista Laurel share the lessons they have learned about the Lord and the gospel in everyday life.  Sharing both thoughts and experiences about a variety of topics, Vranes and Smith provide both an entertaining and learning experience for the reader.  
Topics covered include: repentance and soul-searching, standing for the right, faith, service, and relationships.  I especially appreciated their openness in sharing some not so pleasant experiences and mistakes they've made, this can be hard to do without being defensive, but they do it very well.  
One thing that they talk about that especially touched me was how so many people find Jesus in jail.  And not just the official kind.  It's so easy to make choices that put us in our own 'cells' so to speak and the only way out is with Our Savior's help. It's especially sad when we walk into these sort of consequences knowing that what we are doing is wrong or committing the same sin over and over.  But thanks to the Savior who can open those cell doors, we can become free again.  It's up to us whether we remain captives or not.  And so the authors recommend conducting regular 'spiritual background checks' in which we look at our past and the good and bad things in our lives and make the changes that our needed, with the Savior's help.
Not only an enjoyable read, but an inspirational one as well.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

LDS BOOK REVIEW: Women of Faith in the Latter Days, Volume 3


ABOUT THE BOOK

This groundbreaking series tells the stories of women in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints whose lives of faith and dedication deserve emulation. Each chapter recounts a woman's trials, triumphs, and testimony, often in her own words.
Volume 3 features women born between 1846 and 1870 and includes well-known women and other publicly unknown. Their lifespans range from the era of the Mormon pioneers to the beginnings of the space age. Al these women knew pioneer life firsthand. Many also experienced the gradual transition to modern life and the expansion of the Church to far-flung parts of the globe.
Here you will encounter such diverse women as Martha Hughes Cannon, the first female state senator in the United States; Tsune Ishida Nachie, and early Japanese convert and dedicated missionary; Ellis Reynolds Shipp, a medical doctor in early Utah; Mere Mete Whaanga, a leading Maori who migrated to Utah; general Relief Society presidents Sarah Louisa Yates Robison and Clarissa Smith Williams; and Cohn Shoshonitz Zundel, a Shoshone women who lived nearly fifty years as a widow.
The faith these women exhibited as they rejoiced in blessings and dealt with struggles provides a model for us in facing our own challenges as we strive to build lives of faith today.
Additional biographies of Latter-day Saint women of faith born between 1846 and 1870 are available in the eBook edition of this volume.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS
RICHARD E. TURLEY, JR., Assistant Church Historian and Recorder for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is the chairman of the editorial board for The Joseph Smith Papers series. He is the author or co-author of several books, including How We Got the Book of Mormon, with William W. Slaughter; Massacre at Mountain Meadows, with Ronald W. Walker and Glen M. Leonard; and Stories from the Life of Joseph Smith, with Lael Littke. In addition, he is the coeditor of the series Women of Faith in the Latter Days, with Brittany A. Chapman. He and his wife, Shirley, live in Taylorsville, Utah.
Brittany A. Chapman is a historian in the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

REVIEW
I really enjoyed reading this book, even more than I expected. Not only was it inspiring in showing how the highlighted women overcame challenges in their lives, but that despite the difference in their circumstances and mine, the same gospel principals apply equally well.  I was surprised at how much I had in common with some of these ladies. A really fabulous read not only in terms of a look at the historical aspects but also the faith-filled aspects of these women's lives as well.


 
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