Tuesday, October 20, 2015

PICTURE BOOK REVIEW: When I'm a Missionary by Merrilee Boyack


ABOUT THE BOOK

Lace and Julian's big brother, Elliott, has just returned from his mission, and they're excited—excited that he's home and excited to learn about how to prepare to be great missionaries themselves. And there's a lot to do—they had no idea how much goes into becoming a good missionary. From dressing the part to talking to people to learning how to clean and cook, Julian and Lacey discover the challenges and the rewards of preparing to serve a mission. Follow their adventures as they learn all about missionary work and what they can do now to become great missionaries when they grow up.

REVIEW

For LDS parents who are looking for a resource to use in helping their children understand the importance of preparing for a mission, this is a great book. While told in story form, the book is clearly intended to teach young readers/listeners about twelve different ways that he/she can prepare to be the best missionary he/she can be.  These areas of emphasis include learning to take care of oneself, serving, inviting others to church, studying the scriptures, following rules, and becoming a hard worker.  The story of Lace and Julian's brother coming home provides the framework for the two kids learning about becoming missionaries themselves.  The illustrations are beautiful and nicely highlight each of the activities the children engage in.  A nice book for families where missionary service is valued.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

COZY MYSTERY: The Whole Cat and Caboodle by Sofie Ryan


ABOUT THE BOOK

Sarah Grayson is the happy proprietor of Second Chance, a charming shop in the oceanfront town of North Harbor, Maine. At the shop, she sells used items that she has lovingly refurbished and repurposed. But her favorite pet project so far has been adopting a stray cat she names Elvis.

Elvis has seen nine lives—and then some. The big black cat with a scar across his nose turned up at a local bar when the band was playing the King of Rock and Roll’s music and hopped in Sarah’s truck. Since then, he’s been her constant companion and the furry favorite of everyone who comes into the store.

But when Sarah’s elderly friend Maddie is found with the body of a dead man in her garden, the kindly old lady becomes the prime suspect in the murder. Even Sarah’s old high school flame, investigator Nick Elliot, seems convinced that Maddie was up to no good. So it’s up to Sarah and Elvis to clear her friend’s name and make sure the real murderer doesn’t get a second chance.

REVIEW

I seem to have a particular delight in mysteries involving cats.  Maybe because they are so mysterious themselves, but I do enjoy these.  And I most certainly enjoyed this one.  Sarah is a fun character with her re-purposed shop.  Elvis is a great cat character with his abilities to communicate and make friends with almost anyone.  Sarah's friends, who call themselves Charlie's Angels once the mystery picks up, are delightful rascals that Sarah struggles to keep in check.  But Sarah can't help but be drawn into the mystery of who really killed Arther Fenety because she knows Maddie couldn't have done it.  Still, there seems to be something that Maddie is hiding and there seems to be people with motive everywhere she turns.  When Maddie is arrested the investigation steps up and Sarah finds herself doing more investigating that she ever planned.  There is also just a touch of romance to liven things up.  One of the things that I love about cozy mysteries are the relationships between the different characters and I was not disappointed at all here.  Sarah and her friends make for an entertaining and enjoyable group to read about. Definitely going to read the next books in the series.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Spotlight by Traci Hunter Abramson


ABOUT THE BOOK

Navy SEAL Craig Simmons has pledged his life to serve and protect, so when this newest member of the Saint Squad observes a stunning young woman on the beach being shadowed by an armed man, he leaps into action. It doesn’t take long to realize his mistake, but it also puts him in a position to meet a very well-known actress, Sienna Blake. For Sienna, the timing couldn’t be more perfect—she’s preparing for a role as a CIA agent, and who better to help her prepare than a Navy SEAL? Craig and Sienna develop a lighthearted friendship, though both are aware of their growing attraction. Neither realizes, however, that a treacherous enemy is setting in motion a terrifying plan to destroy Sienna . . .

A series of near-fatal accidents on set are too close for comfort, and Sienna has been lucky to escape with her life—so far. Despite the rising danger behind the scenes, the show must go on. When the Saint Squad is enlisted by the FBI to safeguard Sienna on the ill-fated film set, Craig is driven to protect the woman he is quickly growing to love. As the list of suspects and motives grows, Craig and the Saint Squad will do whatever it takes to track down the perpetrator—before things turn deadly.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Originally from Arizona, TRACI HUNTER ABRAMSON spent much of her childhood exploring the little town of Pinewood. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University and a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency. Since leaving the CIA, Traci has written multiple novels, including the Undercurrents trilogy, Royal Target, and the Saint Squad series. When she's not writing, Traci enjoys spending time with her husband and their four children. She also enjoys cooking, although she prefers an electric stove to the wood-burning variety.

REVIEW

This is the first book by Abramson that I have read. And I have to say that I quite enjoyed it and definitely plan to read more books by her, especially in the Saints Squad series.  The fact that I have a weakness for main characters that are military men doesn't hurt any. ;)  I enjoyed meeting Craig who is a Navy SEAL but isn't so tough that he shuts out emotion.  It helps that the squad he works with is mostly LDS (Mormon).  As a newbie he still has a lot to learn, but things change quite a bit when he inadvertently runs into a famous young actress named Sienna Blake.  Sienna is in the area to start filming an action movie and runs into Craig on the beach when Craig tackles her bodyguard thinking he's following her.  Things pick up a bit when Craig's unit steps in to help with security at Sienna's sister's wedding reception.  As Craig and Sienna's relation continues to develop despite Craig's unit leaving for a mission, both struggle with how to adapt to the other's very different lifestyle.  But when it becomes apparent that someone is trying to hurt Sienna, Craig steps up his efforts to protect her with compromising his own identity.  The romance between Sienna and Craig was a sweet one and developed relatively naturally (as naturally as a relationship between a movie star and a Navy SEAL can develop).  The details of the mission Craig goes on is interesting and a bit nerve racking as Craig deals with the aftermath.  And Sienna's ongoing struggles with publicity and privacy also add depth to the story.

TOUR SCHEDULE

*Oct. 13th:
*Oct. 14th:
*Oct. 15th:
*Oct. 16th: 

GIVEAWAY

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

THE COKEVILLE MIRACLE GIVEAWAY


On May 16, 1986, in the small, ranching community of Cokeville, Wyoming, David and Doris Young took an elementary school hostage for several hours before detonating a bomb inside a classroom that held every teacher and student in the school. In the wake of the madness, Ron Hartley, whose children were inside the classroom, must fight his skepticism and unbelief as he hears eyewitness accounts from the students about miraculous, heavenly intervention during the crisis. When tragedy strikes ... what do you see?

Region: All Regions
Format: Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
Rated: PG-13
Run Time: 94 minutes



BOOK TRAILER



See my review here.

GIVEAWAY

1 DVD of The Cokeville Miracle
US only

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

BLOG TOUR: Always Will by Melanie Jacobson


ABOUT THE BOOK

Handsome twenty-eight-year-old Will Hallerman has finally had enough of the dating world—he’s ready to find a wife and settle down. This announcement is catastrophic in Hannah Becker’s world. After knowing Will her entire life and adoring him from afar since junior high school, she realizes her chance at love with him is in grave danger. Hannah’s problem? To Will, she will never be more than his best friend’s little sister. Determined to open his eyes to her charms, Hannah sets out to sabotage Will’s wife hunt by placing nightmare dates in his path and taking his search on a wild goose chase. Her plan is risky, but she’s willing to take a chance to catch the eye of her soul mate. 


Despite her crazy schemes, nothing seems to be working. Hannah can’t help but wonder if it’s time to set aside this childhood crush—to move on and settle down herself. She’s ready for a fresh start with a great guy. If only Will weren’t suddenly changing the rules of the game . . . And how can Hannah move on when Will just won’t let her forget?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melanie Bennett Jacobson is an avid reader, amateur cook, and champion shopper. She consumes astonishing amounts of chocolate, chick flicks, and books. After meeting her own husband on the Internet, she is now living happily married in Southern California with her growing family and a series of doomed potted herbs.

REVIEW

I've read a number of books that involve someone falling for a brother or sister's best friend.  I'm not quite sure what felt so different about this one, but it wasn't quite like any romance I've ever read before and that's a good thing.  Hannah is a sympathetic character right from the get go since it's obvious that she has unrequited feelings for her brother's best friend, Will that aren't returned.  And when Will creates a plan to find himself a wife, Hannah comes up with a plan of her own, hoping to get Will to see her as more than her brother's little sister.  But like many such plans things don't go the way either of them hope and instead they end up with a friendship on the verge of implosion, something neither wants to lose but aren't quite sure how to work out.  The miscommunications complicate things as the two struggle with their own feelings and making decisions about what to do next.  I like the fact that Will is a brilliant scientist who isn't very 'in the know' about feelings and relationships and even Hannah herself is awkward sometimes and yet their friendship is clearly a very solid one despite their issues.  I enjoyed reading this clean romance and shaking my head with a sigh as the two dance around things for a long time.  It's interesting though that since the book is told through Hannah's point of view, that I didn't get a look at Will's point of view until the end when he's trying to express it and it turns out to be quite surprising. A fun reminder that things are always as they appear to be.

GIVEAWAY

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TOUR SCHEDULE

COZY MYSTERY: Caught Read-Handed by Terrie Farley Moran


ABOUT THE BOOK

Happy to help her fellow bibliophiles, Sassy visits the local library with book donations for their annual fundraising sale. Unfortunately, the welcoming readers’ haven is in turmoil as an argument erupts between an ornery patron and new staff member, Tanya Lipscombe—also known as “Tanya Trouble.” She may lack people skills, but everyone is shocked when she’s later found murdered in her own hot tub.

The man last seen arguing with Tanya is soon arrested. But Alan Mersky, a veteran with PTSD, happens to be the brother of Sassy’s former boss—and he’s no murderer. Now it’s up to Sassy and Bridgy to clear Alan’s name and make sure the real killer gets booked.

Includes a recipe for Miss Marple scones!

REVIEW

Sassy sets out to help an accused murderer when she discovers that the accused is the brother of her former employer.  But as usual she butts heads with Lieutenant Frank Anthony in her efforts to help which results in some of the most entertaining exchanges in the book.  The two are quite opposite in character and so irritate each other greatly but I have a sneaking suspicion that they are attracted to each other.  I'm eager to read future books in order to find out.  I also thoroughly enjoyed Sassy's interactions with her other friends, especially Bridgy and the cafe.  If a place like that existed where I live I can guarantee that I would spend a lot of time there.  I also have thoroughly enjoyed the setting with the gorgeous sunsets and ocean breezes. The mystery itself was interesting as well with the victim being one that a number of people would want to dispose of but the evidence against the accused is pretty solid.  I appreciated the fact that Sassy's efforts mostly focused on helping her friend deal with the challenges associated with having a family member accused.  But Sassy keeps her eyes open and picks up several important clues as a result.  This book is a great example of what I enjoy so much about cozy mysteries, great characters, awesome setting, and interesting mysteries.
 
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