Tuesday, June 28, 2016

BIOGRAPHY REVIEW: The Only Pirate at the Party by Lindsey Stirling and Brooke S. Passey


ABOUT THE BOOK

Electronic and dancing violinist Lindsey Stirling shares her unconventional journey in an inspiring memoir filled with the energy, persistence, and humor that have helped her successfully pursue a passion outside the box.

A classically trained musician gone rogue, Lindsey Stirling is the epitome of independent, millennial-defined success: after being voted off the set of America’s Got Talent, she went on to amass more than ten million social media fans, record two full-length albums, release multiple hits with billions of YouTube views, and tour sold-out venues across the world.

Lindsey is not afraid to be herself. In fact, it’s her confidence and individuality that have propelled her into the spotlight. But the road hasn’t been easy. After being rejected by talent scouts, music reps, and eventually national television, Lindsey forged her own path, step by step. Here, for the first time, she shares every triumph and trial she has faced until now. Beginning in a humble yet charmed childhood, this book follows Lindsey through a humorous adolescence, to her life as a struggling musician, through her personal struggles with anorexia, and finally all the way to her success as a world-class entertainer. Lindsey’s magnetizing story is at once remarkable and universal—a testimony that there is no singular recipe for success. And a witness that, despite what people may say, sometimes it’s okay to be The Only Pirate at the Party.

REVIEW

One thing I like about memoirs like this one, is how human the person becomes once I see beyond the surface.  For someone who has become as famous as Lindsey Stirling, it's easy to just see the success she has achieved without seeing the struggles she wrestles with.  I think though that the thing I enjoyed the most about this book is how many times I ended up laughing while reading it.  Lindsey's shared experiences reminded me of many of my own growing up experiences, both the good and bad.  I appreciated Lindsey's willingness to share so many of her mistakes and struggles with me as a reader.  That can be a scary thing seeing how judgmental the world can be at times, but as the title of the book indicates, Lindsey's learned to be herself, despite the criticism she's received and how alone it makes her feel at times.  I also found it fascinating to here about how she got to where she is now as well as behind the scenes peeks at what it's like to be on tour, both the good and the bad. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Lindsey Stirling better through this thoughtful and thoroughly entertaining read. Now I need to go check out her YouTube channel.

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: A Date with Danger by Kari Iroz


ABOUT THE BOOK

She just wanted to shake up her love life. Jacklyn (Jack) Wyatt is the typical twenty-five-year-old living the typical Provo single life with the typical bad luck— at least until the FBI recruits her for a completely different type of dating.

A young woman has gone missing, and all signs point to her online dating profile as the kidnapper’s operating ground. But when suspects who crossed paths with the missing girl begin contacting Jack, the FBI sees its opportunity for an inside man—er, woman.

Now Jack will have to play the field, dating each of the men in an attempt to weed out the kidnapper. But with such an unusual array of characters vying for her attention, pinpointing the culprit may prove even harder than finding Mr. Right. And as more young women disappear, will Jack stay professional and objective, even with the handsome Special Agent Damon Wade just a whisper in her hidden microphone away?

REVIEW

There are a lot of romantic suspense books written every year.  And unfortunately, all too many of them feel the same.  This one feels different in a couple of ways.  First, I loved the heroine, Jack (short for Jacklyn). She feels so much like a regular girl, the kind I would love to be friends with.  She's attending college, working at the mall, and trying to put up with everyone's pushing her to get married.  I loved her commentary on life, especially dating.  Jack says what she feels, no beating around the bush for her.  Jack's attitudes make this book quite amusing to read, despite the fact that she's working with the FBI to try to locate a missing girl.  The dates she goes on are pretty bad for the most part, which anyone who has dated can relate too.  The sparks that fly between Jack and her FBI handler, Damon Wade, make for some entertaining reading.  At the same time, Jack is a faithful, believing member of the LDS church and Damon is an estranged member which causes some more serious issues between them as their attraction develops into something more.  I also enjoyed the mystery itself, trying to figure out who is actually behind the kidnapping of the girl.  And while Jack is a rather amusing spy, she's also very determined to help this unknown girl in trouble. Great read.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Willowkeep by Julie Daines


ABOUT THE BOOK

Charlotte Darby’s ship is sinking. Penniless and alone, she is struggling to care for herself and her young sister in the harsh seaport town of Kingston upon Hull. When a solicitor from London brings news that she is the heir to a vast estate in Kent, it seems her days of rough seas are over. Willowkeep is prosperous and grand, far too much for a shipping merchant’s daughter to manage, and she quickly comes to rely on the help of Henry Morland, the estate’s kind and handsome steward.

Henry has worked hard his entire life, but all the money he’s saved won’t be enough to get his father out of debtor’s prison. Henry’s fondness for Charlotte and her sister is only another reminder of his low status and lack of money. Though he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep Charlotte happy and looked after, as the county’s wealthiest lady, she can never be his.

Courted by a charming man of the ton, threatened by those desperate to get their hands on her money, and determined to keep her sister safe from the same fate that cost her the rest of her family, Charlotte turns to the ghost of the beheaded queen, Anne Boleyn, for help. But no matter the size of the fortune, life—and love—are never smooth sailing.

REVIEW

Charlotte Darby has spent the last few years of her life struggling to make ends meet for herself and her little sister, Susie.  To complicate things further, her young sister has disabilities that make her a target for torment. She is shocked when she learns that she has inherited a wealthy estate far from the sea.  But thanks to the kindness of her steward, Mr. Morland, and others, she starts to think that maybe things might get better. But there are those who are more than happy to try to manipulate and use Charlotte.

I think the thing I liked most about this book besides the growing romance between Charlotte and Mr. Morland was the fact that it looks at life during the Regency era from a bit of a different perspective.  Mr. Morland isn't a wealthy gentleman, but a hard-working steward who to his chagrin develops a tendre for his new mistress.  And Charlotte is certainly not a typical young lady of fortune having been raised in a state of poverty and roughness in a busy port.  The first encounters between Charlotte and Henry (Mr. Morland) are rather amusing.  But I couldn't help feeling empathy for Charlotte who finds her life changing in rather drastic ways and she struggles to find her place in this new world while struggling with old fears as well as new challenges.  I enjoyed reading about Charlotte and Henry's romance in this clean addition to the rather large body of literature about the Regency era.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Loving Roxie by G.G. Vandagriff


ABOUT THE BOOK

Roxie Castro comes to Florence, Italy to help her friend Georgia heal after the death of her husband. While there she decides to chase her dream of being an author, collaborating with the gorgeous Professor Stefano Nae in researching the murder of Princess Isabela di Medici. However, when they begin to delve into her history, strange things start happening to Roxie: panic attacks, the resurfacing of buried memories, and a fear that something from her past has come forward to haunt her future.

The professor's help triggers her powerful attraction to him, and this in turn worsens the attacks.The closer they get to solving the mystery surrounding her past, the more tangled her emotions become. Will discovering Roxie’s secret finally free them to explore their newfound feelings or will it snatch away the one chance they have for a lasting love?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

G.G. Vandagriff is the author of twenty-four books and is an Amazon #1 Bestselling Author. The Last Waltz, the first novel in her 20th Century Historical Romance Series won the Whitney Award for Best Historical Novel in 2009. There are now two more books in that series—Exile and Defiance

Nine of her novels are Regency romances, compared by critics to the witty novels of Georgette Heyer. She has also written a lively genealogical mystery series featuring Briggie and Alex, two whacky widows, as sleuths. Other genres she writes in include Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction, and Suspense. 

GG graduated from Stanford and received her master’s degree from George Washington University. She worked as an associate editor at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, an assistant treasurer in the Harvard Treasurer’s office, a bond analyst at Fidelity Investments, and an international banker for Continental Illinois National Bank (later acquired by Bank of America).

She and her husband David are the parents of three children and six grandchildren, her greatest joys in life. Her favorite novel? Jane Eyre. She also loves Florence, Sundance Resort, The Voice, hot chocolate, lilacs, and dachshunds.

Find out more about her books, download a free novella, and sign up for her newsletter at http://ggvandagriff.com. Also, be the first to know when Vandagriff’s next book is available by following her at http://bookbub.com/authors/G.G.Vandag... to receive new releases and discount alerts.

REVIEW

If a book can be said to make you fall in love with a place, this one has done that for me.  I have long had a desire to visit Italy and this book certainly fed that desire.  Reading about all the different places that Stefano and Roxie visit was delicious.  The food descriptions seriously made me hungry.  And the romance was sweet, especially the way Stefano and Roxie supported each other in the face of tragedy and struggle. And the mystery surrounding Isabella de Medici was certainly a fascinating inclusion, despite the liberties taken (see author's note at the end).  And the secondary characters including Roxie's friend, Georgia, and Stefano's family were thoroughly engaging as well.  I certainly enjoyed reading this romance.

GIVEAWAY

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LINKS

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Thursday, June 9, 2016

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: In-Laws, Outlaws, and Everyone in Between by Kathryn Jenkins Gordon


ABOUT THE BOOK

The truth is often stranger than fiction, and it can certainly be more interesting than the history books let on. To prove it, bestselling author Kathryn Jenkins Gordon blows the dust off the past to reveal the exploits of some lesser-known figures in Church history. From the hilarious to the heroic and the zany to the downright villainous, these tales highlight the action-packed lives of some of the Church's most notorious members.

Witness the attempted rise of the self-appointed "King of the Mormons."

Experience the heart-pounding plight of a Latter-day Saint girl enslaved by a bloodthirsty Apache tribe.

Read the thrilling tale of a stake president caught in a mobster brawl at stake conference.

Just when you thought you knew everything worth knowing about the early Saints, this quirky cast of characters confirms that there's always more to the story. Get ready for a rip-roarin' ride through history as you discover the truth about In-Laws,Outlaws, and Everyone in Between!

REVIEW

Like many organizations and churches, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has had its share of colorful characters.  In this book, Gordon shares the stories of some of those characters.  That's not to say all of these people were active practicing members, some drifted away, some didn't seem to fully believe in the first place, and some just went his/her own way.  But the stories are all interesting involving everything from murder (certainly not condoned in any way by the church) to being captured by a desperate party of Apaches to newspaper reports of death read by the dead man.  I enjoyed reading this book being unfamiliar with these people and their lives.  While the stories are fascinating they aren't complete by any means, this is after a collection of short stories.  And like most stories of the past, it's impossible to know everything that a given person experienced and felt.  Like Julia Murdock Smith Dixon Middleton, the Prophet Joseph Smith's adopted daughter, who seems to have struggled most of her life with feelings of not belonging to the Smith's along with feelings of abandonment from the Murdocks.  Yet even her own letters and words can't give the complete picture.  But after reading about her life, I have a greater empathy for the difficulties she seems to have struggled with her whole life.

For those who enjoy reading about colorful characters from history who left their mark, some in good ways and some in not good ways, this is a fascinating read.

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TOUR SCHEDULE

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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: On the Edge: How My Crappy Job Changed My Life by Stuart Edge


ABOUT THE BOOK

“I think my video just went viral.”

Stuart Edge had a crappy run of things, including his parents’ divorce, anxiety, moving to Mexico and not speaking the language, and a job cleaning porta-potties. But instead of slowing him down, these struggles gave him the inspiration he needed to pursue his daydream—creating videos.

Now a YouTube sensation, Stuart shares his secrets to success and reveals his conversion from self-conscious to confident. For Stuart, being true to his beliefs has made all the difference.

REVIEW

I'd never heard of Stuart Edge before picking up this book.  But I'm really glad that I did.  In the name of research I checked out his YouTube channel.  I have to seriously recommend the Porta Potty prank episode which you can find here. I also thoroughly enjoyed the book as Stuart shares some of the key experiences in his life that led him to where he is now, both the good and sometimes bad.  He mentions discovering from a young age his enjoyment of entertaining people and the ways he developed his talents along the way.  It reminded me that whatever plans we make things don't always go the way we think they will.  I know I never really planned to end up where I am, nor did I anticipate the circular path I took to get here.  And yet, it feels so right for me to be where I'm at.  I'm glad I watched some of Stuart's videos because afterwards when I went back to the book, I had his voice in my head and somehow it made the words all the more sincere and funny.  Hmm.  I'm not sure how that works but that's what happened.

What I love about these memoir kinds of books is the glimpse into someone else's life.  In addition to sharing some of his life experience, Stuart includes what he calls 'sticky notes' that shares the lessons he learned from his different experiences.  Things like, "Don't ever underestimate the joy you can feel by spending quality time with your family" or You've got to find a purpose, but then you've got to make sure you have the discipline to stick with it."  I think what I enjoyed most about this book though, besides all the funny parts, was how honest Stuart is about his struggles.  If I'd worked as a porta potty cleaner I don't think I would talk about it at all, let alone turn it into a joke (see video mentioned above).  The other thing that shines through in the book is how easy it is to relate to the things that Stuart talks about.  All people have struggles and ups and downs, and I found it easy to empathize with and relate to the struggles that Stuart discusses.  I can highly recommend that you pick up a copy of this book and take a look at some of Stuart's videos, because I can guarantee that it will lighten your day and give you a reason to smile.
 
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