Thursday, May 18, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Wrong for You by Jenny Proctor


ABOUT THE BOOK

Lane Bishop is a hardworking, intelligent, beautiful young woman. And with her recent move to Chapel Hill, she is determined to leave behind the drama and effort of keeping up with the dating scene. Even so, Lane somehow manages to get dragged out by a gaggle of girls to go watch boys play soccer. Just watching is not Lane's forte, so she joins in the fun and leads her team to victory.

Rather than feeling intimidated by the vivacious beauty on the opposing team, Jamie Hamilton is intrigued. Risking his "untouchable" dating status, he decides to pursue Lane—with a little help from his older brother Simon. With Simon's behind-the-scenes assistance, Jamie proves irresistible, even to a disillusioned dater like Lane. But as she gets to know both brothers, Lane can't help but wonder—beneath the grand gestures and romantic words, is she falling for the wrong guy?

REVIEW

I thoroughly enjoyed Proctor's last book involving music, so I was looking forward to this one with it's story line similar to Cyrano de Bergerac with one person providing the romance for someone else.  But Proctor's added an interesting twist to that idea by making the two brothers.  Lane becomes interested in Jaime after running into him and playing against him in a pick up soccer game (he rejects her offer to join his team).  But Jaime recruits his brother Simon's help in impressing Lane.  The problem comes in when Simon starts getting to know Lane better than Jaime.  Lane becomes confused between what she sees as two sides to Jaime at the same time as her feelings for Simon grow stronger.  Naturally deception in a dating relationship does not bode well and problems arise.  But Lane is a delightful character and the Hamilton brothers are swoon-worthy, making for a thoroughly enjoyable, and engaging story.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Compassionate Soldier by Jerry Borrowman


ABOUT THE BOOK

Compassionate Soldier illuminates fascinating yet largely unknown stories of men and women whose humanity led them to perform courageous acts of mercy and compassion amid the chaos and carnage of war. Arranged by war from the American Revolution to the Iraq War and global in perspective, it features extraordinary stories of grace under fire from valiant soldiers and noncombatants who rose above the inhumanity of lethal conflict and chose compassion, even knowing their actions could put their lives and liberty at risk.

Included are the stories of Patrick Ferguson, a British officer during the American Revolution who had the chance to kill George Washington but refused to shoot a man in the back; Richard Kirkland, a Confederate soldier during the Civil War who took water to wounded Union soldiers during the battle of Fredericksburg; and Oswald Boelcke, a German WWI flying ace who was one of the most influential tacticians of early air combat and was known for making sure the airmen he shot down made it to the ground alive.

These and other inspirational stories illustrate that even in the midst of the unspeakable horrors of war, acts of kindness, mercy, compassion, and humanity can prevail and, in doing so, expand our conventional thinking of honor and battlefield glory.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jerry Borrowman is an award-winning author of historical fiction and nonfiction. He has written about World Wars I and II, the Great Depression, and the Vietnam War. He is the recipient of the George Washington National Medal from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge. Jerry and his wife, Marcella, raised four children and live in the Rocky Mountains.

REVIEW

War is such a horrible thing and yet millions of people have experienced the horrors of it.  But stories like the ones told in this book give one hope that despite "man's inhumanity to man" there is still hope for the human race.  Borrowman starts with an intriguing story from the Revolutionary War about a time when George Washington could have been killed but because of the honor of a British soldier was not.  Some of the stories here are familiar to me such as the one about the Angel at Fredricksburg, the Confederate soldier who risked his life to provide water to dozens of wounded Union soldiers, as well as the story about a group of German teenagers who risked their lives to oppose Hitler.  Additional stories about a nurse, a German fighter pilot, a Nazi prison guard, and a German general all tell remarkable tales of people who had the courage as well as compassion to help others when it would have been so much easier not to.  Borrowman does a nice job of providing context for each of his stories so it's easier to understand just how much each of these individuals risked and sometimes lost their lives for. A powerful collection of stories that I highly recommend for reading when the bad news threatens to win the day.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Sense & Second Chances by Brittany Larsen


ABOUT THE BOOK

Emily Carter is on the fast track to success when the unthinkable happens: a tragic accident claims the lives of her parents. Now Emily must set aside her dreams and raise her two younger siblings, Annie and Bryce. Emily and Annie are sisters, but that doesn't mean they are anything alike. Whereas Emily reacts to the tragedy with her characteristic stoic calm, passionate Annie spirals into depression. Just when things seem like they can't get any more difficult, Emily's older half-brother and his fiancee arrive, not to help but to claim the family home he's inherited from their parents. Without a place to call their own, Emily must take action—and fast.

When an exciting employment opportunity arises in Utah, the displaced Carters decide to build a new life in a new home. But it soon becomes clear that their future prospects will go far beyond professional as each sister is faced with an unexpected romance. Yet love is never simple, and in matters of the heart, one sister must proceed with caution while the other needs to take a leap of faith.

REVIEW

In this contemporary adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility,  Emily Carter is left to care for her younger sister and brother after her parents are killed in a plane crash.  When her older half-brother shows up to take the house that belongs to him, Emily is left wondering what to do with herself and her siblings.  When she meets the brother of her soon to be sister-in-law, she likes him immediately.  But Joel is Jewish and his family is against that changing, so Emily knows if he investigates her church (Mormon/LDS) and chooses to join that he will be losing a great deal.  Because of this Emily forces herself to give Joel up and move herself and her siblings to the ranch her father wanted to turn into an eco-friendly vacation spot.  But things take a turn for the worse when Emily's sister, Annie, gets involved an exciting but not trustworthy young man and goes off her meds.  Can Emily keep her family together and mend her broken heart or does God have other plans for her?  I quite enjoyed this story even though I knew the basic story line going in.  Making Annie an actress and Joel a Jew certainly added some interesting twists.

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Possibilities by Kiersten Lortz


ABOUT THE BOOK

 Do you feel stuck? Do you wish for a more joyful life than the one you're leading? If the routine and pressures of life have you running on autopilot, it may be time to reevaluate your current course and remember that change begins within yourself—and it takes work! With refreshing insights, author Kiersten Lortz encourages you to stop waiting for things to get better and to expect the best out of life—not for yourself but of yourself. Through inspired gospel teachings and personal experiences shared by women who have also felt stuck, you will be empowered to make the changed necessary to claim a more fulfilling and abundant life. now is the time to transform yourself into a woman of industry and faith. By learning to eliminate negative influences, seek positivity, and create a life of productivity, you can find the strength to take action today.

REVIEW


Unfortunately, I've been so busy this week, I haven't found the energy to read this book yet, but I will post the review as soon as I have.

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

CD REVIEWS: Mormon Tabernacle Choir & Friends & City of Enoch: Sweet Redeemer

Source: Deseret Book for review

ABOUT THE CD

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has collaborated with some of the most legendary vocalists and performers over the years. For this album, the Choir has assembled an unprecedented collection of recordings taken from standout performances over the past 15 years. Most of these performances were recorded live at the 20,000+ seat Conference Center in Salt Lake City. In addition, some real gems were uncovered or created specifically for this album, including a performance recorded live before millions of viewers at the start of the 2002 Winter Olympics (Sting & Yo-Yo Ma performing "Fragile") and new recordings such as Amy Grant's "Thy Word," The King's Singers' "I'm Running On," and Santino Fontana's "He Lives in You."

REVIEW

Mormon Tabernacle Choir & Friends is a delightful compilation of songs that the choir has sung with a variety of different professional musicians over the years.  Starting with the choir performing with Sting and Yo-Yo Ma in "Fragile" the choir performs brilliantly.  I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the wide variety of different styles and performers.  Some of these I'd heard elsewhere such as "Through Heaven's Eyes" with Brian Stokes Mitchell at a Christmas concert several years ago, but most of them I hadn't heard before.  While these songs may not have the spiritual touch that so much of the choir's work does, they highlight the skill and versatility that the choir possesses.  I recommend this collection for those who are already fans of the choir as well as those who may not have enjoyed their work before.  Check out the sample tracks here.


ABOUT THE CD

City of Enoch is the group that you have been waiting for, with a captivating sound that is described as “Lady Antebellum harmonies meet Christian Contemporary praise.” This debut album from a rising trio features new songs, great Christian covers, and an incredible new arrangement of the classic hit “He Hears Me”.

REVIEW


I enjoyed listening to the music of this new group called City of Enoch.  I'd categorize their music as Christian pop, with it's great messages yet upbeat pop sound. I only recognized one of the songs on this album but the arrangement was definitely different.  I enjoyed all the songs, especially the ones about the Savior.  The title song Sweet Redeemer was my favorite though.  What a comforting, sweet message about the love of the Lord for us.  I also really enjoyed the two songs based on stories from the Book of Mormon, Bountiful, about the visit of the Savior to the temple in Bountiful in the Americas, as well as 2000 about the Stripling Warriors.  A fun, yet sweet new collection of songs for all those who love the Lord and beautiful music.  I highly recommend that you check it out.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Chance for Home by Traci Hunter Abramson


ABOUT THE BOOK

Beautiful pre-med student Kari Evans believes she's found the man of her dreams—right up until the moment she discovers he's a two-timing cheat. Desperately gathering the pieces of her broken heart, she realizest hat what she needs most is space to reconsider her future. A summer in Washington, DC, with her professional baseball player brother, Ben, sounds like just the change of scene she's after. But if complicated romantic entanglements are what she's trying to escape, she's out of luck.

Ryan Strobel has had it with spotlight-seeking women. As third baseman for the Washington Nationals, he's dealt with more than his fair share of opportunistic admirers—but his ex-fiancee, Brandi, may be the worst. When the woman refuses to take no for an answer, Ryan's teammate Ben offers a crazy solution: Ben's sister will pose as Ryan's new girlfriend. Though an unlikely pair, Ryan and Kari find themselves getting surprisingly comfortable with the charade. Soon, the line between fact and fiction is blurred, and the very real feelings that develop between the couple are undeniable. But when faced with the interference of conniving exes, family objections, and the reality of their very different lives, are Ryan and Kari destined to strike out in the game of love?

REVIEW

Abramson has written an interesting contemporary romance in Chance for Home.  I found it enjoyable to read about Kari and Ryan's romance, especially considering the way it begins with Kari pretending to be Ryan's girlfriend to hold off his former fiance's efforts to get him back.  It was also interesting to see how their relationship developed naturally with ups and downs, especially toward the end as they get more serious and start to realize that their career and personal goals may not match up very well.  And the glimpse into what life as a professional athlete  is like was interesting to me as well.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

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


ABOUT THE BOOK


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.

REVIEW

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


ABOUT THE BOOK

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?

REVIEW

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


ABOUT THE BOOK


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?

REVIEW

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


ABOUT THE BOOK

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?

REVIEW

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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