Thursday, March 23, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: You are the Mother Your Children Need by Christie Gardiner


Motherhood is the toughest job you'll ever take on: there is no interview, no job description, and no salary. When you get the position, it can be all too easy to feel under-qualified and overwhelmed. But with a sweet message of encouragement, Christie Gardiner reminds women there are as many ways to be a good mother as there are mothers in this world—and there's no one more capable of raising your children than you!

In this uplifting book, mothers are encouraged to let go of the quest for perfection and recognize the divinity within. Learn to own your strengths and weaknesses, and allow your true self to shine! With practical advice on learning to accept failure, hold on to your identity, and harness the divine help available to mothers, women will gain the confidence to embrace their uniquely perfect qualifications for the job of motherhood.


Motherhood is both the most glorious job available to women and the most devastatingly hard.  While I am not a mother myself, I avail myself of the opportunity to watch mothers so that I have an idea of what kind of mother I would like to be should the opportunity ever come.  There are days when I long to be a mother, and other days when I am sincerely grateful not to be one.  But I know myself well enough to suspect that I would be one of those mothers  who never thinks her efforts are good enough.  Feelings of failure seem to be very common among the mothers that I know.  Which I suppose is why the first chapter in this book made me teary-eyed.  Frankly, I love the idea that Christie Gardiner presents in this book, the idea that yes, "you are the mother your children need".  I loved the fact that she shares her own stories of both success and failure.  Stories of her own struggles to feel like she's good enough.  The chapter on divine worth is one I believe that all women need to read, not just mothers.  The book is full of tips about motherhood and changing our beliefs about what motherhood is and how own perfectionist beliefs that tend more than anything to make us miserable.  I appreciated the chapters on taking care of yourself so that you can better care for your children and not comparing your way of mothering to someone else's way, someone else who has different gifts, abilities, and talents.  This is a fabulous book and I plan on passing it on to a mother I know who needs a boost,  who needs to know there's hope.  Highly, highly recommended.


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BOOK REVIEW: Unexpected Love: A Marriage of Convenience Anthology


Around the turn of the century, matches were made for all sorts of reasons-whether to keep a family together or simply make ends meet. But love has a way of turning up in the most unexpected places! With four historical romance stories in one, this fun anthology will sweep you from the dance floors of aristocracy to the hearths of country living, leading to love through the most unusual circumstances.


Each of the stories in this anthology focuses on a marriage of convenience.  But beyond that each story is really different.  The first story is about Kate and Ambrose who decide to marry for mutual benefit.  Kate needs to marry in order to return to her beloved cottage.  Ambrose needs to marry in order to return himself to his uncle's good graces and have a chance to inherit Ashbrook Abbey.  But what neither of them expects is to fall in love, especially as Ambrose is a bit of a spoiled fellow.  I enjoyed watching both Kate and especially Ambrose change as they got to know and appreciate each other.  The only problem I have with short novellas like this is the story is over before you really, fully get to appreciate the characters.

The second story revolves around Letty and Daniel (despite what the blurb on the back says is Mae and David) who marry in order to save their niece and nephew from being taken away by Daniel's uncle.  But the two clash at first, but they find their common ground in the children. But when Daniel's uncle threatens to prove their marriage is a fraud, the two are forced to pretend they're in love.  But before long the pretense doesn't feel so much like a pretense.  It was fun to see Letty and Daniel get past their negative first impressions and start to admire each other.

Faye and Geoffrey meet under rather unusual circumstances.  Faye has been trying to keep ahead of the men she saw commit murder, but hasn't been able to shake them.  So her uncle arranges for her to marry Geoffrey.  Faye is a rather straight forward woman who feels like she has a curse of good intentions and bad timing.  Geoffrey doesn't really care who Faye is as long as he gets a chance to join the rangers, which Faye's uncle can arrange. But things don't exactly go according to plan.  Faye makes for a rather entertaining narrator.

In the last story, Percy and Fanny get married, but don't really like each other at first.  Percy's blind about which he is rather bitter.  Fanny has facial scars that bother her.  Add to that a conniving cousin, an attractive groundskeeper, and a valuable harp, and Percy doesn't know what to think about the changes in his life.  A nice twist on the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale.

All in all, this book was a nice read with some fun stories in it. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

BLOG TOUR: Courting Carrie in Wonderland by Carla Kelly


Struggling through college and balancing her summer job with the Wylie Camping Company, Carrie simply doesn’t have time to consider romance. War Veteran Sergeant Ramsay Stiles isn’t looking for love either, busy with his own complicated affairs. But as the magic of Yellowstone starts making its way into their hearts, both begin to see love move up their priority list.


One thing I've always loved about Carla Kelly's books is her characters.  I've yet to read any of her books where I didn't end up liking the characters.  Her characters feel like real people, with real strengths and weaknesses, who struggle with their circumstances, and sometimes make poor choices.  That is no different with this book.  I liked Ramsay Stiles right away.  He's a down-to-earth soldier whose coming to grips with his combat experiences in the Philippines and the medal of honor he won.  He's rather modest with a tendency to blush.  He loves Yellowstone and does his best to take care of both the tourists and the wildlife.  Unfortunately, he devotion to the wildlife leads him to make some choices that have rather serious consequences.  Carrie McKay's had a tough life, with an abusive father who eventually abandoned her and her mother, and growing up with hardly enough food.  She's learned to work hard for what she wants, but her gossip spread by another continues to make things hard for her.  She's in Yellowstone to work for money to pay her college tuition.

I loved the way that Ramsay Stiles and Carrie McKay meet, with her seeking reassurance from the privy that the bear that was sitting outside has left.  How funny is that.  Ramsay and Carrie click right from the start, over pie, of all things.  But life has a way of interfering with even the best relationships and Ramsay and Carrie have to decide what is most important to them and worth fighting for.  I loved the theme of wildlife conservation that runs gently through the book and looking back with what we know now about the importance of wolves and other predators to Yellowstone's ecosystem, I completely sympathized with Ramsay's beliefs.  Unfortunately for Ramsay, few others agree with him and his efforts to protect the wolves get him in some serious hot water.

As usual, Carla Kelly has written a delightful romance with unusual and interesting themes attached to it.  I can heartily recommend this book for those who enjoy historical romance with both humor and heart.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Love, Jane by Ranee S. Clark


Jane Reeves and Sean O'Callaghan seem to be a match made in heaven—but the timing is all wrong. Jane has her heart set on serving a mission, and she can't delay telling Sean the news any longer: not only has she quietly submitted her mission papers, but she's also leaving in a month ... for Alaska. Shocked and devastated, Sean struggles to come to terms with Jane's decision. Unable to deny the depth of their feelings for one another, Sean makes a promise to wait for her.

Life unfolds for both Jane and Sean, with communications limited to weekly e-mails. But with just a few months left in Jane's mission, Sean's messages stop. When she receives the dreaded "Dear Jane" breakup along with the news that she has been replaced by Sean's former flame, Jane knows the future she envisioned now belongs to another woman. But upon her return home, Jane quickly realizes some things are worth fighting for—perhaps, most of all, a shot at true love.


I love reading romance novels, but sometimes it seems too many of them read as too good to be true.  So sometimes its good to read a romance that feels more like real life with the ups and downs, and problems and mistakes that real people struggle to overcome.  Jane and Sean struggle with some of those issues.  It's clear from the get go that they care about each other, but life isn't just about romance and Jane and Sean each struggle with their own weaknesses as well as the issues that their relationship faces.  The biggest issue, at least at first, is Jane's desire to serve a mission.  The fact that she waits too long to tell Sean she's going creates a lot of hurt for Sean to work through.  Then while they both struggle with the realities of mission service (Jane) and working with teenagers (Sean) they also have to deal with a long distance relationship.  Things seem to fall apart when Sean starts dating Victoria, and breaks up with Jane by email.

But Jane isn't the same girl she was before she went on her mission, and some things are worth fighting for.  I loved that about Jane, the fact that she knew her weaknesses and worked hard to overcome them, despite the weak knees and pounding heart.  Sean on the other hand is a great guy, but he too struggles to cope when his job goes downhill, and he cant seem to deal with missing Jane.  When he grows to care for Victoria too, he's left with a dilemma.  He can't keep promises to both girls and he feels really guilty because of it.  The emotions of these characters felt very real to me with all the confusion and heartache they faced. Clark has created an enjoyable contemporary romance with real issues as well as real caring.


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Thursday, March 9, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: A Fine Gentleman by Sarah M. Eden


London barrister Jason Jonquil has spent his entire life working to establish his identity as a gentleman, a man of refinement like his father and brothers. But when fiery Spanish beauty Mariposa Thornton walks into his office, he finds himself losing his grasp on his dignified character. The woman is infuriating, pushing him to the limit of his legendary patience. However, her case seems simple enough—a small matter of inheritance. Or so he believes.

Once a well-born lady, Mariposa fought to survive the brutalities of Napoleon's war on Spain. She braved horrific perils and undertook dangerous missions on behalf of those fighting against the invading French army. But her greatest battle still lies ahead: after being separated from her family, Mariposa sets in motion a plan to reunite with her loved ones in England. To avoid drawing the attention of the French, Mariposa dons a carefully crafted persona to conceal her true purpose.

As Jason and Mariposa are drawn together by the case, they come to know the people beneath the masks they both wear. When the truth of Mariposa's quest is revealed, the couple is pulled into a mystery that will test the limits of their courage—and expose the true desire of their hearts.


SARAH M. EDEN read her first Jane Austen novel in elementary school and has been an Austen addict ever since. Fascinated by the English Regency era, Eden became a regular in that section of the reference department at her local library, where she painstakingly researched this extraordinary chapter in history. Eden is an award-winning author of short stories and was a Whitney Award finalist for her novels Seeking Persephone and Courting Miss Lancaster. Visit her at


I am thrilled to be able to review A Fine Gentleman.  Sarah Eden has proven once again why she is one of my all time favorite authors.  I was excited to return to the Jonquil family.  I've loved every one of these books (Friend or Foe?,   ) and this one was no different.  It was fun to read Jason's romance as he faces off with a woman who is a match for him in intelligence and wit.  But things don't start off to well when Mariposa Thornton shows up in Jason's office and tricks him into helping her.  Pretending to be simple and vacuous, Mariposa desperately needs help to find her family before her spying past catches up to them.  But she doesn't dare tell the truth, and after her horrible experiences in war torn Spain, it was hard to blame her.  Unfortunately for her Jason doesn't appreciate her approach, especially once he realizes its all an act.  After some rather painful encounters, Jason realizes Mariposa does really need his help and with his father's training in being a gentleman ringing in his ear, he can't help but offer his help.  And as the two start to see the person behind the mask, feelings beyond irritation and guilt become involved.  It was especially fun to see characters from previous books show up, including one of my favorite characters, Jason's older brother, Philip.  The ongoing relationships between the Jonquil brothers is delightful to read about and always makes me smile, especially once Jason sees behind Philip's mask.

Sarah Eden has created a wonderfully enjoyable series with the Jonquils and I am excited to be able to read Stanley's story later this year.  If you enjoy regency romances with depth to them as well as delightful characters, then I highly recommend Sarah Eden's Jonquil Brothers series.


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Monday, March 6, 2017

LDS BOOK REVIEW: What You Don't Know About the 100 Most Important Events in Church History by Casey Paul Griffiths, Susan Easton Black, Mary Jane Woodger


Did you know...
  • Brigham Young made significant changes to the structure of the Church, most of which are still in place today?
  • Communist leaders of East Germany invited the Church to build a temple in their country.
  • Serious consideration was given to building a temple ship that would visit seaports to make ordinances more readily available to Saints around the world?
  • These facts are just a few of those you'll fine in What You Don't Know about the 100 Most Important Events in Church History, a fascinating look at nearly 200 years of the Restoration.
BYU Church history professors Casey Paul Griffiths, Susan Easton Black, and May Jane Woodger have written engaging vignettes about our history, ranging from familiar events, such as the First Vision, the trek west, and the origin of Primary, to not-so-familiar events, such as the retrenchment movement, the political manifesto, and the beginnings of seminaries and institutes.

In 100 short chapters, you'll...
  • Discover intriguing facts about the Church you didn't know before.
  • Gain a greater appreciation for the role of living prophets in the unfolding restoration of the gospel and an ever-changing world.
  • Learn more about lesser-known and even surprising events in the history of the Latter-day Saints.

For those interested in learning more about LDS Church history (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or Mormon Church) this is a great place to start.  Having combed through numerous sources, primary and secondary references, as well as official church accounts, the authors have done a fabulous job compiling brief narrative accounts of 100 important events.  Of course they couldn't include everything, but what they did include makes for some great reading.  Despite it's size and format, the book is easy to read with lots of great information.  I'd recommend this as both a reference for gospel/church history study, but also a great book to read for pure interest.  Some of these accounts were familiar to me and others were not.  The set up of the book makes it easy to skip around for those who wish to do so.  The accounts are arranged in chronological order which is logical, allowing the reader to move through whatever time period he/she wishes.  A fabulous resource for anyone who desires to know more about LDS Church history.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Be Happy by Hank Smith, PhD


You can be happy—solidly, genuinely happy—no matter what's going on around you, no matter what happens to you, no matter what storm comes along to batter and bruise you.

Keep reading, and I'll show you how ...

Face it: it's not always easy to feel happy. With all of the worries and trials of day-to-day life, the cares of the world can seem overwhelming. But as popular speaker and author Hank Smith demonstrates, no matter your circumstances, you can be happy—the kind of happy that illuminates you from the inside out, a joy that does not depend on what happens to you, but what you do with what happens. With his characteristic humor, Hank offers readers a fresh perspective on finding joy in the journey with a collection of tools and strategies designed to inspire genuine happiness, such as:

  • Learning to develop an optimistic outlook
  • Understanding how to deal with feelings of depression
  • Mastering ten simple tricks to jump-start your joy each day
  • Featuring an inspiring collection of real-life examples, enlightening doctrinal direction, and motivating goals, Be Happy is the guide you need to start living a happier life, today!

Happiness is a topic of perennial interest since it's something that most of us seek.  But what exactly is happiness?  And how do we attain it? And how can we get it to stick around for awhile?  These are all questions that Hank Smith tackles in his newest book: Be Happy.  Using stories of real people he knows as well as personal experiences and actual research, Smith takes the reader on a trip through the subject of happiness.  I especially enjoyed the conversational tone that the author takes, it made me feel as if we were just having an honest discussion.  There isn't a lot here that is new, after all the Lord has made it clear through His prophets and the scriptures what sorts of qualities and choices lead to happiness.  But somehow it's nice to have a lot of this information presented in such a friendly, down-to-earth way.  Some of the things he discusses I know I am particularly bad at doing, and yet Smith doesn't make you feel guilty, just a greater desire to do better, to focus more on the most important things.  While the book is a relatively short, quick read, I can guarantee that you will have much to ponder once you've read it.


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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

LDS BOOK REVIEW: At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-Day Saint Women


From the banks of the frozen Lake Erie in early May 1831, Lucy Mack Smith admonished her despondent fellow Saints. "Where is your faith in God?" she asked. "If I could make my voice to sound as loud as the trumpet of Michael the archangel I would declare the truth from land to land and from sea to sea."

At the Pulpit contains fifty-four discourses given by Latter-day Saint women throughout the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Like Lucy Mack Smith, these women drew on inspiration and experience to declare their understanding of eternal truths. This book illustrates the history of women's public preaching in the church, but its most important feature is the actual words of Mormon women. From the time of Emma Hale Smith's earliest exhortations at meetings of the Nauvoo Relief Society, Latter-day Saint women have been charged to instruct their families and neighbors, their congregations and Relief Societies, and other organizations. The talks featured in this volume show Mormon women doing the spiritual and intellectual work inherent in a life of Christian faith—seeking to do good works, understand the atonement of Jesus Christ, and strengthen their own faith and the faith of those around them. These women endeavored to live what they believed and to help their listeners do so as well.

Written to the high scholarly standards of the Church Historian's Press, the book provides a resource for contemporary Latter-day Saints as they study, speak, teach, and lead. Each discourse in this volume begins with an introduction that acquaints readers with the vibrant personalities of some of the women who have shaped the church. Introductions also provide glimpses into the circumstances and forces that shaped these women. Readers will encounter some familiar figures from church history and from the contemporary church—leaders like Eliza R. Snow and Linda K. Burton, current Relief Society general president. But they will also learn from women like Jane H. Neyman, whose stories are largely unknown to modern Latter-day Saints. Neyman applied to join the Nauvoo Relief Society in 1842, but her petition was rejected due to gossip about her daughters. Over twenty-five years later, she spoke in a Relief Society in Beaver, Utah, on charity, urging members to be forbearing and forgiving of one another.

The voices in these pages ring from Nauvoo's red brick store to the National Auditorium in Mexico City to the Tabernacle on Temple Square and beyond. These discourses offer instruction on gospel principles while also revealing the particular concerns of individual women. At the Pulpit allows us to hear the historical and contemporary voices of Latter-day Saint women—voices that resound with experience, wisdom, and authority.


Jennifer Reeder is the nineteenth-century women’s history specialist at the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She holds a PhD in American history from George Mason University.

Kate Holbrook is the managing historian for women’s history at the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She received a PhD in religious studies from Boston University.


What a piece of work!  After reading this book it's clear that numerous hours of work went into creating it and it shows.  Discourses by female leaders in the LDS Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) combine to make this a tour de force.  Not only are the talks powerful doctrinally, but they also give a glimpse into different times and places and how things have both changed and stayed the same over time.  All of these women made a difference during the times in which they lived.  Some of these women I remember myself.  Reading this was both eye-opening and informative.  I especially think the timing on the release of this book can't be an accident.  With some questioning women's role in the Church, I couldn't be more pleased with this book that clearly demonstrates the strong and ongoing role that women have in the LDS Church.  This is the sort of book that could be read over and over again with the reader learning new things every time.  It's also an excellent resource as it includes extensive footnotes and an appendix.  The release of this book is truly a service to both members and nonmembers alike as well as female and male readers.



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