Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Blog Tour: A Glimpse of Heaven by JoAnna Oblander

A GLIMPSE OF HEAVEN: One Woman's Life-Altering Visit with God
by JoAnna Oblander
Hegemony, 2012
ISBN13: 9781599559766
ARC e-copy received for review in conjunction with blog tour.
All opinions expressed are solely my own.

 Through both personal and spiritual experiences, JoAnna Lynn Oblander guides us to a deeper understanding of our heavenly home. Shared within the covers of this book are experiences and insights that will remind you of God's great love for each of His children, His desire to be a daily part of our lives, and that each of us has come to earth to fulfill a unique and important purpose.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: (from Goodreads.com)

JoAnna Oblander is a Billings, Montana native who has been married to her best friend Greg for more than 33 years. She has been a small-business owner for most of her adult life and has served in several leadership positions. She is the mother of six children – two of whom were adopted from Russia and the adoring grandmother of 10 grandchildren (and counting). When she is not spending time with her family, she volunteers in the children's organization of her church. "Jo", as she is known to her friends and family, is passionate about Family, Whole Health (Whole Health is based on the premise that mental/emotional, spiritual and physical health are all key components to a person being truly healthy), and helping others create a life of joy and purpose based on the eternal truths that she witnessed and learned as a result of her visit to heaven.

JoAnna welcomes the opportunity to talk to groups, congregations, and organizations about:
• Whole Health
• Overcoming Depression
• The Plan of Life
• Believing in Who We Are and Our Capacity to Become/Being Who We are Meant To Be
• Natural Health and Healing
• Nutrition
• Making Real and Positive Life Transitions
• Strengthening our Relationship with Our Creator
• Adoption/Reactive Attachment Disorder

This book touched my heart in many ways and not just because I'm a member of the same church as the author.  Being an introvert myself, I know how hard it can be to share experiences and feelings with the world. It leaves one vulnerable. I admire the author for being so open when it was so hard for her to do so, something she admits in the book itself. I think the parts I related to the most were her internal struggles. Maintaining one's self worth in the face of a world that is so very focused on criticism and controversy is an on-going battle for many. While the methods that JoAnna uses to overcome depression will not work for everyone, they provide a feeling of hope, hope that such challenges can be overcome.

Still, the parts of the book that impacted me the most were the insights the author shares about God, Our Heavenly Father and how much He loves every one of us.  I appreciated that she shared her journey of discovery and pointed out the things that allowed her to gain these insights. The things she shares agree with so much of what I myself have come to know about our Heavenly Father and why he allows us to experience so many heart-wrenching things. For those who are struggling and need a lift, need help in finding their way, this book provides hope that there is always one door that can be opened by us, between God and ourselves.

For other thoughts on this book, see the book tour schedule here. And thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Blog Tour: My Loving Vigil Keeping by Carla Kelly

by Carla Kelly
Cedar Fort, Inc., 2012
ISBN13: 9781599558974
Copy received from publisher through NetGalley.

Della's giving up all the comforts of bustling Salt Lake City to teach school in a rural coal mining camp. Little does she know, she may soon be giving up her heart as well. But when tragedy strikes in the Scofield Mine, Della's life will be changed forever. Based on true events, this thrilling new romance from award-winning and bestselling author Carla Kelly is a must-read!

There are some books that just seem to speak to me as a reader.  This is one of those.  There are several reasons for this. First, the story involves a mining disaster in Utah and my grandfather died in a coal mining accident when my father was only nine days old.  This left my grandmother with three children to raise on her own.  After reading this book, I have a much deeper appreciation for what she must have gone through.  

Another reason I found this book so compelling was the characters, I fell in love with them immediately.  Della's courage and heart in facing her challenges despite relatives who treated her poorly won my heart immediately. How could I not cheer for someone who found much to live for despite her aunt's constant criticism.   I also found myself falling for the Winter Quarters community. Despite a place of hard, dangerous work, the people that Della meets find much to rejoice in and they welcome her with open arms.  The children that Della works so hard to teach reminded me of everything that I love about teaching and what is truly important about that profession.

The romance was a very sweet one and also realistic as Della and her love interest struggle with past losses and fears.  I especially enjoyed the parts about the choir, so much so that I wished I could actually hear them sing! Religion does play a strong role in the story but not in any way intrusive, at least not in my opinion. I think one of the things I enjoyed the most was the feeling of goodness that radiated from it. So many books these days are so dark and depressing, but despite the heartache suffered by so many, there was also hope and friendship and love. NOTE: There are a couple of scenes where Della visits a sauna with her Finnish lady friends and they remove all their clothes, but as this is a cultural activity I felt like it fit with the story.

Overall, I highly recommend this book for those that enjoy a positive, uplifting, clean romance, just be sure to have a box of tissues near by. :)

If you are interested in other reviews of the book, see here for the rest of the blog tour.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Edenbrooke Giveaway Winners

Thanks to all who participated in my Edenbrooke Giveaway.

The two winners are...



Emily F.


Thanks to all for participating.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

My All Time Favorite Book: The Book of Mormon

I have been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints my whole life (officially baptized at the age of 8).  As such, I've read The Book of Mormon multiple times. Yet each time I read it, I learn new things. Many people believe that in the 'Mormon' church, The Book of Mormon replaces the Bible as scripture.  That is incorrect.  The Book of Mormon is "Another Testament of Jesus Christ." It ADDS TO, but does not replace the Bible.

Another common misconception about The Book of Mormon is that it was written by Joseph Smith.  This is also incorrect.  Joseph Smith, a prophet called and chosen by God, TRANSLATED, The Book of Mormon, he did not write it.  Here's a more complete explanation:

The Book of Mormon is a volume of scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God's dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fullness of the everlasting gospel.

The book was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Their words, written on gold plates, were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon. The record gives an account of two great civilizations. One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C., and afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites. The other came much earlier when the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel. This group is known as the Jaredites. After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.

The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after his resurrection. It puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.

After Mormon completed his writings, he delivered the account to his son Moroni, who added a few words of his own and hid up the plates in the hill Cumorah. On September 21, 1823, the same Moroni, then a glorified, resurrected being, appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and instructed him relative to the ancient record and its destined translation into the English language.

In due course the plates were delivered to Joseph Smith, who translated them by the gift and power of God. The record is now published in many languages as a new and additional witness that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and that all who will come unto him and obey the laws and ordinances of his gospel may be saved.

Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: "I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book."

In addition to Joseph Smith, the Lord provided for eleven others to see the gold plates for themselves and to be special witnesses of the truth and divinity of the Book of Mormon. Their written testimonies are included herewith as "The Testimony of Three Witnesses" and "The Testimony of Eight Witnesses."

We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and the to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10:3-5.)

For today's post, I just wanted to bare my testimony as to the truthfulness of this book. I know that it came from God, not man. No man could write such a book without inspiration.  The Spirit has born witness to my soul of the truthfulness of this book.  The testimony the book bares of Jesus Christ and the love he has for all humankind.  It also bares witness of Jesus' multiple roles as Savior, Creator, and Teacher.  I also know that our Father in Heaven loves us and wishes to have us return to Him.  This book will 'lead us nearer to God than any other book' (Joseph Smith).  
For those who are interested in learning more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, visit www.lds.org or mormon.org

For those who would like a free copy of The Book of Mormon, see here. It can be obtained in many different languages.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Author Spotlight: Sarah Eden, Part 2

I wanted to have an interview with Sarah Eden to share with you today, but it isn't going to happen, maybe some other time. I hope you do enjoy the following reviews, however, for two more delightful Eden romances.

by Sarah M. Eden
Covenant Communications, Inc., 2011
ISBN: 978-1-60861-281-9
Reviewed from purchased copy.

The Duke of Kielder has more influence than Parliament, higher social standing than the Royal Family. No gentleman dares face him on the dueling field, nor risks testing his infamous temper. But His Grace is in need of a wife. Combine his fearsome reputation with a terribly scarred countenance and finding a lady willing to accept his hand becomes all-but impossible. When the Duke manages to secure a bride through a bit of trickery and an obscene amount of money, he is certain his problems are behind him. Except his purchased bride proves to be nothing like he expected. What is a man like the Duke to do with a bride who is gentle, loving and absolutely impossible to live without?

This story contains elements of Beauty and the Beast except that Persephone isn't a beauty and the Duke is not really a beast. Although most who know the Duke consider him a 'beast' in terms of behavior and his tendency to bury himself at his estate.  Few are willing to enter his domain, but Persephone must to save her family from poverty. She greatly fears that she has little chance of happiness in the cold and cheerless environment in which she finds herself. But slowly she starts to see that there is more to her new husband than she or anyone else ever dreamed.

The author provides the reader with a tender love story with fairy tale elements as well as Greek mythology woven in beautifully. Yet the story felt fresh and new to me. I enjoyed watching Persephone grow in courage while the Duke begins to learn about love. Harry, the Duke's best (and only) friend provides a nice foil for the grumpy, intimidating Duke, by being a delightful pest. I admired the way the author slowly reveled elements about all the different characters as a natural part of the story, allowing the reader to slowly develop understanding about each one.

The setting is beautifully presented in all it's glory, cold and intimidating, with wild wolves roaming the surrounding countryside.  The vast estate demonstrates very quickly just how wealthy the Duke really is and the care that he has taken in managing his estates. The remoteness of Falstone Castle also represents beautifully the distance between the Duke and the Duchess.

Plotwise, the story isn't unique, but so delightfully presented, and showing so clearly the intricacies of human communication.  I think that the thing I love most about this book easy it is to give the wrong impression and the importance of persistence, and the power of love.

by Sarah M. Eden
Covenant Communications, Inc., 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60861-000-6
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Harry Windower adores blonde, green-eyes Athena Lancaster, but alas, a penniless man like himself has no hope of winning a young noblewoman's hand. To add insult to injury, Athena's brother-in-law and guardian, the Duke of Kielder, has asked Harry to assist Athena in finding a gentleman of her dreams. But the lovesick Harry is cunning as well: as the weeks pass, he introduces Athena to suitors who are horrifically boring, alarmingly attached to their mothers, downright rude, astoundingly self-absorbed, and utterly ridiculous. Athena can't comprehend why she is having so little success meeting eligible and acceptable gentlemen. Indeed, her circle of admirers couldn't be be less admirable - nothing like the loyal, gentle friend she's found in Harry. But how long can Harry's scheme be hidden before it is discovered? And what will Athena do when she uncovers Harry's deception? Escape into a charming regency world in this delightfully romantic comedy of manners that will entertain you to the very last word.

This story follows the Duke of Kielder and his wife Persephone escorting Persephone's younger sister, Athena, on her come out in London.  The Duke has asked his friend, Harry, to help introduce Athena around, hopefully allowing her to find a husband in the process.  There's only one problem. Harry is in love with Athena himself. Desperate and knowing that he himself cannot court her, Harry introduces Athena to some of the most obnoxious men on the market. But how long can such a strategy be maintained? and when his actions become known will he be able to live with the consequences?

Characters: Harry and Athena make a cute couple and I spent much of the book wanting to point out to Athena that she's already found a worthy gentleman. As in real life though sometimes the hardest things to see are the ones right in front of us.  My heart went out to Harry who struggled to find a way to keep his promise to his friend and yet deal with his own overwhelming emotions.  I was also thrilled to meet up again with the Duke and his wife (the main characters from Eden's Seeking Persephone).

Setting: For whatever reason I love romances set in the Victorian Era (clean ones). Maybe it's because I love Jane Austen's work. Anyway, while I enjoy reading about 'come outs' and 'visiting' and 'Almacks' I really wouldn't want to live at that time.  I would much prefer to stay home and read about it.  I enjoy reading the descriptions and settings of the various places that Athena and Harry visit in London.

Plot: I think what I found so refreshing about this book was that it was the man who struggled with his feelings of 'unrequited' love.  So often in this type of story it's the woman who faces the loss of all her hopes. Although I have to say my favorite part in this book is where Harry and the Duke deal with a supposed gentleman with a too sharp tongue who unwisely insults Persephone.  Classic and very entertaining.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Author Spotlight: Sarah Eden Part 1

All readers have authors who they love.  When those authors have a new book coming out, it is immediately purchased sight unseen.  For me, one of those authors is Sarah M. Eden.  My next couple posts will be highlighting her books and maybe even include an interview and giveaway. Today I'll highlight two books and share Sarah's biography.

BIOGRAPHY (from Sarah's website):

At the ripe-old age of five, I wrote my first book. Entitled “The Sun,” this work of literary genius contained such awe-inspiring passages as, “The sun is yellow.” It was a ground-breaking success among the Kindergarten of Roadrunner Elementary. On the heals of this success, I went on to write absolutely nothing for many, many years.

One sweltering summer, my mother, in what can now be easily identified as a desperate ploy to keep her five children occupied for a few hours during the never-ending summer break, implemented a summer writing challenge. That summer's efforts produced the first ten pages of “The Mystery of the Broken Unicorn”--my first experience with a plot idea that simply didn't work.

Several years after earning a bachelors degree in social science research, marrying my wonderful, if rather tall, husband and the birth of our second child, I took up my pen once more. Mercifully, I did not revisit the unicorn story but ventured into the world of Historical Romance.

A true romantic at heart, though I forcefully deny the charge, I harbor a true weakness for the Regency era in English history. Between world war on a scale unheard of until that time, the political upheaval at home, a changing economy, the rise of industrialism and the burgeoning belief in the importance of romantic love, the early 19th Century has a little of everything.

My first novel, The Ramshackle Knight, was published in May of 2007 and met with rave reviews from my mother and closest relatives. Spurred on by the unbiased acclaim, I wrote eight more Regency romances before being picked up by Covenant Communications.

Courting Miss Lancaster was released in 2010, followed by The Kiss of a Stranger (a re-publication of The Ramshackle Knight) in 2011. Seeking Persephone, a 2008 Whitney Award finalist for Best Romance, is scheduled for re-publication in fall of 2011.

by Sarah M. Eden
Covenant Communications, Inc. 2011
ISBN: 978-1-60861-175-1

When Crispin, Lord Cavratt, thoroughly and scandalously kisses a serving woman in the garden of a country inn, he assumes the encounter will be of no consequence. But he couldn't be more mistaken--the maid is not only a lady of birth, she's the niece of a very large, exceptionally angry gentlemen, who claims Crispin has compromised his niece beyond redemption. The dismayed young lord has no choice but to marry Miss Catherine Thorndale, who lacks both money and refinement and assumes all men are as vicious as her guardian uncle.

Trapped between an unwanted marriage and a hasty annulment, which would leave his reputation tainted and Catherine's utterly ruined, Crispin begins guiding his wife's transformatoin from a socially petrified country girl to a lady of society. Their unfolding relationship reveals encouraging surprises for both of them, and privately each of them wonders if theirs maay become a true marriage of the heart. But their hopes are dashed when forces conspire to split asunder what fate has granted. As a battle of wits escalates into a life-threatening confrontation, will it be possible for Crispin and Catherine to live happily ever after?

A delightful romance between the confidence Crispin and the quiet, uncertain Catherine.  While Crispin does not intend for the marriage to last, he can't help but be drawn to Catherine, especially when she demonstrates that beneath her timid exterior lies a mischievous sense of humor.  Yet Catherine's uncle isn't finished with her which creates additional problems for the couple. My favorite scenes though are the humorous ones involving Crispin and Catherine, especially the one involving fairy cakes and fountains. :) You'll have to read it yourself to find out more, just know that the book is full of friendship, family, and romance with plenty of excitement along the way.

by Sarah M. Eden
Covenant Communications, Inc. 2012
ISBN: 978-1-60861-376-2

After five years of tracking and capturing spies on English soil, Philip Jonquil, Earl of Lampton, is in pursuit of his last quarry. But at a traveler’s inn, he encounters an unexpected and far more maddening foe: Sorrel Kendrick, a young lady who is strikingly pretty, shockingly outspoken, and entirely unimpressed with him. Indeed, Sorrel cannot believe the nerve of this gentleman, who rudely accuses her of theft and insults her feminine dignity. Doubly annoyed when they both end up at a party hosted by mutual friends, Philip and Sorrel privately declare war on one another. But Philip’s tactics, which range from flirting to indifference, soon backfire as he finds himself reluctantly enjoying Sorrel’s company; and, much to her dismay, Sorrel finds Philip’s odd manner to be increasingly endearing. In the midst of this waning war and growing attraction, Philip catches wind of the French spy he’s been tracking, and Sorrel inadvertently stumbles upon a crucial piece of the puzzle, making her indispensable to the mission. But can two proud hearts negotiate a ceasefire when cooperation matters most?

I enjoy it when I get to meet characters that I liked from previous books.  In this story we get to meet up again with Crispin and Catherine, even though the main story is not theirs. Here the focus is on Philip, Crispin's friend from The Kiss of a Stranger.  Working undercover seeking out spies, Philip has chosen to pose as a 'dandy.'  While posing as such he encounters a young lady with a very sharp wit.  The two find themselves in a war of words, some of them sharp and unkind. Yet, despite their war they start to find enjoyment in the others company.  But will Philip's responsibilities get in the way? And what about the spy Philip has been searching for for so long. 

I enjoyed this book as I have all of the other one's that the author has written.  Each character is thoroughly fleshed out, even the secondary characters.  While the story is a bit predictable the journey is so enjoyable that it doesn't matter.  And the ending is a bit surprising. Once again, Eden creates a fun romance without throwing in any bad language or sexual scenes.  The kissing scenes are appropriate and delightful. I find myself able to recommend this book wholeheartedly for those who enjoy sweet, yet exciting romances.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My All Time Favorite Clean Romance Review and Giveaway: Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

 Clean romance is one of my favorite genres, but it can take a lot of work to find romances that are not full of bad language and/or sexually-explicit material.  This book, which was published this year, very easily leaped to the top of my clean romance favorites list.  I like it so much that I want to share it with you, so I am giving away TWO copies. To enter see the form below.

by Julianne Donaldson
Shadow Mountain, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-60908-946-7
Reviewed from personal copy.

Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she’ll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry.

From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a seemingly harmless flirtation, Marianne finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her mind racing. Will she be able to rein in her traitorous heart, or will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to Edenbrooke.

It's hard to know what to say about this book without giving anything away.  And I don't want to give anything away because I want you to be able to enjoy the book for yourself.  But I have to say that I love everything about this book, the setting, the plot, and especially the characters.

Marianne is a delightful narrator, a spirited young woman with a tendency to embarrass herself and a love of twirling (some of the best scenes in the book involve twirling). Philip, the love interest, is delightful, one of those characters that you wish was real (at least I wish he were real).  The secondary characters are also fun. They include Cecily, Marianne's beloved twin, Lady Caroline, Philip's mother, and Rachel and William, Philip's brother and sister-in-law.  Each of those characters adds something special to the story.  It's wonderful to find a book where you feel like all the characters play an important role.

In terms of setting, as soon as Marianne got to Edenbrooke, I wished I was there with her.  The place sounds gorgeous and the cover conveys that as well. While most of the story takes place there, there are other settings that play an important part as well.

I loved the plot/storyline.  It's delightful to travel with Marianne on her journey, both literally and figuratively.  I felt great empathy for Marianne and admired her compassion and selflessness as well as her silliness.  I truly felt like I got to know her as a person, she felt so real.

Overall, I have to recommend this book very highly, not only as a romance, but as a story full of hope and love as well.  So many romances are so dark these days, it's wonderful to find one that's such a pleasure to read.  I look forward to many more books from this author.  

If this sounds like your kind of book, be sure to enter the giveaway below. It is INTERNATIONAL, as long as Book Depository ships to you.

Giveaway Rules:
  1. You must be 13 or older.
  2. You must love clean romance. :)
  3. Book depository or Amazon must ship to you.
  4. Fill out the form. 
  5. Winner has 48 hours to respond to email I send.
 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Introduction and First Post

Here is my first post for my new blog, LDS and Lovin' it.  To start off, let me say that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints otherwise known as the LDS or Mormon church (yes, the same religion as Mitt Romney). My purpose in starting this new blog is to highlight books for an older audience while sharing a little bit about my religion.  I know there are many who don't understand my church and the doctrines thereof, so please feel free to ask questions.  I will answer them to the best of my ability.  However, I do ask that we keep the discussion civil.  Any posts or comments that don't meet that criteria will be deleted.

Most posts will be about books, but there may be a few more religious posts as well, feel free to skip those if you wish, my emphasis will be to highlight some great books, fiction and nonfiction.  To that end I am accepting requests right now but I do ask that they be CLEAN in terms of language, sexual situations, and no overly graphic violence.  If you aren't sure where your book fits, contact me (see sidebar for email, you may also leave a comment here with your email and I will respond as quickly as I can.)
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