Thursday, November 16, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: For Castle and Crown by Sian Ann Bessey


ABOUT THE BOOK

After years spent fighting alongside King Richard in the crusades, Lord Edmund of Hawksford is finally returning to his ancestral home. But far from a joyful reunion, what awaits his is devastation. his elder brother is dead, killed in a tragic fire at Hawksford Castle—and the title of duke now falls to Edmund.

When he strives to rebuild the fire-scarred castle, Edmund learns that his was not the only life the fire shattered: his childhood friend Lady Phillipa survived the flames that took Edmund's brother, but badly burned, she has hidden herself away from those she loves. yet as the pair renews their acquaintance, they find that their affection runs deep—perhaps even deeper than they'd ever realized.

As Edmund and Pippa begin to question whether the fire was truly an accident, they must discover the truth of the past before they can plan for their future. While coming perilously close to the answers they seek, Edmund and Pippa find themselves at the mercy of a dangerous foe who will stop at nothing to lay claim on Hawksford—and he will destroy any who stand in his way.

REVIEW

Sian Ann Bessey has written a compelling story of love, loss, and struggle.  As Edmund returns home to face the disaster that occurred while he was away fighting for king and country with King Richard, he also must face responsibilities that he was never trained to handle.  Pippa, meanwhile, continues to heal from the injuries sustained in the devastating fire that caused so much harm. But when they meet again, the friendship from their childhood is renewed and they find great comfort in aiding each other.  But the danger to Hawksford remains and they must discover it's source before everything is lost.  Bessey has created some great characters who face some daunting challenges.  She does a great job creating a believable medieval setting full of interesting people and events.  The book provided a very engaging read.

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*Nov. 17th: http://booksaresanity.blogspot.com/, http://heidi-reads.blogspot.com/, http://www.kindleandme.com/, http://literarytimeout.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

BLOG TOUR: The Nativity Pagaent by Neil K. Johnson


ABOUT THE BOOK

Would you rather read the nativity story or be a part of it? Using simple stage directions, easy-to-find props, and a script that’s straight from the scriptures, this book helps you act out the familiar story of the first Christmas for your friends and family. Start a new tradition this season with a simple pageant you’ll look forward to performing year after year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 Neil K. Johnson taught school for 44 years–first drama, then English–and he loves kids. He was able to teach over 7,000, and as a result, many of them won awards for their writing and drama. He was chosen as the 2010 Utah English Teacher of the Year, and he was president of a state English and two state drama and speech teacher associations. Neil received his bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and his master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin at Superior. He did doctoral work at the University of Utah and the University of Northern Colorado. He wrote The Drama Source Book and compiled three books of plays. Neil and his current wife Sharee both lost their first spouses to cancer. They married and blended their family of 15 kids, and they have 50 grandkids (and counting). Neil is very active in his church, and he loves to see the enactment of the nativity pageant at Christmastime. He knows many of the struggles to make the pageant meaningful, and he has tried to address them in this dramatization.

REVIEW

There is something special about the idea of putting on a nativity pageant.  And while there are a lot of resources available to help in putting on such a pageant, the scriptures being the best resource of course, this booklet keeps things simple enough to be put on at home, church, or in the community.  Most of the text comes right from the scriptures with song suggestions as well as stage directions included.  A great resource for those interested in putting on a nativity play.

 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: The Nobleman's Daughter by Jen Geigle Johnson


ABOUT THE BOOK

While British high society primps and plays, the impoverished citizens of London languish. But there are those fighting for the freedom of common citizens—including two members of the aristocracy who secretly champion revolution. In the drawing rooms of the upper class, Lady Amanda and Lord Nathaniel flirt and tease with the best of them as she pretends to win every heart in London for sport, and he, to conquer them. But in truth, their flirtation is merely a facade designed to keep their clandestine actions hidden from the ton—and from each other. When Nathaniel presents himself as a potential suitor, the attraction between the two is undeniable—but the faces they portray to the world are not enough to win each other's hearts.

While their crusade for London's poor unites them more deeply than they could imagine, Amanda and Nathaniel struggle to trust one another with their true ideals and identities. But when the call to action leads Amanda into the path of danger, she can only hope that Nathaniel will see through her frivolous pretense. Because now, only the aid of the suitor she loves most—but trusts least—can save her.

REVIEW

I've long enjoyed reading Regency historical fiction, especially romances (clean ones that is).  But like many genres, sometimes they start to all sound the same.  I'm happy to say though that this one is different.  Not that there isn't plenty of romance, which there is, and not that the character's aren't a little too good to be true (as they usually are), but in the circumstances that Lady Amanda and Lord Nathaniel choose to involve themselves in.  Coming from nobility both Lady Amanda and Lord Nathaniel have grown up surrounded by the luxuries of life.  And yet their experiences take them into the cause of freedom for those of the lower classes.  But most of the rest of the aristocracy doesn't look on such efforts with favor and so the two must, for their own safety, hide their efforts.

So while attraction between the two is alive from the time they meet, they do not at first trust each other with their secret work.  This creates tension and confusion, especially on the part of Lady Amanda.  I enjoyed reading about Amanda and Nathaniel, but I especially appreciated the historical background about a real event, a rather shocking, horrifying event that the characters experience.  An event that I had never heard of before reading this book.  And that is what makes this book especially good, learning about the past while enjoying the characters and the plot.

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*Nov. 10th: http://lisaisabookworm.blogspot.com, http://literarytimeout.blogspot.com  


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

BLOG TOUR: Lies Jane Austen Told Me by Julie Wright


ABOUT THE BOOK

Ever since Emma read Pride and Prejudice, she's been in love with Mr. Darcy and has regarded Jane Austen as the expert on all things romantic. So when it turns out that what her boyfriend Blake wants is more of a hook-up than a honeymoon, Emma is hurt, betrayed, and furious. She throws herself deeper into her work as CMO of Kinetics, only to find her job threatened when her boss brings in a consultant to help her expand the business to the East Coast. Her frustration turns to shock when that consultant turns out to be Blake's younger brother, Lucas.

Emma is determined not to fall for Lucas, but as she gets to know him, she realizes that Lucas is nothing like his brother. He is kind and attentive and spends his time and money caring for the less fortunate. But as perfect as Lucas seems, he clearly has his secrets. After all, there's an angry woman demanding money from him and a little girl who Lucas feels responsible for.

Realizing that her love life is as complicated as anything Jane Austen could have dreamed up, Emma must figure out the truth and soon—if she wants any hope of writing her own "happily ever after" ending.

REVIEW

Like so many women, Emma is a lover of Jane Austen's novels.  But her own romantic experiences haven't lived up to the ideals shared in Austen's books.  And after a fight with her boyfriend Blake, Emma is ready to drop those ideals from her vocabulary.  She doesn't expect meeting Blake's younger brother, Lucas, to change everything.  But as her feelings for Lucas deepen despite her best efforts, she's left to wonder if love is in her future, or if she's headed for more heartache.

I found Emma to be a very appealing character, similar to Austen's own Emma, except she's more aware of being judgmental toward others.  And Lucas is a sweetheart from the beginning.  But being the brother of Emma's ex-boyfriend and constantly reminding her of  Blake's good points doesn't encourage hope for any relationship.  And his issues with his biological sister and niece don't help things any. I think my favorite parts of the book though were the interactions between Emma and Lucas as they fall in love.  The context of the story was fascinating as well, reading about Emma's work as a CMO.

And the relationship between Lucas and his niece is a sweet one as he tries to protect her from his sister's problems.  The relationships between the characters were enjoyable and realistic and the best part of the book.  And the references to Jane Austen's works didn't hurt either as I'm also a fan.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Our Family Christmas by Christie Gardiner


ABOUT THE BOOK

Draw closer to the Savior as you set aside a few minutes each day to celebrate the season with your family using this inspiring, fun-filled countdown to Christmas as your guide. From Christmas songs to holiday stories to activities for old and young alike, this compilation of Christ-centered ideas is designed with one goal in mind: to bring families closer together and closer to Christ this holiday season. Whether you're taking a quick moment to connect or are engaging in a longer opportunity to create memories, the stories, recipes, activities, and music on these pages are just the beginning of faith-affirming togetherness for families of all ages and stages during the Christmas season.

REVIEW

Gardiner has created a delightfully helpful and beautiful book with Our Family Christmas.  The book is divided into days, with each section containing a story that introduces the theme for that day as well as suggestions for crafts and/or recipes as well as a song.  These can be used however the reader sees fit.  I especially appreciated the inclusion of suggestions for longer and shorter family activities.  There are also suggestions for recording Christmas memories.  This is not only a beautifully designed book with gorgeous illustrations, slick pages, and a keepsake design, but the content is immensely helpful for those who want to celebrate Christmas with their families but just don't have the time or desire to invest in planning.

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*Nov. 3rd: http://sweetlymadejustforyou.com/blog/, http://www.wishfulendings.com/, http://brooklynberrydesigns.com/, http://literarytimeout.blogspot.com/


Thursday, October 26, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Christmas Grace by Jennifer Moore, Krista Lynne Jensen, Anita Stansfield, & Chalon Linton


ABOUT THE BOOK

"Let Nothing You Dismay" by Jennifer Moore

After their childhood friendship blossomed into love, one young couple's whirlwind romance ended in bitter disappointment. Now, years later, can a long-overdue Christmas gift heal two wounded hearts?

"Christmas at Canterwood" by Krista Lynne Jensen

A charming new governess is determined to create a magical Christmas for her young charges. What follows is a season of warmth, laughter, and even the promise of an unanticipated love.

"Winter Angel" by Anita Stansfield

For generations, one small London bakery has carried on the sweet tradition of delivering bread to the impoverished. When the lovely baker meets a down-on-his luck stranger, her kindness will open the door to a bright friendship—and an astonishing discovery.

"Christmas Grace" by Chalon Linton

After suffering a heartbreaking loss, one woman returns home to honor the family tradition of staging a Christmas celebration for the surrounding village. But when a severe snowstorm hinders her plans, help and hope find her in the most unexpected of ways.

REVIEW

I have a special fondness for Christmas stories.  And a little romance never hurts. ;) Each of these four stories takes place during the Regency era and involve romance at Christmastime, two of my very favorite things.  No wonder then that I thoroughly enjoyed these stories of love and the power of the Christmas season.

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*Oct. 27th: http://literarytimeout.blogspot.com/, http://reviewsfromtheheart.blogspot.com/, http://www.blogginboutbooks.com/


Thursday, October 19, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: 100 Favorite Verses from the Old Testament by Shauna Humphreys

100 favorite verses from the old testament   covercopy

ABOUT THE BOOK

Studying—and truly understanding—the Old Testament can feel like an insurmountable task. But in this wonderful compilation of 100 of the most beloved Old Testament verses, author Shauna Humphreys reminds readers that this sacred book of scripture is brimming with treasures of wisdom for those prepared to seek them. Presented with complementary spiritual insights, vibrant explanations, and personal applications, each verse will motivate readers to delve into these sacred and powerful teachings as never before. Whether used in personal study or incorporated into family discussions or Church lessons, this inspiring volume is sure to enlighten the mind and stir the heart.

REVIEW

In this compilation of gospel thoughts and insights, Humphreys has created a beautiful, thoughtful look at some of the most powerful verses from the Old Testament as well as from the Pearl of Great Price. Each scripture is highlighted on two pages with commentary from the author that includes additional scriptures as well as quotes from LDS Church leaders.  The design of the book makes it a wonderful choice for gift-giving with the soft, padded cover, gilt pages, and included bookmark.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Safe House by Traci Hunter Abramson


ABOUT THE BOOK

he guardians, the shadowy heroes of the top-secret program designed to protect members of the most elite government organizations, are being hunted down one by one. There is a single explanation: a traitor must be embedded somewhere in their midst. But if they themselves are the target, who will protect them?

CIA operative Renee Niezen has heard tales of the guardians, though she's never really believed in their existence—until she is approached by Charlotte, an old friend who desperately needs her help to stop the systematic destruction of the guardian program. Renee accepts the plea for assistance, but not everyone is thrilled to have her on the team. Kade—one of the last guardians standing—is unimpressed with Renee's qualifications and turns instead to the legendary Saint Squad for help. But when Renee is caught in the crosshairs, Kade must set aside his antagonism for the woman in order to protect her. Their grudging alliance soon develops into much more—but before the pair can examine their feelings, their investigation takes a dramatic twist. With lives on the line, Renee and Kade must use their spy training at every turn as they draw dangerously close to the shocking truth.

REVIEW

Abramson knows how to write a thriller.  I always have to take a deep breath after I've read one of her books.  I also feel grateful that I don't live the life that her characters do.  Renee, a CIA analyst, is asked by an old friend to help out a secret government program.  When she agrees, she has no idea that it will put her life at great risk.  Her efforts to help the guardians leave her working with Kade, an operative who is none to happy to have her around.  But as they work together to find out who is targeting them, their feelings start to develop.  Unfortunately, Kade's status as a 'ghost' means that the world thinks he's dead, complicating any relationship they might contemplate.  In addition, Kade is used to operating alone most of the time and doesn't have an easy time opening up.  With the help of the Saint Squad, Renee and Kade must discover who is out to destroy them before it's too late.  With plenty of interesting twists and turns, Abramson has written an entertaining and suspenseful story.

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: For Love or Honor by Sarah M. Eden


ABOUT THE BOOK

From the moment they met, Marjie's heart has belonged to handsome Captain Stanley Jonquil, younger brother of the Earl of Lampton. But six long months ago, when Stanley's sense of honor required that he do as he had sworn and return to the Continent to fight in defense of King and country, neither Stanley nor Marjie could have dreamed what the cost of his service would be.

It has been ages since Stanley last wrote, and Marjie and the Jonquil family are plagued by his unknown fate—until the day he unexpectedly reappears. Marjie's joy, however, is quickly shadowed by confusion—the aloof, battle-worn soldier before her is not the man he once was. In the wake of Stanley's blatant disinterest in renewing their acquaintance, Marjie's devastation turns to determination as she vows to help him find peace. But his scars run far deeper than anyone realizes. Despite his feelings for her, Stanley believes Marjie deserves a man whose hands are not stained with the violence of battlefields and whose mind and heart are not haunted by the horrors he has seen.

Honor requires Stanley to return once more to the life he has grown to despise, one he knows will destroy him in the end, even as his heart beckons him to stay with Marjie, the only woman he could ever love, and the promise, at last, of redemption.

REVIEW

Sigh of happiness inserted here.  Sarah Eden has written another fabulous book.  I've become rather attached to the Jonquil brothers over the years so I was delighted to pick up this book about Stanley, the 5th of the seven brothers.  Stanley's had a hard time of it serving in the army.  With a compassionate heart, having to kill people has eaten away at his soul.  And the injuries he suffered at Waterloo haven't helped any.

Marjie fell in love with Stanley when they first met almost a year ago when he was home recuperating from a previous injury.  But after six months of no letters, she wonders if he still cares for her.  And when Stanley arrives home unexpectedly in poor health and refusing to discuss the war, her fears seem to be confirmed.  But Marjie isn't ready to give up quite yet and her determination to help and Stanley's need of some hope bring the two together again.  But Stanley's honor won't let him back out of his commitment to the army and he refuses to expose Marjie to the things he's seen and experienced.  So it may just be that their feelings for each other may not be enough.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  I found it impossible not to cheer for Stanley and Marjie. Both characters had their struggles but they sincerely cared for each other and it's obvious.  Through in the rest of the Jonquil clan and you have a delightful book that still manages to be hopeful despite some rather heavy themes related to war, loss, and secrets.  If you enjoy reading clean regency romances, I can heartily recommend this one.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEW: The Holy Ghost is My Friend by Catherine Christensen


ABOUT THE BOOK

Get ready to shine a spotlight on the Holy Ghost! This unique picture book shares everyday situations and simple stories that teach children how to recognize the influence of the Spirit. When you shine a flashlight through the illustrated pages, you can discover how the Holy Ghost protects, comforts, directs, and witnesses of true gospel principles. A fun and illuminating book the whole family will love!

REVIEW

I have some rather mixed feelings about this book.  On the one hand, it does a great job of explaining some of the roles of the Holy Ghost and how He helps us.  On the other hand, the illustrations and first page part of the book imply that the Holy Ghost appeared at Christ's baptism as a dove (not to mention the cover).  I would have liked it to be clearer that the Holy Ghost descended as gracefully and gently as a dove, not in the actual physical shape of a dove. And that the dove signified the Holy Ghost's presence, but was not the Holy Ghost.  As Joseph Smith explains:

“The sign of the dove was instituted before the creation of the world, a witness for the Holy Ghost, and the devil cannot come in the sign of a dove. The Holy Ghost is a personage, and is in the form of a personage. It does not confine itself to the form of the dove, but in sign of the dove. The Holy Ghost cannot be transformed into a dove; but the sign of a dove was given to John to signify the truth of the deed, as the dove is an emblem or token of truth and innocence” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 276).

The other thing that I wish the book had included is a description of just who the Holy Ghost is, beyond being a friend such as a member of the Godhead, a personage in form, but who has no physical body. 

The book does a nice job of explaining some of the different ways the Holy Ghost can help and the ways to invite Him to do so. And the flashlight aspect of the book which brings a hidden picture to the surface followed by a following page that explains what the picture represents.  There is a page depicting a child being tempted that shows temptations as purple demon creatures.  I think I would have preferred a different picture here. 

Overall, the book works, but it could have been better.



Thursday, September 7, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Miss Leslie's Secret by Jennifer Moore


ABOUT THE BOOK

Decorated war hero Conall Stewart has spent ten years envisioning his return to his beloved Scottish Highlands. But now, with the days of battle finally behind him, it seems that his dreams of home have been in vain: the land of his youth lies in ruins, and his family is gone. Though he will never stop searching for his kin, Conall knows he must begin again. But when he takes on a rented farm in a nearby town, he finds far more than the fresh start he was looking for.

After catching a mischievous local lad stealing, Conall returns young Jamie to his mother, Aileen Leslie—and finds the woman’s coddling of the child maddening. What Conall does not realize is that Aileen hides a frightening secret: her devoted protection of Jamie is all that shelters them from discovery by a dangerous man from their past. Drawn together by circumstance, Conall soon develops a fatherly relationship with Jamie—as well as romantic feelings for Aileen. But even as the couple accepts their growing affection for one another, time runs out for Aileen and her son: after years of hiding, they have been found. Conall lost his family once—he will do all in his power not to let history repeat itself.

REVIEW

Jennifer Moore has written another winning story.  It's fun to catch up with Conall Stewart after having met him in Miss Whitaker Opens Her Heart.  I've really enjoyed the way so many of her books are connected through the different characters.  In this one, Conall returns home to the Scottish Highlands only to discover his family has left for Canada.  Not willing to give up the homeland he has missed for over a decade, Conall settles down in the small village of Dunaid.  There he encounters a mischievous young lad named Jamie.  When Jamie steals from him, Conall returns to boy home only to encounter the boy's mother.  As Conall gets to know Jamie and his mother, he begins to realize that maybe he's found a new family.  But since when did the path of love ever run smooth?  Aileen Leslie, Jamie's mother, has a rather dangerous secret that may change everything once it's revealed, and to Aileen's horror, that day seems to be coming closer despite her best efforts.  I found the characters winning, the setting and customs fascinating, and the plot engaging.  Another fantastic historical romance from one of my favorite authors.

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*Sept. 8th: http://readingismysuperpower.org/ , http://minreadsandreviews.blogspot.com/, http://gettingyourreadonaimeebrown.blogspot.com/, http://whynotbecauseisaidso.blogspot.com/, http://literarytimeout.blogspot.com/, http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/

 
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