Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Fortune Cookie by Josi Kilpak


Fortune Cookie  Fortune Cookie Sadie Hoffmiller has always liked things to be just so. A place for everything and everything in its place. Order over chaos. And of all things Sadie should be able to control, her own wedding is at the top of the list. With the big day just three weeks away, Sadie is busily adding the final touches to her wedding plans but the arrival of a mysterious letter from San Francisco changes everything. The only person Sadie knows in San Francisco is her older sister, Wendy, whom she hasn’t seen since their mother’s funeral nearly fifteen years ago. Sadie has faced off against murderers and criminals in recent years, yet the possibility of reconnecting with her sister is both overwhelming and frightening. Sadie soon discovers, however, that the letter is just the beginning when Wendy’s world turns out to be a place of unanswered questions, twisted truths, and more than one person with a motive for murder. The more Sadie digs into her sister’s past, the more she places her own future at risk.

The latest Sadie mystery takes place in San Francisco after Sadie gets a letter from her estranged nephew that informs her about her sister’s suspicious death.  I am always a little worried each time I start a Sadie mystery that they will feel like the same old thing, but I am always pleasantly surprised at how Kilpack makes her mysteries feel so fresh. I am always intrigued at how she weaves her character’s lives together in in convoluted ways. Sadie’s long lost sister Wendy dies and Sadie has piece together her life to find out who might have killed her. As Sadie digs into her sister’s life she discovers the picture of a woman who loved to bother and torment people the way she did Sadie while they were children. While finding evidence that her sister was mentally unbalanced brings Sadie some peace it makes it difficult to find her killer. She also has the opportunity to find out more about her nephew who, despite a terrible childhood, now runs a successful restaurant and heads a family dedicated to helping him run it. She comes to respect and admire this man, but when some of the clues point to his family’s involvement things get a bit tense. I really enjoyed this one and hated to put it down each time I had to stop reading.

 

Fortune Cookie Tour


Blog Tour Giveaway $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 4/30/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway  


 

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Fortune Cafe by Julie Wright, Melanie Jacobson and Heather Moore



Fortune Cafe 
The Fortune Café
a novel in three parts
MIS-FORTUNE: Emma, a waitress at The Fortune Café will do anything to avoid opening a fortune cookie. Each fortune is rumored to somehow magically come true. Being a girl grounded in reality, she doesn’t have time for that kind of nonsense. But when trying to prevent a food fight at the café, Emma accidently cracks open a fortune cookie: “Look around, love is trying to catch you.” If there is one thing that Harrison, her former best friend in high school is good at, it’s catching her unaware.  


LOVE, NOT LUCK: Lucy has always been lucky . . . until her parents meet her fiancé’s parents at a disastrous lunch at The Fortune Café, and she breaks her lucky jade necklace. Even worse, her fortune cookie reveals that “True love is for the brave, not the lucky.” How is she supposed to read that? She’s always considered it lucky how she met her fiancé. But after breaking her necklace, Lucy’s luck takes a dive. And when her fiancé dumps her, the only person she can turn to is Carter, the unluckiest guy she knows.  


TAKEOUT: Stella is content in her new life of taking over her mom’s jewelry shop. No more boyfriend to worry about, and as long as she stays busy, she doesn’t have to dwell on her non-existent love life. When Evan comes into the shop with his young daughter, Stella is charmed. But she is reluctant to complicate her straightforward life, so when she reads her fortune after ordering takeout from The Fortune Café, she completely ignores it. After all, how can a fortune as vague as “Do the thing you fear and love is certain,” apply to her?




Novellas at their best! Seriously, this has been my favorite novella collection that I have read. The romances were all well-written with likable characters and interesting plot twists. They all follow the same set-up. The main characters order a meal at the fortune café and once they read their fortune cookie it comes true. I really liked how the stories intersected a little bit and we got to see the characters in each others stories. It is fun and gave a sense of the little California community they all live in.  All three of these authors are at the top of their writing game in this collection. Worth the read.


 

Fortune Cafe Tour



Blog Tour Giveaway
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 4/30/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, March 21, 2014

Imperfect Love by Rebecca Talley

Imperfect LoveImperfect Love

Lauren Wilson is well on her way to her happily-ever-after. She has a career she loves, a husband she adores and a baby on the way, but a devastating diagnosis changes everything. The life she's built suddenly crumbles around her when her husband insists she choose—the baby or him.

Returning to her small hometown to rebuild her shattered life, Lauren crosses paths with Ethan Campbell, the man who stole her teenage heart. The old attraction is still there, but Lauren won't admit it to anyone—least of all herself. Her only priority is providing a life for her child, and she can't afford to get it wrong. Ethan is confusing everything, including stirring up feelings she’s not prepared to face. Will she spend her life raising her baby alone or is the family she's always wanted finally within her reach?


When Lauren learns that she will have a baby with down syndrome her entire world changes. She has to decide whether or not to keep the baby and her decision brings her already strained marriage to the breaking point. She moves in back with her mom and finds herself attracted to one of her brother’s old friends, Ethan. She is afraid that if he learns about her pregnancy, let alone the downs diagnosis that he’ll run for the hills. So she keeps her problems secret until she can’t hide any longer. Ethan seems like he is willing to commit to her baby and all but her ex-husband returns after the baby is born and wants to be part of their life again.

I thought this was a pretty decent read. I found Lauren to be a compelling character and her story interesting. Sometimes I felt like the secondary characters seemed a little flat and stereotypical, and I wished that more time was spent on the second half of the book as it seem more rushed than the first half. The author really created a great rapport between Lauren and Ethan, but I’d have liked to see a bit more of Ethan’s character. Overall, this was a solid and enjoyable read even if I would have preferred to see a bit more complexity in some of the a characters.

Imperfect Love Tour
Contact Rebecca Talley:


Blog Tour Giveaway Details $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 4/10/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, March 7, 2014

Longing For Home by Sarah M. Eden

Longing for Home: Hope Springs by Sarah M. Eden

"Katie Macauley gave up her lifelong dream of returning to Ireland in order to make a home for herself in Hope Springs, Wyoming, but her future has never been so uncertain.

 Katie’s heart still remains sharply divided between playful Tavish and steady Joseph, though she feels ill-prepared to make a decision. Furthermore, the town is more divided than ever with both the Irish and the Reds stealing property, burning buildings, and endangering lives. In the midst of the growing unrest, tem­peratures drop quickly, too quickly, and Irish nightmares of fam­ine and cold resurface as the little Wyoming town struggles to beat the harsh winter.

Katie makes one sacrifice after another to keep the peace and help see her loved ones through the difficult days ahead, but will her efforts be enough? Can the town make amends before their hatred consumes them all? And will Katie find the love she has been searching for as well as a home to call her own?" (summary from publisher's website)


The sequel to Longing for Home, continues the story of Katie McKauley, an Irish immigrant who accepts a housekeeping job in a divided Wyoming town. I felt like Hope Springs was a really satisfying read. After Longing for Home was over I really was annoyed about how the whole love triangle was set up. By the end of the Hope Springs I felt like the author put a unique spin on the whole trope. I felt like Eden took advantage of the triangle to take an honest and comparative look at two different romantic relationships.  This allowed reader to discover along with Katie what a relationship based on true love looks and feels like.  I really enjoyed both the main characters and all the side characters too. I wish Eden would do a book with some of the more prominent minor characters because they all have interesting stories too.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Chaos of the Stars by Kiersten White

All good stories have a few false starts... Myth: The children of immortal gods are immortal, too. Reality: Isadora isn’t going to be around forever—and her parents barely seem to notice she’s alive right now. Myth: Once a god, always a god—that kind of power never fades away. Reality: These days, Isadora’s relatives are clinging to the little bit of power they have left. And some of them would do anything to take it all.… Myth: Every teenage girl dreams of falling in love. Reality: From what Isadora’s seen, “love” is a painful mess. All she dreams of is a normal life away from her crazy family—minus any romantic drama. Myth: If you go far enough, you can leave the past behind. Reality: Isadora moves halfway around the world to San Diego for a fresh start, but quickly finds that there’s no such thing as a clean break from family—and that leaving her old life may mean sacrificing more than she ever guessed. The Chaos of Stars blends sweet romance, high-stakes suspense, and the magic of Egyptian mythology to create a complex, funny, and deeply moving story about true love and what it means to be a family. (Summary From author's website)


I really enjoyed reading Chaos of the Stars. I know that the whole demi-god myth is kind of becoming an overdone trope in the market right now, but Chaos of the Stars has several things that makes it stand out. The first is that it is great as a stand-alone novel that has an interesting world that you would like to visit again, but don’t have to once all the loose ends of the novel are tied up. It is kind of relaxing to read a YA fantasy that doesn’t require a three book commitment. Also, while there is romance, there is no love triangle. Lovely! In addition, there is no super reveal about secret powers in which the female protagonist turns into a super warrior so that she can save the world.

The plot instead lingers on Isadora's relationship with her family. Being the daughter of two Egyptian gods can be really confusing at times, and Isadora questions whether her parents really love her. She can’t wait to get away from her mom, Isis and spend some time on her own. When Isis senses danger coming she sends Isadora away to live with her brother in California.  Isadora enjoys volunteering at the local museum and hanging out with the new friends she has made, but when strange break-ins start happening at the museum and at her brother’s house, Isadora can’t help but wonder if there is some plot afoot. When Isadora discovers who is behind the break-ins and what they want she has to race to save the family that she has come to realize that she loves and cares for.
So, yeah Chaos of the Stars is a fun, light-hearted introduction to the insanity that is Egyptian mythology, and makes itself stand out by throwing aside some popular paranormal romance  conventions and focusing the story on family drama, rather than epic battles. I wanted a bit more tension in the first couple chapters, but other than that I really enjoyed the novel.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Year in Review 2013


Well, in regards to the book blog my goals for 2012 were to put up six LDSPBP posts, and I kind of really failed in doing that. I think I got up two and then reviewed two picture books from LDS publishing houses. I did have enough information to put all six spotlights up. I just didn’t have the mental focus for it. Alas, what can I say? Perhaps, I can do better next year.

I also made a goal to read less romance novels but I don’t feel like I really did all that well. I read a ton of regency romance novels and other romance themed books. I sometimes felt frustrated by the fact that romance was in everything. I could not escape it without making a special effort, and I wasn’t really all that interested in making a special effort, especially since I enjoy reading romance. Attempting to read less romance lead me to read more non-fiction, but I only read four titles— two religious based, one on astronomy, and a memoir about an expert horseman/cowboy.

Something wonderful about the blog this year has been the opportunity to participate in so many blog tours and promotions. I also was able to review for Covenant and Shadow Mountain, which made it possible to review more LDS novels despite living in PA where it is harder than even Houston to find LDS fiction reading opportunities. There is no way I can afford an LDS Fiction reading habit unless I receive review copies or access to LDS novels at a public library. So, when I say I am grateful for these opportunities I mean it very sincerely. Thank you for all the blog tour coordinators, authors, and publicists who were so generous to me this year.

So my goal was to get up an indie-published novel this year, but alas that did not happen. I am actually okay with that. I’ve gone through three drafts of a story that I really enjoyed working on this year. I haven’t stuck with a book for so long ever. I think I am finally learning how to structure an actual novel length plot. So, I am pleased with the evidence that I have grown as a writer. I worked on a few novellas and rewrote a short story. Doesn’t feel like a whole lot of progress to me, but I keep trying to tell myself that writing is not a race.

In family news, we moved to a new apartment this year in March and really like the floor plan better, and we’ve put a lot of effort into organizing and keeping it clean as we had a wee one coming. I grew a little boy for the most part of this year.  He was born Dec 11 after only two and a half hours of labor. He was transported to CHOP and underwent surgery in his first 24 hours of life because he had a perforated bowel. The test results have been confirmed and he has Cystic Fibrosis. He is still in the NICU healing, but he’s doing amazingly well. He has made steady progress in his recovery and we are so pleased with his progress.  This has been hard, no doubt, and we’ve only been able to handle things hour by hour on some days. Yet, we are also grateful because he was diagnosed so quickly, that we had access to top notch medical facilities, and that we live at a time of such advanced medical knowledge.  Lacking any of these things our little Marcus may not have survived.  We are very blessed.

Books Read in 2013


Books read in 2013

Heart of the Ocean by Heather B. Moore (Review Copy)

Crossed by Ally Condie (library)

Reached by Ally Condie (library)

Drops of Gold by Sarah M. Eden (purchased)

The Ugly Step-Sister Strikes Back by Sariah S. Wilson (free on amazon)

Lavinia by Ursula K LeGuin (library)

Baked Alaska by Josi Kilpack (review copy)

Destined by Aprilynn Pike (library)

Courting Miss Landcaster by Sarah M. Eden (purchased)

Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale (library)

Way of Kings by Sanderson (purchased)

Seeking Persephone by Sarah M. Eden (purchased)

Emeralds and espionage by Lynn Gardner (purchased, re-read)

The List by Melanie Jacobson (purchased)

Doctor Illuminatus (used book sale)

Glamour and Glass by Mary Kowal Robinette (library)

The Sky has a Thousand Stars (used book sale)

21 Principals Richard G. Scott (review copy)

One Drop at a Time M Russell Ballard (review copy)

Belonging to Heaven Gale Sears (review copy)

All That was Promised Vickie Hall  (review copy)

Journey of Promise by Vickie Hall (review copy)

The Emerald Ring by Dorine White (review copy)

A way back to you Emily Clawson (review copy)

A Change of Plans by Donna K. Weaver (review copy)

Love in the Darkness by E.M. Tippetts (review copy)

Through Cloud and Sunshine Dean Hughes (review copy)

Proceed with Caution by Betsy Brannon Green (review copy)

Glimmer of Hope by Sarah M. Eden (review copy)

Longing For Home by Sarah M. Eden (review copy)

Working it Out by Rachel Renee Anderson (review copy)

Finding Sheba by H.B. Moore (review copy)

Not Even Once Club (review copy)

After Hello by Lisa Mangum (review copy)          

Transparent by Natalie Whipple (library)

The False Prince by Jennifer A Nielsen (library)

The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen (library)

The Witnesses by Stephanie Black (review copy)

The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachel Renee Anderson (free on amazon)

Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike (library)

Putting Down the Pieces by Cheryl Leigh (won in contest)

Goddess by Josephine Angelini (purchased)

Blackmoore by Julianna Donaldson (review copy)

Chaos of the Stars by Kiersten White (library)

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson (library)

The House on Rose Creek by Jenny Proctor (review copy)

The Faraway Horses by Buck Brannaman (library)

Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff (library)

Timeless Romance Anthology:  European Collection (review copy)

Eagle by Kindal Debenham

Broken Halo by Kindal Debenham

House of Hades by Rick Riordan (gift)

Favorite Picture Books:

The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz

Shark v.s Train by Chris Barton

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds

Chalk by Bill Thompson

Tuesday by David Wiesner

Favorites:

Lavinia by Ursula K LeGuin

Blackmoore by Julianna Donaldson

Transparent by Natalie Whipple

Through Cloud and Sunshine by Dean Hughes

Monday, December 16, 2013

Blog Hiatus

So, the baby boy came! We are super happy but he came with complications. His bowels had a perforation and he was rushed to surgery in his first 24 hours of life. It has been almost a week now and our baby boy is doing good considering everything. He is mostly healed up from the surgery, but GI tracts are super complicated things and he'll be healing up for the next 8 weeks in the NICU.

All of this has brought a lot of upheaval and so I am officially declaring a blog hiatus. See you all next year! Enjoy your holidays.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Studio C Review

studio c tour
   
Studio C
Seasons 1 and 2 of the hilarious BYUtv sketch comedy series, Studio C, featuring Whitney, Mallory, Jason, Matt, and the rest of the cast pulling out all the stops with two full seasons of enough rip-roaring hilarity to make you spit milk out of your nose. Travel back to the moment it all began and watch some of the very first Studio C sketches, plus two never-before-seen features! Includes popular episodes featuring
  • Presidential Shoulder Angel
  • Facebook Friends Song
  • Flirting Academy
  • Captain Literally
  • The Center for People That YouTube Made Infamous
  • Candy Land Character Conference
  • Bollyside
  • Dana’s Dead
  • And many more!
Special Features
  • Exclusive Feature: “Just Jeremy Date”
  • Exclusive Sketch: “Substitute Miss Frizzle”
  • Season 2 Outtakes
Studio C is a hit sketch comedy series that the whole family can enjoy. Like the popular TV show Saturday Night Live, the cast performs original sketches that parody American culture and the hilariously awkward moments of everyday life; but with a refreshingly wholesome yet hilarious spin. With their huge fan-base and increasing popularity, Studio C aims to produce clean, family-oriented comedy for a national audience.
 
My Review:

So, I first heard of Studio C while reading an interview with Mallory Everton the Mormon Artist blog. Then a few days later my husband started watching their skits on youtube and laughing. So, when a chance came up to participate in reviewing the DVD I was interested. My husband watched about a dozen skits together. He had only seen two previously from his youtube investigations so that is an idea about the amount of new content on the disk.

There were several really funny skits and a couple of just okay ones. Since we are not Downtown Abby fans I think my husband and I didn’t really get the comedy skit about that one as a result. We did however laugh uproariously at the Lady Shadow skit. Which centers around the concept of a dangerous female spy trying to steal a disk, only to sneak out from behind a box nine months pregnant. She then tries to take down four armed guys that really want nothing to do with fighting her. It was hilarious. We also like the flirting university skit and the driving instructor skit. So we really enjoyed the majority of the skits we watched and enjoyed laughing together.     

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Friday, November 29, 2013

House on Rose Creek by Jenny Proctor


The House on Rose Creek by Jenny Proctor


"Kate Sinclair wasn't planning on inheriting her family's 100-year-old farmhouse. She wasn't even planning on going back to Rose Creek. But when her aunt unexpectedly passes away, leaving her the house, she finds herself forced to confront her past, including the family she hasn't spoken to in years. 

When she finds a journal belonging to a distant ancestor in the attic of the old house, she begins a journey that reconnects her with her faith, her family, and herself. 

But trouble looms. Kate's new love interest, Andrew, has a past full of secrets. And the state department of transportation wants to bulldoze the old farmhouse for a highway project.

Will Kate be able to see through Andrew's past? Most importantly, will she find a way to save her house and hold onto the fragile threads that tie her to her family?" (
Summary from author's website)


 

So, I really enjoyed the House on Rose Creek.  One of the main plot lines does center around a non-member who eventually joins the church, which just happens to be the religion of the main love interest. I know this plot trope gets a lot of negative reactions because it has been done a lot and sometimes not all that well. However, I felt that Proctor did an excellent job with the story. Kate has real and compelling reasons to investigate the church. After finding the long forgotten journal of her ancestor in the attic of the house that her aunt left to her after her death Kate finds herself thinking not only about God, but about her family connections. Just as she begins to settle in and decides to rebuild her ties with her family, she discovers that her house is in danger of being torn down by the city so they can build a new freeway. To make matters worse her aunt’s death caused Kate to miss the paperwork that would have allowed her to appeal the decision. So, she has to discover a way to save the house that has been in her family so long and that has become her new home. In addition, to the conversion and house plotline there is also a sweet romance with Andrew.  The romance plotline felt a tad predictable to me and I didn’t enjoy it as much as the other plot threads, but over all this was a really enjoyable read with interesting characters and dilemmas that kept me reading until the last page.

Visit Proctor's Website