Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Baked Alaska book blast and Giveaway!

Baked Alaska by Josi S. Kilpack

An Alaskan cruise is the setting for amateur detective Sadie Hoffmillers latest adventure. Sadie plans to spend time relaxing with her two grown children, Breanna and Shawn, and her boyfriend, Pete, while enjoying the luxury and cuisine of an elegant cruise ship and helping to plan her daughters upcoming wedding. But even as the crew prepares to leave port, Sadie has suspicions about the voyage ahead and the relationship between her normally easygoing son and a mysterious female passenger he obviously knows but refuses to discuss. When the woman is discovered unconscious during the second night at sea, Sadies apprehension escalates. Over the last few years, Sadie has developed an extreme dislike for secrets and it would seem her son is keeping one from her. *Includes eight new mouthwatering recipes, tested and approved by the official bakers of Sadies Virtual Test Kitchen.

Praise for Baked Alaska
Josi Kilpack has done it again. You would think that all these events that occur in Sadie's life wouldn't be natural, but Josi Kilpack has a way of making you believe that it just "happens" and it is normal. I have grown to love Sadie's character, even if she is a busybody, you can't help but cheer for her as she attempts to solve a mystery or crime. One of my favorite series. :)
~Goodreads Reviewer Lacey McNeill

Author Josi S. Kilpack

Josi S. Kilpack grew up hating to read until she was thirteen and her mother handed her a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond. From that day forward, she read everything she could get her hands on and credits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then. She began her first novel in 1998 and hasn’t stopped since. Her seventh novel, Sheep’s Clothing, won the 2007 Whitney Award for Mystery/Suspense, and Lemon Tart, her ninth novel, was a 2009 Whitney Award Finalist. Josi was the Best in State winner in literature for 2012 and currently has two books (Banana Split and Tres Leches Cupcakes) as finalists in the 2012 Whitney awards.

Josi currently lives in Willard, Utah, with her family.

Tour Schedule

Book Blast Giveaway
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 3/17/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an 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.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah S. Wilson

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah S. Wilson
"Everyone knows how all those fairy tales go. The princess gets beautiful, nabs her prince, falls instantly in love, lives happily ever after and leaves her evil stepsisters in the dust.

But what happens when you’re the ugly stepsister and your obnoxiously perfect—read pretty, smart, and, worst of all, sickeningly nice—stepsister is dating the charming, tall, devastatingly handsome guy you’ve had a thing for since you were nine years old?

Quirky, artistic and snarky Mattie Lowe does not lead a charmed life. Her mother is constantly belittling her on Skype. Mercedes, the school mean girl, has made it her personal mission to torment Mattie. But worst of all? Her stepsister Ella is the most beautiful, popular girl in school and is dating Mattie’s secret longtime crush, Jake Kingston.

Tired of being left out and done with waiting for her own stupid fairy godmother to show up, Mattie decides to change her life. She’ll start by running for senior class president against wildly popular Jake.

Ella can keep her Prince Annoying. Mattie’s going to rule the school.

And no one, not even a cute and suddenly flirty Jake, is going to stop her." (Amazon summary)

I really enjoyed reading the Ugly Step-sister Strikes Back. Loosely framed around Cinderella fairy tale tropes, this novel  is told from the perspective of a jealous stepsister named Mattie Lowe. Mattie is aggrieved at her inability to compete with her workaholic, absolutely gorgeous, and successful step-sister Ella, especially when Ella starts dating the guy that Mattie has loved since fourth grade.  The novel has a wonderful voice and a plot line full of un-put-downable tension.  I felt that the first several chapters had a few moments of choppy narrative where the narrator slowed the prose down by being repetitive, but these choppy moments disappeared as the story got rolling. I loved how all the characters grew throughout the novel and the fact that Mattie had a back bone and self-respect. Mattie was fun to root for because she remained true to herself even when she was a little nerdy. 
Visit author's website

Since I review this book as part of a blog tour hosted by I Am a Reader Not a Writer there is a fun giveaway.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

The Wind and the Waves by Dean Hughes

The Wind and the Waves by Dean Hughes
"Will Lewis is stuck. the class system in England in the 1840s seems destined to keep him in his place as a poor tenant farmer who cannot improve his lot and will never be able to marry the woman he loves. But the "new religion" that is sweeping through congregations of the United Brethren, Will's church, may hold the key to the better life he longs for. As he listens to the preaching of Wilford Woodruff, he almost dares to hope for the Zion the young Apostle describes.
Will's struggles to believe and to face the rigors of immigrating to an unknown land are paralleled by the modern-day story of Jeff and Abby, a young married couple facing challenges of their own. When Jeff begins digging into his family history, he finds himself particularly drawn to "Grandpa Lewis," an ancestor whose life was more like his than he would have imagined.The skillful interweaving of these two stories brings Church history to life while demonstrating how much we can learn from those who went before us. Anyone who has ever faced the winds and the waves, in some form, will love this novel."
I know there are a ton of church history novels that are set in England and whose main plot center around conversion and traveling to Zion. Yet, this story was fleshed out so well, and gave an amount of detail about the life and opportunities of tenant farmers  that I found myself immerse in the historical narrative and the road blocks that it put solidly in the  main characters path. Indeed, I also loved how patiently Will had to wait for the Lord to answer his prayers. I loved how even when he did set out to Zion he wondered if he was making a mistake.  The characters felt so human as they dealt with their trials and struggled with their faith. 

The story lines about Jeff and Abby however did not impress me as much. Their situation was not ideal, but they never had to struggle hard for a backup plan. Their shelter was provided by parents or by an acquaintance who offered to let them live in their house when they were on a mission. So, while their situation was not what they planned and slightly uncomfortable, they did not experience the type of highs and lows that were in the parallel historical storyline.  This made their story feel weak in comparison to Will's experiences. Though, I loved the idea of them connecting to their family history to find strength and reassurance at a difficult time.

Overall, despite the fact that Jeff’s storyline wasn’t as strong as their historical counterparts I still really enjoyed this novel and was really touched by the themes and character experiences explored in the book. I think Hughes did an excellent job crafting this story and portraying both the heights of faith and struggles of mortality.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Not Your Average Fairy Tale by Chantele Sedwick

Not Your Average Fairy Tale by Cantele Sedgwick

"Ash Summerland has it all–good looks, popularity, and the best grades at The Academy of Magical Beings. Ready to complete his last assignment in order to graduate, Ash is confident he will get the apprenticeship he wants. When he opens the letter from the Council, he is shocked to discover he has been assigned to apprentice Lady Shenelle, Keeper of Happy Endings. A.K.A. the head fairy godmother. Ash is forced to grant three wishes to a troubled human girl named Kendall, and ultimately give her a "happy ever after". But Kendall turns out to be more than he bargained for. Still grieving over her father's death, Kendall doesn't want anything to do with him. And worst of all, she doesn't believe in happy endings." (summary from author's website)

I really enjoyed the voice of the main character in this one. Ash is a likable male protagonist and I love the humor that was involved in making him a fairy godmother. It is fun to watch him grow as a character as he comes to care about people instead of just completing his assignments. The ending was a little rushed in some parts, but introduces some very interesting conflicts for the sequel. I also really liked the world that the author created. It feels like fairy tale retellings are female centric these days so it was interesting to see how the author made a place in the clichĂ©s for a real teenage guy characters. Overall, I really did enjoy this light-hearted, humorous fantasy story, and thought it was really fun to read.

Visit Chantele Sedgwick website
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