Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Yesterday's Promise by Michele Paige Holmes

Yesterday's Promise (Hearthfire Scottish Historical, #1)Yesterday's Promise by Michele Paige Holmes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVED this book and was blown away by how incredible her use of flashbacks to move the story forward was masterful and suspenseful. The history was effortlessly woven into the story and even though the characters are in a much different time and situation, I felt I could relate to them. The history and the romance were flawlessly well written, making a time and place I'd never read about come alive! I learned a lot about this time period and beyond learning, I feel like I could understand the motivations behind the historical actions, which is much more complex and difficult to do well. I adored this book and even though this is part of a series, it can totally stand on its own. The story is going to be continued, and I'm anxiously awaiting that, but it ended in a way that satisfied me. Basically, Michele Paige Holmes just perfectly nailed some of the most potentially aggravating parts of books (for me), in a beautiful way! There was just a touch of supernatural, but it was done in a very realistic, believable way. It was super clean, and I'd rate it PG for mild violence/action. Reading this book prompted me to go and read Michele Paige Holmes's English Hearthfire series - and like this book, so worth the read!!

View all my reviews

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Judging a Book By Its Cover

Book, Read, Old, Literature, Pages
Judging a book by its cover... Okay, I know I do this - and not just with books. I've learned a lot about snap judgement and while they are good from a biological standpoint to protect us, they are sometimes harmful in working and associating with people. One of the authors that I really like recently had a dilemma: she wrote this incredible book (trust me, it is - see here), which had gotten rave reviews and awards, but was having a hard time getting people to pick it up. Now is where I feel a little guilty...I was one of those people. The Dragons of Alsace Farm had been on my Kindle, on my to read list for MONTHS.... but I always passed it up, choosing to go with something more comfortable and "known" - AKA, pretty cover, predictable setup, author I'd read more from (and knew at least a little of what I was getting into), etc.

Part of her proposed solution to the dilemma was changing the cover. I was intrigued, but I really didn't know enough about the story to help. So when I scrolled through my kindle, trying to figure out what to read next, I realized now was my chance to read this book. It was INCREDIBLE! Does the cover do it justice, no not really, but it relates to the story. Yes, the title ties into the story wonderfully, but from a quick glance, I think "dragon" = fantasy, which isn't really what this story is about. So back to the author's original dilemma (changing the title isn't an option because it is up for awards, etc.) - how do you make a cover to attract the right audience?

This is an interesting question - not only from an author's perspective, but also from a graphic designer's (which I am not, but I appreciate), and a reader's. What makes me pick up the books that I do? What vibes is the cover consciously and subconsciously giving off? How does someone who might have never even read the book design a cover that will attract the people who would love this book? Is it a game of association?

Honestly, as a reader, I've become pretty attuned to certain key words. I know what I like, and I know what I don't (and want to avoid).

Avoid: heat, steam, etc.
Look for: sweet, clean, Christian (sometimes), inspiring, well-written, etc.

What do you look for in covers? Are there words/images you avoid?

The Dragons of Alsace Farm

The Dragons of Alsace FarmThe Dragons of Alsace Farm by Laurie L.C. Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I don't know exactly what I was expecting, but I wasn't expecting this beautiful, heart-wrenching story! The story was masterfully written. The characters and their flaws and struggles were so relateable and perfect for the story and themes that were told. The different types of love that is shared between characters in this book is really neat - there's romantic love, but also familial love, love of friendship, and love of place. The characters dealt with some pretty tough situations, but the author handled them respectfully, and not in a graphic way. I'd rate this PG, maybe PG-13 because of the comparisons of dementia and thoughts of suicide. Intense topics, but handled very well.

View all my reviews

FYI from fabulous author Lisa Swinton's review: "First, you should know there are no mythical beast dragons in this book. Dragons are a metaphor for dark thoughts, demons from the past, and fears that need confronting and slaying." I loved the use of this metaphor - it was so strong, but I understand how it can be misleading to potential readers

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Summer Book Trek is FINALLY here!

I love this book trek so much! I've been participating it for so many years! It is fantastic! It is a great way to read and review book by LDS authors! You don't have to be LDS to participate, you just have to enjoy books by LDS authors! Check it out here!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

$100 Blast: Indigo Bay Sweet Romance Series

Escape to Indigo Bay…
Six authors. Six Sweet Romances. One small South Carolina beach town.
Sweet Dreams by Stacy Claflin
Ever since her twin became a singing sensation, Sky Hampton has struggled to be appreciated for who she is—apart from her sister. She wards off Aspen’s fans, who beg for autographs and selfies everywhere Sky goes. She can’t even find a guy who likes her for her. Sky flees to the small coastal town of Indigo Bay in hopes of blending in and building her blossoming career.
Jace Fisher is the textbook definition of the strong silent type—nobody can break through his tough exterior. He has suffered more than his fair share of tragedies, and to protect his shattered heart, he pushes everyone away. Jace spends his days fixing the Indigo Bay cottages, and his nights… nobody really knows. He keeps to himself.
When Jace shows up to fix Sky’s AC, he barely notices her and she’s distracted with settling in. It takes an emergency situation to get them talking, and when they do, the two find they have more in common than first appeared. As their attraction grows, defenses soar. Will they be able to risk love when they’ve both been burned in the past?
Amazon | Apple | Kobo | Nook | Google
Sweet Matchmaker by Jean Oram
Ginger McGinty hates liars. And she just married a spy.
Bridal shop owner Ginger McGinty excels at matchmaking unless it’s for herself. That is, until she meets the dreamy Aussie who helps her get into an event meant for engaged couples. Logan Stone is sweet, caring, thoughtful and fun—everything she desires in a man. But it turns out, her new fake fiancé could use a bit more than just a pretend engagement to get him into parties—he needs a quick marriage keep him in the country so he can be with his adopted special needs daughter.
With a marriage of convenience pro-con list longer than the average wedding veil, Ginger puts her faith in romance and offers Logan her hand in return for one thing—no lies.
But little does she know, almost everything she knows about her new husband is based on a lie.
Everything except his kisses and the way he accidentally spills his soul whenever they meet. And that’s quickly becoming a problem for Logan Stone who depends on distance and deceit to keep civilians such as Ginger safe from his enemy’s clutches.
Will the two find love in their marriage of convenience, or will everything break apart when the truth rises to the surface, shattering everything, including their trust?
Amazon | Apple | Kobo | Nook | Google
Sweet Sunrise by Kay Correll
Sometimes life has a way of teaching lessons whether you’re ready to learn them or not…
The last place on earth Will Layton wants to be is Indigo Bay, but his younger sister needs him and he’s never been able to say no to her. But she left out a few details… like their father staying with her and the girl who dumped him years ago is living right next door.
The last person Dr. Ashley Harden thought she’d see in Indigo Bay is Will Layton, but he’s back in town and just as irresistible as when they were young. Seeing Will again is a complication that isn’t on her carefully mapped out life plan.
In spite of Ashley’s best intentions, she starts falling for Will again, but nothing has changed. She’s still focused on getting the townspeople to accept her and see her as more than the girl from the wrong side of town, while Will is determined to guard his heart at any cost.
Not the easiest road to true love… especially when secrets from the past are revealed and history threatens to repeat itself.
Amazon | Apple | Kobo | Nook | Google
Sweet Illusions by Jeanette Lewis
Eva Malone was very young when her mother forced the family to join a violent doomsday cult, but she remembers a little about how normal life used to be. As a young woman, she escapes the cult and relocates to Indigo Bay, South Carolina to pursue her dream of peaceful anonymity.
After several tumultuous years as a policeman in Atlanta, Ben Andrews has had enough. He returns home to Indigo Bay and joins the Indigo Bay PD, where the most exciting part of the job is getting a kitten out of a tree or rescuing tourists who lose their keys at the beach.
Eva and Ben are immediately drawn to each other. But as the prophesied date of the apocalypse draws near and the cult steps up its efforts to find her, Eva realizes she can’t maintain her sweet illusion forever.
Amazon | Apple | Kobo | Nook | Google
Sweet Regrets by Jennifer Peel
Melanie Dixon never thought she would find herself divorced, pregnant, and living back with her parents in Indigo Bay. Not one to let misfortune get the best of her, she picks up the broken pieces of her life and bit by bit puts them back together. She’s determined to go it alone, but her loving and equally determined family and friends have another idea.
Enter Declan Shaw, the boy next door from long ago. The boy she wasn’t quite ready to commit forever to at eighteen. Back in Indigo Bay due to a recent job promotion, Declan sees this as a second chance to reunite with the girl who has owned his heart since the day they met in their junior year of high school. But Melanie is a tougher sell on the idea than he thought she would be. Now it’s up to him to prove to Melanie that she can trust him with her heart and that he’s the man she and her baby deserve.
Will the regret and hurt of the past win out? Or will love prevail?
Amazon | Apple | Kobo | Nook | Google
Sweet Rendezvous by Danielle Stewart
On her last tank of gas Elaine Mathews drives South. Spontaneity had never been her strength, but there was something about being publicly fired that had a way of changing things. An empty bank account, broken heart, and enough humiliation to last a life time was all Elaine could claim as her own. Her car choked to a stop in the quiet beach town of Indigo Bay and all she could do was sit on the curb and wait for the sun to set on her misery.
Davis Mills has a routine. Wake. Work. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. It hadn’t always been that way. He’d left indigo bay once and returned a broken man. Now he kept his dreams small and his schedule tight. If there was no room in his life for anything new then he’d never repeat his mistakes.
When fate has them, quite literally colliding Elaine and Davis are faced with an important question. Can you live a full life if you never take a risk? Or is life made up of every mistake, miracle and chance that comes with being in love?
Amazon | Apple | Kobo | Nook | Google
amazon or paypal$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway
Ends 7/17/17
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 and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

If I Only Had Today

This post has been in the making for a while. Just over a week ago, Chad Seely, a dear family friend suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. He was only 45. He and his wife have been stellar examples and teachers for me - I had the wonderful opportunity to have them as my Sunday School teachers for a whole year! They truly lived what they taught and am so grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to know and associate with them.

Chad’s passing affected me more than I expected. My grandpa (Grandpa "Perfect") passed away a little over a year ago, and while it was hard, it was time - he was in a lot of pain and had lived a good life. For the last few years, my family and I realized that our time with him was limited, so we treated our time with him like we knew it might be the last time we saw him, talked to him, and made jokes with him. With my family friend, nobody knew that his time was growing short.

This got me thinking: if I or someone I know pretty well passed away suddenly, what would my biggest regret be? I think it would be the things I never said. Although I'd like to think I express my appreciation pretty often, there are still things I haven't said that I wished I had. Little things like "thank you for calling me that day or for the example you set for so many years".

This has been a bit of a wakeup call - when I think about thanking someone, I automatically think, "no, I have to do it in a pretty card and it has to be PERFECT". With Chad's passing, I am reminded that no one's time on earth is guaranteed and it's better to have a simple text that they actually read than a gorgeous card that is never seen.

In at least one of President Monson's talks, he quoted John Greenleaf Whittier's "Maude Muller",

For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’”

President Monson, in his talk, Love - The Essence of the Gospel said, “Usually our love will be shown in our day-to-day interactions one with another. All important will be our ability to recognize someone’s need and then to respond. I have always cherished the sentiment expressed in the short poem:

I have wept in the night
For the shortness of sight
That to somebody’s need made me blind;
But I never have yet
Felt a tinge of regret
For being a little too kind.” (Author unknown)
This was a poignant reminder to me to fully LIVE life and not just let it pass me by. You never know when that moment won't be there anymore. What am I waiting for?! What is holding me back? How do I want to be remembered? If another friend were to pass away, would they know what they meant to me and how they impacted my life?
I took this heart - I thought of my former boss and how grateful I was for her influence and example, so I texted her. This revived a connection and created an opportunity to stay in contact. Lately, if I think about someone, I send them a message, see how they are doing, or thank them for the example they have been (and maybe tell them how much I appreciate seeing cute pictures of their baby...). It's may not be earth-shattering, but thinking about if I only had today has helped me to be more mindful of those around me, especially those I love.
If I Only Had Today by Hillary Weeks

*This song is beautiful with wonderful lyrics (included below) and helped me to develop and process my thoughts for this post.

If I Only Had Today - HILARY WEEKS
It seems like I've watched a million sunsets
And stared at a thousand full moons.
Sometimes it feels like I've been here forever
And sometimes it all feels brand new.

I could never count the heartbeats
From the day I was born until now.
But not a single one goes unnoticed
By Him who breathes life in me somehow.

But if there were no more tomorrows
If I knew that I could not stay.
I know how I'd spend every minute.
If only I had today.

I'd hold you and listen
And I'd let the dishes sit in the sink.
I'd tell you I loved you over and over
And for once I'd just let the phone ring.
Then I'd remind you of forever
And how our love would never change.
If I only had today.

I'd wake up before the sun did
And I'd watch as you quietly sleep.
I'd pray for time to move slowly
Knowing the moment won't keep.
All the gifts that Heaven has given
Every blessing that's come my way.
Wouldn't mean anything without you

So if I only had today.
I'd hold you and listen
I'd memorize every detail of you face.
I'd tell you I loved you over and over
I wouldn't let excuses get in the way.
Then I'd remind you of forever
And how our love would never change.
If I only had today.

There's no time like the present.
Life doesn't come with any guarantees.
The sun will set and time won't wait
So while I have today:
I'll hold you and listen
And I'd let the dishes sit in the sink.
I'll tell you I loved you over and over
And for once I'll just let the phone ring.
Then I'll remind you of forever
And how our love would never change.
If I only had today.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

This novella packs a punch! - A Midwinter's Wedding: A Four Kingdoms Novella

By Melanie Cellier
The Four Kingdoms #3.5


This was a fantastic novella! Even though it was short, it still had phenomenal character development and progression. Great balance of romance and adventure, all in a beautiful take on a fairytale that is done very well!

For more by this author and in this series, click here

*This is available for purchase and on Kindle Unlimited. Don't know what Kindle Unlimited is, check it out here!