Wednesday, July 30, 2014

UNRAVELED: A TALE OF TRUE LOVE by Julie Daines

"It's thoroughly researched, expertly crafted, and it will sweep you off your feet with its beauty." -UCW 

When sickness swept through Bronwen’s family, it took the life of her father, brother, and sister, and left her permanently crippled. On the stormy eve of her sixteenth birthday, a faerie-witch gifts her a pair of enchanted shoes. Bronwen slips them on and is healed--but only when the shoes are on her feet. Her grace and beauty catches the eye of the king’s son--Urien, a handsome young man who prides himself on having everything perfect. 

When Rhys, an old acquaintance and Captain of the Guard, recognizes Bronwen, he threatens to tell Urien her secret. Desperate to keep her deformity hidden and not to lose the love of handsome Urien, Bronwen quickly finds herself tangled in a web of lies and deceit. After all, she can't wear the shoes forever.


This story has so much to offer: folklore, romance and magical shoes. What girl can pass up magical shoes? Not poor, crippled Bronwyn. When she is given the opportunity to wear shoes that will make her withered legs straight, she takes it. Only, the shoes came from a faerie witch.
Bronwyn travels to court where she is noticed, and sought after, by the prince. But she also catches the eye of a male friend from her village who knows she is crippled. Will he keep her secret? Will she be able to keep the magical shoes a secret from the prince? And can Bronwyn maintain her integrity while trying to figure out what her heart already knows?
While I wanted to throttle Bronwyn for not be truthful, I felt her pain and cheered her on until the end.

Julie has produced another fantastic book that draws in the reader quickly and thoroughly.

5 STARS

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

OLD WEST COLLECTION (A Timeless Romance Anthology)

A TIMELESS ROMANCE ANTHOLOGY: OLD WEST COLLECTION: Readers will love this collection of six historical western novellas, all with one thing in common: Romance.

In BREAK A LEG, a charming story by two-time Rita Award winner Carla Kelly, hospital steward Colm Callahan is ready to move away from army life at Fort Laramie. His only regret is leaving behind exotic Ozzie Washington, easily the prettiest woman on the post. As a maid to the lieutenant colonel's wife, Ozzie is no wilting flower when it comes to hard work. When the post surgeon leaves for an extended week, Colm must handle several medical emergencies on his own. He pleads for Ozzie's help at the hospital. While they spend long days and nights working together, Colm, a shy man, realizes he can't hide the truth of his feelings for Ozzie. He needs a little help, though. Enter from stage left, Lysander Locke, Shakespeare tragedian on his way to Deadwood.

THE SOLDIER'S HEART, an enchanting novella by Sarah M. Eden, follows Gregory Reeves has fallen in love with a woman he's never met. Her brother's dying wish is that Gregory checks on his family, and after the war, Gregory is only too happy to meet the woman he's been dreaming about. Helene mistakes him for a hired hand and sets him to work immediately. As time passes, Gregory finds it more and more difficult to reveal his true connection to her family, fearing that a woman who loathes liars will turn her disapproval on him.

HIDDEN SPRING is an enthralling novella by Liz Adair, in which Susannah Brown is just getting her life back together after becoming a widow. She still misses Wesley with a fierce longing, but when she meets his half-brother, Douglas, she learns her heart is not completely dormant. Over the next several weeks, Douglas helps Susannah with repairs on her small ranch in exchange for supper. The exchange becomes more and more meaningful as Susannah realizes that Douglas might be the one to finally heal her heart.

THE SILVER MINE BACHELOR, by Heather B. Moore, is a sweet romance between an unlikely pair. Lydia Stone has a checklist for men who qualify as the eligible bachelors in the mining town of Leadville, Colorado. Her new boss, Mr. Erik Dawson, is about to be struck off the list when she sees him coming out of the town brothel. Lydia doesn't know that Erik Dawson's sister has been living the brothel lifestyle for years, and he's set on redeeming her soul. When Lydia discovers Erik's secrets, she learns that life is not as black and white as she thinks.

In Annette Lyon's delightful story, THE SWEETEST TASTE, Della Stafford hates being a farm girl in the tiny town of Shelley, Idaho. She'll do anything to live in a big city and experience real city life. Her only regret is that she'd have to leave Joseph behind, the young man who makes her heart flutter. But she's convinced that moving away is for the best; her dreams and Joseph's dreams are too dissimilar. Then Della takes a job as a maid in Los Angeles and must face the truth that what she thought would make her happy and what really will are totally different things.

In the captivating novella, FAITH AND THE FOREMAN by Marsha Ward, Faith Bannister is forced to travel west to earn a living as a school mistress in Arizona Territory. Faith soon learns that living the frontier lifestyle of a single woman has many harsh challenges. But when she meets Slim McHenry, she discovers that life doesn't have to be so lonely. Unfortunately the dangerous Rance Hunter stands between her and Slim, and she must act with courage before everything is lost.


I didn't know I was a closet lover of western romance but I am! If a good, sweet, tender romantic cowboy is what you enjoy reading about (and wishing there were more of them in the world), then you will want to buy this collection
And if you've read any of these ladies books and loved them, you know you're going to love this collection.Each story is unique and will keep you reading long past bedtime.. 
A good, clean read that won't make your grandma blush. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

ELEMENTAL HUNGER by Elana Johnson

Sixteen-year-old Gabriella Kilpatrick can shoot fire from her hands, which would be great if she didn’t get blamed for a blazing inferno that kills 17 schoolmates. When Gabby is commanded to Manifest her Element, everyone knows what she is: a genetic abnormality. Not to mention guilty.

So she does two logical things to survive.
1. She runs.
2. She hacks off her hair to assume a new role—that of “Gabe”, because in her world, only boys are Firemakers.

Not only does she have to act like a guy, she has to pretend to know everything a Firemaker should know. When Gabby meets Airmaster Adam Gillman, he believes her act and pledges to serve on “Gabe’s” Council. But Adam has the mark of a sentry and spent years obeying Alex, the Supreme Elemental. And Alex wants Gabby-the-genetic-freak dead and gone before she can gather the magical protection of a full Council.

With Adam’s lies that sound like truths and rumors that Alex isn’t really a Firemaker—or a man—Gabby sets out to charter a Council of her own. In order to uncover the truth, Gabby will have to learn who she can trust, how to control her own power, and most of all, how to lead a Council of Elementals, most of whom have more control over their power than she does. If she can’t, she’ll find herself just like those 17 schoolmates: burned and six feet under.


Do you need a good book to read this summer? One that will keep you intrigued and thinking and wondering? And reading? Well, this book is for you.
This is another fantastic, can't-put-the-book down, ohmyword plot twist story by Elana Coolness Johnson. 
A dystopian fantasy with believable characters and a harsh world and... you should just buy it.




Wednesday, July 9, 2014

WOMEN of the BOOK of MORMON by Heather B. Moore Re-read 2014

Explore the lives, circumstances, and choices of women in the Book of Mormon in this uplifting and inspiring volume that illustrates the parallels between the lives of the women of the Book of Mormon and LDS women today. With new insights on practically every page, author Heather B. Moore explores the written and unwritten stories of the prominent women in the Book of Mormon, taking familiar material and providing vivid details about family dynamics, domestic practices, and other aspects of daily life. By exploring historic and cultural contexts to the situations of women like Sariah, Abish, Eve, Mary, and the faithful mothers of the stripling warriors, you will peek beneath the surface of the scriptural accounts to better understand both the righteous women of the Book of Mormon, and the women who didn't use their agency wisely.

I'm finishing up the Book of Mormon again and wanted something a little different for my scripture study. I studied every woman mentioned in the Book of Mormon. LOVED IT.

Heather gives great insight into what these women might have been going through or how they lived or what the era was like and how it likely influenced these women. I grew to love them more and to soften towards those who I viewed as bad influences, such as the daughter of Jared. What she must have lived through as she watched her family being destroyed, all because of what she started. 
Great book. I highly recommend this read!

5 STARS

Monday, February 3, 2014

Uncluttering my year with Ann Rice

  “On writing, my advice is the same to all. If you want to be a writer, write. Write and write and write. If you stop, start again. Save everything that you write. If you feel blocked, write through it until you feel your creative juices flowing again. Write. Writing is what makes a writer, nothing more and nothing less. — Ignore critics. Critics are a dime a dozen. Anybody can be a critic. Writers are priceless. —- Go where the pleasure is in your writing. Go where the pain is. Write the book you would like to read. Write the book you have been trying to find but have not found. But write. And remember, there are no rules for our profession. Ignore rules. Ignore what I say here if it doesn’t help you. Do it your own way. — Every writer knows fear and discouragement. Just write. — The world is crying for new writing. It is crying for fresh and original voices and new characters and new stories. If you won’t write the classics of tomorrow, well, we will not have any. Good luck.” ― Anne Rice


Even though this quote is a little long, I love it. Write, write, ignore the rules, write what you want to read, just write.

In my head at the beginning of the year I wondered what I wanted out of this writing adventure. I want to finish and publish three books, came the reply. Then I need to kick it into gear. That led to the next thought: I want to be known as the hardest working writer this year. I kind of giggled at that last goal idea and went along my merry way.

Throughout the next few days I went to the library or other places to write and edit. Any free time I had at home I was writing and editing. One day after my brain was fried and could no longer be in writing mode, I went through my emails and deleted and unsubscribed for over an hour. That felt good. Other areas in my life started getting purged and soon I realized what was happening. The goal to be the hardest writer had imbedded itself inside me and I was subconsciously helping it along by cutting out unnecessary extra curricular "stuff."

I've totally cut back on reviewing and blogging, social media and review request. I don't feel I have time if I want to get ahead on my writing and reading. I want, no, I need this year to be about polishing and submitting and publishing.

 My tummy tickles when I think about moving forward in such a bold way and I'm excited to see where 2014 leads me!

What about you? What are you accomplishing this year?


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

SUGAR COATED by Shannon Crane Camp

An unhealthy addiction to sugar cubes, a deep-seated fear of water, and universal luxury—these are the simple things that make up 18-year-old Brynn's Utopian existence. Why, then, is her perfect life also plagued with unanswered questions?

Like every other resident of the planet Halcyon, Brynn's home provides everything she needs, money is unheard of, and life is perfect. But unlike the rest of Seaside's residents, Brynn has questions. Why can't people leave the city? Why does the ocean fill everyone with terror? Who are the Workers? Not only is Brynn curious where others are compliant, but she suffers from chronic nightmares of an angelic woman torturing her for information she doesn’t possess. But these are more than just figments of her imagination; they're memories of things that never happened.

When Brynn meets Jonah, a brilliant, library-dwelling boy who shares her questions and her curiosity, they formulate a plan to find answers. Somewhere, the perfect veneer of Halcyon's instant gratification hides a city that only Brynn knows about—a city she and Jonah are determined to find. But will finding the city give them answers, or simply uncover the horrific truth behind the perfection?


First line:
"Blinding white lights flashed into life, revealing a room less cavernous and imposing than she had expected."

3 Things I liked about SUGAR COATED:
1. The house!
2. Brynn
3. The world

Very cool, dystopian world building. I couldn't figure out the government system or the rules. Everything is perfect where Brynn lives. When a person reaches eighteen, they can move into their own house. And design it or furnish it anyway they want. They just tell their house want they want. Or if they need a Tylenol, they ask. They also name their houses. "I need two pain pills, Charlie." Out of the dispenser comes two pills. Cool. And whatever Brynn wants to wear, the house 'makes' it. I couldn't help but think of iRobots as I read.
I liked Brynn and her bravery and curiosity. She had questions outside of the answers the citizens were always told. She braved going to the beach, then down the beach, then into the ocean, even after being told all her life the ocean is dangerous and kills. Brynn has close friends, including Ty. Their lives are about clothes and parties and hanging out. But it isn't until after Brynn meets Jonah that she finds someone as curious as she is.
The world was intriguing enough to keep me interested without 'telling' me all about it. They could go to the store, order a shirt and the store would 'make' it right then. How? Brynn took a train once-a-month to visit another city. The train had no windows. Why? The characters rarely spoke of their parents or families. Only that at a certain age, they were on their own. There were many questions building up in my mind and not until the end did I get answers. And even then I'm not sure I understood the answers.
The book is an interesting and clean read. I think many YA readers would enjoy it.


 This story moves along and spins its tale. and
Rating: PG 13
V: No
L: No
S: Kissing

Liked: 
World building
TY (especially toward the end)

Disliked:
Ending

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

DESCENDANT by Nicole Giles

 Seventeen-year-old Abigail Johnson is Gifted.

Blessed—or cursed—with Sight and Healing, Abby lives an unsettled life, moving from place to place and staying one step ahead of the darkness that hunts her. When she arrives in Jackson, Wyoming, she is desperate to maintain the illusion of normalcy, but she is plagued with visions of past lives mixed with frightening glimpses of her future. Then she meets Kye, a mysterious boy who seems so achingly familiar that Abby is drawn to him like he’s a missing piece of her own soul.

Before Abby can discover the reason for her feelings toward Kye, the darkness catches up to her and she is forced to flee again. But this time she’s not just running. She is fighting back with Kye at her side, and it’s not just Abby’s life at stake.


First line:
 "Kye's white shirt is drenched with blood."

Right from the first page, this good, clean book is action packed and hard to put down. Abby Johnson is Gifted with Sight and Healing. She is drawn to Kye who is also Gifted. Together they must stop a mad man who wants to kill all the Gifted.
The past and present woven together was intriguing. Well written without tons of romance drama, I enjoyed this story.
I did skim some of the history as to why Kye and Abby are Gifted but what I read I liked, it was very imaginative.

Rating: PG
V: Fighting
L: No
S: Kissing

Liked:
Pacing
Story
Abby

Disliked:
Her publisher going under.

4 STARS