Friday, May 27, 2016

Splash into Summer Giveaway Hop



My kids are officially out of school and I don't have to work until August.  Summer has begun in my home.

A Giveaway Hop is a great way to celebrate!

I will be gifting a book to one lucky winner.  The best part is that you get to choose which book you want to read this summer.  The winner will pick their book up to  $15 (US) from the Book Depository, or if you live in the US from Amazon.



There will be one winner.  Use the rafflecopter form to enter.  Please read the terms and conditions on the right.  They are also posted in the bottom of the form.

Have a Wonderful Summer!!

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Blog Tour ~ "Just Claire" by Jean Ann Williams + tour giveaway




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Just Claire by Jean Ann Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: Received to Review
Genre: Tween Coming of Age


Book Description:  ClaireLee’s life changes when she must take charge of her siblings and depressed mother, and she finds relief in the lies she tells herself and others. Frightened by the changes in Mama, ClaireLee just knows she’ll catch her illness like a cold or flu that hangs on through winter. Deciding she needs to re-invent herself, she sets out to impress a group of popular girls. 

At the slip of an untruth, she deceives her way into the Lavender Girls Club. Though, her best friend Belinda will not be caught with the likes of such shallow puddles. ClaireLee drifts further from honesty, her friend, and a broken mother’s love, until one very public night. The spotlight is on her, and she finds her courage and faces the truth and then she saves a life. 



My thoughts: Claire is 13. She has just moved from her home in Oregon when her mother gives birth to child #5. The labor is hard and her mother and infant brother are rushed to the hospital. This even sends her world into chaos. She becomes the mother figure and has to take care of her younger siblings and home.

Claire just wants to belong. She wants friends. She wants acknowledgement. She wants her mother to come out of the haze that she has been living in. She tries to keep her family together. A position that a 13 year old girl should not be in.

This story is a coming of age story. Claire learns many lessons and grows during the time period of the story. The lessons of friendship, fitting in, telling the truth, and the responsibilities of all of them change her life for the better.


Purchase an eBook copy for $2.99


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PictureAuthor Jean Ann Williams, the eldest in a large family, enjoys digging into her fascinating childhood to create stories for children. Having written over one hundred articles for children and adults, this is her first book. Jean Ann and her husband live on one acre where they raise a garden, goats, and chickens. Her favorite hobbies are hiking through the woods and practicing archery with her bow.

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A wool pea jacket cut between ClaireLee and a boy in the
line. Nervous, she counted from the bottom eight black buttons all
the way to the collar. The girl wearing the coat was head and
shoulders taller than her. Peacoat crinkled her nose, while
ClaireLee squinted at the raised scar running from eye to chin.
Cocking her one good brow, Peacoat sized up—or more like
sized down—ClaireLee. Her voice boomed in the outside hallway.
“Ya must be in fourth grade, so you take the right side in my
classroom.”
She pointed to herself. “I’m in sixth, so I’m on the left.”
Rolling her eyes, ClaireLee disliked it when someone
believed they knew all about her. Fourth grade, my eye. Besides, she
had things to think on. Why hadn’t Mama and Daddy come home?
She had watched for their station wagon on the short walk to
school. Then, there was Lolly, and ClaireLee clutched the handle of
her lunch box. Lolly will eat with me at lunch.
Peacoat’s rude mouth interrupted ClaireLee’s mute
conversation. “Hey, I’m talking to ya, squirt.”
Without blinking a lash, ClaireLee glared at her.
Her mouth open, Peacoat placed her hands on her hips.
“Why ya gawkin’ at me?”
“What does gawkin’ mean?”
“You’re as tough as a banty rooster, ain’t ya?” Peacoat burst
out laughing.
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a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Monday, May 23, 2016

Love is Come by Heather B. Moore

Love is Come by Heather B. MooreLove is Come by Heather B. Moore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Source: Received to Review
Genre: Historical Romance

Book Description:  “I have to remind myself to breathe—almost to remind my heart to beat.” —Wuthering Heights 

From the Power of the Matchmaker series: LOVE IS COME 

Nelle Thompson lives a life of privilege during the turn of the century New York City. When her parents are killed in a terrible accident, she’s forced to live with her aunt’s family in a small town in Connecticut, and treated as a poor relation with no financial independence. Broken hearted and riddled with insomnia, Nelle’s health begins a downward spiral. When a locked part of her heart blossoms around her cousin’s fiancĂ© Mathew Janson, Nelle doesn’t know if she can endure one more heartbreak. Miss Pearl, owner of the local apothecary shop, becomes a mother figure to Nelle, but a fateful summer day has Nelle questioning everything she's ever believed and wondering if she’ll ever love again.



My thoughts: This story drew me in and kept me reading quickly until the end. This is a wonderful addition to the Power of the Matchmaker series. The series is made up of stand-alone books that have one central character in common. Pearl is a Chinese matchmaker who has her own heartbreak that drives her to help others find love.

This was the first full length story to have a historical fiction setting. I loved the change from the other books. It added a new dimension to Pearl's history and longevity as a matchmaker. As in all of the books, the power of love has a magical quality due to Pearl's influence.

Nelle is an amazing young woman who has suffered the tragic loss of her parents. She is left basically to her own devices until she turns 21. She decides to live in the country with her aunt and cousin, but finds that it is not the haven she hoped for. Pearl is the lady that she can turn to for direction and comfort.

Nelle's love story was well told. She finds herself attracted to Mathew, who is her cousin's fiancee. She faces rejection on many levels that leave her doubting herself. To me this is a story of healing and in the process being someone who can love and be loved.

This installment of the series has solidified my love for the books and left me wanting more.



Where can you purchase a copy?


Heather B. Moore
About the Author:  (taken from Goodreads)  Heather B. Moore is a USA Today bestselling author, with a dozen historical thrillers written under the pen name H.B. Moore. Latest is Finding Sheba (will be re-released Feb 2015 through Thomas & Mercer). Under Heather B. Moore she writes romance and women’s fiction and inspirational non-fiction, latest is The Fortune Cafe. Her various author names can be confusing so her kids just call her Mom.


Visit her blog for writing and book signing updates: http://mywriterslair.blogspot.com

Sign up for Heather's newsletter or email her with accolades at: www.hbmoore.com

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Proposals and Poison by Rachelle J. Christensen

Proposals and PoisonProposals and Poison by Rachelle J. Christensen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: Received to Review
Genre: Mystery/Romance

Book Description:  Love can be a very dangerous thing. 
At least it seems that way to Adri Pyper, the premier wedding planner in Sun Valley, Idaho. When one of her clients dies mysteriously, Adri takes the advice of the local detective and swears she will stay out of the investigation . . . this time. Luke Stetson's involvement in the case, along with the possibility of a kiss between the two, should be enough incentive to keep Adri out of trouble. But when a dog-themed wedding is almost ruined by a suspect, Adri and her assistant, Lorea, are thrust into private eye mode. When poison enters the picture, even a reluctant sleuth can’t steer clear of danger.

My thoughts: Proposals and Poison is a wonderful addition to Rachelle J. Christensen's Wedding Planner Mysteries. This is the third book in the series. You can follow along and read this book without reading the first two, but there is a lot of history between Adri and her love interest, Luke. This book had me wanting to read more about them and to see where their relationship is headed.

This is a wonderful mystery book. Adri is a wedding planner who finds herself in the middle of murder mysteries. She doesn't go looking for trouble, but trouble always finds her. Adri has a giving heart and personality and is perfect for helping brides find their happy wedding day. It is probably because she cares so much that she finds herself in danger.

The secondary characters in this story are also well written. Her assistant, Lorea, is a gem.
The wedding planning clientele keep the story interesting. There are many great aspects of the plot and characters that keep this story moving and fun to read.



You can purchase a copy at:


Rachelle J. Christensen
About the Author:  Rachelle J. Christensen was born and raised in a small farming town in Idaho. She graduated cum laude from Utah State University with a degree in psychology.

She enjoys singing and songwriting, playing the piano, running, motivational speaking, and of course reading. Rachelle has an amazing husband, five cute kids, three cats, and dozens of chickens.
Find her at:


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Book Spotlight ~ "The Kingdom of Oceana" by Mitchell Charles~ Read an Excerpt

The Kingdom of Oceana is the first book in a new Young Adult fantasy adventure series by Mitchell Charles.

Five centuries ago, on the island now called Hawaii, there was a kingdom filled with adventure, beauty, and magic. When 16-year-old Prince Ailani and his brother Nahoa trespass on a forbidden burial ground and uncover an ancient tiki mask, they unleash a thousand-year-old curse that threatens to destroy their tropical paradise.

As warring factions collide for control of Oceana, it sparks an age-old conflict between rival sorcerers that threatens to erupt--just like Mauna Kea, the towering volcano. With the help of his ancestral spirit animals, his shape shifting sidekick, and a beautiful princess, Prince Ailani must overcome his own insecurities, a lifetime of sibling rivalry, and a plague of cursed sea creatures brought forth by the tiki's spell. Can peace be restored to the kingdom? Can Prince Ailani claim his rightful place as the future king of Oceana? Two brothers, but only one can rule.

While the book is fiction, it is heavily influenced by the rich and beautiful Hawaiian myths, legends, locales, and culture.  Many locations in the story are inspired by real places in Hawaii,” says Mitchell.

The Kingdom of Oceana takes readers on a fun and exciting adventure, with big wave surfing, fire walking, and shark taming, while also being educational and bringing to light many environmental and social issues, like ocean conservation.


The Kingdom of Oceana is currently available for sale on Amazon in kindle and paperback


Read an Excerpt:
********************

We climbed the backside of the canyon, still winding through the singing forest. A sudden gust blew through the treetops, causing the tall hollow stalks to cry a warning and my heart to beat faster. What danger was Nahoa getting me into this time?
By midday we reached the tree line, and the terrain became near vertical, with slabs of volcanic rock stacked in a series of small ledges and caves.

I turned around, looking out over the green bamboo treetops. To my right, the towering snow-capped summit of Mauna Kea dominated the sky. It was the tallest and most sacred spot on the Great Island, and on rare occasions smoke and ash billowed from its peak, rising above the icy white snowdrifts. Fortunately, there had not been a major eruption or lava flow in many generations.

“I’ll race you to the top,” Nahoa challenged. “I’ll even give you a head start.”

We had always enjoyed a spirited rivalry, feeding off each other’s competitive nature. I surveyed the cliff, picking my route.
“You’re on,” I said as I hoisted myself up and grabbed onto a small lava finger hold. Just above me was a long fissure in the rock, sloping upward to my right and then back to the left. While this path would take me on a longer course, it was less demanding, and my best chance to beat Nahoa to the crest.

He saw my plan. “Good, little brother. That path is safer.”

I carefully moved forward, while Nahoa soon got stuck above me on the sheer vertical wall of lava, his legs dangling and his feet probing the cliffside.

“Fingers getting tired?” I asked him as I moved closer to the top. I was going to beat him, for once.

“I won’t be here long,” he said.

As I followed the crevice back to the left, Nahoa whipped his body to the right and leapt off the cliff, his foot landing on my shoulder. He pushed off my neck and hoisted himself onto the ledge above me, just below the crest.

“Thanks, omo,” he said with a wicked laugh.

As I pulled myself onto the ridgetop I saw Nahoa ahead, following a fast-moving river that disappeared in the distance.
“Move it!” he yelled above the sound of the rushing water.

I hurried to catch up and we crossed the river along a jagged path of partially submerged boulders smoothed over by the rapids.

Before us, the river gained strength where it merged with a smaller tributary and formed a swirling vortex that plummeted off the cliff as Waimoku Falls.
“That’s it,” said Nahoa, pointing at a small hill piled with rubble just in front of where the two rivers joined.

There we found the remains of a crescent-shaped fortress made from stacked lava rocks. The curved wall was crumbling, with crusty orange lichen growing in the crevices and bright green geckos sunning themselves on top. The ground was littered with shark teeth, razor sharp and bleached by the scorching tropical sun.
I was disappointed. I’d hoped to find a great temple with cryptic markings or intricate carvings. What lay before us was nothing more than a pile of weather-beaten rocks.

“Well, this is a waste of time,” said Nahoa. He picked up a stone and hurled it at the remains of the fortress. From beneath the broken wall, a gathering of centipedes scrambled to escape the sunlight.
An icy wind went through me. It wasn’t like a tropical breeze that cools your sweaty cheek. No, it pierced my flesh like I was no more solid than a palm frond. Disturbing the centipedes was a bad omen—they were minions of the shadows.

“Did you feel that?” I asked.


Nahoa stood frozen, the hair on his arms standing on end.


He swallowed. “Feel what?”


“I don’t think we should be here,” I said, motioning for us to leave. For once, I hoped he’d agree with me.

“Do you want me to hold your hand, little brother? We’ll just have a look around, that’s all.”

Nahoa walked over to where he’d thrown the rock and knelt to examine the rubble. He picked through and uncovered a wooden tiki head. The carving was badly weathered, its left ear missing. Its mouth snarled, and its eyes glared with menace.
I looked at my brother’s face. He was in a trance, his head tilted down and his eyes looking up. They were cold and lifeless.
“Nahoa,” I screamed. “Stop playing around. That’s not funny!”


But he just stood there. I yelled again, “Nahoa! We shouldn’t be here. Let’s go!”

He blinked, but otherwise remained perfectly still.


As I stepped toward him, Nahoa pulled his knife and backed me toward the rushing river.

“It’s you that doesn’t belong here, little brother,” he said in a hushed tone.


Then he charged at me like a wild boar, knocking me into the water. I stood up, knee- deep in the fast-moving river, and dug my feet into the rocky bottom, bracing myself so the current didn’t pull me downstream. Nahoa leapt again and landed on top of me, sending us both tumbling into the whitewater.

Since we were old enough to walk, Nahoa and I had been schooled by the masters in luai—wrestling, hand-to-hand combat, and the use of our tribe’s most savage battle weapons. From years as sparring partners, I knew all his offensive moves and counter attacks as though they were my own. But as we raced downstream, bouncing off the rocks and plummeting down the rapids, I felt as though I was fighting a stranger. And I was fighting for my life.

Up ahead, jagged rocks rose above the waterline. I flipped onto my back with my feet below me, struggling against Nahoa’s hands wrapped around my throat. I kicked free of him, but that only quickened my pace down the rapids. I slammed into a boulder, my feet bracing my impact. I was exhausted, but knew I had to get out of the water before I reached the falls. I managed to clamber partway up a slippery rock, then gathered the strength to hoist myself completely from the rushing current. Upstream, I saw Nahoa dangling from a tree branch, the rapids churning below him.
My footing slipped and in an instant I was back in the river. The turbulence engulfed me, pulling me into the foaming whitewater. Then I was weightless, freefalling.
i Anicent Hawaiian school of martial arts

*********************

About the Author:  Mitchell Charles’ love of the ocean and its miraculous creatures began at the age of 12 when his father taught him to SCUBA dive. From his first adventure 50 feet (15 meters) beneath the Caribbean Sea he was hooked. He has been involved in the Oceanic Society, America’s first non-profit organization dedicated to ocean conservation, established in 1969.

Mitchell’s inspiration for The Kingdom of Oceana was born of exploring the spectacular coastline, lush valleys, and vibrant coral reefs of the Hawaiian Islands. On these excursions, he imagined what Hawaii was like hundreds of years ago. Before Captain Cook arrived from England. Before the golf courses and hotels. Before the ukulele and the Mai Tai became icons of Hawaiian culture. He dreamed of a time when the islands were an undiscovered magical paradise.

These days, Mitchell divides his time between Southern California and Hawaii. He has two teenage children and a dog named Magic.

Mitchell is currently working on the second book in the Kingdom of Oceana series, The Legend of the Nine Sacred Pearls. For more information, visit http://kingdomofoceana.com/

Readers can connect with Mitchell on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


Praise

"This book is a real page-turner, full of action and adventure, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. I hope that there will be more books like this from Mitchell Charles in the future." – 5 Stars, Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers’ Favorite

This is a rollicking good read -- a fascinating journey into a mythological world filled with legendary characters and magnificent twists and turns.” – 5 Stars, DG on Amazon


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Blog Tour ~ "Pride and Politics" by Brittany Larsen (review + tour giveaway)


Pride and Politics by Brittany Larsen
Pride and Politics by Brittany Larsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: Received from Publisher to Review
Genre: Contemporary retelling of Classic

Book Description:  As the daughter of a well-known senator, Summer Knight is all too familiar with the nasty side of politics. She’s always stayed out of the drama, until an incident involving her fellow Mormons drives her out of her hometown—and out of the Church. What she needs is a change of scene, and sunny California seems like just the place. Enter Benson Hardy. He’s just her type—until she finds out who he is. Not only is Benson a nephew to her father’s political rival, he’s also a devout member of the Church. The last thing Summer wants is to be mixed up in politics—or religion. But Benson challenges her like no one else, asking the tough questions about her inactivity. Though their incompatibility is clear, their connection is undeniable, and soon Summer finds the embers of her faith reigniting. Just as it seems that the pair might be on the road to romance, a series of embarrassing misunderstandings—and the appearance of a handsome charmer determined to sweep Summer off her feet—knock the couple completely off course. As Summer finds herself at a crossroads, she must decide if she’s willing to set her pride aside for a shot at true love.



My thoughts: I love Pride and Prejudice. When I get an opportunity to read a re-telling of the classic, I usually jump at the opportunity. This book did not disappoint.


Summer Knight is the daughter of a Democratic Senator. She has prejudice against Republicans, particularly Republican's by the last name of Hardy. Enter Benson Hardy. An very attractive man who is working on his Uncle's Presidential campaign. I might add that the Hardy's are prejudiced against Democrats, so the prejudice aspect is present on both sides.

Brittany Larsen was able to keep the essence of the original while making the story her own. The banter between Summer and Benson was fun, but I would say that I preferred the original on that one. I enjoyed how she was able to add the rebellious sister, the letter, the haughty explanation of regard, etc. This story is a clean romance with the characters members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Religion is a prominent point in their interactions.

The political maneuvering was interesting.  Maybe it's because we are in the middle of a Presidential Campaign and  are watching the rivalry unfold every day.  (This fictional election seemed tame compared to our current political climate!)  This book is clean with kissing.  There are also references to an abusive relationship.



Purchase Links:


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Enter the Tour Giveaway:




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Brittany Larsen's Profile PhotoAbout the Author:   (Taken from LDStorymakers Conference):  Brittany Larsen is an Idaho native who traded in parkas and potato fields for sunshine and beaches in Orange County, California. When she’s not busy writing or trying to keep up with her three tween/teen daughters, she enjoys running—especially the part when it’s over. Her regular regimen of hot yoga keeps her sane (somewhat) and stinky enough for no one to bother her until after she’s showered. She’s a guest blogger at The Soul Spa and a freelance writer for Blogmutt. You can find her own blog at mylifeherdingcats.blogspot.com. Look for her contemporary romance from Covenant Communications in May 2016!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Daring Sacrifice by Jody Hedlund

A Daring Sacrifice by Jody HedlundA Daring Sacrifice by Jody Hedlund
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: Netgally (for review purposes)
Genre: Medieval Romance

Book Description:  The only thing harder than fighting for what’s right…is fighting their feelings for each other.

For three years, the Cloaked Bandit has terrorized Wessex, robbing the nobility by knifepoint and a well-placed arrow. But little dos anyone know, this bandit is in fact Juliana Wessex, the rightful ruler of the land and a girl her tyrannical uncle—the current Lord Wessex—believes was killed along with her father.

Juliana has become skilled at hiding from Lord Wessex in the forest, using her stolen goods to provide food and shelter to the peasants her uncle has taxed into poverty. But when she robs Collin Goodrich, her red hair betrays her true identity. Lord Collin remembers Juliana from their childhood—and challenges her to stay on his estate for a week in hopes she will leave her thieving ways and become a proper lady once more. Juliana is intrigued by Collin and his charms, but only time will tell if he can overcome her distaste of the nobility—as well as win her heart.



My thoughts: Juliana is a woman on a mission. Her father was tortured and murdered before her. She lives among the peasants who have been misused by her Uncle's tyrannical rule. She steals from him in order to provide for her family in the forest. The book has a Robin Hood feel to it.

In a moment of daring, she decides to push her luck and steal from the neighbor her teased her as a girl. She has never forgiven Collin for his teasing about her red hair. His purse is hefty and he could provide the means to care for her band during the winter. She didn't count on his tracking abilities.

The book has many humorous moments. I really enjoyed the relationship between Collin and Juliana. He knows how to push her. He is an easy going noble, who finds himself challenged by Juliana's stubbornness. Their banter back and forth was fun to read.

The book has romance, the righting of wrongs, mentions of torture, revenge, jealousy... many of the things that make for an interesting plot. I found the pacing to be well done and the found myself caught up in the story.

This is the second book in a series.  It can be read as a stand alone. Each of the books follows a knight from the first. It looks like there will be another. I look forward to reading it.  The first book is An Uncertain Choice.  I gave it four stars.



You can purchase a copy at:


Jody HedlundAbout the Author: (taken from Goodreads)  Jody Hedlund is an award-winning and bestselling author of inspirational historical romances including books for adults and youth. She currently makes her home in central Michigan with her husband and their five busy children.

As a busy mama-writer, she has the wonderful privilege of teaching her crew of 5 children at home. In between grading math papers and giving spelling tests, she occasionally does a load of laundry and washes dishes. When she's not busy being a mama, you can find her in front of her laptop working on another of her page-turning stories.

She loves reading almost as much as she loves writing, especially when it also involves chocolate and coffee. 

Visit her Webpage!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Blog Tour ~ Born to Treason by E.B. Wheeler

Born-to-Treason-blog-tour-banner
Visit the Tour Page.

Born to TreasonBorn to Treason by E.B. Wheeler
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Source: Received to review from publisher
Genre:  Historical Fiction/Romance

Book Description:  Joan Pryce is not only a Catholic during the English Reformation but also Welsh, and comes from a family of proud revolutionaries. But when a small act of defiance entangles her in a deadly conspiracy, a single misstep could lead her straight to the gallows! Joan must decide between fighting for freedom and finding love.


My thoughts: Historical Fiction is one of my favorite genres to read. This is a wonderful story that is intertwined with a period of Welsh history. The book is set during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Catholicism was outlawed and people who practiced their faith were imprisoned and some executed.

Joan is Catholic. She believes and loves her faith. When an opportunity arises to help out in her cause to let Catholics worship legally and publicly, she decides to help. The path she has chosen is dangerous not only for her, but for the people around her.

This book is an amazing read. It brought the time to life for me. I really wanted Joan to succeed and make a difference with the religious intolerance of her time. The time period came to life for me. E.B. Wheeler did an excellent job at telling her story. The pacing was excellent.

The book contains a little bit of romance. There is also some violence that I didn't find too descriptive.


You can purchase a copy at:


E.B. WheelerAbout the Author:  E.B. Wheeler grew up in Georgia and California. She earned her BA in history from BYU and has graduate degrees in history and landscape architecture from Utah State University. With Welsh ancestors on one side of her family and crypto-Catholics on the other, she’s been fascinated by the story of Welsh Catholics since writing about them in her master’s thesis. She’s the award-winning author of “The Haunting of Springett Hall” and lives in northern Utah with her family.