Friday, May 31, 2013

FREE FRIDAY--free ebooks

**Make sure the price reflects $0.00 before purchasing. They were all free at the time I posted this.**

Book Review: India Fan by Victoria Holt

****--4 Stars

Blurb from Amazon: "A mesmerizing story of blackmail, romance, and deception."—Associated Press

With Over 100 Million Books Sold, Victoria Holt is the Queen of Gothic Romance.

Blackmail. Arson. Murder. Obsession.

Beautiful as its peacock feathers may be, the priceless fan hidden deep within the Framling mansion has a legacy of death and destruction. And Drusilla Delany has no idea she's been marked by its curse...

But the fan's dark past might prove less of a danger than Fabian Framling himself. Dark, brooding, and dominating, will he be the one to save her from the fan's cruel fate...or cause her demise?

Drusilla Delany is a pastor's daughter and lives near a very wealthy, controlling family, in England. The Framlings rule the land, so it seems. When the lady of the house determines that Drusilla is a suitable enough companion for her wild, tigress daughter, Lavinia, Drusilla is constantly thrown into their midst...and it is there that she first encounters the peacock fan--with a supposed curse.

Lavinia is one of the most beautiful women ever and she knows it. She is always getting herself into trouble, especially where men are concerned. It's Drusilla's practical sense and stability that has to reign her in and deal with her. Lavinia is not a very nice friend--she uses people to get what she wants, but Drusilla is really good for her.

Fabian, Lavinia's brother, is a mystery to me. Good looking, charming, semi-controlling, blunt, yet tender. I couldn't decide if I should trust him or not.

I love what the blurb says--"Blackmail. Arson. Murder. Obsession." That pretty much sums this book up.

I really enjoy Victoria Holt's books because they are written in a way that is nostalgic; they are written in a way that engages the reader and although certain "sinful" events do occur, the gruesome details aren't given, but just enough so the reader knows what's going on.

Content: a murder with a few details, but nothing too gory; an unwed pregnancy, no details; a handful of language.

To buy this book, click here .

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Book Review: A Princess Problem by Diane Darcy

****--4 Stars.
In real life, she's given up on the fairy tale ending...

After having her heart broken twice, Alicia Dayne has sworn off men, decided to concentrate on her career, and is delighted to win a lucrative contract to make a commercial for Highborn Mattresses.

She could make the most awesome fairy tale commercial ever--except for Jonas Highborn, who isn't exactly thrilled with her Princess and the Pea ideas, and really doesn't want a prince in tights representing his company.

Though he's trying to keep his grieving mother happy by letting her have charge of the commercial shoot, and though Alicia's trying to keep in mind that this annoying guy is her boss for the moment, they can't seem to keep from clashing.

Throw in an overly-handsome prince, a matchmaking mama, and a stunning rose garden, and maybe, just maybe, Alicia can be convinced they have a chance at something real.

Because while she might not be a real princess, sometimes an ordinary girl's got to take a chance, even when it seems too good to be true.

When did Happily Ever After become so complicated?

Books in The Fairy Tale Romance Series:
  • She's Just Right  (Novel)
  • The Princess Problem  (Novella) 
  • Straw Into Gold  (July 1st, 2013)
  • Beauty & the Beach  (August 1st, 2013)
My Review: This is a darling little novella!! I'm a sucker for a cute fairy tale-type book--I mean, don't most girls dream about being a princess? This was a fun, light story that had all the elements of a longer novel.

Willa, the mom, was a fun, feisty, sneaky character. She was a lot of fun, meddling around. I loved the chemistry that Jonas and Alicia had--bantering, laughing, and flirting. Jonas was a riot and oh so intimidating--one of Portland's most eligible bachelors; owner of a big, successful business; gorgeous.

I love that it was short, yet I didn't feel cheated. The story unfolded in a fun way, without loose ends. This seems to be a fun series for lovers of modern versions of fairy tales.

Content: some kissing; clean.

 To purchase, click here.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Book Review: The Orchard by Krista Lynne Jensen

*****--5 stars!!
On the idyllic shores of Flathead Lake, Montana, Alisen Embry finds purpose and comfort tending her late mother’s cherry orchard adjacent to the family’s beloved lake house. Though pained by the loss of her mother and her father’s estrangement, it is Derick Whitney—the man she fell in love with four years earlier—who truly influences Alisen’s view of her future . . .
Derick and Alisen wanted nothing more than to spend eternity together; however, intolerance and secrets forced Alisen to make a shattering choice between her family and the man she loved.
But destiny always has a way of setting things right . . .
Now the Embry family has found themselves hopelessly in debt, and they realize renting the lake house is the only hope of saving the cherished orchard and family home. When Alisen discovers the new tenants have a connection to her past, her life takes an unexpected turn. Will fate find a way to reconnect what was broken so many years before? 

My Review: First of all, isn't this cover absolutely adorable??? It fits the book so well. I love the way the author weaves the story together. The setting was painted in my mind and the characters were vivid. Alisen truly finds solace (and love) in the orchard and when her father demands a choice, she feels she has to listen to duty. Alisen is so tough and committed, even without familial support. And Derick--what a guy!! My heart cracked a little bit when things took that turn.

I hated Alisen's father!! In a way, I could understand why he would act the way he did, but it really wasn't fair. I felt like giving him a talking to. Oh wait!! This is only a story--not real life. :) I just really connected to the story and felt a part of it.

I loved pretty much everything about this story--except for the father...and Will. I can't forget about that smooth-talking guy who is a little too...smooth for my taste.

Content: LDS talk, but not preachy; mention of cheating; CLEAN.

 To buy this one, click here

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

FREE on Amazon!! The Princess Problem by Diane Darcy

FREE today, but make sure the price reflects $0.00 before you purchase it.

FREE today: If the Shoe Fits by Sandra Bricker

Amazon Blurb: Julianne used to believe in fairy tales; she's been watching for Prince Charming to come charging in on his white steed ever since the day her mother read her Cinderella for the first time. But she's never come close to finding the perfect man-instead she's always tripping over her childhood best friend, Will. And who finds their Prince Charming on a 10-speed bicycle on the other side of the cul de sac? Well... Julianne does. Only she doesn't have a clue. She and Will are attorneys now, and they've joined up in private practice in a beautiful Cincinnati office building that overlooks the Ohio River. And then one day Julianne is on her way to court, and runs right smack dab into Prince Charming. But when she looks again, all she finds is a metaphoric sign she is certain came straight from Heaven: The Prince's toolbox has fallen off the back of his truck, and a work boot along with it. What better way for God to grab the attention of a Cinderella-in-training than to show her a glass slipper...errrr, work boot?...waiting to be reunited with its owner? So she sets out to track down the mysterious Prince Charming. He's the most gorgeous guy she's ever seen...and a caring animal rescuer, too. Surely he must be the soul mate God has prepared her for. But, Julianne's prince is starting to look less and less charming all the time. No matter how she tries to romanticize him, he just keeps tumbling down off that dumb pedestal. And with the Bar Association dinner coming up that will honor her for her outstanding charity work over the year, Julianne wants so much for her friends and colleagues to see her with someone besides her best friend Will. To make matters worse, Prince Charming has no designs on wearing a penguin suit and attending a stuffy old dinner. With her pride pressing in on her like sticks from a cactus, Julianne sinks to the bottom of the proverbial barrel and actually offers to pay Paul to be her date. Julianne is on a collision course with God's perfect plan for her life...if only she could open her eyes and see it before it's too late.

Book Review: Ask Me To Stay by Elise K. Ackers

***--3 Stars.
When family tragedy brings bad boy Ethan Foster home, he doesn't expect a warm welcome. In the small town of Hinterdown reputation is everything - and Ethan's was ruined long ago. Nobody wants him around, particularly not Sam O'Hara, the girl he left behind. There's still a powerful spark between them, but Sam is afraid to risk her heart again. And Ethan is hiding a secret that will have repercussions for his whole family. Will the townspeople ever forgive him? More importantly, will those he loves the most find it in their hearts to take him back? This tender tale of love and redemption is the first in a brilliant new series by Elise K. Ackers, author of Small Town Storm and the bestselling The Man Plan.

My review:  I have a hard time reviewing some books and this is one of them. It is a tender story of a man, Ethan, trying to redeem himself, but he came across as a big jerk at first. When his brother's wife suddenly dies, he finds himself back home. Usually, instead of facing his problems, he would run and hide, but now it's different. WHY is it different this time? It seems like he was always trying to drown his sorrows in a drink and was often borderline drunk. Then *SNAP*. He's changed. People in town were so rude to him, but once the secret came out, they changed their attitude towards him in a snap as well. All that changed was quite sudden, at least for me. I wonder if that's how people are in real life...

That said, I did like how Ethan had a great relationship with his niece and nephew and how he got his nephew to open up. I loved how he talked about goodbyes and hellos with him, to try and help them deal with their mother's death.

Content: Some language (although some of it is Australian slang, so wasn't spelled like it is here). Personally, I don't believe in intimate relations before marriage or in drinking yourself into a stupor. I had to remove my personal beliefs and focus on the actual content. Yes, there were things happening and mentioned, but there weren't explicit details given, so it is technically a clean read, but there were a few parts that left me feeling a bit uncomfortable. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

FREE ebook today!!! Above Rubies by Jaclyn Hawkes

From Amazon: His chivalry was strangling her. He thought he was helping her—and in truth, he was. She was in desperate straits. But as honorable as he was, he was also breaking her heart. Her attraction was drowning him. When World Champion rodeo cowboy Rossen Rockland and his friends rescue a young runaway who has been abused by her foster father and take her home to his parents’ ranch, he expects her to turn out to be a pain in the neck. And sometimes she is. It doesn’t take him long to figure out that she has way more than her allotment of troubles—and far more than her share of gifts. Lovely, talented, and ravingly brilliant, Kit Star is too young, unbelievably humble, and oh, so loveable. Knowing that she needs his protection and time to grow into her potential, Rossen also figures out that what she really is, is a pain in the heart. Watch for more of the Rockland Ranch Series!

**Make sure the price reflects $0.00 to get it for free!!!

Free e-book: The Silverton Scandal by Amanda Grange

FREE today on amazon:

From Amazon: A Regency Romance. Tenth Anniversary Edition Note: Previously published under the title of Highwayman to Heaven When Eleanor Grantham's younger sister receives a blackmail demand for some incriminating letters, Eleanor intends to buy the letters back again. But her plan is foiled when her coach is held up by a highwayman, whom she later discovers to be a wealthy nobleman, Lord Silverton. Once the blackmailer is found dead, Eleanor's life is placed in jeopardy and Lord Silverton is the only one who can help . . .

 To buy this, click: here.

Book Review: Pivot Point by Kasie West

Pivot Point (Pivot Point, #1) 

Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1) by Kasie West
Published: February 2013, HarperTeen, 343 pages

Description: Knowing the outcome doesn't always make a choice easier. . . .
Addison Coleman's life is one big "What if?" As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It's the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie's parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the "Norms," or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it's not.
In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback's girlfriend. When Addie's father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she's unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she's willing to live through . . . and who she can't live without.

My Review: This has got to be one of the most amazing books that I've read in quite awhile!! The way the story is executed and how it all came together was brilliant and original.

Addison (aka Addie) lives in a world hidden from the real world. Her Compound is made up with people who have exceptional mind powers, yet they do interact with "Norms" on occasion. The Compound is much more advanced than the rest of the world and these mind powers are really incredible--seeing the future, controlling the moods of those around you, erasing memories, moving things by thinking it, etc. When Addie's parents divorce, she is faced with a choice--move with her dad to live among the Norms or stay with her mom and live with the Paras.

Really thinking about having these abilities makes them seem not as desirable as I first thought they would be. Addie can see the future--but only her own. When she Searches things out, things often seem real to her. That would be tough because you couldn't look at people the same way, knowing that they might do something. I really liked Addie and had an easy time connecting to her.

I loved Trevor--the one with "eyelashes that make mine want to commit suicide from shame." What a great friend and person!!

One thing about this book that I especially loved was the creative headings for each chapter and how it went back and forth, tying everything together at the end. I'm hoping this is a series and if so, can't wait to find out what happens next.

Content: some mention of murder and an unwanted advance, that didn't really happen; no language that I can remember; kissing. Clean.

About the Author:
Kasie West 
I write YA. I eat Junior Mints. Sometimes I go crazy and do both at the same time. My novels, published through Harper Teen are: PIVOT POINT, its sequel SPLIT SECOND (Feb 2014), and THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US (a contemporary novel). I also have two more contemporaries, ON THE FENCE coming out July 1, 2014, and THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND coming out the summer of 2015. My agent is the talented and funny Michelle Wolfson.

Goodreads  *  Twitter  *  Facebook  *  Website 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Book Review: The Practice Date by Victorine E. Lieske

***--3 Stars.
From New York Times bestselling author of NOT WHAT SHE SEEMS.

Jane’s been in love with her best friend Lance since they were kids. Best friend, that is, until he ditched her for the more popular crowd. What’s a computer nerd doing spending time with jocks anyway?

When he asks her for help getting a date to the prom with the most popular girl in school she almost tells him to take a flying leap. But she’d be spending time with him, teaching him to dance and he’d be holding her...that sounded like heaven.

So she says yes.

But how much practice can her heart take?

The Practice Date is a novelette, 11,000 words, 50 pages in paperback.

My review: Jane's friend and neighbor, Lance, has broken her heart. They used to hang out all of the time, but now that he's "in" with the popular crowd, she's history. She's also in love with him. When Lance asks Jane for help in training him to be the perfect date for a popular cheerleader, Jane jumps at the chance to spend time with Lance again. Even if it means having her heart broken again.

This was a short, cute, sweet (clean) story. Lance was pretty clueless, but that's probably pretty typical of the age. His reasoning for ditching his friend was kind of sad, but it did explain a lot. Still...if they were that good of friends, he should have told Jane.

Jane was pretty true to a teen girl--bending over backwards to spend a few precious moments with her out-of-reach crush.

I thought it was cute, but lacked depth, probably due to the length of the story.

Content: clean.

To purchase, click here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Book Review: The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull

****--4 Stars.
Welcome to the Sweet Tooth Ice Cream & Candy Shoppe, where the confections are a bit on the . . . unusual side. Rock candy that makes you weightless. Jawbreakers that make you unbreakable. Chocolate balls that make you a master of disguise.
Four young friends; Nate, Summer, Trevor, and Pigeon; meet the grandmotherly Mrs. White, owner of the Sweet Tooth, and soon learn about the magical side effects of her candies. In addition, the ice cream truck driver, Mr. Stott, has arrived with a few enchanted sweets of his own. But what about the mysterious man in the dark overcoat and fedora hat? Why are all these "magicians" trying to recruit Nate and his friends? Who should they trust?
The mystery deepens and the danger unfolds as the four youngsters discover that the magical strangers have all come to town in search of a legendary, hidden treasure; one that could be used for great evil if it fell into the wrong hands. The kids, now in over their heads, must try to retrieve the treasure first. And so, the war begins . . .

My review:
This isn't my typical book. Maybe one I'd read aloud to the kids or something. I really enjoyed the adventure these kids had and thought the different effects of the candies were really creative. I thought the kids seemed older than they were--I have a son about that age and I cannot image him breaking into a museum and stealing something; or sneaking out at night. However, it was still a magical, original story that kept me turning the pages.

I think my favorite character was Pigeon. He was full of surprises--very smart, yet appearing to be unassuming and immature. I love how he got his name!!

I thought it was kind of funny that kids nowadays are taught NOT to take candy from strangers, yet these kids were taking it left and right from people they didn't know. They seemed a little too eager to trust.

I thought it was a fun story, one that most kids will just love!!

To purchase, click here.

Book Blast: The Trouble with Toads by Danyelle Leafty

trouble with toadsThe Trouble with Toads. Once upon a time a young girl wanted revenge. But first, she wanted to be beautiful. Twelve-year-old Bettony has read enough stories that begin with ‘Once upon a time’ to know what happens to the ugly stepsisters at the end, and she’s determined to escape that fate by any means necessary—even by magic. Unfortunately, when it comes to magic, there is no place for regret, refunds, or exchanges. Even if you accidentally turn your older sister into a toad. If Bettony wants her Happily Ever After to end well, she’s going to have to find a way to turn her sister back into a person before their mother finds out she’s been dabbling with magic and grounds her for life. Tracking down the family magic turns out to be surprisingly easy. Now, if only it came with directions . . . THE TROUBLE WITH TOADS (45,000 words) is the first book in a new upper MG series The Secret Stepsister Society. The second book will be released Summer 2013.
  danyelleAuthor Danyelle Leafty Danyelle Leafty writes upper MG and YA fantasy, and is the author of THE FAIRY GODMOTHER DILEMMA series. Danyelle has always loved fairy tales, and prefers stories where someone gets eaten, or at the very least, transmogrified. Much of her inspiration has come from fairy tales, because as G.K. Chesterton so aptly states, "Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." In her spare time, she collects dragons, talking frogs, and fairy godmothers. She also collects books, and one day hopes to make a house out of them. She enjoys learning languages, fiddling with her harp, and perfecting the fine art of mothering. (It's a lot like trying to herd chickens during a lightning storm while a goat stampede is going on.) One of her heroes is Albert Einstein, particularly for the following quote: "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The most important thing is not to stop questioning."
Book Blast Giveaway
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 6/10/13

a Rafflecopter giveaway 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. Prize value $50 US.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Book Review: Finding June by Shannen Crane Camp

****--4 Stars.
June Laurie is a 16 year old high school student, and occasional actress. She is also a Mormon, getting up super early to take a seminary class before her before zero hour school class starts. When she lands a recurring guest role on a popular crime scene drama, her life changes quite a bit--but not necessarily for the better. Her morals and values are tested quite a lot, as are her relationships with friends and family.

June is compared to Lillian Gish (silent film star from the 20s), so of course I had to google her and I pictured her, but more modern, in my mind. I loved how June was herself. She embraced her vintage side; her feminine side; her innocent, naive side. She was placed in situations where it would be so easy to toss your values by the wayside.

Joseph, June's BFF, was pretty amazing. He's a wanna-be actor himself and for some reason, I pictured Joseph Gordon-Leavitt right away--especially that picture where he looks like he is a throw-back to the 20s. He put up with so much, yet he was a true and loyal friend. I love how he was everything to June--confidant, friend, brother, protector.

I loved Candice, the make-up artist. For her, I kept picturing someone like Wanda Sykes. And the two comedian partners really cracked me up. I kept picturing Sean and Gus from Psych. They seemed so much older than they really were. Lukas? Bleh! He had my skin crawling and made me think of a snake.

I thought this was a fun, entertaining story with a lot of great characters. There was a mention or two of immoral things that some actors do, but it wasn't descriptive and the content was clean!

Buy it on Amazon here:
Finding June (The June Series)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Book Review & FREE e-book: The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson

Matilda (aka Mattie or Tilly) is a tall, awkward, fuchsia-haired, manga-drawing girl with the perfect stepsister--Ella. I guess I'd always thought of Cinderella's stepsisters as being lazy, ugly, with big noses, big feet, and grating, irritating voices. In this modern re-telling, Mattie does not come off across as that way at all. In fact, I think she is just a very insecure girl. Her mother all but abandoned her when she was young and has very limited contact with her and her dad is a busy, distracted artist. I loved the relationship that these two girls shared with one another.

Jake. It's interesting to think that everyone has their idea of a perfect guy. He's perfect for one, but not for the other. He was great!! And patient.

Loved this story!!

Content: clean!!

****--4 stars.

Right now, it's FREE on Amazon. To purchase, click here
(Deal ends 5/21/13).

Free E-Books!!

These books were all free on Amazon this morning. Please make sure the price reflects $0.00 before purchasing. Happy Reading!!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Book Review: A Blind Eye by Julie Daines

****--4 stars

From the cover: Seventeen-year-old Christian Morris decides the only way to save himself from his father's neglect is to run away from home. On his way out of town, he finds a stowaway hiding in his car—Scarlett, who has been kidnapped from London. Blind since birth, Scarlett has developed a sixth sense: she dreams about someone’s death before it happens. And now, she has dreamed about her own.

Christian’s attempt to leave home turns into a race to save Scarlett from death by scientific experimentation. His growing relationship with the girl helps him to look past his own blindness and confront the truth about his father. But first, he must find the kidnappers before they can get to Scarlett.

My review: Christian wavers between being old for his years and acting his age. On one hand, he'll do about anything to feel loved by his father and on the other hand, he reacts to situations in a very grown up way. Scarlett is like Wonder Woman. I guess if a person was blind from birth, she would be pretty fearless, but the thought of trying to escape and run and avoid dying, all while not being able to see a thing is pretty scary, yet it didn't faze her too much.

I thought the suspense and mystery elements were really good, even though the story was pretty short (less than 200 pages). I never felt cheated until the very end--it seemed to resolve a bit too fast for me.

Jay seemed like a really good friend, but didn't play a big part in the story. I would have liked to have him more developed and a part of things, especially since he was supposedly a big part of Christian's life. I also wasn't very satisfied with Christian's relationship with his father. There were hints that he cared, yet I didn't see that and would have liked to have seen that flesh out more.

And last, but not least, I love how the chapters were titled.

Content: murder (not much detailed description).

Click here to buy:

A Blind Eye

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Book Review: For What It's Worth by Karey White

This is my favorite type of book--baking yummy things, clean romance, recipes included, love. *sigh*

Abby has a dream of owning a wedding cake shop and when her aunt passes away and leaves her the means to do so, she jumps on it. Little did she know how big it would be.

Dane is the man hired to remodel the house into the bakery and Abby is quite interested. He's such a great guy!!

I've always thought it would be fun to decorate wedding cakes, but I'm not so sure. I LOVED the details of the cakes Abby did and the recipes that were included. But it sounds like too much work for me. :)

Kind of predictable, but I loved every minute of it.

Content: a very few references to the LDS church (not preachy at all).

*****--5 stars.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Book Review: Being Jamie Baker by Kelly Oram

3.5 stars

I felt like I should have known some background to this story before reading this book. I kept wondering if it was book 2 of a series. Slowly, but surely, the reader is filled in on what makes Jamie the way she is, but I kept feeling like I was missing something.

Jamie Baker was in an accident, which resulted in some superhero powers. She is known as the "Ice Queen" at her new school and when Ryan Miller takes a dare/bet from his friend to try and get her to kiss him, so goes for it. What neither of them realized was that kiss would be more than they bargained for.

Jamie always seemed so angry. She was right on the line of being rude to Ryan all the time, yet he just wouldn't go away. Ryan was really amazing. A lot of times, you think of the stereotypical HS quarterback and what he's like and you wouldn't put those ideas with the who Ryan is.

I can understand (to a point) why Jamie was the way she was, but because of that (the major negativity, anger issues, rough edges), I felt it was hard to connect to her--and even to like her.

However, this is a creative, fascinating story and for me, that makes up for some of the flaws.

Content: some innuendos; kissing.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I have to admit, right off the bat, that I was a little disappointed. I read an e-version and I thought I still had a lot of story left to look forward to, but when I "turned" the page at 68%, it was over.

That aside, I loved it!!! It took me several page to get into the style of it (a novel written strictly in letters), but once I did, I was amazed at how much I learned and discovered about an incident that I didn't even realize had happened in history (German occupation on the island of Guernsey, located in the English Channel). I didn't even know where Guernsey was, prior to reading this book.  I was also amazed at how well the characters voices came across through a series of letters. I truly felt that I got to know each and every one of them, even Elizabeth, who was absent at the time.

Which led me to my next thought--did most people write such interesting, informational letters during that time period?? Have we lost that art in our day and age? Maybe, maybe not.

Of course, I loved the romance angle of it. :)

My son has to read this over the summer for his high school and it will be interesting to see how a teenage boy feels about this story.

Content: some language; mention of war violence.
*****--5 Stars.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Book Review: Starstruck by Rachel Shukert

I was blown away by this story. Is that how Hollywood really was in the 1930s?! If so, it's crazy.

This story follows three girls who are wanting to be (or already are) in the acting business: Margaret (later, Margo) is a high school socialite from Pasadena who is discovered in a soda shop. She goes to the studio to do a screening to see if they want her...and they do. Gabby is a former vaudeville girl who had an act with her sister, before her sister ran off with a magician. She's told the camera adds 10 pounds so she needs to lose 20. Amanda has clawed her way up, running away from home when she was 14 and doing whatever it takes to survive, even being an escort for awhile. And then there is the mystery of Diana, who has disappeared and no one knows (or will talk about) where she is.

What was really crazy to me was how controlling the studio was. Once you signed on with them, they controlled what you wore, what you looked like, what you ate, who you were seen with, who you had a "relationship" with, which roles you had, etc. Certain studios owned certain actors and actresses, so they couldn't just go take whatever role they wanted. Margo had a connection with Dane, but wasn't allowed at all to socialize with him--she had to be with Jimmy and he had no interest--it was all a show.

My heart broke for Margo. I cannot imagine what she was going through--she had her big dreams and awful parents and her dreams were nothing like her reality. Gabby tried to hard. I felt sorry for her too, but she needed to relax. Amanda. What is real with her? It's like she's been living in a role for so long that she doesn't even know who she really is.

There was some content with this book. There was some language (nothing really strong), some drinking/drunk episodes, some pill-popping, some immoral acts (but most of it was so vague, I had to second guess myself if that was really what was happening), but I feel that these incidents had to be there to tell the story (well, maybe not the swearing). If that's what really went on behind the scenes in Hollywood, you can't gloss over it. And even if that's not what happened, it happened in the story.

I'm hoping there's another book and that this is a series, because I felt like nothing was wrapped up.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday Freebies!!

**These were all free when I listed them. Please make sure they show 0.00 before clicking to buy**

New Book Coming Out in August 2013 by Sarah M. Eden!!!

Okay...So this was on Sarah M. Eden's blog this morning. Can I just say I'm soooo excited?? She's one of those authors that I just adore--I'll buy her books before reading because they're all that good and I've never been disappointed yet!! So, mark your calendars.
Coming August 2013

“An engaging and heart-warming story.” —Julianne Donaldson, bestselling author of Edenbrooke

    Though she was only a child during the darkest days of Ireland’s Great Famine, Katie Macauley blames herself for the loss of her family’s land and the death of her sister. Now a woman grown, Katie has left Ireland for America and the promise of earning money enough to return home again and plead for her family’s forgiveness.
     She arrives in Hope Springs, Wyoming Territory, a town sharply divided between the Americans who have settled there, with their deep hatred of the Irish, and the Irish immigrants who have come searching for a place to call home. Her arrival tips the precarious balance, and the feud erupts anew.
     Even in the midst of hatred and violence, however, Katie finds reason to hope. Two men, as different as they are intriguing, vie for her heart, turning her thoughts for the first time toward a future away from Ireland.
     Katie must now make the hardest decision of her life: stay and give her heart a chance at love, or return home and give her soul the possibility of peace.

Purchase Links:
Deseret Book

Good Book Deal and Review!!! Beauty and the Beast by Jenni James

Right now, this darling re-telling is only .99!! What a steal!! Jenni James has a way of taking a classic and twisting it into something new and fresh--different. The cover is just gorgeous!! Love her books!!!

I love the story of Beauty and the Beast--you know, getting to know the inside/character of a person instead of focusing on the outward appearance. This was a fun re-telling with a bit of a twist.

Cecelia was being she thought. With the whole village gossiping about her situation, she isn't sure how to respond to Prince Alexander's sudden interest in her. He hasn't exactly been kind in the past.

The only thing that bothered me was how quickly Cecelia was to believe that slimy cousin. I can understand how she wouldn't want to get her hopes up, but that guy was slime.

Content: clean.

****--4 stars.

Book Review: Pride & Popularity by Jenni James

I love Pride and Prejudice and find myself reading many spin-offs, and enjoying most of them. This one was soooo cute--a definite must read for YA/P&P fans. Jenni James took the story and completely molded it to a 21st century fit.

Chloe Hart is apparently the only girl immune to Taylor Anderson's charms. He is almost a local celebrity at the high school and Chloe has a thing against popularity. He was almost mean at times, yet so utterly adorable.

I love how the story was completely adapted to modern teens and current situations. It was cute, humorous, and completely clean!! The romance was almost knee-buckling. I can't wait for the other books in this Jane Austen Diaries series to come out!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Book Review: Revenge of the Girl With the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg

Lexi is a teen with a pageant-obsessed mom, a spoiled brat of a little sister, and a semi-absent dad. Her mom spends money they don't have on her little sister's beauty pageants and causes Lexi some anxiety. She kind of compensates by not dressing up; not wearing makeup; not doing her hair. Her best friends, Benny and Cam, are the best support she could have. Everyone loves Lexi--because she's got a great personality. Which, in code words (to Lexi, anyway) are words of social death.
When Benny dares her to dress up, she rises to the challenge and her life changes--but maybe not for the best.

 I felt so sorry for Lexi!! Her mom was mean and almost neglectful. She definitely seemed to be living her life through her younger daughter. Lexi had to grow up faster than she should have had to.

I liked Cam and Benny, but would have liked Cam to be a bit more developed--to see more of her. Logan was a great friend, but I didn't think he was really consistent.

I did enjoy how quickly Lexi matured, realizing what is really important. Fun, crazy, emotional story.

Content: some language; a party with drunk teens and some innuendo; mild kissing; boy coming out, but no graphic details.

****--4 stars.

Book Review: Deep Cover by Traci Hunter Abramson

Kelsey works for the CIA and has recently been deep undercover--in the Middle East. After her contact's cover is blown and she receives an injury, she heads home for awhile to recover, and that's where she meets her parent's neighbor, Noah, in an unusual way.

This turned out to be one of my favorites of the author's. I loved the characters, plot, and relationships. It was also a book that made me think--do people really go deep undercover like that and go through such dangerous situations?? It would be so hard not to be able to tell your friends and family what you really do for a living. It would also be hard to keep up all these different aliases. If so, I appreciate those people who are willing to do this, because I don't think I would be.

I enjoyed the suspense, mystery, and (clean) romance (of course). I can't wait for more!!

*****--5 stars!!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Free e-book: Replacing Gentry by Julie N. Ford


     When Marlie attends a cadaver ball at Vanderbilt Medical School, she does not expect to actually see any cadavers. Or, that a strange apparition would issue her such a chilling message. Despite the cadaver’s warning, a year later Marlie is married to Tennessee state senator, Daniel Cannon, and living in a plantation-style mansion with two step-sons. Add to the mix her growing suspicion that something is amiss with the death of Daniel’s first wife, Gentry, and newlywed Marlie is definitely in over her pretty Yankee head.
     What begins as an innocent inquiry into her new husband’s clouded past ends with Marlie facing a dangerous conspiracy.

     A modern twist on the classic Gothic romance novels like Rebecca and Jane Eyre, REPLACING GENTRY follows Marlie’s precarious journey as she seeks to learn the truth about the man she married.

Wow!! I finally got around to reading "Rebecca" a few years ago and was entranced. This modern-day re-telling had me captured from the start. Full of twists and turns and strange happenings. Wow. I thought it was a great version!

Marlie is a California girl who attends a Cadaver Ball with her best friend from the South and ends up in a whirlwind relationship. Previously divorced (with her husband dying shortly afterward), Marlie's not sure she wants to jump into anything too quickly.

I liked Marlie. She was able to speak her mind and do things for herself, but soon realized that's not how she was expected to be. Still, she fought to stay true to herself. I got to where I didn't know who to trust and what was going on. Strange things, that's for sure. But so intriguing.

Content: that I can recall, there were just a few swear words; a little violence; some innuendo and mention of intimacy after marriage, but not too detailed; an instance of teens getting caught with drugs/beer.

*****--5 stars.

Book Review: Every Girl Does It by Rachel Van Dyken

Amanda turned down Preston's prom invitation in front of her entire high school, but that was eight years ago.

Somehow, her past mistakes always have a way of catching up with her, and making her pay. Amanda's sarcastic wit mixed with Preston's insufferable ego make sparks fly in more than one way.

Preston, against his better judgment can't fight the desire to get under Amanda's skin and mercilessly tease her, but when that teasing becomes flirting, and flirting becomes something dangerously more, neither of them are prepared for the adventure that follows.

I was not expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. Amanda was asked to prom in front of the whole school by a nerd. She turned him down. Fast forward ten years. Amanda runs into Preston again, only now he's a buff, cute (hot) fireman and she's definitely feeling some remorse for the high school rejection. Maybe it's not too late to change her mind...

I love how flustered and crazy Amanda gets. Sometimes she's pretty much outright mean, but Preston leaves her so confused and she just doesn't know how to handle it. I love how Preston immediately knows how to set Amanda off. He knows when to be gentle and caring and when to kick the teasing mode up a notch. There were some pretty crazy and funny situations (Brad and Angelina).

I probably read way too into things sometimes, but it made me think that you should be kind and nice to everyone because contrary to popular belief (ha ha), high school doesn't last forever and people change. Looks and popularity aren't everything.

Content: some kissing, but clean!!

*****--5 stars. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Free e-book!! Remembrance by Michelle Madow

There is a book I've been wanting to read for awhile now (I hope it's clean) and it's FREE on Amazon today. Remembrance by Michelle Madow. I've heard that if you like Twilight, Pride & Prejudice, and the song "Love Story" by Taylor Swift, then this is a book for you.

Book Review: Gingham Mountain by Mary Connealy

All aboard for a delightful, suspense-filled romance, where a Texan is torn between his attraction to a meddlesome schoolmarm and the charms of a designing dressmaker. When Hannah Cartwright meets Grant, she's determined to keep him from committing her orphans to hard labor on his ranch. How far will she go to ensure their welfare? Grant is determined to provide a home for the two kids brought in by the orphan train. Can he keep his ragtag family together while steering clear of love and marriage?

Grant was such a unique type of man. Instead of getting married and raising a family of his own, he spends his time finding orphans to adopt and raise, some of them being only a few years younger than himself. He adopted his first child at the age of 17. Really...who does that?! I loved watching the interactions and the relationship that he had with his kids. Hannah, being an orphan herself, is passing through this small Texas town on the way to find her sister, Grace. She ends up becoming the teacher there and is very stubborn and determined to succeed. I love the way she is able to turn the hearts and minds of some of the townspeople by her gentle ways and new ideas. As for the romance part of it, things were very gradual, yet when they finally happened, it was a little too sudden. I really liked the little snippets we got of Grace's life. In book 2, Calico Canyon, we meet Grace and see her romance, but it was fun to see her "happily ever after" and how she's faring. All in all, I did enjoy this last installment of the Lassoed in Texas series, but wish that there was a little more romance to support the ending. Content: a little mild violence; some kissing. Clean.  

****--4 Stars.


Monday, May 6, 2013

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Wanting to Read: Eyes of Ember by Rebecca Ethington

Eyes of Ember Joclyn is in hiding, hunted by the man she still desperately loves. Ryland is gone, his mind erased; no memory of Joclyn remains, but Joclyn’s heart desperately begs her to hold out hope. Meanwhile the black-eyed monster that possesses him attempts to kill her over and over again. If it wasn’t for Ilyan, Joclyn would be dead by now. Ilyan, the man who once stalked her, is now Joclyn’s protector, the only person she has left. He protects Joclyn from the men who seek to end her life, and all the while, she is haunted by dreams where Ryland begs her to break the bond between them. Ilyan is there. Always there. Ilyan trains and prepares her, teaching her everything she needs to know in the hope that one day she can avenge Ryland, if not protect herself from him. And then, there is her father. The man who has never been there is suddenly responsible for everything. And who he is has made Joclyn into something she never wanted to be: The Silnį»³.

Book Review: Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

HS junior, Mallory, discovers that her long-time boyfriend, Jeremy is a tool--he's cheating on her with an online girl. As she's helping her dad clean out her Grandma's house in preparation for a move to a retirement community, she find The List--a list that her grandma made in 1962--when she was Mallory's age. That list becomes her lifeline, as she decides to accomplish everything on it and live her life as if she were in a simpler time--which mean, NO electronics!! There were several points that I really liked and zeroed in on: *life was both simpler and more complicated without the use of electronics, as Mallory discovered. Yes, people had more time for families, friends, etc, but life without cell phones was kind of inconvenient. *it is a lot easier using the Internet for homework and research. A LOT. *just because life was simpler, doesn't mean it was any easier. I loved this quote: "Adolescence is the same tragedy being performed again and again. The only things that change are the stage props." *I LOVED Mallory's relationship with her sister, Ginnie. Ginnie is only 14 in the story, but is wise beyond her years. I couldn't decide--was Mallory making too big a deal out of something that was really pretty innocent? Or was she really looking for an excuse to get out of her relationship? Content: talk of making out and not giving up your "pieces;" a little language. ****--4 stars.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Book Review: My Lucky Groom (Summer Grooms #2) by Ginny Baird

Ventura, collector of fortune cookies, is off on a new adventure--finding work in Washington DC. She is a mid-20s girl who feels that she was abandoned by her father when she was little and is also the type of girl who is often overlooked. Her chance meeting with an adorable waitress leaves her with a new best friend and roommate. Ventura, out of desperation, takes a job with one of the city's hottest bachelors (Richard)--but it's not quite the job she had in mind. What I really liked about this story is that Ventura is not portrayed as the perfect girl. She's very clumsy; she's not confident enough to follow her dreams, yet she does have a pretty good attitude about making the best of a situation; and she is on the heavier side, with thick glasses and out-of-control curly hair, often not the one that men take notice of. This makes her very easy to relate to. I liked Richard too, but felt he could have been a little more developed. He comes across as a playboy, yet we don't see him in many situations that prove this to be wrong. He was very kind and compassionate, and obviously a doting dad, but I wish there had been a little more--emotion. There were a couple of very mild innuendos. The misunderstandings were pretty funny. A short, sweet book that left me with a smile on my face. ***-3 stars.

Book Review: Luck of the Draw by Rachael Renee Anderson

Brighton Andrews makes a laundry bet with a roommate--he must ask a girl and two of her roommates out on two dates without any of them knowing that he's dating them all. If he succeeds, his laundry will be done for a month. He asks a girl from the library out and then literally runs into her roommate, who shoots him down. This does take place at BYU-Idaho, but isn't preachy and religion is a very minor part. I really like the writing style of Rachael Renee Anderson. The story flows and engages the reader. This book is a lot of fun and the characters are very entertaining. It almost felt like it was written in two parts, the bet and the aftermath, I've actually read this novel twice now. The first time (about 2.5 years ago), I loved it, but the second time through was even more fun for me. I wondered HOW in the world the three girls could really be dumb enough not to realize what Brighton/Andy/Jeff was doing!! And how he could be dumb enough not to realize they are girls, and girls talk, and they would all somehow NOT find out. In reality, is a college student who is desperate to get out of doing his laundry going to think about that? It's seems that most often, teens and early adults only think of the here and now and not what the consequences of their actions will be. He didn't expect to ever see any of them again after two dates each, so really, what did he have to lose? The bet could have been so much worse, so it really was a fun, clean chick-lit read! Sometimes a story is so focused on the main characters that we seem to lose the secondary ones. I thought the Nana was a great addition and I loved the way the reader really got to know her in such a short amount of time and how she was indirectly such a big part of wrapping the story up. ****-4 stars.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Cover Reveal: Working It Out by Rachael Renee Anderson!!!

Author Rachael Renee Anderson

Rachael Anderson is the author of four books: Divinely Designed, Luck of the Draw, Minor Adjustments, and The Reluctant Bachelorette. She's the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can't sing, doesn't dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.

Working It Out
A chance encounter . . . 
Grace Warren's life is safe and predictable—exactly the way she likes it. But when she gets roped into going to an auction to help out a friend, everything changes. She meets Seth Tuttle—a guy who unexpectedly kisses her then disappears, leaving her flustered and upset. If she never sees him again, it will be too soon.

A chance for love . . .  
Weeks later, when Seth limps into Grace's rehab clinic post surgery, she immediately recognizes him. Unfortunately, he's every bit as frustrating and annoying as she remembered. Yet there's something about him that makes her second-guess her carefully placed boundaries even though he's everything she's sure she doesn't want in a man. But maybe Seth is exactly what Grace has needed all along—assuming she's willing to risk safe and predictable for a chance at love.

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Ends 5/31/13

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Review: Daddy's Gone A Hunting by Mary Higgins Clark

Kate and Hannah are in the middle of a mystery when their family's antique furniture store/museum/warehouse explodes, leaving Kate in a medically-induced coma and a former worker (and friend) dead. Meanwhile, there are several other unsolved murders around New York City that seem to be possibly tied in somehow. 

Some of Mary Higgins Clark's books have me going back and forth and here and there, trying to figure out who did it. For me, this was one of those books. Maybe others can figure it out, but I was going to the end. There's also a certain style to her books that make me kind of nostalgic. I think it's in some of the words and phrases she uses. For example, "she phoned her order in" or something like that. It makes me think of when I was young and listening to my grandma talk, and it's comforting.

I like how there are several side stories, yet everyone is somehow interconnected. The author always seems to do a great job of managing that.

I think this is one of her better ones in the last few years.

Content: a handful of language; it's a murder-mystery, so of course, some violence.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Review: Fateful by Cheri Schmidt (Book 1)

Interesting. Some parts reminding me a lot of Twilight, yet there were some original takes on vampires as well that I thought were quite intriguing--like what happened at the end. How was it the no one ever figure that out before??? I mean in this story. :)

Danielle goes to England to go to school and live with her cousin/aunt/uncle and almost immediately encounters a vampire. It's a fight of good versus evil; mortal versus immortal. With a good dose of vampire romance thrown in, in the form of Ethan.

Content: some violence and blood (obviously); a very few mild swear words; romantic *clean* kissing.