Saturday, June 29, 2013

Book Review: Lovestruck Summer by Melissa C. Walker

***--3 Stars.
Publication: May 2009
Length: 272 pages.

Priscilla, aka Quinn, if off on a summer adventure right after graduating from high school. She moves to Austin, TX to intern at a music label and lives with her sorority-crazy cousin. Quinn has the ideal summer fling lined up in her brain, but things don't go quite as planned in reality.

I liked how individual Quinn is--from her hair to her clothing to her type of music. She isn't influenced by the norm. I also liked how her new neighbor got her to branch out a little to get the full experience of Austin.

A light, fluffy, summer read. I still feel young at heart, but sometimes these books are just a tad too fluffy for an "older" reader like me. They are cute, but the characters aren't super developed, so if you're looking for mindless brain candy, this is one for you.

Content: mention of hooking up and teen partying, but no details given.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer Book Trek Challenge

I saw this challenge on a friend's blog and thought it sounded like a lot of fun!! New LDS Fiction is hosting a reading challenge during the month of July. Basically, whether you are LDS or not, you read as many books by as many LDS authors as you can to earn points. There are prizes available too!! It's a win-win situation for anyone who loves to read and loves a challenge.

My list:
1.  Miss Grimsley's Oxford Career by Carla Kelly (finished 7/8)
2.  Ashes Ashes by Julie Coulter Bellon (finished 7/4)
3.  A Timeless Romance: Summer Wedding Collection (finished 7/30)
4.  A Timeless Romance: Spring Break Collection (finished 7/26)

5.  The Knight of Redmond by Jennifer K Clark (finished 7/13)
6.  A Glimmer of Hope by Sarah M Eden (finished 7/30)
7.  Longing for Home by Sarah M Eden (finished 7/15)

8 . Second Chances by Melanie Jacobson (finished 8/1)
9.  Pwned by Shannen Crane Camp (finished 7/18)
10.A Longtime and at One Point Illegal Crush by Janette Rallison (finished 7/24)
11. Emma: A Latter-Day Tale by Rebecca Jamison (finished 7/23)
12. Not Your Average Fairy Tale by Chantele Sedgwick (finished 7/1)
13. Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson (finished 7/2)

(I'll mark the ones I've read in red. Haha).

There are soooo many that I want to choose, but I'll start with these 13 and see how I do. Join up, if you're up for the challenge!!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Book Review: She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell

****--4 stars.
publication: April 2010
length: 398 pages
Amazon's book description:
For a young society woman seeking a favorable marriage in the late 1890s, so much depends on her social season debut. Clara Carter has been given one goal: secure the affections of the city's most eligible bachelor. Debuting means plenty of work--there are corsets to be fitted, dances to master, manners to perfect. Her training soon pays off, however, as celebrity's spotlight turns Clara into a society-page darling.
Yet Clara wonders if this is the life she really wants, especially when she learns her best friend has also set her sights on Franklin De Vries. When a man appears who seems to love her simply for who she is, and gossip backlash turns ugly, Clara realizes it's not just her heart at stake--the future of her family depends on how she plays the game.

My Review:  I was shocked by the realization that this time period wasn't all it's cracked up to be!! I've often thought about what it would be like to "come out" into society and attend balls, teas, parties, and be seen around town. I picture the beautiful dresses and handsome gentlemen flirting and trying to land a spouse. I envision the delicate foods and hear the orchestra playing, while taking in the decorations of the room. But it did not even occur to me that this time period was pure torture!! Those evil corsets, crushing the breath out of a girl; the pressure to land someone with money, regardless of love or even any affection towards the person at all; the many, many rules that are to be followed and which ones are allowed to be broken; the fake mask that one must wear at all times; the ignorance of things that really matter.

I was fascinated by this story and really got caught up in it. I liked that way that Lizzie and Clara tried to maintain their friendship. I could just picture Aunt--what a character!! Money trumps all in her opinion.

Content: clean.

To purchase, click here.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Book Review: The Elite (Selection book 2) by Kiera Cass

****--4 Stars
Publication: April 2013
Pages: 323
Description: Kiera Cass’s The Elite is a must-read for fans of dystopian fiction, fairy tales, and reality TV. This sequel to The Selection will enchant teens who love Divergent and The Bachelor.

In America Singer’s world, a bride is chosen for the prince through an elaborate televised competition. In the second book of the Selection series, America is one of only six girls left in the running. But is it Prince Maxon—and life as the queen—she wants? Or is it Aspen, her first love?

The Elite delivers the adventure, glamour, political intrigue, and romance readers of The Selection expect, and continues the love triangle that captivated them.

My Review: I'm assuming this will be a trilogy series and for me, the 2nd book in a trilogy is often what I call a "bridge book." Nothing much happens but the things that do are essential for the story to connect the exciting book one and the ending in book 3. This book totally blew my theory out of the water!! I was completely captivated and had no idea where the story would lead. I was shocked in places and dreamy-eyed in others. I was amazed at how much feeling this story evoked. I am also completely torn on who to cheer on in this messed up love triangle!!

America. Good grief, girl!! Make up your mind about who you want!! She is only 16 or 17, so she can be given some leeway in her fickleness, but it's making me crazy.

Maxon. I absolutely loved him...until about 1/4 of the way through. I wasn't happy with him at all, but I guess, in a way, he did redeem himself and I may end up cheering him on after all. I'm still torn.

Aspen. He needs to stop taking risks because he's going to give me a heart attack with all his sneaking around.

Anyway...I really, really liked this book and can't wait to see what's going to happen next. I am going to go crazy waiting for the next book to come out.

Content: some language; some violence; some kissing. Nothing too graphic.

To buy it on amazon, click  here.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cover Reveal--My Own Mr. Darcy by Karey White

After being dragged to the 2005 movie Pride and Prejudice by her mother, sixteen-year-old Elizabeth’s life changes when Matthew Macfadyen’s Mr. Darcy appears on the screen. Lizzie falls hard and makes a promise to herself that she will settle for nothing less than her own Mr. Darcy. This ill-advised pledge threatens to ruin any chance of finding true love. During the six intervening years, she has refused to give any interested suitors a chance. They weren’t Mr. Darcy enough.

Coerced by her roommate, Elizabeth agrees to give the next interested guy ten dates before she dumps him. That guy is Chad, a kind and thoughtful science teacher and swim coach. While she’s dating Chad, her dream comes true in the form of a wealthy bookstore owner named Matt Dawson, who looks and acts like her Mr. Darcy. Of course she has to follow her dream. But as Elizabeth simultaneously dates a regular guy and the dazzling Mr. Dawson, she’s forced to re-evaluate what it was she loved about Mr. Darcy in the first place.

Karey White grew up in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Missouri. She attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University. Her first novel, Gifted, was a Whitney Award Finalist.

She loves to travel, read, bake treats, and spend time with family and friends. She and her husband are the parents of four great children. She teaches summer creative writing courses to young people and is currently working on her next book.

Excerpt 1

Janessa folded her arms and looked at me for so long I started to squirm. “What?”
“I wish you’d look at yourself. You’re ruining your life with this stupid obsession.”
“I’m not obsessed.” I stood up quickly, nearly tipping my chair over. I rinsed my plate and put it in the dishwasher. I could feel Janessa’s eyes on me the entire time, but I refused to look at her. “And just because I’m not interested in this guy doesn’t mean my life is ruined.”
“Let me guess. Was he blond?”
“Knock it off.”
“Too short?”
“He wasn’t short. I’ve got to go.” I left the kitchen with Janessa on my heels.
“Was he too cheerful?”
“Oh brother. I’m not having this conversation with you.”
Janessa grabbed my arm and turned me toward her. “Yes, you are.”
“I’m going to be late for work.”
“Then we’d better talk fast.”
“I don’t have anything to say,” I said.
“Then I’ll talk. You listen. You have to start giving these guys a chance.”
I folded my arms tightly. “I give them a chance.”
“You give them one date, two at the most. But you’re not really giving them a chance because your mind’s already made up before you even go out.”
I was getting annoyed. “I don’t have time for this conversation again.” Janessa was practically reciting word for word what she’d said after my last date. And the one before that.
“Lizzie. If you don’t want to have the same conversation, do something different. Shake things up a little.” She smiled and did a little shimmy. I refused to smile no matter how silly she looked.
“How do you suggest I do that?”
“If this guy… What’s his name?”
“If Chad calls you back, go out with him again.”
“I don’t see the point.”
“Did you get a serial killer vibe from him?”
“No, I got a nice-guy-that-doesn’t-deserve-to-be-led-on vibe from him.”
“Nice guys are good. So you’ll say yes, right?”
“If I’m not interested, it wouldn’t be fair to say yes.”
“Oh knock off the baloney. You haven’t been fair to a guy since high school. You’re just afraid if you get to know a guy, you might like him. And wouldn’t that be awful? Was Chad funny?”
“Yes, he was funny.”
I sighed. “I don’t know if I’d call him handsome, but he was cute.”
“Cute is good. Especially if he was funny. So go out with him again.”
“You act like it’s all up to me.” I walked to the closet and collected my purse. Like a tiger leaping on her prey, Janessa pounced at the bowl on the entry table and grabbed my car keys. “This isn’t funny, Janessa. I’m going to be late for work.”
“Then let’s make a deal. You agree to go out with him ten times before you toss him aside and I’ll give you your keys.”
“Ten times? No way.”
“That’ll give you time to get to know him.”
“You’ve got to be kidding.”
“I’m serious, Lizzie. Ten is a good number. In that amount of time, you can make a real decision. Instead of one based on a stupid movie.”
Now Janessa was skipping through a minefield. “It’s not a stupid movie and I’ve got to go.”
“It’s the stupidest movie in the world if it ruins your life.”
“Nothing’s ruining my life and I’m going to be late. Give me my keys and we’ll talk about this later.” A little tussle ensued as I tried to rescue my keys from her clutches. I almost had them when she darted to the bathroom and shut the door hard and fast, locking it behind her. “This is real mature.”
“I don’t care about mature. You’re my best friend, Lizzie.  I love you and I’m trying to save you from yourself.”
I banged on the door. “Give me the keys. Now.” My voice had become shrieky.
“I’ll give you the keys as soon as you promise you’ll go out with him ten times.”
“I doubt he’ll ask me out again.”
“Why? Were you a jerk?”
“Are you sure?”
I hesitated, knowing I hadn’t been very good company. “I’m pretty sure.”
“If he doesn’t ask you out, you have to ask him.”
“No way am I asking out a guy ten times. No way!”
“You just have to ask him out once. If he doesn’t return the favor you can move on. But you have to be nice to him and give him a reason to want to ask you out again.”
“This is the dumbest idea you’ve ever had.”
“Listen Liz, I’m doing this for you. Give a guy a chance before you give him the old heave-ho.”
I leaned my head on the door. “Just give me the keys. Please.” Now I was whining.
“You’re the one keeping yourself from your keys. And probably true love.”
I looked at my watch. Now I’d have to risk a speeding ticket or get to work five minutes late. I wasn’t sure which was worse—a ticket from a police officer or a tongue-lashing from Delia.
“Fine. I’ll go out with him again if he asks me.”
“If he doesn’t ask me, I’ll ask him?”
“Right. And how many times will you go out with him?”
“Way too many,” I said under my breath.
“I can’t hear you.”
“Ten times. If he asks me.”
The door cracked open. “And you’ll be nice to him?”
“Whatever you say. Now give me the keys.”
Janessa emerged from the bathroom and triumphantly dropped my keys into my outstretched hand.
“You’re an idiot,” I said.
“An idiot that loves you and wants you to be happy,” she said. She turned and headed down the hall. “Someday you’ll thank me,” she sang.
“If I don’t kill you first.” I slammed the door behind me.

Excerpt 2

It was a busy Monday morning. I was looking out at the line of waiting customers when he walked in. I gasped, shut my thumb in my cash drawer, and then tried not to cry while Mr. Sandoval from a hearing aid store asked me if I was okay.
When I finished Mr. Sandoval’s transaction, I looked at him again. He was taller than anyone in the room. Of course. His hair was dark and a little disheveled. It was hard to see from where I was, but his eyes looked like they were blue. And best of all, he didn’t smile. He looked gorgeously unpleasant and impatient. He looked around the room and his eyes met mine. Still he didn’t smile. My heart was racing. He looked perfect.
I did my best to time it so I’d be his teller. I went a little too fast with one customer and accidentally shorted her a twenty dollar bill. I tried to concentrate as I corrected the transaction. I slowed way down on the next customer, but just when I thought I was finished and would be able to help him next, my customer asked me to break a ten into change. He walked up to Courtney’s window while I counted out nickels and dimes. Furious, I stomped my foot. Not too loudly but enough to release a little of my frustration.
I listened closely as Courtney helped him to see if I could learn anything, but he hardly spoke. He gave a terse nod when Courtney thanked him for coming in and turned on his heel and left. He had excellent posture and a nice, confident stride.
I finished with my customer, and then before anyone else could step forward, I picked up the phone and dialed Courtney’s extension. She glanced at her phone’s display and looked over at me curiously.
            “Who was that?” I whispered when she picked up the receiver.
“Elizabeth, look how many customers there are.”
“I know. Just tell me who that was.” I watched as Courtney picked up her last transaction slip.
“His name is Matt Dawson.”
“Is he married?”
“I have no idea,” Courtney said.
“Was he wearing a ring?”
“I didn’t look. What’s going on, Lizzie?”
“I just need to know about him.”
“Well, I don’t know anything about him and Delia’s watching us. I’ve gotta go.”
Matt Dawson. Matt. Matthew. Like Matthew Macfadyen. Dawson. It was pretty close to Darcy. The only way it could be better is if his name was Fitzwilliam but I’d never met a Fitzwilliam in my life.
Matt Dawson.
This had to be a sign.  

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Book Review: The Selection (The Selection, #1) by Kiera Cass

  *****--5 stars

My Review: I just re-read this one to refresh my mind in anticipation of the 2nd book in the series. Wow--last things first--what a cliffhanger ending! That said, The Selection was a great mix of a dystopian, royalty, and dating show. In the future, the US was overtaken and a new kingdom was formed. The princes have to go through a selection, selecting from 35 girls, to find themselves a wife. Some things are broadcasted on tv for all to see and magazines contact popularity surveys, which have to be taken into consideration. This current selection is in the midst of a brewing war, which complicates things.

America Singer is from the musical caste and becomes fast friend's with the prince when her lower caste boyfriend encourages her to apply and then dumps her. She is torn and heartbroken, but does what she needs to do to help her family and herself. I can't wait to see where this story goes!!

America seems conflicted to me--she doesn't quite know what she wants, but she's determined to speak her mind and bend the rules. She tries to stay true to who she is and not become someone she's not, unlike some of the other girls. I think she wants to have her cake and eat it too, because she wants the best of both worlds, but that's not always possible. I really felt connected with America and could feel her torment in trying to decide what she wants and how to accomplish what's best for herself, Maxom, Aspen, her family, her friends, and her country.

Content: kissing scenes and a handful of language.

If you are a fan of reality tv, royalty, romance with a dash of Dystopian, you don't want to miss this one!! Pick it up here.

Monday, June 24, 2013

FREE ebook and Book Review: The Heavenly Surrender by Marcia Lynn McClure

*****--5 Stars
Book Description: Genieva Bankmans had willfully agreed to the arrangement. She had given her word and she would not dishonor it. But when she saw, for the first time, the man whose advertisement she had answered…she was desperately intimidated. The handsome and commanding Brevan McLean was not what she had expected. He was not the sort of man she had reconciled herself to marrying. This man, this stranger whose name Genieva now bore, was strong-willed, quick-tempered and expectant of much from his new wife. Brevan McLean did not deny he had married her for very practical reasons only. He merely wanted any woman whose hard work would provide him assistance with the brutal demands of farm life. But Genieva would learn there were far darker things, grave secrets held unspoken by Brevan McLean concerning his family and his land. Genieva Bankmans McLean was to find herself in the midst of treachery, violence and villainy with her estranged husband deeply entangled in it.

My Review: This is the first Marcia book I read and of course, that makes it one of my favorites. I love the marriage of convenience plot. The relationship the siblings has is great and I love how accepting they all are of Genieva. Even though this shows a flaw, I love Genieva's little jealous streaks that cause her to rant and throw a fit. I can totally picture the pond, the orchards, the farm. I love how Marcia paints a picture in my mind with her words.

Marcia has tainted my opinion of a book hero--in a good way, of course!! These men are manly men who are perfectly perfect for their lady--flaws and all. Brevan is no different. He's hardworking, almost to a fault; he's tough, yet tender; he's very protective of those he cares about. 

Content: some language and a little violence; kissing--uh huh--it's all about the kissing in Marcia's books.

This one is FREE today on amazon!! Get it here while the deal lasts!!

Book Review: Belonging by Karen Ann Hopkins

***--3 stars (minus one for content).
Publication: May 2013
Length: 418 pages
Description (from amazon):
I left everything I knew behind.
But it was worth it. He was worth it.
No one thought an ordinary girl like me would last two minutes living with the Amish, not even me. There are a lot more rules and a lot less freedom, and I miss my family and the life I once had. Worst of all, Noah and I aren't even allowed to see each other. Not until I've proven myself.
If I can find a way to make it work, we'll be Noah & Rose together forever.
But not everybody believes this is where I belong.

My Review: Belonging picked right up where Book 1, Temptation, left off, which was great for me, since I had just re-read it.

Rose is trying to adjust to life as an Amish woman, in hopes of being accepted into the church so she can marry her soul mate. She falls into a good friendship with three girls, who may end up being her downfall. I can't imagine how it would be for her to give up all the "worldly" things she loves to be with Noah. I kept wondering if she'd end up regretting it down the road.

Noah was tough. Before, he could hardly keep his hands off her and now he won't even hardly spare a glance her way--most of the time. He's so dedicated to his way of life.

I was taken off guard by a couple of twists and turns in the book. I like to be surprised in a story, especially if it is done in a realistic way, which this one was.

I was a little disappointed in the content in the story, although some of it was necessary to the storyline. My personal beliefs seems to carry over to what I am comfortable reading about.

Content: language, including one use of a very offensive word; innuendos and talk of intimate behaviors; consummation of relationships, although details were mostly behind closed doors; teen drinking; an instance of violence. This is another one that is technically clean in the romance department, but left me feeling a little uncomfortable. I would NOT recommend it for younger teens.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Book Review: The Prince (The Selection #0.5) by Kiera Cass

****--4 stars.
length: 55 pages
publication: (ebook only) March 2013

My Review:

I really loved the back story we get in this little novella that goes along with The Selection. I loved getting into the prince's head for a little bit to understand him better and to see things from a different point of view.

My only complaint--where did Daphne go?? Yes, I know she left, but we never see or hear of her again. So far...

Short and sweet...and clean.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Book Review: Temptation by Karen Ann Hopkins

****--4 stars.
length: 385 pages
publication: June 2012
Amazon book description:  
Your heart misleads you. That's what my friends and family say.
But I love Noah. And he loves me. We met and fell in love in the sleepy farming community of Meadowview, while we rode our horses together through the grassy fields and in those moments in each other's arms. It should be ROSE & NOAH forever, easy.
But it won't be.
Because he's Amish. And I'm not.

My Review: I read this one last year and enjoyed it. Is it just me or is there an obsession with all things Amish lately? I can't decide if it's the thoughts of a simpler life or like looking into a secret-ish society, but I find it quite fascinating. There seems to be quite an influx of Amish fiction books. This one is marked YA, but I wouldn't recommend it to younger teens. It's full of chemistry and attraction, but it seems like all the kissing is a little of the French variety.

 Rose's mother dies and her Dr. dad moves her and her two brothers to rural Ohio--right into the heart of Amish country. Their nearest neighbors, an Amish family, comes to welcome them and as soon as Rose's eyes meet Noah's, one of the sons, there is an instant--and strong--electrical connection. Their worlds aren't supposed to mix, but they form a forbidden romance anyway.

Noah is such a gentleman and so intense--he has smoldering looks. :) He would do just about anything for Rose, yet this time around, he came across as quite possessive and not willing to give an inch. Rose is a typical 16 year old girl who becomes almost desperate in her love for Noah. I thought she was a little immature, thinking that this boy is her whole world, but isn't that how a first, teen love is?

One of my favorite things was the normal relationship between Rose and her brothers. I thought the insight into the Amish world was interesting and really enjoyed how each chapter went back and forth between Rose's and Noah's points of view. Content: some language; mention of teen drinking and promiscuous behavior, but if any happens, it's behind closed doors; pretty intense kissing scenes.

If you want to give this one a whirl, you can purchase it on amazon.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Spontaneous Midsummer's Eve Giveaway Hop!!!

I'm happy to be participating in my first blog hop, hosted by I Am a Reader Not a Writer!!

I've decided to give a copy of Northanger Alibi by Jenni James to one lucky winner. This book was a fun, summer read and kept me laughing. To enter, fill out the rafflecopter below and feel free to link up to the other blogs participating in the hop. Thanks for stopping by!!

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**US Residents only for my giveaway**

Book Review: Dead Running by Cami Checketts

****--4 stars.
Cassidy Christensen is running.
Running from the mercenaries who killed her parents.
Running from a scheming redhead intent on making her life miserable.
Running from painful memories that sabotage her dreams of happiness.
With two very tempting men competing for her attention, she hopes she'll finally have someone to run to, but can she trust either of them? When secrets from her past threaten her family, Cassidy decides to stop running and fight for her future.

A light-hearted and clean romantic suspense, Dead Running will have you lacing up your running shoes and impatiently waiting for the sequel.
The short sequels Dying to Run and Running Home are now available for only $.99.

My Review: Having grown up in Cache Valley, I could totally picture the places that Cassidy (Cassie) ran. When different streets, towns, landmarks, etc were mentioned, I was there!

Cassie wins an entry in a marathon and begins training--having hardly any running experience! She runs into some crazy characters and some scary situations that seem to be related to her parents murders a few years earlier.

I was not expecting the humor in this story. Cassie had funny nicknames for everyone (Hot Redhead, Dr. Tattoo, etc) and she was a walking disaster--meaning, clumsy and crazy things were always happening to her. She was also quite witty.

I did enjoy the almost love triangle situation as well. A fun, suspenseful, entertaining read. To buy this, click here.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Book Review: Band of Sisters: Coming Home by Annette Lyon

****--4 stars.
Five women became fast friends when their husbands were deployed to Afghanistan. But as they welcome the soldiers home, what should be a joyful time soon becomes painful. Kim, who had a baby while her husband was away, knows how to be a mother but has forgotten how to be a wife. Nora, accustomed to taking care of herself during the long years of her husband’s absence, resents having to forfeit her independence. Jess’s already troubled marriage turns dangerous, while Brenda struggles to manage her husband’s psychological trauma. And Marianne faces her crushing loss, compounded with worry over wayward children. Each woman must draw upon her bond of friendship and faith to find the strength, courage, and insight needed to move forward, proving that even the hardest of trials cannot break this loyal band of sisters.

My Review: I had no idea what women go through when their husbands re-enter life after military service. This story continues on with the five women from the first book and how they adjusted to this new phase of life. I think about every typical situation was covered. I loved the unlikely bond that these women formed, becoming as close as sisters, supporting one another in their times of need. Very powerfully written. I loved feeling that closure of the men coming home. I'm so grateful for those who are willing to serve and protect our country and for the women who are left home, holding things together. They all make sacrifices for us. To purchase, click here .

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Book Review: Band of Sisters by Annette Lyon

****--4 stars.  
When the war on terror calls their husbands to duty, five LDS women are left behind to fight battles of their own: Kim, newlywed and pregnant, frightened of what the future might bring; Brenda, struggling to manage three unruly boys and a crippling bout of depression; Jessie, secretly grappling with mixed feelings about her emotionally abusive husband; Marianne, wrestling with a rebellious teenage daughter; And Nora, the seasoned Army wife with perfect hair, an immaculate home — and an ill-tempered mother dying of cancer.
Knowing the separation of deployment is extremely difficult, Nora gathers the wives every week to share lunches and burdens. In good company, they worry over safety in the field and stability at home and offer one another counsel and comfort. But as their personal crises build, each woman faces the risks of forming deep bonds of trust. And when tragedy strikes, they must confront the painful realities of war that pull families apart and bring friends together as sisters.
My Review: I really enjoyed this story. I never really realized how hard things must be for women who are left behind to deal with kids and other issues while their husbands are deployed. I know it may not be the exact circumstances that these women deal with, but this story really gave me a better understanding.

Band of Sisters follows the story of 6 women and their lives during their husbands year-long deployment to Afghanistan. They get together for lunch every week to support one another and build up new friendships. Although they are at different stages in life and have different situations, they become like sisters.

My only complaint: it followed their lives through all sorts of things, but when the book ended, the deployment was only half over. I would have liked to see it through that year and have all the men come home. :)
***NOTE*** There is a book 2, so things did get wrapped up. Good thing!!

To purchase, click here .

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Book Review: Rapunzel Untangled by Cindy Bennett

*****--5 Stars.
Told that she must be indoors at all times, Rapunzel feels trapped in the huge mansion where she lives. But when school demands to allow her access to the Internet, she discovers Facebook and becomes friends with Fane, a local teenager who changes her whole world. This story will have you entangled from beginning to end.

My Review: I loved this modern version!! Rapunzel is a girl who believes that if she comes in contact with anyone--or leaves her tower rooms, for that matter--she will die from her disease. Her mother, Gothel, believes that Rapunzel should be educated, but doesn't want to take the time to figure out technology, so...while doing an Internet search for a Biology assignment, she stumbles onto Facebook and a whole new world opens us to her--one that includes friends.

Fane is just great!! I love how brave and funny he is. He makes it his own personal mission to introduce Rapunzel to things she's been missing out on.

I loved the new take on an old favorite. This is one story that I can't wait to read again...and again.

Content: some talk of witchcraft; mild violence; mild kissing.
To purchase, click here .

Monday, June 17, 2013

Book Review: Someone To Watch Over Me by Taylor Michaels

****--4 stars. Which is harder, trusting someone with your heart or your life? Morgan Kennedy is a woman with responsibilities, a lot of them. Since her father’s heart attack she’s taken over the management of the family’s jewelry store and upcoming annual charitable fundraiser. Still feeling the sting from a recent breakup, she has buried herself in work and is unaware that someone has been following her. When an accidental encounter causes her stalker to emerge from the shadows, she needs a bodyguard. Shawn Randall fled Los Angeles and a career providing protection for the rich and famous to start again in Phoenix. He’s seen it all and has one unbreakable rule; never get emotionally involved with a client. Learning that lesson almost cost him all he held dear. However, this assignment may deliver more than he’s bargained for. Protecting Morgan may be the easy part safe guarding his heart just may turn out to be the toughest assignment he’s ever had.
My Review: Someone to Watch Over Me is a fast-paced story of a busy girl, Morgan, who suddenly finds herself being stalked and in need of a bodyguard. Shawn is used to protecting the rich and famous, but has had enough of that life and starts up a security company in AZ with a buddy. Although he's used to providing security now, he's willing to do a favor for a friend.

Morgan is a girl with some backbone, even though she seems to panic occasionally. Who wouldn't, with a crazy guy threatening you?? I would personally want to hide out until the guy gets caught, but since she has taken over her family's jewelry business and is in the midst of putting on a fundraising show, she can't and won't do that. Shawn takes his job very seriously and because of the past, he tries so hard to resist his attraction to Morgan. He is an all-around good guy. I like their connection and how well they work together. The suspense was good, with some twists and turns. I would have liked to have a little background on how this guy came to know Morgan.

Now for one little tip: I know some people are sticklers on editing. I did come across some places where there were misspellings, no punctuation, and a little confusion on a guy's name--is it Frankie or Frank? But don't let that turn you off, because if you look past all that, it really is a good, suspenseful story.

Content: some language, some violence (nothing too graphic), some kissing.

**I won this on a goodreads giveaway and that in no way influenced my review.** To purchase, click here.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Book Review: Starring Me by Krista McGee

****--4 stars.
Kara McKormick is told she’s auditioning to star in a new teen variety show. It’s what she isn’t told that could change her life.
The feisty New Yorker moves to sunny Orlando to participate in a month-long audition, where she’ll live with nine other contestants and an eccentric housemother. Kara knows that the show already has a big-time celebrity lined up for the co-host, but she doesn’t know who it is.
Chad Beacon quickly rose to fame after winning America’s Next Star, but he doesn’t want his entire career to be about singing. There is so much more he wants to do—like act. The new variety show sounds like the perfect next step for him, but his parents want him to have a co-star who shares his faith since they’ll be spending so much time together.
Acting is high on Kara’s priority list. But a relationship with God? Not so much. But God is after Kara’s heart and He’s put people in her life who are showing her there’s far more to Christianity than rules and judgment.
And just when it seems that Kara’s going to have to give up her acting dream, God reveals that she may have a starring role after all—in a story so big only He could write it.
 My Review: Kara has the dream to be a star--on tv. When an opportunity comes her way, she jumps on it. What she doesn't realize is that she's really auditioning for something else.

This is a Christian fiction novel that had moments of little preachy parts, but most of the story was great. Kara has never been religious and it seems that she's ready to be, since almost everyone she comes in contact with is. She's a genuinely nice, caring girl. Chad is a star who is very religious, yet he can't get his mind off of Kara. I thought it was a little weird for him to decide and stick to his dating policy, especially being a celebrity, but worked. There were some mean, catty, deceiving girls and I loved the descriptions of how snotty they were. To buy this one, click  here .

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Book Review: Kiss in the Dark by Marcia Lynn McClure

*****--5 Stars!!
Publication: December 2010
250 pages

Excerpt (from Goodreads):
“Boston,” he mumbled. “I mean…Logan…he’s like the man of my dreams! Why would I blow it? What if…” Boston continued to babble. “Boston,” he said. The commanding sound of his voice caused Boston to cease in her prattling and look to him. “What?” she asked, somewhat grateful he’d interrupted her panic attack. He frowned and shook his head. “Shut up,” he said. “You’re all worked up about nothing.” He reached out, slipping one hand beneath her hair to the back of her neck. Boston was so startled by his touch, she couldn’t speak—she could only stare up into his mesmerizing green eyes. His hand was strong and warm, powerful and reassuring. “If it freaks you out so much…just kiss in the dark,” he said. Boston watched as Vance put the heel of his free hand to the light switch. In an instant the room went black.

My Review:
I've read this one a couple of times and have loved it!! Marcia is an amazing writer. Her books really come to life and the characters seem so real, probably because she infuses them with so much of her own personal experiences and uses characteristics of those close to her. Another thing that I love about Marcia is that she is able to write so many different genres and do them all so well. This is one of her contemporary stories.

Boston has a "poisonous" friend and roommate and she has had enough. This roomie, Stephanie, was quite a crazy!! Her best friend's brother, Vance, is temporarily living with her, so once he leaves, Boston can move in. But...he's a hero and makes it possible for her to do so earlier than planned so she can escape Stephanie.

There a several things that I really loved about this story. I think everyone has had a poisonous friend--someone who brings us down--so it's easy to relate. I also loved how sweet Boston is. She can't say no and wants the best for everyone. She feels guilt about things when she shouldn't. She tries and tries to help this friend. Vance was a great "hero"--not perfect, but perfect for her. He was kind of rough around the edges, but still such a manly man.

This group of friends would get together for parties quite regularly. Those party games sure took me back to my high school days. Fun! And last, but not least, I'm really craving a chocolate Tootsie pop now. :)

Content: kissing and some mild language.

To buy this book, click here.

The Sunshine Award!!

The Sunshine Award

June 13, 2013 

The Sunshine Award is presented to “bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” 

Thanks to Melanie of Mel's Shelves for the nomination!! What a fun surprise. :)

Here’s how it works (and feel free to adjust as necessary):

1. Announce your win and link back to the person who nominated you.

2. Display the award logo on your blog.

3. Answer the list of questions. (You have two choices here: Kimberly’s questions or HonorĂ©’s. Or feel free to mix and match.)

4. Nominate ten bloggers for the award and link to them.

5. Let the bloggers know you’ve nominated them.

Kimberly’s Questions:

What inspired you to start blogging? Melanie asked me if I had a blog and told me if I didn't I should. I'd been toying around with the idea for awhile, but her comment pushed me over the edge. In a good way.

How did you come up with the name of your blog?
I'm not creative. My husband said I should include "clean" in the title, since those are the books I love the most and Melanie suggested "collection." I had a lot of crazy titles on the list.

What is your favorite blog that you like to read?
I don't have one favorite, but I love the ones on my sidebar list.

What is your dream job?
I have my dream job--mom!! But I would love to be a nurse. I don't know why.

Is your glass half full or half empty?
I try so hard to be the glass half full kind of girl, but sometimes I'm not.

If you could go anywhere on a week’s vacation, where would you go?
Somewhere warm and preferably with a beach.

What food can you absolutely not eat?
Rice pudding!! It makes me gag.

Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?
Either!! I've found that when I eat dark chocolate, I don't want as much so I can control what I eat. It's hard to stop with the milk chocolate. I didn't like dark until I got older, but half of my kids prefer it.

How much time do you spend blogging? In other words, are you one of those lucky people who can dash off a blog post in no time, or do you take forever on one post to get it just right?
I don't spend a lot of time. I probably should, because I find typos or things I want to add later.

Do you watch TV? If so, what are some of your favorite shows?
I'd rather read than watch, but I do enjoy Once Upon a Time.

HonorĂ©’s Questions:

Favorite color: PURPLE

Favorite animal: PIG

Favorite number: 22

Favorite non-alcoholic drink: WATER

Facebook or Twitter: I'm pretty quiet on FACEBOOK but I enjoy it more--probably because I understand it better.

Your passion: READING

Giving or getting presents: GIVING

Favorite day: of the week? FRIDAY!! Of the year? Christmas Eve

Favorite flowers: SNAPDRAGONS

I guess I'm a blog stalker. I follow a lot of blogs, but don't actually know many of the bloggers, so I feel weird nominating them. I'm still fairly new at this. Maybe I'll be able to do it later this year. Haha. Well, folks, here's all you wanted to know (and more) about me!!