Friday, October 31, 2014

Review: Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little


Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little
Hardcover, 397 pages
Expected publication: November 4th 2014 by Harpercollins 
My Source: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review
Description: In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart.

Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.

With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.

Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together.
My Review: This beautifully woven story takes place in 1759 BC. Jayden is a desert girl, one who roams around with her family and tribe, moving a couple of times a year. She is betrothed to her cousin and future king, Horeb, but he seems to have changed in the past few years and she's uncertain that she wants a life with him. When a mysterious stranger, Kadesh, shows up, Jayden's heart finds what it wants--but it's forbidden.
I've never really considered what life would be like way back then. I found myself completely wrapped up in the story--of course, the characters were engaging, but also the way of life, the believes these people had, the way their tribes and society was set up, and to see what was considered acceptable and what was not. I have no idea if this was truly how life was, but it was totally believable. The characters were fantastic! Not only were they each so different, but I could entirely understand why they all did what they did. Their feelings were apparent and their motives were aligned with who they were, good and bad. 
Jayden is such a strong girl. She has an older sister, but Leila is weak and easily swayed. Jayden is true and loyal to the ways of her people and Leila is constantly wanting to find the easier and better way. They were both so different, yet deep down, similar. Kadesh is a man of his word and such a perfect compliment to Jayden. 
There were some twists to the story and some really evil people. It was fascinating to see everything unfold and I was left wanting more--more of this life in the desert. 
Content: no language; some mild to moderate violence, but not too graphic; clean kissing, talk of prostitution without details, an attempted rape. I would consider it clean.
Amazon  *  B&N
About the Author:
Kimberley Griffiths LittleKimberley Griffiths Little was born in San Francisco, but now lives in New Mexico with her husband and their three sons.

For such award-winning middle grade novels as When the Butterflies Came, The Last Snake Runner, The Healing Spell, and Circle of Secrets, her writing has been praised as "fast-paced and dramatic," with "characters painted in memorable detail" and "beautifully realized settings."

Kimberley adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell and makes way too many cookies while writing.

She's stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland; sailed on the Seine in Paris; ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan; shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria.

Her amazing, filmed-on-location book trailers are on Goodreads.

Awards: Southwest Book Award, Whitney Award for Best Youth Novel, Bank Street College Best Books of 2011 & 2014, Crystal Kite Finalist, and New Mexico Book Award Finalist.
Goodreads  *  Website  *  Twitter

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review: More Mormon Origami by Todd Huisken

More Mormon Origami blog tour

More  Mormon Origami by Todd Huisken
Published October 14th 2014 by Cedar Fort Publishing & Media
My Source: I received a PDF in exchange for an honest review

Description: Make more than President Uchtdorf's airplanes out of the sacrament programs; now, your kids can fold the gold plates, a pioneer dress, or the Salt Lake Tabernacle! As you develop the unique skill of creating these simple-to-intermediate origami designs, you will find opportunities to use them with all ages for lessons, activities, crafting, and everyday fun!

My Review: I kind of wish I would have asked for a physical book because I'm a little slow when it comes to folding. The very first part of the book includes directions for basic folds and I immediately felt overwhelmed. However, there are several sections of things you can make and each item is clearly marked with one of three levels, one being the easiest and three being the hardest. I wish I could make everything in this book, but I'll probably stick with level one until I get the hang of it more. 

There are a lot of fun things to make--I loved the Beehive and some of those temples were really cool! It would especially be fun to use different colored papers to make them look more realistic, but I stuck with white. I loved the step-by-step instructions with pictures. It really made things a lot easier to understand.

This is a great book to keep the kids entertained, especially if they enjoy this type of stuff and pick up on it quickly.
Amazon  *  Cedar Fort  *  B&N

Other books by this author:
Mormon Origami

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review: The Girl Who Ate Everything by Christy Denney (Cookbook)

The Girl Who Ate Everything: Easy Family Recipes from a Girl Who Has Tried Them All 

The Girl Who Ate Everything: Easy Family Recipes from a Girl Who Has Tried Them All by Christy Denney
Paperback, 192 pages
Published September 1st 2014 by Cedar Fort 
My Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Description: With five hungry kids, a husband in the NFL, and her own insatiable appetite, Christy Denney has plenty of mouths to feed. Good thing she's created a full playbook of recipes that are guaranteed to get any crowd cheering. And now she's sharing it with you!

From breakfast to dinner to dessert—and all the snacks and munchies in between—you're sure to find something for everyone, like

-Jelly Roll Pancakes
-Buffalo Chicken Pizza
-Sweet and Sour Meatballs
-One Hour Rolls
-Cookie Crusted Chocolate Chip Cake

And, of course, Christy's famous Peanut Butter "Cheese Ball." This book is filled with family-friendly favorites from her popular blog and exclusive new recipes that will make your mouth water. The perfect cookbook for busy moms looking for simple, delicious, and easy dishes the whole family will love!

My Review: When I first got this book, I immediately scanned through and marked the recipes that I for sure wanted to try--and there were a lot of them! I decided to try and narrow it down a bit and do at least one from each category. There were some new favorites discovered and some that my kids were so-so on. There are still more that I want to try, but I wanted to get this review up. These recipes were pretty simple to follow and most of them used basic ingredients that I typically keep on hand.

I didn't get any appetizers made yet, but I'm dying to try the Individual Seven-Layer Dips and the Peanut Butter "Cheese" Ball. 

I made the Bubble Bread--a very hot and cheesy French bread. My family loved it! There were a few pieces left over and those were warmed up and eaten the next day. The blends of cheeses were very good.

I made the Pasta Milano main dish, as well as the Burrito Casserole and Mom's White Chicken Chili. I have a few other recipes on the menu for later this week. The pasta uses a jar of sun-dried tomatoes, which gave it a really good flavor that half of us loved. I have a few who aren't tomato lovers and I thought this would be different enough from regular tomatoes, but it wasn't quite enough for them. It does use heavy cream, so it's not the healthiest dish, but it is very good. The Burrito Casserole was very easy to put together and was a big hit! It was even good warmed up the next day. If you're a Mexican food lover, this one is a must-try. The chili was hearty, good, and made a lot, but I think next time, I would add some corn. I used mild diced green chilies and I think next time, I would change one can for hot, just to give it more of a kick.

The Easy Garlic Mashed Potatoes were yummy and creamy. They're a great alternative to mashed potatoes and gravy, since they're full of flavor.

I have a few desserts on the radar in the next few weeks as well, but I decided to try Janessa's Chex Mix. It was quite addicting, but almost seemed like it had way too much butter. I thought it tasted better after sitting for a few hours so that it wasn't quite so messy and gooey.

I loved the way each recipe was laid out in an easy-to-read way and included a serving amount. I really enjoyed the little personal notes included with every recipe. The equivalent chart in the back was very helpful, too.
Amazon  *  B&N
About the Author:
Image of Christy DenneyI am the mother to three wild and crazy boys and two sweet little girls. I grew up in Mesa, Arizona and am the youngest of ten kids. Being in the kitchen cooking and eating with friends and family is my happy place. I love food and am the author of the blog The Girl Who Ate Everything since 2008. I've been featured on Huffington Post, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Healthy Living Magazine, Woman's Day, and Glamour Magazine.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review: A Better Reason to Fall in Love by Marcia Lynn McClure

A Better Reason to Fall in Love 

A Better Reason To Fall In Love by Marcia Lynn McClure
Published September 9th 2011 (first published April 2010)
Description: Tabby glanced up to see the sales and marketing analyst for the company, Jagger Brodie, walking-rather sauntering-toward the PR office. Without realizing it, a heavy sigh of something akin to longing escaped Tabby's lungs as she watched Jagger Brodie cross the main office space. He was entirely the most attractive man Tabby had ever known-not that she really knew him well, but she knew him well enough to know he was hot! Tall, dark, and handsome, Jagger Brodie looked as if he'd stepped directly out of some sort of trendy clothing store ad, only wearing a business suit instead of nothing but a pair of jeans. He had the deepest green eyes Tabby had ever seen, a flawlessly chiseled jawline, and ebony hair that alluringly beckoned to be combed with female fingers-Tabby's fingers. "Boom chicka wow wow!" Emmy whispered. "Absolutely!" Tabby breathed as she watched Jagger Brodie saunter past. She envied Jocelyn for a moment, knowing he was most likely on his way to drop something off on Jocelyn's desk or to speak with her. Jocelyn got to talk with Jagger almost every day, whereas Tabby was lucky if he dropped graphics changes off to her once a week. "Ba boom chicka wow wow!" Emmy whispered again. "He's sporting a red tie today. Ooo, the power tie! He must be feeling confident." Tabby smiled, amused and yet simultaneously amazed at Emmy's observation. She'd noticed the red tie too. "There's a big marketing meeting this afternoon," she told Emmy. "I heard he's presenting some hardnosed material." "Then that explains it," Emmy said, smiling. "Mr. Brodie's about to rock the company's world!" "He already rocks mine...every time he walks by," Tabby whispered.
 My Review: I've really been in a MLM contemporary mood lately and this one was a lot of fun! Tabby has a good job and has some great friends there. The Foxy Four eat lunch together everyday and talk about their love lives. Every Friday, they take turns choosing a place to go out and eat. Tabby is a redhead, but doesn't have that fiery personality typically associated with gingers. She is sweet and shy and has to take bets to get up her nerve to talk to good-looking men.

Jagger also works with these ladies and every single girl in the office has her eye on him. He has a little side job that comes as a surprise to these girls and causes Tabby to crush even more on him. He's a little old-fashioined, but in a good way, and has charm, charisma, and manners galore.

I love how MLM throws a little of herself into each story. This one has the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon in it. Tabby is a KB expert and I loved how she was able to connect any famous actor to Mr. Bacon. Another love of MLM stories is that the hero and heroine are perfectly imperfect. Tabby has an intense fear of the snow--or at least, of driving in it. But don't worry--Jagger will take care of that. The last biggest love of MLM books is the clean, romantic kissing. This one is no exception.

Content: a couple of mild profanities and some sweet, clean kissing. Clean!

About the Author:
Marcia Lynn McClure 
Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Marcia Lynn McClure grew up influenced by the reminiscent stories of rugged, rural Colorado farm life fascinatingly recounted to her by her parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts…tales of runaway buckboards, mule-drawn plows and dust pneumonia; verbalized images of stream-flooded meadows, frozen over in winter, where a child could peer through the crystal clear ice in wonder at the small fish, snakes and mice sealed in the meadow grasses beneath; stories of hardship and tragedy, love and loss. But always the stories, and the people telling them, bore evidence of the wonder and worthiness of simpler, yet sometimes brutal, times.

These influential people and the family legends they detailed, coupled with her own life experiences and utterly romantic nature, led Marcia to begin writing novels as Christmas gifts for her closest friends…friends who long for a breath of the past and miss the romance of bygone eras; friends searching for moments of distraction from the stressful, demanding times we live in.

And so, knowing that it is the breath of the past and the "take me in you arms and kiss me" kind of moments that so many women long to relive, Marcia spins her tales of love, life and laughter…adventures woven around those compelling, romantic instances that most appeal to a woman's loving heart. Marcia feels that if her readers close one of her books with a contented sigh and a delighted smile, feeling rejuvenated, cheerful and edified, then she has achieved what she set out to do…shower refreshment and happiness on anyone having experienced the story.

Marcia lives in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. There she writes her stories surrounded by her beloved friends and family...and the beautiful desert landscape of New Mexico!

Website  *  Facebook  *  Goodreads

Monday, October 27, 2014

Review: Because of Love by Shauna V. Brown

Because of Love blog tour

Because of Love 

Because of Love by Shauna V. Brown
Paperback, 96 pages
Published October 14th 2014 by Cedar Fort Publishing & Media 
My Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Description: For Christmas, all Phoebe Brown wants is to give her daughters new shoes to replace their heavy leather boots. But because they have very little money, her husband refuses to pay for them. Inspired by true events, this Christmas story shows how the power of love can change even the most begrudging heart.
My Review: Sometimes, as a parent, I do things so that my kids don't have to "suffer" or learn things the hard way, especially if I've already learned it for them. 

In this sweet, inspirational Christmas story, that's exactly what happens. Byron crossed the plains as a Pioneer child and never had good shoes. His feet bled and he has the scars to prove it. He doesn't want his girls (wife and children) to suffer the way he had to, so he always buys them big, thick, heavy boots that will outlive the wearer. Phoebe, his wife, and his three daughters just want to feel pretty and dainty, but he refuses to buy them pretty shoes. After the girls battle bullies and teasers yet again, Byron finally agrees that the girls can buy pretty shoes if they can earn the money, the get creative and set out to do so. 
I loved the simpler times described in the book. The descriptions gave me the desire to make my own butter and cheese, along with my own lavender soap. I thought the imagery was very engaging. I could completely understand Byron's reasoning for the heavy boots, yet at the same time, I was very sympathetic to Phoebe and the girls. Who doesn't want to fit in and feel pretty? I loved the way the girls prayed for softened hearts and the way those prayers were answered. I also loved Bryon and Phoebe's relationship. They were able to talk to one another and took things into serious consideration. The lessons learned about selflessness, hard work, surprises, and love were very tender.
Amazon  *  Cedar Fort  *  B&N

Friday, October 24, 2014

Review: The Women of Longbourn by Gianna Thomas

The Women of Longbourn by Gianna Thomas is Book 6 in the Darcy and Elizabeth series
59 pages, ebook
Published October 15, 2014
Source: I received a copy in exchange for an honest review

Description: - What were the aspirations of The Women of Longbourn? -

"Marriage...the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune." (Pride and Prejudice)

In the early 1800's, young women were expected to be accomplished, marry well, obey their husbands, and bear their children, especially the heir whether to the peerage or the gentry.

But was that true of all The Women of Longbourn?

A short story, The Women of Longbourn, takes a closer look at the Bennet family women and what their dreams may have included. And don't be surprised when you learn that even the female servants had dreams as well.

Come along with Elizabeth Bennet as she records the aspirations of the Bennet women— and the female servants who care for their needs—during the fortnight prior to the Meryton Assembly. And enjoy Lizzy's comments that are interspersed in her journal with the family's interactions and how they may have differed with most families in the early 1800's in Regency England.

And if you've ever wondered exactly what was expected of the female servants in a household such as the Bennets, wonder no more. The Women of Longbourn will give you a bird’s eye view of their duties and how they were carried out in the household of Fanny and Thomas Bennet.

My Review: This is a very short story, but it really delves into the female characters of the beloved Pride and Prejudice story. Written by Lizzy Bennet in a journal format, each woman--even the servants--is given her own chapter that tells more about what she looks like and what her personality is like. I loved reading about each woman's hopes and dreams and enjoyed coming to know each character better. This knowledge helped me understand some of the reasoning behind actions. Like I mentioned before, it's short, but it is fun and clean!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: Where There Is Love by Mya O'Malley

Where There is Love 

Where There Is Love by Mya O'Malley
Published October 10th 2014, 137 pages
My Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

Description: Mia Dennsi is a beautiful young woman who has experienced a challenging childhood. As an out of work teacher, Mia accepts a position for home-schooling a troubled, misunderstood teenager. Mia makes it a priority to help Cassidy overcome her challenges and reach for her dreams. In the process, Mia experiences healing of her own; she is faced with issues she must now come to terms with.

Mia finds a rare friendship in Jamie, her caring and attractive neighbor. The relationship starts off as friendship, but will Mia let this healthy friendship bloom into something more or is she destined to a repeat the vicious cycle of making the same mistakes over and over again?

Through the various twists and turns of Mia’s love life, she is forced to make a decision that will affect her entire future. The reader cannot help but root for this character to succumb to true love and happiness.

My Review: I loved reading this heartfelt story in alternating points of view. The reader gets to enjoy the inner thoughts of both Mia and Jamie. Each chapter is clearly labeled and I never felt confused about who was speaking.

Mia always seems to fall for the wrong kind of man and even though she was warned away from Josh, she can't help herself and finds herself dealing with an unexpected issue. She has worked hard to get through school and is now searching for the job as a teacher. She is offered a position to home school a challenging teen, which really helps Mia learn a lot about herself. 

Jamie is new to the apartment complex and is ready for a relationship. He can't help feeling attracted to Mia, his neighbor, yet she can't give Josh up. Jamie will just have to settle for a good friendship. Why is it good guys never catch the girl?

I could understand Mia's dilemmas, but hated the thought of her jerking Jamie around while trying to make decisions. Timing is everything and I think they both had to go through the experiences they did to end up where they found themselves. Mia basically raised herself and had problems because of that and I loved the way Cassidy, the student, helped her realize that she needed help. Jamie is such a great friend, but sometimes a person needs to take care of his own needs and put his foot down. In doing so, he dug deep within himself to find the truth about his feelings. I loved watching their friendship develop and the way Jamie really stepped in to help Mia when she needed him the most.

Content: I honestly don't remember there being much in the way of language or violence--maybe a word or two; kissing; two very, very vague implied intimate moments--very tastefully done with no details, but the events were necessary for the storyline. Clean!

 Amazon  *  B&N

About the Author:  
Mya O'Malley 
Mya O’Malley was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City, where she currently lives with her husband, daughter and three step-daughters. The family also consists of two boxers; Destiny and Dolce and a ragdoll cat named Colby. Mya earned an undergraduate degree in special education and a graduate degree in reading and literacy. She works as a special education teacher and enjoys making a difference in the lives of her students.
Mya’s passion is writing; she has been creating stories and poetry since she was a child. Mya spends her free time reading just about anything she can get her hands on. She is a romantic at heart and loves to create stories with unforgettable characters. Mya likes to travel; she has visited several Caribbean Islands, Mexico and Costa Rica. Mya is currently working on her fifth novel.
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