Friday, March 31, 2017

First Line Friday

Welcome to First Line Friday hosted by Bookworm Nation!
This fun meme is easy to do, simply pick up the book you're currently reading and share the very first line! There are some really good first lines out there, they grab you and suck you right into the story--
make you want to keep reading. My selection for this week is:

Reluctant Rescue by Cami Checketts

"Caylee slunk to the back of the group,
everyone but her anxiously awaiting the
glorious return of their brother and son,
Captain Levi Turner,
from the battlefields of Afghanistan."

Caylee Compton has promised herself she'll never commit to a man. Especially a too-handsome, fun-sucker like volunteer firefighter, physician, and ex-military Captain Levi Turner. Levi is determined to change her mind.
In the beautiful and exciting location of Lake Powell, Caylee fights valiantly to stay strong, but Levi's patience, kindness, and kisses might conquer even her commitment phobia.


What are you reading?

Swoon Worthy Spotlights

Welcome to another one of our new Book Blog Memes
Swoon Worthy Spotlights features 1-3 of our favorite books that we have read during the month.
We will share the cover(s), our review(s)
and a link to each other's posts
so you can check out which books we have all chosen!

Swoon Worthy Spotlights!

The books that made me swoon this month are:

Be sure to stop by and check out the picks by

Courting Carrie in Wonderland by Carla Kelly {Blog Tour Review}

Courting Carrie in Wonderland by Carla Kelly
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 1st 2017 by Sweetwater Books

Struggling through college and balancing her summer job in Yellowstone Park with the Wylie Camping Company, Carrie McKay simply doesn't have time to consider romance. Spanish American War Veteran Sergeant Major Ramsay Stiles also isn't looking for love, busy with his own complicated affairs. But as the magic of Yellowstone starts making its way into their hearts, both begin to see love move up their priority list.  


My Review: 4 Stars

I've been to Yellowstone several times before and found it very interesting to get a glimpse of what it was like over one hundred years ago. I didn't realize that it was called "Wonderland" by some back then. I really enjoyed the descriptions.

The story started off at a meandering pace, picking up a little by mid-point. Ramsay and Carrie are each likable characters, especially when they set off on a new job assignment with Mrs. LaMarque. I love their sweet interactions and the way they both learn to deal with this temperamental woman. They have strengths that they don't even realize, which is endearing.

Yellowstone is a magical setting and no one is immune to its charms. I love the parts with the bears and the changes that the park goes through, as well as the wonderful character growth.

Content: mild violence (descriptions of war, etc); mild romance.

*I received a copy through the publisher, which didn't affect my thoughts in any way.*


Buy Links:

About the Author:

Carla KellyAlthough Carla Kelly is well known among her readers as a writer of Regency romance, her main interest (and first writing success) is Western American fiction—more specifically, writing about America's Indian Wars. Although she had sold some of her work before, it was not until Carla began work in the National Park Service as a ranger/historian at Fort Laramie National Historic Site did she get serious about her writing career. (Or as she would be the first to admit, as serious as it gets.)

Carla wrote a series of what she now refers to as the "Fort Laramie stories," which are tales of the men, women and children of the Indian Wars era in Western history. Two of her stories, A Season for Heroes and Kathleen Flaherty's Long Winter, earned her Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America. She was the second woman to earn two Spurs from WWA (which, as everyone knows, is all you need to ride a horse). Her entire Indian Wars collection was published in 2003 as Here's to the Ladies: Stories of the Frontier Army. It remains her favorite work.

The mother of five children, Carla has always allowed her kids to earn their keep by appearing in her Regencies, most notably Marian's Christmas Wish, which is peopled by all kinds of relatives. Grown now, the Kelly kids are scattered here and there across the U.S. They continue to provide feedback, furnish fodder for stories and make frantic phone calls home during the holidays for recipes. (Carla Kelly is some cook.)

Carla's husband, Martin, is Director of Theatre at Valley City State University, in Valley City, North Dakota. Carla is currently overworked as a staff writer at the local daily newspaper. She also writes a weekly, award-winning column, "Prairie Lite."

Carla only started writing Regencies because of her interest in the Napoleonic Wars, which figures in many of her Regency novels and short stories. She specializes in writing about warfare at sea, and about the ordinary people of the British Isles who were, let's face it, far more numerous than lords and ladies.

Hobbies? She likes to crochet afghans, and read British crime fiction and history, principally military history. She's never happier than talking about the fur trade or Indian Wars with Park Service cronies. Her most recent gig with the National Park Service was at Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site on the Montana/North Dakota border.

Here's another side to this somewhat prosaic woman: She recently edited the fur trade journal of Swiss artist Rudolf F. Kurz (the 1851-1852 portion), and is gratified now and then to be asked to speak on scholarly subjects. She has also worked for the State Historical Society of North Dakota as a contract researcher. This has taken her to glamorous drudgery in several national archives and military history repositories. Gray archives boxes and old documents make her salivate.

Her mantra for writing comes from the subject of her thesis, Robert Utley, that dean of Indian Wars history. He told her the secret to writing is "to put your ass in the chair and keep it there until you're done." He's right, of course.

Her three favorite fictional works have remained constant through the years, although their rankings tend to shift: War and Peace, The Lawrenceville Stories, and A Town Like Alice. Favorite historical works are One Vast Winter Count, On the Border with Mackenzie and Crossing the Line. Favorite crime fiction authors are Michael Connelly, John Harvey and Peter Robinson.

And that's all she can think of that would interest anyone. Carla Kelly is quite ordinary, except when she is sometimes prevailed upon to sing a scurrilous song about lumberjacks, or warble "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" in Latin.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Season of Hope by Sara Jane Jacobs {Review}

Season of Hope (The Seasons Book One) by Sara Jane Jacobs
Kindle Edition, 204 pages
Published March 28th 2017 by Clean Reads    

When Amanda Jarvis prays that a special friend will move into the vacant house near her isolated mountain home, she isn't upset when God sends a boy instead of a girl. But Amanda's not the only one receiving unexpected answers to her prayers. After fleeing with his mother from an abusive father, Tyler Armstrong finds much-needed love and acceptance with Amanda’s family over the next ten years.

As high school graduation nears, Tyler is shocked when one carefree afternoon with Amanda churns up an inner turmoil he would have never imagined; he’s crushing on his best friend. And for the first time in his life he’s hiding a secret from Amanda. Convinced the timing is all wrong, Tyler pushes his feelings aside as he and Amanda prepare for the future. He will soon begin training to pursue his dream of becoming a Navy Seal, while Amanda makes plans to spend the summer in Manhattan with her aunt and then return home to the community college.

When Amanda’s summer job catapults her into a modeling career, she readily accepts the much-needed distraction. Tyler’s impending deployment is turning her world upside down. Along with the fact that she’s falling for her best friend. And, for the first time in her relationship with Tyler, she’s hiding a secret, too.

Phoebe Garrison, Amanda’s controlling aunt, is thrilled when she is given the power to act on behalf of her underage niece. Bored with her Fortune 500 advertising agency, becoming Amanda’s manager is just what she's been looking for to rekindle her aspirations. But as Tyler becomes aware of Phoebe’s obsession to push Amanda into supermodel status, tensions rise. As the three of them become entangled in a mass of concealed ambition and desire, each will make decisions that will send ripples of turbulence across their futures.


My Review: 4 Stars

SEASON OF HOPE is a beautiful story of friendship that spans many years. Amanda and Tyler became instant friends when they were young and Tyler moved into a vacant home on Amanda's mountain. Tyler proves himself as loyal and true over the course of the book, as time and time again, he puts his friend first, teaching her new things, coming to her defense, and using good judgment. He's exactly the kind of friend that everyone longs for. Amanda is somewhat na├»ve and has a slight rebellious streak, but she's also very loyal to her long-time friend. This friendship is one of the most  heartwarming relationships ever.

I almost felt like this book was a journal of sorts. Key events are talked about, but then months or even years will go by without any information. A lot of feelings are told and not shown through illustrative words. Don't get me wrong, I still got caught up in the story, but I would've liked to have been shown these feels.

I kept waiting for something to happen. A few surprises did occur, but for the most part, so far, there's not as much conflict or drama as I was expecting to see. I can't wait to read more!

As these two characters grow, big changes occur in their lives and I have to admit, when the book ended, I yelled, "NOOOO!" because I was almost left hanging. I became invested in their lives and there's no resolution for the pathways they are each on. Fortunately, this is Book 1--phew! Now I just have to be patient.

Content: a very mild scene of violence.

*I received a complimentary copy from the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*


Buy Links:

About the Author:

Sara Jane Jacobs
Sara Jane (most commonly referred to as Jane) lives along the Emerald Coast of Florida with her cat, Selah. Jane loves spending time with family and pretty much anything that involves being outside. She lives a short drive from the beach and considers frequent trips to put her feet in the sand a necessary part of routine health maintenance.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Waiting for Butterflies by Karen Sargent {Blog Tour Spotlight + Giveaway}

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Walrus Publishing
Publication date: April 4, 2017
Number of pages: 296

A mother's love never ends--not even when her life does.

Longing for her family after her sudden death, Maggie becomes a lingering spirit and returns home where she helplessly witnesses her family's downward spiral in the aftermath of her passing.

Her husband is haunted by past mistakes and struggles to redeem himself. Her teenage daughter silently drowns in her own guilt, secretly believing she is responsible for her mother's death. Only her five-year-old, full of innocence, can sense her presence.

Although limited by their grief and lack of faith, Maggie is determined to keep a sacred promise and salvage her family before her second chance runs out.

A tender portrait of a mother whose love reaches beyond possible, WAITING FOR BUTTERFLIES will embrace your heart and not let go.
Karen Sargent creates characters whose imperfect faith collides with real-life conflicts, taking readers on a journey through grace and redemption to discover enduring hope. A romantic element is woven within each story. In addition to writing inspirational novels, she blogs at The MOM Journey, where moms aren't perfect and that's perfectly okay. Her writing has also been featured in Guidepost’s Angels on Earth magazine. When she's not writing, Karen teaches high school and college English and resides in the beautiful Arcadia Valley with her husband and two daughters.

1. This story was inspired by the death of my mother-in-law, who died suddenly and too soon at 61. I wondered, “What if a mother is taken from her family before she is ready to go?” The answer became Waiting for Butterflies.

2. My protagonist is a “lingering spirit,” which some Christian readers might question. After all, we go to Heaven when we die. But…what if God decided to allow a person (like Maggie) to return for some reason? Does the Bible clearly state that is not possible…if God wanted to allow it? I couldn’t find a clear answer, which left just enough wiggle room for my imagination to play.

3. It took me 11 years to decide to write Waiting for Butterflies. When I finally started, writing was easy because I had been imagining the story for so long, and it was fun to finally meet the characters who had been living in my head.

4. The original title of the book was Her Children Shall Rise Up, in reference to Proverbs 31. Then I saw a quote on a journal in a bookstore that inspired the new title. Waiting for Butterflies adds a layer of symbolism and meaning, and without it, the story would not have been the same.

5. I enjoyed naming the minor characters because I borrowed a first name or a last name from people I know. However, the characters have their own identities and personalities. I can’t wait to see if my friends, family, or former students recognize my “shout out” to them!

6. Some of the best twists in the story weren’t planned. I would be busy with something other than writing, and then an idea would suddenly pop into my head. It was always such a surprise!

7. Although it’s not the usual practice, my publisher agreed to let me submit a cover for consideration. I shared my vision with a photographer friend of mine, which inspired her even-better vision. She snapped the photo of the adorable cover model, who is the daughter of a former student. Then I sent the photo to another former student who worked her graphic art magic. I call my cover “a work of heart.” (By the way, the publisher loved it!)

8. My husband hasn’t read my book and probably never will since it’s women’s fiction, unless an ESPN sportscaster recommends it on TV. However, nobody is more proud of my book than he is.

9. People often ask if the characters in my book are similar to my family. In some ways, yes. In many ways, no. Maggie’s fear of losing a child—or being taken from her family while they still need her—are my deepest fears. Sam’s occupation and the sense of responsibility he feels to protect his family are similar to my husband’s. Rachel is an eclectic mix of my daughters—Randi’s creativity, Kelli’s perfectionism—colored by my experience with teens in crisis that I’ve encountered throughout 23 years of teaching high school students. Otherwise, the characters have their own identities, virtues, and flaws.

10. I thought I’d feel like an author once I held Waiting for Butterflies in my hand. But it doesn’t feel like my book. It just feels like I’m holding a book—someone else’s book. (I still can’t believe it.)

SLB Tours Giveaway

Book Launch Giveaway on the Author's Website

Enter the giveaway HERE.

Elissa Blue: Book One of the Winged by T.K. Perry {Book Spotlight}

Elissa Blue: Book One of the Winged
by T.K. Perry
Paperback, 404 pages
Published January 19th 2017 by Scarlet Note Publishing, LLC    

Though she worried it might never happen, Elissa Blue has finally gotten her wings. Now she has a short window of time to migrate to the Mating Mountain, find a husband, and get back down the impassable cliffs before she loses her ability to fly forever. If she doesn’t succeed, she’ll be stranded as a servant in the Old Castle for the rest of her life. And if she doesn’t choose her man wisely, she might be just as miserable. 




Buy Links:

About the Author:

T.K. PerryT.K. Perry lives with her husband and daughter in a lovely Oregon forest filled with wildlife (there is probably a house, too, but that's less picturesque). When she isn't writing or watching said wildlife, she enjoys making jewelry, pretending to be a photographer, and trying to save the world (a frustrating task since she lacks both superpowers and a costume). This is her first published book.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Unexpected Love by Heather Chapman, Paula Kremser, Mandi Ellsworth, and Ashtyn Newbold {Review}

Unexpected Love by Heather Chapman, Paula Kremser, Mandi Ellsworth, and Ashtyn Newbold
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 1st 2017 by Sweetwater Books

Around the turn of the century, matches were made for all sorts of reasons--whether to keep a family together or simply to make ends meet. But love has a way of turning up in the most unexpected places! With four historical romance stories in one, this fun anthology will sweep you from the dance floors of aristocracy to the hearths of country living, leading to love through the most unusual circumstances.

Ashbrook Abbey by Heather Chapman
Though decidedly against marriage, when Ambrose Notley discovers it may win him his uncle's good opinion (and his inheritance), he marries the orphaned Kate Mowbray. But will Kate be able to break down the walls that Ambrose has built around himself?

First Comes Marriage by Paula Kremser
When Letty's sister and husband unexpectedly die, a greedy uncle threatens to steal custody of the children and their money. David, Letty's brother-in-law, marries Letty in the hopes of retaining custody of their niece and nephew. But will this love for show become something deeper?

The Price of Her Heart by Mandi Ellsworth

When Faith McKinney witnesses a crime she shouldn't have seen, she's forced into hiding to protect her own life. As part of this, her uncle arranges her marriage to small-town sheriff Geoffrey. But when the men searching for her find Geoffrey as well, will he be able to protect her?

Beauty and the Beholder by Ashtyn Newbold
When a marriage arranged by chance brings Fanny and Percy together, they quickly learn that clashing personalities and battles of wit are not a recipe for a happy match. How could a marriage between quick enemies ever result in something such as love? But fate has a way of bringing even the most unlikely hearts together...


My Review: 4 Stars

A marriage of convenience is always an intriguing premise and this compilation shows several reasons why those might have occurred. I've always wondered if I could've entered into one myself... Each of these stories has a different voice, as they are written by different authors and it's hard for me to choose a favorite because they are so unique and so much fun.

The reader is treated to a variety of reasons for such a marriage, ranging from gaining an inheritance, to gaining custody of relatives, to being protected, to joining as enemies. I always think of marriages of convenience to be made as a very last, desperate resort, and while that may be the case, things have a way of working out in interesting ways. Each of these stories is sweet and feels complete, although they are short. I really enjoyed each premise and setting--England, out West, and New York--and the characters are really easy to like, as they all inspired me to cheer them on. It's fun how some are snappy, some are gentle, and some are jumpy at the thought of marriage, yet still go through with it. I love how each of them found love and the process of how that finally comes about is so enjoyable. This is a great collection of sweet, historical stories.

Content: mild romance (kissing).

*I received a copy through the publisher, which did not affect my opinions in any way.*


Buy Links:

About the Authors:

Heather Chapman: Being the youngest of four sisters (and one very tolerant older brother), Heather grew up on a steady diet of chocolate, Jane Austen, Anne of Green Gables, Audrey Hepburn, and the other staples of female literature and moviedom. These stories inspired Heather, and she began writing at a young age. After meeting and marrying her husband Mark, Heather graduated magna cum laude from Brigham Young University and settled down in a small farming community with her husband and four children. In her spare time, Heather enjoys volleyball, piano, the outdoors, and just about anything creative.

Mandi Ellsworth: Mandi is an avid reader, a slow jogger, and disinterested in board games of any kind. She lives in Utah with her husband, three children and no pets.

Paula Kremser: Paula Kremser focused on a career in science for a few years after graduating from Brigham Young University. Several years later when she moved with her young family to England, Paula seized the opportunity to focus on her love of the Regency Era. The enchantment of the aristocracy and the fascinating stories from every stately home she visits have been both research and inspiration for her first novel, “Sophia,” and second, “To Suit a Suitor.”

Ashtyn Newbold: Ashtyn Newbold discovered a love of writing early in high school. Inspired by regency period romance, she wrote her first novel at the age of sixteen. Because she can’t vacation in her favorite historical time periods, she writes about them instead. When not crafting handsome historical heroes, she enjoys baking, sewing, music, and spoiling her dog. She dreams of traveling to England and Ireland. Ashtyn is currently studying English and creative writing at Utah Valley University. She lives in Lehi, Utah with her family and is the author of “Mischief and Manors.”

Monday, March 27, 2017

Starting Over at Steeple Ridge by Liz Issacson {Review}

Starting Over at Steeple Ridge by Liz Issacson
ebook, 100 pages
Published March 20th 2017 by Mirror Press    

STARTING OVER AT STEEPLE RIDGE: A brand new contemporary romance novella from Liz Isaacson

Tucker Jenkins has had enough of tall buildings, traffic, and business meetings to determine the next app that will change the world. He's sold his technology firm for billions and traded it for Steeple Ridge Horse Farm in rural Vermont.

Missy Marino has worked at the boarding stable and farm since she was a teen, and she's always dreamed of owning it. But her ex-husband left her with a truckload of debt, making her fantasies of owning the farm unfulfilled.

When she meets Tucker, she starts having a new kind of fantasy—one where they work with the horses together. Tucker didn't come to the country to find a new wife, but he supposes a woman could help him start over in Steeple Ridge. Will Tucker and Missy be able to navigate the shaky ground between them to find a new beginning?

More Timeless Romance Singles:
FROM CAIRO, WITH LOVE by Nancy Campbell Allen


My Review: 4 Stars

Doesn't everyone deserve a second chance? Missy's bad marriage left her with too much debt to purchase the horse farm of her dreams and Tucker needs a change from the fast-pace of city life and is also starting over again--alone.

I love a book that is short and sweet, but still packs an emotional punch. Although it is short, the story takes place over a longer period of time, which makes it very believable, especially as each character works through issues and unresolved feelings.

Missy is hard-working and although she initially tries to fight the attraction she feels towards Tucker, she isn't bitter and rude. Yes, misunderstandings occur, but that only makes for some great plot twists. I love her big, loud, Italian family, especially her blunt brother. As for Tucker, he's used to climbing his way to the top and he didn't get there by loafing around. He works for what he wants. And a sweeter man can't be found. From being a gentlemanly neighbor to acting on the palpable chemistry to learning what he can to make his new adventure successful, he's a charming winner for any lady.

If you love a clean romance, you're sure to love this one, as it's a fun escape. I only wish it was longer because I wasn't ready to leave yet.

Content: mild talk of past violence; mild romance; mild Christian elements.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book, which didn't affect my thoughts in any way.*


Buy Links:

About the Author:

Liz IsaacsonLiz Isaacson writes inspirational romance. In her real life, she is Elana Johnson, author of several YA and adult romance novels. She is a teacher of technology and she wants to travel the world. She loves Ferrero Rocher. Sunsets are her favorite.