Thursday, February 23, 2017

Blog Tour/Review: One Fell Down by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen



One Fell Down, by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen
2017, 255p, Clean Contemporary Mystery/Suspense
My Rating=4 Stars
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher which did not affect my review in any way



When Mikaela York opens an anonymous blue sympathy card with the nursery rhyme “Jack and Jill” written inside, she doesn’t know what to make of it. But soon after, Mikaela and her fiancĂ© are in a tragic car accident, resulting in her husband-to-be’s death. Then when Mikaela’s grandmother loses her life in a hiking accident one year later, an old man gives Mikaela another mysterious blue card at the funeral. After the service, Mikaela’s grandfather asks that she oversee the renovations on his bed & breakfast in New Zealand. When she arrives, Mikaela meets Tui Davies—the inn’s manager—and Brentin Williams, the man Tui expects her daughter to marry. Tui helps Mikaela retrieve a doll from the cellar vault, but the doll turns out to be an evil omen that Mikaela is told she must get rid of before someone is murdered. Meanwhile, the old man from the funeral is bent on revenge and is plotting against everyone who has ever wronged him, and Mikaela is next in line. But until she discovers the killer’s contact in New Zealand, whom can she trust? And while Brentin attempts to help Mikaela overcome her grief, she must decide—is she ready to love again?

First of all, I have to say that I love this eye-catching cover! When it came in the mail, I wanted to dive into it right away! 

The book starts with Mikaela on a trip with her fiance, where he is killed in a car accident. A year later, her grandmother dies, and understandably, she needs some time to recover. Her grandfather asks her to go to New Zealand to oversee renovations on his bed & breakfast. There are some mysterious blue sympathy cards with nursery rhymes that factor into the story as well.

I love that the majority of this book takes place in New Zealand. It was a great setting for Mikaela to heal and move on in life. She meets Brentin, a fellow American, and they are attracted to each other but he has another relationship to deal with first. We also quickly learn who the villain is but it takes a while to learn the motivation behind his master plan, as well as who he has helping him. The story starts out slow, but picks up as the pieces start falling into place. The romance is light and is perfect for this type of book. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys clean mystery/suspense with a dash of romance!


Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen lives with her husband on a small farm in northern Utah. They are the parents of three children and care for a few cows and goats. She has a passion for reading, writing, and music, though not necessarily in that order, and she enjoys traveling with her husband throughout the world. Through those travels, she's discovered she loves the mountains--a good thing since she lives at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. One of her most favorite countries to visit is New Zealand. One Fell Down is Ronda's fourth romantic-suspense novel.


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Book Blast: Sprinkled with Love by Jennifer Faye



Sprinkled with Love by Jennifer Faye

What does one do with a matchmaking cat named Romeo?

Spirited and beautiful, Jillian Parker is one of Marietta’s newest business owners. Still, her mother worries about Jillian’s bare ring finger. So in order to give her mother something else to fuss over, Jillian adopts a cat named Romeo. He turns out to be anything but a docile lap cat.

One snowy night, Romeo makes a break for it. With Jillian right on his heels, they have a near miss with a passing pickup driven by Avery Wainwright, one of Jillian’s closest friends. A rodeo accident has the sexy cowboy returning home to recuperate, and he’s not happy about it.

So when Avery finds himself lassoed into the Bachelor Bake-Off, he turns to the one person who has always helped him out—Jillian. But will teaching him to take chances outside of the show ring have them both discovering that their feelings for each other run much deeper than they ever imagined?



EXCERPT:

What in the world? There was something in the road. Avery tramped on the brakes. He squinted. Between the falling snow and the long shadows of evening, he was pretty certain it was a person.

The pickup hit a patch of black ice. Though he hadn’t been going very fast, the vehicle refused to stop.

Avery’s heart slammed into his ribs. “Move!”

It wasn’t like the person could hear him, but he felt as though he had to do something to gain their attention. The distance between them was shrinking with every beat of his heart.

Five feet.

Four…Three…Two…

And then the truck slid to a stop.

The breath that had been trapped in Avery’s straining lungs rushed out. The surprise, worry, and fright all ganged up on him. In turn, anger pumped in his veins. What had this person been thinking to run out in front of a moving vehicle?

He threw the pickup into Park. Ignoring the pain from his injured leg, he alighted from the truck. “What do you think you’re doing? I almost hit you—”

“You almost hit my cat.”

He immediately recognized the female voice. It was Jillian. What in the world was she doing in the middle of the road in the dark?

With his heart still pounding, Avery stepped around the front of the idling vehicle. A cold breeze rushed past him, but it wasn’t enough to cool his temper. “Do you know how close you came to getting hit?”

“I had to save Romeo.”

Avery shifted his weight to his good leg. “Who? I thought we were talking about a cat.”

“Romeo is a cat.” Jillian stepped in front of the pickup’s headlights and then she lowered her hood.

His next words stuck in his throat. He hadn’t seen Jillian since his brother and sister graduated high school eight or so months ago. Since then he’d been in Marietta infrequently, spending all of his time going from one rodeo to the next.

How was it possible that Jillian had grown even more beautiful? Her long hair was like spun gold and her ivory complexion was flawless. One of the things he admired about her was how she didn’t hide her beauty behind a bunch of makeup. Sure, she wore a little, but not too much.

And this was the first time he’d been alone with her since she’d worked for him. Normally, he had no problem speaking to her, but suddenly things felt awkward. What was up with that?

Author Jennifer Faye

Award-winning author, Jennifer Faye pens fun, heartwarming contemporary romances with rugged cowboys, sexy billionaires and enchanting royalty. Internationally published with books translated into nine languages. She is a two-time winner of the RT Book Reviews Reviewers' Choice Award, the CataRomance Reviewers' Choice Award, named a TOP PICK author, and been nominated for numerous other awards.

Now living her dream, she resides with her very patient husband, amazing daughter (the other remarkable daughter is off chasing her own dreams) and two spoiled cats. When she's not plotting out her next romance, you can find her curled up with a mug of tea and a book.


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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Audiobook Blog Tour/Review: Anybody Can Do Anything by Betty MacDonald




Author: Betty MacDonald

Narrator: Heather Henderson

Length: 8 hours 30 minutes

Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press⎮2016

Genre: Humor, Memoir


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"The best thing about the Depression was the way it reunited our family and gave my sister Mary a real opportunity to prove that anybody can do anything, especially Betty."
After surviving both the failed chicken farm - and marriage - immortalized in The Egg and I, Betty MacDonald returns to live with her mother and desperately searches to find a job to support her two young daughters. With the help of her older sister Mary, Anybody Can Do Anything recounts her failed, and often hilarious, attempts to find work during the Great Depression.


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Betty Bard MacDonald (1907–1958), the best-selling author of The Egg and I and the classic Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle children’s books, burst onto the literary scene shortly after the end of World War II. Readers embraced her memoir of her years as a young bride operating a chicken ranch on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, andThe Egg and I sold its first million copies in less than a year. The public was drawn to MacDonald’s vivacity, her offbeat humor, and her irreverent take on life. In 1947, the book was made into a movie starring Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert, and spawned a series of films featuring MacDonald’s Ma and Pa Kettle characters.

MacDonald followed up the success of The Egg and I with the creation of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, a magical woman who cures children of their bad habits, and with three additional memoirs: The Plague and I (chronicling her time in a tuberculosis sanitarium just outside Seattle), Anybody Can Do Anything (recounting her madcap attempts to find work during the Great Depression), and Onions in the Stew (about her life raising two teenage daughters on Vashon Island).

Author Paula Becker was granted full access to Betty MacDonald’s archives, including materials never before seen by any researcher. Looking for Betty MacDonald, the first official biography of this endearing Northwest storyteller, reveals the story behind the memoirs and the difference between the real Betty MacDonald and her literary persona.



Heather Henderson is a voice actress and audiobook narrator with a 20-year career in literary and performing arts. Her narrations include the NYT bestseller (now also a feature film) Brain on Fire; and Sharon Creech’s The Boy on the Porch, which won her an Earphones award and was named one of the Best Children’s Audiobooks for 2013 by Audiofile Magazine. She earned her Doctor of Fine Arts degree at the Yale School of Drama, and is co-curator of AudioEloquence.com, a pronunciation research site for the audiobook industry. In 2015, Heather was a finalist for a Voice Arts Award (Outstanding Narration, Audiobook Classics), for her narration of Betty MacDonald’s The Egg and I.


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Click to listen to an excerpt of Anybody Can Do Anything



My Rating=4 Stars
Source: I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Linda MacDonald. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion in any way.

This is the third book in Betty MacDonald's memoirs but works well as a standalone. It's the first one I've listened to, though, so it seemed like she glossed over her failed marriage and then I realized that she details that in a previous book. In this book, she's back home with her mother who helps her take care of her two young daughters while she goes to work.

Her sister, Mary, is hilarious. She is constantly finding Betty jobs, usually the one she's leaving, and gives Betty glowing recommendations, even though Betty can't do most of what Mary says she can. She also finds Betty lots of dates, usually the men she turns down, suggesting they go out with her sister, Betty, instead. I truly was amazed at all the jobs Betty held during that time period. For the most part, she was able to quickly find a new one, but there were some difficult times when the entire family pulled together to make it through. There were a couple of times when the story started lagging, but then it picked back up and I was completely engaged again, especially near the end when she talked about her and Mary's co-worker, Dorita.

I loved the narrator, Heather Henderson! I enjoyed the way she brought both Betty and Mary to life. Her voice is fantastic and I thought her pacing was perfect. She did a great job conveying the emotion in Betty's stories, and I laughed out loud multiple times. I listened to this over several days and looked forward to the time I was able to sit down and be entertained some more. This is the first audiobook I've heard narrated by Heather Henderson, and would definitely listen to her again!


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Feb. 8: Dab of Darkness (Review & Giveaway)

Feb. 9: Avid Book Collector (Review, Spotlight, Audio Excerpt & Giveaway)

Feb. 10: The Phantom Paragrapher (Spotlight & Audio Excerpt)

Feb. 19: The Pursuit of Bookishness (Review, Audio Excerpt & Giveaway)

Feb. 20: Ali the Dragon Slayer (Review & Giveaway)

Feb. 21: Hall Ways (Review, Audio Excerpt & Giveaway)

Feb. 22: Mel's Shelves (Review)

Feb. 24: He Said Books Or Me (Review)

Feb. 25: Jorie Loves A Story (Review)

Feb. 26: A Page To Turn (Spotlight & Audio Excerpt)

Feb. 27: Bound4Escape (Review & Giveaway)

Feb. 28: Country Girl Bookaholic (Spotlight)

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Book Blast: The Rise of Miss Nottey by Rachael Anderson


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The Rise of Miss Notley by Rachael Anderson

When Miss Coralynn Notley’s father barters her off to the first titled gentleman to come along, she realizes she must flee her home or be forced to wed a despicable man. Driven by desperation, she applies for the position of housekeeper at Tanglewood Manor, the home of the handsome Mr. Jonathan Ludlow. The moment Jonathan sees Miss Notley, he is intrigued. She is far too young and inexperienced, yet there is something about her that that inspires a certain hope within him. Does he dare offer her the position of housekeeper or will doing so result in catastrophe?


Excerpt

Cora nodded and followed Mr. Ludlow into the parlor. He closed the doors and stood in front of them with his arms folded, looking far more intimidating than he had during their last meeting. He said nothing, merely lifted an inquiring eyebrow and waited.

Caught unprepared, Cora stared at him, trying to organize her thoughts into words. After a few moments of awkward silence, he lost patience. "What is it you wished to speak with me about, Mrs. Notley? Or are we to stand here staring at each other all afternoon?"

Not knowing how else to begin, Cora blurted, "Why have you hired me, sir?"

He blinked a few times before frowning. "I believe I have made that perfectly clear. You are to be the housekeeper, are you not?"

This was going to be more difficult than she had imagined. "Yes, of course, but there has been some talk about, or rather concerns expressed . . ." How did one put this delicately?

"About . . .?" he prodded, obviously not thrilled that his morning regime had been waylaid.

"About the reasons I have been offered the position," she quickly said, hoping that would be enough to make him understand her meaning.

Unfortunately, his brows drew together in confusion. "What are you saying, Mrs. Notley? I have hired you to do certain duties that will hopefully make my household run more smoothly. What other reason could I possibly have for offering you the position?"

"You have hired me to do a job I am untrained to do," she said. "While I am grateful for the opportunity, I also find it necessary to clarify that I have come here to be a housekeeper and only a housekeeper. Even though I am young and . . ." Her voice drifted off. Had she almost referred to herself as pretty? Goodness, this was proving to be very awkward indeed.

"Beautiful?" he finally guessed, not looking at all pleased with the direction the conversation was taking.

"I was going to say not repulsive," she fibbed.

"Very well," he said. "Even though you are young and not repulsive . . ." He moved his hand in a circular gesture, urging her to finish her thought.

Cora straightened her shoulders and forced herself to continue. "I am not the sort of girl who would ever . . . fraternize with her employer." Her face infused with heat, but she forced her gaze to remain steady.

"I see." He walked slowly towards her, rubbing his chin with his hand. A few steps away, he stopped and eyed her quizzically. "Have I made any improper advances towards you?"

"No, sir."

"Have I spoken to you in an unprofessional manner?"

"No."

"Have I looked at you in a way that has made you feel uncomfortable?"

"No." Cora suddenly wished she had not felt the need to clarify anything. He made her feel as though she had put the cart before the horse when what she had been trying to do was see that the cart and horse simply stayed in their proper places. Was that so wrong?

"Might I ask who, exactly, has led you to believe that I am the sort of man capable of—how did you put it? Fraternizing with my help?"

"I, er, would rather not say, sir." Though Cora felt no loyalty towards Sally, she refused to bring Mr. and Mrs. Shepherd's names into the conversation. "I did not mean to besmirch your name or cause any offense, Mr. Ludlow. I merely wanted to make my feelings on the matter clear."

"And you have."

"Good." Cora dropped into a quick curtsy, anxious to get away. "I shall go and find Watts now."

She was almost to the door when his voice stopped her. "Once again, you are attempting to scuttle away before we have completed our conversation."

Slowly, she turned around and lifted her eyes to his. "I never scuttle, sir."

"What would you call that rapid walk of yours?"

"A rapid walk."


Rachael
Author Rachael Anderson

A USA Today bestselling author, Rachael Anderson is 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.



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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Audiobook Blog Tour/Review: Meeting Lydia by Linda McDonald


Author: Linda MacDonald

Narrator: Harriet Carmichael

Length: 8h 43m

Publisher: Essential Music⎮2016

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Release date: Nov. 17, 2016


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Edward Harvey. Even thinking his name made her tingle with half-remembered childlike giddiness. Edward Harvey, the only one from Brocklebank to whom she might write if she found him.”

Marianne Hayward, teacher of psychology and compulsive analyser of the human condition, is hormonally unhinged. The first seven years of her education were spent at a boys’ prep school, Brocklebank Hall, where she was relentlessly bullied. From the start, she was weak and frightened and easy prey for Barnaby Sproat and his gang. Only one boy was never horrible to her: the clever and enigmatic Edward Harvey, on whom she developed her first crush.

Now 46, when Marianne finds her charming husband in the kitchen talking to the glamorous Charmaine, her childhood insecurities resurface and their once-happy marriage begins to slide. Teenage daughter Holly persuades her to join Friends Reunited, which results in both fearful and nostalgic memories of prep school as Marianne wonders what has become of the bullies and of Edward Harvey. Frantic to repair her marriage, yet rendered snappy and temperamental by her plummeting hormones, her attempts towards reconciliation fail. The answer to all her problems could lie in finding Edward again... But what would happen if she found what she seeks?



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Born and brought up in the town of Cockermouth in the Lake District in England, Linda MacDonald has a degree in psychology from Goldsmiths’, London University, and a PGCE in biology and science. She retired in 2012 from teaching psychology in a 6th Form College in order to focus on writing, and has now published three print novels, the first of which is now an audiobook. She lives in Beckenham in Greater London, and travels to speak to various groups about the inspiration behind the ‘Lydia’ series and the psychology of internet relationships.

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I've always loved doing voices. I grew up with Radio 4 being on constantly in the background. Somehow the voices and accents broadcast over the years soaked in. And now I do voices. Or if you ask my agent, I'm a "voice artist".
For the last seven years I've spent most of my days in front of a microphone: as myself; as seven-year-old boys; talkingbaboons; angsty teenagers (usually American); androgynous talking cats; Glaswegian Grannies; the cast of The Archers...

After university I trained at The Oxford School of Drama and then acted mainly with touring theatre companies - some brilliant, some not so... I had a lot of fun, but once I started doing voiceovers in warm studios with good coffee, being on the road lost some of its appeal.

And the voice can do much more than people think. Tone, timing, pitch and accent can all vary depending on the job. From commercials and corporates to cartoons, computer games and audiobooks, it's a brilliant job and, really, I owe it all to Radio 4.

Website


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My Rating=4.5 Stars
Source: I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Linda MacDonald. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion in any way.

Marianne is 46. She and her husband, Johnny, have one daughter, Holly, who is getting ready to leave for college. Johnny brings an attractive new associate home, Charmaine, which triggers every insecurity Marianne has ever had. Holly encourages Marianne to join Friends Reunited and she does, wanting to learn what happened to her first crush, Edward Harvey, as well as the boys who bullied her when she was young.

I enjoyed this book! I was able to relate to Marianne in several ways. It was interesting being inside her head as she worried about the different changes that were happening in her life. She confronts situations that she's avoided for many years and learns more about herself in the process. It was an emotional rollercoaster as she started corresponding with Edward, dealt with the jealousy she felt towards Charmaine, and supported Holly through a difficult time. I wasn't sure how it would end, since there were a few different directions it could have gone. I was happy with the way it ended. I love how the title worked its way into the story. My only complaint is that there's a handful of my least favorite word, the "f" word.

The narrator, Harriet Carmichael, is new to me and I loved her! She did a great job bringing Marianne to life and I felt like I really got to know Marianne through her. She has a fantastic accent and brought the right amount of emotion to a woman going through some major life changes. There were times that I laughed out loud and other times when I felt the tough emotions that Marianne was feeling. I feel like I got more out of this book by listening to it and would definitely listen to more books narrated by her!



Feb. 13: Jorie Loves A Story (Guest Post)
Feb. 14: A Page to Turn (Review)
Country Girl Bookaholic (Interview, Spotlight & Giveaway)
Feb. 15: A Gingerly Review (Review & Giveaway)
Feb. 16: Ali the Dragon Slayer (Review & Giveaway)
Feb. 17: Jorie Loves A Story (Review)
Feb. 18: Highway YA (Spotlight)
Feb. 19: Haddie's Haven (Review, Spotlight & Giveaway)
Lynn's Romance Enthusiasm (Spotlight)
Feb. 20: That Wild Soul (Spotlight & Giveaway)
Feb. 21: Mel's Shelves (Review)
The Bookworm Lodge (Spotlight)
Feb. 22: Holed Up In A Book (Review)

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Blog Tour/Spotlight: The Triple Date Dare by Lauraine Henderson




Genre: LDS, Christian, clean romance 
Publisher: Indie
Publication date: December 8, 2016
Number of pages: 212

Writer Laura Nelson can’t believe her luck. Since staying in a beach house on the Oregon coast, she’s had two run-ins with the police. The upside is that handsome Officer David Harrington handled both situations.

Laura, still stinging from years of making poor choices, has come to Oregon to take control of her life. She recently renewed her relationship with God and the church, and she’s in the process of writing her next mystery. But is she ready for romance?

David has a rule: don’t get close to women. He is ashamed of his unlawful past, a father in jail and an alcoholic mother. His triple date dare is a sure-fire way to keep women at bay. Who would love him with all his baggage anyway?
​When he asks Laura out, David figures she will crash and burn as planned. He had no idea she would not only change the rules of his famous dating dare, but sneak her way into his heart.





I recently moved back to Oregon with my husband of 31 years, where we’ve built a house on 68 acres about 40 miles outside of Portland. After growing up in Oregon, we’ve lived in Utah, Arizona, and Hawaii. We have three children, two girls and a boy, all grown and all writers themselves. We also have a dog (Golden Retriever) and a cat (Black). I love to write inspirational romance and hope my readers will be both entertained and uplifted by my stories. When I’m not writing, I love to paint (watercolors, oils, and acrylics), sew, knit, crochet, and read (of course)! My second novel will be published in 2017. 



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