Thursday, October 31, 2013

Book Review: Lancaster House by Taylor Dean


It was hard to decide what book to review for Halloween. I don't read horror so those books were out. When I saw that Taylor Dean was going to have Lancaster House and The Middle Aisle on sale through tonight, my pick got so much easier. Be sure to pick them both up--$.99 is such a great price. Once you finish Lancaster House, you will want to have The Middle Aisle available!

Lancaster House, by Taylor Dean
2012, 304p, Clean Paranormal Romance
My Rating=4.5 stars
Source: Won an e-copy in a giveaway


Zoe Grayson needs a change. So, she moves to another state, purchases an old, dilapidated 1920s Victorian Mansion, and sets out to restore it to its former glory. As she begins the restoration, she finds herself falling in love with the old house . . . not to mention its illustrious builder, Mr. Lancaster. Zoe becomes obsessed with the house as she discovers its secrets; hidden rooms, secret passageways . . . and a mysterious man who seems to think the house is his. Who is he? More importantly, how does he live in her home unseen and unheard?

The unexpected answers leave her reeling—and questioning everything she’s ever known. To her dismay, Zoe’s actions land her in the local psychiatric hospital, scheming for ways to return to Lancaster House . . . and the love of her life.

A paranormal romance sounded like a perfect Halloween read! An old house with lots of secrets that is supposedly haunted, psychiatric hospital, mysterious man, mystery and clean romance. It all sounded like a great recipe to me! 

We start with Doctor Channing, a psychiatrist in a psychiatric hospital, meeting with his patient, Zoe Grayson. She's believed to be schizophrenic and suffering from hallucinations and very dangerous. She's also believed to have killed two men and is suicidal. For two weeks, she's said nothing. She wants her house and life back, though, so she starts to open up to him. The story is told in flashback and we get her story piecemeal with commentary from Dr. Channing throughout. She starts by telling him about Lancaster House, and then we learn more about the mysterious man (Andre), her ex-fiance, and everything else that's happened to bring her to the hospital. Is Zoe sane or crazy? That is the question!

Once I started reading, this book was hard to put down. I loved getting the story piecemeal and was anxious to find out what would happen next. There were also quite a few twists and turns. Zoe is likable and I felt that her obsession with her new life with Andre was realistic. She knew she would be viewed as crazy so tried to act normal but it became difficult. I loved reading their story and look forward to reading more! There are a few swear words and some passionate kissing which I consider clean. I recommend this to anyone looking for a great paranormal mystery with some clean romance!

I first heard about these books when Taylor Dean was doing a blog tour. She wrote a lot of guest posts on this story and she has also shared them on her blog. To read them (16 in all), start here. She shares the conversation that prompted her to write this, her inspiration behind the house, excerpts, creepy stories about haunted houses, stories behind the covers, 1920's slang used in the book, and Dr. Channing. I read these at the time and when I finished reading Lancaster House, went back and read them again, and enjoyed them a lot more!

I actually only had time for Lancaster House but The Middle Aisle is waiting to be picked up soon!

The Sequel to Lancaster House

Zoe Grayson is back in Lancaster House, ordered to bed rest for the duration of her unexpected pregnancy. Doctor Wade Channing, her overzealous psychiatrist, is living in Lancaster House, taking care of her, waiting on her, and tending to her every need. It seems to be the perfect arrangement.

There’s just one catch.

She has to tell him her story—everything that has happened in her life since the moment she escaped from Serenity Hills. It’s been quite an adventure to include renovating another home and a walk down the middle aisle.

But, that’s all over now. Nothing is real. It never was.

How did she end up in this miserable situation?

Amazon * Smashwords

Author Taylor Dean
Taylor Dean lives in Texas and is the mother of four grown children. Upon finding herself with an empty nest, she began to write the stories that were always wandering around in her head, quickly finding that she had a passion for writing, specifically romance. Whether it’s paranormal, contemporary, or suspense—you’ll find all sub-genres of romance in her line-up.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Blog Tour and Guest Post (Marriage Ritual): An Incurable Insanity by Simi K. Rao

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Join the #Talk daily on Simi's Facebook 
as she walks us through the beautiful backdrop to her amazing book... 

"In Rao's debut novel an arranged marriage sets the stage for an intimate look at the exasperating madness of love....An often intoxicating...will-they-won't-they tale."- KIRKUS REVIEWS

An Incurable InsanityAn Incurable Insanity

by Simi K Rao

Paperback, eBook, 376 pages

Published October 8, 2013 by Tate Publishing

Her heart fluttered when she heard the sound of the key turn in the lock. She quickly adjusted her maroon silk sari with the yellow border, the one that had caught his eye, and waited eagerly for his footsteps.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven... Yes, exactly seven steps before he stopped, hesitated for a few moments, then removed his shoes one by one and arranged them neatly side by side on the shoe rack.

She smiled. He had been mindful of taking his shoes off every day now. "I am not used to it, but I will if you want me to. It's probably a good thing to do anyway."

As he settled down, he would pick up the TV remote and, without looking at her, would say in his smooth baritone, "So how did you spend your day, anything interesting?"

Shaan Ahuja found himself bowing to tradition and agreeing to an arranged marriage to the beautiful Ruhi Sharma. He went through the motions but had no intention of carrying through on his vows. His last foray into matters of the heart with an American girl had left him scarred and unwilling to try again. Thoroughly disillusioned and disgruntled he wasted no time in making his intentions clear to Ruhi on their wedding night. But, he was completely unprepared for what his new wife had in mind.

Author Guest Post

The Bashful Bride

She sits on the rose strewn bed
A bashful bride
In all her jeweled splendor
Hennaed hands resting on drawn up knees
Innocent and uninitiated
Awaiting the approach of her beloved

The bombshell had dropped on their wedding night. He had walked into the room late as she sat there, a shy bride in all her wedding finery waiting, nervous yet excited at the same time, to meet the man she had hardly spoken to or looked at. What would he say, talk about, or do?
She had heard a lot of stories about what to expect, some factual and some fabricated (her friends had prepared her well), but she wanted her own to be special, unique, and it was…
Sitting down on the bed in front of her, he had taken her hand in his and said very gently, as if to tone down the trauma, “I bet you are one of the most beautiful brides in the world, but I’m sorry I cannot make love to you. There is someone else.”- An Incurable Insanity
Solah Shringar

The 16 basic steps of bridal adornment which correspond to the 16 phases of the moon. Shringar is derived from the word Shri or Lakshmi; the Goddess of wealth, beauty and prosperity. The wedding day is considered the most significant in a woman’s life- one which marks her transition into womanhood.

1. Gajra (string of Jasmine flowers): Hair is styled and adorned with the fragrant Gajra and jewelry.

2. Maang-teeka: generally made of gold, silver and precious stones, Maang teeka is worn in the central parting of hair.

3. Sindoor: is the vermilion powder that is worn in the center parting of hair. A symbol of marriage, it is placed for the first time by the groom during the marriage ritual.

4. Bindi or tilak: A red vermilion dot worn in the center of the forehead.

5. Kajal or Kohl: Black eyeliner to enhance the bride’s beautiful eyes traditionally made from the soot of an earthen lamp with the wick placed in clarified butter.

6. Nath or Nose ring: By far the most ethnic and traditional of Indian looks.

7. Elaborate jeweled earrings: whose weight is supported by a chain affixed to the hair.

8. Necklace: Of different lengths and styles adorn the neck. The most sacred is the mangalsootra, given by the groom during the wedding ceremony made of black beads.

9. Armlets: Worn on both upper arms.

10. Bangles and bracelets: Made of glass, gold, silver and precious gems are the most visible sign of marriage.

11. Mehndi or Henna: Applied to the hands and feet in intricate design is meant to strengthen the bond of love.

12. Rings and Hathphool: (Flower of the hand): A bride wears 4 rings on each hand which are connected together by a central medallion called the Hathphool, which in turn is connected to a bracelet.

13. Aarsi or mirrored thumb ring: The bride wears this so to be able to glance at herself and take a peek at her husband as well through the cover of her veil. ;)

14. Waistband or Kamarband: A beautifully designed silver or gold belt encrusted with precious and semi precious gems which serves a dual purpose- enhancing the waist besides holding up the weight of the heavy sari or skirt.

15. Anklets or Payal: A chain of silver edged with clusters of tiny bells worn around both ankles that make a pleasant tinkling sound when the bride moves.

16. Toe ring: Usually worn on the second toe of either or both feet are  symbols of marriage.

The Bridal dress: This can be a sari or a ghagra choli (traditional skirt and blouse) and is usually red in color because red is considered auspicious. It is richly embroidered in gold which ensures ceremonial purity.

Simi K. Rao was born in India and has been living in the United States for several years. The inspiration for An Incurable Insanity came from what she has seen transpire among and within the immigrant community. Some of the experiences included are her own; some have been garnered from friends and casual conversations with acquaintances...

Simi K. RaoI am a physician–and to many I may appear serious and solitary. But once people get to know me better, they often think that I am frank, down to earth, with quite a quirky sense of humor. And that is what I bring to my writing—read and you shall see.

I was born in the dead center of India, but had the privilege of spending time both in the north and south. Therefore I have been able to sample and absorb to some extent the vastly diverse cultures and languages of both these regions (the very quality that imparts tremendous richness to our country’s heritage,) —a phenomenon perhaps not seen anywhere else in the world.

After immigrating to the United States in my early twenties and spending several years in this country, whenever I travel back to my homeland now, I find that I appreciate my roots a lot more. Still there is so much to see and learn, that a lifetime won’t suffice.


$100 Gift Card to Amazon

5 eCopies of An Incurable Insanity

October 18 - November 11, 2013. International giveaway. Must be able to download winnings. Must be 18 to enter. See Rafflecopter for additional restrictions.

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Welcome to The Exotic Tour...

We offer flowers in traditional welcome.
You are our honored guest...

      10/20: Launch
      10/21: #Dawat-Recipe Intriguing Reviews

      10/22: #Desi-Indian Culture vvb32 reads
      10/22: #Vivaah-Marriage Ritual The Wonderings of One Person
      10/23: #Dawat-Recipe Deal Sharing Aunt
      10/24: #Vivaah-Marriage Ritual Giveaway Breaking News for Indonesia
      10/25: #Desi-Indian Culture Christy’s Cozy Corners
      10/26: #Dawat-Recipe Book Babe
      10/27: #Dawat-Recipe Brooke Blogs
      10/28: #Dawat-Recipe Living a Goddess Life
      10/29: #Desi-Indian Culture Sun Mountain Reviews
      10/30: #Vivaah-Marriage Ritual Mel’s Shelves
      10/31: #Desi-Indian Culture Shannon McDermott
      11/1 – 11/5: Grand Finale

Now booking tours for 2014

Book Blast: arbitrate by Megan Thomason

I loved daynight and clean slate complex and have been looking forward to arbitrate for a long time! You can read my review of daynight and clean slate complex here. My review of arbitrate will be coming soon!


It’s one year later. And everything has changed. 

Remember The Second Chance Institute (SCI). Earth’s benevolent non-profit by day, Thera’s totalitarian regime by night. They’ve stepped up their game on Earth and on Thera—infiltrating political parties, preying on the downtrodden, and planning offensive maneuvers. The SCI’s abuse of their charter leads to Arbiter oversight and bitter consequences.

Remember Kira Donovan. Broken, burdened, and evading those who wish her harm, Kira enlists the Arbiters’ help when forced to return to the clutches of the SCI and her angry, estranged love.

Remember Blake Sundry. Exiled, determined, and packing an agenda, Blake seeks assistance on Earth and Thera to use his newfound knowledge to bring down the SCI.

Remember Ethan Darcton. Overworked, emotional, and holding a grudge, Ethan hunts down his stolen property, but finds himself in awkward territory, stuck between the Arbiters and the SCI.

Full of action, competing agendas, romantic entanglements, humor, twists and turns, arbitrate is Megan Thomason’s third installment in the award-winningdaynight series after daynight and clean slate complex (a daynight story).

Praise for arbitrate:

“There are a lot of books I finish and feel happy, this one I finished and my head is swirling, in a totally awesome way! Not only does it have a great story with characters that you like (and some you just hate as they are the enemy) but the book also gets you thinking, thinking about the implication of effects of different actions and courses in life. This story has action, fighting, plots and plans, romance, love triangles, family, betrayal – has it all.” –Emily Barton, Emmy Mom One Day at a Time blog, 5 stars

“You have hit this one out of the park.” –ARC Reviewer

“For the record, I LOVED Kira’s choice!! And the whole thing just blew me away! Very, very well done!! Now when can I get my hands on generate?! Can’t wait ” –ARC Reviewer

“Read my ARC of Arbitrate and consider my mind blown! I started it the minute it was sent and couldn’t put it down.” –ARC Reviewer

 add to goodreads


Meet The Second Chance Institute (SCI): Earth’s benevolent non-profit by day, Thera’s totalitarian regime by night. Their motto: Because Everyone Deserves a Second Chance at Life(TM). Reality: the SCI subjects Second Chancers to strict controls and politically motivated science experiments like Cleaving–forced lifetime union between two people who have sex. Punishment for disobeying SCI edicts? Immediate Exile or death.

Meet Kira Donovan. Fiercely loyal, overly optimistic, and ensnared by the promise of a full-ride college scholarship, Kira signs the SCI Recruit contract to escape memories of a tragedy that left her boyfriend and friends dead.

Meet Blake Sundry. Bitter about being raised in Exile and his mother’s death, Blake’s been trained to infiltrate and destroy the SCI. Current barrier to success? His Recruit partner–Miss Goody Two Shoes Kira Donovan.

Meet Ethan Darcton. Born with a defective heart and resulting inferiority complex, Ethan’s forced to do his SCI elite family’s bidding. Cleave-worthy Kira Donovan catches his eye, but the presiding powers give defect-free Blake Sundry first dibs.

Full of competing agendas, romantic entanglements, humor, twists and turns, daynight is an award-winning, bestselling novel and first in the daynight series.

Download a FREE copy of daynight
October 29th, 30th & 31st

Praise for daynight:

2012 Book of the Year Award Finalist-Young Adult Fiction, ForeWord Reviews

“Sure to win over YA readers looking for a dangerous, dystopian adventure story” —Kirkus Reviews

“Gripping young adult dystopian novel; compelling conflicts; high stakes; powerful narrative; surprises keep coming; strong writing; page-turner; engaging characters; Readers will be hungry for the sequels.”—BlueInk Review (starred review)

“Thomason’s description of Thera’s totalitarianism will make fans of Brave New World shiver… SCI, her fantasy corporation, has disturbing parallels to actual companies and regimes that claim to do good while harming people… The author deftly appeals to both romance-loving teens as well as those intrigued by young adults fighting the establishment.”—ForeWord Clarion Review, 4 stars

arbitrate Excerpt:

“I’m angry at all of them. Every SCI leader. In fact Joshua gave me a list of those who are Earth-side. It makes for a great to-do list.” They all deserve to pay.
I’m done talking. It’s time for some action.
One thousand one.
One thousand two.
One thousand three.
That’s all it takes to even out my breathing and steady my hand.
I shift the crosshairs on my target ever so slightly—from his heart to his hand—and pull the trigger.
My father would be proud that all his training paid off. Oh, who am I kidding? He’d find something to criticize about my work here. Sad that even though he’s gone I can hear him saying, “If you’d hit a little to the left you’d have taken out a higher concentration of nerves.”

Author Megan Thomason

Bestselling, award-winning author Megan Thomason lives in paradise aka San Diego, CA with her husband and five children. A former software manager, Megan vastly prefers writing twisted tales to business, product, and marketing plans. When she isn’t typing away on her laptop, she’s reading books on her phone–over 600 in the last year–or attending to the needs of her family. Megan’s fluent in sarcasm, could potentially benefit from a 12-step program for road rage, struggles with a Hot Tamales addiction, loves world travel & fast cars and hates paperwork & being an insomniac.

BookBlast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 11/18/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Book Review: Shedding Light on the Dark Side by Stephen J. Stirling

Shedding Light on the Dark Side: Defeating the Forces of Evil, by Stephen J. Stirling
2013, 128p, LDS Non-Fiction
My Rating=5 stars
Source: Received copy from publisher for an honest review

It is time to rip the mask from the master of deceit.

Using the scriptures and modern revelation, Stephen Stirling defines who Satan is and what his role is on this earth. In a way that is engaging and perfect for youth to understand, he evaluates:

• What the scriptures say that Satan is and does
• Where Satan gets his power and why it influences us
• How to be better soldiers in the war Satan is waging on this world

We can overcome this deceiving yet unavoidably real being with the light of truth. The Prince of Peace holds the power to defeat the Prince of Darkness. The only question is where you will stand in this eternal battle of good and evil. Shedding Light on the Dark Side will help you understand the Adversary and his tactics so you can fearlessly stand on the Lord’s side.

Whenever you're engaged in battle, it's always good to know the enemy so you can figure out what strategy to use to defeat them. There have been times in my life when I felt like Satan was winning the war against me and it would be easier to give in than to continue fighting. In those times, something always seems to happen to help me keep going and turn to Christ. At that point, life always improves!

This book is packed with scriptures and quotes from General Authorities, past and present. I highlighted so many sections so I can go back and reference them as I need to. The main point I felt the author tried to get across is that Satan is, indeed, real and his objective is to destroy the world by taking us down individually. Because of choices he made, he's miserable and wants us to feel the same.

This book is not all doom and gloom, though. There is a winning formula and it is outlined in this book. There are things we can do here and now to win the battle. We each have our agency and are able to choose for ourselves who we will follow. This book says it's a guide for Youth and Young Adults, but I still learned plenty and it's a great resource to use in the future. I highly recommend this book to Youth, Young Adults and Adults!

Stephen J. Stirling was born in Los Angeles, California and grew up in the Southeast LA semi-ghetto of Huntington Park. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Brigham Young University in 1976, and then spent the next several years wandering America in search of adventure as a professional vagrant. Interspersed through his college career and days on the road, he served a mission in Chile and taught for 5 years as an early morning seminary teacher in various ports of call.

Stopping in Chicago, he entered the profession of advertising, a field in which he ultimately held many positions with companies from the Mid West to the Pacific Coast. He eventually settled in Orange County, California, where he established Stirling Communications and spent 15 years as a freelance copywriter, scriptwriter, and video producer. In 1994 he was hired by the Church Educational System and relocated with his family to the Phoenix Valley in Arizona, where he has fulfilled a lifelong dream of teaching released-time seminary for the past 19 years.

He and his wife, Diane, were married in 1981. They have five adult children, two horses, several chickens, and a farm in Adam-Ondi-Ahman, Missouri—where they plan to retire someday.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Book Review: Written on Our Hearts by Emily Freeman

Written on Our Hearts, by Emily Freeman
2013, 176p, Inspirational, LDS
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: Provided copy by publisher for an honest review

If you have ever found the Old Testament intimidating, you're not alone. The less-familiar history, themes, and language, coupled with the length of the book, make it a difficult read for many. But author Emily Freeman loves the Old Testament, and as she shares some of the wonderful things she has learned in her study of this book of scripture, you will find yourself coming to love it too.

Written on Our Hearts is not a commentary or an intensive doctrinal study. Instead, Emily writes about the stories of the Old Testament, stories of trusting and overcoming and enduring and believing. Within these stories are all kinds of applications for the challenges we face today.

"There will come a moment in your life," the author says, "when you or someone you love will struggle with a challenge so great you will wonder how you will make it through. In that moment you will long to better understand the Savior's role as the Deliverer, and to do that you must go to the book of scripture that describes that role the best—the Old Testament."

Discover the delivering power of the Lord yourself in the pages of this book—and experience the scriptures in a new, more personal way!

What a fabulous book and a gorgeous cover! I am definitely intimidated by the Old Testament and over the past two years have studied it more than I have in a long time. I realize I have a long way to go so I was interested to read Ms. Freeman's perspective on how the teachings contained in the Old Testament can apply to our lives today. 

The chapters are short so it's easy to read a few pages at a time. However, the information found in these short chapters can be pondered over for a long time. I needed to get through it quickly but plan to read it again more slowly so I can savor her teachings and stories.

One of my favorite stories was found in her chapter titled, "Here I Raise My Ebenezer" (p. 53-55). She said that 25 years ago, she was asked to play "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" at a missionary homecoming and she had never heard it before. The part that says, "Here I raise my Ebenezer; Here by Thy great help I've come" didn't make sense to them so they changed the words and left out that part of the song. After the meeting, the missionary came over to thank them and then told them that they left out his favorite part of the song. They explained why they left it out and asked him what it meant. With a smile, he told them they would need to figure it out for themselves and gave a hint that it could be found in the scriptures. She found the answer in 1 Samuel 7. You'll need to read her book to see what she learned. I enjoyed this because it's also one of my favorite songs and I've never taken the time to figure out what that part meant and now it means even more to me! And I'm thinking I need my own Ebenezer.

There are many other great experiences to learn from and I'm grateful for how much she opened up and shared. Her explanations have helped me see how the lessons taught in the Old Testament can apply to me and help me find peace during the tough times. This is a book worth reading again and again and I highly recommend it to everyone! 

You can learn more about the women of the Old Testament by clicking here to take a trivia quiz.

Emily Freeman took her first creative writing class in high school and has loved writing ever since. She finds great joy in studying the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Her deep love of the scriptures comes from a desire to find their application in everyday life. She is the author of several books, including The Ten Virgins; 21 Days Closer to Christ; and The Promise of Enough. There is nothing Emily enjoys more for breakfast than a bowl of vanilla ice cream, raspberries, and chocolate chips. Other favorites include parades, vacations, firework displays, and going for a long walk with a good friend. Emily and her husband, Greg, live in Lehi, Utah, with their four children, whom she adores.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Book Blast: A Light in Dark Places by Jennifer Graves & Emily Clawson

A Light in Dark Places

In December, 2009, Susan Cox Powell was reported missing from her home in West Valley City, Utah. As law enforcement tried to piece together what had happened to Susan, her husband, Josh Powell, became the only person of interest in the case.

For Jennifer Graves, Josh’s sister, the nightmare started long before Susan’s disappearance. From her experiences growing up in the Powell family to the terrifying moment when she first started to believe her brother was a killer, she relied on her faith to stay strong. She devoted herself to the safety of Susan’s boys, Charlie and Braden, whom she hoped to be able to raise as her own. When the boys were murdered by their father in February, 2012, Jennifer was more than devastated, but she had to believe there was a reason for it all—including the deaths of her beloved nephews.

In A Light In Dark Places, Jennifer shares her struggles and her triumphs. In coming to terms with such tragedy she finally was able to embrace the truth that we all have the power to choose our own path—and there is always hope, no matter how dark things may seem.

Praise for A Light in Dark Places

I just finished reading “A Light in Dark Places” By Jennifer Graves and Emily Gray Clawson. I was impressed with how well written the book was. The descriptions are such that I felt I was part of the story. I was grateful that the message was one of hope and peace in tragedy. The book does tell the tale of Susan Powell, her boys and their demise but doesn’t dwell on it. It was nice to see inside the life experiences of someone so close to them and to see things from Jennifer’s perspective rather than what you see on the media. I highly recommend this book. It doesn’t disappoint! – T. Hyde

I love true accounts of people overcoming challenges and helping others with the lessons learned from them. This story of Jennifer’s experiences throughout her abusive childhood, and later the disappearance of Susan and the murder of her two sweet nephews is just that. She shares how she felt God’s hand in her life, guiding her to make better choices than the rest of her family did. Though the book had so many sad details, it ended with hope, courage and love.  ~D. Raymond

I had followed the story of Susan Powell very closely so I wasn’t sure if the book was going to tell me something I didn’t already know…but it sure did. Jennifer was very brave in writing this book and all she had done in support for Susan. I highly recommend the book it sheds a light on the whole situation that helps make things more clear.  ~ Carolyn

This was a very informative read. I lived in Utah at the time of Susan’s disappearance and followed the news every day. This book answered many questions that the news did not. Although it was very sad and I already knew the outcome it was a good read. I admire Jennifer for her part in the whole story and I am glad she had the fortitude to write this book to honor her sister in law.  ~Katie O.
To finally read about details that were never shared brought closure for me about this insidious crime. While the book was an easy read, the message shared about breaking the cycle of abusive relationships is invaluable. It truly does take someone removing themselves from their abusive family’s presence to stop the cycle. Praises to the author for sharing her perspectives.  ~Arlene

add to goodreads

Jennifer Graves is the mother of 5 beautiful children, 2 girls and 3 boys.  She and her husband have been happily married for 19 years and together have been active in their community and church.
Jennifer is the sister of Josh Powell who killed his 2 sons, Charlie and Braden, as well as himself in February of 2012, and is also believed to have killed his wife, Susan Cox Powell, in December of 2009.
She is the recipient of the 2013 ChainBreaker of the year Award, given for breaking the chain of abuse and violence in her family.

She enjoys homeschooling their children and mentoring in classes for the commonwealth school they attend. She also loves reading, playing card and board games, and learning new things. Most of all she loves to spend time with her husband and children. They currently reside in West Jordan, UT.

♦ ♦ ♦

Emily Clawson is an author, a mother and a mentor. She traditionally writes inspirational fiction. This book has been a life changing experience for her and she is grateful to have been a part of telling this story. She resides in Taylorsville with her husband and four children where they run their leadership mentoring programs for youth.

BookBlast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 11/15/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Blog Tour: Carla Kelly's Christmas Collection by Carla Kelly

Carla Kelly's Christmas Collection
Carla Kelly's Christmas Collection, by Carla Kelly
2011, 288p, Clean Romance
My Rating=4.5 Stars
Source: Provided copy by publisher for an honest review

Come explore Regency London with Carla Kelly! This collection features four stories that will warm your heart with Christmas cheer:

The Christmas Ornament: When the father of his now-deceased best friend hints that he should consider his daughter as a potential wife, Lord James Crandall isn’t sure he can get past the fact that he used to tease her mercilessly when she was just a girl. But once he finds out how brilliant her mind is, he’s not sure he can get past the fact that she’s a woman. Add in the fact that her charms have garnered the attentions of other gentlemen, Lord Crandall is in for quite the roller coaster Christmas.

Make a Joyful Noise: Widower Marquis Peter Chard is grateful for his two children, but not so grateful when his mother gives him the chore of recruiting people for the parish Christmas choir competition. When recently widowed and pregnant Rosie Wheatherby turns up with the voice of an angel and the looks to match, Lord Chard isn’t about to let her get away from the choir . . . or his family.

An Object of Charity: Stuck on land while his ship is being repaired, Captain Michael Lynch is approached by his late first mate’s niece and nephew. Learning they are destitute, he decides to take them home with him for the holidays, returning for the first time in 22 years ago. As he spends more time with them and unburdens his heart to the young woman, she replaces his hurt with love in time for a very special Christmas.

The Three Kings: After her brother is shot by the French in Spain, Lady Sarah Comstock is forced to travel across the war-torn countryside with a Spanish Colonel. As Christmas quickly approaches, Sarah learns about the Three Kings giving gifts to the Christ child and finds a gift of her own that she can share—her heart.

Filled with romance and a touch of humor, these stories are sure to find a place in your heart and remind you that Christmas is a time for love.

These are great Regency Christmas stories and I enjoyed them all! My favorite story was Make a Joyful Noise. Peter's mother made the mistake of asking about the Christmas choir and she was drafted into recruiting members. Every year, three parishes had a friendly competition which has now turned into a monster and their choir is lacking. I felt his mother's pain as I have been in the position of recruiting choir members and it's so difficult. She was also fearful that people would run from her (yep). Peter's sister, Bella, suddenly needs their mother's help as her children have the chicken pox, so she asks Peter to take over choir recruitment duties and leaves. He's not thrilled but the opportunity to recruit just might help his social life. I loved Peter's kindness to everyone--his children, his mother and Rosie and her baby. He's accepting of others and willing to help however he can, whether he wants to do it or not. 

This is also the first Carla Kelly novel I've read and I'm wanting to read more! These stories felt so authentic that I took my time reading them so I could enjoy her writing. This is a great addition to my Christmas collection and I look forward to reading it again. I highly recommend it if you enjoy clean Christmas Regency romantic short stories and are ready to get in the Christmas Spirit!

Award-winning author Carla Kelly is a veteran of the New York and international publishing world. The author of more than thirty novels and novellas for Donald I. Fine Co., Signet, and Harlequin, Carla is the recipient of two Rita Awards (think Oscars for romance writing) from Romance Writers of America and two Spur Awards (think Oscars for western fiction) from Western Writers of America. She is also a recipient of a Whitney Award for Borrowed Light and My Loving Vigil Keeping.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Book Review: Consider the Blessings by Thomas S. Monson

Consider the Blessings, by Thomas S. Monson
2013, 150p, LDS Non-Fiction, Inspirational
My Rating=5 stars
Source: Provided a copy from the publisher for an honest review

If you ask people what they love most about President Thomas S. Monson’s teaching style, chances are they’ll say something about the personal experiences he relates. The accounts President Monson shares are always true, taken from his own life or the real lives of other people. Those warm, memorable accounts have truly become a hallmark of his messages.

Who can forget the woman who saved one of the two sticks of gum Elder Monson passed out to youth in postwar Germany? Or the neighbor who returned a box of baseballs to young Tommy as a thank-you for his kindness to her? Or the father who declined to attend a “Mormon” meeting with his family but had his heart softened by a message he heard on a radio that was actually broken?

In celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of his call as an Apostle, Consider the Blessings presents fifty of the true accounts President Thomas S. Monson has shared over the years. With beautiful photographs and heart-touching content, this is a book to treasure with the whole family.

Because I love to read, I absolutely love stories! I find it so fascinating that of all the people that live on earth, no two people have the exact same experiences and I enjoy reading about what other people experience. Consider the Blessings is a collection of true stories that are inspiring and full of hope. 

President Monson is known for his storytelling and I have always enjoyed listening to him speak because I love that! His stories have made me laugh and cry over the years. This book has some of his stories that I've heard before and some that I haven't and again, I found myself laughing and crying. The stories are all short (anywhere from 1-4 pages) and I've enjoyed reading a story or two when I've needed a dose of inspiration. This is a book full of beautiful stories and pictures.

I also like that there's an index in back, so if you need to find one of his stories on service, missionary work, love or forgiveness, you can easily do that. This is a great book for the entire family and one we will cherish for many years to come!

About the Author

President Thomas S. Monson was set apart as the sixteenth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in February 2008. He had previously served for twenty-two years in the First Presidency of the Church, after having been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since October1963. Five years after his call to the Twelve, he was given a special assignment for the work of the Church in Europe, requiring many visits with members behind the Iron Curtain. He was instrumental in the construction of the Freiberg Germany Temple and in advancing the Lord’s work in other eastern European countries that were part of the communist bloc. He also served as chairman of the Scriptures Publication Committee and supervised the process that resulted in the new editions of the scriptures. His ministry has been characterized by his compassion for the needs of individuals and his gift for one-on-one service. President Monson and his wife, Frances, are the parents of three children, grandparents of eight, and great-grandparents of eight.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Blog Tour: Mormon Origami by Todd Huisken

Mormon Origami, by Todd Huisken
2013, 82p, LDS Non-Fiction
My Rating=5 stars
Source: Provided copy by publisher for an honest review

There are more things to make from Sunday meeting programs than airplanes and fortune tellers; now your kids can fold CTR shields, pioneer handcarts, or the Salt Lake Temple!

Mormon Origami provides 25 simple to intermediate origami designs from the Book of Mormon and Church history. These designs can be used by teachers and parents as lesson handouts or activities to help children be reverent. This unique skill will entertain and help illustrate principles as you include these gospel-oriented designs in your lessons, activities, and everyday fun!

I am fully aware that my paper airplanes have a lot to be desired so when I saw this book up for review, I jumped at the chance to learn how to make something that actually looks cool!

The author starts by showing different diagrams on how to do the folds, which is helpful as you actually start to make the designs. (Full disclosure: I don't do well looking at written diagrams, so I looked up some of the more difficult folds on YouTube to see an actual demonstration and use the pictures to refresh my memory.)

There are three different sections: Book of Mormon Designs, Church History Designs and Latter-day Temple Designs. He shows the skill level for each design (1, 2 or 3) and shares a little trivia. I'm currently sticking to the skill level 1 designs but plan to work my way up to level 3, which have the coolest looking designs, like the Nephite Temple, Pioneer Handcart, Ox, Statue of Moroni and Salt Lake Temple.

I made some of the level 1 designs with my children and we had lots of fun. This is a great activity to keep kids entertained and might make you the coolest Primary teacher ever (just saying). It's definitely a great resource to have on hand!

Todd Huisken is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the Counseling Manager at LDS Family Services in Fountain Valley, CA. He attended Brigham Young University and The University of San Diego and has a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Todd has served as the Assistant Director of Disaster Mental Health Services for the Orange County Chapter of the American Red Cross. He has worked with victims from the San Diego Fires, Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, and he spent two weeks in Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010. He was an early morning seminary teacher for six years. He is the author of The Dating Directory and the founder of Process and Content, a graduate program newsletter at the University of San Diego. The most important thing about Todd is that he has been married to his beautiful wife for 21 years and they have three daughters and a son and they try to make Disneyland their second home.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Blog Tour: Twisted by KayCee R

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Cayden Rivers wants nothing more than to be normal, but we don’t always get what we want. For years he has been hiding a secret, afraid of being labeled a “freak”. Every day he goes to school, plays football, spends time with his girlfriend, and helps carry his drunken adopted father to bed. Nobody knows the truth about his unnatural speed and strength, including his life-long friend Camilla.

Suddenly, four strangers enter Cayden’s life, and not only do they know his secret, they also have one of their own. With their help, Cayden discovers there is more to his power, something much more dangerous. Something other people will kill to possess.

Camilla wishes her parents were around more. She gets lonely sleeping in her big empty house night after night. Sure, she has all the money she could ever need, but the only person who is there for her is Cayden. He has his own family and a girlfriend who takes up most of his time, so Camilla knows he won’t be there for her forever, and recently he’s been acting really strange.

Will Cayden be able to keep his secret and his friendship with Camilla, or will his new found power destroy everything, including his own life?

Switching between Cayden and Camilla’s point of view, Twisted will leave you aching for more.

Cayden knows he's different. He hit puberty and started getting incredibly fast and strong but has no idea why. He's the quarterback on the football team so it comes in handy to be that strong. He's adopted and has one sister, Kylie, who was also adopted. Their adoptive mom left them and their father is drunk all the time and doesn't pay any attention to them so they're pretty much left on their own. His girlfriend, Dayna, is Kylie's best friend, and captain of the cheerleaders. He also has Camilla, who is a good friend, and who he can always talk to, but she and Dayna don't get along so it isn't always comfortable. 

One night, Cayden makes a shocking discovery and finds out who he really is. He disappears for a while and Camilla worries about him but he's not ready to confide in her. She starts dating the new guy, Deryk, and Cayden doesn't like him at all. Will Cayden be able to tell Camilla what's going on or continue to leave her in the dark?

This was an interesting, fun read! There was a lot of typical high school drama between Cayden, Dayna and Camilla. I loved Cayden and Camilla's relationship and how comfortable they felt around each other (okay, maybe they were a little too comfortable and I didn't like that they would sleep in the same bed overnight, even though nothing happened). Cayden appears to have the perfect life but he has a drunk father and a huge secret to deal with. He shows a lot of maturity in dealing with all that he has going on. Then other times, he was a typical high school boy, like the cliche of being the quarterback and dating the captain of the cheerleaders, and I was waiting for his eyes to open up and see what was in front of him.

Parts of the storyline were predictable but there were some "twists" and turns and I wasn't sure what direction the story was going to go or what Cayden would turn out to be. The ending was satisfying yet their story doesn't seem complete. There are going to be five novels in this series (four are currently written). I'm interested enough to see what direction this will go so it's a series I would like to continue reading!

My Rating=4 stars
Content: Some language (no F-bombs) and underage drinking and partying 

Short Excerpt (Cayden):

I pushed the guy’s weight off me so I could get up to see if Dom caught the ball, but I stopped short when I looked up at who had tackled me. It was… me?  I must have hit my head. Hard. I heard cheers roaring, but they felt like they were coming from far away. That I was watching from a distance, even though I was there on the field.

KayCee R
KayCee is a 24 year old self-published author from Cleveland, Ohio. KayCee has always loved reading. After a re-occurring dream she decided to try writing about it. She wrote the first installment of Twisted when she was 20.

“I kept having this dream about these twins, and then I just decided to run with it. I wrote the beginning, the end, and then filled in the middle.”

KayCee finished the book in 8 months and then decided to share the book online. After seeing people get interested in the book and the characters, she decided to write another book and turn Twisted into a series.

KayCee has finished four novels in the Twisted series and is currently working on the fifth book.

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