Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Blog Tour/Review: I Can Choose Joy with God by Ganel-Lyn Condie

I Can Choose Joy with God, by Ganel-Lyn Condie
2019, 160p, Inspirational
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, which did not affect my review in any way

When the trials of life seem too much to bear, joy can feel beyond reach. However, with words of encouragement and hope, author Ganel-Lyn Condie reassures readers that joy is not only possible but also well within our grasp as we choose to turn to the Lord with our burdens. The next in the popular With God series, I Can Choose Joy with God is a powerful compilation of essays written by women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that offers a compelling look at the struggles they faced and how they found joy even in their darkest hours. From parental concerns to financial hardships to debilitating anxiety, these personal accounts demonstrate the incomparable strength that can be harnessed through faith in a loving Heavenly Father. Though no one can avoid being tossed by the tempestuous sea of mortality, everyone can find true joy as they hold tight to the lifeline of salvation Jesus Christ provides.

Life can be tough and there are times that are tougher than others. I love the title of her book which is a reminder that we have a choice when times are tough, and we can choose joy at any time during our trials. It might take a while, and it's certainly not easy, but we can get there.

There are five parts to this book: Gifts, Marriage, Health, Family, and Mission, and each part has two stories. The women who share their stories are honest about their feelings and how they handle their trials. They are short so there are lots of details left out, but there is still enough to truly feel what each of them have gone through.

We all have trials and burdens in our lives, and how we handle them defines who we are. I liked this book because these women are wonderful examples of how to handle tough situations. Even though their situations and experiences are vastly different, the answer is the same for each of them. This is an inspiring book that I would recommend to everyone!

Ganel-Lyn is a popular motivational speaker - known for inspiring others with her unique honesty, authenticity and spirit. She is dedicated to her family, faith, and inspiring others. Ganel-Lyn loves teaching others with speaking and writing. She has experienced healing from a major chronic illness and is the mother to two miracle children. After the heart-breaking suicide of her 40 year old sister, Ganel-Lyn is constantly working towards prevention. Ganel-Lyn lives with an open heart and feels passionate about sharing principles that will empower others to live life with more joy. She is a regular television and radio guest. Ganel-Lyn's talks and books have now encouraged thousands of people all over the world. She loves growing older with her cute husband Rob and aims to keep learning and loving.

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Friday, April 5, 2019

Blog Tour/Review: Waiting for Fitz by Spencer Hyde

Waiting for Fitz, by Spencer Hyde
2019, 256p, Contemporary YA Fiction
My Rating=4 Stars
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, which did not affect my review in any way

Addie loves nothing more than curling up on the couch with her dog, Duck, and watching The Great British Baking Show with her mom. It’s one of the few things that can help her relax when her OCD kicks into overdrive. She counts everything. All the time. She can’t stop. Rituals and rhythms. It’s exhausting.

When Fitz was diagnosed with schizophrenia, he named the voices in his head after famous country singers. The adolescent psychiatric ward at Seattle Regional Hospital isn’t exactly the ideal place to meet your soul mate, but when Addie meets Fitz, they immediately connect over their shared love of words, appreciate each other’s quick wit, and wish they could both make more sense of their lives.

Fitz is haunted by the voices in his head and often doesn't know what is real. But he feels if he can convince Addie to help him escape the psych ward and everything will be okay. If not, he risks falling into a downward spiral that may keep him in the hospital indefinitely.

Waiting for Fitz is a story about life and love, forgiveness and courage, and what’s necessary to let go and learning what is truly worth waiting for.

I wasn't sure what to expect with this book, but was intrigued since it dealt with mental illness. The author based this book on his own experiences with severe OCD, and acknowledges that each person's experiences with the same mental illness will vary. It was hard to read in places because their minds are so different than what I experience. I think it would make me tired if my brain didn't shut off or if it took me three hours to leave the house every morning. 

Addie has OCD and Fitz is schizophrenic. I didn't relate to either Addie or Fitz, but was interested to learn about them and how they interacted with others. They were part of a group of eight teenagers that met every day for Group Talk. There were plenty of interesting characters in their group and they formed a bond with each other. 

There were parts of the book that were slow, but overall, I thought it was interesting! I enjoyed the nuggets of wisdom scattered throughout the book. It's definitely given me a lot to think about and is a book that will stick with me for a long time.

Spencer Hyde spent three years of his high school experience visiting Johns Hopkins for severe OCD. He feels particularly suited to write Waiting for Fitz because he’s lived through his protagonists’ obsessions.

Spencer worked at a therapeutic boarding school before earning his MFA in Utah and his PhD in Texas, specializing in fiction. He wrote Waiting for Fitz while working as a Teaching Fellow in Denton, Texas. He is currently an assistant professor of English at Brigham Young University.

Stories have a way of changing lives—Spencer learned that the first time he picked up a Tom Stoppard play and realized that words can nudge the world and build bridges to hope.

Spencer and his wife, Brittany, are the parents of four children. They love to hike, read, watch movies, fly-fish, and bake.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Blog Tour/Review: Miss Adeline's Match by Joanna Barker

Miss Adeline's Match, by Joanna Barker
2019, 263p, Clean Regency Romance
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, which did not affect my review in any way

Miss Adeline Hayes is the perfect lady's companion: pleasant, conversational, and unceasingly proper. But when her closest friend, Charity Edgeworth, breaks off her arranged marriage without explanation, even Adeline's superior skills are put to the test. Charity's father banishes the two young women to the country, sending Adeline with a charge to find Charity a husband or suffer dire consequences.

As Adeline takes on the role of reluctant matchmaker, she discovers more than one obstacle in her path. Not only does Charity prefer escaping in books to socializing, but Adeline soon finds her own attentions distracted by the standoffish—and irritatingly handsome—Mr. Evan Whitfield. Amidst an eventful foxhunt and the unexpected arrival of Charity's former betrothed, Adeline simply doesn't have time for a battle of wits with Evan. But the two are continually drawn together until Adeline begins to question her tightly guarded convictions about love and marriage.

However, when secrets are revealed and truths made known, Adeline must face her most fearsome obstacle yet: herself.

I loved the first book by this author and was excited to start reading this one! Adeline, or Addie, is a lady's companion and close friend to Charity. When Charity breaks off her engagement, her father sends them away with strict instructions to Addie to find a match for Charity or there would be serious consequences for her family. Addie finds the perfect match for Charity, but there are complications.

The story is told from Addie's point of view. She is an easy character to like but has some flaws, which made her easier to relate to. She and Evan got off to a rocky start, and I liked how their relationship developed. I also enjoyed her relationship with Charity. She made some mistakes which she was able to learn from.

I thought this book was great and would recommend it to anyone that enjoys reading clean Regency romance! I'm looking forward to reading even more from this author in the future.

Joanna Barker was born and raised in northern California. She discovered her love for historical fiction after visiting England as an eleven-year-old, and subsequently read every Jane Austen book she could get her hands on. After graduating Brigham Young University with a degree in English, she worked as an acquisitions editor before devoting herself full-time to writing. She enjoys music, chocolate, and reading everything from romance to science fiction. She lives in Utah and is just a little crazy about her husband and two wild-but-loveable boys.

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Monday, April 1, 2019

Blog Tour/Review: A Monster Like Me by Wendy S. Swore

A Monster Like Me, by Wendy S. Swore
2019, 304p, Middle-Grade Fiction
My Rating=4 Stars
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher, which did not affect my review in any way

Sophie is a monster expert. Thanks to her Big Book of Monsters and her vivid imagination, Sophie can identify the monsters in her school and neighborhood. Clearly, the bullies are trolls and goblins. Her nice neighbor must be a good witch, and Sophie’s new best friend is obviously a fairy. But what about Sophie? She’s convinced she is definitely a monster because of the “monster mark” on her face. At least that’s what she calls it. The doctors call it a blood tumor. Sophie tries to hide it but it covers almost half her face. And if she’s a monster on the outside, then she must be a monster on the inside, too.

Being the new kid at school is hard. Being called a monster is even harder. Sophie knows that it’s only a matter of time before the other kids, the doctors, and even her mom figure it out. And then her mom will probably leave — just like her dad did.

Because who would want to live with a real monster?

Sophie truly believes she's a monster because she has a blood tumor on her face. She carries a monster book around with her which helps her determine what kinds of monsters other people are. She and her mother have just moved so she is the new girl in school, which isn't easy for her. She learns a lot throughout the book about herself and others.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and the message it contains! I lost interest in some of the monster talk, which was in the middle of the book, but then the storyline picked up for me and I enjoyed it until the end. What didn't appeal to me, though, will probably be very appealing to younger readers. There are some things that happen that are tough for a young girl to deal with, and I liked how the author handled those situations. It's a book that would be great to read out loud since it will open up discussions on things like bullying, friendship, heartbreak, sacrifice, monsters (of course!), and more.

Author’s Note

Sophie’s story is dear to my heart because I know how it feels to be bullied because I looked different from everyone else. When I was a child, I had a hemangioma on my forehead that stuck out so far my bangs couldn’t cover it, no matter how hard my mother tried. Because the tumor was made up of blood vessels, I could feel my heart beating inside it when I was playing hard or really upset.

The incident at the grocery store where the hydra lady says, “Hey, look kids! That girl doesn’t need a Halloween costume. She’s already got one!” is an exact quote of what a woman once said to my mother and me. Another woman told a classroom full of kids that I had the mark of the devil. Kids asked if it was a goose bump, or hamburger, or if my brains had leaked out. My dad had to chase away some bullies who had followed me home, called me names, and pushed me into the street. Sometimes, after a bad day of bullying, I wished I could just rip the mark off my face and be like everyone else—but it was a part of me, and wishing didn’t change that.

My parents decided to take an active role in educating the people around me so they would know what a hemangioma was and understand that it wasn’t icky, or gross, or contagious. Whenever we moved to a new place, my dad would go with me to the elementary school and talk to the kids about my mark and let them ask questions. After those talks, kids befriended me and noticed when bullies came around. Like Autumn, my school friends would speak up when they saw someone being mean to me, and sometimes they would stand between me and the bullies until they left me alone. I didn’t let the bullies stop me from doing what I wanted to do. I climbed trees, went swimming, wrote poetry, brought my tarantula and snakes to show-and-tell, and played in the tide pools.

This is my message to anyone who experiences bullying: Don’t let the bullies define you! I’ve been there, I know it hurts to be teased, but don’t let it stop you from doing what you want. Find something you enjoy—a hobby, talent, or challenge—and practice that skill. Know that someone out there, maybe even someone in your same school, needs a friend as much as you do. Be that friend. Stand up for each other. And know that you are not alone.

You can always find me at, and I would love to hear your stories and what you thought of the book.