Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mountains Between Us by Jenny Proctor

Mountains Between Us

Author: Jenny Proctor


Published: August 31st, 2014

ISBN13: 9781621086604

Paperback: 240 pages

FTC FYI: Received an ebook copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads Summary

"You're a good man, Henry," Eliza whispered. Their eyes met for a brief moment before, seized by sudden impulse, Eliza closed the distance between them, stood on her tiptoes, and kissed him full on the lips. When she pulled away, Henry stood there, his eyes wide with surprise. He'd kissed back. She was certain of that. He could have pushed her away, and he hadn't. But the stupefied look on his face didn't exactly make it easy for her to know what to do next.

After three years of social work in Nashville, Eliza Redding is eager to leave behind her life at home for a new adventure. Nestled deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina is the site of her first job as a clinical counselor: Rockbridge Academy, a rehabilitative boarding school for troubled youth. Anticipating that she'll be the only Latter-day Saint at the academy, Eliza is pleasantly surprised to discover that English teacher Henry Jacobson is a fellow member of the church. Her excitement is quickly diminished, however, when she discovers Henry's standoffish and cold personality--undeterred, she commences the monumental task of befriending her reserved coworker.

As they face serious familial struggles, Eliza and Henry find themselves drawn together by their growing understanding of each other. But when a life-threatening crisis arises at the academy and family conflicts escalate, will these two independent spirits realize they are meant for each other?

My Review

Jenny Proctor is a great author, and I really enjoyed this book.  I instantly loved Eliza.  She is a fabulous character, and it wasn't just because she has red hair.  I loved how caring and kind she was.  Henry, on the other hand, was a mystery.  Don't get me wrong, he is a great guy, but one page I would feel like he made a breakthrough, then the next he would totally shut down.  Henry was kind, but very reserved.  I'm glad he was able to work out his issues before he made his decisions on where he wanted his life to go.  He really had a lot of things to work out.  I can't say more about him without revealing the whole book, but he is worth the wait.  Eliza had a past too, and I was happy to see how her character advanced as well.  I really felt for these characters and their trails.  Eliza also befriends a co-worker, Flip, who shows interest in the church, but are his motives for doing so the right reasons?  Even if he has motives, I really liked Flip.  Jenny does a great job with all of her characters.  

4 out of 5 stars.  This book is written well and once you start, you won't want to stop until the end.  I liked the point of view switches between Henry and Eliza.  It really helped me get to know them better through each other's eyes.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bad Guys of the Bible by Dennis Gaunt -- Blog Tour/Combined Review


Bad Guys of the Bible

Author: Dennis Gaunt


Published: October 15th, 2014

ISBN13: 9781621088677

Paperback: 256 pages

Religious non-fiction

FTC FYI: Received a PDF copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Reviewed by Mindy and Sheila

Summary

These bad guys are smart. You can be smarter. This entertaining book shows how knowing the enemy can help you be a righteous warrior in your own life. Any discussion of bad guys has to begin with “in the beginning.” From Genesis to Revelation, you’ll get the dirt on the dastardly deeds perpetrated by Bible characters ranging from the truly villainous to the temporarily wayward. Weaving together gospel truth and humor, Dennis Gaunt shows that you can’t have a great story without a great bad guy—and that by studying and knowing the mistakes that biblical bad guys made, we can avoid falling into similar perilous traps. This entertaining and inspiring book also wraps up each chapter with thoughtful questions that invite readers to ponder and apply in their own lives the spiritual lessons from these fascinating stories.

Mindy's Review

Dennis is the man.  Not only does he make the Bible interesting, he makes it understandable.  I found myself looking forward to each chapter to see what bad guy (or guys) was next.  I enjoyed the care and detail of each chapter.  The personal stories mixed with council from church leaders, past and present, along with insightful scriptures, were what made this book even better.  I took notes throughout and took pictures of the pages so I am able to look back and appreciate what I read.  Dennis added his awesome humor and lots of familiar quotes for chapter headings.  I think this helped make it for relatable for his readers.  As I was reading, I could hear Dennis saying the funny lines.  A personal fav was "tree house of wickedness".

As with Bad Guys of the Book of Mormon, Dennis adds a lessons learned and not learned at the end of each chapter, to summarize and ask questions to the reader.  It added his own personal touch and humor to each chapter and a great review of what was discussed.  Honestly, the Bible, to me, is intimating and confusing at times.  I was able to understand and appreciate the Bible even more and was reminded of stories I hadn't heard in awhile.  As with his first book, this one also teaches us to be ever mindful of the ultimate bad guy, the one who wants us all to fail, Satan.

I probably had about 20+ quotes that I would love to share, but the very last paragraph, ended with the author's testimony.
"I add my own testimony that God has big plans for you and your life.  When we choose to stand on the Lord's side, we will discover "they that be with us are more than they that be with them" (2 Kings 6:16).  May each of us choose now to be one of the Lord's good guys, to make whatever changes are needed, and to be true and valiant to Him every day of our lives." (page 235)
5 out of 5 stars.  Another solid book from Dennis.

Sheila's Review

I loved Dennis's first book, Bad Guys of the Book of Mormon. When I knew he was writing Bad Guys of the Bible, I couldn't wait to start reading this new book.
The book jumps right in starting with the beginning of the Bible and the original bad guy, Satan and those he tempted, Adam and Eve, Moses and Jesus Christ. I like what Dennis had to say about why he started with him, "It's essential that we learn to spot his tricks and traps early so we can avoid them." 
One of the things that I love about the way Dennis writes, is the humor he infuses throughout such serious subjects. He knows how to keep the old Bible stories refreshing and relevant to today's people, so teens and adults can relate to them. There is also plenty of quoted scriptures which I so appreciate him including. I was able to highlight many things as I read each chapter. I kept thinking of how I will be using each chapter as a Family Home Evening lesson with my family. Thanks for that Dennis! I have 16 lessons ready to go! ;) 
 I was so excited to see in Bad Guys of the Bible that Dennis had included one of my favorite things from his first book. At the end of each chapter you'll find...
-Lessons NOT Learned and-Lessons TO Learn
 Let me give you an example from one of my favorite chapters, Chapter 7: More Whiners in the Wilderness=Lessons from the Exodus.
**Lessons NOT Learned:
  • Random Israelite #1: "Hey, is it just me, or is this wilderness kind of rough?"
  • Random Israelite #2: "Now that you mention it, it is sort of unpleasant out here!"
  • Random Israelite #3: "Guys? I have sand in my shoe."
  • Random Israelite #1:  "Oh that's it! Where's Moses? I want to go back to Egypt!" 
**Lessons TO Learn:
  • Why does life feel like a harsh wilderness sometimes?Why do we have so many trials to deal with? How can we resist the temptation to murmur and complain when times are hard?
  • What made the difference between people like Moses, Joshua, or Caleb and those who wanted to go back every time something was wrong? What can you do to change and control your own attitude when you feel like giving up?
  • Make a list of the different ways you can gather spiritual manna every single day. For each item on the list, ask yourself: How can I avoid becoming ungrateful for this? What can I do so that I don't become bored with the things Heavenly Father has asked me to do every day?  
See what I mean? Your Family Home Evening lesson is right there! I don't think Dennis wrote this book for that purpose, but it is a perfect teaching tool. You can also see what a great wit this author has in his writing and in real life. The author also concludes the book with this thought..."The study of the bad guys of the Bible is the study of ourselves. By looking at the the things they did wrong, we can learn to do things right. We can outsmart Satan and all of his followers by being smarter than the bad guys. We did it once before, and we can do it again.No one is doomed to fail in this life; no one is destined to be miserable. Every person in this world has the opportunity to choose to follow Christ and be happy."
This well researched and wonderfully written book must be in every Christian home that reads the Bible. This book deserves the 5 ***** rating that I'm happily giving it!

About the Author

Dennis Gaunt has been an avid student of the scriptures for as long as he can remember. He studied history and English at the University of Utah. He taught seminary and institute in CES for a number of years, and currently serves as the Gospel Doctrine teacher in his ward. He and his wife, Natalie, live in Sandy, Utah.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom by June McCrary Jacobs -- Spotlight

A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom

Author: June McCrary Jacobs

Publisher: Cedar Fort

Published: October 8th, 2013

ISBN13: 9781462113521

Hardcover: 144 pages

Goodreads Summary

When her student, six-year-old Mary Noel, survives a car accident over Thanksgiving break, Amber and her new friend, Paul, are determined to cheer her up during the holidays. But Mary Noel’s most painful injury is the loss of her dog. The more withdrawn Mary Noel becomes, the more Amber and Paul need a miracle—a miracle that requires the entire community’s help.

About the Author

JUNE McCRARY JACOBS was chosen as the winner of Cedar Fort Inc.’s 2013 Holiday Tale Contest. Her winning entry,  ‘A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom,’  was released on October 8th, 2013. 
Although this is June’s debut novel, it is not her first published work. Over one hundred of June’s original sewing, quilting, and stitchery projects and articles have been published in recent years in sewing books, on sewing blogs, and in sewing and crafting magazines distributed nationally and internationally. Two of her sewing designs for children appear in Storey Publishing’s  ‘Little One-Yard Wonders’   book released in June, 2014.
A Californian since age six, June enjoys reading, walking, visiting botanical gardens and parks, touring historic homes and museums, cooking, designing, sewing, quilting, sewing for charity and hand-embroidery.
You may contact June via e-mail at junemccraryjacobs@gmail.com  or on her Facebook page. 
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Painting Kisses by Melanie Jacobson -- Blog Tour/Giveaway


22588781Painting Kisses



Published: October 2nd, 2014

ISBN13: 9781621088516

Paperback: 240 pages

FTC FYI: Received a PDF from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads Summary

Lia Carswell is good at what she does, even if it isn't as glamorous as her old artist life in Manhattan. The popular waitress works hard in a small Salt Lake City diner, with the goal of easing her sister's financial strain. And with her witty personality and good looks, she's something of an enigma to the male customers who vie for her attention. Ever the professional, Lia keeps her distance, with one exception. Aidan is a breakfast regular, and his gentle, clever teasing draws Lia's attention and builds an easy rapport between them, though Lia would never let their relationship get serious, especially since he's not the only one trying to catch her eye. Her handsome neighbor Griff has been hinting that he wants more than a neighborly relationship.

Then her old New York artist life comes knocking, and an offer is made for a series of commissioned paintings. Lia knows it would ensure financial security for her family, but she doesn't know if she wants that life anymore. When she undertakes one final project, she reawakens her heart and soul. And as she finds herself falling in love and needing an outlet more and more, she realizes her paintings might be her saving grace.

My Review

This book is darling.  I instantly liked Lia.  Her spunk and attitude were my favorite things about her.  I loved how the author gradually introduced us to her life, not spilling all her secrets out in the first chapter.  I appreciated Lia even more, getting to know her and those around her, and what she especially has gone through.  I also loved the men in her life.  As much as she didn't want them around at first, they came anyway.  Aidan and Griff kept me guessing, I suspected something early about one of them.  I turned out to be right, but I loved how it all came about.  I also liked the turn the book took when Lia made her decision on who she liked and what to do with the news he shares.  What I really enjoyed were Lia's painting scenes.  Also a particular trip up to the mountains with a certain character.  Lia came alive when she started painting again and it made a difference for those around her too.  Her story is a sad one, but again, I loved how Melanie revealed it all.  Melanie did a great job with these characters and as always, her writing is creative and fun.  The relationships with Lia and her sister and especially Chloe were my favorite.  I had a clear favorite guy for her, but don't want to spoil anything for ya, it will give it away.  The romance and humor in Painting Kisses, as with Mel's other books, is spot on.

4 out of 5 stars.  Another enjoyable book from Melanie Jacobson.  Can't wait for more.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Remake by Ilima Todd -- Blog Tour


22299642Remake

Author: Ilima Todd

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Published: October 14th, 2014

ISBN13: 978-1-60907-924-6

Hardcover: 291 pages

FTC FYI: Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads Summary 

Nine is the ninth female born in her batch of ten females and ten males. By design, her life in Freedom Province is without complications or consequences. However, such freedom comes with a price. The Prime Maker is determined to keep that price a secret from the new batches of citizens that are born, nurtured, and raised androgynously.

But Nine isn't like every other batcher. She harbors indecision and worries about her upcoming Remake Day -- her seventeenth birthday, the age when batchers fly to the Remake facility and have the freedom to choose who and what they'll be.

When Nine discovers the truth about life outside of Freedom Province, including the secret plan of the Prime Maker, she is pulled between two worlds and two lives. Her decisions will test her courage, her heart, and her beliefs. Who can she trust? Who does she love? And most importantly, who will she decide to be?

My Review

Nine was picked on for being different in her batch of 20, but she always had Theron around to stick up for her.  Something happens that forces them apart, and Nine has to learn how to survive without him and learn how to live a life she has never known.  I know that doesn't make any sense now, but I don't want to summarize anymore than that, every page is so important, especially when Nine meets with the Prime Maker.  What I thought was interesting was each batch member is waiting to be Remade when they are 17, they could even chose a different gender if they wanted.  Nine really struggles with what her life should become, until life chooses for her.  Those who live in Freedom think they are free to choose, but are so wrong.

This book is very cool and intriguing.  I wasn't sure what to think of Nine and her life in Freedom when I started reading, but I really ended up caring about what happened to her and those around her, especially when the story takes a different, but enjoyable, turn.  I loved how the author threw this new situation in for her (again, can't tell, sorry).  I loved the characters that she meets in her new life and LOVED the ending.  Also, what really was happening in Freedom is mind-blowing and creepy.  

4 out of 5 stars.  I was excited to learn from the author that there will be two more books!

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Jack Templar and the Lord of the Werewolves by Jeff Gunhus


Jack Templar 4Jack Templar and the Lord of the Werewolves
Fresh from confronting the Lord of the Vampires in the limestone catacombs beneath Paris, Jack Templar faces his toughest challenge yet as he searches for the next Jerusalem Stone, this one being held by the Lord of the Werewolves.
But the narrow escape from the vampire lair came at a great cost and Eva battles to survive the new vampire blood in her veins. The only chance to help Eva is to continue their quest and find the Jerusalem Stones. Reuniting the Stones will not only stop Ren Lucre’s coming war against mankind, but also transform Eva back into her human self.
From the ruins of ancient Delhi to the depths of the Black Forest in Germany, Jack and his friends face monsters, bewildering riddles and treachery from the most unlikely of places. Through it all, they are plagued by the Oracle’s prediction that at least one of their group with not make it through the adventure alive. Worse yet, they know that Kaeden, the Lord of the Werewolves, will do his best to make sure none of them do.
But they are monster hunters of the Black Guard… and they will do their duty, come what may.

Excerpt
The stench hung heavy in the air. There was no other smell in the world quite like it. First came the stink of grease fires from the wall torches, the heavy black smoke that roiled through the air like a foul fog. Then a moldering, musty base layer came to the senses. It reeked of decay and seeping moisture that grew black mold on every surface. The mold clung on the rough-cut rocks lining the dungeon tunnels. It covered the thick iron bars holding the prisoners in place. It even grew on the tattered rags covering the miserable creatures in the cells and likely on their skin as well. That final smell overlay the symphony of stink.
The Creach prisoners.
Werewolves, harpies, blind mad-worms, blinderwursts, fangpiercers, even some demons held with the special pure iron chains required to keep them in place. Many of these creatures were pungent under the best circumstances, but locked in the deepest dungeon underground, sometimes for decades, they took on an odor so ripe, so awful, that visitors to the dungeon often had to hold their breath to enter. Even then, the smell would make their eyes sting and well with tears.
Immediately after leaving the dungeon, visitors were allowed a bath or a shower in the castle. As they washed the stench from their bodies, they would feel an overwhelming sense of thanks that they were not a prisoner wallowing in the horrifying conditions they’d just witnessed.
No one, human or Creach, wanted to be a prisoner in the dungeons of Ren Lucre.
Far away, at the end of one of the long, twisting corridors, came the creak of a massive door opening. The prisoners stirred at the sound. Their reactions mirrored how long they had been in their cells.
The newer arrivals looked up with expectation, still hopeful their punishment was going to be short and that someone was coming to tell them their nightmare was over.
Those who had been there longer knew that hope was useless in this dark place. They simply cowered farther into whatever dark corner they could find in their cell, desperate not to be noticed by the Master.
Then there were those who had been there the longest. They simply looked up with mild interest, knowing that nothing they did made any difference. Their spirits were broken. Worse, they knew this to be the dark truth, and they simply didn’t care.
One single prisoner reacted in none of these ways. He simply stood, and the rags that had once been his clothes hung on his bony frame. Unbroken by years of starvation and torture, he still squared his shoulders in the direction of the sound and raised his chin, his eyes glistening in the torchlight with defiance. What he saw would have brought a normal man to his knees, but this man was no more normal than the monster approaching.
Ren Lucre, the five hundred year old vampire, filled the hallway as he strode through it, his cloak billowing behind him as he rushed past the stinking cells. His pale, narrow face looked pinched and concerned. His blood-red lip pursed in a straight line, and his eyes glowered like embers in a fire that might at any time combust into new flame.
He came to the thick set of bars that held the proud man, stopped, and stared him down.
“Well, if it isn’t the Lord of the Creach,” the man said. Even though his voice was course and weak, he still managed an edge of bitter sarcasm. “You look like you’re having a bad day.” The man spat on the floor. “Good.”
Jack Templar 4 Tour

jeffAuthor Jeff Gunhus
Jeff Gunhus is the author of the Amazon bestselling supernatural thriller, Night Chill, and the Middle Grade/YA series, The Templar Chronicles. The first book of the series, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born. His book Reaching Your Reluctant Reader has helped hundreds of parents create avid readers. Killer Within is his second novel for adults. As a father of five, he and his wife Nicole spend most of their time chasing kids and taking advantage of living in the great state of Maryland. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of the City Dock Cafe in Annapolis working on his next novel. If you see him there, sit down and have a cup of coffee with him. You just might end up in his next novel.
Jack Templar awards
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Book Blast Giveaway
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 11/4/14
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com 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 and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Yoder Family Amish Restaurant by Becca Fisher -- Book Blast


Yoder Family Restaurant
Yoder Family Amish Restaurant
Sadie Zook is in an impossible situation. After a long search, she’s finally found love. But the man she’s fallen for also happens to work at the same Amish restaurant–a restaurant that has banned co-workers from dating. So Sadie and her boyfriend are forced to keep their love a secret. Can they keep from being found out, or will everything Sadie has worked so hard for be jeopardized?
Praise
“What a great story. Great story line. I couldn’t put it down.” – marshalljs
“I recommend this out-standing Amish Christian romance book to any reader young or old. Ms. Fisher has written an delightful book exhibiting excellent taste.” – Dr. Wanda Piercey

About the Author
I’m Becca Fisher and I write sweet Amish romances featuring simple people with complex love lives. I’m devout in my faith, relish time with my family, and seek to bring joy to as many lives as possible. I would love to have you as a reader. God bless.

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Book Blast Giveaway
$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 11/4/14
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com 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 and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
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