Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Book Review ~ "Gravediggers" by Cindy M. Hogan

Gravediggers by Cindy M. Hogan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: Received to Review
Genre: YA Mystery/Suspense

Book Description:  Seventeen-year-old Billy thinks his father’s murder will never be solved — until he stumbles across an old ammo box while digging a grave in his small-town Tennessee cemetery.

What he finds leads him to question everything he knows, and his search for answers will uncover more than he bargained for: lies, secrets, and conspiracies — and behind them all, a dangerous truth.

My thoughts: Billy is seventeen and has unanswered questions from his father's death 10 year earlier. His goal is to become an FBI agent and solve the case, bringing justice for his father.

When he finds a ammo box full of jewels and cash while digging a grave his timetable to solve the case transforms. While investigating the case, he uncovers clues that put him in pursuit of the killer. He is joined by his best friend, Henry, and Henry's cousin visiting for the summer.

I enjoyed reading about the process of uncovering clues and eliminating useless information. Billy, Henry, and Amanda make a great team. For Billy's part, it doesn't hurt that Amanda is attractive and fun to be with. She's smart and helps turn the investigation in the right direction.

Billy learns about letting go of the past and what it truly means to love and forgive. He has faced countless trials because of his father's death. They have made him a stronger person, he now faces his biggest challenge.

The emotions that he goes through can be a little tough to read. His grief and longing for his father are understandable and relate-able. A strong part in the story for me is that he is a good kids. He is likable.

This book contains some violence at the end. I would caution readers who are sensitive to other's emotions in reading this book. Billy has an unchecked sense of vengeance at the end that is tough to read.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Book Review ~ "The Skeleton in My Closet Wears a Wedding Dress" by Sally Johnson

The Skeleton in My Closet Wears a Wedding Dress by Sally Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: Received electronic copy from the Publisher
Genre: LDS Romantic Comedy

Book Description:  Beautiful, young Sophia Davis is confident that her decision to marry Travis will lead her to eternal bliss—but when her new husband abruptly files for divorce, she is completely blindsided. With the whole world falling apart, what’s a nineteen-year-old divorcĂ©e to do? The answer for Sophia is simple: she picks up the pieces of her shattered heart and returns to BYU. Hoping for a clean slate, she embarks on her freshman year—again. But this time, Sophia has a skeleton in her closet, and she’ll go to any length to protect her secret. As she reluctantly navigates a world populated by newly returned missionaries, sweet Suzie Homemakers, and serious students, she finds herself turning more and more to her home teacher Luke. As their friendship blossoms, will Sophia allow herself to trust again in the hope of a true happy ending?

My thoughts: This was a fun romantic comedy for me to read. The main character, Sophia, is struggling with depression and self-worth. Her whirl-wind romance and marriage of four months ended in divorce and she is trying to figure out what happened and slowly move on with her life.

The roommates and neighboring apartment of men are wonderful characters to help Sophia pull out of her rut. In their own unique way they provide fun, laughter, or a kick in the pants to help motivate her.

The time frame for this book takes place between Fall to Spring Semester's at BYU. There is a lot of talk of religion and LDS specific values.

In the end this book provided a feeling of hope and the joy of moving away from a bad period in life and putting it behind you.

Book Review ~ "Contact" by Laurisa White Reyes

ContactContact by Laurisa White Reyes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: Netgalley
Genre:YA Paranormal

Book Description:  It takes only half a second…

…Like those commercials where a crash test dummy rockets forward at high speed and slams into a wall.
…In that instant, every thought in Emma Lynn Walsh’s head collides with mine—every thought, memory, hope, disappointment and dream.
…I open my eyes to see Dr. Walsh peering at me, a puzzled expression on her face.

“Let—go—of—me,” I order though clenched teeth.

Mira wants to die. She’s attempted suicide twice already, and failed. Every time she comes in contact with another person, skin to skin, that person’s psyche uploads into hers. While her psychologist considers this a gift, for Mira, it’s a curse from which she cannot escape.

To make matters worse, Mira’s father is being investigated in the deaths of several volunteer test subjects of a miracle drug. Shortly after Mira’s mother starts asking questions, she ends up in a coma. Although her father claims it was an accident, thanks to her “condition” Mira knows the truth…but proving it just might get her killed!

My thoughts; When the book opens, Mira has just attempted her second suicide attempt. It doesn't take long for the reader to discover that she has an ability which affects her mental health. When she has skin to skin contact with another person she can read their life history. It is a burden that is difficult for a 16 year old girl.

Her ability leads her down a path of mystery and danger. I don't feel like I can expound on that too much because I don't want to give away any part of the explosive conclusion.

There are some great secondary characters. Laurisa White Reyes does a great job at keeping the reader close to discovering the truth, but far enough away that it is a surprise. She has many false paths that Mira starts down, only to discover there is another path. Eventually the truth comes out and leads to an exciting and dangerous conclusion.

This book definitely caught my attention. This is the first book of the author's that I have read and it won't be the last.

This book is also part of Goodreads Giveaways until 2/9/15

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Novella Review ~ "An August Bride" by Debra Clopton

An August Bride (A Year of Weddings, #9)An August Bride by Debra Clopton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: Netgalley (received to review)
Genre: Clean Christian Romance

Book Description:  A year's worth of novellas from twelve inspirational romance authors. Happily ever after guaranteed.

Kelsey vowed never to love a cowboy again. But then she meets Brent.
After a cowboy broke her heart, Kelsey Wilcox traded in her boots for flip-flops and a bistro on the beautiful sandy beach of Corpus Christi. Two years later, still not believing in happy endings, she is about to endure a weekend of torture at her cousin's beach wedding. Not only will she be forced to watch yet another wedding, but her great-aunt and her two best friends---aptly nicknamed 'the matchmaking posse of Mule Hollow'---are coming to the wedding, and Kelsey is sure to be on their radar.

Brent Corbin has had his share of bad luck with women and isn't looking for love or looking forward to the weekend of wedding festivities as a groomsman for his friend. When he sees a commotion on the beach and what appears to be a mermaid in distress, he doesn't hesitate to dive to the rescue. His attention is instantly captured by the woman he's saved and it turns out they're part of the same wedding party. But the instant Kelsey spots his soaking wet boots she wants no part of him.

Thrown together through the weekend and with the meddlesome encouragement from the matchmakers, Brent is determined to pursue Kelsey and change her mind about cowboys. Sparks fly at this August wedding as Kelsey and Brent dance a rocky Texas two-step toward a beach wedding of their own.

My thoughts: I thought that this book was very sweet and cute.

Kelsey is afraid to enter into a relationship. Her heart was broken by a cowboy when she was left at the alter. While I could see her taking time off from relationships, I didn't think that she should lump all cowboys into the same category. Not every cowboy leaves broken hearts behind him.

Brent was a fun character. He is immediately taken by Kelsey. He wants her to see him as an individual.

The setting was romantic. Kelsey's cousin was married on the beach. Romance was in the air, Kelsey just tried to hide from it.

This book takes place in just a few weeks. While Kelsey was reluctant, Brent was persistent. I really enjoyed the different ways he thought up to get her to give him a chance.

This is a cute and fun novella that is a clean romance.

Purchase for Kindle or Nook:

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Blog Tour ~ "Fearless, Fabulous You!: Lessons on Living Life on Your Terms" by Melanie Young

Fearless, Fabulous You!: Lessons on Living Life on Your Terms by Melanie Young
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Source: Purchased Kindle edition
Genre: Motivational / Self-Help

Book Description:  Stay fearless and fabulous in the face of any opposition! Breast cancer survivor and former PR exec Melanie Young, author of Getting Things off My Chest, knows how to do it. And now she shares her secrets in Fearless, Fabulous You!:

My thoughts: There is a ton of wonderful and inspirational material packed into this book. Melanie Young's approach is motivational. She is able to take a section of information and pack it full of information to help me see how to do better and live better.

This was a book that I kept finding passages and sharing them with my husband. I kept thinking that she had a great approach to sharing great advice. I have many places in the book highlighted. There were many times that even though I knew what she was saying, I hadn't thought of it in the way presented. Presentation is often the catalyst to rediscovering truths that we already know.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book (this is a small representation).

"You may not be happy every hour of the day. But try to do something that makes you smile and feel good very day. Snack on laughter, not chips."

"Money cannot buy self-worth. It's not a commodity you can trade. People can't steal your self-worth, but some may try to devalue it, usually in an attempt to make themselves feel worthier. Don't fall for it."

"The first measure of being beautiful is not based on how you look to others but on how you look at yourself. The second is how you take care of yourself. Staying strong and healthy starts from the inside out. The third is compassion - how you treat others."

Links to Purchase!

About the Author: Author Melanie Young has made a career of turning challenges into opportunities as a wine and food marketing and communications specialist. When breast cancer took her on an unexpected detour in 2009-2010 she seized the opportunity to make positive lifestyle changes to stay healthy, manage stress, eliminate fear of recurrence and rethink how she wanted to live her life with renewed purpose. Writing was her therapy and voice to help inspire others to face life’s challenges with grit, grace and wit. Her first book, Getting Things Off My Chest, helps newly diagnosed women navigate their breast cancer journey with confidence. In Fearless Fabulous You! Melanie’s message is: “Be CEO- chief empowerment officer- of your life. Find your passion and purpose; be your own wellness advocate and believe in your self-worth.”

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Look at the Manor featured in "The Secret of Pembrooke Park" by Julie Klassen

It's fun to see the inspiration behind a  book.  I honestly would love to visit.  It looks beautiful!

See my review of the book HERE.

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Book Depository

Watch the Book Trailer:

Monday, January 19, 2015

Book Review ~ "To Laugh Once More" by Sherri Wilson Johnson

To Laugh Once MoreTo Laugh Once More by Sherri Wilson Johnson
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Source: Received eBook from author to review
Genre: Historical Christain Fiction/Romance

Book Description:  To Laugh Once More is a Victorian Inspirational Romance set in Florida and Georgia in 1895. The War may be over, but the battles still rage. A dissatisfied wife. A misunderstood husband. Three tragedies will alter their path forever. Will their choices tear them apart, or will they allow them To Laugh Once More? Three years after her marriage to Hamilton, former debutante Lydia Barrington Scarbrough is dissatisfied with life. She has yet to have children, and she spends most of her days sitting in a circle of women chatting about homemaking. She thought life would be more than what it's turned out to be. Hamilton travels on business and never takes her with him. What's a lonely wife to do when she has no children to raise? She longs for adventure and romance, and really, she longs for the fulfillment of her purpose in life. A purpose beyond being a wife and raising children. Lydia faces a series of hardships that stretch her faith beyond capacity. Leaving her childhood home in Florida for Georgia proves to be more difficult than she ever imagined, and her marriage may not survive the trials. Lydia's own personal battles drive a wedge between them. What will it take to make Hamilton attempt to save their marriage and draw Lydia back to him? As Lydia strives to etch out a place for herself in a new world full of unfamiliar prejudice and attempts to overcome her private battles, she must help Hamilton understand her deepest longings and learn the true meaning of joy. Will she surrender her will in order to find her purpose? Will her future hold a happier marriage, motherhood, and a calling greater than she could ever have imagined?

My thoughts: I didn't realize when I began reading this book that it was a second book. The first book, To Dance Once More, takes place before Lydia and Hamilton were married. While the author does a great job at letting the reader know that there were events before this book, I felt like I was missing a chunk of history. That only happened a few times. Sherri Wilson Johnson really did a great job at getting me to speed fairly quickly and enjoying this story three years after their marriage.

Lydia spends quite a bit of the book unhappy. She longs for more than she currently has. She wants to travel, be more involved, and to have a child. This book is about her learning to find joy and acceptance with her life, to trust God, and to move forward.

The book also covers a period in time that were a struggle for people in the Southern United States. The Civil War is over, but the black people are treated as second class citizens. The setting of this book is in Florida and Georgia. Lydia and Hamilton are placed right in the middle of the conflict. Lydia's belief that  black men/women should be treated the same  as white people was not a popular one for the time. It also led to some volatile situations.

Overall, I enjoyed this story. I just wish that I had read the book before this one.

If you would like to read To Dance Once More first, here are the links!

About the Author: (Taken from Goodreads)  I am Sherri Wilson Johnson. I live in Georgia with my husband, children and dogs. Writing is my favorite pastime and, fortunately, I have been able to see my dream of publication come true. I write fiction, non-fiction and homeschool resources, but fiction is my true love. 

My debut novel, To Dance Once More (OakTara), was released in September 2011. My second novel, Song of the Meadowlark (OakTara), released in September 2012. To Laugh Once More released September 8, 2014.

Visit her Website.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Book Review ~ "The Secret of Pembrooke Park" by Julie Klassen

The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Source: Received from Publisher to Review
Genre: Regency Romance

Book description:  Abigail Foster fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry to improve her charms and the one man she thought might marry her--a longtime friend--has fallen for her younger, prettier sister. 
When financial problems force her family to sell their London home, a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll's house left mid-play . . .

The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem to know something about the manor's past, the only information they offer Abigail is a warning: Beware trespassers who may be drawn by rumors that Pembrooke contains a secret room filled with treasure.

Hoping to improve her family's financial situation, Abigail surreptitiously searches for the hidden room, but the arrival of anonymous letters addressed to her, with clues about the room and the past, bring discoveries even more startling. As secrets come to light, will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks...or very real danger?

My thoughts: Abigail Foster is sensible. She doesn't fall into the social events with abandon. She doesn't feel the need to always be dressed her best or have perfect hair. She knows that she is practical and she is pleased to be true to herself and her way of life. She lives life in the shadow of her younger and favored sister.

Abigail takes responsibility when her family has a reverse of financial standing. She encouraged her father in an investment that left the family with little. While trying to decide what to do, they received an invitation to rent a home that was within their budget.

Pembrooke Park, abandoned for nearly twenty years turns out to be full of mystery. Some say it is haunted, others that it contains a secret room full of treasure. Abigail hears bumps in the night that unsettle her. Her practical nature wins over and she is able to find solutions for the strange occurrences in the manor.

I loved the sense of mystery in this book. The house was abandoned with tea cups still on the table. Who is the person wearing a green cloak? Where did the family disappear to? Who is lending the house to the Fosters? Where is the treasure?

In some ways this book reminded me of a Gothic romance. It may be because of the creaks and groans of an old house, and the feeling that someone is nearby and watching.

The secondary characters in the story all have secrets. No one is exactly who they seem to be. Part of the mystery of the book is to unravel their secrets and try to figure out how the book will turn out because of the secrets. I had some figured out and others were a surprise.

The romance was a little slow to bloom. The reader knows of the attraction between William and Abigail, but they are slow to let each other know how they feel. Their flirtation was fun to read. There is another potential love interest that shows up and puts obstacles in their path.

This book was well written and contains many wonderful quotes and descriptions. The mystery was well done. I enjoyed my time spent with this book.

This book has a Christian theme and contains kissing, innuendo, and murder.

Purchase a copy!

About the Author:  (taken from Goodreads)  Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her books, The Silent GovernessThe Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also won the Midwest Book Award, Christian Retailing’s BEST Award, and has been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards, Minnesota Book Awards, and ACFW’s Carol Awards. She blogs athttp://www.inspiredbylifeandfiction.com.
Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. 

I had the opportunity to meet Julie Klassen when she came on a book tour to Utah.  She was very friendly and kind when I spoke to her.  I purchase a second copy of her book (signed) to give away.  I plan on using that book for the Romance is in the Air Hop!  Make sure to check back on February 4th to enter the giveaway.

Want to check out some of the quotes bloggers have picked out from the book?  Here are some links to other blogs involved in promoting the book.

http://lisaisabookworm.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-secret-of-pembrooke-park-teaser.html (This one is my quote to share)