Thursday, April 18, 2019

Weddings, Willows, and Revised Expectations by V. Joy Palmer



Seventeen years after being orphaned, Apryl Burns and her twin sister Courtney have their own expectations for life. While Courtney continues to shine at everything, Apryl holds fast to the mantra that as long as her potato chip stash remains intact, then she’ll be fine.

But when their beloved grandmother ends up injured and unable to manage her struggling antique store, Courtney makes it their mission to revamp the business and save what’s left of their family’s legacy. Despite rampant doubts in her abilities, Apryl finds herself trapped under the weight of family loyalty as they transition to a wedding venue decorating service. Soon she’s forced to ask (translation: blackmail) their grandmother’s renter/handyman, Chance McFarland, for help, an arrangement that is made even worse by the fact that Chance is her former (ahem, and current) crush.

Chance knows a few dozen things about family loyalty, which is why he begrudgingly agrees to Apryl’s insane plan. While Apryl claims they’re archenemies, the girl Chance only glimpsed in their teens starts to emerge, stealing what remains of his heart.

But expectations are a powerful thing. Amidst the glamorous weddings and swaying willows, can those old expectations be revised into something new?

 * Amazon * Goodreads *

V. Joy Palmer is a new to me author.  That's always a bit scary but a bit exciting too, especially when it turns out well and this one did turn out well.

I do have to say that this book is high on sarcasm and snark.  And by high, I mean really high.  I'm a girl that finds humor in some sarcasm and this book had plenty of moments that made me smile but there came a point when I wished Apryl would tone it down a bit.  Apryl is definitely a girl who uses sarcasm and snark as a shield of deflection and protection.  Her internal struggles are deep and the voices that tell her she will never be good enough are loud and strong.  This both humanizes Apryl and makes her completely frustrating, especially in context to Chance.  When Apryl finally lets go and decides to believe in herself I felt such a sense of relief.

Chance.  I simply adored him.  I swear he has the deepest well of patience.  That boy keeps coming back, showing up and trying no matter how many times he is knocked down and dragged through the mud.  He's a saint.  Oh, and he can definitely hold his own in a verbal sparring match with Apryl.  Thank goodness.  Chance is the reason I remained so invested in this story.  I loved the way he picked himself up after every down by reminding himself what he believes and why.  He kept his heart soft.

For the most part, I enjoyed the journey of this story.  I was always invested in the outcome, wishing and hoping for the very best.  The ending was very satisfying.

Content:  kissing, strong Christian elements

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Plague by Gregg Luke + Win a Copy of This Book!



Professor Mitch Pine knows all too well the history of epidemics, so the startling new information he’s discovered has him racing to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. Mitch has uncovered a startling pattern: dramatic environmental changes always occurred prior to devastating outbreaks, and current climate change may be such a catalyst. But before his plane lands, Mitch’s journey takes a terrifying turn. He is intercepted by a woman who represents a dangerous faction whose interest in Mitch’s research opposes his mission to save lives. To secure Mitch’s cooperation, his research assistant is being held hostage. With so many lives on the line, Mitch embarks on a turbulent trip around the world, uncovering pieces of the puzzle until he ultimately holds the key to prevent—or precipitate—global devastation. Unless he can find a way to stop the lunatics behind his abduction, a plague the likes of which the world has never known will be unleashed.



Author Gregg Luke has such a creepy, creative mind and I mean that in the best way.  His books always make me wonder how he comes up with such crazy ideas.  I would scare myself trying to come up with the things he writes about in his books!

I have to say that out of all of this author's books (that I've read), this was probably one of the least intense and fast paced.  It progressed slowly and lacked some of the intense forward momentum I've come to know in most of his other books.  Things picked up in the last third of the book but even then it still felt a bit more sedate.  I would say that this book was more about intellect, paying attention to small clues and piecing together information.

In this story we follow Mitch around the world, collection information that helps him piece together a puzzle of globally devastating consequences.  It's a lot of information gathering.  I liked that things were happening on dual fronts so we got multiple perspectives.  Mitch is a genuinely nice guy and it was easy to like him and to appreciate his intellect.  

The cover for this book is pretty cool, I think.  The actual physical book is textured which gives it a creepy sort of feel.  

Content:  some violence, peril

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.



 
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Monday, April 15, 2019

My Not So Wicked Ex-Fiancé (My Not So Wicked Series Book 2) by Jennifer Peel


He rocked her world. She wrecked his. Now their worlds are colliding again. 

Expensive schools and etiquette classes never prepared Shelby Duchane for Ryder Prescott. He taught her more about life in his hay field classroom beneath a blanket of stars than anyone. Under that Georgia sky, she pledged forever to the farm boy with soul-melting chocolate brown eyes, even though it meant forfeiting her large inheritance. She couldn’t wait to clip coupons and buy clothes off the sales rack until death do they part. But then she receives some photos of her intended with someone she had not intended. Brokenhearted, Shelby flees her hometown for Colorado without bothering to say goodbye to her cheating ex-fiancé.

A year later and wiser, Shelby’s doing her best to move on while running her boutique in Carrington Cove, when Ryder shows up and challenges all she thought she knew. Perhaps he wasn’t the wicked ex-fiancé she believed him to be after all. But will Ryder be able to swallow his pride enough to see why she was so persuaded? Will he realize before it’s too late that the only way to heal his own broken heart is to mend Shelby’s? 


Oh. My. Lan. Ta. Somewhere between Shelby's southern charm and Ryder's brooding masculinity, all my senses came alive. I was right there in the thick of it with Shelby; tormented, confused, sorry, desperate, determined, happy. My eyes saw Ryder (amen!), my ears heard Bobby Jay's support and confidence, my nose smelled those mouthwatering southern biscuits, and my heart twittered, pinged and pounded. It was SO, SO good.  

We first meet Shelby in My Not So Wicked Stepbrother.  She is a big part of the story but she isn't someone I was rooting for in that book.  I love that I had this chance to know her better and to love her.  She is a vibrant character who came across so clearly to me as a reader.  Her attraction to Ryder is palpable.  Yumma.  The intensity between Shelby and Ryder grows on every page.  

I also loved that the main characters in the previous book (Emma and Sawyer) were featured in this book as well.  It felt so good to have their familiar vibe threaded through Shelby's story.

 Thank you, Jennifer Peel, for another fantastic, romantic escape. I could live in your books forever.  

Oh, and one more thing.  I absolutely LOVE this cover.  The blue against the black and the sparkle!!  I just love it.  This book is available on Kindle Unlimited if you have that.

Content:  kissing, mild swearing

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Songs of You and Me by Mylissa Demeyere Just $.99!




The Songs of You and Me by Mylissa Demeyere

Book Blurb:

A SECOND CHANCE AT FIRST LOVE.

Jane Hartford fell head over heels for Jackson at the tender age of fifteen. She spent most of high school pining for him, until she realized he wasn't going to see her as anything more than his baby sister's best friend. Now she finds herself single with a daughter, a broken heart, and songs that remind her of a long lost love.

Jackson Wright is a man living with regret. His biggest one, never acting on his feelings for Jane. When he returns to Bellebrook, the town they grew up in, he literally runs into her and his world gets tossed upside down and sideways.

This time, Jackson isn't willing to give up. With a meddling sister eager to push both of them together, he believes things might actually work out. That is, if they can overcome the heavy baggage they both carry. Follow Jackson and Jane as they revisit their past, figuring out what went wrong so long ago.

Will they learn they have the power to make things right in the present? 




What Readers are saying:

A tender debut novel that will leave you remembering the sweet angst of first love. The Songs of You and Me is a charmer. - Taylor Dean, author of I’m With You and Chasing Fireflies.

In this romantic debut about first love, second chances, Ms. DeMeyere weaves the past and present together in a way that brings the characters' hearts to life as they heal from tragedies and struggle to move on in life. Sweet and heartwarming. – Charissa Stastny, author of Between Hope and the Highway and the Rules out Romances Series.

A fun and enticing love story that combines the bitter with the sweet and keeps you laughing amidst the tears. You won't want to miss this touching story that explores true love in all its depth and beauty. – Aubrey, Amazon Reviewer

The Songs of You and Me pulled me in from page one. The characters came to life and I felt as if I was part of their story. I stayed up night after night fascinated with their personal and individual challenges. Their obstacles were relatable and tugged at my heart. I couldn’t wait to finish and yet I didn’t want it to end. As I read the last page, I was ecstatic to see what would come next from Mylissa Demeyere. – Jamie, Amazon Reviewer


Jane (15 years old)
“What was so funny back there?” He asked as his pen stalled.
“Huh?” I pretended not to know what he was talking about as I paged through the book in front of me.
“You know what I mean.” He pushed the subject a little harder.
“Oh, you know the effect you have on the female student body, Jackson. You don’t need me to spell it out for you.”
“Do I now?” He wagged his brows.
“Seriously, you know you’re the popular jock and you actually have half a brain. It’s a rare phenomenon as opposed to the others on the team that only have the looks but are so lacking in other areas.”
“Half a brain?” He looked genuinely insulted. Poor guy. I was sure he got enough of girls stroking his ego, he didn’t need me to help in that department.
“Yes, half a brain. Need I remind you, I’m a freshman helping out a senior with his English paper?”
His smug smile faltered, and his left eyebrow scrunched up. I guess I just took this guy down a notch or two. “I didn’t think so,” I continued. “You’re going to attract fans anywhere you go.”
“Are you a fan, Jane?”
I felt the color rise in my cheeks. His comment hit a little too close to home.
“You’re feeling pretty good about yourself right now, aren’t you? Do you want me to bring you a mirror and give you a moment alone?” I managed to divert the attention from me and set him straight.
“Never mind, I’m good. Let’s get to work.”





Mylissa Demeyere was born in Belgium, and resides in the beautiful city of Ghent. She lives in a somewhat organized home with her four beautiful children and the love of her life. If she isn’t working, she’s writing, running, reading, or enjoying time with her kids, who are growing up way too fast.

The Songs of You and Me is her debut novel, with a sequel already in the works.


Connect with Mylissa online:

Buy The Songs of You and Me online: https://amzn.to/2D9B5oh




Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mylissademeyere/




Tuesday, April 9, 2019

A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd


Hawaiian Islands, 1779
 
As the second daughter of a royal chief, Maile will be permitted to marry for love. Her fiancé is the best navigator in Hawaiʻi, and he taught her everything he knows—how to feel the ocean, observe the winds, read the stars, and how to love.

But when sailors from a strange place called England arrive on her island, a misunderstanding ends in battle, and Maile is suddenly widowed before she is wed.

Finding herself in the middle of the battle and fearing for her life, Maile takes John Harbottle, the wounded man who killed her fiancé, prisoner, and though originally intending to let him die, she reluctantly heals him. And in the process, she discovers the man she thought was her enemy might be her ally instead.

John has been Captain James Cook’s translator for three voyages across the Pacific. He is kind and clearly fascinated with her homeland and her people—and Maile herself. But guilt continues to drive a wedge between them: John’s guilt over the death he caused, and Maile’s guilt over the truth about what triggered the deadly battle—a secret she’s kept hidden from everyone on the island.

When Maile is tasked with teaching John how to navigate using the stars so he can sail back to England, they must also navigate the challenges of being from very different cultures. In doing so, they might also find the peace that comes when two hearts become one.


This story was so lovely.  I felt transported to another place and time and my heart expanded with every turn of the page.  Knowing that this story was based on the true story of the author's ancestors made it even more intriguing.  The whole story felt fresh and new- so unlike all the other books I've been reading lately.

The Hawaiian people have such a rich history.  Their culture and customs have always fascinated me.  Imagine being from another continent and country and coming across these people for the first time in history.  This book sparked all kinds of thoughts in my mind.

I love the feeling of being caught up in a story and not wanting to put it down.  This book reads so beautifully and I just loved it.  The emotional feelings were all there along with the flutters in my tummy at the slightest touch of a pinky finger.  I feel fortunate to have been able to read this book.  It's one of my favorites this year so far.

Content:  some violence, death, peril.

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.

 

 

Thursday, April 4, 2019

A Rancher to Remember (Rocky Mountain Cowboys #6) By Karen Rock + $50 and Book Giveaway!


https://amzn.to/2IbY45s 

A Rancher to Remember
(Rocky Mountain Cowboys #6)
By Karen Rock
Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 368 Pages
April 1st 2019 by Harlequin Heartwarming

They can’t change the past…

but they can choose their future

Globe-trotting journalist Cassidy Fulton is back in Carbondale, Colorado. Only she can’t remember why—or the accident that killed her estranged sister. Helping her piece together this mystery is her brother-in-law and former fiancé, Daryl Loveland. Overcoming their grief seems impossible. Yet one thing is clear: Cassidy can’t imagine her life without Daryl or her adorable niece and nephew. But can the ranch ever really be her home?



I lovey lovey love this series!  It has all sorts of hunky alpha males and strong females lighting up the pages.  I've grown attached to the Cade and Loveland families because while each book focuses primarily on one person, the whole family is still around and showing up on the pages.  It gives the series a real sense of family and home.  I don't think you have to read this series in order but you will definitely be happier if you do.

Daryl and Cassidy have history.  It's as painful and difficult to navigate as the present.  Old feelings and new feelings collide and it's stressful!  I'm talking about me here.  It was stressful for me.  haha.  I was personally invested in both Daryl and Cassidy.  I wanted them to figure things out, heal old wounds and be happy.  It was a roller coaster of emotions and wow, did things end in a dramatic way!  This book and it's characters were completely different than any of the other books.  It felt fresh and exciting.  I loved it!

Content:  death, peril, mild violence, kissing

Other Books in the Series


About the Author

Award-winning author Karen Rock is both sweet and spicy—at least when it comes to her writing! The author of both YA and adult contemporary books writes sexy suspense novels and small-town romances for Harlequin and Kensington publishing. A strong believer in Happily-Ever-After, Karen loves creating unforgettable stories that leave her readers with a smile. When she’s not writing, Karen is an avid reader who also loves cooking her grandmother’s Italian recipes, baking and having the Adirondack Park wilderness as her backyard, where she lives with her husband, daughter, dog and cat who keep her life interesting and complete. Learn more about her at http://www.karenrock.com or follow her on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/karenrock5.
 
 On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Tour Schedule


Tour Giveaway


1 winner will receive a $50 Amazon eGift Card - Open Internationally
1 winner will receive signed, print copies of the first five books in the Rocky Mountain Cowboys series (Christmas at Cade RanchFalling for a CowboyBad Boy RancherA Cowboy's Pride & Winning the Cowboy's Heart) - US Only
- Ends April 10, 2019

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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Charming the Shortstop (Belltown Six Pack #3) by Heather B. Moore


He’s not looking. She’s been burned. But sparks fly, and they decide to go on a date. Just this once.

When professional baseball player Axel Diaz travels back to Belltown University for a friend’s wedding, he’s not planning on bringing a date. Until he meets Brighton West, the flight attendant who he can’t get off his mind. Although dubbed “Cold Axe” by some of his female fans, Axel asks Brighton to be his date to the wedding, all the while wondering why of all times and places he is breaking his no-dating streak. But the more he gets to know Brighton, the more he realizes she may be the one woman who can melt his cold heart.

Welcome to Belltown! Six baseball players meet in the college town of Belltown, Massachusetts, becoming best friends, their lives intertwining as they each get called up to the Major Leagues.

* Amazon * Goodreads *

Ooooh.  😍  That's how I feel about this book.  I've got spring fever and baseball fever and this book just hit my sweet spot.  I love that the baseball moments felt like baseball and that the sparking chemistry between Axel and Brighton felt, well, sparky!  (thank you for the excellent kissing scenes, Heather B. Moore!)  I was caught up from the very beginning and I probably read through this book way too fast but I just couldn't help myself.  It was yummy!  This is a fun series and I can't wait for more!  This book is available on KU if you have that. 

Content:  kissing

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own. 


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Seven at Sea: Why a New York City Family Cast Off Convention for a Life-Changing Year on a Sailboat by Erik Orton, Emily Orton


Working the night shift as a temp in a high-rise cubicle, Erik Orton knew something had to change. He felt the responsibility of providing for his wife and their five children—the youngest with Down syndrome—but craved a life that offered more than just surviving.

Watching the sailboats on the Hudson River during his sunset dinner breaks, Erik dared to dream. What would it be like to leave the hustle of the city and instead spend a year on a sailboat, somewhere beautiful, as a family? Despite having no sailing experience, his wife Emily’s phobia of deep water, and already stretching every dollar to pay rent and buy groceries, the family of seven turned their excuses into reasons and their fears into motivation. Sure, they would miss their friends, they could go broke, they could get injured or die. Worst of all, they could humiliate themselves by trying something audacious and failing. But the little time they still had together as a family, before their oldest daughter left for college, was drifting away. The Ortons cast off the life they knew to begin an uncertain journey of 5,000 miles between New York City and the Caribbean, ultimately arriving at a new place within themselves.

A portrait of a captivating and resilient family and a celebration of the courage it takes to head for something over the horizon, this is a deeply compelling story—told alternately by Erik and Emily—for all those who dream of leaving routine in their wake.


I have never wanted to live on a boat.  Ever.  And after reading this book?  I'm even more convinced that I would never, ever want to live on a boat.  But, it takes all kinds of people to make this world go around and I like reading about people who are different than me, who have different dreams and go for them.

This book is told from alternating perspectives of both authors, Erik and Emily Orton.  I'm really glad it was that way because it was Emily's insights that really connected me to this story.  Maybe that's because I am a woman?  A wife?  A mother?  I'm not sure but one thing I do know is that Emily is a saint among women.  She supported her husband's dream and helped bring it to fruition.  I mean, five kids on a boat?  Doing school and balancing chores, meals and everything else?  She was the glue that held everything together and I really came away from the book with a healthy admiration for her.

The pacing of this book is slow, but there were interesting things that kept me going.  I think the Ortons are a great of example of daring to dream and making those dreams become reality.  My dreams may not be the same as theirs, but I love the reminder that with planning, hard work and determination, dreams can come true.

Content:  mild peril, an instance or two of mild swearing

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.


Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Reluctant Courtship of Jack Allan by Dayle King Searle


Jack Allan cannot count the number of times he’s been approached with invitations beginning something like, “My sister has a friend…” It seems as if everyone in the small town of Corbett, Idaho, is intent on finding a wife for him--everyone except for Jack himself. The townspeople gossip that this is because Jack, a young widower, has not gotten over the death of his wife, Katelin, and in a way they are right. However, it isn’t his undying love for Katelin which is holding Jack back. Rather it is the memory of events surrounding her death, events about which only he knows and which have left him filled with guilt.

Undeterred, Ruby Henderson, Jack’s feisty neighbor, introduces him to her granddaughter, Ally. Jack unwittingly finds himself attracted to Ally, and it seems she is attracted to him too. So he is stunned when he finally asks her out and she turns him down his by saying it would be best if they were just friends. This sets in motion events which lead Jack into one romantic entanglement after another and with not one possible romantic interest but three.

Set against the backdrop of farming and small town life, The Reluctant Courtship of Jack Allan is filled with amusing characters. It tells a story which is sometimes humorous and sometimes poignant as Jack struggles with his guilt while also working to sort out his love life and those of the people around him.

 * Goodreads * Amazon *

This book is a bit of a mixed bag for me.  It's labeled as an inspirational romance but I really wouldn't call it that.  I would say that it was inspirational because there is definitely religious tones but this really wasn't a romance.  One of my reviewer friends said this read like women's fiction and honestly, she nailed it.  That is exactly what I thought while reading it.  The funny thing is that the main character is a male.  So, it's women's fiction with a male lead.  Ha!  There is some dating in the book but in all honesty, that takes a back seat to what I would like to call "the life of a small town Idaho potato farmer".  This story is really about Jack; his day to day life, his family and his community.  

Even though the romance was actually minimal, I was still, for the most part, interested in Jack's story.  Sometimes it got a little long with details of things (potato harvest) and I really wanted to skim through it and move on but overall, Jack is a likable character and I enjoyed being a part of his world for a bit.  The author did a great job of making Jack, just your average, hard working guy, feel like someone I would like to know.   I was rooting for Jack and his happiness all the way through.

Content:  mild peril, kissing, mild religious elements (praying, faith)

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Your First Look At: The Waves (Love in Chaos Series) by Amy Matayo!!

https://amzn.to/2HPbDY2

The Waves - Love in Chaos #1

Dillon Hayes is twenty-eight and single, an unfortunate status her overbearing family is determined to fix. So when she’s stuck on a cruise ship for a seven-day reunion with the lot of them, she's desperate for any escape she can find, even if it means partnering with a sketchy stranger for an off-the-beaten-path snorkeling excursion. After her mother's last matchmaking attempt, Dillon is more than willing to trade all her good sense for a few hours of solace. 
Liam Gamble is stuck in the middle of family vacation hell. The worst part: it's not even his family. This will be the last time he ever accepts a free-vacation invitation from his best friend. At this point, he'd be willing to hand over his life savings to get off this crazy ship. So when he catches one of his friend's cousins sneaking off board, he decides to join her, hijacking her private excursion and nearly blowing her cover. If she gets to leave, so does he. 
But what starts off as a secret escape turns into a very real nightmare when their shady tour guide leaves them stranded on an uninhabited island with nothing but the clothes on their backs and no idea how to keep themselves alive.
As hours turn into days, and the weather proves as threatening as their need for food and water, Dillon and Liam must join forces and rely on each other if they have any hope of seeing their families again. Funny thing: sometimes in life, the end of the rope is when you discover everything you value has been in front of you all along.  

Thursday, March 21, 2019

A Monster Like Me by Wendy S. Swore


There are trolls, goblins, and witches. Which kind of monster is Sophie?

Sophie is a monster expert. Thanks to her Big Book of Monstersand 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?

Inspired by real events in the author’s life, A Monster Like Me teaches the importance of believing in oneself, accepting change, and the power of friendship.


This is a very cute book and one I think would be perfect for reading aloud to children.  It has humor and creativity that will entertain both young and old while also bringing out the tender topics of bullying and how to treat those who may look or act different than us.  This had a similar message and feel as the book, Wonder.  

Books like this always strike a deep chord within me as my daughter also has a malformation in her face/neck area that was quite obvious when she was younger.  It was so hard to be out in public where people were cruel- sometimes without really meaning to be, but thoughtless words hurt.  I've cried many tears over the years for my beautiful daughter who has suffered through looking different and feeling different.  Much like the author's parents, (see author's note below) we took a proactive role and tried to talk with my daughter's school classes each year to explain her condition and help kids understand.  It helped a bit because when someone stands in front of you, vulnerable, pleading for kindness by giving information with emotion usually people listen. 

That's why books like this matter because it's a great way to open avenues of conversation with children about kindness and acceptance.  Kids need to learn compassion.  Adults too.  This book also helps kids see that what you look like on the outside isn't who you are on the inside.  Greatness comes from within.  Beauty comes from within.

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.





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 WendySwore.com, and I would love to hear your stories and what you thought of the book.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Catherine's Intrigue by Paige Edwards + $25 and Book Giveaway!


To fulfill her mother's last request, twenty-four-year-old historic design specialist Catherine Pressley-Coombes travels to England in order to investigate an elusive family line. Armed with an illegible diary, she is determined to discover the identity of her mysterious ancestress. Distracted by an Elizabethan manor and unused to British country roads, Catherine runs her car into a ditch. Luckily, Nick Davidson, a handsome, hard-working local rides in on his tractor to save the day. As the down-to-earth manager of his family's estate, Nick also happens to be one of England's most eligible aristocrats.

Nick is certainly not the kind of man Catherine would fall for a man dogged by media and rumor. So why does she find the English lord so irresistible? Even though she can't overlook their differing values and beliefs, as she and Nick spend time together, their attraction deepens. While she battles through romantic turmoil, Catherine is beleaguered with far more sinister concerns: a series of unexplainable misfortunes that are not mere accidents. With her heart on the line, Catherine discovers her life is in jeopardy, and she has no idea who the perpetrator is but she has a growing suspicion that the danger might be connected to whatever secrets lie hidden in her ancestor's diary.


First I have to say that this book is LDS fiction with lots of the story revolving around the LDS religion (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) .  Praying, reading scripture and other things specific to the LDS religion are a prominent part of this story.

I love a good mystery/suspense story!  Usually in a mystery/suspense book I am as clueless as the characters, waiting until the very end for the big reveal.  But not this book. From the very beginning I had a clear idea of the "bad guy" and  every single move they made.  It made me feel both knowledgeable and crazy.  I was always cringing and thinking:  Don't talk on that phone!  Don't go there!  Don't do that!  Look over there!  Watch out!  And those characters never, ever listened to me!  😖

The story had a good build in intensity and the story moved along with decent pacing.  The religious aspects slowed the pacing down a bit but still, the build was there and I felt it.  I liked the story, the concept and characters.

Content:  some violence, human trafficking, death.  Religious aspects mentioned above.  Kissing.

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.

 
*March 22nd: https://whynotbecauseisaidso.blogspot.com/, http://minreadsandreviews.blogspot.com/, http://literarytimeout.blogspot.com/, http://booksaresanity.blogspot.com/


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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Big Sky (Timeless Western Collection) by Kimberly Krey, Annette Lyon, Cindy Roland Anderson


THE COWBOY’S CATCH by Kimberly Krey: When Jason Keller bids on a date with Marlee at the town’s annual fundraising event, she’s quick to turn him down. First of all, an evening with Marlee was never on the table; just dates with each of her younger sisters. Beyond that, Jason Keller—a man with Hollywood ties—is the last cowboy in town she’d go on a date with. Being abandoned because of her own mother’s Hollywood pursuits taught her well. But when the Keller Cowboy offers a hefty sum for the charities in question, in front of half the town no less, Marlee’s compelled to accept. It’s just one date after all, and it’s not like she’d ever fall for a man like him. Or so she thinks.

SELLING HER RANCH, STEALING HIS HEART by Annette Lyon: Teresa adores her job as manager of the J-Bar-D Ranch, which boards horses and offers riding lessons. The owner, Dorothy, has become like a grandmother to Teresa. But when Dorothy passes away unexpectedly, the ranch is put up for sale by none other than Dorothy’s only grandson, Derek. Even with the obvious chemistry between them, Teresa refuses to consider dating the guy who’s going to turn her beloved ranch into a strip mall. Derek wishes more than anything that he didn’t have to sell, but Grandma Dorothy ran the ranch into deep debt, and Derek’s own mother has ongoing medical bills. Without selling the ranch, he can’t pay off the debts or take care of his mother. If only he’d met Teresa had met at in a different time and place, they might have a future.

THE COWBOY’S SECOND GO by Cindy Roland Anderson: When recently divorced Callie Stewart, an aspiring country music artist, confronts the dishonest talent agent who stole her new song, he turns the tables on her, and her world spins out of control. Without proof she composed the hit song, Callie is forced to take her twin boys with her, move out of Nashville and live with her aunt in Montana. Having her dreams shattered leaves her trying to figure out how she will support her little family. Reconnecting with Ty Carter, her long-ago crush from high school and the guy who broke her heart, has her questioning her resolve to leave romance out of her new life. Ty isn’t just a good-looking cowboy, he’s sweet to her boys and makes Callie feel beautiful and alive. As her feelings for Ty grow stronger, the music reawakens inside her, inspiring her creativity and the desire to sing. Giving love a second chance might be the key to a forever love, and the start of a new music career…but can it be both?

 * Amazon * Goodreads

What a fantastic collection of stories!  I love these Timeless collections because you get multiple stories by different authors all revolving around a common theme.  These stories all have a contemporary western feel to them and I do so love a good cowboy story.  Kimberly Krey and Cindy Anderson are two of my favorite authors so I was all in for this collection and it didn't disappoint.  The attraction, the misunderstanding and love were there in all three stories.  I loved it from beginning to end!

Content:  kissing

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.


Friday, March 15, 2019

Heart of Red, Blood of Blue by Rebecca Belliston


A girl on the run. A kingdom to save.

Princess Gisela of Steinland was born without color. Albino. To add to this curse, her betrothal to Prince Jerrik of Kronga ends in his death and starts a ten-year war her father is determined to win, even if it means bringing her out of hiding to do it. Now the savage Krongon war commander, Bloodless Kristoff, seeks the hearts of the entire royal family, especially Gisela's.

Desperate, her father agrees to another alliance that involves her marrying an old brute of a king. Unwilling to be the sacrificial lamb, Gisela goes on the run. Thrown into the center of a battle between three kingdoms, she finds herself fighting for her life and the right to be truly loved.

Can the girl who started the war find a way to end it?

 * Amazon * Goodreads *

Wow.  What a story!  It takes you on great journeys through neighboring lands who are all at war so the danger is everywhere.  There is an intensity bubbling from the very beginning of the story and it just keeps growing in strength throughout the whole book.  Since this book is so long, by the end of the book I felt half crazed with desperation!  Those intense moments just keep coming until the very, very end.

Gisela had an excellent growing arc.  She did a lot of growing up throughout the book.  She made mistakes, but she learned from them.  She also learned how to stand up for herself and became stronger and stronger as the story went on.  I love a strong female lead.  The author did a great job of making Gisela strong but never losing those inherent female qualities of compassion and empathy.  A female can be strong but soft too.  Gisela was a great representation of both of these things. 

There were so many players in this game but the author also did a great job in this regard.  I never felt overwhelmed or confused as to all the characters and who they were.  The plot was always moving forward.  I actually think this book would make such a great TV mini series or a movie series!  I could visualize everything just like a movie.  I really love when that happens.

Don't miss this great story of adventure, intrigue and even love.

Content:  Violence (especially war time violence), peril, abuse, some talk of mistresses in a general way, kissing

- I bought a copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.