Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Pirate Ruse

The Pirate Ruse by Marcia Lynn McClure
My Rating: 3 stars

The Pirate Ruse


An instant before the sea swallowed her, Cristabel Albay gasped her last breath. She was certain it would truly be her last breath… Yet, mere moments later, her head broke the surface of the sea and she exhaled the breath she had been holding—the one that had not been her last—gasping for another.
“Do you swim, woman?” the pirate Navarrone growled.
“Y-yes,” Cristabel stammered. Her thoughts were muddled—for panic was her only ally. Yet, she was cognizant enough to know that her life was still in danger—not from pirates perhaps—but from the sea.
“Then swim!” the pirate growled. “If you want to live to see another sunrise, then swim for The Merry Wench.”
…She glanced up to the Chichester where pirates and British sailors yet battled. The Screaming Witch was already sailing, and Cristabel would rather have died than be the victim of the atrocities that would have met her aboard it.
Yet, to abandon one pirate ship for another? It was madness! Still, she could not fathom drowning—for drowning terrified her more than any other fate of death. Her only hope in surviving was to do as the pirate ordered. …She had heard tales of The Blue Blade Navarrone—tales of mercy. …Perhaps he would take pity on her… Thus, with no other venue to follow, Christabel began to swim—to swim for The Merry Wench and whatever fate awaited her there.

My Review

I loved the characters and storyline of this book. I thought she did a great job with description--not too much, not too little. I thought the tension was great because it kept me reading until 1:30 in the morning. However, I felt like the writing itself was very awkward. She way overused the em dash (--) and repeated the same phrases or descriptions over and over. She misused filler words like then, however and though. It was very distracting and kept pulling me out of the story. I had to tell myself to ignore those things so I could enjoy it. I read the Kindle version and it had some formatting errors. By the middle of the book, the plot got more exciting and the writing issues didn't bother me as much. I think the writing flaws could be ironed out with a good editor. Overall, I'm glad I read the book.


Identity by Betsy Love
My Rating: 4 stars



While vacationing in Mexico, two similar-looking young women find themselves caught in a chain reaction of mistaken identities. Amelia is a wealthy heiress and business owner, and Savannah is a sweet Mormon girl deciding whether or not to serve a mission. When they end up on the same flight to Phoenix, Savannah and Amelia unravel the sequence of events that wreaked havoc on their trips, and they make plans to resolve the subsequent misunderstandings. But their flight is cut short when the plane crashes, killing one of the young women and plunging the other into a world of intrigue and deceit where identity means everything.

My Review

I really enjoyed this book. It captured my attention in the first chapter and kept it going for the rest of the novel. I loved how the identities of the two girls intertwined, even from the beginning. I thought the writing was smooth and the plot interesting and original. There were some real nailbiting parts that kept me turning pages and shushing interrupters. The growth and change of the characters was natural not contrived in any way.
I had to give it 4 stars because there were some serious formatting issues on the Kindle version that I read. Otherwise, I would have given it a higher rating. 
If you want something different in the LDS genre, or just a great read--I highly recommend this book! 

Delicious Conversation

Delicious Conversation by Jennifer Stewart Griffith
My rating: 4.5 

Delicious Conversation


Susannah Hapsburg is totally ready for Plan C. Plan A was to get married at 22 and have a passel of kids. Still unmarried and 31, that option is out. Plan B was to work her way up the corporate ladder. However, the company she devoted eight years to just went bankrupt, giving her a bad taste for the corporate world.

Which leaves her with Plan C.
Plan C involves chocolate.
With the support of friends, Susannah puts her future on the line to open up downtown Salt Lake City s first all-chocolate café, The Chocolate Bar, a place where scrumptious conversations and delectable desserts abound.
In the midst of all this, social turmoil hits Susannah when she catches the interest of the city s most eligible bachelor just as her long-lost love returns to town--with intentions of marrying anyone but Susannah.
Can Plan C offer Susannah her just desserts?

My Review

Personality!! That's the word that came to mind as I read this LDS modern day adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion! As I finished the book and closed the cover at 2:00 am, I gave a satisfied sigh! That was good!Every chapter ends with some sort of chocolate recipe. I think I gained 5 lbs. just reading the book! :) Can't wait to try the recipes! I also loved how the author tied in the recipies to her story.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

ANWA Retreat 2011

I belong to a writer's group, specifically for LDS women, called ANWA (American Night Writers Association). Every summer they host a writers retreat-- a place to get away, socialize with other writers and of course, write.

I had such a great time last year and was a little worried about my high expectations going into this year's retreat. I was not disappointed!! If I could find one word to describe my experience it would be Charity, the pure love of Christ. Rarely have I been with a group of people and felt so unconditionally loved and accepted.

The moment I stepped foot in the cabin, I was welcomed and genuinely felt that my ANWA sisters were glad to see me. Many remembered me from last year's retreat. I always marvel how 30 women from all walks of life and with all different personalities--outgoing, shy, reserved, bubbly, witty, etc.--can come together and be so unified. Truly I felt like I was among family. I felt valued, important and loved.

Sometimes when I speak, I have difficulty recalling the words that I want to use (I blame depleted brain cells from childbirth) and feel like I trip over myself. Many times, I'm self-conscious about it. But here at the retreat, I never felt judged or critiqued-- just accepted. It's a wonderful feeling.

We stayed at a beautiful cabin in Prescott, Arizona. The weather was beautiful and temperatures mild. I chose to do most of my writing outdoors. We also had wonderful classes given by fellow ANWA members, devotionals and get to know you games. I participated in a critique group where I received great feedback about my writing and ideas on how I can increase my skills as an author. It was great to hear what other authors do to stay motivated and positive. If I had a question about word count, query letters or any aspect of writing, all I had to do was walk into the other room and ask.  

One woman said that when part of her story is bothering her, she takes a nap, and usually wakes up with a solution. A part of my story didn't fit right and it bothered me so I took her advice. When I woke up, I realized that I had to cut a sub-plot out of my story because it was taking over the main plot. Holy Cow! That's like 15,000 + words deleted from my story. But now I feel at peace, even though I have a bunch of revising to do.

The thing I loved was the positive atmosphere there at the retreat. People were supportive, caring and kind. Several times sisters would tell us things and then say, "I've never told anyone that before." I believe it was because we all felt the trust and bond of sisterhood. We could be ourselves and trust each other and know that no matter what, we were loved.

Here are some pictures... 

 This is my bedroom. The walls were completely made up of windows, making for a spectacular view.

Here is the kitchen. We took turns preparing and cleaning up from meals. The saying is so true, "Many hands make light work".  

 Here is our wonderful snack bar. Everyone brought a treat to share. We had an abundance of chocolate-- a must for any writer.

This is the balcony/deck. I spent most of my time out here.

 Here is a view of the pines from the balcony. Beautiful. We could observe animals like squirrels and birds.

 Here I am in my favorite writing area. Out on the balcony, feeling the gentle breeze and smelling the pine scented air.

 Another view of the pines.

 Here's a shot of all my ANWA sisters. Love them!

This is a silly pose. We are all performing our "name actions" from a game we played.

Not only did I walk out of the retreat with greater motivation and skills as an author, but with an increase of self confidence as a person. I was spiritually uplifted. Coming home from retreat, I felt like a better wife, mother and friend. It was a blessing in my life to attend the ANWA retreat and I am grateful to a Heavenly Father who filled my needs through these wonderful sisters.

Decision Points Review

Decision Points by George W. Bush
My Rating: 4.5 stars

Decision Points


President George W. Bush describes the critical decisions of his presidency and personal life.

Decision Points is the extraordinary memoir of America’s 43rd president. Shattering the conventions of political autobiography, George W. Bush offers a strikingly candid journey through the defining decisions of his life.

In gripping, never-before-heard detail, President Bush brings readers inside the Texas Governor’s Mansion on the night of the hotly contested 2000 election; aboard Air Force One on 9/11, in the hours after America’s most devastating attack since Pearl Harbor; at the head of the table in the Situation Room in the moments before launching the war in Iraq; and behind the Oval Office desk for his historic and controversial decisions on the financial crisis, Hurricane Katrina, Afghanistan, Iran, and other issues that have shaped the first decade of the 21st century.

President Bush writes honestly and directly about his flaws and mistakes, as well as his accomplishments reforming education, treating HIV/AIDS in Africa, and safeguarding the country amid chilling warnings of additional terrorist attacks. He also offers intimate new details on his decision to quit drinking, discovery of faith, and relationship with his family.

A groundbreaking new brand of memoir, Decision Points will captivate supporters, surprise critics, and change perspectives on one of the most consequential eras in American history – and the man at the center of events.

My Review

I'm not much for autobiographies or politics. I would have never read this book except that it was chosen for our book club. I am so glad I did! I really enjoyed this book. It was very interesting to get into George W. Bush's head and hear the story from his point of view. Instead of outlining his presidency chronologically, each chapter covers a major decision he faced as president and walks the reader through his decision making process. He candidly talks about decisions he got right and mistakes he made during his presidency. I really learned a lot while reading this book. It increased my opinion of him and made me do a lot of thinking. I've become a better person from reading this book.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Constant Hearts Review

Constant Hearts, Inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion by Donna Hatch
My Rating: 4.5 stars

Constant Hearts, Inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion


The scandalous Lady Amelia Dasherwood must face her enemies to get aid for a forgotten orphanage. Newly returned from the war, Dr. Reed St. Ives plans to make a new life and forget Amelia. When fate reunites them, the last thing they want is to face the heartbreak that tore them apart. Amelia must choose between honoring her family’s wishes or declaring herself and risking Reed’s rejection.

My Review

 I love Donna Hatch! She is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. And she didn't disappoint with this Regency sweet romance novella. It's amazing to me how she can pull me into the story and into her characters within the first few paragraphs. My only complaint is that I wish it was longer! I'd love to read a full length novel of this story and see them take more time courting and developing their relationship. I just wasn't ready to let them go!

***This is available as an e-book only. You can find it by going to this link

Birthmarked Review

Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien
My Rating: 4 stars

Birthmarked (Birthmarked, #1)


After climate change, on the north shore of Unlake Superior, a dystopian world is divided between those who live inside the wall, and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone, who live outside. It’s Gaia’s job to “advance” a quota of infants from poverty into the walled Enclave, until the night one agonized mother objects, and Gaia’s parents are arrested.

Badly scarred since childhood, Gaia is a strong, resourceful loner who begins to question her society. As Gaia’s efforts to save her parents take her within the wall, she herself is arrested and imprisoned.

Fraught with difficult moral choices and rich with intricate layers of codes, Birthmarked explores a colorful, cruel, eerily familiar world where one girl can make all the difference, and a real hero makes her own moral code

My Review

 I'm not always a fan of dystopian novels, but I really enjoyed this book. It hooked me from the beginning and had a lot of twists and turns that kept me turning page after page. I felt like a main theme of the book was that every life is of worth. I really appreciated that. I thought that the author did a great job at developing believable characters. Sometimes I got lost in the descriptions of the Enclave or the science behind the plot, but for me, the characters drove the story. I am anxiously waiting to read the sequel.

A World Without Heros Review

A World Without Heros (Beyonders #1) by Brandon Mull
My Rating: 3.5 stars

A World Without Heroes (Beyonders, #1)


Jason Walker has often wished his life could be a bit less predictable--until a routine day at the zoo ends with Jason suddenly transporting from the hippo tank to a place unlike anything he's ever seen. In the past, the people of Lyrian welcomed visitors from the Beyond, but attitudes have changed since the wizard emperor Maldor rose to power. The brave resistors who opposed the emperor have been bought off or broken, leaving a realm where fear and suspicion prevail.

In his search for a way home, Jason meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. With the help of a few scattered rebels, Jason and Rachel become entangled in a quest to piece together the word of power that can destroy the emperor, and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes.

My Review

It took a while for me to get into this book. It was interesting enough to keep me reading, but I didn't feel completely immersed in the story until later in the book. I read it with a writer's perspective and I thought that he used a lot of great descriptive words. I liked how he wrote the passage of time (from day to night) and kept up the pace while they were traveling (something that I'm looking at in my own writing). I did think that the main character, Jason, made more mature decisions than a typical 13 year old (I know, I have one). It didn't bother me though because otherwise we wouldn't have a story. I just imagined him being older. The story picked up at the end with more action, a crazy twist and a cliffhanger. I ended up enjoying the book and look forward to reading the sequels.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

2nd Place!

I won 2nd place the in short story contest! I am so incredibly thrilled!! My confidence as a writer had been waning a bit this week and to have reached the top three in this contest was the perfect boost I needed to keep trekking along!  It really was a great experience. The three winning short stories are posted at

Go and check them out. I thought the other stories were super! 

So, I said I would post my short story and so here it is...

The Shore
by Andrea May
                Anna walked along the weathered boardwalk with a heavy heart. Usually the ocean with its soothing sounds brought peace and serenity, but not today. A man sitting in the shadows caught her attention and she hastened her step to greet him.
                “How ya doing, Joe?”
                “Can’t complain,” Joe said in a hoarse voice as he looked up at her with clear green eyes.  
                Anna sighed and sat down next to him. “Have you remembered anything this morning?” The man was a wanderer that daily found himself on the boardwalk, not knowing who he was or where he’d come from. Since their first meeting, Anna had called him Joe and made it her mission to help him remember.
                Joe shook his matted dread locks.  
                “Maybe tomorrow.” Anna patted his knee. “I’m heading down to the beach. You want to come?”
                “I prefer to stay here. I don’t much like the beach or water.”
                “Okay, see ya later.”
                Striding toward the shore, her melancholy returned with full force. She thought about Joe’s eyes, so similar to the sea green eyes of her brother—the reason for her grief. Ten years ago, Chris was lost at sea. An aching hole burned within her as she thought back to the past decade without her older brother to guide and protect her.
                Anna stepped into the water, hoping that each stride toward open sea would wash away her sorrow.  The call of a seagull brought up her head as a large wave crashed into her, knocking her onto the sandy floor. Salty water washed over her and she felt her head crack against a rock, turning the world black.
                Anna opened her eyes to bright lights and the sound of a familiar, almost forgotten voice. “You gave us quite a scare.”
                “Where am I?”
                “At Cape Regional Medical Center. I was out swimming this morning when you washed up on shore.”
                As Anna’s fuzzy vision cleared, she blinked and gaped at the young man seated beside her, his green eyes filled with concern. “Chris?”
                The young man laughed. “Wow, you guessed my name on the first try.”
                Anna shot up. “Chris!”  
Chris gently pushed her back down on the bed. “Hey, you need to rest.”
“Chris, it’s me. Anna.”
“Hey, that’s my kid sister’s name. You actually look a lot like her…only she’s ten.” He winked.
“Ten? I’m not ten, I’m twenty.”
“No, my sister’s ten.”
“But,” Anna shook her head in confusion. “I’m your sister.”
“Um…I think you’re confused.”
                “Chris, what date is it?”
                “May 25th,” Chris said with concern.
                “No, the year. What year is it?”
                “It can’t be…” Anna’s voice drifted off.
                Chris trained his emerald eyes on her. “Are you okay?”
                Anna’s heart raced as a thought began to form. “Chris, this is going to sound crazy but you need to listen carefully.  I am your sister and I’m here to warn you.”
                “Warn me?”
                “I know about the sailing trip you’re planning. You can’t go.”
                Chris scoffed. “What?”
                “You get caught in a storm and lost at sea.” Anna grabbed Chris’s hands, her voice wavering. “You don’t come back.”
“Look,” Chris said as he pried his hands out of Anna’s grip, “I don’t know who you are or how you knew about my trip in the morning, but you don’t have to worry. I’m an experienced sailor.”
“In the morning? NO! Chris, you can’t!” Anna felt herself going into hysterics. “I’ve come back to tell you—“
“Shhh, it’s okay.” Chris patted her arm and reached into his pocket, pulling out a seashell carved into the shape of a dolphin. “I have this hobby of carving seashells. I want you to have it.” He placed the delicate dolphin into Anna’s hand.
She wrapped her fingers around the shell and held it to her heart as warmth enveloped and calmed her. “It’s beautiful.”
Chris smiled, “I’m glad you like it. Tell you what—meet me at Spinners on June 12th at noon and I’ll give you a new one, carved from a seashell I find on my trip.”
Anna looked up at him, pleading, “Please, don’t go.”
“I have to.” He squeezed her hand. “Spinners. June 12th. Don’t Forget.” Chris stood up and walked out of the room, leaving Anna drowning in her own tears until sleep overcame her.
Anna woke to the sound of rhythmic waves crashing upon the shore. Sitting up, she rubbed her throbbing temples and groaned. She saw a man sitting next to her, dripping in salt water and gasping for breath.
“I saw you go down. Had to get you out of the water—before it was too late.” 
“You saved me?”
He nodded.
“It was just a dream,” she said to herself.
“Excuse me?”
Anna shook her head as tears filled her eyes. “Did you know that my brother was lost at sea?”
“I’m so sorry.”
“I just dreamed that I saw him again. I tried to stop him from going, but he didn’t listen. What the—” A shiny glint caught her eye. She pulled a dolphin, carved out of seashell, from the sand.
“What is it?” Joe asked.
Anna showed him the dolphin. “My brother carved it.”
“May I see it?”
As Anna handed Joe the dolphin, he gasped and stared at it in wonder. “I…remember.  I used to carve things out of seashells, as a hobby. I made this and gave it to a girl…and I promised…” Joe pulled a rose carved from an abalone shell out of his pocket.
                Anna scrambled to her knees and held Joe’s face between her hands, searching his sea green eyes. “Chris?”
                He met her gaze and she saw a flash of recognition cross his face. “Anna.”
                “Is it really you?”
                “I got caught in a storm and lost my way,” he said in a shaky voice. “I couldn’t remember anything. So I followed my heart and it brought me here.”
                Anna threw her arms around his neck. “It brought you home.”

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Short Story Contest!

So this past week I entered my very first writing contest. A fellow ANWA member was having a short story contest because May was Short Story Month. I decided to go and give it a try. What can it hurt?

Well, writing a short story is actually very difficult. I mean, you think 1,000 big deal. Anyone can write 1,000 words. It was SO hard. At the beginning I just had a hard time coming up with an idea. It needed a strong but short story line and it had to have a twist at the end. Hmmm...I thought about it for over a week. Then, in the middle of Sunday School it hit me! I started scribbling down my ideas (which I'm sure my teacher thought I was taking wonderful notes that day).

I came home and wrote my first draft. It ended up being 1,600 + words. Man! So I had to go and whittle it down to practically nothing-- just the bare minimum. It was actually a great exercise for me to learn how to describe as much as I can in very little words. I had to pick my words wisely and focus on the most important things. I finally got my story down to 999 words. So I added a word, just because I could (1,000 words was the cut off mark). :)

Anyway, I'll find out what happened to it in a couple of weeks. I'm not really planning on winning, but after she posts the winners on her blog, I'll post my story here...for all the world to see. Yikes!

Illuminations of the Heart Review

Illuminations of the Heart by Joyce DiPastena
My Rating: 5 stars

Illuminations of the Heart


"Clothilde." He spoke the name on a breath like a prayer. Then he lowered his head and kissed her.

Her heart is lost in that first embrace, her world is shaken to its foundations. There is just one problem; her name is not Clothilde. It is Siriol de Calendri. Trained in the art of illumination in the far-off city of Venice, Siri is directed by her late brother's will to the county of Poitou in France, where she enters the guardianship of her brother's friend Sir Triston de Brielle. Once in Poitou, Siri hopes to find employment in an illuminator's shop - until Triston unexpectedly snatches her heart away with a kiss.

Triston is a man of quiet honor and courage, but the guild he carries for the death of his late wife, Clothilde, has left him numb and hesitant to love again. Worse yet, Siri bears an uncanny resemblance to his lost love. Or does she? Her merry laughter and twinkling eyes are very different from his late wife's shy smiles and quiet ways. Yet when he gazes into Siri's face, all he sees is Clothilde.

Then Triston's past returns to threaten them both. Will his tragic life with Clothilde be repeated with Siri? Trapped between the rivalry of the king's sons on the one hand and a neighbor out for vengeance on the other, Triston realizes it would be safer to send Siri away. But how can he bear to lose her again?
My Review

Joyce does it again. From the first chapter this book hooks you. You've got it all, action, romance, danger, intrigue, revenge and adventure. Just when you think your characters are safe, something else happens to throw them in disarray. This book was a fun ride and Joyce really knows how to write sweet romance. This book has kisses that sizzle, but don't make you blush while reading. I love not having to worry about being caught off guard with inappropriate things. I can always trust Joyce to keep it nice and clean. Then I can just throw myself into the story. Thanks Joyce for a great read!

The Stranger She Married!

The Stranger She Married by Donna Hatch
My Rating: 5 stars

The Stranger She Married (Rogue Hearts, #1)


When her parents and only brother die within weeks of each other, Alicia and her younger sister are left in the hands of an uncle who has brought them all to financial and social ruin. Desperate to save her family from debtor's prison, Alicia vows to marry the first wealthy man to propose. She meets the dashing Lord Amesbury, and her heart whispers that this is the man she is destined to love, but his tainted past may forever stand in their way. Her choices in potential husbands narrow to either a scarred cripple with the heart of a poet, or a handsome rake with a deadly secret.

Cole Amesbury is tormented by his own ghosts, and believes he is beyond redemption, yet he cannot deny his attraction for the girl whose genuine goodness touches the heart he'd thought long dead. He fears the scars in his soul cut so deeply that he may never be able to offer Alicia a love that is true.

When yet another bizarre mishap threatens her life, Alicia suspects the seemingly unrelated accidents that have plagued her loved ones are actually a killer's attempt to exterminate every member of her family. Despite the threat looming over her, learning to love the stranger she married may pose the greatest danger to her heart.

My Review

I love regency and I love a clean romance. Ahhhhhh. So it's only natural to say that I really love Donna Hatch's writing. She has a way of making the words flow while painting the perfect picture. When I read her books, I get so into the story. I feel like I'm watching a movie in my mind and I get swept away on a fantastic ride. She always has some sort of twist in her stories which makes it a lot of fun.

I actually read the second book in The Rogue Hearts series first (which I loved), so I was already acquainted with the characters a bit. I ate up this story. The characters were so real and the whole story just came to life. It's a bit steamy in parts, but nothing that crossed my conservative boundaries. It might have bothered me that Cole was trying to woo (is that the right word) Alicia, except that I had some suspicions that made it okay for me. How is that for cryptic? I'm trying to write a review without adding spoilers. It's very difficult. Let's just say that I loved it and it made me want to read the second book in The Rogue Hearts series, The Guise of a Gentleman, again. And then it made me hungry for book Donna? 

The Upside of Down Review

The Upside of Down by Rebecca Talley
My Rating: 3.5 stars

Back Cover Blurb

"Hmmm," the doctor muttered.
Natalie wrinkled her forehead, almost afraid to ask, and said, "What does that mean?"
"You do know you're pregnant, right?"
Her breath caught in her throat. "Excuse me?"
"You're pregnant."
Her heartbeat thundered in her ears. "I'm what?"

Natalie Drake certainly has her hands full raising a large family, dealing with her difficult mother, and maintaining a relationship with her rebellious teenager. Just when things seem to be going smoothly, she finds out another unexpected surprise--she's going to have a baby. Faced with so many challenges, Natalie must learn to trust in a plan that isn't what she imagined and discover that every situation has an upside.

Beloved author Rebecca Talley carefully creates this touching and heartfelt story that is sure to inspire you. With true-to-life characters and situations, The Upside of Down will reignite your faith and remind you of the importance of family.

My Review

Warning: This may contain spoilers...sorry.

This book was written for an LDS audience. Reading this book was very surreal for me. Just like the main character, Natalie, I am an only child with six kids. I really could relate to all of the crazy things that would happen, the snide comments from others about having a large family and feeling overwhelmed with just daily life. In fact, it kind of made me feel good--that maybe I'm not alone. Natalie was kind of a stress case and I think I handled the situations differently than her. I'm a little more easy going.

A couple of years ago, I had to go through the experience of having my child diagnosed with Autism. So even though it wasn't the same disability as in the book, I could understand some of Natalie's feelings. Even now, I have to deal with others not accepting my daughter or the fact that she is quirky, odd and doesn't fit in. Even more...I had another daughter that had a fever at 3 weeks old and I had to take her to the ER. I blubbered the entire time they were doing her tests, including the spinal tap. She ended up having a urinary tract infection just like in the book, although we had to stay in the hospital instead of taking her home. Maybe I didn't pray enough (just kidding).

Anyway, it was crazy how much Natalie's life experience was like mine. We had the poopy finger painting and the haircutting. I'm sure my parents could relate when I, like Andrea in the book (don't mind the fact that we have the same name) was dating someone and had to decide whether to get married or serve a mission. They struggled as they let me make my own choices, even if they didn't agree. In the end, I made the right choice. I guess this book and story really came to life for me...because a lot of it is my life in one degree or another. The only thing I couldn't relate to though, is the husband. He's pretty near to perfect and I'm not sure if any husband is THAT supporting and loving. I wish...Anyway, I enjoyed reading the book and I really loved the resolution at the end-- the dawn after the darkness. Thanks for the ride, Rebecca.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pirates Review

Pirates by Celia Rees
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Grade 7 and up

Nancy Kington, a wealthy merchant’s daughter living in Bristol, England in the early 1700’s, is sometimes lonely but enjoys the privileges her father’s business brings. Minerva Sharpe is a penniless slave’s daughter living and working on the Kington’s Jamaican plantation. These two young women, united through a set of extraordinary circumstances including a brutal murder, an arranged marriage, and set of ruby earrings, find themselves sailing the high seas in search of love, adventure and freedom—as pirates!

I can't remember where I first heard about this book, but when I saw it in the library I couldn't pass it up. Lately I've been really into "Piratey" things and so this book fit perfectly. I hadn't read any reviews and knew little about the book so I wondered where this new story would take me. It took me on a great adventure. It's a true story told through Nancy's eyes and it had some romance (clean) and a lot of swashbuckling action. There were a couple of violent scenes that might upset the squeamish, although I consider myself a sensitive reader and they didn't bother me. The only thing that really bothered me was that I felt the author resolved the action too quickly. I was wrapt up in the story and caught up in the middle of the action when all of a sudden--resolution. It kind of left me hanging.  That being said, I really enjoyed this book. The author is British so some of the words are spelled differently like realised and practised. I kept thinking they were typos and had to remind, it's British not American. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Kiss of a Stranger Review

The Kiss of a Stranger by Sarah M. Eden
My Rating: 4.5 stars


When Crispin, Lord Cavratt, thoroughly and scandalously kisses a serving woman in the garden of a country inn, he assumes the encounter will be of no consequence. But he couldn't be more mistaken--the maid is not only a lady of birth, she's the niece of a very large, exceptionally angry gentlemen, who claims Crispin has compromised his niece beyond redemption. The dismayed young lord has no choice but to marry Miss Catherine Thorndale, who lacks both money and refinement and assumes all men are as vicious as her guardian uncle.

Trapped between an unwanted marriage and a hasty annulment, which would leave his reputation tainted and Catherine's utterly ruined, Crispin begins guiding his wife's transformation from a socially petrified country girl to a lady of society. Their unfolding relationship reveals encouraging surprises for both of them, and privately each of them wonders if theirs may become a true marriage of the heart. But their hopes are dashed when forces conspire to split asunder what fate has granted. As a battle of wits escalates into a life-threatening confrontation, will it be possible for Crispin and Catherine to live happily ever after?

My Review

Sarah M. Eden is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. Her Regency novels hit the mark. I loved watching the main characters in The Kiss of a Stranger grow as their unexpected romance flourishes. This book kept me turning pages. In fact, I was late to my dentist appointment because I lost track of time. : ) I loved Catherine's courage and Crispin's compassion. I did get a bit frustrated at Catherine and Crispin's misunderstandings. I wanted to jump in the story and shake some sense into them. I would have rather had them work out their misunderstandings before the final conflict. That being said, the ending left me completely satisfied. I really loved this book and its characters and situations. My favorite scene is when Catherine plays piano at a social gathering-- loved it!!! If you like Regency, you will eat up The Kiss of a Stranger just as I did! I can't wait for Sarah's next book to come out in the fall!  

Meg's Melody Review

Meg's Melody by Kaylee Baldwin
My Rating: 5 stars

Back Cover Blurb

She paced the small confines of her bathroom as she waited the obligatory two minutes for the result. Yet, part of her sensed the truth. Not only did Austin take her self-esteem and plans for happiness, but he also took her get-out-of-this-marriage-free card.

The plus sign glared at Meg from the white plastic frame of the pregnancy test. The test fell from her hands and clattered into the bathtub as Meg’s back slid against the wall until she reached the floor.

“I’m pregnant,” she said into the quiet.

Meg never imagined she'd end up like this. With nowhere else to turn, she's forced to rely on the family she pushed away, the church she abandoned, and an unexpected friendship to help her find her forgotten melody. Meanwhile Matt is still mourning the loss of his wife. But determined to keep things together for his daughter's sake, he decides starting over in a new place might be just what his family needs.

This touching story combines romance with redemption and real conflict to remind you it's never too late to find joy. Kaylee Baldwin's capable hand renders a sincere, heartfelt story of rediscovery and hope. Perfect for romantics of all ages, this book will captivate your heart and rekindle your belief in the magic of music.

My Review

Okay, so I said that I don't give out 5 stars easily, and that's true. I've just been reading a bunch of great books lately! So much so that my housework and daily life has suffered a little (a lot). Meg's Melody kept me reading into the wee hours of the morning. It wasn't necessarily filled with adventure and nail biting suspense but my love for the characters kept me reading. Kaylee tells this story in beautiful and flowing prose. The characters seemed so real, I could imagine seeing these people at church or running into them at the store. I just had to laugh and cringe at some of the situations Meg found herself in-- Larry, ew. It was a beautiful story and although it dealt with some sad topics, I never felt depressed. This story left me uplifted and feeling great. I recommend it to all. 

Loyalty's Web Review

Loyalty's Web by Joyce DiPastena
My Rating: 5 stars


In twelfth-century France, King Henry II of England has just finished crushing a rebellion by his power-hungry sons and now seeks to tame the lawless barons who supported them in this corner of his “Angevin empire.” To this end, the king has sent the Earl of Gunthar as his royal representative to ensure that Prince Richard and his former cohorts faithfully adhere to the terms of the peace treaty.

Far from being welcomed with open arms, Gunthar no sooner steps foot in the county of Poitou than he is greeted by a series of assassination attempts. All appear to be linked to the former rebellious prince through the agents of the family and friends of young Heléne de Laurant. A clever, intrepid young woman, she realizes that the only way to prove her loved ones’ innocence is by exposing the true assassin. Heléne races against time—and dark secrets of the past—to unmask the killer before the kingdom plunges back into war.

Fierce determination gives way to mutual attraction as Heléne and Gunthar spar over the identity of the traitor. But their blinding magnetism almost causes them to overlook an even deadlier threat from an entirely unexpected direction.

My Review

I'm not the type of person that throws 5 star ratings at every book. 4 stars--maybe, but in order to earn 5 stars from me, it must make an impression. Loyalty's Web definitely earned 5 stars. This book is more than just a romance. It had twists and turns that had me at the edge of my seat practically pulling out my hair in suspense and kept me reading until 3:00 am. One thing that I appreciate about Loyalty's Web is that it's clean! I could immerse myself in the romance without feeling guilty or worrying about what was on the next page. Joyce wrote a sizzling kiss-- and then kept it there. I think many authors and Hollywood take the easy way out and show that two people have a relationship by going straight to physical intimacy. It takes more work and character development to show the same bond without the use of sex scenes and Joyce does it masterfully! With sizzling (but clean) romance and adventure at every turn, Loyaty's Web took me on a wild and thrilling ride!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Stormy Connection

Stormy Connection Blog Tour 
Taken by Storm and Unbroken Connection
by Angela Morrison
My Rating: 4 stars

I've had the honor of participating in my first blog tour and this is my first book review...ever.  Quite a milestone. This blog tour consisted of 2 books, Taken by Storm and its sequel, Unbroken Connection.

    Leesie Hunt's Unbreakable Rules:

No Kissing (at least not of the French variety)...No Sex (hah! not even close to happening anyway)...No Dating Outside the Mormon Faith (what would be the point?)... ABSOLUTELY No Falling in Love with the Wrong Boy (would ruin everything)

Leesie thinks she has her whole life planned out: get into the school of her dreams, write her poems, meet the perfect guy, and settle down. Then she meets Michael--a boy whose parents were killed in a diving accident during a terrible storm.

Michael is drowning in tragedy. And all Leesie wants is to save him. With each day, her heart hurts more. Could it be, perfect Leesie is falling from grace? Or is she just falling in love?

But if Leesie gives in to temptation, who is going to save her?

Against all odds, the couple that swept you away in TAKEN BY STORM is back. Michael is in Thailand diving his dream. Leesie is at BYU living hers.

And they just can't leave each other alone.

Their romance rekindles, deeper than before. They grow desperate to see one another again. To hold one another again.  Michael decides there is only one direction their relationship can go and asks Leesie the ultimate question. Her answer challenges everything Michael is and wants to be.

Can she change for him?
Can he change for her?

Angela Morrison actually uses a different approach to telling the story of Michael and Leesie. It is all through Michael's dive logs and Leesie's poems. I found it refreshing and had no difficulty following the story.

In these two books Angela deals with the difficult but vital topic of premarital sex, especially for teens. There are some steamy make out sessions but she handles the topic well and discreetly without explicit detail. Michael and Leesie come from completely different backgrounds and as a result have completely different standards. This story showed true to life conflict as Leesie tries to stick to her values and Michael tries to understand them. This is real life. It shows the temptations that teenagers have to deal with every day. It shows the consequences of letting your values slide and also the consequences of standing strong. I loved it!  

As I read the story of Michael and Leesie, the word real kept running through my mind. This story is real. The characters are real. I could truly see the story from both points of view. Michael is not a perfect hero, Leesie is not a perfect heroine. They each had strengths and weaknesses. There were times when I could have screamed at Michael or when I wanted to smack Leesie upside her head. The reality of the characters and story line made it a great, believable story. 

At first Michael believes that love and physical intimacy are one in the same. Leesie doesn't really know love at all. Together they learn that love is sacrifice, respect, dedication, determination, self-control and work. 

I loved this story. I would recommend that parents read it first to determine if and when it's appropriate for their child (of course I think that about any book--parents should know what they're kids are reading). I think its a little mature for my 12 year old, but I believe it's a good thing for teenagers to read, especially older teens. They need to know the consequences that can come from their daily choices.

Now I'm excited to read Cayman Summer to see how the story unfolds.

Great work Angela!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Literary World

I have never been an avid reader. Usually I'd rather watch a movie than read the book. I think in high school I skimmed the assigned reading or guessed at the answers instead of reading the actual text. In college I read once in a while, when I found something worth my time. Then one day my mom mentioned a new series called "Harry Potter". I picked up the book and discovered the joy of reading. But it wasn't until I actually started writing that my true love of reading began.

In high school, my teacher told me that I was a good writer. I enjoyed my creative writing classes and had it in the back of my mind to try writing someday. Then, ten years and five kids later my dad gave me a book about writing. I decided I just needed to start...and that was the beginning of my new obsession.

I joined a writing group called ANWA (American Night Writers Association) where my love for writing has blossomed. I have recieved great feedback, formed wonderful friendships, and gained much needed support. The desire to write now burns within me.

The more I write the more I read. So many authors in ANWA have been published and the stories they've created are amazing. Now I don't feel complete without my nose in a book. I'd rather read and write than watch TV or movies. I mean, let's face it...the book is so much better!

So I've decided to start this blog of my literary world. Here I will review books that I've read and blog about my writing and reading adventure. Come along and escape into my literary world!