Monday, January 23, 2017

Review: A Moonbow Night by Laura Frantz


Heidi Reads... A Moonbow Night by Laura Frantz

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing

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Synopsis

After fleeing Virginia, Temperance Tucker and her family established an inn along the Shawnee River. It's a welcome way station for settlers and frontiersmen traveling through the wild Cumberland region of Kentucke--men like Sion Morgan, a Virginia surveyor who arrives at the inn with his crew looking for an experienced guide. When his guide appears, Sion balks. He certainly didn't expect a woman. But it is not long before he must admit that Tempe's skill in the wilderness rivals his own. Still, the tenuous tie they are forming is put to the test as they encounter danger after danger and must rely on each other.
 

With her signature sweeping style and ability to bring the distant past to vivid life, Laura Frantz beckons readers to join her in a land of Indian ambushes, conflicting loyalties, and a tentative love that meanders like a cool mountain stream.

My Review

What an amazing reading experience! I was completely transported to the historical setting and the story which never felt rushed, but never felt slow either. Since my parents took my sisters and I camping and backpacking often, I've loved the outdoors and exploring the mountains. The descriptions of the wilderness and how Sion and the surveying team worked to establish accurate maps and guides was fascinating. I loved that Tempe was an explorer of the country too, and that she appreciated the little wondrous details of nature. The author did a great job of depicting the grim realities of the harsh frontier, including violent encounters with Native Americans, without being disturbingly graphic. Tempe and Sion are both weighed down by grief that hasn't passed by, but their developing relationship begins the healing process, and amidst the chaos of warring Indians on the move and the unforgiving wilderness, there is an undercurrent of peace and blossoming romance. The personalities of Tempe's family and Sion's team are vividly portrayed and provide opportunities for conflict, growth, and compassion. Highly recommend!!!

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)


Review: In Tune With Love by Amy Matayo


Heidi Reads... In Tune With Love by Amy Matayo

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it

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Synopsis

April is willing to do anything for her sister’s wedding—until she comes face to face with a guy from her past.

April Quinn is thrilled to be her sister’s maid of honor, until the wedding coordinator quits and the responsibilities get dumped on her. It’s April’s worst nightmare—especially since her sister has more objections and opinions than a lawyer presenting a high-profile court case. When the wedding singer walks out at the last-minute, her sister hires a replacement. When April finds out who the replacement is, she’s ready to call it quits as well.
Because there’s only one person in April’s past that she never wanted to see again, and her sister just handed him a front row seat to the wedding.

Jack Vaughn finally has the career he’s always wanted. After playing in bars and singing in weddings as a struggling musician for half a decade, he’s just released his second album and sales are skyrocketing. But while visiting his parent’s Nashville home the weekend before his first headline tour, he runs into an old friend. When she asks him for a last-minute favor, he can’t bring himself to say no. Even though saying yes means he has to come face to face with April Quinn—the girl who hasn’t spoken to him in years.

And rightly so, since he stole something from her that he’ll never be able to repay.


My Review

I love this author's style of writing! I was immersed right in April's drama with her bridezilla sister (I would not have lasted as long as she did!) and the disappointments with her music career. Jack's attempts to make things right with their past were lame at first and I was glad she gave him what-for. Their chemistry was sizzling though and throughout the ups and downs of learning to trust each other and their own feelings, they develop a sincere friendship and relationship. A fun novella with just the right amount of angst and romance!

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Review: Saints at Devil's Gate: Landscapes Along the Mormon Trail by Laura Allred Hurtado, Bryon C. Andreasen, John Burton, Josh Clare, Bryan Mark Taylor



My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing

http://www.goodreads.com
This book was published to accompany an exhibition of the same name at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City. Therefore, distribution of the book has been limited. Copies are available at the museum gift store, at store.lds.org, and at some independent bookstores in Utah.

Synopsis

A beautiful art book from the Church Historian's Press, publisher of The Joseph Smith Papers.

From 1846 to 1869, some 70,000 Mormon pioneers traveled the Mormon Trail, the 1,300-mile route from Illinois and Iowa to Salt Lake City. In 2011, three award-winning Mormon painters decided to visit sites all along the historic route and capture the landscapes in oil. This full-color art book, featuring 52 landscape paintings, presents the fruit of their five-year project. Each painting is paired with journal entries or reminiscences from pioneers who made the journey. Essays by the authors and an artist interview illuminate both the art and the history of the trail.

The book gives written and visual context to the pioneers’ experience of the trail, bears witness to the land as it exists today, and links the experience of pioneers to the challenges of today.


My Review

I loved this art book, not just because of the gorgeous paintings, but also the history and real accounts from trail journals and reminiscences of pioneers. Their words truly enhanced the viewing experience and I'm sure the exhibit in the Church History Museum is amazing! The paintings allowed me to try and see the landscapes from the pioneers' perspective, and the wide range of experiences shared showed the trials and joys of men, women, and children of all ages. I was surprised to recognize one of the modern scenes- the road leading to the Winter Quarters Temple. I've driven on that road a few times while in Nebraska for family events. The pioneer cemetery next to the temple site is unforgettable, especially when visited during an icy winter since it brings to life the harsh conditions they endured. I liked that the book showcased the work of three artists, providing both variety and continuity. There are sidebars of information on the majority of pages that provide historical context for the painting subject and pioneer accounts that provided enlightenment. The size of the book is large but not overly so, it fit inside my church tote. The pages are high quality paper and will withstand multiple viewings over time. It is a well-produced book of beautiful art and I encourage you to visit the exhibit and/or purchase a copy for yourself!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Review: How to Get Over Your Ex in Ninety Days by Jennifer Peel


Heidi Reads... How to Get Over Your Ex in Ninety Days by Jennifer Peel

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing

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Synopsis

How to Get Over Your Ex in Ninety Days

• Break off all contact for ninety days.
• Stay away from social media.
• Remember all the things you liked to do when you were single and revisit those activities.
• Think carefully about starting any new romantic attachments.
• Wine, lots of wine. No, don’t. It could end badly.
• Be mindful of anxiety and feelings of hopelessness.
• Remind yourself it takes ninety days for your mind to switch gears and picture your life in a new direction.

Presley Benson thinks she found the perfect plan to get over her ex-boyfriend, Jackson Montgomery. All she needs is ninety days. There’s a problem, though. Jackson Montgomery is the newly appointed vice principal of Riverton High School where she teaches drama.

And oh yeah, he wants her back.

So what’s a girl to do? Stick with the plan of course.


My Review

Talk about being pulled in different directions! Presley is head-over-heels in love with Jackson, but he blindsides her when she is unceremoniously dumped. It's brutal, and she takes it hard. The first person perspective lends itself well to all the angst that ensues. Fortunately, the witty humor keeps it from being depressing, and the plan gives Presley a goal to stick to as she struggles with the aftermath of a once-in-a-lifetime relationship. Her close girlfriend lends support as well as her teaching mentor at the school and Jackson's grandmother. Jackson initially comes off as a real jerk, but of course we learn throughout the book how great their romance was with some flashbacks and reminiscing. Like a guy, Jackson wants to have his cake and eat it too when he tries to stay friends with Presley... which makes getting over him even harder! Throw in a couple of handsome guys to get Jackson jealous and she has her hands full. Jackson grew on me when it became apparent that he realized he made a massive mistake and starts sincerely trying to fix things. I loved that Presley sure gave him a run for his money! There's more than meets the eye with Jackson and the issues he's dealing with though, and I appreciated that Presley's compassion prevented her from becoming truly bitter and unforgiving in the end. Lots of great romantic tension and an ending to make all the drama worth it ;)

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)