Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Review: The Newcomer by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Heidi Reads... The Newcomer by Suzanne Woods Fisher

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it



In 1737, Anna Konig and her fellow church members stagger off a small wooden ship after ten weeks at sea, eager to start a new life in the vibrant but raw Pennsylvania frontier. On the docks of Port Philadelphia waits bishop Jacob Bauer, founder of the settlement and father to ship carpenter Bairn. It's a time of new beginnings for the reunited Bauer family, and for Anna and Bairn's shipboard romance to blossom.

But this perfect moment cannot last. As Bairn grasps the reality of what it means to be Amish in the New World--isolated, rigid with expectations, under the thumb of his domineering father--his enthusiasm evaporates. When a sea captain offers the chance to cross the ocean one more time, Bairn grabs it. Just one more crossing, he promises Anna. But will she wait for him?

When Henrik Newman joins the church just as it makes its way to the frontier, Anna is torn. He seems to be everything Bairn is not--bold, devoted, and delighted to vie for her heart. And the most dramatic difference? He is here; Bairn is not.

Far from the frontier, an unexpected turn of events weaves together the lives of Bairn, Anna, and Henrik. When a secret is revealed, which true love will emerge?

My Review

I absolutely loved the first book in the Amish Beginnings series, Anna's Crossing. I was thrilled when I learned that it would become a series and we had two more books to look forward to, continuing Anna and Bairn's story. The Newcomer picks right up where Anna's Crossing left off, so I highly recommend reading Anna's Crossing first in order to get to know the characters and especially to understand Anna and Bairn's relationship. In The Newcomer we also get the point of view from Bairn's mother Dorothea and his little brother Felix. I appreciated that as some members of the church become separated we are able to see what is happening with each smaller group. Felix adds plenty of humor to the story with his curiosity and talent for getting into scrapes; he was one of my favorites in this book! Dorothea and Bairn's journeys were far apart in miles but paralleled in spirituality. They both did quite a bit of soul-searching and I loved the theme of drawing closer to God in order to find peace in the midst of tribulation. Anna endured the complaints and uncertainty of the church members at the homestead with grace and compassion, which is what I love most about her character. Henrik's optimism helped her during this anxious time when Bairn was absent, but the foreshadowing woven in had me feeling anxious and I just wanted to quickly read to see how the book would end, how Anna would choose between these two men. I missed the interaction between Anna and Bairn that made me love the first book, so I'm hoping that the next book will offer more in the romance department ;)

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

Monday, February 27, 2017

Review: At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women edited by Jennifer Reeder & Kate Holbrook

Heidi Reads... At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing



At the Pulpit showcases the tradition of Latter-day Saint women's preaching and instruction by presenting 54 speeches given from 1831 to 2016, with selections from every decade since the founding of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The discourses, given by women both well known and obscure, represent just some of the many contributions of women to Latter-day Saint thought. In addition to being a scholarly history, At the Pulpit is intended as a resource for contemporary Latter-day Saints as they study, speak, teach, and lead. These discourses allow readers to hear the historical and contemporary voices of Latter-day Saint women--voices that resound with experience, wisdom, and authority.

My Review

I loved reading and studying the important words of women from our church history and present day. Recently a friend mentioned that she thought it would be wonderful if one year the lesson manual for Relief Society and Priesthood classes was a compilation of talks from the female general auxiliary presidents. I agreed, and soon after I was presented with the opportunity to review this book, which is just what we had been thinking about, but even better since it also includes women who are not well known but have an interesting history and poignant testimony. It strengthened my own testimony to read such a wide variety of talks, rich with gospel principles, gratitude for the Relief Society, and strong examples of enduring and overcoming hardship. Each individual's brief background is set forth before their address and I especially appreciated it for the historical context as well as instilling a feeling of admiration for the woman whose words I was about to read. Each discourse is significant in some way and I felt edified by each.

One of my favorites was "An Elevation So High Above the Ordinary" given by Eliza R. Snow in 1872, where she encourages the women in regards to both spiritual and intellectual edification, as well as the necessary development of domestic skills as a foundation for daily life and upon which to build "finer accomplishments". Another that stood out to me was "Drifting, Dreaming, Directing" by Ardeth G. Kapp in 1980 about the importance of standing immovable in matters of principle and making choices based on motivation from a relationship with the Savior and personal revelation, instead of drifting with the crowd, our faithfulness simply based on practices and tradition, existing on "borrowed light".

At the Pulpit is an amazing book that is perfect for personal gospel study and as a resource for teaching lessons or devotionals in the home and church. I highly recommend it to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and those who want to learn more about the history and spirituality of Mormon women.

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


Be sure to visit churchhistorianspress.org/at-the-pulpit, where you can learn more about the book, view photos, explore chronology, and read twelve of the talks in their entirety including three bonus discourses not included in the print volume. (I highly recommend Bonus Chapter 7: Gaining Light through Questioning by Julie Willis)


About The Church Historian's Press

The Church Historian’s Press was announced in 2008 by the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Joseph Smith Papers was the first publication to bear the imprint. The press publishes works of Latter-day Saint history that meet high standards of scholarship. For more information, visit the Church Historian’s Press website.

Review & Giveaway: Sophia's Leap-Year Courtship by Kristin Holt

Heidi Reads... Sophia's Leap-Year Courtship by Kristin Holt

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it



Union Pacific Station Agent Chadwick Hughes has everything in a state of readiness to welcome his mail order bride…everything but the bride. The woman he’s corresponded with for a year didn’t change her mind or miss her train in Omaha—she never existed. Chadwick’s mortified to discover he’s been swindled by a fraudulent matrimonial agency in Chicago. He needs a lawyer if he’ll ever recover a dime of the fortune he spent on worthless membership fees and the nonexistent bride’s transportation west.

Sophia Sorensen, Attorney at Law, is a spinster on the edge of propriety. The good people of Wyoming Territory are open to a lot of things, including Lady’s Privilege during Leap Years, but some aren’t fond of her day-to-day behavior. Why, the woman rides her bicycle hither and yon, showing her petticoat ruffle and ankles. She might be the least ladylike specimen beneath Wyoming skies, but it’s entertaining to watch her court the U.P. Station Agent, Chadwick Hughes, the most-eligible bachelor in the county.

My Review

This was a fun story with strong characters who are hiding vulnerabilities when it comes to romance. I felt so badly that Chad faced another setback in his goal when the fraud was uncovered. It only made him even more hesitant and uncertain when his relationship with Sophia gets serious. Sophia feels unwanted because of her profession and unconventional ways, and is fine with spinsterhood until it threatens her career. Chad and Sophia get along so well and have a great camaraderie and respect for each other (not to mention chemistry!), but when a meddling newspaper reporter takes things too far, they have a hard time recovering. The romance is sweet and I loved the setting and community, as well as their friends Doc Joe and Doc Naomi. The ending gets a little syrupy but wraps everything up with a wonderful happily ever after :)

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

Connect with Author Kristin Holt
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Friday, February 24, 2017

Review: A Season in London (Timeless Regency Collection) by Elizabeth Johns, Heather B. Moore, Rebecca Connolly

Heidi Reads... A Season in London (Timeless Regency Collection) by Elizabeth Johns, Heather B. Moore, Rebecca Connolly

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it



From the publisher of the USA TODAY bestselling & #1 Amazon bestselling Timeless Romance Anthology series in Clean Romance, comes A SEASON IN LONDON.

Three brand new Regency Romance novellas by Elizabeth Johns, Heather B. Moore, and Rebecca Connolly.

POOR RELATIONS by Elizabeth Johns
As a ‘poor relation,’ Emma Standrich has already pre-empted her dismal Season by applying for a governess post. Her aunt and cousin are kind enough to sponsor her, but in truth, Emma is just waiting for it to all be over. Emma’s grief over the death of her brother while in military service casts a pallor on everything else in her life. When Colonel Shelton, the man who was her brother’s superior, asks her to dance at her first ball, Emma is more surprised than anyone. But she has questions for him, and soon she’s caught up in an intrigue she wasn’t expecting—both of the heart and the mind.

EDWARD & EMILY by Heather B. Moore
As a second son, Edward Blackwood never anticipated becoming heir to his family estate, or the need to find a wife and secure that inheritance. But with the death of his older brother, Edward is thrust into a life he never wanted. When his mother encourages him to be kind to his long-time neighbor Emily Foster, a girl he’d hardly paid attention to while growing up, Edward realizes that returning home might not be such a set-back after all.

A SPORTING SEASON by Rebecca Connolly
Daphne Hutchins is no simpering female who aims for a husband with a fortune. In fact, she’d be more than happy to live her life free of the heartache that men seem to bring. So when she sets out to play the fool in front of the ton during her first Season in order to send all eligible men running, she’s quite unprepared for James Woodbridge. Bored, but with a sense of family duty, James arrives for the Season, anticipating going through the expected motions befitting any gentleman. What he isn’t prepared for is Daphne Hutchins and the way she completely upends his heart.

My Review

I get so excited when there's a new Timeless Regency Collection! Thank goodness they release so often ;) I love that they are a bit longer than your average novella so the stories get a good wrap up. This one was fun because two of the authors are new to me.

The first story "Poor Relations" by Elizabeth Johns is very plot focused, and although I was interested at first, I didn't form a strong connection to the characters so my attention waned as the mystery became more drawn out. There is a strong Regency setting and I think the story will be enjoyed by many. (3 stars)

"Edward & Emily" by Heather B. Moore was amazing and definitely one I'll read again in the future. I loved how Edward and Emily's acquaintance quickly develops into friendship then more over a longer period of time and correspondence. The admiration and encouragement they share for each other's secret hobby creates a bond of understanding. They also join forces to unite star-crossed lovers which gives them more opportunities to be together and their sweet romance was just lovely to read. (5 stars)

There are lots of fun scenes in "A Sporting Season" by Rebecca Connolly as Daphne does her best to repel any and all potential suitors. It showed just how desperate she was to avoid marriage and risk having her trust broken again, which stemmed from a heartbreak in her past. Fortunately James sees through her charade and finds her fascinating for it, and withstands her efforts to push him away. He launches a mission of his own, to make Daphne see that there are other desirable options (such as himself) and help her overcome her fears. I loved the way they interacted and that Daphne was able to finally process her hurt in a healing way and come out triumphant. (5 stars)

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

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Spotlight: Condemn Me Not: Accused of Witchcraft by Heather B. Moore

One of my favorite books as a teen and young adult was the Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth Speare. I haven't read many other books in that setting, so I am really looking forward to revisiting the era and history of the early settlers. Heather B. Moore is amazing at incorporating fascinating aspects of real history in her stories in such a natural way, I know that I will be learning much more about the Salem witch trials and the tragedies that occurred. The fact that this story was inspired by and is based on the life of her own ancestor will make reading the book even more meaningful!


“This woman was one of the most impudent, scurrilous, wicked creatures of this world; and she did now throughout her whole trial discover herself to be such a one. Yet when she was asked what she had to say for herself, her chief plea was that she had led a most virtuous and holy life.” —Reverend Cotton Mather, 1692

USA Today Bestselling author Heather B. Moore brings the life of her 10th great-grandmother to center stage. Susannah North Martin, accused of witchcraft in 1692, joins five women in the Salem Jail, all sentenced to death for their crimes. Amidst tragedy, Susannah finds hope and compassion as she remembers a well-loved life, and readers discover that love reaches far beyond the grave as Susannah faces the magistrates in Salem.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday: A Matter of Trust by Susan May Warren


I absolutely loved the first two books in the Montana Rescue series, and I just can't wait for A Matter of Trust! It releases this summer and is available for pre-order!



Champion backcountry snowboarder Gage Watson has left the limelight behind after the death of one of his fans. After being sued for negligence and stripped of his sponsorships, he's remade his life as a ski patrol in Montana's rugged mountains, as well as serving on the PEAK Rescue team. But he can't seem to find his footing--or forget the woman he loved, who betrayed him.

Senator and former attorney Ella Blair spends much of her time in the limelight as the second-youngest senator in the country. But she has a secret--one that cost Gage his career. More than anything, she wants to atone for her betrayal of him in the courtroom and find a way to help him put his career back on track.

When Ella's brother goes missing on one of Glacier National Park's most dangerous peaks, Gage and his team are called in for the rescue. But Gage isn't so sure he wants to help the woman who destroyed his life. More, when she insists on joining the search, he'll have to keep her safe while finding her reckless brother, a recipe for disaster when a snowstorm hits the mountain.

But old sparks relight as they search for the missing snowboarder--and suddenly, they are faced with emotions neither can deny. But when Ella's secret is revealed, can they learn to trust each other--even when disaster happens again?

Review & Giveaway: The Triple-Date Dare by Lauraine Henderson

Genre: LDS, Christian, clean romance
Publisher: Indie

Publication date: December 8, 2016

Number of pages: 212


Writer Laura Nelson can’t believe her luck. Since staying in a beach house on the Oregon coast, she’s had two run-ins with the police. The upside is that handsome Officer David Harrington handled both situations.

Laura, still stinging from years of making poor choices, has come to Oregon to take control of her life. She recently renewed her relationship with God and the church, and she’s in the process of writing her next mystery. But is she ready for romance?

David has a rule: don’t get close to women. He is ashamed of his unlawful past, a father in jail and an alcoholic mother. His triple date dare is a sure-fire way to keep women at bay. Who would love him with all his baggage anyway?

When he asks Laura out, David figures she will crash and burn as planned. He had no idea she would not only change the rules of his famous dating dare, but sneak her way into his heart.

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it

There is a good balance between hilarious scenarios and deep introspection in this character-driven novel of redemption and forgiveness. Laura is transforming herself from one lifestyle to another, so sometimes she is a study in contrasts. I loved that in essence she stays true to her real self and is able to shed the facade she wore in her former life. David senses her genuine nature and is drawn to her despite his resolve to stay out of a relationship. Their banter is interesting, and Laura often takes David off guard, which he doesn't always know how to deal with since he likes feeling in control. Both David and Laura have several occasions of internal musings about faith, life, and the confusion they feel as they are figuring out how to adjust to the unexpected changes that occur. I liked that Laura focuses on increasing her spirituality in a genuine way and improving her deteriorated relationship with her sister. I has tears in my eyes a couple of times as David and Laura share share special moments and epiphanies. 

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

I recently moved back to Oregon with my husband of 31 years, where we’ve built a house on 68 acres about 40 miles outside of Portland. After growing up in Oregon, we’ve lived in Utah, Arizona, and Hawaii. We have three children, two girls and a boy, all grown and all writers themselves. We also have a dog (Golden Retriever) and a cat (Black). I love to write inspirational romance and hope my readers will be both entertained and uplifted by my stories. When I’m not writing, I love to paint (watercolors, oils, and acrylics), sew, knit, crochet, and read (of course)! My second novel will be published in 2017. 

Laura Melemanu Nelson

Laura spent the first fourteen years of her life in Oregon, and then moved to Hawaii. Her parents always had a great affinity to Hawaii and gave each of their children Hawaiian middle names. While they lived in Oregon, they had a vacation home in Sunset Bay, on the Oregon coast, where they spent several weeks during the summer. Laura went to high school and college on the Big Island of Hawaii where she studied English with a Creative Writing emphasis. Her English professor introduced her to a publisher and she was able to publish her first novel. While in high school, Laura became rebellious of her moral and religious upbringing. She made numerous poor choices which lead her to living with her boyfriend and being involved with drug dealers. When she was caught by the police, she was tried and convicted as an accessory to drug trafficking and served one month in jail and five hundred hours of community service.
After being beat up by her boyfriend when he was released from jail, Laura went back to her parents for help. Sitting in a stake conference, she discovered a desire to return to church and put herself back on the straight and narrow. She’s run away to the Oregon coast to finish her second novel and get away from her recent past.

Laura is a slender 5’7”, with short cropped, bleached blond hair. She has a sweet, pretty face with crystal blue eyes. She’s quick witted and feisty, and is trying very hard to made positive choices in her life and hear the whispers of the Holy Ghost. She’s pretty game for any activity and sees through deception easily. She loves her family, is closest to her father, but struggles with her relationship with her older sister, Suzanne. She is not a deep thinker nor terribly far sighted, focusing on the here and now to get her life on track, but she wants to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ better. She’s humble and honest about her emotions, but doesn’t share her feelings and life story easily.

David Ezekiel Harrington

David grew up in Portland with his parents and his older sister, Margaret. Their life was fairly ordinary until his father became involved in illegal activities. His mother turned to alcohol to hide from his father’s choices. When Margaret moved out at eighteen, David was left alone with his mother and father, where he witnessed his mom’s alcoholic binges and never knew what his dad was up to. When he was in high school, he became friends with the wrong crowd and participated in an armed robbery of a convenience store. He was arrested and served a five-year sentence. He finished high school in jail where he also met a member of the church who reached out and taught him the gospel. When he was released from jail, he was baptized and vowed to turn his life around. He worked with his uncle, a policeman in Sunset Bay, to have his father arrested for second degree murder and decided to become a police officer. After attending the police academy, he was hired by the Sunset Police Department, where his uncle still worked.

David is tall, well built, with short brown hair and deep blue eyes. He has a strong jaw and captivating smile. He loves to be outdoors, hanging out with his friends, and has a knack for turning driftwood into artistic sculptures. He loves the church and works in the nursery where he has a devoted following of four two-year olds. He was recently able to buy a house near the beach from a ward member who was moving into a retirement home. He is close to his sister, who is married and works as a para-legal. Although ashamed of his mother, who is often arrested for drunken and disorderly behavior, David always bails her out, and frequently tries to help her find a way out of her alcoholic pit, thus far without success. He is extremely embarrassed by his parents’ behavior and can’t imagine any good LDS girl wanting to be associated with such a family. He’s fun and spunky, but reserved with his emotions. He’s kind to rookie officers and respectful of all authority figures.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Review: A Season to Love by Nicole Deese

Heidi Reads... A Season to Love by Nicole Deese

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing



At this point in her life, bravery is not a trait Willa Hart would readily claim. She believes her seven-year-old daughter, Savannah, who never knew her father and successfully tackled chemotherapy, is truly the courageous one. Yet after Willa has a fateful encounter with handsome young doctor Patrick McCade, her outlook—and her view of herself—begins to change.

Patrick, a thrill-seeking world traveler and temporary resident of Lenox, Oregon, sets out to show Willa the value of adventure, even within her tiny town. But just when their friendship shows signs of turning into something more, Patrick’s life as a traveling doctor calls him back. Will his last days in town signal the end of their journey, or will Patrick and Willa find the courage to transform a single season into a lifetime?

My Review

This book. All the feels. I love the strength in Willa even though she doesn't always see it. The hardships she has endured were rough and it's not surprising she suffers from anxiety. She's trying so hard to be the best mom for her daughter who is ready to live life as a normal kid again, but her fears are debilitating. Willa's loving sibling relationship with her brother Weston becomes a bit volatile as he pushes Willa too often and too far out of her comfort zone. The way that Patrick helps her overcome her fears is so thoughtful, because he knows he can't do it for her, but he can encourage and support her to do it for herself. They have great banter as well as thought-provoking conversations, and the romantic tension builds as they grow more attracted to each other but have the looming deadline of Patrick's departure preventing them from taking the next step. The author skillfully employs the "showing" technique rather than telling, and I easily connected with the characters and felt their emotions as I read. I loved Willa's compassion and motherly instincts for Alex, the teenage half-sister of her boss with a dysfunctional childhood, who adds another dimension to the story and a couple of her scenes brought tears to my eyes. This was the first book I read by Nicole Deese and I quickly found her other available books and loved them as well! She's now a must-read author for me :)

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; this is my honest review)

I read this series out of order- after reading A Season to Love, the second book in the Love in Lennox series, I loved it so much I immediately bought and read the first book, A Cliché Christmas. Fortunately they read well as stand-alones so I didn't have any issues. I highly recommend them both! And for only $3.99 each at Amazon, they are a great deal! (And free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers!)

Heidi Reads... A Cliché Christmas by Nicole Deese

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing



Writing happy endings is easy. Living one is the hard part.

Georgia Cole—known in Hollywood as the “Holiday Goddess”—has made a name for herself writing heartwarming screenplays chock-full of Christmas clichés, but she has yet to experience the true magic of the season. So, when her eccentric grandmother volunteers her to direct a pageant at Georgia’s hometown community theater, she is less than thrilled. To make matters worse, she’ll be working alongside Weston James, her childhood crush and the one man she has tried desperately to forget.

Now, facing memories of a lonely childhood and the humiliation of her last onstage performance, seven years earlier, Georgia is on the verge of a complete mistletoe meltdown. As Weston attempts to thaw the frozen walls around her heart, Georgia endeavors to let go of her fears and give love a second chance. If she does, will she finally believe that Christmas can be more than a cliché?