Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Review: Between Now & Never by Laura Johnston

Between Now and Never

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


Buh boom, buh boom.

My heart thrusts with a force that takes me by surprise. Telling me something I don’t understand. A splitting pain, a longing to slip back under. They tell me I was in a hit-and-run, but I can’t remember what happened that night. All I know is that I woke up with pictures in my pocket, a card from one of those photo booths in the mall. And I’m in the pictures. Cody Rush. Me and…


Her brother was there that night, and my dad, the FBI agent, was the one who put her mom behind bars. What’s the connection? And why won’t Julianna talk to me now? Somehow, she holds the key to it all, and getting close–real close—to her for the answers I need will be no hardship at all…

My Review

There's something about young adult fiction written in first person that just sucks me right into the story! Between Now & Never is told from the two main characters' perspectives which rounds things out nicely. I'm not one for rich pretty boys (Julianna actually calls Cody that) but he is such a good guy, you can't help rooting for him. The dynamic between them is always shifting- going from the fact that she doesn't know he exists to developing an intense attraction for each other in one afternoon, only to have Cody lose his memory of that experience... not to mention the fact that Cody's FBI father arrested her beloved mother which keeps a wedge between them for a long time. I was surprised by how quickly Cody inadvertently finds himself in such danger (thanks to Julianna's brother Vic) but that forgotten experience is the foundation for the underlying tension throughout the novel. I was biting my nails since Julianna and Cody can't see the whole picture the way the author allows the reader to as the action comes to a climax! Other parts of the book I enjoyed were the way Julianna slowly bonded with Cody's mother and sisters, the way Cody made Julianna feel special (especially in contrast to her father and brother), and her courage and sacrifice to try to hold her family together. Highly recommend! I don't read as much YA as I used to but this is one author whose books I never pass up :)

(Thank you to Kensington Books for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Giveaway & Excerpt: Between Now & Never by Laura Johnston

Between now and forever

Be sure to scroll down to enter the giveaway!
Between now and never


Buh boom, buh boom. My heart thrusts with a force that takes me by surprise. Telling me something I don’t understand. A splitting pain, a longing to slip back under. They tell me I was in a hit-and-run, but I can’t remember what happened that night. All I know is that I woke up with pictures in my pocket, a card from one of those photo booths in the mall. And I’m in the pictures. Cody Rush. Me and… Julianna. Her brother was there that night, and my dad, the FBI agent, was the one who put her mom behind bars. What’s the connection? And why won’t Julianna talk to me now? Somehow, she holds the key to it all, and getting close–real close—to her for the answers I need will be no hardship at all…

Excerpt: Photo Booth
We listen to the monotone voice reel off instructions. Four pictures. A light will flash before each picture is taken. Etcetera. How I ended up in this position I’m not sure. We both sit, staring at our reflections on the dark plastic and, no doubt, both stuck on the same thought that crosses everyone’s mind when they’re on this seat.
“Quick,” I say, “what should we do?”
A flash of light. Picture one down. Both of our mouths were hanging open, blank stares straight ahead.
We burst into laughter and can’t stop. A second flash. Picture number two: both of us laughing.
Our gazes meet and we pull ourselves together, his eyes never veering from mine. He leans toward me, coming halfway before pausing, his eyes seeking permission. I regard him with equal parts terror and anticipation, the intimacy of the situation whispering a thrill. He closes the distance between us and glides his nose through my hair. My heart rattles around as though this is the first boy I’ve ever been close to.
“Now smile,” he whispers into my ear. Even if I should be creeped out, forget it. My cheeks burn despite myself and I feel the corners of my lips tugging upward. A flash of light signals the third picture and I am totally seduced.

Laura Rewind to You AuthorAuthor Laura Johnston Laura Johnston lives in Utah with her husband and two children. Growing up with five siblings, a few horses, peach trees, beehives and gardens, she developed an active imagination and always loved a good story. She fell in love with the young adult genre both through her experience in high school as well as her job later as a high school teacher. Laura enjoys running, playing tennis, sewing, traveling, writing, and above all, spending time with her husband and kids.

Praise for Between Now & Never

“A romance that will keep teens turning pages.” ~ Janette Rallison

"This was a lot different than I was expecting and I was honestly surprised with how much I enjoyed it. The cover led me to believe this would be a cute, love story but it was a suspenseful and gripping read." ~ Review from Goodreads

“Best book I read all year! On the edge of your seat suspense, heartwarming romance, and characters to cheer for—Between Now and Never is one you won’t want to miss.” ~Kelly Nelson, author of The Keeper’s Saga

"I had the privilege to read BETWEEN NOW AND NEVER when it was in manuscript form. I loved loved loved it from page one! Laura Johnson is such a talented author -- really looking forward to reading more of her work!" ~Kay Lynn Mangum, author of The Secret Journal of Brett Colton

$25 Blog Tour giveaway Blog Tour Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 4/26/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: A Heart Revealed by Josi S. Kilpack

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


Amber Marie Sterlington, the Rage of the Season in Regency-era London, has her pick of men, and she knows what she wants most in a husband: a title and a fortune. Why would she ever marry for something as fickle as love? And why would she ever look twice at Thomas Richards, a third son of a country lord?

But when Amber’s social standing is threatened, the character of her future husband becomes far more important than his position. After a public humiliation, she finds herself exiled to Yorkshire. Alone except for her maid, Amber is faced with a future she never expected in a circumstance far below what she has known all her life. Humbled and lonely, Amber begins to wonder if isolation is for the best. Who could ever love her now?

My Review

I don't normally enjoy reading stories where the main character is so flawed that she is unlikeable, but in this case the author did such a fabulous job with Amber's character arc. Amber's vulnerabilities and motivations for her attitudes and behavior are revealed as we get to know her and her family situation. As a sister to three, I could even relate to some of her sibling rivalry and frustrations. I don't want to give anything away, but the trial that sends Amber to the far north country and outcast from her family and society is one that is truly humbling. I loved Suzanne, her lady's maid who unwillingly accompanies her and learns to find the good in their situation and the good in Amber. They lean on each other and become sisters of a sort as they fend for themselves in a meager cottage without the amenities they are used to.

Thomas is presented as something of an anomaly in England's high society- a man who would rather work his own farm than rely on an annual income from his brother. A man who values the character of a person over their standing in society. His own quality of character becomes apparent to Amber as she forms a friendship of sorts with him during her exile and gives her the hope than she can be accepted for the improved individual she has become despite her outward appearance.

(Thank you to Shadow Mountain Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Review: All Dressed Up in Love by Ruth Logan Herne

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it


Greg Elizondo hadn’t bargained for this. Any of this.

Satin. Lace. Tulle. Pearl inlay, embroidered bodices, and Swarovski crystals.

The bridal shop business it took his mother three decades to build, the enterprise that covered his university and law degrees in full, was struggling because he might be part-genius when it came to contract law . . . But corset-style gowns with a mermaid flair? Shoot me now.

Tara Simonetti hated law school, but loved the community grant funding her presence at Temple University’s esteemed school of law. She could not fail. Would not fail. But when a notice for bridal store help appeared on the community notice board, Tara applied for the job immediately. While grants and loans helped pave her way, money for food was scarce. Legal precedence, moot court, and judicial clerking all had their place, but they were nothing compared to Alcenon lace, tucked silk skirts, and a well-placed peplum.

Greg had grabbed her help as the act of a desperate man. Within weeks, he was desperate again, this time to win her heart. But after using community funds to get her degree, how can Tara turn her back on the people who helped finance her goal?

But if she leaves Philadelphia and Greg to return to her small-town in northern Pennsylvania, she’ll be leaving her heart behind. A heart he won, fair and square by posting a help wanted notice on the coffee shop board . . . A heart that filled the missing niche in his mother’s acclaimed bridal store. A heart Greg longed to cherish forevermore.

My Review

From this book I learned several behind the scenes details of bridal fashion sales and shops. I was really impressed by the author's research of the industry and how she weaved it into the story. Saving Greg's mother's upscale bridal boutique was a compelling plot, but I wasn't able to fully connect with the characters for some reason. I enjoyed Tara's optimistic and bright personality which complemented Greg's more serious nature. They both struggled with their plans and vision for their futures, thinking they were on the path that would fulfill their dreams, but learned that by looking for God's guidance that a new dream was possible.

(Thank you to Zondervan Publishing and BookLook Bloggers for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Review & Giveaway! Miss Burton Unmasks a Prince by Jennifer Moore

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


Southern belle Meg Burton is her parents’ last hope of avoiding financial ruin, and a distant cousin’s kind gesture seems an ideal solution: he will sponsor Meg for a London Season. The pursuit of a wealthy husband was not exactly how the bookish young woman had envisioned her first trip abroad—after all, what does a girl from Charleston, South Carolina, know about being a lady? Amidst the stunning gowns and extravagant balls of the ton, Meg feels like an imposter. Thankfully, she has one friend who knows her true self—Carlo, a handsome stable hand. Despite their difference in station, love blossoms between the unlikely pair, and Meg is sure of one thing: she wants nothing to do with the insufferable European aristocracy.
Prince Rodrigo de Talavera has lost everything to Napoleon. Jaded by war, he has become bitter and miserable—until he meets Meg, an American woman whose eccentric schemes and passion for life remind him what it is to laugh and to love. If only she knew him for himself and not as Carlo the stable hand. With the shadow of deception looming over their happy acquaintance and the dangers of war drawing ever more near, can Meg and Rodrigo find the courage to put aside their pretenses and discover if they can be loved as they truly are?

My Review

This is a sweet young adult Regency romance, with a feisty heroine trying to make her way through a season in London- conflicted by her family's expectations of an advantageous marriage to save their failing business and her own dreams for her life. Her friendship with "Carlo" provides relief from the judgements and pretensions of some of the other guests in the duke's home. While I didn't think it was well-done of the prince to willfully deceive Meg, his intentions are understandable. The book reads like a storytelling, which makes it a little more difficult to experience the emotions of the characters. The intrigues of war add tension to the plot as the prince is caught between a desire to find the abducted members of his royal family and remaining safe for the future of Spain. Recommend for young adults and adults who enjoy clean historical romance.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Fun Quiz: Which Colorful Character in Mormon History Would You Be?


Most Mormons are mild-mannered, well-behaved, law-abiding citizens who tend to get along well with their neighbors. But every once in a while, there's a renegade. You know the one: a little bit wild-eyed, ready to rumble, out to go where no Mormon has gone before. Face it: we all know one.
Well, if you think you've seen a colorful character or two in your ward, you should check out the colorful characters in this book some Mormons, some non-Mormons who impacted Church history. These people are a whole new breed of colorful.

You'll meet the guy who is credited with starting the gold rush and putting San Francisco on the map California's first millionaire, who dies selling pencils on the street. You'll meet the Mormon FBI agent who was killed in a shoot-out with Baby Face Nelson, but not before taking out the Baby. You'll gain a whole new appreciation for the General Authority who peppered his sermons with profanity. And that's just scratching the surface.

Most of all, you'll find yourself shaking your head in wonder, having a knee-slapping good laugh, and maybe even shedding a tear or two here and there.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Review, Excerpt & Giveaway! A Hope Remembered by Stacy Henrie

Be sure to scroll down and enter the giveaway!

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


As the war ends, love begins . . .
Nora Lewis just wants an escape after losing her fiancé in the Great War. When she inherits property in England, she boldly packs up and leaves America for a fresh start. But if not for her dashing new neighbor, Colin Ashby, she'd be lost. Even as their friendship deepens, Nora knows a British aristocrat would never be free to love an American orphan, no matter how much the war has changed the world . . . After his brother's death in the war and his own experiences as a pilot at the front, Colin returns home broken, only to discover his family's estate is also in ruin. The pressure is now on him to save his home and the Ashbys' place in society with a well-bred match to a wealthy heiress. Too bad he finds more of a kindred spirit in Nora, the beautiful American next door. She, too, has faced the rigors of war and survived. Now the ex-soldier will have one more battle to fight-this time for love.

My Review

This is such a sweet romance- I loved how Nora and Colin's friendship developed in a genuine way. I admired her courage to leave everything behind and start fresh in an entirely different country. There are a couple of mysteries Nora encounters in her new neighborhood which provides some additional storylines to the main plot. I also enjoyed reading about Colin's experiences as a pilot in the first world war and later as he continues to fly his aeroplane over the English countryside. The bond he had with his brother was evident in how intensely he grieved his loss. Even though they had completely different life purposes and personalities, the brotherly love was touching, and made it even harder for Colin to try to fill his shoes. Nora helps him put things in perspective and come to terms with God and death, even as she grieves the loss of her fiancé. My favorite quote from the book deals with this theme:
"I don't believe it was God's will for any of those soldiers to die in the war... War is not something God condones, Colin, but men must be allowed to choose what they will make of their lives- good or evil. He cannot rob them of that... While I don't believe God wanted Tom or Christian to die, I do believe He has a greater perspective than I do. Just like a pilot in his plane, who sees a much different picture that what we can from the ground... When we go through heartache and loss, it's our right and challenge to discover what God wants us to do and become from those experiences... That is his will. To help us catch a glimpse of the wider, bigger perspective. To recognize and rejoice in those moments when He reaches down and compensates our losses."
(Thank you to Forever Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Of Love and War series

 About the Author

Stacy Henrie has always had an avid appetite for history, fiction and chocolate. She earned her B.A. in public relations and worked in communications before turning her attentions to raising a family and writing inspirational historical romances. Wife of an entrepreneur husband and a stay-at-home mom to three, Stacy loves the chance to live out history through her fictional characters, while enjoying the modern conveniences of life in the 21st century. In addition to author, she is a reader, a road trip enthusiast and a novice interior decorator. Her first novel, Lady Outlaw, released from Harlequin Love Inspired Historical in 2012. 

Connect with Stacy

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Excerpt from A Hope Remembered by Stacy Henrie

With a glare at both of them, Jack smashed his cap on his head and stalked from the room. He proceeded to slam the door behind him, but it hit the doorframe and bounced open instead.

Nora pushed out a sigh. “You didn’t have to be rude. Jack’s been very helpful to me this past week.” Maybe a bit too much. But she didn’t voice that thought. Colin needed no further ammunition against Jack.

“I’m sure he has,” Colin muttered, his expression as dark as his eyes.
Nora pinned him with a piercing look.
“You’re right.” He finished buttoning his cuffs and slipped on his vest. “That was ungentlemanly of me.”
She ignored his reference to her joke at their first meeting as she put away the corn starch and closed the cupboard. It was easier to keep her heart firmly locked if she held onto her disapproval of Colin’s behavior. Plus it would also stop her from wondering what he’d been about to say before Jack’s arrival.
“How may I redeem myself?” he asked as he pulled on his jacket. The amusement tugging at his mouth contradicted his contrite tone. 
Nora folded her arms, contemplating a suitable penance. “I think your punishment needs to be two-fold.”
“Very well.” He nodded. “What is your sentence?”
“First, you must join me for choir rehearsal at the church tomorrow morning.”
The mirth drained from his face. “Nora.” His voice held a note of warning. “That is entirely—”
“Second, you and Perseus can give me a tour around the lake. I’ve already been here a week and haven’t even seen all of it.”
Colin scowled. “A walk around the lake would be acceptable. But the choir rehearsal . . .”
“Please, Colin.” She hazarded a step toward him, hoping he’d relent. “I sang with them last Sunday and they need more male voices.”
She had another reason for wanting him there. Everyone had been kind at rehearsal and at church the following day, but Nora still felt uncomfortable with the continued references to her likeness to Eleanor. Apparently their similarities also included their singing voices. With Colin at the rehearsals, she wouldn’t feel as awkward. She was beginning to think he was the only person in Larksbeck who hadn’t known Eleanor.
Colin’s brow knit in obvious annoyance, while Nora held her breath. Would he accept her proposal? Finally resignation settled over his countenance. “I’ll go, but only once.” He held up a single finger. “Once,” he repeated. “I make no promises after that.”
Grateful, she breached the remaining space between them and put her hand on his sleeve. “I agree to those terms.” She couldn’t hide her smile as she added, “Be careful, though, we might make a regular choir member out of you yet.”
Instead of the light laugh she expected, Colin solemnly watched her. Though he didn’t touch her, she felt as powerless to release his sleeve as if he’d detained her hand. She couldn’t step away—his nearness drew her in like the promising warmth of a fire after being out in a storm.
“You know,” he murmured, his voice low, “you are rather charming when you jest like that.”
Nora’s pulse stuttered to a stop, then sped up again like a train gaining speed. She tried to remember why she’d been angry with him, tried to remember why she couldn’t allow anything more than friendship to blossom between them. But she couldn’t concentrate on any one thought, except for the growing desire to touch the hint of dark bristles covering his jaw.
Colin studied her lips as Jack had done last week, but this moment couldn’t be more different. A part of her, one growing more insistent by the second, actually wanted Colin to kiss her. How long had it been since she’d last felt the press of masculine lips against hers?
Not since before Tom left.
The memory crashed over her with all the effect of an ocean wave. She felt suddenly ill and cold. Releasing Colin’s sleeve, she stepped back, crossing her arms over her chest for warmth.
Forgive me, Tom.
She’d done nothing wrong, but even entertaining the idea of Colin kissing her felt like a betrayal. Her heart could never belong to anyone else. And yet, in this moment, the past felt more like a burden than a boon.
“I’ll . . . uh . . . just get my sweater, then we can go on that walk.” Nora went to pull the garment off its usual peg. Her hands shook slightly as she slipped the sweater on over her blouse. “Ready?”
A flicker of emotion gleamed in Colin’s dark eyes. Was it disappointment? Frustration? Would he forgive her abruptness or understand the source of her pain? As quickly as it had come, though, the sentiment faded and Colin shot her a carefree grin. “After you, fair lady.”


Friday, March 27, 2015

Review: The Olive Tree: An Artistic Adaptation by Christine Layton Graham, Joan Layton Merrell, Carol Layton Ogden

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it


Savor a unique scriptural experience with this beautiful book that combines text adapted from Jacob 5 with stunning artwork and calligraphy. A gorgeous addition to any LDS home, it will enhance your understanding of the exquisite symbolism in this significant story.

My Review

This is a beautiful book of paintings and calligraphy depicting the allegory of the olive tree from The Book of Mormon. I appreciated the loveliness, however I was expecting more interpretation from the original content. The text is word for word from the scriptures, and somewhat difficult to read in calligraphy form, especially for children. The art depicts literally what is read in the verses rather than the meaning behind the allegory. It would make a nice gift for a teenager or adult studying the Book of Mormon.

(Thank you to Cedar Fort Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Free e-book! The Rose Legacy by Kristen Heitzmann

The Rose Legacy by Kristen Heitzmann

Download the e-book of The Rose Legacy by Kristen Heitzmann for free!


Driven by hope and vengeance, Carina Maria DiGratia leaves her idyllic home in Sonoma, California, for a new life in the mining town of Crystal, Colorado. Though the town has a rough element, Carina is determined that it is the place her dreams will come true. Early on, two men vie for her trust, but neither is what he seems. Will Carina discern the truth in time to prevent tragedy?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review: A Timeless Romance Anthology: All Regency Collection by Anna Elliott, Sarah M. Eden, Carla Kelly, Josi S. Kilpack, Annette Lyon, Heather B. Moore

Review:  A Timeless Romance Anthology: All Regency Collection by Anna Elliott, Sarah M. Eden, Carla Kelly, Josi S. Kilpack, Annette Lyon, Heather B. Moore

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


3 stars
In THE WEDDING GIFT: A PRIDE AND PREJUDICE STORY, an enchanting novella by Anna Elliott, the story opens two weeks before Elizabeth Bennet’s wedding to Mr. Darcy. He has given her the perfect wedding gift, and now she must come up with one for him. But what do you give a man who has everything? Elizabeth soon discovers that the gift of love is more important than any one thing.

5 stars

DREAM OF A GLORIOUS SEASON, a sweet novella by Sarah M. Eden, we meet Elizabeth Gillerford who envies her sister only one thing—that she’s been intended for Julian Broadwood since they were children. The trouble is that Elizabeth is hopelessly in love with Julian too. When Julian discovers that Elizabeth has been denied a Season because her older sister is yet unwed, he undertakes his own stealthy measures to introduce her to society, only to find himself falling in love with her himself.

5 stars

In THE MENDER, a captivating story by Carla Kelly, Thankful Winnings takes a sea voyage with her cousin on the Ann Alexander, in a last adventure before she settles down to marry one of her beaus. Unexpectedly they come upon the aftermath of a fierce ship battle, and Thankful is commissioned to help in the place of an injured surgeon on one of the Royal Navy ships. Adam Farnsworth, surgeon, has been at sea for years. Tired of war, but devoted to his post, it takes a resourceful lady such as Thankful to give him the hope of love and help heal his own wounds, the ones that show and the ones that don’t.

3 stars

In BEGIN AGAIN, a charming novella by Josi S. Kilpack, Regina Weathers gives up on marrying for love the day that Ross Martin walks out of her life. Now, fifteen years later, Ross shows up at a ball and thinks he can woo Regina. But she is set on her lonely path and stitched-up heart, no matter the excuse Ross gives for his years of silence and neglect. When Ross insists he wrote many letters during his military years, Regina discovers a secret long-since buried by her father, and the revelation might be enough to thaw the coldness of her heart.

4 stars

In Annette Lyon’s endearing story, THE AFFAIR AT WILDEMOORE, Mrs. Ellen Stanhope escorts her three daughters to a ball. As her oldest flirts with a beau, Ellen is reminded of her courtship and early years of marriage with Anthony, before tragedy struck with the death of their infant son. The marriage has faded and dulled. Not until she sees Anthony dancing with a woman he courted years before does Ellen realize how much she misses him, still loves him, and yearns for him to yet feel the same way for her.

5 stars

In the delightful novella, THE DUKE’S BROTHER, by Heather B. Moore, Mr. Gregory Clark is having an awful day, and it only gets worse when he’s run over by … a woman. Mabel Russell reluctantly visits her sister in London for the Season, even though she’d rather stay in the country cataloging insects and aphids. When she runs into Gregory Clark, quite literally, she’s afraid to show any interest, especially since he’s a member of the dreaded ton. But getting to know Gregory becomes an unexpected delight.

My Review

I just love reading novellas! They are the perfect quick fix for the end of a long day. I definitely enjoyed this collection; all are good stories and I loved several of them. It's always a pleasure to read from the Regency era, and even though that was a theme of all these stories, each one was different very different. I found The Mender by Carla Kelly to be especially unique with it's focus on the aftermath of a battle at sea and tending to the injured. My other favorites are The Duke's Brother by Heather B. Moore and Dream of a Glorious Season by Sarah Eden.

(Thank you to Ebooks For Review for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)