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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Blog Tour Review: ESCAPING SAFETY by Bonnie Gwyn (Great Family Books, 2014)

Synopsis: Christina has grown up literally ‘sheltered’ in a sanctuary run by mysterious Officials who offer safety in exchange for captivity. She’s already suspicious of the Officials when she meets Tyler Andrus, commander of the T-Squad: a group of rebels on a quest to destroy the sanctuaries and bring light back into the world. Having yearned for freedom all her life, she joins them in a journey of hope, terror, and self-discovery.

Audience: Adult
Genre: Dystopian Sci-Fi
Length: 168 pgs

Rating: *** (Liked it)

Review: Lots of fun things about this book. I loved the idea of being a "safe" captive. The camaraderie of the squads is cool and I like the way women are (mostly) just as equal to men in their opportunities to be part of them. There was lots of action and an intriguing world. One of the things that tripped me up was the lack of description of the Sanctuaries. I had too many questions and felt a bit lost. I didn't understand the motivations and actions of some of the characters and was thrown many times by their actions. The love story was also a bit of a tangle for me.

Content: Rated 1-5; 1 being minor instances, 5 being saturated
Sex - 0
Violence - 2 (Lots of fighting and gore, but nothing graphic)
Language - 0 (I don't remember any...)
Overall rating - PG

Source: I was provided a review copy of this for the blog tour in exchange for my honest opinion.

Try this. Like Sci-fi dystopias? Read ERASING TIME by C.J. Hill.

More about the author. Bonnie Gwyn wrote her first book, about a talking grandfather clock, when she was six – and hasn’t stopped writing since. In fact, she can’t “not write,” and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She hasn’t missed a day of writing in her journal for the past four years!
As a winner in this year’s National Novel Writing Month challenge, Bonnie produced her latest dystopian novel, Escaping Safety, and is now working on its sequel. She is also close to completing a fantasy romance series, The Legends of Elldamorae, whose characters have captured her heart and can’t wait to have their stories revealed.    
Bonnie’s mantra is, “I write because I believe every story deserves to be told.”
You can learn more about Bonnie, and read her inspirational blog posts, by clicking on the links below:

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Guest Review: TRA Love Letter Collection by Various Authors

So, if you follow me on Twitter, you might know that my mom used her connections to me to con Krista Jensen out of a review copy of Timeless Romance Anthology: Love Letter Collection, just released. (Okay, okay, so my mom's sister Arlene is also one of Krista's friends, and maybe that played a part too. Who's to say?) And, yeah, I managed to get a review copy too, but the fun thing is that my mom agreed to do a guest review here on the blog! I think this is so fun. You can follow her on Twitter @birdmom8

Publication: Mirror Press, January 2014

(See below for synopsis of stories from the Timeless Romance Anthology blog.)

Genre: Anthology, Romance, Contemporary Romance, Historical Romance
Audience: Adult (Clean)

Review: This set of six novellas written by six talented writers is a fun, enjoyable and interesting read. You can read a story in an afternoon, but you probably can't stop at just one! These writers know how to grab your interest right away and make it hard to put it down. These romances are sweet and clean. You can rest assured that you won't be embarrassed if your 10-year-old picks it up (if you happen to lay it down for a second). There are three contemporary romances that have you laughing one minute and crying the next, and three historical romances that are just as fun and enjoyable. If you're a romance lover, this anthology will be just the thing for a cozy winter read and get you in the mood for Valentine's Day!

Maggie's Song:  This sweet novella by Karey White is fun and easy to read. I sometimes saw my daughters in Maggie's actions. I especially loved how she decided to drop hints to her hero. Maggie is a happy and caring heroine. You will love to get to know her. I know because I have daughters just like her!

Just Fly, by Krista Lynn Jensen, made me want to cry and laugh at the same time. Wren, the heroine, is a sweet and caring heroine. My favorite character is Dorothy (or Dot) because she is so brave and enjoys life to the fullest. She's not afraid to fail or do silly things. Her grandson, Seth (our hero) is just as fun and his way of telling Wren how he cares is the best!

How to Re-Write a Love Letter: Diane Darcy certainly had me squirming in embarrassment for the heroine, Julie, a high school honors English teacher. I loved how she was shy and worried about the things she did to embarrass herself in front of her principle, Dane, yet could stand up to him and give him a piece of her mind when she thought he deserved it. Problem was, he didn't really deserve it most of the time. He was just trying to figure her out! The only thing I thought was left out of this story was the standing ovation by the student body for the kissing scene!

A Thousand Words: Sarah M. Eden doesn't disappoint in this novella about two poor Irish immigrants who love each other, but struggle communicating. I loved Shannon's spunky temperament and how she wouldn't let anything come between her and her hero, Patrick.
Both of them struggled to tell each other how they felt, but the use of letters and pictures was what brought them together in the end. I thought this story demonstrated how we can communicate in lots of different ways, especially, love letters!

Between the Lines: Annette Lyons did a superb job of painting a picture of a young girl constantly comparing herself to others to the point where she didn't see her own beauty.  We can all identify with that. Jane, who thinks of herself as plain, is really a beautiful young woman and until she starts writing letters to her "friend" she doesn't see her true self or the true character of Thomas/Charles. When she finally reads between the lines she see what she truly wanted and had all along.

Blackberry Hollow, by Heather Moore is a sweet romance with a little bit of mystery thrown in. This was a really easy read and I was drawn in quickly. Heather has a talent for describing scenes that make you think you are really there. I'm kind of in love with English manors anyway, so this story was exactly what I wanted in a short read.

The Timeless Romance Anthologies are all worth reading. If you need an afternoon of good, cozy reading, pick one up and read. You will love them!

Content: Rated 1-5; 1 being minor instances, 5 being saturated
Sex - 1 (Kissing)
Violence - 0
Language - 1 (A couple minor instances)
Overall rating - G

Source: A review copy was provided to the reader in exchange for her honest review

Timeless Romance Anthology: Love Letter Collection

In Maggie’s Song, a charming story by Karey White, Maggie Jensen is part of a trio of best friends with Lucas and Dan. Together, they own and run Wild Country Hiking Tours. When Lucas returns to the company after getting his college degree, Maggie realizes that the crush she had on him as a teenager has now blossomed into so much more. But Lucas still treats her as one of the guys, and Maggie worries that if she tells him her real feelings, their relationship will be damaged forever.

In Just Fly, Krista Lynne Jensen's captivating novella, Wren is faced with the devastating news of her grandfather's death. But when her mom finds a mysterious letter from a woman named Dot in Seattle, Wren decides to visit the woman herself to deliver the news in person. Wren learns of the bucket list Dot and Gramps had put together with the help of Dot's grandson, Seth, and Dot challenges Wren to take her grandfather's place in completing the list. Before the week of adventure is over, Seth has impressed Wren in more ways than one. But is that enough to overcome Wren's fear of losing those she loves?

How to Rewrite a Love Letter, an enthralling novella by Diane Darcy, high school teacher Julie Ashburn believes she’ll never live the “event” down in which she wrote her true feelings in a love letter to Principal Dane Parker, and he laughed out loud, mocking her. Now that her honors English students want to write love letters for the school fundraiser, Dane turns down the idea flat. Julie tries to convince him that it was her students’ idea and not any sort of payback. But when a student writes a fake love letter from the principal to Julie, everything gets even more mixed up, and both Julie and Dane are caught up in a series of misunderstandings that might be impossible to sort out.

In Sarah M. Eden’s delightful story, A Thousand Words, Shannon Ryan has been waiting half a year to be reunited with her fiance, Patrick, with only the letters between them keeping their relationship alive. He finally sends for her after securing a good job with the Sidney newspaper, and she can’t wait to be reunited with him, swept up in his arms and thoroughly kissed. And of course, married as soon as possible. But when she arrives at the train station, there is no Patrick waiting for her. Shannon must discover if the man she loves still has feelings for her.

Between the Lines is a sweet romance by Annette Lyon. Jane Martin is intelligent but extremely shy, especially around men. When the Aid and Cultural Society proposes a letter-writing program, Jane signs up, hoping she can find true friendship. The program doesn’t run as smoothly as expected, and unknown to Jane, one of the men in her city becomes her writing friend. Thomas Allred has always known shy and quiet Jane, but reading her letters written to his secret persona, opens his eyes to what an amazing woman she is. The only trouble is, Jane doesn’t know that the man who she is falling in love with through letters is also Thomas, the man who is falling in love with her in person.

In the enchanting novella, Blackberry Hollow, by Heather B. Moore, Lucy Quinn travels to England to inspect her inherited estate. Unfortunately, as a resident of New York and nearly engaged, Lucy needs put the house on the market. But first, she wants to learn more about her ancestors. What she doesn’t expect is Calvin Bevans, the man living next door. The two families have been divided by a misunderstanding decades old, and when Lucy discovers a set of love letters, she learns the truth. As Calvin helps her unravel the hidden secrets between the two families, Lucy finds that she has more reasons to stay in England than to return to New York. And Calvin is at the top of that list.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Review: AS YOU ARE by Sarah M. Eden (Covenant, 02014)

From Deseret Book: A horse breeder by trade, Corbin Jonquil is more at home in the stables than in the ballroom of his sprawling estate. Corbin is the quietest of the Jonquil brothers and has always faded into the background, contentedly unnoticed. When a mysterious young widow, Mrs. Clara Bentford, moves into the neighborhood, however, Corbin quickly comes to realize that being noticed has its advantages. But how to catch the eye of the lady? According to his brothers, Corbin need only make a few simple changes to transform himself into the object of any woman’s desire—dubious advice, indeed. Following a series of misadventures, Corbin and Clara slowly lower the facades behind which they’ve been hiding, leaving Corbin shocked by the horrors that haunt the woman he’s coming to care for so ardently. When the menace of Clara’s past threatens to tear them apart and tensions mount, will the couple have the courage to fight for the promise of forever?

Audience: Adult (Clean)
Genre: Regency Romance
Length: 193 pgs

Rating: *****+ (Loved, Loved, LOVED this book)

Review: I never believed Phillip Jonquil would be usurped in his position as my favorite of Sarah's heroes. And...I don't know, maybe he hasn't been, but Corbin. Oh, Corbin. *swooning sigh* You know that strong, silent type that's oooh-la-la. That. So, what I'm saying is, excellent hero. I also love how real Corbin is, how much of his silence is a struggle. All the characters of this one are wonderful, and there are even some teases from Jason Jonquil's story that have me excited for it (his heroine...fabulous). Alice is the sweetest, most adorable thing. And just the family dynamic of it really had me. Clara is so strong and perfect. I loved the pace this one set (I, uh, read it in less than twenty-four hours). It makes me want to go back and reread all of Sarah's other books.

Content: Rated 1-5; 1 being minor instances, 5 being saturated
Sex - 0
Language - 0
Violence - 1 (Punching and threats)
Overall rating - G (I really would let my eight-year-old read it, with no qualms, if he was interested in this sort of book...)

Source: Paperback copy from Deseret Book

Try this. Like Regency Romance? You would also enjoy TIMELESS ROMANCE ANTHOLOGY: EUROPEAN COLLECTION, which features Regency Romance novellas from Sarah M. Eden, G.G. Vandergriff, and Michelle Paige Holmes.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I am a romance writer. So, I should have to write a romantic post on Valentine's Day. To tell you the truth, you'd do yourself a big favor if you went over and checked out this post in Sarah M. Eden's archives. Best Valentine post ever. Then maybe come back and check this one out.

The inspiration for my post came as I was writing my husband's Valentine. He is so awesome, guys. I will never be able to make you understand how amazing he is. I can only hope to help him understand his amazingness. I was writing down how much I like to hang out with him when I just sort of had an epiphany.

"Show, don't tell."

It's the rule of writers. My critique partner, Kaylee, is always making comments in my MSs about showing the characters connecting. Why does she like him? What makes him want her? How can my husband know I love hanging out with him? By me hanging out. And though I've gotten this rule for a long time--still struggled. We all do--this was just one of those AHA! moments with it. You SHOW so people get it.

One of my favorite quotes on love. It is SO important in writing about it too. People don't often just look at each other and fall in love. It shouldn't happen spontaneously in a book. It should happen because they become special to each other. Just like in real life.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Review ERASING TIME by C.J. Hill (Katherine Tegen Books, 2012)

From janetterallison.comIn this high-action and romantic futuristic adventure, there is no escape from the future for two contemporary girls pulled out of their own time.

When twins Sheridan and Taylor wake up 400 years in the future, they find a changed world: domed cities, no animals, and a language that’s so different, it barely sounds like English. And the worst news: They can’t go back home.The twenty-fifth-century government transported the girls to their city hoping to find a famous scientist to help perfect a devastating new weapon. The mob-like Dakine fights against the government, and somehow Taylor and Sheridan find themselves in the middle. The only way to elude them all is to trust Echo, a guy with secrets of his own. The trio must put their faith in the unknown to make a harrowing escape into the wilds beyond the city.Full of adrenaline-injected chases and heartbreaking confessions, Erasing Time explores the strength of the bonds between twins, the risks and rewards of trust, and the hard road to finding the courage to fight for what you believe in.
Audience: YA (Clean)
Genre: Dystopian, Action-Adventure
Length: 368 pgs.
Rating: ***** (Fantastic book that I loved!)
Review: I read a novella of Janette Rallison's a while ago, and when I saw that one of her YA novels written under her pen name C.J. Hill was on sale, I bought it. I knew it would be fun, the it promised to be pretty action packed too. I've read a lot (A LOT) of romance lately, so I wanted a change. I LOVED this book. So interesting and so in depth. I could tell that there was a lot of research done, and everything seemed so original, yet the future she created seemed like a totally natural progression from today. It was mind blowing and awesome.
Content: Rated 1-5; 1 being minor instances, 5 being saturated
Sex - 0
Language - 0 (The future people use a future swear words throughout, but since it's not a swear word to us, it seems like saying, "oh, gosh."
Violence - 1 (Some violent scenes are described and there're some fights, but nothing graphic.)
Overall rating - PG
Source: Bought on Kindle during a promotional sale. 
Try this. Like mind-blowing YAs with witty humor? Check out MIND GAMES by Kiersten White or PIVOT POINT by Kasie West.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

One Hundred Days!

Can you believe it? I've been in cold Alaska for a hundred days already. Seriously time really has flown by. Over on my family blog I've been doing something called A Thousand Days in Alaska, trying to record our journey here and came up with a hundred reasons why we like it here. And I'll admit, some of them are a stretch...But you get to see them too!

And if you get to the bottom, there's a surprise waiting:

100 Days!

Okay, that wasn't near as big as I wanted it... :)

1. Trees. Specifically, snow on trees. It's beautiful.
2. Walking with friends. I've made some awesome friends up here already and we walk on Thursdays and Fridays on an indoor track. Walking + Socializing = Fun Exercise
3. New friends that are so fun and wonderful. (I'm planning a whole post on how making new friends is like dating. It will be great.)
4. No wind.
5. No wind chill! :D (I know, I'm so cheating, but 100 is a lot of things to come up with. Cut me slack.) It may get to -40*, but it feels a lot different than -30* windchill.
6. Living less than five minutes from the boys' school.
7. Organized drop-off and pick-up at their school. (I'm such a nerd. I know.)
8. A babysitter who happens to be one of my best friend's daughters. (Holli, if I still lived by you, I know it would be Kyeli!)
9. Tons of good date night restaurants within ten minutes.
10. Walmart in the same town as me!
11. The amazingness of Fred Meyers
12. A drive through pharmacy.
13. A fantastic ward. (This has been something I have found I love no matter where we are.)
14. New houses with family rooms.
15. Making offers on houses down the street from friends.
16. Making offers on houses within walking distance of Adam's work. (Coming home for lunch, yay!)
17. The Alaska Airlines card. (Yeah, had to throw that out there. We love Alaska, but we love home too.)
18. FaceTiming every week with Grandma and Grandpa Savage. (Sara, you really need to figure out how to make yours work.) We should have done this so much more in Wyoming.
19. Boots. There is never not a reason to wear my boots. Cute boots. Snow boots. (And also, I wore leg warmers that I bought forever ago for the first time to church a while back. It is cold. I need warm legs if I'm expected to wear a skirt.)
20. I now have a much better understanding of the women who want to wear pants to church. Dude. It's cold. Me too.
21. Still getting to teach young women. I learn so much with every lesson.
22. A connected, heated garage. It's so no big deal to hop in the car to take kids to school because it's still pretty warm inside it.
23. Fantastic teachers who made transition a breeze for my boys.
24. A basketball season that's nearly two months. SO worth the money we paid and the boys love it. It makes for busy weeks for us, but I love that they're doing something they like.
25. This surprises me, but having Jax home for an extra hour and a half, even though it means I have to go to the school three times a day.
26. Girls' lunches!
27. Girl's night fun.
28. Ten minute story times at Barnes & Noble. It's perfect for Tre. He doesn't need a craft, but we like to go down and meet up with friends anyway.
29. There's a Coldstone in the same town as me. (I haven't managed to get there yet, but it's still so awesome.)
30. Old Navy in town. (Adam might disagree that this is a good thing.)
31. Sam's Club in town.
32. Just having a variety of places available to go find something.
33. Ward message board on Facebook. SO helpful.
34. Ward neighbors.
35. Having people down the street who can pick up my kids in a pinch.
36. Having people down the street to share carpooling with, even if they spend almost two weeks in Hawaii and leave you at home. ;)
37. Tickets to Hawaii are the same price as flying home, so...just sayin', one Christmas we might do that instead. (It only makes sense.)
38. I love my twisty, cute street that I live on. Even though we've only been here a few months and I love the house we're hoping to buy, I'll miss this pretty little street.
39. Denali (or Mt. McKinley :) )
40. A bunch of jackets. I have reasons to buy fun, cute cold-weather gear.
41. Mittens and hats! It should probably go with the one above, but again...100 is a lot.
42. Right now, it's warmer here in good ole AK than in Wyoming! (Ha!)
43. Thick, white snow that doesn't melt into grossness and dirtiness most of the winter. (At least not yet. I'm told it will look really yucky when it all really starts melting.)
44. Big, fat flakes of snow that come down so peacefully. (This is happening now, in case you didn't know.)
45. We may not have snow days, but we have freezing rain days!
46. Cute, bright blue snow pants. (I love them.)
47. You can plug your car in when you go to Walmart! That's just downright fun.
48. Moose in your front yard.
49. I'm only 15 miles from North Pole! So novel. (Okay, I know, I'm really stretching it...)
50. So many choices on those night when I just don't want to make dinner.
51. When I get a hankering for organization, I just go to Freds and it's done. No more having to plan a trip to Sheridan.
52. Late evenings for the boys hanging out, and taking them to friends house just because.
53. All the pine trees everywhere and feeling like I live in a forest.
54. Spectacular sunrise-sunsets all in one! (No really, they're cool.)
55. Being able to just set things outside when there's no room in your freezer. And knowing that it's not going to freakily be 40* the next day, so you don't need to worry. (Usually...)
56. You get to have fun rules about church being optional attendance at -50*
57. All your friends from the States say they'll come and visit because you live in a cool place.
58. The way you get to call the lower-48 the States, like you live in a foreign country. Like Canada. (Eh, Bridgette and Jordan...?)
59. Making fun of everyone who thinks they're cold when it's 20*
60. Laughing about how they say it's so dry here in Fairbanks and yet if we don't use the fan in the bathroom, things start to grow...
61. My fridge stays pretty clean since leftovers start growing stuff way quicker than in Wyoming.
62. Milk comes in really fun jugs.
63. All the McDonald's have Play Places! (I seriously love that.)
64. And even though we now have access to all these fast food restaurants, higher prices than the lower 48 keep me from getting it too often.
65. I'm not sure what it is about Alaska, but since being up here I've been way better about making a lot more things from scratch, which is funny since I have access to a lot more things in a bigger town.
66. I love the way people in Alaska talk about Fairbanks being this small town compared to Anchorage. And it's got 50,000 people. And Anchorage has a whoppingg 200,000. And to me, they're both huge. :)
67. How I have not met even one person up here who doesn't think it's cool that I'm a writer. I'm also fairly certain at least half the RS ladies bought "Goodnight Kiss" when I released it. :)
68. Homemade yogurt and my friend Sarah telling me how easy it was to make in a crock pot. Now I'm hooked. (Homemade ricotta is next, kids.)
69. The chance to blog about an adventure in an exciting new place.
70. All the amazing ways to stay connected with friends and family--sometimes I may feel left out and these new ways are hard (like watching your sister pick out wedding dresses via FaceTime), but I'm still *there*!
71. Hot chocolate whenever!
72. Since I'm from Wyoming, I already drive in snow like a boss. (Thanks, Meri!) So I feel right at home in the piles and piles of it.
73. There's always a reason to make soup. Mmmmm. Soup.
74. Best reason of all: It's now eligible for voting to make marijuana legal in Alaska.
75. Adam caught a pine marten.
76. There are many different critters for Adam to trap. (Can you tell who's helping me think now?)
77. They have electricity and water in most houses. (No, seriously. The ones that don't are called dry cabins.)
78. There's so many fun things for Adam to hunt that he can't hunt in Wyoming.
79. The temple is only six hours away. (It could be way worse.)
80. We have powdery snow.
81. We have a lot of powdery snow.
82. Adam can find caribou and moose sheds
83. Adam likes that he can drive 60 on a snow covered roads and people pass him.
84. Because there's a lot of Mormons here.
85. You only have to know one vowel to spell Alaska! (Thanks, Sarah Eden for that one. She's so clever. Love her.)
86. Adam has basketball friends here! They play every Tuesday night and he's very happy about it.
87. I'm going to run the color run because of Brittany. Which we all know I never would have done on my own. (I'm still not sure this should be on a things I like list.)
88. The summer! They're supposed to be beautiful and I can't wait.
89. Awesome relief society activities. (We had a service auction that was so amazing.)
90. The way the snow sticks on the trees.
91. The hugeness of Alaska. Vastness, as a friend put it. There are so many places you can only reach by boat or plane.
92. No sunburns for most the year!
93. Vastness in the sky! The way the moon is huge and the big dipper is huge.
94. The beautiful Chena River. It looks so pretty in the winter, and the houses along it are so picturesque.
95. I love the way some days are just so so pretty and everything looks like it's from a coffee table picture book with the pine trees and the blue sky and the pretty clouds.
96. A.J. says we can mine in Alaska!
97. It's weird, but I love the expressways here and figuring out how to use them to get all over Fairbanks.
98. I love the way the hills covered in trees surround Fairbanks and the windy, pretty roads that lead to *secluded* houses that are really just a few miles out of town.
99. The views from those houses are simply amazing.
And, drum roll . . .
100. I love that we're on this awesome, crazy, wonderful adventure.

(A big thanks to all my family and friends who helped me brainstorm all these great reasons!)

You made it! (I made it...holy smokes.)

So, in honor of our hundred days, I'm giving away 10 copies of my ebooks: 3 of A CONTEMPTIBLE AFFECTION, 3 of A LADY AND A SPY, and 4 of GOODNIGHT KISS.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Review and Interview: NOURISH AND STRENGTHEN by Maria Hoagland (Sisters Ink, 2011)

Check out the interview with Maria below my review!

From Maria Hoagland's BlogAfter losing forty pounds, Chloe Taylor is finally happy with her body. What she doesn’t realize is that she’s not the one in control.

When Chloe is called as the Primary president, she discovers that managing the highs and lows of a chronic illness may be easier than the ups and downs associated with family, friends, and church callings. Consumed by her own challenges, Chloe fails to recognize the issues her friends are facing and is in danger of losing their friendship.

As Chloe strives to develop Christ-like love for herself and those around her, she learns that outer appearances are far less important than inner peace and spiritual strength. But is she strong enough to face her most difficult trial yet?

Audience: Adult (Clean)
Genre: Women's Fiction, LDS
Length: 259 pgs

Rating: ***+ (Really liked it)

Review: Great things about this book? Chloe's marriage to Nate. It was a shining star among most women's fiction books where marriages are struggling. Despite their trials together, they leaned on each other, and I really liked that! (Maria talks more about that in the interview below!) The book has a memoir style to it, events that build and change and wreak havoc on Chloe's life dropped in like real life. It took me some getting used to at the beginning of the book, but by the end it really worked. It was a little difficult for me to connect to Chloe at first. **Spoiler** And the reason is totally a "me" thing. One of Chloe's friends makes a comment about her kids being in sports (and to Chloe's credit, the friend is sort brash about it) and Chloe's internal is a little bratty about kids who are in sports...and my kids play lots of sports (among doing lots of other sorts of activities too), so it struck a nerve, I guess. And, **another spoiler** a big part of Chloe's character arc is learning not to make judgments without knowing the whole story, so she grows and I forgave her by the end. ;)

Content: Rated 1-5; 1 being minor instances, 5 being saturated
Sex - 1 ("Bedtime" routines between Chloe and Nate are mentioned in a couple instances. Very tactful & not explicit at all.)
Language - 0
Violence - 2 (Chloe and her husband both have Type 1 Diabetes, and there is a lot of discussion of the shots. Maybe I have a weak stomach, but I did get a little light-headed during the description of Chloe putting in her insulin pump the first time!)

Source: I received a review copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Like LDS Women's fiction? Try BAND OF SISTERS by Annette Lyon. 

Interview with author Maria Hoagland

Me: You, your husband, and two of your three kids have Type 1 diabetes, correct? How much of NOURISH & STRENGTHEN comes from personal experiences? Just the mechanics and feelings, or the events too?

Maria: Yes, it's kind of crazy, but four out of five in my immediate family have type 1 diabetes and the diagnoses happened pretty much just as they did in the book. Almost all of the diabetes-related events in Nourish & Strengthen are based on our real-life experiences. Then a bit of trivia something not in the novel--less than one hour after I completed my final revisions before sending it off to my editor, my youngest came home from school and said he thought he might be diabetic too. We checked, and he was right. What ten-year-old diagnoses himself? As for the other parts of Nourish & Strengthen...well, it is fiction after all.

Me: What draws you to writing LDS women's fiction?

Maria: I love women's fiction--experiencing what other women go through, being uplifted by their tenacity in overcoming trials, and feeling strengthened by their faith. Being LDS is part of who I am, and so far, it has been a germane aspect of my characters are as well. I try to bring in LDS culture--less as a commentary on what we should or should not do, but more as a way to appreciate who we are, even though we're not perfect, and perhaps elicit a chuckle or two in the process.

Me: What made you decide to write this story? What is unique about NOURISH & STRENGTHEN among women's fiction books and why would a reader like it?

Maria: I decided to write Nourish & Strengthen because it's just the type of book I like to read. I like to read about women like me but who have circumstances different than my own. I like learning from them, as well as gaining some understanding of what other people might be going through. It's definitely a better way than having to experience it all, right?

One of the aspects of Nourish & Strengthen many readers have connected with is the loving, solid relationship between Chloe and her husband Nathan. Their banter is fun and playful, and a nice relief to the trials Chloe is going through in other aspects of her life.

Even though outwardly her life is pretty great, Chloe's challenges are difficult for her. And I think that's another thing that makes Nourish & Strengthen a little different than other women's fiction--the trials are not life-threatening, there's no abuse or divorce, and yet she's struggling--as we all do from time to time--and she grows through the difficulties.

Another unique aspect of my women's fiction--you might notice that I have a bit of a fascination with medical issues (despite a proneness for becoming queasy at the sight of lots of blood--good thing it's not needles, right?).

Me: I usually ask what an author's favorite ice cream is, ;) but instead I'll ask what dessert you splurge on, no questions asked?

Maria Ice cream is a good one! My favorite by far is rocky road--but only if it's with the mini marshmallows and almonds. The best ones I've found are at the BYU Creamery and Braum's.

Me: Who is your biggest writing cheerleader?

Maria It's hard to pick one cheerleader since my family has been so supportive. My husband helps with titles and a lot of encouragement. My two oldest children are fabulous writers (better than I am, I must admit) and the elder has written two novels of his own. That makes me feel like I've been a good example, which is motivating as well. My youngest asks a lot of questions, seems genuinely interested, and encourages me to keep going even when it's tough. The fact that they don't complain about dinner, or the lack thereof, helps immensely!

Thanks, Maria, for stopping by the blog and giving me the chance to read NOURISH & STRENGTHEN!

About Me!

I've been writing since I was old enough to grasp a crayon--my grandma even has an early copy of a "book" I made her. I have a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Wyoming and will (hopefully) soon be starting a graduate program in English. When I'm not breaking up impromptu UFC fights in the living room or losing miserably to my boys at Uno, I'm ... well, writing or editing, of course! I'm married to my best friend, and we have three rambunctious but simply amazing little boys.


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