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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Robyn Reviews: WORKING IT OUT by Rachel Anderson

From Amazon: A chance encounter . . .
Grace Warren's life is safe and predictable—exactly the way she likes it. But when she gets roped into going to an auction to help out a friend, everything changes. She meets Seth Tuttle—a guy who unexpectedly kisses her then disappears, leaving her flustered and upset. If she never sees him again, it will be too soon.

A chance for love . . .
Weeks later, when Seth limps into Grace's rehab clinic post surgery, he's every bit as frustrating and annoying as she remembered. Yet there's something about him that makes her second-guess her carefully placed boundaries even though he's everything she's sure she doesn't want in a man. But maybe Seth is exactly what Grace has needed all along—assuming she's willing to risk safe and predictable for a chance at love.

Audience: Adult
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 262 pages

Rating: 5

Review: This is a fun, clean romance that will have you laughing outline and sniffling into your sleeve. I enjoyed the character development and delving into the thoughts and actions of each character. Grace and Seth each have a lot of growing to do in this book. They are real people with real hang ups and real feelings. Sometimes they are so real, you want to smack them! I also enjoyed the side story about Grace’s brother and Seth’s “sister”.  Rachael does a wonderful job of making her characters real. You get to experience their ups and down and see their growth. In this book I cheered for them and wanted to give them a swift kick in the pants for their antics. If like good clean romance with no sex and lots of fun and some kissing, you will love this book and all of Rachael's books!

Sex - 2 (Passionate kissing and expressions of restraint)
Violence - 1 (Bike wreck, skiing accident)
Language - 0
Overall Content Rating - PG

Source: Review copy

Read Ranee's original review here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Book Blast! RULES OF ROME by A.L. Sowards

Rules of Rome   The Rules in Rome With Hitler’s forces firmly entrenched in Europe, countless heroes seek to end the madman’s reign. Bastien Ley is one of the best. Working in Italy for the Office of Strategic Services, he’s been tasked with sabotaging German convoys. When his team kills an officer headed for Rome, the man’s similarity to Bastien is undeniable, and seeing an opportunity to turn the tide of the war, Bastien makes a bold decision: he will assume the dead officer’s identity. He becomes Dietrich, an Iron Cross–wearing German officer—an ideal position from which to infiltrate the Nazi ranks in Rome. To help with his stressful assignment, his superiors send him a reinforcement in the form of the lovely Gracie Begni, an intelligent and eager radio operator with absolutely no undercover experience. With a gulf of resentment between them, these two agents must find a way to portray a couple in love. Soon their reluctant alliance becomes much more as Bastien and Gracie find themselves getting lost in their feelings for each other. But as they engage in battle against the deadliest foe the world has ever known, the pair quickly realizes their love may be doomed. As the Rome Gestapo threatens to destroy all they’ve worked for, will Bastien and Gracie survive their charade?

  Praise for The Rules in Rome

  Readers who hunger for a great espionage thriller with an extra helping of romance will devour The Rules in Rome. A.L. Sowards is at the top of her craft with this terrific WWII suspense novel. It is definitely a book not to be missed! Gregg Luke, author of Bloodborne and Deadly Undertakings  

  The Rules in Rome has it all. Romance, adventure, and epic themes illustrating the unconquerable human spirit. From the moment Gracie met Bastien, I knew I would love this book. He’s the perfect hero, Gracie is his match. I fell in love with these characters over and over again. Thank you, Sowards, for another fabulous read! Stephanie Fowers, author of the Twisted Tales Trilogy and Jane and Austen

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Sowards   Author A.L. Sowards A.L. Sowards has always been fascinated by the 1940s, but she's grateful she didn't live back then. She doesn't think she could have written a novel on a typewriter, and no one would be able to read her handwriting if she wrote her books out longhand. She does, however, think they had the right idea when they rationed nylon and women went barelegged. Sowards grew up in Moses Lake, Washington. She graduated from BYU and ended up staying in Utah, where she enjoys spending time with her husband and children or with her laptop. She does not own a typewriter. She does own several pairs of nylons.


    $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 3/15/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com 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

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Whitney Finalist Review: HOPE SPRINGS by Sarah M. Eden (Romance)

Am I surprised that Hope Springs got a Whitney Finalist nod? Nope. Not at all. This book had ALL THE FEELS. Good luck, Sarah!

From Amazon: Katie Macauley gave up her lifelong dream of returning to Ireland in order to make a home for herself in Hope Springs, Wyoming, but her future has never been so uncertain. Katies heart still remains sharply divided between playful Tavish and steady Joseph, though she feels ill-prepared to make a decision. Furthermore, the town is more divided than ever with both the Irish and the Reds stealing property, burning buildings, and endangering lives. In the midst of the growing unrest, temperatures drop quickly, too quickly, and Irish nightmares of famine and cold resurface as the little Wyoming town struggles to beat the harsh winter. Katie makes one sacrifice after another to keep the peace and help see her loved ones through the difficult days ahead, but will her efforts be enough? Can the town make amends before their hatred consumes them all? And will Katie find the love she has been searching for as well as a home to call her own?

Audience: Adult (Clean)
Genre: Romance, Historical, Western
Length: 400 pgs

Rating: A million

Review: I read this book so, so long ago, and I didn't review it then because of ... reasons. Reasons that still exist--but now I want to highlight it because it is a 2014 Whitney Finalist! What is there to say about this book that I didn't already spill about when I reviewed it's predecessor, Longing For Home? It's just a beautiful, just as wonderful, just as heartbreaking in the best ways possible. I love how Sarah weaves in history and romance and the hopes and dreams of a whole town. I loved and hated how it ended, again, for reasons. But oh, this book. And oh, how I want to know all the stories about all the other people in this book!

Content: (Disclaimer: It's been quite a while since I read the book, so my memory is not at its best for the content ratings.)
Language - 0
Sex - 0
Violence - 1 (There is fighting in town, a huge fire.)
Overall Rating - PG

Find all the 2014 Whitney Finalists here.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Blog Tour Review: WATER SO DEEP by Nicole Giles (Jelly Bean Press, 2015)

Water so Deep (1)

Water so Deep

  Water So Deep by Nichole GilesWater So Deep Seventeen-year-old Emma Harris is drowning on dry land. No one knows what’s happening to her, and she’d like to keep her evolution from human to mermaid a secret, but the truth is getting harder and harder to hide. From her adoptive family, from her friends, and especially from the irresistible James Phelps. Her time in the ocean is spent dodging a possessive merman, while her time on land is split between caring for her special-needs brother and squeezing in every last possible moment of human life. She soon realizes falling for James is unavoidable when he constantly comes to Emma’s rescue and somehow manages to see through her carefully constructed icy facade to the vulnerability she lives with every day. Everything about James makes Emma yearn for a life on land she just can't have. When Emma’s brother disappears on her watch, James is the only person she trusts to help her save him. But even if they can save her brother, nothing can prevent her return to the sea. Whether she likes it or not, Emma is changing—unable to breathe without yielding to the tide—and it's only a matter of time before she's forced to surrender forever.
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* * *

My Review

Audience: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 294 pgs

Rating: 4

Review: Isn't the cover so gorgeous?! I am so intrigued by mermaid fiction. I know there's a ton out there but I haven't sat down with any yet, so Nicole's is the first. I loved the way she portrayed how Emma was changing, and it was easy to feel the panic of being on land too long and then the release in the water, even though she hated it. Loved the conflict that drove her to and and away from the water! Emma was super easy to love, though frustrating sometimes in her decision making--though I understood why she did what she did. Good frustrating, I guess. James is a great co-main character for her. Sometimes it was difficult to see what drew them together beyond their physical attraction, but they made a good pair. It was great to see James there for her. Merrick is such an awesome puzzle. I can't wait to see how things play out for him. It was great to see a character who was not all good or not all bad. Though it wrapped up well (which is more than I can say for another book I read recently...), the first thing I did was go to Nicole's website to see about how long the sequel would be. :) I had a few picky believability issues. MILD SPOILERS: Rumors about Emma and her ex, Tom, are all over the school, yet it takes several months for James to hear the full story, he doesn't even get surface talk. If Tom was arrested, wouldn't there be some kind of news story with at least bare facts? And the kids in school were talking about it. It also feels like far too into the story when we start to learn about some of Emma's backstory and see interaction with her Gran. At some points it felt like I'd missed a book--things the narration assumes we already knew are alluded to but not talked about.

Language - 3+ (Frequent use of damn and hell, 6 Sh*, 3 A*, 1 B*)
Sex - 3 (Nothing is ever onstage just a handful of discussions about the two main characters having sex, about other characters who have, Merrick is described as being seen naked in a few instances)
Violence - 2 (Nothing graphic. A sexual assault occurs, but nothing described. There is a fight between Emma and some merpeople)
Overall Rating - PG-16

Source: Review copy as part of a blog tour event.

   Author Nichole Giles 

Nichole Giles, the author of the Descendant trilogy, has lived in Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and Texas. She loves to spend time with her husband and four children, travel to tropical and exotic destinations, drive in the rain with the convertible top down, and play music at full volume so she can sing along.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Blog Tour Review: DIAMOND RINGS ARE DEADLY THINGS by Rachelle J. Christensen (Shadow Mountain 2014)

diamond rings (1) 

diamond rings are deadly

Diamond Rings are Deadly Things by Rachelle J. Christensen Adrielle Pyper knows how to plan a wedding, and she is especially good at pleasing bridezillas. But when her biggest client and best friend is murdered just three days before the wedding, Adri’s world falls apart. She moves to the resort town of Sun Valley, Idaho, and starts from scratch. Thanks to Adri’s impeccable taste and unique style, she lands two celebrity clients, and her business seems headed for success–that is, until someone vandalizes the specialty wedding dresses she imported from overseas. The race is on to uncover a secret hidden within the yards of satin and lace before Adri becomes the next victim. With a delightful blend of mystery, toe-curling kisses, humor, and spine-tingling thrills, Diamond Rings are Deadly Things is a romantic suspense novel that will keep you turning pages long into the night.  


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* * *

My Review

Audience: Adult (Clean)
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Length: 320 pgs

Rating: 3+

Review: This book was just plain fun. I'm not the biggest cozy mystery fan, but every once in a while I read one and truly enjoy it. This one reminded me a lot of the Josi Kilpack mystery I read, Baked Alaska. At the beginning of the chapters it had great, wedding-inspired crafts, and many that I look forward to trying. (Most would be nice, elegant decorations for everyday things). I liked the way the romance was handled in the book and the mystery was good. I wasn't hugely surprised at who the bad guy turned out to be, but I didn't exactly guess either. I am so curious about how Adri's love life will progress through these books, and about how her relationship could possibly change with a certain police officer (not that there's any indication in this book about it. Just a dream of mine... :D)

Sex - 1+ (Passionate kissing, discussion of taking things further, but in a very vague way.)
Violence - 2 (Things are stolen, Adri is attacked twice. Nothing too graphic. It is a {cozy} mystery.)
Language - 0
Overall rating - PG

Try this. If you like cozy mysteries, try Josi Kilpack's Sadie Hoffmiller series.


“I love Rachelle J. Christensen’s stories and characters, and Diamond Rings Are Deadly Things is another thrilling mystery to add to my collection. Don’t be surprised if you have to stay up all night to finish he book!” ~Rachel Ann Nunes, author of Before I Say Goodbye Diamond Rings are Deadly Things pulled me right in from the first page and held me captive until the very end. Great characters, a compelling plot, a surprising twist at the end … Rachelle Christensen knows how to craft a great mystery. ~Tristi Pinkston, author of the Secret Sisters Mysteries A cunningly crafty mystery with just the right mix of romance. Readers won’t be able to get enough of Adrielle Pyper, stunning party-planner turned heroine. ~Nichole Giles, author of Descendant

Author Rachelle J. Christensen

Rachelle J. Christensen was born and raised in a small farming town in Idaho. She graduated cum laude from Utah State University with a degree in psychology. She enjoys singing and songwriting, playing the piano, running, motivational speaking, and of course reading. Rachelle has an amazing husband, five cute kids, three cats, and five chickens.

Website * Facebook * Twitter

Blog * Goodreads * Craft Website


Blog Tour Giveaway $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 2/25/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com 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

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Romance Rant

Just in time for Valentine's Day, right? ;)

Let me confess something. Six or seven years ago I would not have pictured myself as a romance writer. I knew that I loved to write those sweet, swoon scenes into the YA novels I was writing, but I didn't consider that my genre. And another confession--I sort of agreed with a lady in my ward then who called LDS Romances "literary fluff."

But friends, hold on to your pitchforks a moment. I was ignorant. I hadn't read a lot of LDS romance at the time--honestly, I think my only interaction with the genre was a couple books I found in a bargain bin when the LDS Bookstore went out of business in Laramie. So. Yeah.

Since then, not only have I broadened my horizon and found a lot of amazing romances out there--both in the LDS niche and out--but the category itself has come a long way. Romance, as a genre, has had a big surge. It's become a lot more popular in recent years, and much of the writing in the genre is just as superb as any other--which is why it shocked me to come upon a blog post throwing it into a big pile with pornography.


The site (which, most the time, I actually applaud for the awareness they're spreading about pornography and how it actually affects people and relationships) published a post with some statistics that ran along the lines of a percentage of males and females read romance novels, read sexually explicit magazines, or visited sexually explicit chat rooms or forums.

Based on that right there, I am in the percentage of people who do one of those three things. (Pssst. If you don't know me, I read romance novels, not the other two.)

Now this is not the first time this site has spouted this stat. Last time I ranted on my sweet SILs Facebook post on it. That's not nice. This time I'll say what I think here on my own space.

In case you are among the masses of people who don't know this: Romance DOES NOT EQUAL Pornography.

Yes. There are genres of romance that are sexually explicit. (It's called erotica.) There are novels all along the spectrum--"sweet" romances, which are clean (no sex, usually not even implied), to the erotica, and everything in between. When the site spouts this stat, lumping all romance in there,  it's like saying (as a dear friend and fellow romance writer put it), "##% of people have watched a movie, watched a pornographic movie, or viewed pornography online." Because yes, certainly there are movies out there that are pornographic, but certainly not ALL.

I know. I shouldn't get hung up on that one line of a message that's, in general, good. But as a romance writer, I'm just insulted. This is degrading to me. I do not write pornographic books. I know dozens of other romance writers who do not. I know of hundreds--thousands--of awesome, lovely romance novels out there. (Anybody heard of a certain lady, Jane Austen? Romance novelist.) Many of us care a great deal about how women are portrayed in the books we write. We fight to overcome cliches of the genre and misconceptions people have. We work to make our characters people our readers want to really know, to make the conflicts real so they resonate with people. To insinuate that our work is just the same as the trash out there that degrades women (and men too!) and makes them objects is the worst thing you could say to me about what I do, and I will (obviously) take it personally.

One more time before I leave you at that: Romance DOES NOT EQUAL Pornography.

Thank you. Rant over. *steps down from soapbox*

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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