Thursday, August 29, 2013

Winter In Full Bloom Blog Tour

Welcome to the blog tour for Winter In Full Bloom by Anita Higman!

Lily Winter's wings are folded so tightly around her daughter that when empty nest arrives, she feels she can no longer fly. But Lily's lonely, widowed life changes in a heartbeat when she goes to visit a woman who is almost a stranger to her---a woman who also happens to be her mother. During their fiery reunion, her mother reveals a dark family secret that she'd been hiding for decades---Lily has an identical twin sister who was put up for adoption when they were just babies.

Without looking back, Lily---with her fear of flying---boards a jumbo jet and embarks on a quest to find her sister which leads half way around the world to Melbourne, Australia. Befriended by imprudent Ausie, he might prove to be the key to finding her sister. But her journey becomes a circle that leads her back home to attempt a family reunion and to find the one dream she no longer imagined possible-the chance to fall in love again.

Purchase the Book:

Meet Anita: Best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has over thirty books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She's been a Barnes & Noble "Author of the Month" for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends.

Connect with Anita 


Lily has led a lonely life being estranged from her mother. Her husband also recently died, and her daughter moved away to college. On top of all that, her cold and cruel mother has revealed that Lily has a twin sister that was give away at a very young age. Lily decides to throw caution to the wind and fly to Australia to find her twin with little more than a hope and a prayer. As it turns out, Lily finds much more than just her sister. She finds a way to get past everything and move on with her life. 

So I put off writing this review for a while, but I can't put it off forever. There were some really great things about this book, and then some things that completely put me off it. Let's start with the good stuff. The story was interesting. I found the idea of Lily not knowing she had a twin a little far-fetched, but I guess it could happen. It put her in an interesting place and allowed the plot to move forward, so I forgive that. The relationship she tries to forge with her sister felt realistic, so I liked that. Lily's suddenly falling for a handsome stranger was also one of those things I don't find realistic, but I forgive because it's a fairly typical trope for a romance-type novel.

My problem was with how the non-religious people were treated. I get that this is a Christian romance novel and has a certain audience in mind, but that is no reason for what I consider disrespectful statements about agnostics and atheists. There was one plot line in particular that involved Lily's dead husband and another person. I don't want to spoil anything, but I found the entire way the other person was characterized as distasteful at best. Maybe most people in the desired audience won't have a problem with it. I most certainly did. It's a shame because other than that I found the book to be interesting. There were a lot of great things, but those problem I had just ruined it for me.

Book provided for review.

Review: Escape by Carolyn Jessop

Author:Carolyn Jessop with Laura Palmer
Publisher:Broadway Books
Pub. Date:10/16/2007
ISBN:0767927567 (ISBN13: 9780767927567)

The dramatic first-person account of life inside an ultra-fundamentalist American religious sect, and one woman’s courageous flight to freedom with her eight children.

When she was eighteen years old, Carolyn Jessop was coerced into an arranged marriage with a total stranger: a man thirty-two years her senior. Merril Jessop already had three wives. But arranged plural marriages were an integral part of Carolyn’s heritage: She was born into and raised in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), the radical offshoot of the Mormon Church that had settled in small communities along the Arizona-Utah border. Over the next fifteen years, Carolyn had eight children and withstood her husband’s psychological abuse and the watchful eyes of his other wives who were locked in a constant battle for supremacy.

Carolyn’s every move was dictated by her husband’s whims. He decided where she lived and how her children would be treated. He controlled the money she earned as a school teacher. He chose when they had sex; Carolyn could only refuse—at her peril. For in the FLDS, a wife’s compliance with her husband determined how much status both she and her children held in the family. Carolyn was miserable for years and wanted out, but she knew that if she tried to leave and got caught, her children would be taken away from her. No woman in the country had ever escaped from the FLDS and managed to get her children out, too. But in 2003, Carolyn chose freedom over fear and fled her home with her eight children. She had $20 to her name.

Escape exposes a world tantamount to a prison camp, created by religious fanatics who, in the name of God, deprive their followers the right to make choices, force women to be totally subservient to men, and brainwash children in church-run schools. Against this background, Carolyn Jessop’s flight takes on an extraordinary, inspiring power. Not only did she manage a daring escape from a brutal environment, she became the first woman ever granted full custody of her children in a contested suit involving the FLDS. And in 2006, her reports to the Utah attorney general on church abuses formed a crucial part of the case that led to the arrest of their notorious leader, Warren Jeffs.

(Summary and cover via Goodreads)


Carolyn Jessop was born into a life of servitude and abuse as a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS. The FLDS had originally broken off from the mainstream LDS church to continue the practice of polygamy. However, things became more extreme as time went on, and things like abuse or women and children soon became the norm. Carolyn dreamed of going to college and even becoming a doctor, but soon after graduating high school she found herself becoming the 3rd wife of a powerful member of the community. She's soon caught up in a vicious cycle of abuse from her husband and her sister-wives. Carolyn finally does the unthinkable and escapes with her 8 children. Her fight for freedom manages to help not only her immediate family but also many young people who were caught up in the traumas of the FLDS as well.

As a member of the mainstream LDS church, this was a book I was very interested in reading. It was amazing to see how twisted and corrupt things quickly became within the FLDS. I also found it frightening what these people had to go through, specifically the women. Men fared much better (at least until Warren Jeffs began exerting his power). Carolyn was very lucky in some respects as she was allowed to get an education, even if it wasn't in the field she wanted to study. This put her in a much better position when she finally got out. It also allowed her to see that life didn't have to be like this. Carolyn's biggest struggle for a long time was the strength of her beliefs. When she felt so strongly that the things she was taught were true, she struggled with thoughts of leaving. Eventually her unhappiness overcame this though, and she was able to see with more clarity.

This book was interesting to me from the start, and I read it very quickly. I did understand a lot of the ideas presented as they seemed to be very twisted versions of many pieces of LDS doctrine, but some of it was definitely things I had never heard of before. I wanted to be able to help her and other members who try to escape as they really can have a bleak future ahead. While this was a sad book in some respects, it also felt full of hope as it showed that things could get better. The saddest part for me was the decisions of her daughter Betty. This book is very interesting, and it will give you insight into the minds of at least some women involved in things like this.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Helga: Out of Hedgelands Blog Tour

Helga tour
Welcome to the blog tour for Helga: Out of Hedgelands by Rick Johnson!

Twelve-year-old Helga has more danger in her life than most beasts her age—Wrackshee slavers after her, a vicious attack by bandits that nearly kills her, a race against dragons pursuing her, and leading a daring rebellion to save her life and rescue friends and family from the insidious WooZan. And that is just the beginning. But what do you expect when you are a young beast who just can’t see the stupid rules of the world making any sense? Helga can’t accept things as they are and ends up taking on not just one, but two all-powerful, supreme tyrants in two different realms. Helga never intended to lead a revolution. It just sort of happened because she wouldn’t go along with the “rules of normal” that keep tyrants in power and entire societies enslaved. Beginning on a dangerous quest to solve some mysteries in her own past, Helga leads her quirky comrades on a journey that will not only forever change them, but upset ancient civilizations. As an author, I’m drawn to eccentric, unexpected characters: those who surprise because they hear a distant galaxy, see a different music, create their own fragrance rather than get hooked on a soundtrack; the child who has her own ideas about how the emperor is dressed; the lunatics and rebels who tell stories on the boundaries. Helga’s unusual story will take readers to worlds they never imagined—definitely a whole new ride. Time and again, the unconventional heroine and her eccentric comrades overcome ominous tyrants and black-hearted slavers, not by battling to the last beast standing, but by being the first beast to think differently. Helga: Out of Hedgelands is divided into three books which introduce the epic saga of the Wood Cow clan and their role in overturning centuries of slavery and tyranny. This story will continue in additional volumes of the Wood Cow Chronicles now in development. Over the series of current and future volumes, the entire history of the Wood Cow clan, the fall of Maev Astuté, and the coming of Lord Farseeker to the Outer Rings, will be told.  


Author Rick Johnson

I am a native of the Great Plains, having grown up on a farm in the Platte River Valley of western Nebraska. I love the wild beauty of the Plains and nearby Rocky Mountains--the too hot, too cold, too empty, too full of life extremes. Typically, the awesomely diverse and the awesomely stark are much the same, even as they are different. Although I have lived in Michigan, North Carolina, and British Columbia, the western plains, mountains, and desert are in my heart. As my day job, for over thirty years I have been a faculty member and administrator in higher education. Teaching broadly in the liberal arts, including creative writing, my professional publications include educational materials, poems, and 28 stories for young readers. During my spare hours, I have also collected and carefully studied the records of former times upon which the Wood Cow Chronicles are based. It is my privilege to bring this astonishing saga to light. The Wood Cow Chronicles have been researched and written with the irreplaceable assistance of Barbara, my beloved wife of more than thirty-five years, and our children. Indeed, the essential research into the history of the Wood Cows has been conducted during the odd hours of family reading and storytelling "around the campfire" as we say--even when there is no campfire! This research continues and grows richer as our family expands across generations and continents.  
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The key to a successful run of the dragons to the Hedgelands was speed. Once the monitor caravan was loaded and the monitors were fully awake again, the monitor train had to make the passage between Norder Crossings and the Hedgelands before the monitors grew ravenously hungry again. A skilled Dragon Boss knew precisely how to make the run to the Hedgelands with great speed. Mudpot was the best of them all. Stuff the monitors with shark, load while they dozed, then as they began to stir, set a swift—and tasty-smelling—runner at the front of the caravan. For the runners it was a chance to escape the fate of the slave works at Tilk Duraow. As the runner ran for life and freedom, the monitors raced after the scent of their next meal. The faster the runner, the faster the caravan traveled. If the runner was fast and strong enough to endure the grueling race, he or she might stay just ahead of the monitors all the way to the slave works and win freedom. Runners that faltered or stumbled became an impromptu snack for the monitors. A Dragon Boss wanted the fastest, strongest runner possible. A failed runner meant delay and other problems as the lead monitors snacked, and then turned sluggishly sleepy—while the rest grew dangerously restive. The delay could be even longer if replacement runners turned to “shakes and gibbers”—quivering piles of terrorized flesh unable to stand, let alone run. When “shakes and gibbers” struck it could hold up a Dragon Train for days while new runners were brought from Norder Crossings. 

Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 9/3/13

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Keeper of Reign Book Blast

Welcome to the book blast for Keeper of Reign by Emma Right!

 Books written in blood. Most are lost, their Keepers with them. A curse that befell a people. A Kingdom with no King. Life couldn’t get more harrowing for the Elfies, a blend of Elves and Fairies. Or for sixteen-year-old Jules Blaze. Or could it? For Jules, the heir of a Keeper, no less, suspects his family hides a forgotten secret. It was bad enough that his people, the Elfies of Reign, triggered a curse which reduced the entire inhabitants to a mere inch centuries ago. All because of one Keeper who failed his purpose. Even the King’s Ancient Books, did not help ward off that anathema. Now, Gehzurolle, the evil lord, and his armies of Scorpents, seem bent on destroying Jules and his family. Why? Gehzurolle’s agents hunt for Jules as he journeys into enemy land to find the truth. Truth that could save him and his family, and possibly even reverse the age-long curse. Provided Jules doesn't get himself killed first.  


Author Emma Right

 Emma Right is a happy wife and homeschool mother of five living in the Pacific West Coast of the USA. Besides running a busy home, and looking after their five pets, which includes two cats, two bunnies and a Long-haired dachshund, she also writes stories for her children. She loves the Lord and His Word deeply, and when she doesn't have her nose in a book, she is telling her kids to get theirs in one. Right worked as a copywriter for two major advertising agencies and won several awards, including the prestigious Clio Award for her ads, before she settled down to have children.

Keeper of Reign copy

BookBlast Giveaway
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 9/5/13

  a Rafflecopter giveaway  

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, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Face to Face Blog Tour

Welcome to the blog tour for Face to Face: Seeking a Personal Relationship With God by S. Michael Wilcox!

“And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend” (Exodus 33:11).
Is it possible to talk with God as Moses did—face to face? This is not only what we long for, but what God also ardently desires. For Moses that may have meant an actual physical encounter, but for most of us it is an expression that suggests friendship, open communication, honesty, and the conversations of familiarity. But how is that done? And how can we learn how God speaks to us individually? Bestselling author S. Michael Wilcox explores the scriptural expressions and concepts of “pouring out,” “wrestling,” being “filled with desire,” and “knocking” at the door Jesus promised would open to us— particularly in those times when we deeply need heaven to hear us and to confirm to our souls that more than our words are being received.

About the Author

S. Michael Wilcox received his PhD from the University of Colorado and taught for many years at the LDS Institute of Religion adjacent to the University of Utah. He has spoken to packed crowds at BYU Education Week and has hosted tours to the Holy Land and to Church history sites. He has served in a variety of callings, including as bishop and counselor in a stake presidency. He has written many articles and books, including House of Glory, Sunset, 10 Great Souls I Want to Meet in Heaven, and Finding Hope. He and his late wife, Laurie, are the parents of five children.

We all desire a good personal relationship with God, but the real question is how do we get it? How do we get that true communication that makes us feel like we are being heard and valued? This book looks to explain some ways that we can reach out and make our conversations more meaningful for us. By exploring the various ways of reaching out towards the heavens, we can truly develop a more personal relationship with God and understand that our thoughts and prayers are important to him. This can help us to seek out and recognize answers in good times and bad. 

This is a subject that I'm always trying to work on. It can be so hard sometimes to really feel like my prayers mean something. I was excited to read this book, and I was not disappointed. I think the author really managed to put in interesting information that was still meaningful. The chapters are separated into different ways you can reach out to the Lord. Some of these include reaching through pouring out, reaching through desire, and my personal favorite, reaching through acting. 

I thought the examples used were easy to understand and helpful. This book is not terribly long, so it's easy for even the busiest person to fit it into their schedule. I think a lot of people would benefit greatly from reading it. It helps to make you realize all the different ways there are to reach out and find answers and peace from the Lord. Anyone could use that I'm sure. Take some time to check this book out!

Book provided for review.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Longing for Home Blog Tour

Welcome to the blog tour for Longing for Home by Sarah M. Eden!

Though she was only a child during the darkest days of Ireland s Great Famine, Katie Macauley feels responsible for the loss of her family s land and the death of her sister. Now a woman grown, Katie has left Ireland for America and the promise of earning money enough to return home again and plead for her family s forgiveness. She arrives in Hope Springs, Wyoming Territory, a town sharply divided between the Americans who have settled there, with their deep hatred of the Irish, and the Irish immigrants who have come searching for a place to call home. Her arrival tips the precarious balance, and the feud erupts anew. Even in the midst of hatred and violence, however, Katie finds reason to hope. Two men, as different as they are intriguing, vie for her heart, turning her thoughts for the first time toward a future away from Ireland. Katie must now make the hardest decision of her life: stay and give her heart a chance at love, or return home and give her soul the possibility of peace.

Sarah M. Eden is the author of multiple historical romances, including Whitney Award finalists Seeking Persephone (2008, Covenant Communications) and Courting Miss Lancaster(2010, Covenant Communications). Combining her obsession with history and affinity for tender love stories, Sarah loves crafting witty characters and heartfelt romances. She holds a Bachelor's degree in research and happily spends hours perusing the reference shelves of her local library. Sarah has twice served as the Master of Ceremonies for the LDStorymakers Writers Conference, acted as the Writer in Residence at the Northwest Writers Retreat and is one-third of the team at the Sarah is represented by Pam van Hylckama Vlieg at Foreword Literary Agency.

Be sure to check out Sarah's blog and Facebook pages!


Katie Macauley has need for money, and she's taken a job out West in the United States. Things are far different from her native Ireland, but she knows she can make it. Things get even more complicated once she gets there. There is a feud going on between the Irish and everyone else around. Her perspective employer doesn't want to keep his word on her job because she's Irish. He also has kids which was not in Katie's job description. There is also the matter of one persistent and sometimes annoying (yet handsome) Irish boy. This may all prove to be more than Katie can handle as she fights her past to secure a future.

I enjoyed this book. Katie was a spunky character who was still a bit haunted by past events. She had some depth and an interesting personality. Katie is torn between two men-her employer Joseph Archer and the young Irish lad who keeps coming to her rescue Tavish O'Connor. I didn't really get why she was torn, because I know who I would have picked (and she did) early on. Choose the obvious choice Katie! In any case, that for me was really just secondary to the real story of the book, the horrible prejudice against the Irish in the area.

As we revisit the past we can see things that were awful, and this type of thing is one of them. Worried that the Irish were taking over "their land," the other local townsfolk treat them horribly. The Irish are at something of a disadvantage as in Ireland many of them were also very poor and lacked the ability to better themselves. Coming to the US they hoped for a better chance at life. The other people in town don't want to give them a chance though. Katie becomes the symbol of the feud, being employed by a non-Irish man (and getting his attention) all while being very Irish herself. This hatred really just continued to grow for a long time, and honestly doesn't quite get resolved in the end. I like that. Overall I found this book to be fun in parts and frightening in others, and I think that history buffs, romance lovers, and fans of the Irish will all enjoy this book.

Book provided for review.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Heroes of Faith Blog Tour

Welcome to the blog tour for Heroes of Faith by Marlene Bateman Sullivan!

Our fast-paced society loves adventure and it loves a hero—but what about Latter-day Saint heroes?  Are there any?  There are plenty!
Heroes of Faith, True Stories of Faith and Courage, is a collection of twenty-four riveting stories about people who rose above difficulties and impossible odds to emerge triumphant. You’ll read about stalwart men and women who stood firm and valiant in the gospel in spite of dangerous mobs, flying bullets, physical handicaps, extreme hardships, and dictatorial regimes.
It's fascinating to read about the exploits of real heroes and when that hero is acting in accordance with the principles of the gospel, the adventure is not only thrilling, but inspiring as well. In these days of increasing trials and tribulation, we can all use some worthy role models, especially those that strengthen our faith and increase our testimonies.

About the Author:

Marlene Bateman Sullivan was born in Salt Lake City, Utah.  She graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She is married to Kelly R. Sullivan and they are the parents of seven children.  
Her hobbies are gardening, camping, and reading.  Marlene has been published extensively in magazines and newspapers and has written a number of non-fiction books, including:  Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, And There Were Angels Among Them, Visit’s From Beyond the Veil, By the Ministering of Angels, and Brigham’s Boys. Marlene also wrote the best-selling novel, Light on Fire Island.
A busy writer, Marlene is set to have three books published this year. Gaze Into Heaven, a fascinating collection of over 50 documented near-death experiences in early church history, was published earlier this year. Next came Motive for Murder, the first in a mystery series featuring the quirky private eye, Erica Coleman. Then, Heroes of Faith, a collection of stories about people who acted heroically in the face of grave trials and handicaps was released by Cedar Fort Inc.

Learn more about the author at her website

Purchase the book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books & Things.


We are always looking for "heroes." People to inspire us and make us want to be better. This book offers up numerous heroes to help us do just this. Some stories are miraculous, while some just show the simple guidance that we often receive. All of them though serve as an example of people who tried their hardest and made the best out of many different sets of difficult circumstances. 

This book is great! It's full of people, some familiar, some unfamiliar, who did miraculous things. While many seem to be from the earlier parts of LDS church history, there are some that fall closer to current times as well. At any rate they are all great examples. One thing I loved about this book is that everything is in smaller-sized chapters. This makes it easy to read, and it would be easy to adapt these for lessons or FHE. It also would be easier for younger people to read, and I think the stories would really entertain and impress them. This book does a great job of showing a variety of people under some very differing circumstances, but they all have one thing in common. They were able to do great things in their lives because of their faith. We would all do well to try and follow their examples in our own lives.

Book provided for review.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Emma: A Latter-Day Tale Blog Tour

Welcome to the blog tour for Emma: A Latter-Day Tale by Rebecca Jamison!

NOT Looking for Love: Single woman (23) seeks best friend to chat on the phone, shop the clearance racks, watch chick flicks, try out messy cooking projects, and eat Dove dark chocolates.

Emma isn’t so good at the whole life-coaching thing. Her first client ended up with a broken heart and is threatening to relapse in her bad habits. Now Emma has problems of her own to deal with, and all those problems start with one name: Justin.

Justin is her best friend, so it’s hard for Emma not to feel betrayed when she suspects he is falling for her childhood rival. And she knows she’s losing him despite her best efforts. No matter how much she tries, she keeps running up against obstacles. How is she supposed to help other people when she’s drowning in her own failures?

Fans of Jane Austen’s Emma will love this modern retelling of the classic romance novel. Fall in love with Emma’s latter-day tale of redemption, forgiveness, and the quest for true love.

Title: Emma: A Latter-day Tale
Author: Rebecca H. Jamison
ISBN: 978-1-4621-1260-9
Price: $16.99/$19.99
256 pages

About the Author:

Looking for love? Rebecca H. Jamison would love to set you up with that special someone, but you’re better off reading her books. She has a terrible track record as a matchmaker.

Rebecca grew up in Virginia. She attended Brigham Young University, where she earned a BA and MA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. In between college and graduate school, she served a mission to Portugal and Cape Verde.


Emma has everything planned out. She's going to become a life coach and help everyone with her fab advice. She just needs someone to help. Emma finds that person in the new girl in their ward, Harri. Soon Emma has taken Harri under her wing and is ready to find Harri someone to love. Emma's best friend (and her sister's brother-in-law) Justin doesn't think this is a great idea though. Emma will struggle some though when she discovers her help has been less than helpful. If that's not enough to deal with, Emma gets caught up in some other awkward situations. Emma's going to have to work very carefully to keep all her hard work from unraveling around her.

I love Jane Austen's Emma and the movie Clueless (also based on Emma), so I was excited to read this book. It definitely lived up to my expectations. Now clearly if you are familiar with the original, there are no huge surprises in this book. However, it manages to capture the charm and wit of the original as well, so it makes it a super enjoyable book to read. In this instance Emma wants to be a life coach, and she feels that she really has lots of great ideas. The problem with her ideas is that instead of leading someone to reach their goals, she wants to take over their lives for them. This clearly causes issues. The biggest problem lies within Emma herself though. To truly help people, she has to figure her own life out first. As always that is easier said than done.

This book is so enjoyable. The author has such a friendly way of writing that just draws you in immediately. I had planned to read this book spread out of a couple of days between other tasks I had to do. Yeah, that didn't happen. I basically devoured it all in one sitting. The familiarity of the story just wrapped around me like a comfy blanket, and I didn't want it to stop. If you love the original, you'll love this version as well. 

Book provided for review.