Our blog has moved!

Dear loyal LDSWBR follower:

Happy News - LDSWBR has a new home! Please come visit us, tell us what you think, and let's talk books. Happy reading!

- Shanda, Sheila, Mindy, and Hillary

You should be automatically redirected in 8 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Blog Tour: Chocolate Roses by Joan Sowards

Title: Chocolate Roses, A Jane Eyre Parody: An LDS Novel

Author: Joan Sowards

ISBN: 978-935217-62-6

Publisher: Walnut Springs Press

Published: 2010

Paperback: 233 pages

Janie Rose Whitaker's world revolved around her chocolate shop until Roger Wentworth and his young daughter moved into the apartment across from Janie's. Anyone would think Roger fit the mold of the "perfect" guy, but soon Janie discovers secrets that could keep them apart forever. Though she resists getting involved in Roger's complicated life, they are drawn further into a bittersweet relationship.

When I first heard of this new book by author, Joan Sowards, entitled "Chocolate Roses: A Jane Eyre Parody...An LDS Novel" I was intrigued. Not only was the topic about one of my favorite things, chocolate, but it was also about one of my favorite classics, Jane Eyre By
Charlotte Bronte. If you are not familiar with Jane Eyre (gasp!!) then here is a basic outline of this classic.

The story starts as Jane suffers life under Mrs. Reed who hates her and treats her poorly. At the age of 10, Jane is sent by Mrs. Reed to a boarding school called Lowood. Jane goes to the school, and despite efforts by Mrs. Reed to make her life hard, Jane enjoys the school and excels in her studies. She stays at the school making many friends (one of whom died of an illness) and becoming a teacher for two years. At the end of the two years, her favorite teacher, Mrs. Temple, gets married and leaves the school. Jane finds little purpose in staying at the school and advertises for a position as governess. She finds a job working for Mr. Rochester teaching a young French girl named Adele at Thornfield. As she teaches there a while, she falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and he falls in love with her. They plan to get married, but on the wedding day, it is found out that Mr. Rochester has a living wife. He confesses it but shows them that his wife is a lunatic. Jane leaves during the night as is homeless and destitute for a few days. She is taken in by the Rivers and lives with them for a while. St. John Rivers finds her a job teaching at a local country school and she does so for a while. St. John Rivers eventually informs Jane that a close relative of hers had died and left his fortune of 20 thousand pounds to her. Finding out that she and the Rivers are cousins, she splits the fortune between the four of them. St. John plans to leave for India as a missionary and wants to take Jane with him as a wife. Jane refuses. After John leaves to say bye to some acquaintances, Jane leaves in search of Mr. Rochester, only to find Thornfield burned down by Rochester’s lunatic wife. Jane inquires about him and finds out that he is living at Ferndean, another of his houses. She goes there and finds Mr. Rochester blind and crippled. They fall in love and get married.

That is a really watered down version of Jane Eyre, but you get the idea. I wondered, how would Joan take this classic and put it into a modern day story? Let's just say, she did a fantastic job.

The main character Janie is likable from the start. She is 27 years old and still single. In the LDS
world, that is not necessarily a fun thing to be. I can say this, because at 27 I was still single. I could relate to everything she was lamenting about. The thing I loved about Janie, is the way that she tries so hard to include humor into her outlook on life. Her best friend is her dog "Flo", her great Dane. I haven't read a book in a long time, where a pet had so much personality! Flo is her best friend that is always there for her, keeping her sane throughout the story.

Another great aspect of this book, is how well Joan writes all of her characters, not just the main female and male leads. All of the people who work in Janie's chocolate shop are also well developed and have fun side stories.

As for the main male character, it took me awhile to warm up to him. I think that is the way Joan wanted it to be. Janie has been in love with this man she sees once a week. He hardly ever says anything to her, but she still falls for his good looks. The conflict of course is when Janie realizes he is married; this is after she has also become attached to Roger Wentworth's 4 year old daughter. Mixed in with this story is a murder mystery and a little bit of blackmail. Of course, let us not forgt about about the "crazy" wife that is jealous of Janie.

One last thing that I want to add, is that this book holds to LDS standards and covers much about LDS culture. Someone that is not LDS would still like this book and not feel preached to. In conclusion, this is a fun, satisfying and tasty read.

WARNING: Have chocolate on hand before reading, or a trip to the store will be necessary in order to continue reading.

Joan Sowards and Walnut Springs Press have a fantastic contest where you can win some prizes, including a copy of this book. Read the details down below!
We have two great prizes up for grabs! Win either a copy of the book (2 winners) or this fabulous apron created by Joan!

All you have to do is leave a comment (along with your email address if it isn't on your blog profile) and answer the following question.

What's your favorite type of chocolate: white, dark, or milk?
The more blogs you comment on the more entries you'll receive.
All comments must be left by midnight MST on August 8 to be eligible.

July 26
Margaret Turley
Nichole Giles--
Joyce DiPastena--JDP News

July 27
Deanne Blackhurst--Annie Speaks Her Mind
Tristi Pinkston--*Tristi Pinkston

July 28
Taffy Lovell--Taffy's Candy
Alison Palmer--Tangled Words and Dreams

July 29
Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen--The Write Blocks
C.S. Bezas--For the Love of the Written Word

July 30
Sheila Staley--Why Not? Because I Said So!
LDSWomen's Book Review

August 2
Kerry Blair--Now & Here
Marsha Ward--Writer in the Pines

August 3
Kaylee Baldwin--Kaylee Baldwin
Amy Orton--Amesbury Reads

August 4
Anna del C.--Anna del C. Dye's Blog
Laurie Lewis--A View from the Other Side

August 5
Valerie Ipson--Of Writerly Things
Anna Arnett--Insights and Ramblings from Anna Arnett

August 6
Lynn Parsons
Danyelle Ferguson--Queen of the Clan

Chocolate Roses can be purchased
from Deseret Book, Amazon, and of
course your local LDS bookstore.

FTC: I received a free copy of this book from Walnut Springs Press. In no way did this influence me and the review that was written about this book.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wolves, Boys, & Other Things That Might Kill Me - Kristen Chandler

Wolves, Boys, & Other Things That Might Kill Me

By: Kristen Chandler

ISBN - 978-0-670-01142-1

Publisher: Viking

Published: 2010

Hardcover: 371

FTC-FYI: Borrowed from the library

Let me just get this out of way... I buy most of my books through Amazon, and they email me suggestions. This was one of them. I'm sure I read the description of the book too fast to notice that it's not about what I thought it would be about. And, I mean, boys turning into wolves. :) Even though I did like this book, I did have to hang in there a while to appreciate it. The story took quite a while to develop. KJ is a 16 year old from a small town in Montana, near Yellowstone. She lives with her dad. He runs a fishing/seasonal guide store, where she helps out. KJ's mom died when she was a baby, so Dad is very over protective. I had a hard time with their relationship. You'd think it would be good, but it isn't. Her dad is mean at times, gives her the silent treatment, and they don't speak for days. Also, the kids in her school are ruthless to her, and really for no good reason.
Things start changing for her when Virgil comes to town. It starts events that get the story going, although again, it takes a while. Virgil starts her thinking about the wolf problem in the area. The Federal Government relocated wolves back into the park because they had died out, and also to help control the elk population. This makes the wolf-lovers happy, but the ranchers and farmers angry. Virgil is in town with his mother, Eloise. (Who I really liked.) Together they go observe the wolf packs in the area. I thought the parts with the wolves were fascinating. Alpha female issues were pretty cool. I wanted more of the wolves.
Virgil (who takes amazing pictures) and KJ are asked to start a column. "Wolf Notes" gets stared and right away it starts an uproar in the town. They also start to like each other, and a few funny things happen. Some dangerous events take place, and the story picked up for me about mid-point. While KJ's intentions are there, she does get blamed for incidents that were no way near her fault, however, her heart is in the right place, and she is determined to fix the situation.

3 stars

I probably wouldn't read it again, but I would read more from this author. I didn't think it ended with a sequel looming, but I would read it.

Warning: there is a few instances of language

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Imprints by Rachel Ann Nunes - LDSWBR Combined Review!

We thought it might be fun to try the occasional combined book review where all four of us review the same book at the same time. That way you can read how we all felt about a book. This first combined review is a bit of an experiment, so we would love to get some feedback. What worked? What didn't? Love it? Hate it? Be honest and polite. Thanks!

Title: Imprints
Author: Rachel Ann Nunes
Publisher: Shadow Mountain (April 2010)
Softcover: 337 pages
Genre: Mystery-Suspense (with a touch of paranormal)
ISBN#: 978-1-60641-243-5

The Author

Rachel Ann Nunes is the author of 30 published novels. Her most recent releases include The Independence Club (Deseret Book; Feb 2007), Flying Home (Shadow Mountain; Sept 2007), Fields of Home (Shadow Mountain; Feb 2008), Eyes of a Stranger (Shadow Mountain; Aug 2008) and Saving Madeline (Shadow Mountain; Sept 2009). The Independence Club and Fields of Home were both Whitney Award finalists. Rachel is also the author of the Ariana series and an award-winner picture book, Daughter of a King.

Visit Rachel's website where you can find more information on what she's working on and a list of her published novels, as well as her on her blog: Rachel's Ramblings.

Some Extra Fun

If you're looking for something to listen to while you read all of our reviews, start Episode 38 of the LDSWBR Podcast for our interview with Rachel Ann Nunes and G.G. Vandagriff.

Shanda's Review

During our podcast interview with Rachel, she told us that she was working on a book with a slightly paranormal element about a woman who could see imprints on objects connected to strong emotion. Needless to say, I was excited to get my hands on Imprints and see what Rachel had done with such a fascinating idea.

The cover of Imprints perfectly captures the elements of the story and certainly grabs attention. I wouldn't hesitate to pick the book up in a bookstore and flip through it. It's a little thing, but I love the font style used for the title and chapter headings.

Rachel's writing, however, is what makes this book a keeper. The way Rachel describes Autumn's and Jake's stores makes me want to stop in and shop, but it is the characters that make me love the story. She tells Autumn's story in a comfortable style, drawing the reader in at the beginning and then maintaining interest until things really start to move once Autumn arrives at Harmony Farm. There is plenty of suspense, a few unexpected twists, and more action than I expected. I was happy to discover that Autumn is more than capable of defending herself.

"I jabbed out with my feet, catching him in the chest by surprise. He grunted as he fell. Leaping from the bush, I started to run, but the world spun around me. I forced myself to take a step. I was too slow. A hand closed over my ankle, and for the first time in my life I wished I were wearing heels. Sharp spiky heels that I could use as a weapon." (page 214)

Autumn, with her quirky personality and bare feet, is memorable and likeable. To me, though, Rachel's skill in developing her characters is most apparent in Jake, Autumn's friend, and Tawnia, her twin sister. Jake and Tawnia are genuine, authentic people who obviously care very much about Autumn. And then there is the gorgeous Ethan, who's interest in Autumn creates a nice amount of romantic tension. Rachel handles the paranormal aspect nicely, and I hope to someday read more about Autumn and her ability.

Rating: 4.5 stars/5

Would I-
  • read it again? Definitely
  • recommend it? Yes, to anyone
  • read more by Rachel? Absolutely

FTC FYI: I received a free review copy that did not affect my review.

Sheila's Review

Rachel Nunes has been known for a long time as a great storyteller. Her last few books have been her most outstanding work. With the books Saving Madeline and Imprints, she has taken her writing to a whole new level of writing. Rachel has taken hard subjects of drug abuse kidnapping and murder and has boldly written wonderful stories with memorable characters.

In Imprints, she takes many of my favorite genres and blends them together; an intense romantic love triangle, an exciting and heart thumping mystery and the twist of the para-normal gift of the main character, Autumn. I really liked Autumn and her traits of being so honest and loyal to those she loves. She was a very likable character and so was one of her romantic interests, Jake.

One of the things I like most about Rachel's writing is that she knows so well how to use the technique of "showing not telling." Rachel knows how to make a story come to life by having the character experience things by using all five senses. Here is a great example of this...

"My euphoria dimmed sometime later as even my tough soles began to feel the pressure of the stabbing twigs and the occasional rock or rotting splinter of wood. Surely I had been walking much longer than necessary to get back to the outhouse path. At this rate I'd end up in the fields or the pastures. There seemed to be only slivers of moonlight seeping through the branches above, as though I had gone deeper into the forest instead of retracing my steps. Swallowing hard, I forced myself to stop and face the fact that I had no idea where I was."

I laughed a lot at Autumn saying that she was directionally challenged. I have the same problem!

I truly enjoyed reading Imprints. I enjoyed it so much, I lost track of time until I finished the book and saw that it was 5:00 in the morning. If you have read other books written by Rachel Nunes, this is one book that you will want to make sure and read. I will read it again to catch what I missed the first time. In fact, I would like to read another story with Autumn as the main character. With her gift of being able to read imprints, there are many stories still waiting to be told.

I am happy that Rachel is writing the sequel to Imprints.

FTC FYI: I received a free review copy from the author.

Hillary's Review

Hello friends!

My turn for my thoughts on Imprints-

Rachel Nunes totally shook things up with this newest release of hers. Imprints is such a different concept for a book. It delves slightly into the supernatural, but not so much that I felt like I was reading a sci-fi/fantasy book.

The premise is really interesting with Autumn Rain having this unusual ability to see things, imprints, of an object. Word spreads around town that she can do this, which leads people with missing loved ones to her.

I loved that Autumn is definitely not your typical heroine. She loveably falls into the reluctant category, and manages in her own way to solve the troubles at hand. She has a fabulous relationship with Jake, her brother-like co-store owner, and she has the intelligence and gumption to make her well-rounded and interesting.

The only thing I didn't particularly enjoy as much, was the romance portion. My fellow reviewers may disagree, but I just didn't feel it. It was clear that Autumn herself was unsure of how she felt about Jake. Though realistic, I just wished for a bit more.

The story itself was well-written, exciting and thrilling all at the same time. It started moderately, then picked up until you were at the end trying to catch your breath!

Overall, good exciting book, and I would give it 3 1/2 stars!

FTC FYI: library

Mindy's Review

Autumn Rain has a special gift. Although, sometimes, she thinks of it as a curse. She can read imprints. Through her touch she can feel impressions, feelings, thoughts, of the people who have touched something. Jewelry, flashlights, books, almost anything. Clothes are the hardest to read. Right at the start, a couple come in to Autumn's antique shop needing her help to find their missing daughter. Autumn has helped with cases in the past, but there are many who are suspicious of her ability.

Autumn lives a very Bohemian lifestyle. She was raised by hippies, doesn't wear shoes, and only eats organic, non-processed foods. Very healthy. At first, I felt I was being lectured about eating more healthy (maybe that's because I know I should) but I got used to the character and I ended up enjoying her different way of living.

Autumn has had many tragedies on her life. She lost her adopted mother and father in two different ways. She is also reunited with her twin sister, but that isn't the basis of the story. I really like how the author doesn't use flashbacks to tell past situations, they are just thoughts and memories for Autumn. The imprints are used as a "flashback" tool as well. Autumn loves her best friend Jake, who thinks of her just as friend (or does he?) but a stranger comes along who needs her help, and there is an attraction to him. He is seeking his lost sister, and together they hatch a plan to help her along with the couple's missing daughter.

This is one of my favorite quotes from the book:

"We hadn't know each other that long, however handsome he was, and I'd never seen his apartment. I didn't know if he had friends, or if he liked the outdoors. I didn't even know how he felt about preservatives or microwaves."

I really enjoyed this book. The story was very easy to follow, and it had a nice flow to it. What I enjoy most about a good mystery is adventure, a little humor mixed in, and also some romance. Imprints had all that. I would definitely read this again, and am looking forward to reading more from this author. 4 stars from me.

FTC FYI: Borrowed Shanda's review copy.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Heart of Stone by Jill Marie Landis

Title: Heart of Stone
Author: Jill Marie Landis
Publisher: Zondervan (March 2010)
Softcover; 320 pages
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN# 978-0-310-29369-9

The Author

Jill Marie Landis is a New York Times Best Seller author of more than twenty novels and a recipient of The Golden Heart as well a RITA Award. Heart of Stone is the first book by Jill that I have read, and I’ll start my review by saying I plan to read two more of her novels set in Glory, TX: Homecoming and The Accidental Lawman.

The Review

Heart of Stone is the first volume in the Irish Angel series. I like the cover and the title is appropriate to the main character, Laura Foster, and the way she has learned to cope with her past experiences. Laura is not necessarily hard-hearted, though she is definitely careful and reserved in her relationships.

At 320 pages (which includes a sample of the second book, Heart of Lies) there is plenty to the story. The only time I felt like skimming was near the end and that was just because I was anxious for a certain something to happen and wanted to get to that part, not because the story was dragging.

I have a love/hate relationship with the romance genre. It takes a certain amount of skill to create romantic tension without rushing things, yet keep the readers attention while drawing developing the story into a novel-length tale. Because Jill writes with an experienced, balanced style, the pace of her storytelling made it more believable and realistic, which is sometimes hard to find in a romance book.

Heart of Stone takes place in fictional Glory, Texas, in the year 1874. Jill’s characters help make the little town of Glory come to life. The point of view, in third person, switches between Laura Foster and Reverend Brand McCormick, the love interest. The switches were clear and I never wondered who’s head I was in.

The main character, Laura, aka “Lovie Lamont” was a strong woman who did what she had to do to escape from the horrible life she was forced into at only eleven years old. She was determined and had a perspective on life that could only come from having seen the worst of it. Laura established a new life for herself in Glory, where everyone accepted her as the distinguished widow, Mrs. Foster. No one knew about her past and her secret seemed safe until a previous acquaintance arrived, threatening to ruin everything Laura had worked to build. She had no expectations toward marriage, but Laura had friends and a successful boarding house that she would surely lose if anyone discovered who she really was.

Reverend Brand McCormick was my favorite. A widower with two precocious young children, he was the perfectly imperfect hero. Strong but gentle, confident yet humble, he had a true concern for all around him, not just for those in his flock. After his wife’s death, Brand’s children were pretty wild, despite the help of Brand’s sister, Charity. It seemed that Laura had a way of bringing out the best in the kids, though, and she played an important role when Brand’s own past caught up with him.

The characters in Heart of Stone were realistic, imperfect people who had made mistakes but were doing their best. The secondary characters like Jesse Langley, Sam & Janie (Brand’s children), Hank & Amelia Larson (The Accidental Lawman), and several neighbors helped make Heart of Stone an enjoyably believable story.

My Favorite Part

After a life-changing event, Brand pulls Laura close and holds her for comfort. It’s a simple embrace but oh-so-nice.

A Quote

“The ribbons of her hat trailed from her hand as she walked with him to the front steps. She may have been through the worse life had to offer, but she’d never been a coward. She drew herself up and refused to let Brand walk away thinking they had any kind of future together.”

Heads Up

There's no swearing that I can remember and very little violence. As far as sexual content, it’s pretty obvious what Laura’s life entailed prior to her escape to Glory, but it doesn’t go into detail. Also, Brand was a bit wild in his youth before becoming a reverend. The romance is nice but never goes beyond kissing, and even that is free of gratuitous detail. This is a book about finding forgiveness, but it never gets preachy.

Rating: 4 stars/5

Would I-
  • read it again? yes
  • recommend it? yes, especially to those who love historical romance, though even readers who usually don’t care for historical romance might enjoy it
  • read more books by this author? I’m looking forward to reading several more

FTC FYI: I received a free review copy that did not affect my review.

Below is an essay written by Jill Marie Landis about the beginnings of her Irish Angel series:

Stitching a Series Together

“I love this part of a quilt - when all of the fabric selections, pattern decisions, cutting, making of blocks, laying out of the top, the borders, all of it, starts to come together as you begin to sew the blocks into a TOP. For me, it's one of the best parts.....seeing everything that you've thought about, and worked on, coming together...” -Natalie Barnes, Beyond the Reef

So began a recent email from a dear friend and quilt designer, Natalie Barnes. Over twenty years ago, Nat inspired me to begin quilting again and I like to think I inspired her to start a fledgling quilt pattern company, Beyond the Reef, which has grown by leaps and bounds ever since.

As I read her email, I noticed that her thoughts on how a quilt comes together are not unlike the experience of writing a novel. A writer’s initial ideas about characters—deciding who will people the pages of a book and finding just the right setting for them—is much like choosing the pattern and fabrics for a quilt.

In the case of historical novels, choosing the right the time period is like deciding on a quilt’s background fabric. Background fabric, borders, and the individual pieces for the patchwork blocks each play an integral part.

So it is with writing. Designing, cutting and fitting patchwork pieces together is like weaving a plot by fitting together scenes and chapters. In writing, the real magic takes place after the rough draft is finished and inspiration continues during the editing process. Somehow the story comes together the way a quilt does during the final stitching and binding until, at long last, it’s finally whole.

Just as a quilter will often pause to rummage through her stash of fabric hunting for just the right piece to compliment her quilt, so too does a writer search through her reference library until just the right snippet of information catches her eye.

While I was working on HEART OF STONE, my 2Xth novel, (Zondervan, March, 2010) that special, inspirational piece of information came in the form of two words: Irish Channel.

HEART OF STONE is the first book of the Irish Angels series. It’s about a fallen woman named Laura Foster and is set in the fictional town of Glory, Texas, in 1874. The historical romance follows Laura through her trials and tribulations as she seeks redemption from a life of shame and finds love along the way.

Though primarily set in Texas, I opened the book in New Orleans in 1853 to give the readers a glimpse into Laura’s childhood. Before I started hunting for the perfect details to texture the setting, I had preconceived notions of the characteristics of New Orleans that most people share. I pictured the French Quarter with its brick buildings and balconies sporting decorative iron grille work. I saw secret gardens behind stucco walls, could almost smell the cafĂ© ‘a lait, taste the Creole cooking, picture duels under the oaks at dawn.

I planned for Laura to have been orphaned when both her parents died. She was from an impoverished family living with their aunt and uncle in a run down house somewhere in New Orleans. While searching for an exact location, I came across the history of the Irish Channel neighborhood where emigrants escaping the famine settled near the docks. Most were so poor they had no money to go any farther. Many sought work at the wharf.

Before that time I was completely unaware that New Orleans had, from it’s very beginning, a large Irish population. In fact, in the mid-1800’s, there were more people of Irish ancestry than any other group, even French, in the city. I later learned that Irish brigades fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War and that a wealthy Irishman donated the land for City Park where those duels under the oaks were fought.

From mostly rural backgrounds, impoverished Irish newcomers farmed themselves out as day laborers hired to dig canals around the city. It was work many slave owners refused to risk having their valuable “property” engage in. Too poor to escape the city when yellow fever hit in 1835, thousands of Irish died.

History and research provided the plot element that orphaned Laura Foster. When I added three sisters to her back story, HEART OF STONE suddenly became more than a tale of a fallen woman starting over in Texas. It was about a former Irish orphan from Louisiana searching for her long lost sisters.

I pictured where the girls had lived and the conditions they survived. Each of my Irish Angels would grow up to become determined, independent women who triumph over their very different upbringings and each definitely deserved a book of her own.

For me, that one small detail, the name of a neighborhood called the Irish Channel, stood out like a vibrant swatch of patchwork that repeats itself in a quilt. It was an unexpected find that echoes through four stories about four resilient women, the thread that ties the series together.

Jill Marie Landis is not only a quilter, but in her “spare time” she dances the hula, plays ukulele, raises orchids and tropical flowers in her Hawaiian garden and loves to read through research at the beach.

Friday, July 16, 2010

My Review of "Seventh Earth" by Richard Bradford

Title: Seventh Earth

Author: Richard Bradford

Reviewed By: Sheila

  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: D&D Publishing; First edition (January 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0984199500

Every once in awhile, a new author comes along that blows you away with their first book. Let me introduce you to an author that fits into that category, Richard Bradford. Here is what he says about his book on his website...

"Look, if you’re searching for some cute little book about vampires or werewolves, this book isn't for you. If you’re looking for a love story set in the 1800’s where grown men walk around in turned up collars and top hats, this isn’t for you either. This isn’t some neat little cookie cutter book with trendy words, a flashy movie-poster cover and a plot thinner than a runway model. No, this book is the real thing. This is a book so original, so intriguing, so captivating tha
t you will beg for more. This is one of those books that your friend tells you about, not because they saw it on some talk show’s book club, but because they’ve read it four times and can’t put it down. This is one of those books where if you were going to be stranded on a desert island and could only take three things, this book would be on your list right above water. Yeah, this is one of those books."

I have to concur, yes, this is one of those books! Yes, this book was gripping. Yes, I could not put this book down. This is the book I have been telling people about. I first picked it up one night at midnight thinking I would just read the first chapter to see if I would like it. Three hours later, my eyes could not stay open any longer. This story moves quickly but does not feel rushed. The two main characters are high school aged, but this does NOT feel like a "high school" book. Aura and Zack are both smart kids that you learn to like from first meeting them. Here is a
what the book is about...

"Aimed at readers ages 13-30, Bradford wastes no time jumping into Seventh Earth with an intriguing opening scene that captures his reader's attention and lures them in for a ride full of excitement and romance.Entrenched with thought provoking symbolism, Seventh Earth welcomes readers to the world of Aura Maples--a quirky seventeen-year-old who would like nothing more than to glide through her final year in high school well below the social radar. But after mysteriously passing out in English class and falling in love with the engaging, athletic "new kid", Aura realizes that getting through her senior year at Willits High unnoticed may be a little tougher than she thought. And as if all this weren't enough, her body begins going through some very bizarre changes that have nothing to do with the hormonal madness of late adolescence.

At her wits' end and desperate for answers, Aura finds herself face to face with a stranger who seems to know exactly what she's going through and why. But there's more in the bargain: along with the desperately sought answers comes a mind-blowing story that will change her--and perhaps everyone's--life forever.

The first thing I thought of when I finished the book was, "When is the next book coming out?". This story just flies off the pages. You read this book and think that there is no way that this is a first time author. His writing style is mature, it flows and it captivates. What this all comes down to is that, you are going to have to read this book and experience this for yourself. I use the word"Experience", because reading this book is like taking a fast moving ride, with twists and turns and breathlessly finally
getting off.

Here is another little excerpt from the book to wet your interest...

"Here's something I need to show you, she said above the soft patter of the rain. Turning toward the fallen log, she could see the little clump of purple flowers growing out of the rotting bark above her that she had reached for when she slipped. She raised her hand toward them, and the flowers, as if picked by an invisible force, broke free from the bark and floated smoothly down to her waiting hand.

Zack's eyes were wide with astonishment.
Are you scared? Aura asked."

Seventeen years ago, on a distant planet skirting the far reaches of the galaxy, two fantastic warriors from different worlds fought on a secret field of battle. One carried the gift of life and hope, the other, the icy hand of death. Seventeen years ago, that battle ended with both warriors succumbing, one to a blade, the other to a bullet. The battle and the war were over…or so it was thought.

If you would like to read a rather long interview (because I asked so many questions) with Richard Bradford and want to get a chance to win a copy of his book go to my other blog at

If you would like to buy your own copy of "Seventh Earth" go here to purchase.

Will I read this book again? YES!!
Would I recommend it to others? YES!!
Would I take it with me to my lonely Deserted Island? Yes!
My Rating: 5 stars

About the Author

"I am a graduate of Brigham Young University with a degree in International Law and Diplomacy. Although originally from California, I currently live in College Station, Texas with my wife, four kids and two dogs.

I have traveled extensively throughout the world including a two year stint in Thailand of which I have considered writing about many times. There is a mystery and magic that lies within the borders of the orient that could spawn a thousand novels.

My interests included writing (obviously), and spending time with my wife and kids. If there is one thing that I have learned in my travels, it's that there is no suitable replacement for family. am currently working on the sequel to Seventh Earth (haven't come up with a good name yet) "

Richard can be reached by email at seventhearth@ymail.com or you can visit his website at www.seventhearthseries.com. and his blog at http://seventhearth.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - July 13, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

Shanda's Teaser:

"A fist made contact with the side of his face, and he fell back to the ground. His mind clouded for an instant, then the pain cleared it again. The guard gripped his neck, pressing with all his strength. The man's eyes were bulging with anger, and Alma knew he wouldn't offer any mercy."

Alma the Younger by H. B. Moore, page 112

Sheila's Teaser:

"Before she had time to think, Aura shifted her body sharply to the right as a flash exploded from the gun barrel. In astonishment, she watched as the spinning bullet float past her, as if time had suddenly slowed to a glacial crawl. Overcome with a feeling of animal rage, Aura extended both arms toward the men. The jolt of energy that shot forth from her palms caught both attackers in the midsection and sent them flying back onto the sidewalk. "

Seventh Earth by Richard Bradford, page 144

Mindy's Teaser:

"We hadn't know each other that long, however handsome he was, and I'd never seen his apartment. I didn't know if he had friends, or if he liked the outdoors. I didn't even know how he felt about preservatives or microwaves."

Imprints by Rachel Ann Nunes, page 180

Leave your teaser, or a link to your Tuesday Teaser blog post, in the comments below. We'd love to see what you're reading!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Torn Apart by Diony George

Title: Torn Apart
Author: Diony George
Publisher: Bonneville Books
Published Date: Feb 2009
ISBN#: 978-1599552446
Genre: General Fiction
Paperback; 256 pages

Torn Apart is based on a true story. The author’s story, in fact. Knowing this made reading Torn Apart something of an unusual experience for me.

First, it made me respect the author for being willing to put her story out there for everyone to read. I’m positive that was not an easy thing to do.

Second, it’s one thing to read a person’s own words telling their story in a nonfiction format like an autobiography, another thing entirely to read a fictionalized version. I found myself wondering how much of the detail in Alyson’s story was actual experience and what was added to the story. In the end, though, it doesn’t really matter as much as the fact that what both Alyson and the author experienced was heartbreaking.

Alyson is young and impressionable when she meets her husband. Warning signs were present, but nobody recognized them or knew what they meant until it was too late. With four boys keeping her busy, Alyson doesn’t put together what is going on until the truth is undeniably staring her in the face. Once she does, though, her world is shattered. Each new discovery of what was happening during her marriage gets worse and worse.

Despite everything that happened to her, Alyson retained a certain strength that helped her through her trials. A timely online connection could lead her to happiness again, if she can trust him with her heart.

At the end of the book, the author includes a list of warning signs that could potentially point to pornography addiction. Torn Apart is just one story out of thousands that could be told about the families who have been hurt by addiction to pornography.

My rating:

Overall: 3.5 stars/5

For the author’s efforts to help make others aware of the devastating consequences of pornography addiction, I give 5 stars. While the first half of the book had me interested and turning pages, the storytelling in the last half didn’t really pull me in as much. When Alyson and the new love interest were exchanging emails, the pace of the story dropped significantly and I skimmed several pages until the flow picked up again.

Would I:

  • read it again? Possibly
  • recommend it? Yes
  • read more by the author? Yes

FTC FYI: I received a review copy of Torn Apart that did not affect my review in any way.

Friday, July 9, 2010

My Review of "The Silence of God" By Gale Sears

The Silence of God

By: Gale Sears

Publisher:Deseret Book

Published: June 15th, 2010


Hardcover: 400 pages

Reviewed by: Sheila

At the turn of the twentieth century, St. Petersburg offers the best of Imperial Russia. The vast country is filled with grand cathedrals, a faithful populace, and many people who love and revere Tsar Nicholas II and the Romanov family. But as Russia becomes further entrenched in the Great War, a revolution begins brewing within her own borders.

For the wealthy Lindlof family, the only Latter-day Saints living in St. Petersburg at the time, the glitz and glamour of the Silver Age soon dissolves into mass rebellion, dividing their family and testing their faith. Life for Agnes Lindlof will never be the same—changed forever by an ideology that forces equality and demands the silence of God.

Agnes’s lifelong friend, Natasha Ivanovna Gavrilova, is the daughter of a professor and a firm supporter of Bolshevik ideals; she doesn’t believe in God at all. Yet, when the waves of the revolution wash over her family and her friends, Natasha must examine her own heart and decide for herself what to believe and what voice to listen to.

Based on an amazing true story of the only Latter-day Saint family living in St. Petersburg during the Bolshevik Revolution, The Silence of God is a rare glimpse into a fascinating period of history and a powerful, extraordinary novel of devotion and loyalty.

I finished reading this historical novel over the 4th of July holiday weekend. The story had been gripping from the start, but even more when you realize it is based on a true, LDS family, from Russia. As I pondered about the freedoms that we partake of in the United States, it only made what happen to the Lindlofs and God fearing Russians seem ever more brutal. The Bolshevik Revolution did in fact "silence" God in Russia. The rights of the people were taken away to worship as they may and live as they wanted.

Gale Sears masterfully tells the story of the Lindlof family. Gale has a way of bringing history to life in a way that educates, without being boring. The time Gale spent to research the book is evident. You can tell, that the events portrayed about the revolution,are historically accurate. I love reading about history, but this is one time period I have not read about as much as others. After reading "The Silence of God" I want to read more abut the Russian Revolution and Tsar Nicholas and his family.

The thing I loved the most about this book were the characters; the Lindlof family and their neighbor Natasha. We as readers, are brought along on Natasha's journey of being a firm supporter of Bolshevik ideals, to slowly letting God into her life and her heart. Agnes Lindlof was a fountain of courage with unfailing faith. The friendship between these two young women is not only heart warming, but inspiring. I became so lost in the story, I had to remember that this was a story "based" on true people and the actual events did not all happen exactly as told in the story. Gale truly is a great writer to be able to bring history to life, as well as wrapping the readers up in a fascinating story with meaningful characters.

I highly recommend this book to readers that love history, and also love a faith inspiring read. This also is a great book to read to help you realize, how lucky most of us are, to live where freedom reigns. I can tell you that I will always remember this book and it's characters.

If you would like to learn more about Gale Sears, please visit her at her website here.

I know that I will be revisiting this book again, especially around the 4th of July.

To end, I wanted to share with you the book trailer found on youtube about "The Silence of God".

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner - Stephenie Meyer

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

By: Stephenie Meyer

Publisher: Little, Brown

Published: June 2010

ISBN: 978-0-316-12558-1

Hardcover: 178 pages

Reviewed by Mindy

FTC FYI - I purchased my own copy

Confession: I have already seen "Eclipse" three times. I guess you could say that I enjoyed it. And, I have read the "Twilight Saga" at least five times. I would read anything of Stephenie Meyer's, so, reading this book was a no brainer.
I really enjoyed this little glimpse into newborn Bree's last several days. In "Eclipse", my first impression of her was that of a wild newborn out for anyone's blood she could get, but I found she was reserved and smart. And even though I knew the end result of her demise, I was rooting for her.
It starts with her hunting with a group of out of control vampire newborns. In that group, she gets to know Diego, who is older then her three months. He has survived for almost a year. Diego is Riley's right-hand man, and he's very loyal to his ideas. However, together, they start figuring out that Riley and "her" (their creator) are not being honest with them.
There is a surprise visit from a group from Italy, which I enjoyed, and I (again knowing the end result), liked the ending when she is purposely revealing things to Edward.

Four stars

I would read it again, and I would read more from this author.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

In Trying Times, Just Keep Trying- Merrilee Boyack

Howdy Kids!

I am pleased to be reviewing one of my favorite authors Merrilee Boyack's, new book , "In Trying Times, Just Keep Trying". I bought this one sight unseen! I broke my cardinal rule of beg or borrow firstJ I have to say that it was a wise choice to go ahead and purchase.

Many of us go through life looking at others and what they have or don't have and think about how unfair life is. When in reality, we each have trials tailor made for us by Heavenly Father, and some that come as a result of our choices. But either way, no one is exempt from life's challenges. Merrilee talks about her own personal battles with cancer, being relief society president, political issues, trying to sell their home, and job loss- all at once! I complain about my problems, but reading ( she doesn't expound too heavily ) about hers, was only proof that we all have our problems and that they are each different. She says it is "useless to compare our trials with others. For each of us, the things we are facing right now are real and significant. Comparing them to others neither makes our trials bigger nor smaller than they really are. Each of us has our own customized testing plan, designed to prove us and reveal to us what we're made of. I love how she also talks not only of the nature of our tests, but of the timing of them as well. Sometimes we forget that part of our tests include dealing with the timing of them as well.

She talks about our choices, whether or not we be true and faithful to our covenants or we just blame everyone else and live a bitter and angry life. She quotes Elder Neil A. Maxwell who states, "We cannot expect to live in a time when men's hearts will fail them, except the faithful experience a few fibrillations themselves. We won't be entirely immune from feelings that go with these fibrillations. "

Because of Jesus Christ, we are able to lay our burdens down on the feet of Christ. Merrilee says "I believe that God will allow us to have more than we can bear because it is often only when we are pushed to our limits – or beyond – that we surrender ourselves to God.

The book continues by addressing each chapter as a choice we can make. Choices like being positive, learning and growing from our trials, and nourishing our bodies and souls. She has daily affirmations that she mentions, like "each day I choose to be obedient and to repent of anything that doesn't lead me to the Savior" and "each day I seek after light. I choose light over darkness. That choice guides all my decisions".

I think that this book was well worth buying and I loved it- absolutely loved it.


Until next week!


ftc-fyi- purchased the copy

Friday, July 2, 2010

Leaning into the Curves by Nancy Anderson and Carroll Hofeling Morris

Title: Leaning into the Curves
Authors: Nancy Anderson & Carroll Hofeling Morris
Publisher: Deseret Book
Published Date: April 2010
ISBN#: 978-1-60641-235-0
Genre: General Fiction
Paperback: 257 pages

Leaning into the Curves allowed me a peek into two different lifestyles that I previously knew nothing about: 1) life after retirement, and 2) what it is to be a motorcycle enthusiast.

Through the telling of Molly and Hank's story, it is apparent that the authors have had their share of life experiences. Several life lessons and timely messages appear as events in the book take place.

As someone who is still raising young children, I couldn't relate to the book quite the same way a woman with grown children might. I did, however, take the themes woven through the story as one might take advice from someone who has "been there" and "done that."

Leaning into the Curves is a pleasant, mellow read about Molly and Hank, a married couple adjusting to life after Hank retires. Through some miscommunication, Hank buys himself a motorcycle for his birthday, thinking that Molly has overcome her strong feelings against them. The motorcycle, and their experiences with the Temple Riders Association, a Mormon motorcycle club, become the catalysts that bring to the surface several issues that Molly and Hank have never really had the time or need to deal with previously, both personally and within their marriage.

Leaning into the Curves is a story about the sacrifices we make for our families, finding common ground, overcoming fears, trying new things, moving past first impressions, and most of all, the importance of openness and communication.

My Rating: 3.5 stars/5 - it has a nice writing style and interesting characters

Would I-
  • read it again? Probably not, simply because I'm not really the book's intended audience
  • recommend it? Yes, especially to empty nesters and motorcycle enthusiasts
  • read more by the authors? Yes

FTC FYI: I received a review copy of this book that had no effect on my review.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Walk Two Moons -Sharon Creech

Walk Two Moons

Written By: Sharon Creech

Published: Harper Collins Children's Books

Published in: 1994

Won a Newbery Award

Hardcover - 280

ISBN: 0-06-023334-6

First of all, I have to thank Kelli again for this one. She told me about this book awhile ago, and it sat on my to-read shelf for a couple weeks while I was reading more 39 clues. It was coming due, so I started it on a Tuesday, and finished Wednesday. I loved it. It was such a great story. Actually, it's a story within a story. Sal, is the main character. Her full name is Salamanca Tree Hiddle. She and her father just moved to Ohio from Kentucky. Sal isn't happy about it. She misses everything about Kentucky. She misses the farm she loved, the trees, animals, her swing, everything. However, her dad had to get away. From what I won't say because it would too much away.
In Ohio, she meets Phoebe. She's a strange girl, whose home life seems a bit too perfect. But, something happens in her house that takes perfect off the table. Sal's dad is close to their neighbor Mrs. Cadaver, and she isn't thrilled about it. She is the one who helps her dad get a new job, and helps them find a place to stay in Euclid. But, Mrs. Cadaver's story is revealed at the end, and it made me cry. A stranger comes to the neighborhood, and sets Sal and Phoebe investigating.
But, that's the story in the story. Sal is taken on a road trip with Gramps and Gran. They want to take her on the same trip that her mom made a year or so earlier. Sal's mom is Sugar. The heart of story is about her, and why she left. The purpose of the road trip is to see her.
I really enjoyed this book. There wasn't anything I didn't like. Phoebe wasn't my favorite, but I see why she acted the way she did. I liked Ben a lot too. Gramps and Gran are funny, sweet, and seem like they would be fun to hang out with. The last few chapters had me crying. I honestly didn't want the story and the story within the story to end.
Thank you Kelli for a great recommendation!

4 1/2 stars

I recommend it and would read it again.

I would read more from this author. Going to check out Bloomability next.

FTC FYI- borrowed from library.

(P.S.) It's great to be back! Wasn't the Countdown to Summer Awesome?!