Saturday, April 4, 2015

Rivershore Book Tour: Midnight Captive

About the Book

"Phaedra is cursed to sleep until true love wakes her. Hermione has a dark secret. When Prince Sheridan discovers the two princesses wandering the woods outside the castle at night, he begins to wonder if there is more to Phaedra's curse than is readily apparent. With the help of a minstrel out to prove a point, they must discover the secret before the princesses are trapped forever in the night."

Purchase on Amazon | Add to Goodreads

My Rating

Spring

My Review

Who can resist a fun fairy-tale retelling? Not me!

Midnight Captive offers surprising connections between an intriguing assortment of fairy tales and legends. What do Sleeping Beauty, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, Rapunzel, and Cinderella have to do with one another? (It's quite possible there are even more that can be added to this list, as there are nods to all sorts of stories in these pages!) Come discover how elements of these beloved plots are pretzeled together into one enjoyable mystery.

The question of how the prince, the minstrel, and the two princesses will unravel the curses ensnaring them (be it of a magical nature or an emotional one) is what held my attention and forced me to finish the book in one sitting late at night. The characters make for a sweet cast - even if Hermione comes across as a little annoying and the boys as a bit obtuse (especially one of them! Yeesh). ;)

The writing could use a bit of polish to make it really shine, as there are some instances of "telling" and info-dumping that keep the story from flowing as well as it might and the characters from feeling as authentic as they might. But the pace is quick for the most part, and all the little "reveals" are fun to experience along the way.

I really appreciated the unique combination of familiar fairy tales in Midnight Captive, as well as the emphasis on the power of music. A great debut!

*With thanks to Rivershore Books for providing me with a e-copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Note: Are you a blogger interested in reviewing for Rivershore Books? Or an author looking to run a book tour? Learn more on the Rivershore Books website!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Tomb Blog Tour + Giveaway Notice

I still have to finish this one, so I'll come back and update this post when I have my review ready! But there are only a couple of days left to enter the awesome giveaway, so be sure to check that out right away. :) And you can read my thoughts on the preceding book in the series, The Thief (Book 2), HERE. These stories would make for perfect, poignant Easter reads.

About the Book

A family divided in faith. A woman imprisoned by shame. A miracle that changes everything.

In this captivating retelling of a classic biblical story, Jesus shocks the town of Bethany with Lazarus’s resurrection from the dead, leading Martha—a seemingly perfect woman trapped by the secrets of her past—to hope and a new life.

Everyone in Bethany admires Martha—the perfect Jewish woman. She feeds and clothes her loved ones, looks after the family farm, and meticulously follows every precept of the Pharisees’ strict laws. But Martha is hiding a secret. At her sister’s marriage feast, she gave her heart and her innocence to a young musician who promised to return and marry her, but instead betrayed her love and abandoned her.

Seven years later, only two people in Bethany know of Martha’s secret sin: her brother, Lazarus, and Simon, the righteous Pharisee to whom Martha is betrothed. When Lazarus falls ill, Martha is faced with a choice: send for Jesus to save her dying brother—risking the wrath of Simon who threatens to betray her—or deny Jesus’ healing power and remain trapped in her tomb of secrecy and lies. 

Meanwhile, on the shores of Galilee, Isa roams the wilderness, tortured by demons and knowing only that someone is waiting for him. When he is healed by Jesus, he finds that seven years have passed since his descent into madness. Isa journeys home to Bethany only to find he is too late to win back Martha’s love. 

When Martha risks all to heal Lazarus, will Jesus arrive in time, or will he—like Isa—come too late?


My Rating

Coming soon!

My Review

Coming soon!

*With thanks to NetGalley and Howard Books for providing me with a temporary e-ARC of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Giveaway!

Through April 1, 2015, you can enter to win one of four exciting prizes in celebration of the release of The Tomb...

1st Prize: $100 Amazon.com gift card
2nd Prize: $50 Amazon.com gift card
3rd Prize: $25 Amazon.com gift card
10 Runners-up: Olive-wood pocket cross from the Holy Land

You can learn more and enter to win using the Rafflecopter form on the author's blog!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Beauty of Tuck Everlasting: Confessions of a Non-Book-Purist


The sweet earth opened out its wide four corners to her like the petals of a flower ready to be picked, and it shimmered with light and possibility till she was dizzy with it. 
~ Tuck Everlasting (Book)

Let me just dive right into the confessions:
  • I watched and loved the movie many times over before I picked up the book.
  • I adored both the movie and the book.
  • I really don't mind that they were different from each other. 
  • In fact, I love them both for being their own brilliant works.
I just finished reading Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt for the very first time the other night. It's an enchanting and strange little tale about a 10-year-old girl who speaks for so many growing-up hearts with her conflicting desires to explore the world and never leave the familiarity of home. It's also, of course, about the Tucks - an endearing family with a desire to belong...to Winnie, to the world, to life.

There's an innocence about the story that makes the profound questions and observations all the more powerful for the contrast.

The movie version shares many similarities in plot and distinct elements. But it's also an altogether different story experience. Miles is a heartbroken man "looking for wars to fight." Romance is a much more imminent possibility for teenage Winnie. And the Tuck family is more of a sober (but still entirely lovable) mystery.

You won't find answers about everlasting life in either version, at least in a direct fashion (although I believe the movie offers a beautiful hint), but you can find thought-provoking questions, as well as memorable words and portrayals of deep love and wise living. 

Some of my favorite lines from each to ponder...

Do not fear death. Fear the unlived life. 
(Movie)

She had done it because - in spite of everything, she loved them. This of all things her family understood, and afterward they drew together staunchly around her.
(Book)

Wake up with the dawn. 
(Movie)

You can't pick out the pieces you like and leave the rest. Being part of the whole thing, that's the blessing.
(Book)

I feel quite happy to have finally enjoyed the book! And I've started watching the movie again, because this story world...? It charms me and begs me to linger in a moment where time's wheel pauses and offers much-needed perspective on life, "shimmer[ing] with light and possibility."

***

Have you read or watched Tuck Everlasting? What struck you most about the story? 

If you've experienced both, were you OK with the movie being different from the book? Do you prefer one version over the other?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Really Reading vs. Just Skimming



As Elizabeth Bennet warns Colonel Fitzwilliam (at least in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice movie), "Prepare yourself for something quite dreadful."

I confess that I've gotten into a terrible habit of skimming books. Not all of them, mind you, but it seems the more "for fun" books I acquire, the easier it is to justify skipping through virtual or paper pages. Unless I've agreed to review it or determined from the get-go that I want to read every word, the temptation is there.

Perhaps that's saved me time reading books I wouldn't overly enjoy anyway.

But perhaps it's kept me from fully experiencing some great stories.

By jumping ahead to the fun, exciting, more adventurous parts, I miss the journey of characters growing and blossoming and emerging through fire. I miss meaningful encounters and everyday exchanges.

I get the gist, but I miss the chance to read between the lines.

This confession doesn't mean I'll never skim a book again. Sometimes we have to let things go so we can devote our focus to things better-suited for us.

But I hope to take the time to fully enjoy more of the books I have and to experience all that the stories might hold in store.

Same goes for how I live my life.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Wife Maker Blog Tour + Review


Wife Maker (1)
Blog Tour Schedule



Wife MakerHere's a description of the book:

(Note: This is Book 3 in a series, so there are some spoilers for previous books in this summary and review.) 

Charlotte has spent years as the husband maker, sending every guy she dates off to enjoy marital bliss with the next girl he dates. But things have now changed, and she's determined to use her husband-maker abilities one last time - on herself. And she finally knows exactly who she wants.

Angus has loved Charlotte since they were teenagers, but he's tired of waiting for her to realize how good they could be. She's broken his heart one too many times, and it's time to move on with his life. Maybe a position halfway across the country will be just what he needs to get over her. But when Charlotte won't let him go without a fight, Angus has to decide if he's willing to let her in again or if she's too late.

My Rating


My Review

When all is said and done, I'm happy. :) That doesn't mean there weren't numerous moments of frustration with certain characters (*cough* Angus *cough*). But I suppose that is all part of the fun of contemporary romance!

This series has been one long winding road...and one heck of a road trip! I've so enjoyed getting to know Charlotte's character while joining her in the ups and downs, highs and lows, painful lessons and meaningful memories that make up life's journey, romance or no.

This last installment introduces Angus's voice to the mix. Which is sweet, no doubt, but man, he sure can try a reader's patience! I was just a bit relieved to discover early on that the story isn't told completely from his perspective...

Not that Charlotte doesn't make some questionable choices, but her voice and trials are so easy to relate to. I loved reading about her adventures and misadventures as she wholeheartedly embraced a brand-new season in her life.

And her family...you don't want to miss meeting these characters! The relationships and banter all feel so genuine and are just plain fun to read.

This is a great conclusion to a great series - one that takes some intriguing turns and shows how stubborn we all can be, and how stubborn we need to be at times when it comes to the people and work we love.

*With thanks to I Am A Reader Blog Tours and the author for providing me with an e-copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Get your copy of The Wife Maker for $4.99!
About the Author

Karey WhiteKarey White grew up in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Missouri. She attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University. Her first novel, Gifted, was a Whitney Award Finalist. She loves to travel, read, bake treats, and spend time with family and friends. She and her husband are the parents of four great children. She teaches summer creative writing courses to young people and is currently working on her next book.


Blog Tour Giveaway

  25_Amazon_Paypal 

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 3/22/15 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.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Cedar Fort Blog Tour: What Is Lost + Review




About the Book

"Angry at his failure to exact vengeance on the prince, mask maker Joch flees Venesia to find his lost love. When a red-cloaked assassin promises answers, he has little choice but to trust her—though he may be walking into a trap. Unravel the deception in this dazzling story of second chances that will keep you guessing to the last page."


My Rating

Spring

My Review

What Is Hidden and its sequel What Is Lost are so lavishly imagined that you can't help but enjoy the drama and adventure. In Joch's story, this fairy-tale retelling takes readers on board ship, through the jungle/forest, and into a new city where every twist and turn around street corners reveals dangerous and colorful characters.

It's Skidmore's creativity that once again redeemed this story for me. While there are some very obvious connections to the tale of Little Red Riding Hood - such as the red cape and names like "Grandmother" and "Wolf" - the plot and characters stand well on their own. There are also some more subtle connections between this story and its fairy-tale counterpart that I have yet to fully grasp, but I'm still intrigued and impressed by.

As for the direction this story ultimately takes, let's just say I'm left uncertain as to how I feel. I get the intention and some of the reasons for the outcome, but am I satisfied with this book as its own entity? *shrugs* It works, but I'm feeling a little...lost (emotionally speaking). And despite all that occurs and being in Joch's head throughout the story, he didn't completely win over my devotion and sympathy.

Still, What Is Lost held my interest and has me curious about Book 3 in this fanciful fantasy series.

*With thanks to Cedar Fort for providing me with a PDF copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

About the Author

Lauren Skidmore grew up in Kansas, with stints in Ohio and New York, and currently lives in Utah. She attended Brigham Young University where she earned a BA in English Teaching with an emphasis in Teaching English as a Second Language and Japanese. She then spent a year in Japan teaching and traveling. When she's not exploring new places, you can probably find her on the internet with fifteen windows open and looking at just one more thing before actually getting something done. Visit her website at www.laurenskidmore.com.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

An UPlifting Find

Hello, friends! It feels like forever since I've shared a post that doesn't involve...
  • reviewing books
  • posting covers of books
  • talking about books
  • books
Not that posting about books is a bad thing, right? ;)

I'll have more bookish things to write about soon, but today I simply had to share a gem I discovered at our local Hallmark store.


First, can we just take a moment to appreciate this bag? Hallmark is so spot-on with this tagline. 

Life is a special occasion.

How awesome would it be if we remembered this every day? And not just as an excuse to eat more dessert and buy more things (which I know I can be guilty of when I take on this mentality...), but as a reason to take that chance, make that memory, and laugh off the stressful days. 

Experiences like this past Friday night, when I spent an incredibly fun and awesome evening eating way too much pizza and breadsticks and salad with some coworkers at a pizza parlor, bring this philosophy home. Life truly is a special occasion. :)

Now, let me show you the very special item I purchased...




Isn't it just darling??

Up makes me cry pretty much every time I watch it. The movie has such a great message - one that goes perfectly with the message on that bag, actually. Life is something to be cherished, even after loss. Memories of a life well-lived shouldn't hold us back - they should lift us up to continue our journey with great love and joy. 

"Adventure is out there." (And although I'm not a coffee drinker, I'm sure caffeine will somehow make its way "in there" - such a cute idea for a mug!)

Are you ready for an adventure today?


While it appears that the mug is currently not available online, you can learn more about it and find a Hallmark store near you on the Hallmark website.