Saturday, August 31, 2013

Book Review: I, Spy by Jordan McCollum

Back Cover Blurb
Canada is probably the last place you’d expect to find an American spy. But even idyllic Ottawa has its deadly secrets—and so does CIA operative Talia Reynolds. She can climb through ventilation shafts, blend in at the occasional diplomatic function, even scale buildings (small ones). But there’s one thing she can’t do: tell her aerospace engineer boyfriend Danny about her Top Secret occupation.

It worked for a year, keeping Danny in the dark, keeping him away from danger, keeping her secrets. And then Talia finally catches a hot case: Fyodor Timofeyev. Russian. Aerospace executive. Possible spy?

She can make this work, too—until Danny needs her at the same time her country does. And when Fyodor targets Danny? Suddenly her schedule isn’t the only thing suffering. Now to save her secrets and her country, Talia must sacrifice the man she loves.

My Review
4.5 of 5 stars
I loved this book. The main character, Talia, has a wit and slight cynicism that makes her a delight as a narrator. I'm a huge fan of first person, and this book had first person narrative at its best. 

I really enjoyed the "spy lingo" used throughout the novel. It immersed me in the story. I really liked the unique setting of Canada. How many spy books are set in Ottawa? So fun! The pacing was fast and I liked how the various subplots all connected at the end. 

I wish we had gotten to see more of Danny and Talia's relationship in the beginning. It took me awhile to feel like I "knew" Danny, and because of that it took me longer than I would have liked to root for their relationship. Once I hit the halfway point, I was totally Team Danny, but in the beginning I wasn't sure why Talia loved him. It also drove me nuts how long it took Talia to relay her secret at the end. I kept screaming at my kindle, "Just tell him already!" 

I, Spy was a perfect blend of romance, spies, work problems, and bad guys. The author's narrative style had me laughing out loud. There are some seriously awesome one-liners in this book. This book is an intense spy thriller with heavy romantic elements. I definitely want to read the novella Mr. Nice Spy, and I can't wait for the sequel to be released!

Friday, August 30, 2013

First Kiss and a Giveaway!

Today I'm spotlighting First Kiss by Cindy M. Hogan. I did a review back in July. I really enjoyed it!

Back Cover Blurb
VL. Virgin Lips. You may not have heard of it, but where I live, it’s a thing with a card, even if it is a figurative card. I was Brooklyn Hill, certified virgin lips, and I planned on clinging to that figurative card with all I had—while dating as many of the hottest guys at school as I could.
Maybe that’s a bit strange. I mean, what teenage girl isn’t interested in kissing? Locking lips definitely interested me, but the drama that came with it didn’t. No kissing, no drama. Simple.
But on my sixteenth birthday, on my first real date even, the drama found me. His name was Luke Graham—cute, funny, and bad news for the whole female race.
First Kiss is the first episode in the Confessions of a Sixteen-Year-Old Virgin Lips series. It's young adult contemporary fiction. The second episode, Stolen Kiss, is now available too!
Excerpt from First Kiss
We all laughed and ran outside and stormed the hot tub.

After the obligatory splashing and dunking settled down, Parker jutted his chin at me and teased. “You’re sixteen now, Brooklyn, the question is, are you still in the VL club?”

A strange silence fell over the group. I guess they really wanted to hear my response. I paused just long enough to give the answer away. I looked up, noticing a few stars speckled the skyline.

“Oooh,” Mike said. “’nough said. Well, my dear, your pain will now be over.” He moved toward me, lips puckered, eye brows waggling. I turned my head before he could make contact. My whole body was on fire.

Ali and Katherine, my two red-headed friends, pushed him back. “Down boy. Unlike you, she wants her first kiss to be special, meaningful, and with someone she wants to kiss. So, back off.” Ali could be forceful when she wanted to be. I loved and hated that about her.

He whimpered like a wounded dog as he sat back in his spot.

“Buurrrn!” Mike yelled.
“Burn, baby, burn,” Parker sang.

Buy Links
Amazon * Goodreads

Author Links
blog * Facebook

Cindy has generously donated one free copy of her novel Protected (book 2 in the Watched Series) for me to give away to one of my lucky readers! Better yet, you can all get Watched (book 1) for free! Just fill out the rafflecopter below. Easy peasy. If the winner is from the U.S., they can choose either a paperback or ecopy of Protected. If the winner is international, they will receive an ecopy. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wishing on Baby Dust submitted!

You guys. I just clicked "send." Wishing on Baby Dust is officially submitted! I even got a very nice "we've received your submission" letter which helped alleviate my did-they-get-it-oh-my-gosh-did-i-type-in-the-email-address-wrong fears. :)

I am giddy with glee at the moment. I'm currently chatting with my friends at the iWriteNetwork, and my comments are mostly of the all-caps variety. But this is a pretty big deal for me. The last time I submitted a novel was in 2006. It was so long ago, you had to actually print off a copy and mail it (I LOVE digital submissions, so much easier!). I was 16 at the time, and while I always intended to edit the novel again and submit it elsewhere, college/marriage/babies/life got in the way.

But when the twins were born, I had a wakeup call. I missed writing, like a physical ache. And I looked at my new sons, and realized I wanted them to know their mother followed her dreams, even when it was hard. Even when it wasn't convenient. And that's when I started writing again.

Last May I began outlining Wishing on Baby Dust. 15 months later, I've submitted it. It changed from third person to first after the first fifty pages. It's been revised four times. It's been through eleven beta readers and two critique groups. I cut 28k words, and added in 27k in edits. I deleted 5.4k of those words in my overused words edit. I wrote the book while going through fertility treatments myself. I wrote it in spite of nighttime feedings and chasing after twin toddlers and helping my husband get through school. I did it. And I've decided it's okay to say I'm proud of myself.

Wishing on Baby Dust isn't a perfect novel. I'm sure there are flaws. But it's my absolute best work. I've given the book my time and tears and heart. And now I've placed it in someone else's expert hands, and I hope that it's enough.

This is an exciting milestone for me. Possibly the start of my writing career. I have a four to six month wait ahead of me before I learn of my book's fate. But that just means I get to work on my shiny-new project. :) First I'm going to take a few weeks off to just read for fun, and to get my creative juices pumping again. Then it's full steam ahead on Miss Match!


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tuesdays in Twinland: Busy

I've really been slacking on the Twinland posts. This is the week I'm submitting my novel, so after this I promise I will get back to regularly posting! Happy Tuesday!


Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Change of Plans Audio Book Giveaway!

So remember back in June when I read my friend Donna's book A Change of Plans and couldn't stop raving about it? Well now you can win an AUDIO copy of this awesome book! You so want in on this one. Trust me. :) 

Donna K. Weaver is so excited about the release of the audio book of her adventure romance A Change of Plans that she and her publisher, Rhemalda, are hosting a giveaway. 

And there can be two winners!

When Lyn sets off on her supposedly uncomplicated and unromantic cruise, she never dreams it will include pirates. All the 25-year-old, Colorado high school teacher wants to do is forget that her dead fiancĂ© was a cheating scumbag. Lyn plans a vacation diversion; fate provides Braedon, an intriguing surgeon. She finds herself drawn to him: his gentle humor, his love of music, and even his willingness to let her take him down during morning karate practices. Against the backdrop of the ship's make-believe world and temporary friendships, her emotions come alive. 

However, fear is an emotion, too. Unaware of the sensitive waters he's navigating, Braedon moves to take their relationship beyond friendship--on the very anniversary Lyn is on the cruise to forget. Lyn's painful memories are too powerful, and she runs from Braedon and what he has to offer.

It’s hard to avoid someone when stuck on the same ship, and the pair finds themselves on one of the cruise's snorkeling excursions in American Samoa. Paradise turns to piracy when their party is kidnapped and Lyn's fear of a fairytale turns grim. Now she must fight alongside the man she rejected, first for their freedom and then against storms, sharks, and shipwreck.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Can a Publisher Cancel a Book Because the Author is Gay?

Apparently you can.

Meet David Powers King. Lots of you probably already know him. Last October, I was invited to join a critique group of which he is apart. The four individuals in this group have been fantastic. They have helped me grow so much as a writer, and I now consider all of them dear friends.

When I found out David and his co-author, Michael, had signed a publishing contract for their debut novel, Woven, I was thrilled! By that point I'd had months of exposure to David's work, and knew anything he wrote would be fantastic. As I learned more and more about the story, I got more and more excited for October, when I would be able to buy a copy and devour it.

That's not going to happen now. Oh, I have no doubt the book will be published. But not in October. Not by Cedar Fort. Why, you ask? All because of one word--partner. Go on, read the article. I'll wait. You can also listen to the short news clip that aired on KUTV last night. And read David's thoughts on the matter.

I'm shocked, too. I couldn't believe it when David told us what was happening. I checked my calendar--it's still 2013. I thought we were enlightened now? I thought we decided discrimination was bad? I thought we were supposed to love everyone and judge not, that we be not judged?

The writing and online community seems to be exploding with this news. Read this very interesting--and enlightening--blog post on the subject. The whole thing is just sad. Cedar Fort knew Michael was gay when they signed the book. By offering them a contract, Michael and David assumed it wasn't an issue. Woven is a YA fantasy with a very heterosexual romance angle. It's fun, light-hearted, something anyone and everyone can enjoy. It doesn't infringe on anyone's value or belief system. Cedar Fort wanted the book, but they didn't want to properly--and respectfully--attribute the work to it's rightful authors.

Because David is LDS, Cedar Fort caters to a largely LDS audience, and Michael is gay, I'm sure waves will be made. But let me say this: this was not a decision made by the LDS church. This decision does not reflect on the opinions of all LDS people. There are many, many good LDS members who are just as saddened by Cedar Fort's actions on this issue as am I. As for me, I stand by my religion's beliefs and statements on the matter, and I always will. You can read about the LDS church's stance here and here, on their official websites. And those beliefs state, over and over and over, that everyone--everyone--deserves to be treated with love and respect and humanity. Which unfortunately did not happen in this situation. At all. It's sad that all of this mess is because of one tiny word. A word not even in the book, but the bio.

The good news is David and Michael again hold the rights to Woven and now they can shop for a new and better home for their novel. Which they will find. And when they do, I will be at the release party with a copy in my hands. Because I buy books based on the book's merits, and not the authors' lifestyle choices.

So what do you think about the situation, blog readers? I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tuesdays in Twinland: Babies No More

In less that two weeks, Thing 1 and Thing 2 will have a birthday. They will be two.

Most parents rejoice at their children's birthdays. And I do too. I'm glad they're alive and healthy and growing. I'm so happy they're mine. I feel blessed at the two incredibly miracles hubby and I have been blessed with.

But a little part of my heart breaks too. Because every birthday that passes without another baby means another year we've been wanting and praying and hoping for more kids without success. And it's hard. Hard to realize there will be a three to four year age gap between our kids, minimum. In vitro isn't cheap. Hard to realize that I no longer have babies, but little boys. Hard to realize time is flying by so quickly. Hard to realize all our hoping and wishing and praying hasn't yet yielded results.

I've even started telling people I don't want more kids right now. The twins are too big of a handful, I say. If we don't have more soon I might decide we're done because this is hard. Two is enough. It isn't true, but something I try to convince myself of so it won't hurt each month when I know it hasn't happened.

I live in Utah Valley. It is like the hotbed of reproducing young couples. I have endured more pregnancy announcements over the last few months than I care to think about. And I'm happy for those people. Really, I am. But with each one, it becomes harder to smile and say, "Congratulations." It hurts more.

What's been really hard for me lately is that a lot of these friends,acquaintances, and family members who are announcing their upcoming bundles of joy have a baby younger than the twins. These people all have children born roughly the same time as mine. Some of these women have already given birth and are home from the hospital with their new gift from heaven.

And we're still here. Still infertile.

I know it's not a contest, and I shouldn't compare us to other people, but I do. It's human nature. They are having kids, and we aren't. They're moving forward, and we're standing still. That's life. It sucks, but there's nothing we can do about it right now.

But every week in church, when someone says, "Isn't it about time you have another one?" it hurts. Every time someone announces their pregnancy, it hurts. Every time I see a baby or a pregnant lady (and they are EVERYWHERE) it hurts. Every time someone tells me to just have faith and pray harder and it will miraculously happen (without medical intervention), it hurts. Like we don't have another baby because we aren't faithful enough, instead of because I have a disease (or two). Sure, the twins were a pretty miraculous conception. But I don't think that's going to happen again. Every time someone tells me, "You just need to pray harder," it's like saying, "Your severe tubal disease and PCOS isn't real. Get over it."

Hopefully it will happen soon. Hopefully we really can do in vitro next year. Hopefully it will work. So much relies on hope and Heavenly Father and medical science.

But for now, I'm going to try and forget about what I don't have and just be incredibly grateful for the two angels I have been blessed with.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Book Review: Finding Sheba by H.B. Moore

Back Cover Blurb
An ancient legend is reborn . . . One that might prove the Bible false.

For centuries, historians have theorized the Queen of Sheba as only a seductive legend, and scholars have debated over the legitimacy of King David or King Solomon. When undercover Israeli agent, Omar Zagouri, stumbles onto a tomb in Northern Jerusalem he unknowingly finds the final clue that threatens to overthrow government claim to the Holy Land, pits wealthy collectors against one another, and sends ruthless archaeologists scrambling to find the queen’s secret burial place. An assassination attempt on the Coptic Pope, His Holiness, Patriarch Stephanus II, is only the first in the chain of lethal crimes. Omar must find a way to prevent the greatest discovery of the century from becoming the most deadly.

My Review
4.5 stars out of 5
This was an international thriller that kept me guessing the whole book. I'm a historian, and the history in Finding Sheba absolutely fascinated me. I actually don't know a lot about the Queen of Sheba, and I loved learning more about her and the legends surrounding her. Now I want to go research the Queen and find out what was fact and what was fiction in this book!

My favorite thing about this book is that it alternated between modern day and the tenth century, when the Queen of Sheba reigned. I loved knowing things the main characters trying to discover the Queen's tomb didn't know. The setting the author created for when the Queen lived was so rich. I actually felt like I was in the tenth century, from the clothing to the speech patterns to the descriptions of the buildings and desert. I was drawn into her love story, and found myself anxiously plowing through chapters to find out more about her.

One thing that I did struggle with in the book was keeping Omar and Mia separate and distinct from Lucas and Jade. Those two storylines kept blurring in my mind, and I had to constantly remind myself what was happening to which characters. The plot was also incredibly detailed (which is actually a good thing), but unfortunately my brain power isn't what it used to be. I had a hard time keeping track of all the nuances throughout, but I think that's mostly my fault for not being too bright these days. Now that I've finished the book, I want to go back and re-read it so I can catch all the things I missed the first time around.

This is a rich, exciting tale. It's equal parts history and suspense, with just a dash of romance thrown in. I definitely recommend it!

You can now buy this book on Amazon!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tuesdays in Twinland: Too Smart for Their Own Good

Thing 1 and Thing 2 have a new obsession of Specifically, they love to go somewhere in the car. Or minivan, as the case may be.

A few weeks ago, they woke up from their naps and started clamouring to go upstairs. Figuring they wanted to see Grandma, I obliged, and we went upstairs for a little visit. I forgot that it also from upstairs we leave to go bye-bye 99.9% of the time This is due to a dearth of dead spider carcasses that keep appearing in my stairwell, no matter how time I make hubby vacuum them up.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 scrambled up the stairs, yelling, "Mamaw! Mamaw!" They don't quite have the "g" sound down yet.

Once upstairs, they raced to find Grandpa's tennis shoes. They are obsessed with his shoes, and love to stomp around the house in them. So they put on his shoes, and walked around saying, "Papa! Papa!"

That was cute, and I grinned at their antics. After a few minutes of walking around in the shoes, they led me to the mud room. They promptly found some of Grandma's shoes, and insisted I put them on. By this point I was suspicious. They have learned that in order to leave the house, not only do they need to be wearing shoes, but an adult needs to be wearing them also.

So I put on her shoes. Then they pointed to the key rack right by the garage door and started exclaiming, "Key! Car! Bye-bye!"

Those smart devils, they'd tricked me into getting ready to go somewhere. And they were so cute, and so insistent, that I had to comply. So I put on my real shoes, got my purse, and we decided we'd go to Walmart. We'd just been there the day before, but there were a few things I'd forgotten (that's how it always is with Walmart, after all) so I determined we'd make the trek again.

I brought up the twins' shoes, and tried to put them on. Every time I went to take Grandpa's shoes off one of their feet, they kicked and screamed like crazy. So eventually my mom and I picked them up and put them in the car. The whole way to Walmart they held their feet straight out so the shoes wouldn't fall off.

At Walmart, I tried to put their shoes on them again. A no-go. So we sat them in the back of the shopping cart, shoeless, and wandered around the store for a while to placate the Things.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 (especially Thing 2) are getting so opinionated lately. They know what they want, and have very definitive ideas about what they are and are not okay with. It's hilarious, frustrating, and entertaining all at the same time. I love watching their little personalities and preferences emerge each day. I am so lucky to be their mother!


Monday, August 5, 2013

Cover Reveal: Awakening by Christy Dorrity

I had the opportunity to meet Christy at LDStoryMakers this year. We were in the same group for publication primer. She is such a great person, and a fantastic writer.

Awakening is the first book in the The Geis series. It is a YA fantasy, and will be released September 24, 2013. Without further ado...the cover!

Even though you can buy Awakening until September, you can add it to your goodreads bookshelf now.

Back Cover Blurb

. . .because some Celtic stories won’t be contained in myth.

A little magic has always run in sixteen-year-old McKayla McCleery’s family—at least that’s what she’s been told. McKayla’s eccentric Aunt Avril travels the world as a clairvoyant for the FBI, and her mother can make amazing delicacies out of the most basic of ingredients. But McKayla doesn’t think for a second that the magic is real—it’s just good storytelling. Besides, McKayla doesn’t need magic. She just moved to beautiful Star Valley, Wyoming, and already she has an amazing best friend, a solo in her upcoming ballet recital, and the gorgeous guy in her physics class keeps looking her way.

When an unexpected fascination with Irish dance leads McKayla to seek instruction from the mute, crippled, janitor at her high school, she learns that her family is not the only one with unexplained abilities.

After Aunt Avril comes to the valley in pursuit of the supernatural killer that she has been chasing her entire career, people in the valley begin disappearing, and the lives of those McKayla holds most dear are threatened. When an ancient curse, known as a geis, awakens powers that defy explanation, McKayla is forced to come to terms with what is real and what is fantasy.

A thrilling first novel, Awakening is a gripping contemporary fantasy rife with magic, romance, and mystery.

Author Bio
Christy Dorrity lives in the mountains with her husband, five children, and a cocker spaniel. She grew up on a trout ranch in Star Valley, Wyoming, and is the author of The Book Blogger’s Cookbooks. Christy is a champion Irish dancer and when she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably trying out a new recipe in the kitchen.

Social Media Links


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Book Review: Feudlings in Sight by Wendy Knight

So I'm good friends with Wendy, and I'm a huge fan of her books. Feudlings in Sight, a Fate on Fire Short story, was released today, and the twins were kind enough to play nicely while I read it! If you want to find out more about Feudlings, the first book in the series, I did a review on it here.

Back Cover Blurb
Boys of war suck at romance.

Charity Delyle has lived in the shadow of her Prodigy cousin and his powerful Guard since the day she was born. And she doesn’t mind—really. Except that being in Hunter’s shadow means that he can’t see her. And she’d like that to change.

Hunter has one purpose in life: Protect the Prodigy, or die trying. That means a social life, school, and even Charity come last until the war is over. For the most part, he’s okay with that—he can lose everything if he has to…except his seer.

Starting at a new school should be much safer than living in a war-ravaged Carules headquarters. But this new school is different than the others. Friendships are forged and destinies are questioned, and Hunter’s decision could cost them all everything they’ve been hoping for.

My Review
5 of 5 stars
First, can we talk about that gorgeous cover? I loved the cover for Feudlings, and this one is such a great companion cover! It's so pretty and awesome and I love the font and can I pretty please hire this cover designer for my books one day? 

I enjoyed Feudlings, the first book in the series, but I really enjoyed this short story. I've always been a big fan of the strong voice the author has in her writing, and she delivered again with this book. I especially enjoyed the scenes from Hunter's point of view...there were some laugh-out-loud lines that had me giggling. Hunter came off as such an enigma to me in book one, and it was nice to see his thought process and understand him a little better.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was seeing the Edren prodigy, knowing who she was, but knowing that Charity, Shane, and Hunter didn't. I love moments where as I reader, I know things the main characters don't. I also was so happy we got to see more of Nev and Livi! They make great secondary characters that keep things interesting. Nev especially is great for comic relief when things get tense. 

If you haven't read Feudlings yet, don't worry...Feudlings in Sight actually takes place chronologically before book one, so you can read the short story first and not miss out on a thing. :)

I highly recommend this series! It's super clean, and something teenagers and adults alike will enjoy.

Buy Links
Amazon * Astraea Press * B&N 

Social Media Links for Wendy Knight
facebook * twitter * blog 

The Divided by Ryan Hunter

Remember way back when I did my first ever book review? Well, the sequel to inDIVISIBLE is finally here! Can you hear me squealing? I'll post a review of the book just as soon as I can find time to read it.

Well, inDIVISIBLE got a great new cover, and the cover for THE DIVIDED totally matches! I love it. This is a great dystopian series for young adults, and I can't wait to find out what happens to Brynn next.

Back Cover Blurb
Brynn Aberdie has found a home among the Freemen, but it’s not enough. She wants to wake the nation, educate them about their bondage. As her father’s plans are revealed on the hard drive she recovered from his office, she realizes she can't do it alone. Brynn must gain allies and infiltrate the society that wants her dead. And she must do it all without bringing the wrath of One United down on the innocent people she’s come to love.

Buy Links
Amazon * B&N * goodreads 

Social Media Links
website * blog * facebook page * twitter