Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Book Review: Ashes on the Moor

I couldn't wait for Sarah Eden's new book, Ashes on the Moor, to come out. I am a huge fan of hers and I can't think of a book she's written that I didn't like. This one was no exception!

In Ashes on the Moor, we meet Evangeline Blake who has just lost her family. With only her sister left, she clings to her as they face an uncertain future with an aunt and uncle. But a cruel twist of fate separates them and throws Evangeline into circumstances that she's unprepared for. Forced to be the town's new schoolteacher and live in a humble home in need of a lot of care, Evangeline is lost and overwhelmed. The only person who shows her a bit of kindness is an Irishman named Dermot McCormick. He's also trying to figure out his place in the world since his heritage is looked down upon no matter what he does. But as Dermot and Evangeline build a friendship, stronger feelings flare and they must decide if love is worth fighting for.

I loved this book. It's not a light romance, but a look back in time when a woman had few choices and your birth and heritage could prevent you from having life's basic necessities. Ms. Eden has obviously done an incredible amount of research as the town of Smeatley with its Yorkshire residents comes to life, fairly jumping off the page. So many language, dress, and food details add to the amazing setting, giving the characters even more depth. Our heroine, Evangeline, will draw on all a reader's emotions as she deals with so many losses and has to keep picking herself up over and over.  I wanted her to not only get her happily-ever-after, but to stand up and make a few people accountable for what they'd done! Dermot is also a character that will stay with you after the book is finished. He's suffered and risen above it, and all the while built a foundation of love and care for others, instead of bitterness as to his lot in life. He was the perfect match for Evangeline and their romance was a sweet, slow burn, that will give you all the feels. Definitely another one for my keeper shelf!

I think the best thing about Sarah Eden's books is that they aren't just stories, they are an experience. She pulls you into another time and place and takes you on an adventure that you won't soon forget!

You can download your copy here


Here's the back copy:

The life of an impoverished schoolteacher is not one Evangeline Blake would have chosen for herself. Torn from her home and her beloved sister and sent to work in the gritty factory town of Smeatley, Evangeline must prove herself to her grandfather, a man who values self-reliance above all else, before he will grant her access to her inheritance. Raised to be a lady of refinement, she hasn't any of the skills necessary to manage on her own nor does she have the first idea how to be a teacher. But failure means never being with her sister again.

Alone and overwhelmed, she turns to the one person in town who seems to know how she feels—Dermot McCormick, an Irish brick mason who is as far from home and as out of place as she is. Despite the difference in their classes and backgrounds, Evangeline and Dermot's tentative friendship deepens and grows. Her determination and compassion slowly earn her the faith and confidence of the skeptical residents of Smeatley, who become like the family she has lost.

But when a secret from her past comes to light, Evangeline faces an impossible choice: seize the opportunity to reclaim her former life and rejoin her sister or fight for the new life she has struggled to build for herself—a life that includes Dermot.

Ashes on the Moor is the inspiring love story of one Victorian woman's courage to fight against all odds, and the man whose quiet strength gives her the confidence to keep trying.

In The Non-Fiction Corner--You Are Magnificent & A Giveaway!

In the Non-Fiction Corner With Lauren

Being enough. This is something we have all pondered on time and time again. I know that I have, and I know that I have preached to hundreds of youth that thought they weren't pretty enough, smart enough, spiritual enough, or whatever it is, thoughts that only come from Satan. However, Ganel-lyn Condie was the one smart enough to write a book on it. The premise and thoughts behind this book are really good, and you feel Condie is talking to a friend or a daughter who she cares about.

One thing I really enjoyed about this book is that the beginning of every chapter is very engaging. The titles make you want to learn more, because you start to think "Am I courageous enough? Am I faithful enough?" and then Condie reels you in with a good story or attention grabber. She also uses many current events that people can relate to. I loved when she referenced things like the eclipse or the hurricane in Texas, because those were recent enough that I remember how I was feeling during those events and I have never seen them in a book before. 

I love her scriptural examples and uplifting quotes, and she also shared stories about women who shine in the areas she was addressing. Sometimes it's hard to read these stories about women who give everything they have and have to use their counter as an ironing board because they no longer have one, never get upset and have the utmost amounts of patience, or literally give the shirts off their back. If I am not doing these things that she mentions in the book, am I really enough? There is always someone doing more than me and I can always do better, as I have seen through the several examples given. Condie told a story of when she was called to primary chorister and she felt inadequate. She said there were tears and temple visits, anxiety and an outbreak of hives. It made me wonder if a woman who speaks to thousands feels that uncomfortable with 40 children, should I be more self-conscious when I get up to do my calling? She is clearly a better speaker and more creative than me, but the amount of distress this caused her made me wonder if I should stress more like I just got asked to speak in conference.

Overall I learned that no one can convince you that you are enough. Someone can tell you you are beautiful until they are red in the face, but it doesn't matter until you believe it. At the end of all her chapters, Condie has takeaways that turn the reader to the Savior. And that's where the difference comes, when your relationship with Him tells you that you are enough in every aspect in your life, but to never stop improving. I'm glad that I read this book and that I was reminded to build up those around me, but especially myself.

You can get your copy of the book here

Don't forget to scroll all the way down and enter the giveaway!

Here's the back copy:

In a world where many women wonder if they measure up, the quest for perfection can be exhausting! For those who are overloaded and overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy comes an authentic and powerful lifeline of reassurance by best-selling author and popular motivational speaker Ganel-Lyn Condie. Featuring lessons taught through scripture, Church leaders, and personal experience, this inspirational book highlights the eternal strength inherent in and available to every woman.

Readers will laugh, cry, and feel supported as they live their earthly missions with renewed peace and confidence. From the innate beauty of daughters of God to the gift of self-acceptance to the transcendent power of Christ’s grace, sisters in every stage of life will be inspired to live more freely and fearlessly by learning to embrace their eternal potential and realize they are already more than enough—they are magnificent.

Blog Tour Schedule:

*March 12th:

*March 14th:,,

*March 15th:,

*March 16th:

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

I've Got A Free Romance For You Today!

I just noticed that Jennifer Peel's romance, Paige's Turn, is free today and thought I'd pass the deal along!

Here's the back copy:

With the encouragement of her beloved Aunt Mitzi, plain and overlooked Paige James left her hometown of Bella Port ten years ago and never looked back. But free-spirited Aunt Mitzi had plans for Paige to stop being pushed into the background. Those plans included leaving Paige as sole heir to her fortune and owner of her bookstore, Paige’s Turn. Begrudgingly, Paige returns home to fulfill her aunt’s last wishes, no longer the girl who’d left in baggy jeans and an ill-fitting t-shirt.

Paige discovers, though, that Mitzi’s last wishes include a lot of meddling in her love life. From the grave, and with the help of some friends, Mitzi has set out to make sure Paige and Bella Port’s most eligible bachelor, Sam Kennedy, find true love together. What Mitzi didn’t foresee is the firestorm and gossip she created that paints Paige as a swindler and liar, leaving Sam to wonder about the grown woman Paige has become. It doesn’t help when Paige fires him after their first meeting. But as friendship blossoms between Paige and Sam, they find each other hard to resist.

Was Mitzi right about the two of them? Will Paige finally have her turn?
You can download your free Kindle copy here

Monday, March 12, 2018

Book Review: Prancing Around With Sleeping Beauty

I was so excited to be part of the blog tour for Stacy Juba's new book, Prancing Around With Sleeping Beauty. I had really enjoyed Fooling Around With Cinderella, and wanted to see more of Storybook Valley.

The new one starts out with a peek into Rory's life when she believes her boyfriend is proposing, but he isn't. We also get to see her job as a dance instructor and how much pressure she's under to perform. Her life is predictable, safe, and not all that fun. When she meets Kyle, however, some things start to "fall" into place---until she realizes he's the grandson of her family's arch rival. That little detail starts off a series of events that will keep you turning pages to see what Rory will choose---keeping on with the safe life she's built or taking a chance on love.

I really loved Kyle's character and how easygoing he was. He knew what he wanted out of life and he was going after his dreams. He had some really cute scenes with his niece and the animals from Duke's Animal World that were awww moments. Our heroine, Rory, (aka Aurora Rose) has a really hard time being honest with herself and managing her own life. She makes a lot of decisions that will have you shaking your head, but still hoping she'll figure it out. The romance was fun and flirty, but at times got overshadowed by the overabundance of details and secondary characters. The peripheral stories involving the secondary cast slowed down the pacing considerably and took away some of the oomph of the romance for me, but there was still enough to keep me reading and hoping for a good ending. I was really rooting for Kyle and Rory to get their happily-ever-after! And since I enjoyed the first book so much, it was great to see Dylan and Jaine again and catch up on where they're at now as well as revisit the theme park.

This is a fun afternoon read that will take you back to warm summer days of cotton candy, rides, and being with the one you love.

You can download your copy here

Here's the back copy:

This Sleeping Beauty isn’t sure she wants to wake up…

Dance instructor Rory Callahan likes to play it safe. When she meets Kyle, he’s impulsive, persistent, and her exact opposite. He’s pushing her to tango way past her comfort zone and keeping Rory on her toes more than twenty years of dance teachers ever had.

Unfortunately, he’s the grandson of her family’s archrival and she doesn’t want to disappoint them. After all, her parents imagine her as a proper princess - hence her namesake Aurora, AKA Sleeping Beauty. Complicating matters, Rory’s also dealing with a surgeon boyfriend who’s perfect for her (sort of), an obnoxious boss, and desperate dance moms. Kyle wants to change her whole life, but Rory doesn’t like the stakes. After all, princesses are the ones who get the happy endings. . .aren’t they?

Friday, March 9, 2018

Help Me Decide My New Project!

I am at a crossroads at the moment. I have two projects that I could go with, but I'm not sure which one I should work on next. What do you think?

Should I do Nate's story from the Griffin Force series?


Should I do Karissa's story from Lincoln Love Stories series?

What do you think? Help an author out, would you?

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Hawaii Five-O Recap & Review: The Ep With A LOT of Talking

The team stood around the Chatting Table or in the Blue Room of Doom and talked for most of the episode, but we did get Steve in his blue shirt, (thank you wardrobe people!) and also Steve using a jackhammer. Other than that . . .

We start out with Adam chained in the abandoned shipping container with ants of some kind all over his body. (Adam and the ANTS. Get it. Haha. #sorrynotsorry) The effect is super creepy and gross, even though it's CGI. They are biting him and he's freaking out. (I wouldn't open my mouth to scream if I were him. *shiver*)

Cut to Tani and Junior being interviewed by Miss Meach for a swank school for their "son" Noah. Tunior lays it on pretty thick about how Noah is athletic, loving, kind, compassionate, smart, artistic, and could be an ARCHITECT! Wow. But, wait, they say to Miss Meach, we thought Headmaster Waller would be here. Miss Meach is eager to dish on how poor Waller has vanished, even though she's talking to people she doesn't know. Apparently Waller had a strong personality that rubbed people wrong, but no one at the school had anything to do with his disappearance. Uh huh. We flashback to the Chatting Table where Tani isn't thrilled to be going undercover for a missing persons case. But the bumbling HPD has already talked to everyone and got nowhere, so now they need Five-O to clean it up. Steve and Danny are joking around about Tunior's chemistry, but so far it's seems pretty forced to me. Back to the interview where they show Miss Meach their obviously photoshopped pics of them and Noah, and Tani finds out that if they want to increase their chances of getting Noah in, they can come to a charity function and bid on expensive stuff. Back at the Chatting Table they're talking about getting HPD to foot the bill (since HPD can't seem to do anything else right on cases) and Grover is yapping about his college kid and some other boring stuff. (Steve stood there looking mighty fine in his blue shirt, so that saved the scene.) Junior comes in to add that Waller's financials are fine and he left all his personal effects behind. Oh, and the janitor found a 9mm casing in a vacuum bag so the school is a possible murder scene. (Did HPD search the school? Did anyone?) But since the Board of Trustees had 100 complaints about Waller, they're sending Tunior into the fundraiser to narrow down the suspect pool. (Are all the people who complained going to be there or something? That didn't make sense, but oh well.)

Back to the nonsensical restaurant storyline. Uncle Vito got contractor bids and they're way out of budget. Surprise! And though Steve put in for liquor license a month ago, they won't get one approved for a year so Vito is going to see what he can do to expedite the process. Oy. *zips lips*

And then to Adam's storyline. (When did this show go from an awesome hour of Steve and his task force to a few bits of Steve, then a restaurant and Adam's task force?)  Hidecki throws some water on Adam to wake him up because he wants to talk about the 20 million dollars that Michelle Shioma hid. Adam denies that he knows anything, but in order to get him to talk, Hidecki brought JessietheCuteCon as his enforcer to beat up Adam. (Really? A crime boss like Hidecki must have fifty guys that could put a beatdown on Adam, but he brings a random girl he just met whose vibe is more sweet than criminal?) But that's not even the end of the plot point. Instead of supervising the girl he barely knows, Hidecki politely waits outside so JessiethePlotPointEnforcer can punch Adam around for a bit before she tells him to just give Hidecki what he wants or she'll have to beat him to death. (Why not just untie Adam and the two of you take Hidecki?)

Finally JessiePlotPoint brings Hidecki in and Adam says he'll take him to the money. They put Adam in the passenger seat with Hidecki behind him and a threat that if Adam tries anything stupid, Hidecki will paint the windshield red. (Well, that's an image.) JessiePlotPoint drives them out to a forested area and Adam acts like he knows where they're going as he leads the way into the trees.

Back to the restaurant nonsense. Vito is happy that Kamekona found him a sketchy, cheap crew. He bails, though, saying he has an errand to run and Kame can supervise for him while he's gone. Of course Vito goes to the Liquor Commissioner's office and tries to bribe the guy. (Could this get any more cliche?)

Finally we're back to the "main" storyline and Tunior are at the fundraiser for the school gym. Tani and Junior are mingling, but they are terrible at it. They pretty much are going up to groups of people and saying, "Hey, you guys know anything about Headmaster Waller?" Cause that's not suspicious at all. A few people spread gossip and say Waller was dipping into gym fund, having an affair with someone on the committee, and there was an expelled student who is going to sue. Steve, Danny, and Grover are just standing around the Chatting Table doing nothing. Steve asks how it went with Vito and Danny seems surprised that Steve is upset when he says that Vito's contractor bids were fifty percent over budget. Danny has all kinds of faith that even though Steve took too long to apply for the liquor license, Vito will take care of it. (Does Danny really believe that? I just have no words for the silliness of this restaurant and the dead end it is story-wise.)

More info dumping at the Chatting Table. (So far this ep, Steve, Danny, and Grover haven't left the table!) Headmaster Waller had deleted files on his computer, but they got them back and one of them was the termination of head of admissions, Miss Meach. She was taking bribes! Oddly, that file was deleted after Waller went missing. Dun, dun, dun. Miss Meach is about to leave the fundraiser when Tani and Junior approach her and say surprise, now we get to interview you. Meach is taken to the Blue Room of Doom. (Yay! Steve can leave the table!) She's denying everything, but they have video of her going into the headmaster's office. She caves and says yeah, she deleted it, but didn't kill him. Steve isn't buying it, but gets a call, they have new evidence. Waller's car! But it was wiped down with no evidence of anything. Well, maybe Waller's body is still at the school. (I guess the bumbling HPD didn't think of that.)

The team easily finds a cement form randomly poured that is rough and an obviously rushed job. (Nobody noticed this before?) Steve gets a jackhammer (the most action he's gotten in this ep so far) and they find the body with a gun next to it that is registered to Mr. Barton, the construction guy from the fundraiser. They pick him up as he's fleeing with a duffel bag full of money. In the Blue Room of Doom, Steve and Danny tell him that his financials show he's laundering money and speculate that Waller must have found out. Barton confesses and asks after his family. They're in danger since he works for a Venezuelan drug cartel and once they find out, they'll kill his family. Cut to his wife and daughter shopping before gunfire breaks out and they're kidnapped.

Back to Adam, Hidecki, and JessiePlotPoint tramping through the forest. Hidecki takes a call that proves he's working for someone else. Adam picks a spot and he starts digging while he's whispering to JessiePlotPoint about Hidecki's call. She doesn't seem to care really. And Hidecki shows no interest in the fact that JessiePlotPoint and Adam sure whisper a lot. Hidecki's patience runs out, but Adam digs up a strong box with a gun in it. Adam explains that his father buried the gun to have leverage over a rich man who murdered his business partner. If the guy can't pay up then Adam will still owe Hidecki.

Barton drives to a meet with the cartel people to give them the money so he can get his family back. They show him the daughter and wife behind a glass window, but even after he gives them the money, they're going to kill them while he watches. Steve and team move in for a gunfight and Junior takes Kono's old sniper role and takes out the last guy. (Finally! Some action!) But it's short-lived and Barton is arrested while Mom and daughter are led away. Before they haul him off, Steve says crime lab processed the gun, but evidence shows markers that say a female pulled the trigger. Barton knew his wife did it and he's ready to go to prison for her. (Why? Was she having an affair? I guess we'll never know. I hate loose ends.)

Adam meets up with Steve who is unhappy that Adam was hurt. (Did Adam have any check-ins with Steve? Did anyone know their new "task force" head was missing? Doesn't look like it.) Steve wants to shut it down, but Adam is still all in. He feels like figuring out who Hidecki is working for is worth it, but there's some angle he's not seeing. He thought Michelle was messing with him, but now he's not so sure. There's something going on and it's all connected. *yawn*

Danny goes to the restaurant that is all torn up and Kame tells him his uncle left and didn't come back. Danny gets a collect call from police dept and Vito got picked up for bribing a public official. Danny pays his bail while Vito expounds on why the restaurant is a terrible idea, that's it's a full time back breaking grind and you don't do it as a hobby. (Or insert it into an action drama!) They put everything behind  them and have a group hug, but Vito is concentrating on the picture of the guy who shot Danny that is randomly being shown on the Chatting Table screen. Vito's seen him before because he went to his house and gave him a bid for a bathroom remodel. When the guy said he knew Jersey cops, Vito mentioned that Danny now worked in Hawaii. That's how the guy knew where to find Danny! Oops.

We end on Adam getting a call from Jessie to turn on the news. A local business magnate was found dead in home of suicide. The guy didn't have blackmail money for Hidecki, so Adam is still on the hook for 20 million. Hmm...

Not my favorite episode. For me, there was too much standing around info dumping and not enough action. Did you watch? What did you think?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Free Romantic Suspense Book For You Today!

I'm giving away my bestselling romantic suspense, The Captive, today! If you've been waiting to add this one to your Julie Coulter Bellon book collection, now's your chance.

You can download your free copy here

Here's the back copy:

Former Navy SEAL Jake Williams is the newly appointed head of a task force assigned to rescue a kidnapped American diplomat. Their only hope is Mya Amari, the daughter of a notorious Algerian hostage negotiator, but she is full of secrets and complications-something Jake takes as a personal challenge. As they grow closer, the threat to the mission escalates and time runs out for the hostages. Can Jake unravel the web of deception to save them all without getting caught in the crossfire?

Mya Amari has been in hiding nearly her entire life to escape her father's enemies. But when her sister is kidnapped along with an American diplomat, she'll do anything to bring her home-including walking into the enemy's lair. She doesn't trust anyone, especially the too-handsome-for-his-own-good Commander Williams, but when all her careful plans explode out of control, he's the only one she can turn to with the truth about her family. Is it too little, too late?