Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Review: Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson (& Giveaway!)

Title: Blackmoore
Author: Julianne Donaldson
Genre: Regency Romance
Release Date: Sept 10 2013
ISBN: 13: 9781609074609
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Pages: 320

Add it: Goodreads | Shelfari

About the book (from Goodreads): Kate Worthington knows her heart and she knows she will never marry. Her plan is to travel to India instead—if only to find peace for her restless spirit and to escape the family she abhors. But Kate’s meddlesome mother has other plans. She makes a bargain with Kate: India, yes, but only after Kate has secured—and rejected—three marriage proposals. Kate journeys to the stately manor of Blackmoore determined to fulfill her end of the bargain and enlists the help of her dearest childhood friend, Henry Delafield. But when it comes to matters of love, bargains are meaningless and plans are changeable. There on the wild lands of Blackmoore, Kate must face the truth that has kept her heart captive. Will the proposal she is determined to reject actually be the one thing that will set her heart free? Set in Northern England in 1820, Blackmoore is a Regency romance that tells the story of a young woman struggling to learn how to follow her heart. It is Wuthering Heights meets Little Women with a delicious must-read twist.

My review:
This is easily one of my top 3 favorite books of the year (and to put that into perspective I just hit book 85 for 2013). Julianne writes fun descriptive characters that we get to see layers of as the story unfolds. I really enjoyed the quirky plot line and hauntingly beautiful scenery. Kate has a hard life at home, a family that just doesn't get her, appreciate her, or love her but she has good friends who she adores and helps her grow into the woman she is. Henry and his sister Sylvia provide a great duo for Kate.  And I just couldn't get enough of the sweet-natured man that Henry was!

I appreciated that each character stayed true to their personality and I loved that even though I tried to guess a step ahead I didn't ever quite get it all right. I found myself wanting to savor every interaction between Kate and Henry yet wanting to quickly read so I could find out how the story was going to leave me (but I savored it!).

I would absolutely recommend this to anyone I know. It's completely appropriate for the young girls I work with at church group but also adult women will get a total thrill from the well written romance.

There is much more I could tell you personally, about why I loved this book but I'm afraid if I wrote exactly why, it would contain too many spoilers, so if you get a chance to read it and want to gush I'm totally available!

Buy it here:
                      Paperback                            Kindle

More about the author: Julianne Donaldson grew up as the daughter of a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot. She learned how to ski in the Italian Alps, visited East Berlin before the wall came down, and spent three years living next to a 500-year-old castle. After earning a degree in English, she turned her attention to writing about distant times and places. She lives in Utah with her husband and four children.

Facebook: Julianne Donaldson
Website: The Official Site of Julianne Donaldson

FYI Julianne's first book Edenbrooke is just 1.99 on kindle right now!

Win it!

I LOVE being able to share delightful, wonderful, good books with my friends. So I'm going to do a giveaway of Blackmoore to all my lovely readers! One (1) winner will receive one copy, either paperback or kindle version, of Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson provided by Cranberryfries blog.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 23, 2013

Marriage Monday: Inspiration

I found this article online and thought it'd be fun to share for one of my posts. Every time I read a self-help article I realize not everything works for everyone so keep that in mind and think of how you can apply these or change them to work for you and your relationship. Pick a few to do this week! There are a lot of fun ideas so please jump over to the original article by Janel and read her other great points! Here's the first ten. 

1. Initiate great sex.
2. Send him an email. Example: “Praying for you today. Thanks for being so courageous in [insert specific area].”
3. Give him one night on a regular basis to do something he loves.
4. Consistently mention ways you see him growing to be more like Christ.
5. Ask him about his “bucket list.”
6. Give him a book, audio CD, or ticket to learn about something he loves doing.
7. Ask him about some dreams he has — and pray about them together, evaluating them. Then ask how you can help him go after them.
8. Text him. Example: “REMINDER: I BELIEVE IN U.”
9. Make sure he feels respected by you.
10. Leave sticky notes in his lunch, on his steering wheel, in his briefcase, etc. “So proud of all you’ve been doing with ___.” “You are so great with our kids.” “You are my dream come true.” “You are an incredible lover.”

(Click the link to check out the rest of her list!)

You can find my other Marriage Monday's here.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Cover Reveal: Making Faces by Amy Harmon

Title:  Making Faces
Author:  Amy Harmon
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Expected Release Date:  October 20, 2013
Cover Design:  Amy Harmon
Photography:  Hiskey Photography
Cover Reveal Organized By: Cristina’s Book Reviews and Vilma’s Book Blog
Add it to GoodReads: Making Faces

Pre order from Amazon:  

Ambrose Young was beautiful. He was tall and muscular, with hair that touched his shoulders and eyes that burned right through you. The kind of beautiful that graced the covers of romance novels, and Fern Taylor would know. She'd been reading them since she was thirteen. But maybe because he was so beautiful he was never someone Fern thought she could have...until he wasn't beautiful anymore.
Making Faces is the story of a small town where five young men go off to war, and only one comes back. It is the story of loss. Collective loss, individual loss, loss of beauty, loss of life, loss of identity. It is the tale of one girl's love for a broken boy, and a wounded warrior's love for an unremarkable girl. This is a story of friendship that overcomes heartache, heroism that defies the common definitions, and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast, where we discover that there is a little beauty and a little beast in all of us.

About The Author:

Amy Harmon knew at an early age that writing was something she wanted to do, and she divided her time between writing songs and stories as she grew. Having grown up in the middle of wheat fields without a television, with only her books and her siblings to entertain her, she developed a strong sense of what made a good story. Amy Harmon has been a motivational speaker, a grade school teacher, a junior high teacher, a home school mom, and a member of the Grammy Award winning Saints Unified Voices Choir, directed by Gladys Knight. She released a Christian Blues CD in 2007 called "What I Know" - also available on Amazon and wherever digital music is sold. She has written five novels, Running Barefoot, Slow Dance in Purgatory, Prom Night in Purgatory, the New York Times Bestseller, A Different Blue and coming October 20, Making Faces.

Author Links:


He didn't know how to make her understand that she was so much more than just pretty.  So he leaned forward and pressed his mouth to hers.  Very carefully.  Not like the other night when he'd been scared and impulsive, and smacked her head against the wall in his attempt to kiss her.  He kissed her now to tell her how he felt.  He pulled away almost immediately, not giving himself a chance to linger and lose his head. He wanted to show her he valued her, not that he wanted to rip her clothes off.  And he wasn't sure when it came right down to it that she wanted to be kissed by an ugly SOB.  She was the kind of girl that would kiss him because she didn't want to hurt his feelings.  The thought filled him with despair.
She let out a frustrated sigh and sat up, running her hands through her hair.  It flowed through her fingers and down her back, and he wished he could bury his own hands in it, bury his face in the heavy locks and breathe her in.  But he'd obviously upset her.
“I'm sorry, Fern. I shouldn't have done that.”
“Why?” she snapped, startling him enough that he winced. “Why are you sorry?”
“Because you're upset.”
“I'm upset because you pulled away!  You're so careful.  And it's frustrating!”
Ambrose was taken back by her honesty, and he smiled, instantly flattered.  But the smile faded as he tried to explain himself.
"You're so small, Fern. Delicate. And all of this is new to you.  I'm afraid I'm going to come on too strong. And if I break you or hurt you, I won't survive that, Fern.  I won't survive it."  That thought was worse than walking away from her and he shuddered inwardly.  He wouldn't survive it.  He had already hurt too many. Lost too many.
Fern knelt in front of him, and her chin wobbled and her eyes were wide with emotion. Her voice was adamant as she held his face between her hands, and when he tried to pull away so she wouldn't feel his scars, she hung on, forcing his gaze.
"Ambrose Young! I have waited my whole life for you to want me.  If you don't hold me tight I won't believe you mean it, and that's worse than never being held at all.  You better make me believe you mean it, Ambrose, or you will most definitely break me."
“I don't want to hurt you, Fern,” he whispered hoarsely.
“Then don't,” she whispered back, trusting him. But there were lots of ways to cause pain. And Ambrose knew he was capable of hurting her in a thousand ways.
Ambrose stopped trying to pull his face away, surrendering to the way it felt to be touched. He hadn't allowed anyone to touch him for a long time.  Her hands were small, like the rest of her, but the emotions they stirred in him were enormous, gigantic, all-consuming. She made him shake, made him quake inside, vibrate like the tracks under an on-coming train.
Her hands left his face and traveled down the sides of his neck. One side smooth, the other riddled with divots and scars and rippled where the skin had been damaged.  She didn't pull away, but felt each mark, memorized each wound.  And then she leaned forward and pressed her lips to his neck, just below his jaw.  And then again on the other side, on the side that bore no scars, letting him know that the kiss wasn't about sympathy but desire. It was a caress.  And his control broke.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Reading Report 14

What I read from 
August 28-September 11

Summer was so slow for my reading (I think I read 4 in 4 weeks) but I'm happy to see that I'm back with a bang. Here's what I read the last 2 weeks.

After Hello by Lisa Mangum
Young Adult, Contemporary

Sarah is in NYC for only one day and runs into Sam who brings her along om a quick job. Only it turns into a little more than either expected. How much can you learn about yourself and a new friend in 24 hours?
I felt like this one could have had a stronger punch. The characters were solid, the writing good, the storyline was interesting but I felt I knew the story by about 1/3 into the book.  I wish it would have been, I dont know, a tad deeper maybe? With that said it was still a cute story and fun read. 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

I seriously haven't ever read this before so it was great to finally get to see the original work. I love both the movies so I was sure it'd be a good one. Plus it was fun to see what each movie pulled into their story from the book.

Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn't have) by Saray Mlynowski
Contemporary, Young Adult

April is 16 but her parents have moved and she wants to stay at her high school to finish the year. She somehow convinces her parents to let her live with her friend Viv with no adult supervision (small lie) for the rest of the school year. April uses her freedom to make some pretty adult decisions and also gets to deal with the consequences. 

I'd probably give this one a loose 3 stars. It was just a little to care free for my taste. The plot was interesting but I felt the characters could have used some more depth. 

How to Talk to Your Child About Sex by Linda and Richard Eyre
Self Help, Parenting

It's never too soon or too late to talk to your kids about sex and values.

Like any self help book I took what I liked/agreed with and considered the rest. Helpful ideas in how to prepare yourself and your kids for the sex talk, and also ideas on exactly what, when and how much to say. 

Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young
Young Adult, Contemporary

Caroline's grandma (who helped raise her) is passing away. One night she has a decision to make, stay or go. Told in the format of how the story would unfold in two directions from that decision.

I really liked this one! I think the story of two perspectives really drew me in. Each chapter switches back and forth from her decision to stay or go and shows us where the paths may have led. This is a classic 'girl trying to figure herself out' but I liked the twist of the story telling and I enjoyed Caroline and Chris the most.

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl

Another oldie that I just got around to reading. I read it alone but I'm excited to read this with my kids too. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Marriage Monday: 7 Habits of Sexually Satisfied Couples

Todays Marriage Monday is from a post by Kristin Hodson MSC. LCSW., co-author of Real Intimacy.

Talk, talk and talk some more

I cannot emphasize this enough.  I cannot tell you how many calls we would get on the radio from people expressing sexual dissatisfaction, wanting a solution and I’d ask, “have you talked with your partner about this?” and 9 out of 10 times the response would be no.  It doesn’t matter how many “how-to” tips you get from the latest gossip magazine, or how many self-help books you read, the only way to improve your sex and intimacy is to go to the source and talk about things directly with your partner.  If you are not sure how to talk about sex and intimacy with your partner, check out my article 7 Ways to Talk About Intimacy and STILL Remain Friends over on

Approach sex like you do dining

When it comes to food, we allow for a variety of dining experiences without getting bent out of shape or feeling like there is the “right” way or place to be eating.  Just think about the different eating experiences there are.  We have fast food for those moments when we just need to eat because we are tight on time, budget or just are craving something quick.  There is fine dining which creates the mood for longer conversation, slower eating and top notch customer service.  Then you have restaurants, like Chili’s where the menu has something for everybody and it could be a go-to as a place of compromise.  Sex and intimacy are the same way.  Allow your relationship to be open to a variety of intimate experiences, pending on the circumstances.  There are unlimited dining choices.  It’s important to be creative and adaptable regarding your intimacy. Read a more in-depth excerpt from the chapter, “How Sex is Like Dining” from my book Real Intimacy: A Couple’s Guys to Genuine, Healthy Sexuality” 

Find the rest of the habits and read the full article
over at the The Healing Group. 

Utah folks: Check out On The Edge of The Bed: A Tastefully Sexy Workshop for Women happening this Saturday, Sept 14th in Salt Lake City.  It's a 6 hr workshop full of great education. Go read the rest of the article above for a promo code of $20 off registration!

*Quotes used with permission from The Healing Group. A big thanks to Kristin for letting me spotlight her article on my blog today.

You can find my other Marriage Monday's here.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Marriage Monday: What is success?

"What is success? Ask a dozen people and you may get a dozen different answers. A friend of mine said, 'Success is making the most of who you are with what you've got.' I like that definition. Every poerson has teh potential to make a postiive impact on the world. It all depeonds on what we do with what we have. The truly successful people are those who help others succeed.
The same is true in marriage. A successful wife is one who expends her time and energy helping her husband reach his potential for God and for doing good in the world. Likewise a successful husband is one who helps his wife succeed. An old adage says, 'You can't helpa  man uphill without getting closer to the top yourself.'"

Above quote from The Four Seasons of Marriage by Gary Chapman

You can find my other Marriage Monday's here.