Thursday, September 29, 2016

Review: A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna M. White

Heidi Reads... A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna M. White

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


Lady Ella Myerston can always find a reason to smile--even if it's just in hope that tomorrow will be better than today. All her life everyone has tried to protect her from the realities of the world, but Ella knows very well the danger that has haunted her brother and their friend, and she won't wait for it to strike again. She intends to take action . . . and if that happens to involve an adventurous trip to the Cotswolds, then so much the better. 

Lord Cayton has already broken two hearts, including that of his first wife, who died before he could convince himself to love her. Now he's determined to live a better life. But that proves complicated when old friends arrive on the scene and try to threaten him into a life of crime. He does his best to remove the intriguing Lady Ella from danger, but the stubborn girl won't budge. How else can he redeem himself, though, but by saving her--and his daughter--from those dangerous people who seem ready to destroy them all?

My Review

The drama over the red "Fire Eyes" diamonds continues as Lady Ella and the characters from previous books try to protect themselves and their families from evil men who wouldn't hesitate to kill over their greed and obsession. Since this is the third in the Ladies of the Manor series, the author catches the reader up with some general background from the previous books, but I would definitely recommend reading them in order. Ella is an easy character to love with her sparkling personality, full of loyalty to her family and a sweetness with children. Cayton tempers her cheerfulness with his broodiness, yet he can't help but be attracted to her light. I loved that his hidden passion for sketching and painting is revealed and shows his vulnerable and sensitive side. Another aspect I appreciated was the way Ella was comfortable with her faith and that Cayton was seeking to increase his own. It took me a little bit to get into the book, I felt the story was slowed down by the additional perspective of the ballerina mistress of the man seeking the diamonds, although it did offer insight into the plot and increased the feeling of suspense. The Edwardian time period isn't one I read much of but I felt like these books were successful in making the setting come alive. I'd recommend this book and the entire series to fans of historical fiction!

(Thank you to Bethany House Publishing and Celebrate Lit Publicity for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

About the Author 
Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels and novellas, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to Edwardian British romances. She makes her home in the breathtaking mountains of West Virginia. You can learn more about her and her stories at

Giveaway from Roseanna M. White

I’m giving away a complete set of the Ladies of the Manor Series PLUS a special surprise straight from England! (US addresses only for paperbacks; an international winner is eligible for digital gifts, though!)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Review & Giveaway: Baby, Baby! by Diane Stortz, illustrated by Ailie Busby

Heidi Reads... Baby, Baby! by Diane Stortz, illustrated by Ailie Busby

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


A sweet, colorful board book that appeals to a baby's interest in looking at other babies

Babies enjoy books, looking at other babies, and their own flowering abilities. This short rhyming poem combines all three in a sweet and happy way, while introducing babies to God's love for them. The simple words are paired with colorful images of babies engaging in familiar activities, allowing the book to be used as an introductory concept book as well. And it ends with a reminder that Baby is always loved by God.

My Review

It's never too early to read to a baby, and this adorable book is perfect with its simple phrases and illustrations. The pictures are colorful without being overwhelming, and shows babies in various activities like eating, clapping, giggling, and wiggling. I love the message of God's love and the mirror at the end of the book really makes it personal. There is even a space for you to write the child's name so he or she becomes part of the story. This would make a great gift for expecting parents or the baby in your life!

(Thank you to FlyBy Promotions for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Review: Christopher and Jaime by Jennifer Peel

Heidi Reads... Christopher and Jaime by Jennifer Peel

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


Jaime Seger has two goals in life: marry her best friend, the man that owns her heart and soul, and buy her very own grand piano. But Christopher McKay, who has no idea Jaime's been in love with him since she was eleven years old, never gets the memo and marries someone else.

When Christopher's wife dies, Jamie finds herself helping him raise his young daughter. A year later, she is on the other end of a very unlikely proposal, promising everything she thought she ever wanted.

But will Christopher help Jaime finally realize both of her dreams, or will she only be left with broken promises?

My Review

First off, this didn't feel like a novella! The story arc is so complete that it really felt like a full-length book. I love stories of best friends falling in love, but this had a twist- it was in first person perspective from Jaime's point of view, so we don't really know how Christopher is truly feeling, especially since he's not the best at communication. Jaime's flashbacks to their early relationship provides the reader with answers to why she is in love with someone who seems so flawed. The years and his first marriage have changed Christopher and his values and goals no longer align with Jaime's. With their marriage falling apart due to broken promises and hurt feelings, Jaime is faced with an opportunity to gain insight into Christopher's thoughts. I appreciated that we could finally see what was behind his seemingly selfish actions. I understood why Jaime felt so mistrustful of him, but it was gratifying when he recognized how to show her what his true priorities were. Lots of emotion and angst with just the right amount of romance and chemistry. Loved it!

(Thank you to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Monday, September 26, 2016

#TackleTBR Wrap-up
I loved participating in the Tackle Your TBR read-a-thon! The challenges and twitter chat were fun and I got some great books read and stayed caught up on my reviews for them. Looking forward to next year!

Total Pages Read: 2,044
Total Books Finished: 7 

Review: King of the Friend Zone by Sheralyn Pratt

Heidi Reads... King of the Friend Zone by Sheralyn Pratt

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


Esme Taylor has an amazing fiancé, a lifelong best friend, and a problem.

The problem stems from the fact that her best friend is named Hunter and, well. . .he’s kind of (totally) hot. It’s hate at first sight when her fiancé, Jon, and Hunter meet. Jon’s convinced that Hunter is in love with Esme, and that Hunter must be out of the picture if their upcoming marriage is to succeed.

Esme thinks Jon is paranoid.

The truth is, Jon’s not that far off. Hunter is in love with his best friend and always has been. What Jon has wrong, however, is that Hunter never had any plans of ruining Esme’s happily ever after. Hunter wants what’s best for Esme, even if that’s not him.

When Jon pushes hard to end Esme and Hunter’s friendship, opposition comes from the most unlikely of places. It’s an eccentric lady with a cookie cart who suggests a different solution to Esme’s problem: Hunter and Esme should give each other a chance.

They’ve both thought of the possibility over the years—of course they have. But with a ring already on Esme’s finger and a heap of hurt feelings and broken trust in the mix, there hasn’t been a worse time to explore the depths of their feelings for each other.

Both Esme and Hunter think it’s time to move on and leave childhood crushes in the past. The question is: Can one woman and the taste of one cookie change their minds?

My Review

As it always happens, whenever I read a book by Sheralyn Pratt, I can't put it down until I've devoured the entire thing in one sitting. And since I usually read at night after my kids go to bed, this makes for some pretty late nights ;) This time it was 2:52 am, but even after that I couldn't sleep and had to type some notes about the story in my phone to share in my review. I was a bit of a zombie the next day but it was totally worth it! Don't you just love books that leave you feeling totally satisfied?

So, what stood out to me about King of the Friend Zone is what I thought was the most creative use of  Miss Pearl of all the books in the Power of the Matchmaker series. I loved the cookie angle and how it reflected the "flavor" of a relationship. Miss Pearl was pretty subtle about it at first which I liked since it made it not seem gimmicky.

Esme and Hunter share a special bond, but they do spend much of the story avoiding or denying their deeper romantic feelings since their dynamic is based on the fear of risking their friendship or facing rejection. Hunter identifies with a friend Luke, who pines after a woman who married someone else, but can't move on and insists on being there for her as a friend. Esme's fiancé provides much of the conflict when he coerces her to cut Hunter from her daily life, and Hunter sees that even being the third wheel isn't part of his future with her. Part of me was mad that Esme was so conciliatory to Jon, but the author does such a good job of showing the personalities and vulnerabilities in play that I could see why everyone was acting the way they were, and it felt realistic and complex. 

The other aspects of Hunter and Esme's lives blend seamlessly into the plot and add another dimension to their characters. A crisis they handled together demonstrated how perfect they are together, not because they match (like she and Jon did) but because their differences complement each other and there is a deep foundation of trust. Some of the unexpected twists in this book had my jaw dropping as I was reading and made me think "what the what?!?!" I loved that the story wasn't completely predictable or cliché, but had me seriously glued to the pages as Hunter and Esme angst their way to a happy ending.

And... hands down the most epic best man toast at the engagement party.

(Thank you to Ebooks For Review for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

#Tackle TBR Daily Update - Day 12 & 13
Day 12 & 13

Darn it. Reality intervened and I had to spend my spare time editing photo sessions to get out to clients instead of reading. I still need to write my review for King of the Friend Zone by Sheralyn Pratt (which I loved) so I haven't started my next book yet, which will be Christopher and Jaime by Jennifer Peel. I did get my challenge photos posted on Instagram for the Duo-Color and Name challenges.

Total Pages Read: 2,044
Total Books Finished: 7

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Giveaway: Daughters of His Kingdom series by Amber Lynn Perry at Stitches Thru Time

 Daughters of His Kingdom giveaway

Swing by Stitches Thru Time to enter for a chance to win Amber Lynn Perry's entire Daughters of His Kingdom series! I love these books and highly recommend this amazing inspirational historical romance series!

Double Review: Blessing the Nephite Children and The Holy Ghost by Catherine Christensen

Heidi Reads... Blessing the Nephite Children by Catherine Christensen & Jay Fontano

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


Snuggle up with your kids and learn about Jesus's visit to the Nephites. This colorful board book is perfectly designed for little fingers and small attention spans. Experience the beauty of Christ's personal love in the Book of Mormon with your little ones and come to see the ways the Savior reaches out to them today.

My Review

This is an adorable little book with such a sweet message. My three year old absolutely loves it and we've read it over and over again. The words are simple enough for a toddler to understand, but the message is powerful. I'm not a fan of the font chosen for the text, but other than that I think this is the perfect book for a child to learn more about Jesus and His love for all people and especially children.

(Thank you to Cedar Fort Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Heidi Reads... The Holy Ghost: Discovering Your Extraordinary New Gift by Catherine Christensen & Jane Delve

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


Get to know the Holy Ghost, from baptism on! This engaging book provides fill-in-the-blank stories, coloring pages, and other fun activities for your kids to help get them ready to receive the Holy Ghost and rely on Him for the rest of their lives. Come to understand and feel the Spirit, one of the greatest gifts from God.

My Review

This is a great activity book for children preparing for baptism and confirmation, as well as those who already have been. My nine year old really enjoys reading and doing the activities in this book on Sundays. They are challenging enough to keep her attention while still being age-appropriate. There are quite a few pages and I feel like it will keep her entertained for a long time and help reinforce the gospel principles she learns in our home and at church.

(Thank you to Cedar Fort Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

About the author

Catherine Christensen graduated magna cum laude from BYU with a degree in English and editing. She worked in her dream job acquiring and editing books before switching to her other dream job of full-time mother. She is a dual citizen of the United States and the United Kingdom and has lived most of her life in England. She currently resides in Springville, Utah, with her husband and daughter. Catherine is the author of “I Can Pray Everyday” and “Emily’s Perfect Christmas Tree.”

Friday, September 23, 2016

#TackleTBR Daily Update - Day 11
Day 11

I wasn't getting much reading done yesterday until the kids went to bed, and then I read King of the Friend Zone by Sheralyn Pratt straight through until 2:52 am. There's something about her books that I just can't put down! I even tried at about 1 am to get some sleep but I soon gave up and devoured the rest of it.

I made my final picks for the first three challenges on Wishful Endings and got the first picture taken for the Fall Challenge! My girls had a blast throwing all the extra leaves up in the air and making a huge mess, but it was worth hearing their sweet giggles :)

Total Pages Read: 2,044
Total Books Finished: 7

Fall Challenge on Instagram

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Review: Newton and Polly: A Novel of Amazing Grace by Jody Hedlund

Heidi Reads... Newton and Polly: A Novel of Amazing Grace by Jody Hedlund

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found 

Now remembered as the author of the world's most famous hymn, in the mid-eighteenth century as England and France stand on the brink of war, John Newton is a young sailor wandering aimlessly through life. His only duty is to report to his ship and avoid disgracing his father until the night he hears Polly Catlett's enchanting voice, caroling. He's immediately smitten and determined to win her affection.

An intense connection quickly forms between the two, but John's reckless spirit and disregard for the Christian life are concerns for the responsible, devout Polly. When an ill-fated stop at a tavern leaves John imprisoned and bound, Polly must choose to either stand by his side or walk out of his life forever. Will she forfeit her future for the man she loves?

Step back through the pages of history, to uncover the true love story behind a song that continues to stir the hearts and ignite the faith of millions around the globe.

My Review

Previous to reading this book I was only vaguely familiar with the story of John Newton, gleaned from the movie Amazing Grace in which he is a minor character. It made me more fully appreciate the powerful simplicity of the hymn, so I was thrilled when I learned that one of my favorite authors was writing a book about the love of his life and her role in his transformation.

I thoroughly enjoyed their early romance, but had an underlying feeling of trepidation, knowing that John would be somehow reduced to the most humbling of circumstances. The characters and setting are depicted so vividly that I was instantly drawn to Polly's devout sweetness and John as the charming rogue. There is a stark contrast in how they interact with their family members that foreshadows their future paths. Polly is respectful and compliant, while John kicks against the opportunities that his father lines up for him. There are harsh realities of life to be dealt with and accepted, and the more John fights against them the more trouble he gets himself into, but always finds someone else to blame. I admired that Polly stalwartly continues with her life even though she longs for the chance to receive more education and wonders what God has in store for her.

The times are turbulent with dangerous smugglers threatening the townspeople who don't look the other way, press gangs abducting men to serve in the navy to fight the war with France, and abolitionists pursuing the unpopular cause of freedom for slaves. Suspense is woven throughout the story as John and Polly's relationship strengthens each time their paths briefly cross, just to be pulled apart as John faces the serious consequences to his reckless decisions. His flaws and dark experiences are realistically portrayed, as well as his yearnings for a better life with Polly and struggles with accepting the God his beloved mother was devoted to.

Along with the powerful themes of forgiveness and grace, I loved that Polly's father exhibited unwavering integrity in his career and taught his children by example. He reminded me of my own father with his gentle and loving manner. Despite their difficulties with each other, John's father proved to his son his unconditional love over time and his relationship with John could be seen as a metaphor for the attributes of justice and mercy of God. John's transformation brings a sense of light and hope to the remainder of the story as it becomes Polly's turn to make a momentous decision that will affect her and John's futures. Highly recommend!!!

(Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah and the author for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Giveaway Opportunity 

Participate in #MyAmazingGraceMoment for a chance to win one of three copies the publisher is giving away!

Newton and Polly Giveaway from Waterbrook Multnomah