"Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all."-Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Taken by Storm (Trilogy) by Angela Morrison

Grade: A-
Rating: PG-13

Recommendation:  This is a good trilogy told in a unique way, but only for the well-informed reader who enjoys LDS fiction that deals with taboo topics

Caution: High heat level,  (talk of crisis of faith and you get into a teenage boys brain... which is hmm a true teenage boys brain, so this book may not be for everyone, but overall it is clean, but may push the limits for some)

Taken by Storm had the potential to be quite a controversial trilogy. This book approached the subject of inter-faith dating and the "gray" lines that sometimes arise from dating a person not of your faith. This book is written in a very unique way, alternating chapters between Leesie's poem book and Michael's Dive log. It took me a few chapters to get used to it, but it didn't take away from the story line at all.

Leesie is a young Mormon teenager.  She is the only member of the church in her small High School.  Her family has very strict dating rules (like most LDS families): No necking, No petting, Not tongue, No fornification, No sex before marriage etc. and she is quite content and happy with this arrangement because she believes her faith and wants to live it.  However, because of her rules, she is known as the "Ice Queen" at school and is bullied:  name calling, butt pinching etc.  Leesie's side of the story is told in her Poem book, in verse.  I wasn't sure if I would like verse, and admittedly, I had a harder time connecting to Leesie's chapters then Michael's, but it was enjoyable overall.

And then there's Michael.  I really liked Michael and I really hated Michael.  He is there for Leesie and is a good guy, but he is a very typical non-mormon teenage boy.  Let's just say he has hormones. Well, to be fair, so does Leesie, but because he has different standards than her in regards to intimacy than well, it's easier to dislike him especially in this first book.  Michael has come to live with his Gram after his parents are killed during a dive trip.  He is grieving, and alone and suffering.

So this book is about what happens as these two teens begin to form a bond.  This was a difficult book for me to read, because I lived Leesie's life.  In high school and some of college, I dated a non-member.  We had many many many conversations about religion and my "limits".  He was a good guy, a really good guy actually.  Smart, kind, family-oriented, charitable... but we had very different standards.  And because we had different standards, we encountered many differences of opinion.  So as Leesie and Michael are trying to navigate their relationship through three books: Breaking up, getting back together, getting close to the line and backing away, missionary discussions, crisis of faith... It just felt like I was reliving my adolescent years again.  For better of for worse. In the first book they have one conversation about "churchy" stuff and he calls her Brainwashed.  That one really hurt.  This section is from his POV and it is really easy to see why he thinks that, of course being a mormon and sharing Leesie's beliefs, it just brought back a few too many sad memories.

What I liked:

Morrison approached this subject in a fresh new way. She was brave and committed to telling a story of a couple trying to figure out who they are, what they believe and how or if they can/should/want to fit together.  In fact, it was so honest, I know a few readers will be turned off by the subject matter (it isn't graphic and THE line is never crossed, but it is steamy).  But I commend her for taking on a subject that many/most LDS authors might be too uncomfortable taking on.  Actually, I better check my facts, I'm not totally sure she is LDS. Hmm.

The characters were spot on, the challenges they struggled with were so real it hurt and the characters were relatable and "hateable". Michael, was 100% perfectly written.  He was a teenage boy and unrepentant for it.  He challenged Leesie in some many ways: her faith, her boundaries, her thoughts, her future.  At times, I wanted to scream at Leesie just to walk away.  There's too much heartache waiting in a relationship like that, for both parties... and it's just not fair to either of you to continue on.  But at the same time, I understood the feeling of loving someone so much that the thought of walking away without doing everything you can do to teach that person the gospel is just as heartbreaking.

What I didn't like:  (*some spoilers below so read with caution)

This book has the potential of saying: "It's okay to date non-members if there are no members around" and the idea of "flirt to convert", which is such a dangerous and slippery slope, especially if this book has a HEA see my post here to read more about this. That being said, Morrison did a good job of conveying the real feelings the characters had for each other and the real difficulty in having a relationship with someone not of your faith, especially the physical side of it.  This is a difficult subject to write and I think she was really brave to take it on.  99% of interfaith relationships, especially between teenagers are going to end. If you are the 1% then I am happy for you, but it's still difficult to write without saying you condone it.  I guess what I mean is, if you commit to writing this type of story like Morrison did, there is going to be a lot of gray area that is very difficult to write both accurately and morally.  I believe that somehow Morrison has managed to do it.


This was a well written trilogy.  It took a few turns that I didn't see coming, which kept me on my toes.    It was so real and so honest that I think it is a series worth reading, especially if you have a teenage daughter (or son) dating someone of another faith, because it can give an honest glimpse into the teenage mind. Another reason I would recommend this book is because it is LDS fiction that approaches subject matter that is taboo, without about being profane. In other words, it isn't a nice little  all tied together with a pretty pink bow... Nope,  It is real and gritty and because of that it can sometimes be painful and uncomfortable to read. But it will certainly make you feel something.  For that reason alone, I think this book deserves to be read. (You really will have to read all three to get a HEA though, so be forewarned).

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Becoming Bayley by Susan Auten

Grade: A+
Rating: PG+
Recommendation: Read it.  NOW.

I have probably read this book about five times now. Really, I'm not kidding.  When I want to read something good, I grab this book and flip open to just about anywhere and let myself get sucked into its pages.

This is one of those books that I wish more people knew about, because it is just so good!  At this time I believe it is only available via e-book and it makes me so sad/mad because it is honestly one of my top five favorite books I've read to date and I'd really like it sitting on my bookshelf (my real one, not my virtual one).

When I first read the set-up and say the cover, I really thought it was a YA book, marketed to LDS youth between the ages of 12-19. And it is, but THIS BOOK IS SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT. 

What I liked:


The way Auten writes is like vanilla ice cream smothered in hot-fudge with a red cherry on top... Divine.  She has this way of creating characters that aren't perfect, who are struggling, but are just so real and likable and just perfect. I fell in love with the whole cast. Well, everyone except for Matt's mom.  I loved Bayley.  She felt like a real person to me.  I could picture her going away to soccer camp and getting all dolled up for the dance, I could see her strained relationship with her sister.  I could FEEL her pain each step of the way.  And I fell in love as she fell in love.

And Matt.  Ahh Matt.  More than most book boyfriends, he felt like a real guy to me.  He was so cute, especially with Bayley.  And even better, he surprised me a few times.  I liked all the sides of him I got to see:  Pre-mission, soccer player, son, brother, post-mission... Loved that. He did a few things I wanted to shake him for, but that just made him seem that much more real.  I loved him.

Really, I loved all the characters, but what made this story really special was the storyline and the challenges they encountered along the way.

What I didn't like:

I have nothing to say at all about the story. Loved the beginning, middle and end.

But...Here's the thing.  The cover is beautiful and yes, the book is about soccer, but it's also not, I mean it is, but it's just so much more than just soccer.  It's about Bayley, and her struggles and her quest to find herself, her worth and of course her love story. While the cover is absolutely beautiful, I don't think it does enough justice to the story and unfortunately might  dissuade some readers from buying the book. Ah, I hate saying that because it really is pretty, it just made me think more YA, less LDS romance/BYU.  So when you look at the cover, I want you to picture the back of a gorgeous brunette girls head looking in the mirror, but what she sees is a red-headed girl losing all her hair.  Now on her wall is a poster of all the cute BYU men's soccer team, front and center is her love interest and on her desk is a stack of mail missionary mail and on the floor is a well loved soccer ball.  Okay, that pretty much sums the story up for me... Kinda, sorta?  Okay, I suck at cover art.  But what I'm trying to say is that this story has so much too it than just a soccer ball.

So buy the book and thank me later.   I promise, if you love LDS Romance, you will love this book, there's just no way you won't love it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Outer Edge of Heaven by Jaclyn M. Hawkes FREE TODAY

Happy Hump Day! Enjoy this book for free by clicking HERE

I've read a few of the Rockland Ranch series by this author and enjoyed them.  They are a good, clean way to spend a day.  Hope you enjoy!

The Fortune Cafe: A Tangerine Street Romance

Grade: A
Rating: PG-13 (one minor swear words)
Content: Clean

What happens when you put an awesome premise together with three amazing authors?  You get an incredible little book named the The Fortune Cafe: A Tangerine Street Romance!  It's no secret that I love Melanie Jacobsen... Pretty much anything that has this ladies name on it is gold to me.  And Julie Wright? She's another one of my favorites, but combine those two with Heather B. Moore and you have one serious writing powerhouse.

Here's what you need to know:  This book is divided into three stories.  Part one is Misfortune by Julie Wright, next comes, Love, Not Luck by Melanie Jacobsen, and last is Takeout by Heather B. Moore.  The premise that ties these stories together (as explained at the beginning of the book) is that A Chinese Restaurant on Tangerine street has Fortune Cookies where the fortunes come true (at least the first one does). Super cute right?!

Now here's my confession... Are you ready?  I've never read a short story (anthology) book before...ever. It's not that I had anything against them, I didnt', it's just that I didn't necessarily see enough appeal to actually pick one up (I know tragic, right?).  I mean how was an author ever going to get all the information from one story jammed a book 1/3 the size and make me fall in love with characters?  I just didn't think it could be done. Well... That was yesterday, before I read The Fortune Cafe. Today, I understand why "short story" format is so appealing...and just as satisfying.

What I liked about the book as a whole:  When I find a book that I like, I'm always sad to see it end.  I just want a little bit more...The same story, but different ya know?  What I really want is to replicate how the story made me feel. What's cool about this book is that it does exactly that.  You get to fall in love with the Tangerine Street World and then you get to revisit that same world, but from a different person in the next story. I love that.  (I'm kind of a sucker for alternative points of view.) And don't even get me started on the the premise, just so dang cute.  I'm also impressed with the subtle overlap of the books, just enough to make you go "Ah! Look at what they did there." It's clever, without going so far as to be gimmicky and cheesy.

Part One: Mis-fortune by Julie Wright.

I've read a few books by Wright and I've always enjoyed her writing style.  And this is no exception. Wright does a fantastic job of introducing us to Tangerine street. Part One introduces us to the cafe, it's owner Cai (who is expertly personified) and most importantly to Emma.  Emma is a waitress at the Cafe by day and writer/caretaker for her mother by night.  She is opposed to opening a fortune cookie if for no other reason than she just hasn't.  Well, that and she doesn't believe in the fortune cookie "voodoo".  Well, fate or luck smiles on her and she ends up opening one on the same day her high school crush sits in her cafe.

Wright does a great job at creating a well-rounded character and world very quickly.  Really she is very talented.  In a 1/3 of the overall book, I not only was introduced to her world, her hopes, dreams, fears and love interest, but wayyy more important I actually cared.  I won't give away much more than that though... You'll have to read it.

Part Two: Love, Not Luck by Melanie Jacobsen

It's no secret that Melanie's name on the book is the whole reason I picked this little diamond in the first place.  And she didn't disappoint. This part of the book is Lucy's story. She is visiting the cafe with her parents and her fiancé parents to finalize wedding plans. When she breaks her lucky Jade necklace, Lucky Lucy isn't so lucky anymore, in fact she's quite the opposite.  I love the banter between the characters. Really, Jacobsen is a master at writing Dialogue;  Snarky, flirty and fast-paced=awesome sauce. The love interest (name withheld to prevent spoilers) was my favorite of the three love interests.  Witty without being annoying,  Cute without being "too cute" and just the right amount of Mmm-mmm.  I also loved Lucy's relationship with her mother, it felt real and added something special to the book.  Especially after reading Emma's story in part one, I think this helped to round out the overall balance of the book as a whole.  Loved this section!

Part Three: Takeout by Heather B. Moore

Okay I'm embarrassed to admit this. But this is my first time reading anything by Heather... Please lower your weapons, I see now what a huge oversight that was and I will now be reading everything Ms. Moore writes.  Right from the first sentence, Stella Novak's and Evan Rockham's story draws you in. It's kinda of like a can of Pringles in that way, once you've had one sentence you just want to gobble the whole thing up.  Stella works at Spyglass Jewelry a few doors down from Tangerine Cafe and Evan is a chef/culinary teacher at the new Mariposa Hotel. I wasn't sure who the last story in this book would be about and I'm glad it was about Stella and her cute little jewelry store on Tangerine Street.  Can I just say I loved the run in right at the beginning with the two men... Fantastic story. Can't wait to read more by this author.

Have I got your interest piqued now right?  Great! Job done... Now go read the book.  You'll be happy you did. You can buy it HERE.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

American Night Writer's Conference (ANWA)

In my last post about why and how I started writing my own book, I mentioned that I attended the American Night Writer's Conference held in Mesa, Arizona.  What an incredible experience!  It was so great in fact, that I am planning on attending the LDS Storymakers conference in Layton UT.  at the end of April.

I was a little nervous about attending a conference because I really didn't know what to expect or if I would fit in.  What I discovered was that writers of all backgrounds, experience levels and genres attend so there is pretty much a place for everyone-including me.

We arrived the very first night of the conference and jumped right in!  The first night, I participated in a critique group. Myself and five other ladies (who also write romance) each took a turn reading part of our story and then we went around the circle and told what we liked and what we thought could be done to make it better.  OH MY!  I was super nervous.  I had pretty much kept my book under lock and key until two nights previous when I reluctantly asked my husband to read it over with me.  Yes, that's right, up until two nights before the conference my husband hadn't even read it. That's how unsure about my writing I was!  I knew I loved it, I knew I thought it was romantic and funny and great, but the rest of the world outside of my own head?  I didn't know if it was actually all of those things (I still don't).  Anyways, I had an incredible experience sharing my story with those wonderful women.  They laughed in all the right places and gave me great insight that I wouldn't have seen on my own.  That made me believe in critique groups... I am hoping to find one ASAP now that I'm home.

We then had a great agent/editor speak on query letters.  I am getting closer to that point, but I'm not quite there, so my info. on that will be posted at a later date.

Some of my favorite speakers from the conference were: Sarah M. Eden who spoke on "3 Essential Elements of Romance" and  Jenni James who spoke on "Writing Secrets".  Victoria Curran who gave us her experiences as an editor of Harlequin Heartwarming and there were so so many other great speakers such as Dr. Blasingame, Annette Lyon, Adam Sidwell and Jon S. Lewis.  Really, everyone was fantastic that it's hard to spotlight everyone! So here are my favorite things I took home:

Sarah M. Eden (sarahmeden.com) was the keynote speaker at the conference.  She is the author of so many amazing regency romances and I was so excited to hear ANYTHING that came out of her mouth about writing romantically.  Here are her main points:  In the romance genre the books question will always be, "will the couple end up together?"  and in a romance book the answer will always 100% of the time be, "Yes!"  This can be difficult to write creatively because it will always be the same.  In this genre the love story is what drives the plot, or in other words, Romance is the point.  I love that don't you?  Some of my favorite tid-bits of information are: "totally hot is not an emotion"  (oh that's just so true! and ohh it had me laughing because we've all read books like that haven't we?!). "Emotional connections take time and interaction."  The whole love at first sight thing is great, but to build a realistic story with feeling it takes time.  "Each character needs strengths and weaknesses. No one can relate to a perfect person."  (As writer's we sometimes have trouble putting out characters through things, but that is exactly what creates a great book).  "Don't write annoying characters." (Amen to that!) and last, "We need a reason to cheer for the couple... They need to be something to each other that no one else can be, and it must go beyond the physical, love at first sight, infatuation phase."

Isn't Sarah amazing? The answer to that will always be yes.

Jenni James (http://authorjennijames.com) spoke at the conference on her writing secrets.  I loved this class because it was SO incredibly helpful to a newbie like me. Some of her secrets:  Put your work up on Wattpad.com to gain followers. To up the number of words you are writing each day, work with a partner and give yourself word challenges and then read each others work.  Did you know that only 1% of authors actually finish their books? I didn't either... So If I do nothing more than just finish the book then I'm ahead of the game! She also spoke on what to do when you are having writers block..."If you get stuck, then something is missing.  A kiss, a death, something!"  Go back and fix it and then your story will keep moving on.  She also mentioned to not be afraid of putting your character through things. Give your characters flaws, not bad, but maybe a little bad! The characters need to grow in the story.  She reminded us that every scene must move us forward, there must be a reason for the scene to exist.  When editing watch for double words, send your work to beta readers, give your self word challenges, keep dialogue snappy, fast, witty. There are two types of humor:  Mean humor and the element of surprise.  One of the best points she made was on pacing.  There are certain things we don't need a play by play of ex.  Cutting vegetables.  There are other times when we need to experience EVERYTHING like when the characters finally kiss, draw that out second by second.  Show through your actions what the character is feeling don't say "she felt sad".  Use action tags instead of "said".

Okayyyy there is SO much more I want to type about the conference, but I'm pretty sure that I've already overwhelmed you by this information in this post!  Can't wait to tell you how Storymakers goes!

P.S. If you're an avid reader and you want to be a beta reader for my book, I'd love it! Just email me so I can send you a few chapters!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Weight of Love by Jolene B. Perry

Grade: A
Rating: PG +
Content: Clean

Best Quote: Oh I wish I could give you this one, but its too spoilery.  Darn.  Ask me and I'll tell you!

Every so often a book comes along that I kinda fangirl all over. THIS IS ONE OF THEM. I will be honest, I wasn't sure about picking it up. I worried about the subject matter: Mormon missionary falls in love with a single mom? I'll admit, I had my doubts that it could be done without crossing lines, but I gave it a chance. I downloaded the sample and five minutes later I bought the book and a few hours after that I finished it and then one minute after that, I started it all over again. Really and truly I did. Wow...This book! I'm kinda in love with it. The romance, the REAL romance, just hit the spot. The characters were real, they had emotion, they struggled. Oh my. I kinda wish I could get amnesia and read it for the first time all over again. 

Have you heard of Jolene B. Perry? No?  Neither had I, which is absolutely crazy because she has so many books out!  This is me doing a happy dance... And then this amazing gem of a book magically appeared on my recommended list. I'm so glad it did. In fact, I have to go now and buy everything else this lady has ever written. What's unique about her writing is that she writes in first person present tense.  Many/most authors I've read who write this genre of book write it in first person PAST tense.  -ed instead of -es?  Ya with me?  Anyways, the book I am currently writing, no TRYING to write began as third person, which I soon discovered I HATED to write, it then became first person past tense and then I realized that the story was best told in first person PRESENT tense.  Okay, I know that's super rambl-y.  What I mean to say is that this book really attracted me not only for the story (which I loved), but also for the way that this story was written.  I felt like I was experiencing what the MC's were experiencing as they experienced it.  And I love that kind of escape! Way to go Ms. Jolene Betty Perry, you have a fan in me. 

What I liked:  As I hope you've discovered by now I do my absolute best not to spoil any books, ESPECIALLY if it is a book that I really really like and think you should read, So forgive me if this is not as specific as some of my other reviews have been.  Okay... I liked how this book started before it started.  The reader is introduced to Mitchell before he goes on his mission and Jaycee when she recieves life changing news.  I LOVED this aspect of the story.  It added so much depth to the story.  

I also loved the alternating points of view.  The book I'm writing also alternates view points and I have found that I love what it adds to a story.  If you haven't read a book that alternates view points, it can take a little getting used to.  But, I promise that if you give it a chance you will 95% of the time love it.  It's like you get all sides of the story and not just one person's take on it.  So, writing a male's perspective as a female doesn't always work, but Perry seriously nailed it.  I have a tendency to look at missionaries as just that missionaries.  The white shirt and tie wearing elder with a name tag.  I loved that this book brought to life the man behind the badge.  And who wouldn't love Mitchell?  I dare you to try. 

Then there's Jaycee.  Jaycee is a widow and a single mom to a son with special needs.  She is struggling emotionally and financially.  The woman just needed a hug the whole book! And its amazing the angst the author was able to create because Mitchell was unable to fulfill that need.  Jaycee reminded me of so many strong and valiant women I know.  She struggled, but she never lost hold on her testimony.  I was so proud of her and enjoyed watching her learn and grow and watch her put faith in the answers to prayers that she received   Touching. 

I was so nervous that this book would cross the line and in a few parts I read with one eye open only because I so wanted Mitchell to do the right thing and at the same time I just wanted him to SAY something.  Ah... Perry wrote this so perfectly. 

What I didn't like:  Hmm... Um.  I wish the female was brunette not blond? Ya, I've got nothing.  Oh that's not true.  I wish that Perry would write more LDS fiction :)

If you like this book try these:

Monday, March 3, 2014

Free Book Today!

This book is free today!  I've read a few books by this author before, but I haven't read this book!  This author writes terrific clean romance stories, so I am excited to read this one.  If you would like to download it for free click here.  Happy reading!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Let's start at the very beginning...My Adventures in Writing (Part One)

About three years ago I lived in a three-bedroom apartment with HORRIBLE laundry facilities. After several ruined shirts and countless "less then clean" loads, I made the decision to only use said laundry facilities if it was an absolute emergency. Every week for 4 years, I would load up my laundry, my three babies (aged three and under), into my little red lancer and make the 30-minute drive down to my grandma's house to do wash.

Now at the time if you had asked me how I felt about the arrangement I might have said, "Oh, you know it's a hassle, I wish that I didn't have to load it up every week, but I enjoy the time with GG (Great Grandma)." But now, I can tell you that it was nothing short of The Lord's hand in my life working miracles and guiding me along... For many many reasons.  One of those reasons is the quiet time it gave me to start dreaming up stories.

It's pretty clear from this blog, that I love to read.  I love being whisked away into the written world.  Whether its back to the singles ward, a dystopian society or even into Medieval times, I just love the reading experience.  What I didn't realize, at least consciously, was that it's more than just a love of reading, but a deeper love of story-telling that has my heart.

As a young child I would often ask GG to tell me a story from her mouth, meaning tell me a story in your own words, not one from a book.  On one family vacation my cousin and I began a co-authored novel about medieval times-- even at age 10, my book was a romance that contained a love triangle- It's a sickness, I know.  So what I failed to realize until about two and half years ago was that I really wanted to write my own novel. And lucky me, the hour plus drive to and from GG's gave me the perfect opportunity to dream the novel up.

The first book that started to take root was/is a dystopian trilogy and while I will one day write it (I have notebooks of notes and 40+ pages complete with outline) I just can't seem to get the words our right.  Don't worry, I wasn't discouraged, in fact if anything it is what started the fire of writing in me.

In 2012, I found the New Adult genre, if you want to know more about it click here to learn more about the genre in general or here to read what USAtoday says about the New Adult Genre. Essentially, the New Adult genre is the time between YA fiction (think high school/teen years) and Adult fiction (grown up problems, think married with career).  New adult fiction is the bridge.  These books are about college, identity crises, leaving home for the first time, not the first romance, but maybe the lasting romance.

Unfortunately, as I got more into reading this genre, I realized that there were not so many books out there that were what I would consider appropriate to read.  (This is me making a super sad face.)  Honestly, this genre has become synonymous with what can only politely be described as soft sex or in other words Fifty-Shades of Grey's little sister. Now here is where I make a confession that I got sucked in.  At first, I would skip the pages with the scene and then I decided it really wasn't a big deal and there ya go, that flaxen cord had become a nylon rope.

After some discussions with my husband, and if I'm totally honest one discussion with a kind-hearted bishop, I made it my mission to find the best books that I could to read.  That meant no more sex scenes, everything needed to take place behind closed doors and books needed to be at a "PG-13" rating.   I figured that if the prophets counsel not to watch R-Rated programs, that would probably go for books too right?

Let me tell you what. There are so many great books out there!  There are authors who are writing books that are worth something, that entertain me and make me laugh and cry and swoon and guess what I don't have to feel guilty for reading any of it.  And more importantly, I have never felt the Lord's hand, the Lord's blessing so fully in my life.

In the book of Ether 12:27 in the Book of Mormon it says:

27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.  I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

Okay, this is not me saying that I am a "strong" writer or that I have books that will ever see the light of publishing, but what I have been given is strength and courage to write. I have a passion to write.  I have a desire to write.

While on my quest to find "the best books"  I decided to check out what was going on in the LDS world.  Guess what?  There are so many talented LDS authors out there and LDS Fiction has really changed over the last few years.  Women (and men too) are writing stories that are so great (in pretty much every genre you could ever be interested in).

One such author is Melanie Jacobsen.  Melanie writes New Adult LDS romantic comedies, if you want to put it in a box, although I think she will break into the national market by this time next year if not sooner.  This is where I tell you to read anything this woman has ever written, I love her novels.  I first came across her book, The List, while looking for New Adult fiction that I could be sure was clean.  After that book I read every that had her name on it.  I then discovered authors's like Julie Wright, Susan Auten, Janette Rallison, and Kaylee Baldwin, among so so so many other talented LDS Authors.

One night after I had put the children to bed, I was working on my first novel (the dystopian one) and I realized that that wasn't the story I wanted to be writing. I was writing it, but it just felt kind of dead. Like a body without a spirit or something.  Well, I had been listening to a song earlier that day at the gym (Beneath Your Beautiful) and a story for a book just started to pour into my head.  At that moment I opened up a new document and wrote the first ten pages of a book that I am now nearly 95,000 words into (or 250 pages).  I told you, it just started to flow.

I started slowly, chugging away a little each day, not really knowing what I was doing and about 50% of the way through I decided I needed a little advice.  I wrote Melanie and asked for any tips she might be willing to give in writing LDS Romance, but not really expecting a reply.  A day or so later, I received a reply... guess what?  She lives about 10 minutes away from me.  I told you the Lord had His hands all over this.

She suggested we meet up and talk instead of switching emails back and forth.  About  a week later we did just that.  I took at least a full-page of notes from that one sit-down.  I came home and wrote another 10,000 words over the next 24-hours.  Her biggest encouragement was for me to attend an LDS Writer's Conference with her.  Which, let me tell you was absolutely incredible. That will be a second post because I just have too much to say about ANWA and how it has shaped my writing experience.

I am now about 4 scenes away from completing a very very rough first draft of my first novel.  I wish I had a title to give you, but like naming my first child, it probably won't happen until after it's born.  Sorry to disappoint. I hope you enjoy this post and I hope you will follow this series on my writing adventure.  My next installment will be about all the many wonderful things I learned at ANWA- If you are attempting to write too, you won't want to miss it!

Elevated by Elana Johnson

Grade: A
Rating: PG-13
Caution:(talk of mature themes, contact me for specifics I don't want to spoil it... Not graphic).

Me: A book completely in verse? that couldn't possibly be for me.
Book: Oh come on, just give me a try...my cover is pretty right?
Me: Yes... it is. But you're still in verse.
Book: True, but it's a love story and you love love stories!
Me: Well... maybe.
Book: The main characters get stuck in an elevator and I'm more than just a pretty cover. Promise!
Me: You had me at elevator.

Oh wow... this is one talented author. After a chapter I didn't even notice that it was in verse anymore. Really! It was like this book boiled everything non-essential out of it by using verse and left only what was absolutely necessary. It was a very quick and satisfying read. I will definitely read more by this author!

Weekend Freebies: The Cupid Caper by Kristen Ethridge

Book Summary: 

Sometimes you've got to take Cupid's bow and arrow into your own hands. 

Amanda Marsh is in love with love. As a high school English teacher, she is surrounded by poetry and classic literature, including the love stories written by her favorite author, Shakespeare. She knows she’ll never find anything as romantic as the stories that have stood the test of time, so she’s settled on having a crush on chemistry teacher Luke Baker from a far.

Luke Baker left his career as a research chemist behind to share a love of science with students. And he’s about to make his pet project a reality as the curriculum lead for the district’s new specialized science and technology academy. When a poem shows up on his desk drawing him into The Cupid Caper, the Valentine’s Day-themed dance and fundraiser for Skyview High School’s Student Council, Luke dismisses the whole thing as a silly game. But when he realizes that winning the grand prize in The Cupid Caper is the one way he can help a star student attend the new STEM Academy, he decides to play along.

Paired together, the English teacher and the chemistry teacher both realize The Cupid Caper is more than a game, but neither can tell the other their feelings are no joke. When an education in happily ever after is on the line, will a man whose life has been ruled by the scientific method and a woman who quotes sonnets miss the mark, or will Cupid’s arrow finally ring true?

The Holiday Hearts Series: Heartwarming Stories of Finding Love on the Most Special Days of the Year

Please Note: The Cupid Caper is a sweet contemporary romance novella with a word count of 27,000 words.

**I have not read this book, but it is listed as a CLEAN romance and totally FREE today!  Click HERE to download this book free. 

Victoria's Promise by Julie Wright

Rating: PG-13 (there is mention of substance abuse- in the subplot)
Grade: B+/4 stars
Recommend: Yes- great beach book

So it's no shocker that I love bachelor books by now right?!

Victoria's promise is part of the Newport Ladies Book Club series. This is the first book I've read in the series and it read fine as a stand-alone (but did make me interested to read more in this series).

Victoria Winters (Tori), is 2nd AD on the set of Vows.  After a run-in with Christopher Caine (don't you just love that name!) she finds herself thinking about him more and more.  Tori is part of the Newport Ladies Book Club and we are introduced to the other ladies an their stories throughout the book.  I am very curious to read Ilana's story after this book!

Chris Caine, is the bachelor. Enough said... :) Or maybe not, he's southern, sweet and totally off limit's for Tori.  I wish I had seen a little more of Chris Caine, but he was great.

What I liked: I liked that this book was an easy light-hearted CLEAN read.  I've read other books by Julie Wright and I really enjoy her writing style. And of course I love that it was written in first person narrative despite being a women's fiction book (Women's fiction tends to use 3rd person I've noticed-which I don't care for).

I liked that this romance took a little time to build.  The MC's actually talked about real things, not just their feelings: books, her scripts etc.  That was sweet and felt real.

This was a fun book because you got a feel for being behind the scenes on the set of the bachelor (something I would love to do).  I also really liked the scenes with Ilana, a woman who is struggling with prescription drugs.  I loved that this book wasn't afraid to talk about tough issues- I am interested to read more of her story.

What I didn't like: I find I am less and less interested in writing this section because when I read what someone didn't like about a book I tend to focus in on that one thing more than I would have before I read it. So my comments in this section will be kept brief from here on out (unless I REALLY don't like something or object to it morally).  I would have loved to read more at the end.  I am a sucker for epilogue's, I guess I just don't like to leave a characters' world once I'm in it.  I would have loved to see a wedding or what they were like after the end of the show... But I also know that this was about the show vows and it was a perfect ending, so, ya.

I would recommend this movie.  It is great for the beach. It is a cute book that I finished quickly.

If you like this book, also check out:

Second Chances by Melanie Jacobsen
Reality Check by Karen Tuft