Monday, April 18, 2016

All The Winters After - Book Review

Kache hasn't been home to Alaska since his parents and brother died in a tragic plane accident twenty years ago. All these years he's been carrying around the grief and burden of losing his family but now his grandmother is dying and his aunt Snag has asked to come home.  Kache expects to find the old homestead in rubble and decay since it has stood empty all this time.

Kache and Snag didn't know that the homestead has actually been cared for by Nadia, a young woman hiding out from her clan of Old Believers. Used to a life of solitude, Nadia hasn't left the homestead for nearly ten years. She's kept up the place and left it essentially the same as it was the day Kache's family died.

Kache, Snag and Nadia must all face their personal fears and guilt and find a way to heal their hearts and move on with their lives.

I love a book set in Alaska. There just seems to be an extra bit of magic and wonder, danger and fear when a story takes place in the majestic and rugged beauty of Alaska. So, I was expecting a lot when I picked up All the Winters After by Sere Prince Halverson. Though the novel took a different direction from what I was initially expecting, I did enjoy reading more about the characters and their experiences and adventures in Alaska. Part of the fun of the Alaska setting is that certain plots really only work there. I appreciated the addition of the Old Believers, a Russian religious sect that immigrated to Oregon and then Alaska. I have never heard of them before so I found it rather interesting. The characters were unique enough to be interesting. Aunt Snag was so likable in her vulnerability and sensitivity hidden behind her facade of strength. The strengths of the novel are  definitely characterization and setting.

The plot line gets hijacked by romance for too long and it starts to drag in the middle. There was foreshadowing of a thriller but the climax and ending were abrupt and lacked the intensity I was hoping for. Overall, All the Winters After was a fairly good read that started out strong but lost momentum for the conclusion. I enjoyed reading more about Alaska.

All The Winters After by Sere Prince Halverson was published by Sourcebooks Landmark in
February 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of All the Winters After. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Imagination Movers are coming to Utah!

Satuday, April 16th at 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm

Eccles Center for the Performing Arts
1750 Kearns Blvd.
Park City , UT 84060

I'm giving away a Family Four Pack of Tickets to the Imagination Movers event in Utah. Check out my Instagram account to enter.

The Imagination Movers story is the ultimate example of the power of imagination. In 2003, four New Orleans friends – Rich Collins, Scott Durbin, Dave Poche and Scott “Smitty” Smith – had an idea. They thought kids wanted and deserved music that spoke to them, not down to them. So, they started gathering after their kids’ bedtimes to write songs and brainstorm ideas about a children’s television show. Two years later, they had become the latest sensation of their musical city, attracting parents and children alike with an eclectic pop sensibility and lyrical turns about healthy snacks and playing catch and conquering childhood fears of bedtime. Lines to the Movers’ shows stretched for blocks.When the levees broke after Hurricane Katrina, the far-reaching disaster turned the Movers’ world upside down, but it didn’t put an end to their dream. Even while band members salvaged their belongings from flooded homes – and Smith reported to his day job as a fire fighter and first responder – they never stopped living according to the Movers’ motto: “Reach high, think big, work hard, have fun!”

This motto has served the band well. Not even the Imagination Movers themselves could have fully imagined their breakthrough success. The Movers partnered with Disney in 2007 and filmed 75 episodes of their Emmy Award-winning series over three seasons. The show aired in more than 55 countries and they’ve sold half a million CDs and DVDs to date. 

Critical acclaim for the Movers includes nods from Entertainment Weekly and The New York Times, which reported the Movers are “prized by many parents for non-condescending lyrics and music that evokes the Beastie Boys or Red Hot Chili Peppers.” Parenting magazine praised the band’s “dash of rebellion” and songs that are “fresh and treacle-free.” National television appearances include The View, Live with Regis & Kelly, and Good Morning America. The Movers are currently developing an animated series “Super Movers” in partnership with Toronto-based 9 Story Media Group. 

The Movers' ninth release, “Licensed to Move” debuted in early 2015. The CD is bundled with a DVD that contains a live concert performance as well as music videos.

The Movers are known as a high-energy, interactive live music act. Over the last decade they have entertained more than a million fans in North America, Europe and Asia. Their “In a Big Warehouse” tour attracted 150,000 fans and was one of Pollstar magazine’s top 100 tours of 2011 (one of only two family acts on the list). According to thousands of fan reviews on, Imagination Movers ranks as the No. 1 rated major touring act for families. 

Over the past several the Movers have rocked packed houses in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Guam, Spain, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates. They are playing select North American cities in 2016.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Gates of Evangeline - Book Review

The dreams! Not long after the untimely and sudden death of her little boy, Charlie started having very intense dreams of children and future events. She's a bit freaked out when the events in her dreams come true. When she dreams of a little boy in a bayou, she decides to accept the writing job in Louisiana. She's been hired to write a book about a thirty year old unsolved mystery of a kidnapped little boy. Perhaps with her dreams she can finally bring closure to the case.

The Deveau family is one of Louisana's most prestigious families so when the little boy went missing, it became a world famous case. To conduct research, Charlie moves onto the Deveau estate of Evangeline and meets the eccentric members of the family. As she uncovers the secrets and mysteries of the Deveaus she might even find friendship and love and healing from her own grief.

I was almost immediately captivated by the writing and story of The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young. The plantation in Louisiana was a great setting for the otherworldliness of Charlie's dreams and the intrigue that surrounded all the characters. Thrilling and at times romantic, The Gates of Evangeline kept me reading late into the night. I loved the Gothic style and the ghostly nature of Charlie's dreams.

Before reading The Gates of Evangeline, which is a She Reads Book Club choice, I had heard a lot of praise and I wasn't at all disappointed. It was a quick, thoroughly enjoyable read, perfect for solving any book slumps.

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young is published by Putnam and released in September 2015.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Gates of Evangeline through the She Reads Book Club. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**

Forever and Forever - Book Review

The love shared by Henry Longfellow for his wife Fanny Appleton is legendary. We all know the story of her tragic death and the pain he experienced at her loss. We know how his grief  inspired him to pen the poem that eventually became the beloved Christmas hymn "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." Because I knew and loved this story, I had to pick up and read Forever and Forever by Josi S. Kilpack. I rarely read romance novels of any variety and if I do, it's generally because someone picked it for my local book club. However, perhaps because of the historical nature of Forever and Forever since it is based on real historical figures that I admire, I enjoyed the novel.

Henry Longfellow was still grieving the death of his first wife, when he first met the eighteen year old Fanny Appleton during their tours of Europe. Henry admired her intellect and her interest in literature. He couldn't get enough of the girl. Fanny was less sure of her new suitor. He was a bit awkward; older and certainly not of the same social class. Their courtship is long and unusual and I really enjoyed reading about how the two finally came together in a mutually loving and committed relationship that would transcend time.

This is the first time I've read a novel by Kilpack and I was impressed by how she paid homage to these inspiring people. Well researched, she is faithful to their story and legacy. I appreciate that she included chapter notes at the end of the book. I must admit that I found some sections and dialogue lengthy and unnecessary to the advancement of the story.  Overall, I enjoyed the novel. I liked the characterization and how Kilpack successfully shows the maturing and growth of her characters. Forever and Forever is definitely a novel I would recommend, especially to those who appreciate an enduring and realistic love story.

Forever and Forever by Josi S. Kilpack is published by Shadow Mountain and released on April 5, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of Forever and Forever. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**

Friday, April 1, 2016

Eleanor - Book Review

A horrible car accident kills Esmerelda but her identical twin sister Eleanor and her mother survive to bear the unbearable loss. Shattered by grief, Eleanor's mother turns to the drink and descends into a world that neither Eleanor nor her father cannot penetrate. Alone and responsible, Eleanor is forced to grow up quickly as she attempts to hold her family together.

One day, Eleanor walks through a door and simply disappears. She finds herself in a new world. She comes too later locked in her school in the middle of the night. Over and over, she leaves her reality and eventually meets someone who will help her heal her family.

The first eighty pages of the novel Eleanor by Jason Gurley read like a family saga. The writing is lovely and I could literally feel the weight of the depression and grief experienced by the characters. Hurley successfully creates characters that the reader cares about as they suffer.

As Eleanor moved into the more supernatural sections, I was initially frustrated and contemplated giving up on the novel. It's not my typical read so I started skimming but the writing enraptured me and soon I was completely captivated by the story telling and fantastical world Gurley builds. I also had to go back and read some of the sections that I had skimmed through.

Eleanor by Jason Gurley really is a beautiful story of healing and peace. I loved the characters and hoped for a good resolution. I actually ended up enjoying the phenomenal aspects of the plot line. I'm glad that I picked it up and took a chance on something different.

Eleanor by Jason Gurley is published by Crown and released in January 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of Eleanor. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**