Book Review: Beyond by Catina Haverlock and Angela Larkin

If you like ghosts and love stories, then take a look at Beyond which is written by Catina Haverlock and Angela Larkin and is published by Cedar Fort Publishing. In this story, a dead boy and a living girl fall in love despite all odds, but there are other forces at play which may cause the couple’s destruction.

COVER Beyond image via Cedar Fort
Image via Cedar Fort Publishing

“One girl, one heart— two guys. And who would believe that one of those guys was a ghost?”

Summary

Landon has been dead for several months. He finally decides to take his guide’s advice and move on to the afterlife when Presley, the new girl at school, sees him when no other living person has. Presley doesn’t know who the cute guy is or why he won’t take her phone number, but her attraction to him is sure. So begins a story of love between the living and the dead. Landon and Presley would do anything for each other, but they soon learn that the watching dead is keeping an eye on them, and the couple’s decision to stay together may not be worth the cost.

“And though James said the dead don’t get a second chance, I had to take issue with that because I had Presley. If she wasn’t a second chance, what was?”

Review—3.5 Stars

I received a digital copy of Beyond from Cedar Fort Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

I’m really conflicted about my review of this book because there were several sections that were incredible and there were many other parts that really weren’t. I disliked the first half of the book, but the second half of the book improved significantly and showed some really gems.

I’ll start by tackling the first half of the book. I felt that if Presley and Landon had started interacting sooner, it would have improved the story overall. Up until then, you had very little tension and conflict. All you really had was Presley’s lousy life. Another problem I had with this book was that the characters often acted and spoke in a way that made absolutely no sense to their personality or situation. I felt they were doing things because the plot asked them to, not because it was something they would actually do. The flow of the text was good, but the story of the book felt purposeless and didn’t make sense for a large part of it.

“Love means doing what’s best for the one you love, even if it’s not what’s best for you.”

That being said, the last half of the book was excellent. Though I still felt frustrated because many characters weren’t likeable and did things that made little sense, there was some real conflict that caught my interest. The authors also kept building up the story with unexpected reveals. I finally started to feel an honest connection between Landon and Presley, and his reasons for staying began to make more sense. I also really liked the path of Landon’s development, of how his infatuation became love when he realized the sacrifice he needed to make. As for the ending, it was unexpected, but I’m not really sure it was the best one since it broke several established rules for the world. Overall, I’m still conflicted about my review. The good parts of the story really drew me in, but I’m not sure they outweighed the many less-than-stellar moments.

To see more reviews of Beyond, check it out on Goodreads or Amazon.

Book Review: Shatter by Nikki Trionfo

If you want to read a mystery where you don’t know which characters you can trust, and all of your suspicions change throughout the unending line of shocking reveals, then have I got a book for you. Shatter is written by Nikki Trionfo and published by Cedar Fort Publishing. In the midst of her sister’s death and the growing tension of the peach strike, Salem asks herself one question: was her sister’s death really an accident?

shatterblogtourbanner image via Cedar Fort
Image via Cedar Fort Publishing.

“Maybe Carrie was murdered. Maybe she wasn’t. Maybe I’ll never know. How can I live like that? My thought pattern loops tighter and tighter. I can’t live like that. She was my sister. I can’t wait forever, hoping the police or Dad will do something.

“I have to investigate.

“I have to find out for myself if Carrie’s death was more than just an accident.”

Summary

Salem’s sister, Carrie, died in a gas explosion. A few days later, the body of a union leader is found in their father’s orchard. From this moment on, Salem starts to question the possibilities of Carrie’s death. Was it really an accident, or was it dealt by the gang who tagged Carrie’s car before she died? Or did it have anything to do with the peach strike and the rising conflict between the peach growers and the union Carrie avidly supported. As Salem digs deeper and deeper into the mystery, she uncovers secrets that were meant to be kept and knowledge that will change her perspective on all the people she knows, including Carrie.

“Nothing is more impossible to accept than a random event with large consequences.”

Review—5 Stars

I received a digital copy of Shatter from Cedar Fort Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

In short, this book was phenomenal. This intense, thrilling mystery kept me gasping “What?!” throughout its entirety. It had numerous layers, and unveiling each one revealed a fantastic shock every time. I loved its complexity and the many secrets all of the intricate characters kept. Every aspect of this book is extremely enjoyable, and I couldn’t put it down as I tried to discover who killed Carrie.

“ ‘Violence is for the unimaginative,’ I translate.

“That’s exactly the kind of thing Carrie would say. She paid attention to things like that because she was imaginative. She had dreams. Dreams she can’t pursue anymore because one of the unimaginative, violent people she worked so hard to outsmart killed her.”

This brilliant book made you suspect every character and it escalated the conflict in unimaginable ways. I was fascinated by the tangle of conspiracies and plot twists it offered every step of the way. It keeps you guessing and guessing at who the killer is, but you won’t find out until the very end. Amazing book!

To see more reviews of Shatter, check it out on Goodreads, Amazon, or its Cedar Fort blog tour page.

Book Review: The Vicar’s Daughter by Josi S. Kilpack

Misunderstandings escalate into a tangled web of love triangles in the regency romance, The Vicar’s Daughter by Josi S. Kilpack published by Shadow Mountain Publishing. In this story of love, letters, and family, Cassie’s attempts to help her sister go awry when she falls in love with the man she intended for her sister.

The Vicar's Daughter Blog Tour Image via Shadow Mountain
Image via Shadow Mountain Publishing

“The confidence Lenora needed would only come through success gained through action she was too nervous to take. Cassie, however, could take that action and write letters on Lenora’s behalf.”

Summary

Cassie will never be able to get married. Her parents insist that only one daughter should be out in society at a time, and Cassie’s shy older sister, Lenora, isn’t going to catch a husband anytime soon. But when Lenora has a chance encounter with the young bachelor, Evan Glenside, Cassie sees an opportunity. Cassie writes letters to Evan in Lenora’s name in hopes of forming an attachment between him and her sister. But things fall apart when Cassie realizes that she is falling in love with Evan.

“Think over what you have done. Look for the ways in which you turned straw to gold and be glad for the grace of our Lord, who saves us from ourselves.”

Review—5 Stars

I received a copy of The Vicar’s Daughter from Shadow Mountain Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Josi S. Kilpack once again produces a delightful regency romance. She did such a masterful job at drawing me into the story that I often forgot I was supposed to be reviewing it. Kilpack also does amazing work at escalating conflict upon conflict until you agonize over whether the characters will ever find happiness or not.

“There is joy yet left for you, Cassie. Do not miss it simply because you cannot see past what cannot be.”

I always feel the best characters are the ones we can sympathize with, and Kilpack created several such characters. I could really feel their pain, guilt, and embarrassment. Cassie’s journey from being headstrong and childish to humble and sympathetic was especially well done. I also loved how the story’s plot twists and resolutions were unexpected and perfect at the same time. Great job!

To see more reviews of The Vicar’s Daughter, check it out on Goodreads and Amazon.

Book Review: How to Become a Pirate Hunter by Marty Reeder

If you like books about destiny, pirates, and adventures on the high seas, then How to Become a Pirate Hunter may be for you. This book was written by Marty Reeder and published by Cedar Fort Publishing. Though I felt the style and approach to this story could use improvement, the concept is certainly interesting and unique.

how to become a pirate hunter image via cedar fort
Image via Cedar Fort Publishing

“You are just as talented as anyone else out there. You just haven’t been in the right circumstances to prove it.”

Summary

As long as Eric can remember, he has been useless. With no real talents or abilities, he just floats aimlessly through life. But that all changes when he meets Charlotte. She can see people’s natural-born abilities, and she tells Eric that he is meant to become a pirate hunter. After a little time traveling, Charlotte gives Eric the opportunity to test out his pirate hunting skills. But when Eric takes on the dreaded Willard Twins, he may have met his match.

“He found himself in an area and time period unfamiliar to him. He faced hostile foes not only in the sea, but also back at land in the forms of Governor Rose and Captain Bellview. All this . . . and Eric did not even have his driver’s license yet.”

Review—3 Stars

I received a digital copy of How to Become a Pirate Hunter from Cedar Fort Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

I’ll admit that I was a little disappointed with this book. A time traveling pirate hunter is a great concept, but I felt the approach and style was lacking. For one, Eric’s character did not go through a development process. He started out feeling useless and unconfident, but when he traveled to the past, he instantly became an intelligent, self-assured leader. This change happened in a blink, and I didn’t buy it. Plus this book is about how to become a pirate hunter, and we didn’t even get to see that process.

 “And now that I’ve spent this time with you, I am more convinced than ever. No matter what you were born to do. No matter what you have accomplished here, or what you think you haven’t. You are special, Eric. You really are. Not because of your talent. Because of you.”

Additionally, the point of view kept throwing me off because the third-person limited kept jumping into others’ perspectives. This omniscient/limited mix felt sloppy, especially when it explored the thoughts of minor, unimportant characters. This point of view also contributed to a whole lot of telling rather than showing. The constant telling of what happened and what everyone thought about it made everything seem too obvious.

Eric also lacked a lot of potential internal conflict, and when this conflict did appear, it was after long intervals of nothing at all. There also could have been a lot more conflict had he experienced failures with pirate hunting early on rather than amazing successes. And he didn’t even consider the effect this whole experience might have had on his future and his family until the end of the book. Though I liked the concept of the story and its villain, overall I felt it needed some work.

To see more reviews of How to Become a Pirate Hunter, check it out on Goodreads, Amazon, or its Cedar Fort blog tour page.

Book Review: Unexpected Love by Heather Chapman, Mandi Ellsworth, Paula Kremser, & Ashtyn Newbold

You can read sweet, clean romances about marriages of convenience when you check out Unexpected Love published by Cedar Fort Publishing and written by Heather Chapman, Mandi Ellsworth, Paula Kremser, and Ashtyn Newbold. This book shares four romance novellas which show how love can grow in the most unexpected places.

Unexpected love image via Cedar Fort
Image via Cedar Fort Publishing

“He just had to get married and keep his wife alive. Sounded simple enough.”

Summary

In past eras, women were often forced into marriages of convenience due to extenuating circumstances. However, some of these people still managed to find great love within these marriages. Unexpected Love shares four such stories. A man eager for a rich inheritance grows to love his wife and her small cottage. Two people marry to save their young charges and form a loving family. A spunky, beautiful woman running from criminals marries a law man who doesn’t know the first thing about being married to her. And a scarred woman brings out the goodness and love of an angry, unhappy blind man.

“Smile. Life is an obligatory gift. We may not always like it, but we must make do with what we are given.”

Review—4.5 Stars

I received a digital copy of Unexpected Love from Cedar Fort Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

I loved the sweet, tender, and varied stories this book shared. I was especially pleased to see that not every story was based in the regency era, which helped change up the romance genre a bit. In “First Comes Marriage,” I liked the many dilemmas the characters had to maneuver around and I constantly worried about whether they would really fall in love or not. In “Beauty and the Beholder,” I enjoyed seeing Fanny and Percy’s relationship in all stages of its development and hearing their witty banter.

 “I have learned that there is a good, kind, and honest person within each of us. We only need the right people to unearth them.”

As for “Ashbrook Abbey,” I felt the transformation of the characters was a bit choppy and it would have worked better with less exposition in the beginning. “The Price of Her Heart” had a weak beginning and ending, but it had a fantastic middle and a spunky protagonist. Overall, this anthology shared feel-good stories, memorable characters, and tender, enduring loves.

To see more reviews of Unexpected Love, check it out on Goodreads, Amazon, and its Cedar Fort blog tour page.

Book Review: Dating Never Works . . . Until It Does By Zack Oates

Typically I review fiction books, but I decided that I really needed to read this dating guide and apply its lessons to my own life. Dating Never Works . . . Until It Does is written by Zack Oates and published by Cedar Fort Publishing. This book has a lot of humor that makes it an enjoyable read, and it shares a lot of insights that will make you rethink how you date.

dating-never-works-until-it-does-blog-tour-image-via-cedar-fort
Image via Cedar Fort Publishing.

“I believe that two people can fall madly in love and sift that fairy-tale feeling up through the raging sands of reality to settle on top as a polished stone of true joy, where the ‘happily ever after’ will be something two mortals are working towards and not a finished product.”

Summary

Dating can be fun. Dating can be hard. Dating can feel like a repeated failure. Zack Oates knows this, having gone on over a thousand dates and having blogged about them. Oates shares 100 lessons about dating that he gained from his experiences. He covers dating fundamentals, how to deal with the friend zone, what women want men to know (and vice versa), attraction, breaking up, marriage, and much more.

“Just remember, someone rejecting you doesn’t say anything about you, it just means that the match isn’t good. Like root beer and soy sauce. Both are great, but not together. And that’s okay. You’ll find your vanilla ice cream or your rice soon enough.”

Book Review—4.5 Stars

I received a digital copy of Dating Never Works . . . Until It Does from Cedar Fort Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

This fun dating guide has lots of great humor and insights. Oates’ running commentary throughout it made me laugh, and his many lessons and advice made me think. He really does an excellent job at explaining the do’s and don’ts of dating, and his fun, interesting writing style ensured that I was never bored.

“Don’t stop trying to be better . . . but be honest. Because I promise, you will be loved; but the problem is when people fall in love with what you want them to think you are. Let them get to know and fall in love with you . . . as you are.”

Though Oates gave many humorous, interesting analogies, I’ll admit that there were a few sections in the book that were muddled and left me confused. However, that may be just a result of me being a clueless dater. Overall, Oates provided plenty of excellent examples, advice, and tips on good dating. I especially liked his conclusion as well as the several great dating activities he suggested afterwards.

To see more reviews of Dating Never Works . . . Until It Does, check it out on Goodreads, Amazon, or its Cedar Fort blog tour page.

Book Review: Aspen Everlasting By Kathryn Cooper

If you enjoy adventure, fantasy, and fairies like you’ve never seen them before, then come check out this read. Aspen Everlasting is written by Kathryn Cooper and published as an ebook by Cedar Fort Publishing. Though I felt this book needed work on character reactions and style, I did like the story in general and how the fairies had strength, speed, and other abilities.

aspen-everlasting-blog-tour-image-via-cedar-fort
Image via Cedar Fort Publishing

Summary

Aspen’s life seems pretty normal between school, swim practice, and crushing on her best friend Nate. But everything changes when she and her sister demonstrate supernatural powers after their car slips into a flooded river. They discover that they are Evermortals, a race of fairies that uses their abilities to help human kind. But danger is around the corner as Aspen learns that other Evermortals are after her family, and that her parents are hiding even more secrets about her identity.

“We were Evermortals. We were unique.”

Review—3 Stars

I received a digital copy of Aspen Everlasting from Cedar Fort Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Though I did like this story, I felt that the style and many other details could have used improvement. I suppose my biggest complaint would have to be with the characters’ emotions and reactions. Often how the characters felt or acted didn’t really make sense for the situation, like the parents giving a lengthy explanation of the Evermortals while running for their lives, how the kids instantly believed all of this stuff with ease, or Aspen laughing one moment then yelling angrily the next with no indication of the cause of the sudden change. These confusing reactions happened often in the book, making it feel confusing and unrealistic.

“Maybe I shouldn’t date anyone now, since I’m a different species from my peers.”

Some other problems I had with this book were the textbook-like infodumps, awkward style and sentence structure, excessive explanation of insignificant details, etc. That being said, the concept of the story was certainly interesting and I started to warm up to it near the end. I also liked Aspen and Nate’s joking camaraderie and how she was confident in defending herself.

To see more reviews of Aspen Everlasting, check it out on Goodreads, Amazon, or its Cedar Fort blog tour page.

Book Review: Mischief & Manors By Ashtyn Newbold

Some may complain that regency romances are all the same, but add a little mischief in them and you can enjoy a different kind of love story with lots of quirks and laughs. Mischief & Manors by Ashtyn Newbold is published by Cedar Fort Publishing. Enjoy the teasings, misunderstandings, and funny situations in this delightful period romance.

mischief-and-manors-blog-tour-image-via-cedar-fort
Image via Cedar Fort Publishing

“Broken fingernails and tattered lace were the cause of problems for many young ladies. A missing invitation to a ball could start a revolt. Surely the snub of a handsome gentleman would be enough to retrieve the smelling salts. But today, much like every day, it wasn’t any of these things that were causing me trouble. It was my younger brothers.”

Summary

Annette’s brothers, like all young boys, are notorious mischief-makers. But after their last escapade, their cruel aunt has had enough. She sends the siblings away to an old family friend at Kellaway Manor, ordering Annette to correct her brother’s behavior over the summer. Handsome Dr. Owen Kellaway offers to teach the young brothers lessons on being gentlemen, but Annette only remembers Owen as a trouble-maker from her youth. However, as they get to know each other, Annette finds herself falling for Owen. But others want to marry him, and Annette soon finds that being close to Owen may put her life in danger.

“Yes, he was very handsome. But that did not mean he was not still very infuriating.”

Review—4 Stars

I received a digital copy of Mischief & Manors from Cedar Fort Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

This sweet tale is full of humor and heart. I laughed out loud many times over Owen’s insufferable teasing and enjoyed how he and Annette matched head to head with their competitive natures. I especially loved how Annette is different from other regency heroines: independent, willing to stand up for herself, and really not into dresses and balls. This delightful story will have you sighing with satisfaction with its humor and tenderness.

“And suddenly, for the first time, it felt like my heart was trying to tell me something. It surprised me so much that I quickly blocked it out before I heard it. I couldn’t listen to my heart! My heart listened to me—I was in charge. My heart had always known that. So why did I feel like that was bound to change?”

In addition to the brothers, Owen, and occasionally Annette, I was delighted with how the grandma was mischievous as well. One of my favorite parts was when the grandmother created a fake engagement, adding a little regency-style While You Were Sleeping to the story. Though I felt that some of the romance and revelation of secrets happened a little too fast in this book, overall it was a sweet tale which made me laugh at the teasing and agonize over the misunderstandings.

To see more reviews of Mischief & Manors, check it out on Goodreads, Amazon, or its Cedar Fort blog tour page.

Book Review: Garden Of The Gods By Stephen J. Stirling

I love it when I find an epic, vivid story that keeps me turning pages as the suspense and action continue to build. One such story is Garden Of The Gods by Stephen J. Stirling published by Cedar Fort Publishing. In this incredible adventure, mythology and reality collide when an ancient Native American God, the bear of the underworld, defends its people.

garden-of-the-gods-blog-tour-image-via-cedar-fort
Image via Cedar Fort Publishing

“Let no man violate the sanctity of this cavern, or the people of this canyon—or they will face the vengeance of the Nyah-Gwaheh.”

Summary

Matt Hayden specializes in live animal capture, so he does not expect to be trapped in a land war between a mining company and a Native American tribe when he comes to Vega Towachi. The miners have entered the Tonowa’s sacred canyon where their God dwells, a giant, armored, bear-like creature called Nya-Gwaheh. Matt is a little skeptical about the existence of this beast, but he soon learns that Nya-Gwaheh is alive and well. And angry.

“The Garden of the Gods was a paradise that could not be seen with the naked eye. Its treasures were riches and beauties of the heart and soul. Perhaps that is what the Old Ones lost.”

Review—4.5 Stars

I received a digital copy of Garden Of The Gods from Cedar Fort Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

This is a fantastic read filled with action, mythology, and a renewal of lost faith. From the very beginning, Stirling made this book intriguing, building conflict upon conflict and bringing the reader into the adventure with excellent description. I couldn’t put it down this unique, intense story, and with each page, I loved it more and more.

“I don’t know if I have a pure heart, but I know I can’t walk away today without trying to prove to myself that I do. Some things can be snatched away from us by evil and godless men. And we may have lost those things. But some things can never be taken away.”

In my opinion, the only downfall to this book was the dinosaurs. They seemed to distract from the cool Native American mysticism, but other readers might be fine with this. Though some of the action scenes ran on a little long, overall they were intense and detailed in such a way that I really saw what was happening. This book unveiled many interesting layers to its plots and it was very exciting. I highly recommend it.

To see more reviews of Garden Of The Gods, check it out on Goodreads, Amazon, or its Cedar Fort blog tour page.

Book Review: Winter Sky By Chris Stewart

In war, one can see both the greatest despair and the brightest of light. Such is the case with Winter Sky by Chris Stewart published by Shadow Mountain Publishing. In this story, a young man remembers who he is and regains faith in God amid the darkness and horrors of World War 2.

winter-sky-blog-tour-image-via-shadow-mountain
Image via Shadow Mountain Publishing.

“Evil men have brought pain and rage into this world. They have a vision of the future that is very dark indeed. But we have seen this thing before, and the world seems to find a way through it, depending on the souls of men.”

Summary

The year is 1944. The war is almost over and Poland is trapped between the German Nazis and the Russian Bolsheviks. A young soldier named Lucas is dropped off at the city of Gorndask with no memory of who he is and if his family still lives. He sees the suffering around him and questions how God could let this happen. But what Lucas doesn’t know is that he was one of the Devil’s Rebels who fought for Poland, and a Nazi officer wants him dead. Lucas flees for Brzeg to catch a train that will take him to safety, but before he leaves, a mysterious woman gives him two children to save.

“God never promised us an easy road. But that doesn’t mean He doesn’t love us.”

Review—4 Stars

I received a copy of Winter Sky from Shadow Mountain Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Winter Sky is an excellent work of historical fiction with intense action as well as themes of hope amid the darkness and evils of war. Though I felt the beginning was a little awkward in places, the middle and end were excellent and left me wanting to read more. Stewart did an excellent job at creating the atmosphere of desperation, and I loved the religious elements and the reveal at the end.

“Sometimes I think God wants to see what we will do when we don’t get an answer. Sometimes God will ask us: In the absence of any evidence, what will you choose to believe? Which path will you follow when I don’t show you the way? When the night is the darkest, are we still willing to fight? Will we keep on going when the only thing we have is hope?”

Stewart had a lot of excellent historical facts and information in this book, a little too much in some areas, but it was very well done overall. I really felt as if I was in 1944 Poland. Lucas’s memory loss and the appearance of Melina also kept my interest and had me asking questions throughout the story. I loved that even though there was sadness and despair in this book, hope fought its way through and triumphed in the end.

To see more reviews of Winter Sky, check it out on Goodreads and Amazon.