Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mockingjay - too violent?

I finished Mockingjay last night. I've devoured all the books in The Hunger Games series, even though I've cringed at the violence and sadness of each one. Suzanne Collins is an amazing author, everything just feels so real as you read those books. But as I read them I realize I am a hypocrite. I saw nothing wrong with me reading the stories and visualizing the destruction, but my 12yo came home and told me read The Hunger Games at school. I was sick. I told him the books were far too violent and I didn't want him reading them. He just shrugged and said, "Okay, Mom." Am I being too protective? How do you keep your child's innocence and yet let them grow up? Okay, that's a weighted question but I'm referring to what they read not the whole scheme of things. And seriously, why don't they rate books so we can at least have a guidance system of some sort. My 12yo wouldn't think of watching a PG13 or R-rated movie, but I think some of the books he's read have been violent enough to be R.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Jars

Last year we read Christmas Jars and gave away our very first jar. The boys loved leaving the jar on a doorstep and "doorbell ditching." This year we're excited to give away another jar. My mom gave me Christmas Jars Reunion a few weeks ago. My 12yo and I just finished reading it. I'm still wiping away tears so I can write this post.
What is a Christmas Jar? "A Christmas Jar is a pickle jar, peanut butter jar, Mason jar or whatever else you have around to collect your spare change each day. All coins are dedicated to the jar, and during the week before Christmas you carefully select someone to give it to anonymously."
For more information and stories about Christmas Jars that have changed lives, click here.
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones and find many opportunities to give and love.
Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

I haven't been the most ardent Nicholas Sparks fan. Don't get me wrong, I think he writes touching and romantic stories, but I've always felt the pace was too slow. Maybe I'm getting more patient because I loved, The Lucky One. It's a really touching story with fabulous characters. If you haven't read it, I would recommend it. When U.S. Marine Logan Thibault finds a photograph of a smiling young woman half-buried in the dirt during his third tour of duty in Iraq, his first instinct is to toss it aside. Instead, he brings it back to the base for someone to claim, but when no one does, he finds himself always carrying the photo in his pocket. Soon Thibault experiences a sudden streak of luck—winning poker games and even surviving deadly combat that kills two of his closest buddies. Only his best friend, Victor, seems to have an explanation for his good fortune: the photograph—his lucky charm. Back home in Colorado, Thibault can’t seem to get the photo—and the woman in it—out of his mind. Believing that she somehow holds the key to his destiny, he sets out on a journey across the country to find her, never expecting the strong but vulnerable woman he encounters in Hampton, North Carolina—Elizabeth, a divorced mother with a young son—to be the girl he’s been waiting his whole life to meet. Caught off guard by the attraction he feels, Thibault keeps the story of the photo, and his luck, a secret. As he and Elizabeth embark upon a passionate and all-consuming love affair, the secret he is keeping will soon threaten to tear them apart—destroying not only their love, but also their lives. What I liked: A fabulous romance, mostly clean (they do have premarital relations but the author doesn't describe it), great plot. What I didn't like: There were still parts that were a bit slow for me, where I was thinking, "I know how to make homemade ice cream, get back to the story." Audience: Adult
Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shudder - Book Review

I've adored Jennie Hansen's books since I was a teenager and was thrilled to read her newest, Shudder. It was different than her others, but still well-written and almost impossible to put down.
Back Cover Blurb:
Darcy and Clare grew up as best friends, sharing trials and triumphs from preschool through college graduation. Now they’re sharing an apartment in Boise, Idaho, where Clare just landed a great job and Darcy is pursuing a teaching certificate. There’s only one problem: Blaine, Clare’s boyfriend. His chauvinistic, know-it-all ways set Darcy’s teeth on edge. Darcy vows not to let Blaine ruin her lifelong friendship with Clare, but when Blaine insists on moving in, Darcy suddenly finds herself alone. The estranged friends forge ahead on seemingly separate paths. Engaged to Blaine, Clare becomes trapped in ugly family politics and vicious treatment from her fiancĂ©. Darcy finds a temporary home with Karlene, an accident victim seeking live-in help, but a twisted plot soon threatens their safety. Clare’s wedding briefly reunites her with Darcy, yet the friends have never been farther apart. And when Clare finds herself in mortal peril and finally calls on Darcy to help, it might be too late. What I liked: Fast-paced, intriguing story, and I really loved Darcy and Karlene.
What I didn't like: The abuse was awful. It honestly gave me nightmares.
Audience I would recommend to: I wouldn't want a teenager reading this, but I think it teaches many important lessons for adult readers.
Where to buy:
Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Winter Solstice Celebration - Book Review

A Winter Solstice Celebration takes young readers deep into the forest, where they discover how seemingly harmless human activities can wreak havoc on the natural world. When I get the opportunity to review a children's book I take it to the experts (my sons). The 4yo liked the animals. The 8yo said the story was "interesting." The 12yo said, "She taught a good lesson through a picture book, but I think Moms and Dads need the lesson more than kids." In a way I agree with him, I learned a lesson while reading this story but I hope he learned a lesson as well: children standing up for what's right can make a difference and help teach their Moms and Dads. What I liked: I loved the illustrations and loved that Miya stood up for what was right and made a positive change that helped others. What I didn't like: I felt a bit of guilt about the trees we've chopped down for Christmas and the fact that I was the one whining when my husband bought me a beautiful fake tree! I also felt the story could've been trimmed a bit to hold the interest of my 4yo better, but for the older boys it worked. Audience I would recommend this book to: 4yo to 94yo would truly enjoy this book. I'm glad to have it with our other Christmas keepers. YouTube Video DiDi LeMay's Website A Winter Solstice Celebration is available for purchase at: Amazon Barnes & Noble
Monday, December 6, 2010

Which book reviewers do you trust?

I enjoy reviewing books to help promote fellow authors, but I must admit that at times I've erred on the side of being nice to the author and maybe haven't been as forthright as my readers would hope. It's probably obvious when I'm enthusiastic about a book or when I'm lukewarm. I always try to focus on my favorite parts of the book and find something positive to say about it, if that isn't possible I will opt out of reviewing the book. But is that fair to those reading the review? How as an author do you submit a completely honest review, especially when you know how it feels to receive a less than favorable review? Jon Skeet had some good advice on how to know if a book review is trustworthy or not. "Look for reviews which give specific praise/criticism. In particular if they give examples of teaching techniques, you will have more of an idea as to whether it'll suit you. Reviews which basically say "I loved it!" or "That's rubbish!" aren't terribly informative. " (i) I've decided I need to make my reviews more specific to be fair to the authors I'm reviewing for and you as readers. I will now include in each review: 1 - My favorite parts of the book (may include quotes) 2 - My least favorite part of the book (or maybe what I would have done differently) 3 - Which audience I would recommend this book to (or likewise which audience it may not be appropriate for). 4 - Information about the book - a short review, price, where to buy, etc. Are there any other areas you as readers would like me to focus on? (i) Jon Skeet: Coding Blog - "The trouble with book reviews."
Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Huge Giveaway

Tristi Pinkston is hosting an absolutely huge contest over on her blog to celebrate the release of her new book, "Dearly Departed." A new prize will be offered every twenty-four hours, and with multiple chances to win, you can't go wrong! Prizes include books, jewelry, perfume, movies - and the grand prize is a free night's stay at the Lion Gate Manor in Lava Hot Springs. Visit Tristi's blog for rules and more details.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Staying Grateful

I'm emotionally volatile right now. One minute I'm overflowing with gratitude for my beautiful boys, my wonderful husband, our warm, safe home. The next minute I'm cussing because the insurance claimed yet another medical bill wasn't their responsibility (even though we've more than met our deductible) and I still can't fit into my jeans. I know this is all part of being a new mom, but I'm trying for more on the positive side and less on the negative, remembering that we should have all those medical bills paid by the time my baby starts high school but I only have so long to enjoy his squishy thighs and toothless grin. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and can keep those grateful feelings with you.
Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mommy Brain

All pregnant women can attest to the fact that the brain is a bit mushy during pregnancy. I knew that I would be forgetful and not be productive with my writing throughout pregnancy, but my baby is three months old and I am still a mess. I sat down to work on my manuscript the other night and it was like I'd completely forgotten how to write. I finally gave up when I couldn't think of any way to describe one of the characters except "huge." Robin Elise Weiss, wrote an article for about Placenta Brains and she claimed it could take up to six months after birth to return to normal. At this point I'm just praying my mind comes back. Anyone else suffered from Mommy Brain? Did the lost brain cells come back?
Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Get Comfortable

"I hope you're all comfortable. If not, it's your own fault." This is how our host welcomed us to a dinner party last night. He and his wife had worked hard to make sure we all felt comfortable and welcomed but if we chose not to take advantage of that it was definitely our fault. I've spent too many years learning that this statement is true in many situations. Especially in my writing life. When I have to speak to a group, sign books in an unfamiliar location, or attend a writer's conference I can choose to be comfortable (or at least fake it) or I can feel uncomfortable and most likely alienate the people I'm speaking or meeting with. Since I graduated high school (in a huge class of 42) I've been in many situations I wasn't comfortable with. Growing up in the tiny town of Clifton, Idaho, I rarely met a new friend. As I went to USU and then started working I had to learn to be comfortable whatever situation I was in. When I finally figured out how to relax and be comfortable or fake it when I needed to life became so much easier, I was blessed with many more friends, and I was able to watch out for others instead of focusing on my own discomfort. Make yourself comfortable, everyone around you will thank you for it.
Monday, November 8, 2010

In need of blogging advice

I am guilty of the #1 way to lose blogging traffic according to a recent article in Writer's Digest. I post too infrequently. With a 3 month old baby I have a hard time turning on my computer let alone clicking onto my blogs. I know, excuses, excuses. I promise soon I'll get on top of things. What blogging advice has been effective for you? I thought these blogs had some good ideas: LifeDev Manish Pandey Lisa Chris Garrett
Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Black Madonna

Davis Bunn's writing style is amazing. The Black Madonna is another example of what a fabulous writer he is. I adored the characters and imaginative plot but it's always his writing that stuns me. I had to include a couple of quotes: "Raphael Danton's grimace was the first non-handsome thing about him that she had seen. Not ugly, though. This guy could have stuck out his tongue, crossed his eyes, and blown spit bubbles at the ceiling and still stopped female traffic." "His brain felt fuzzy around the edges. Every motion had a tentative feel, as though he cold rip the veil of drugs apart with one wrong move. Even shifting his gaze stretched his cocoon of safety." If my baby wasn't screaming for some Mom attention I could find you even better examples. Davis Bunn. Read his books. You'll thank me. Here's a current list.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010

One series wonders

I'm reading the Serpent Tide series with my sons for the second time. I thought my oldest would get bored but he not only listens when I read, he steals the book after I finish and reads it when he should be reading other books. We love this series, but I keep wondering why the author, K.L. Fogg, hasn't written anything else. It's always amazing when authors like J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer produce a spectacular series but then they don't write much else. Does that ever frustrate you?
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Review - Defensive Tactics by Steve Westover

Paul Stephens has it all--a wonderful job at the FBI, a new girlfriend, and a great apartment. Even when Jimmy, a friend from his past, unexpectedly ends up on his couch, Paul has no worries. But when arresting a corrupt judge puts his girlfriend's life in danger, Paul and Jimmy will do anything to save her. How far will Paul go to protect the ones he love? Filled with suspense and action, Defensive Tactics shows just how much the bonds of friendship can endure. Defensive Tactics was an engaging, fast-paced story. I really enjoyed Jimmy's character and seeing him overcome his struggles and give life a try. Emily was a tough but sweet heroine. Paul also grew throughout the story and learned to serve for something other than selfish reasons. The plot was interesting and kept me reading. I struggled a bit with the writing style, but all in all Defensive Tactics is a fun, quick read. Buy it here. * I was given a free copy of this book for review but it didn't affect my review.
Friday, September 10, 2010

Young Adult Fiction?

My s-i-l gave me The Reluctant Heiress by Eva Ibbotson. I adored the book. It was so well-written I even read the scenery description (I usually speed read all description). I'm excited to read other books by Eva Ibbotson, but I thought it was interesting that they are selling this book as a YA when the heroine was in her 20s, the hero over 30. Am I confused about the parameters of YA? I wonder if The Reluctant Heiress is YA because it was a clean romance. Whatever the book is shelved under, The Reluctant Heiress is a deligthful read. Inside the cover they suggested some other authors with similar styles (I'm hoping that means they're also clean, well-written romances that are interesting to adults as well as youth). Here's the list: Anne Osterlund Jacqueline Woodson Bette Greene Micol Ostow Sarah Dessen Please add your own suggestions in the comments section. Thanks!
Monday, August 23, 2010

English Trifle

I decided to have a natural childbirth this time around. I found a really good book, had my husband rent a movie so I wouldn't have to endure golf blaring in the background, and thought I was set. The book I chose was extremely good, English Trifle by Josi Kilpack, but it is a culinary mystery and I was starving during labor. It did help me get through some intense moments of pain, and I was very excited to get home and try out some of the yummy recipes in the book, but I wouldn't suggest reading it when you're hungry. If you haven't read Josi's culinary series - Lemon Tart, English Trifle, and the latest, Devil's Food Cake (can't wait for that recipe), you really need to check them out. The heroine is delightful and the plot lines are great. And as for natural labor? I would definitely recommend that as well. Insane pain but one of the coolest experiences of my life.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Phoenix Coats Checketts

Phoenix was born August 3rd at 1:55 p.m. 8 lbs. 8 oz. 20 inches long. He's so adorable. I wish I had a better picture. He has tons of dark hair and dark eyes. Within hours of his birth they transferred him to the NICU. It was a nightmare of crying and worrying. The doctor diagnosed him with hereditary spherocytosis. Once we learned more about the disease we were reassured that he will have a normal, healthy life. He may have blood transfusions or lose his spleen, but as you can imagine sitting in the NICU for six days I realized that things could be a lot worse. Thanks for all your prayers and concern. I'm thrilled to be at home with my baby and enjoying all my boys. Four boys! How can one mom be so blessed?
Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Searching for that perfect book

I'm halfway through Shannon Hale's The Actor and the Housewife. It's a cute book, but I don't adore it like I did The Goose Girl, Princess Academy, and Austenland. When you're nine months pregnant it's just too easy to be distracted by a soft pillow or the need to Google baby bedding. My real issue is I'm trying to deliver without an epidural so I need a book that captivates me. Any suggestions for that perfect blend of suspense, clean romance, and intriguing characters to get me through this last week of pregnancy and labor or if you've read The Actor and the Housewife does it speed up at the end?
Saturday, July 17, 2010

Review and Giveaway - City of Angels

Meet Rhea Jensen: a 24-year-old private investigator for hire in the Los Angeles area. Each of us has our gifts, and hers is sniffing out and taknig down the bad guys. When the presient of an athletic supply company hires her to find out who is embezzling from his company, rhea thinks she's in for a humdrm case. Not so. And by the end of it all, her life is going to take some serious turns. Will she find the embezzler? Will she finally confess her love to the boy next door? Will she surcvive at all? This is a great summer read. It's light, fast-paced, and humorous. I loved ther heroine's voice. I loved that she was moral in a very immoral world. I loved that she was tough. Did I mention I loved the heroine? I would definitely recommend this book. I can't wait for the sequel. Read the first chapter on Sheralyn's Website Sheralyn has offered to donate a copy of this book to one of my followers. Please leave a comment on this post to be entered into the drawing. If you link to the giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, or your personal blog I will give you two additional entries. If you are a new follower I will also give you an additional entry. Contest ends August 2, 2010 Open to U.S. residents In conjunction with this giveaway Sheralyn is doing an amazing fundraiser for charity: To celebrate Stalk Lake's release (the sequel to City of Angels) on August 7th, Sheralyn will be combining with local retailers to create a scavenger hunt where teams representing Non-Profit Organizations will race to find clues and win $1,000 for their Non-Profit. This competition is available to all, learn about it here.
Thursday, July 15, 2010

Review- Leaning into the Curves

Molly is happy with her life the way it is, taking the classes she loves and performing with the FJiddling Finleys. But everything changes when her husband, Hank, retires. She's still trying to adjust to this new phase of her life when he brings home a Honda Gold Wing--even though he knows she hates motorcycles! Things go from bad to worse when he joins the Temple Riders Assocation, a "Mormon motorcycle gang" that combines road trips with temple work.
Faed with the prospect of beign left behind when Hank rides with his new friends, Molly starts making some changes of her own.
I loved the title of this book. Every time my husband takes me on a motorcycle ride he reminds me, "Lean into the curves, baby." I naturally lean the wrong way, luckily I haven't made us wreck yet.
Leaning into the Curves made me think about how important it is to give in a marriage and to keep the communication lines open. I loved that the heroine overcame her fears for her husband and they were able to work through a time in life which can challenge a marriage.
The book definitely wasn't action-packed, but it was interesting and a fun read.
Monday, July 12, 2010
The Road Show is the story of five contemporary Latter-Day Saints, eac of whom is struggling with a spiritual or emotional challenge; pornography addiction, post-partum depression, ill health, loneliness, feeling excluded, and spiritual numbness. For various reasons, they all end up participating in their ward's road show. Most of them do this agains ttheir will, but the conflicts that arise from their reluctant participation prople them to ultimate healing. My review: I enjoyed this book. It's very different from anything I've read before. At first I found myself being a bit judgmental about the characters' trials, but as I became immersed in the story I found my compassion for them and my hope that they would be healed overpowering my frustrations with them. I love how the story came together at the end. Braden Bell has written a very touching story. Buy The Road Show Braden Bell's Website
Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Review and Giveaway - The Silence of God

At the turn of the century, St. Petersburg offers the best of Imperial Russia. The vast country is filled with grand cathedrals and a faithful populace who love and revere Tsar Nicholas II and the Romanov family. But as Russia becomes further entrenched in the Great War, a revolution begins brewing within her own borders. For the wealthy Lindlof family, the only Latter-day Saints living in St. Petersburg at the time, life will never be the same--changed forever by an ideology that forces equality and demands the silence of God. Based on a true story, The Silence of God is a rare glimpse into a fascinating period of history and a powerful, extraordinary novel of devotion and loyalty.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story and glimpse into Russian history. Though the Lindlof's experienced extreme heartbreak and trial, I loved that they didn't give up on the Lord. The heroines of the story, Agnes Lindlof and Natasha Gavrilova were as intelligent as they were strong. Natasha is a firm supporter of the Bolshevik cause and has no belief in God. Her story of trial and learning to believe enthralled me.
The Silence of God is a beautiful example of the way historical fiction should be. I learned about the time period, the people, and their struggles, but did it all while enjoying a wonderful and interesting story. I would definitely recommend this book.
Video Trailer for The Silence of God
Buy The Silence of God
Win your free copy of The Silence of God:
Deseret Book has generously offered a free copy of The Silence of God to one of my readers.
Must be a follower of my blog to enter.
Contest open to U.S. Residents
1 entry for leaving a comment on this post
2 entries for sharing the contest on Facebook or Twitter
4 entries for sharing the contest through a blog post or as a blog sidebar.
Contest closes July 12, 2010
Monday, June 7, 2010

Summer Reading Fun

Michael Young, author of the Canticle Kingdom (win your free copy of Canticle Kingdom here), is doing a fun summer reading program for middle grade to young adult readers. Here's the information:

With summer upon us, many are planning how to spend their summer vacation. All too often, young people opt for making the couch and TV their best friends during their free time.

Instead they could be expanding their minds and developing their talents, talents that can help them live a much more fulfilling life.

“Canticle Quests” is a summer program that helps young people develop themselves and share their work with others. Participants read novels from authors who have contributed to the project and then create works of art, writing, music, and more in order to earn points.

The points gain them entries into a final drawing with prizes provided by local authors and businesses. The best submitted works will also be showcased on the website for all to enjoy.

To put it in simplest terms:

WHO: All people going into 5th - 12th grade

WHAT: A summer reading/activity program with a chance to be recognized and win prizes.

WHERE: Open to everyone in the U.S. and Canada.

WHEN: June 7th - September 15th 2010 (You may sign up before the official start)

WHY: Because Summer is too precious to waste

There are no costs associated with the program at any time.

Sign up today and get started!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Review and Giveaway - The Canticle Kingdom

The Canticle Kingdom It seemed like ages since Kate's father went off to war, and she is eager to thank him for the beautiful German music box he sent for her birthday. But when it starts playing a strange, new melody and Kate vanishes into thin air, Captain Edison is willing to do anything to rescue his little girl. When the Canticle Kingdom is attacked and the queen falls deathly ill, Johann, a young blacksmith's apprentice, learns a terrible secret - the kingdom is contained entirely within a music box in another world.. With the help pf his friends, Johann races to bring aid from that other world in an effort to stop the dark power that threatens to destroy them all. Enter a beautiful world full of magic, danger, loyalty, and bravery in The Canticle Kingdom, and discover that even the most ordinary objects and people might be hiding something truly wonderful inside.
My Review: I read this book aloud to my 11yo. My son's only complaint about the book was that I didn't have enough time to read so he read ahead then I had to play catch up. We really enjoyed this story. I was amazed by the imagination of the author. The plot wove and twisted with different stories that all tied up neatly at the end. The author did a fabulous job of keeping me guessing without confusing me (I blame my slowness on the Mommy brain).
I would definitely recommend this book to middle-grade through adult readers. I can't wait to read the sequel.
You can visit Michael's website here and learn more about him and his writing.
Win your free copy of The Canticle Kingdom:
Must be a follower of this blog to enter:
1 entry - leave a comment on this post
1 entry - follow Michael's blog
2 entries - share the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook
4 entries - share the giveaway on your blog
Contest ends June 16, 2010
Open to residents of the United States.
Thursday, May 27, 2010

Used Books?

What do you do with books after you read them? I rarely re-read a book (except for childrens and the scriptures), but I'm always torn about what to do with my books after I've enjoyed them.
Do you donate them to the library, share them with friends and family, recycle them (oh, that makes me cringe), or dedicate a room in your house as your book shrine?
Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Review - Broken Birds

World War II has long since ended, and yet Jaclyn and her brothers and sisters grow up learning to survive it. Having lived through the Holocaust on the principle of constant distrust, their mother, Channa, dutifully teaches her children to cling to one another while casting a suspicious eye to the outside world. When Channa dies, the unexpected contents of her will force her adult children to confront years of suppressed indignation. For Jaclyn and her siblings, the greatest war will not be against strangers, but against each other.

Broken Birds, The Story of My Momila, is Jeannette Katzir's achingly honest memoir of the enduring effects of war. From her parents' harrowing experience during the Holocaust to her own personal battles, Katzir exposes the maladies of heart and mind that those broken by war inevitably and unintentionally pass down to the generations that follow.

My Review:

The initial story of Broken Birds was amazing. Reading about how the author's parents each survived the holocaust broke my heart and completely captured me.

Unfortunately the rest of the book wasn't so engaging. The author shared her family history - marriages, jobs, babies, fights between siblings, etc.

It was sad to see the effect the Holocaust had on subsequent generations, but I wish the author would've focused more on her parents' experiences.

Jeanette Katzir's Website

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Review and Giveaway - The Mark by Marilyn Bunderson

She's had it forever. A tiny mark on her hand. No big deal, right? But when Tori discovers that her ordinary freckle is really some kind of microscopic tattoo, she doesn't know what to think, especially after meeting Eric, a guy she feels strangely connected to--and not just because he has a mark too.
All too soon, Tori and Eric realize that atheir marks are only the first clue to a mystery that will change everything. And with each new discovery, Tori finds herself pulled deeper and deeper into a world she could never have imagined.
The premise of The Mark intrigued me. The book capitalized on that premise. Each new discovery made me want to read more. There was a bit of suspense, a whole lot of mystery, and times when I just had to ignore my cute boys and keep reading.
The romance reminded me a bit of Twilight. A young girl who's never been in love, then falls so hard she can't handle being apart from her boyfriend. Thankfully Tori has her own talents and abilities so she isn't completely dependent and Eric is really cute, even if I could be his mother (it's hard getting old).
As an adult I really enjoyed this book, but I'm betting it's going to explode in the YA market. I will definitely share it with my nieces.
The book is set up for a sequel. I'm excited to see what happens to Eric and Tori next.
Win your free copy of The Mark: Marilyn has generously offered an autographed copy of The Mark to one of my followers. Just leave a comment on this blog post to be entered.
For extra entries:
1 extra entry for new followers
2 extra entries if you refer someone to this blog (just tell me who you referred in the comments section)
2 extra entries for sharing the giveaway on Facebook or Twitter
4 extra entries for sharing the giveaway on your blog (either as a post or a sidebar)
Contest closes June 6, 2010
Thanks, friends. I hope you enjoy The Mark. If you've read it, please share your own thoughts.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Book Review - More than Conquerors by Kathi Macias

True love ignites their passionate pursuit of His call With violent crime on the rise and the political climate changing throughout certain parts of Mexico, the opportunity for open Christian witness, particularly in some areas of Chiapas State, is rapidly decreasing. Hector Rodriguez pastors a small church in the tourist-popular border town of Tijuana. He also routinely carries Bibles deeper into the hostile areas of Mexico, where he ministers despite increasing difficulty and persecution. Hectors mother accompanied him on one of those trips and felt God called her to stay in the little village of San Juan Chamula, where she uses the Scriptures to teach reading to the families who are open to it. In retaliation for Hectors bringing the Bibles into areas hostile to Christians and in an effort to dissuade him from continuing to expand his ministry there, Hectors mother is murdered. Hector must decide if he will continue his work despite his worries about protecting his wife and children.
My Review:
Last month I posted a review of No Greater Love by Kathi Macias, the first book in her Extreme Devotion series. I adored that book. Truthfully, one of the best reads I've had in a long, long time. The second book in the series, More than Conquerors, was a bit different experience for me. In More than Conquerors the characters were very interesting, as was the premise. It was also an amazing story of faith and love, but it read very slow for me. The characters were given to introspection. As I said, it's still a very well-written, interesting book. I would recommend it, but don't expect the pace to be non-stop action like No Greater Love. I'm excited to read Kathi's third book in the Extreme Devotion series Red Ink. Whether it's fast-paced like No Greater Love or more thoughtful like More than Conquerors, I'm sure it'll be tremendous.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Review and Giveaways - The Pitch by Linda J. Lord

Linda draws on her experience as a soccer mom to create a fictionalized business book. In it she tells the story of Liz, a struggling single mother whose business is in steady decline. She relates the concepts learned at her son’s soccer practices to turn her business around, but in her effort to save her business, has she lost her son?
The Pitch was a very interesting book for me. It's fiction, but teaches lessons like a nonfiction book. I really enjoyed that. I usually force myself to read nonfiction, especially anything to do with business (fitness or religion I can handle, but business?). This book taught me some essential lessons about improving my business and my husband's business but did it in such a non-threatening way that I didn't feel like I was "learning." I had to keep reading to see how Liz turned her business and her life around. Her son's challenges also made the book feel very real and drew me in as a mother. I would definitely recommend you read this book as a way to help your business and your life.
Today you have the opportunity to enter two great contests from Linda. I'm going to separate them to avoid any confusion.
Contest #1
Enter today or tomorrow on this blog post to win one of the following:
Prize 1: 1 $50.00 Amazon gift card

Prize 2: 2 $25.00 Amazon gift cards Prize 3: 2 copies of The Pitch

You will need to leave a comment (10 entries) or answer my soccer contest questions (25 entries) on my site. Or on any of the participating tour stop sites on the scheduled tour date to enter. And to finish off your entry, leave your email address in the post or send a message to

The questions are (1) name 3 soccer rules, and (2) name 3 soccer positions.

One dollar from the sale of each book goes to the Hemophilia Society of Ontario, South Western Ontario Region.

Purchase copies of The Pitch from Amazon Click here

Purchase copies of The Pitch from Barnes & Nobile Click here

Good for 300 entries per book you purchase by using the links above. Email your receipt to

Contest #2

Leave a comment on the blog anytime between now and May 22nd to win one of several copies of The Pitch.

Please indicate that you are entering contest #2 with your comment.

You must be a follower of my blog to enter.

For extra entries:

Two extra entries for sharing the contest on Twitter or Facebook.

Four extra entries for sharing the contest on your blog or placing it on your sidebar.

Lots of fun things to win today. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Results of April's Challenge

Last month I gave up buying treats to donate more money to Humanitarian Aid (a fund sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to help those in need throughout the world).
I'm donating forty dollars extra to humanitarian aid this month. Not all of that was from the treats we gave up, half of it was because of the treats we bought that I had to pay double for! But it's all for a good cause and I really was proud of the times that my boys and I abstained. My friend, Sheila, at Book Journey sponsored this challenge. What a wonderful idea. Thanks Sheila!
Friday, April 30, 2010

Imprints by Rachel Ann Nunes - Book Review

Sometimes what you can't see means everything.
A young woman is missing. In desperation, her parents turn to Autumn Rain for help. Autumn reads imprints—emotions left mysteriously behind on certain treasured objects. But is this ability a blessing or a curse?
Sometimes Autumn isn’t sure—her life has become far from normal—but for people who have missing loved ones, her talent might mean the difference between life and death. Even the infuriating Detective Martin has asked for Autumn’s help, though at times she feels more like a suspect than a consultant. Too often Autumn finds herself retreating to her antiques shop and the company of her best friend, Jake Ryan, to avoid notice.
But soon more than one woman is mission, and Autumn teams up with private eye Ethan McConnell to investigate their disappearance. Ethan’s attraction to her is a pleasant change from Jake’s frustrating offers of friendship, but once Autumn takes that first step, she sets in motion a series of events that risk not only her own life but the lives of those she cares about most.
Imprints is one of the most enjoyable books I've read in a long time. The blend of suspense, romance, and paranormal kept me intrigued throughout the story. The paranormal aspect was different and refreshing, but still believable and fit well in the story. I adored the heroine, Autumn, and fell completely in love with Jake (Ethan was really cute too, but oh, Jake - ooh la la. When you finish the book e-mail me so we can drool over him together).
Imprints is a sequel to Eyes of a Stranger, the story of Autumn's sister, but the author does a fabulous job of making Imprints read like a stand-alone. I would recommend if you're going to read Eyes of a Stranger that you read it first.
Imprints was so much fun to read. Autumn is quirky and delightful. She feels like a beloved friend. If you're looking for a wonderful and clean paranormal romance you should pick up Imprints. I hope you love it as much as I did.
Read the first chapter here.
Enter Rachel's contest to win a $50 gift certificate at the bookstore of your choice.

Review - No Greater Love by Kathi Macias

Forbidden romance, an unlikely martyr, and an even more unlikely hero. Orphaned four years earlier when their parents, active in the African National Congress ANC movement against Apartheid, were murdered, 16-year-old Chioma and her 15-year-old brother Masozi now live and work on an Afrikaner family’s farm. When Chioma and Andrew, the farm owner’s son, find themselves attracted to one another, tragedy revisits their lives. Chioma escapes to join an ANC rebel band in her effort to survive and gain revenge for her family and culture. When cultures clash in life-or-death struggles, Chioma must choose between violence and revenge or forgiveness and selfless love. Loosely based on historical events and set near Pretoria, South Africa, in the violent upheaval prior to ANC leader Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 and his ascendance to the presidency of South Africa, this story of forbidden romance produces an unlikely martyr who is replaced by one even more unlikely.
"…Kathi Macias has created a sweeping epic about a land alien to too many, but more important is the crucial nature of the story and its monumental implications. You’ll feel as if you were there." Jerry B. Jenkins, bestselling author of the Left Behind series
My Review:
This book pulled me in on page one and did not let me go until the very end. I found myself sneaking in a few pages any chance I had. It's a truly suspenseful read, but it's also touching and heartbreaking. I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried (pregnancy emotions have nothing to do with it).
My twin brothers served LDS missions in South Africa from 1992-1994. This book was set just a few years previous to their service. They'd told me many sad and scary stories, but this book truly put me in the middle of the horrors of apartheid. I recommend everyone read this story. It's so well-written and intense you won't want to put the book down, but it will also touch your heart and teach you many important lessons.
Special Offer from Kathi Macias:
Buy No Greater Love on Amazon today or tomorrow, April 27th & 28th, e-mail Kathi - - and she will send you a free copy of More Than Conquerors (Book Two in the Extreme Devotion Series).
Monday, April 26, 2010

Almost Super

My good friend, Matthew Buckley, author of Chickens in the Headlights, taught a workshop at the LDS Storymakers conference this weekend about thinking outside the box. Because of the Internet the music and television industries have been revolutionized. He believes publishing is next.
Matthew doesn't just talk, he thinks and works outside the box. He did a podcast of one his books. My sons giggled through every chapter (as they do with all his books). His latest novel is called Almost Super. He's using to raise enough money to publish the book without a traditional publisher. The cool thing is you can pledge your dollar or more but he won't run your credit card until he gets enough funds to publish the book. For $15 you will get a signed and numbered copy of the book. I can promise you this book is hilarious. I was in critique groups with Matthew when he wrote the book. A group of 30-50 year old women were cackling through critique group (that doesn't happen when the rest of us read!). Knowing Matthew as well as I do I can also promise that this is not a scam. He is an amazing writer and person.
I'm heading over to pledge now. If you'd like to join me click here.
Click here to read the first chapter of Almost Super.

No TV and No Treats

We made it through our Multi-Media Fast for a Week. I have to be honest - I struggled the most. By Wednesday I was fighting some serious depression, worried about what e-mails I was missing. Sure every one of my blogger friends was going to drop me because of neglect. But I made it through and it was very good for our family. I cooked a lot more, spent a lot more time with my adorable boys, and read a couple of fabulous novels (I'll post the reviews later this week, Kathi Macias and Rachel Ann Nunes latest).
It was a great break, I would highly recommend trying it for a week (but make sure it's good weather).
You all remember that I pledged to not buy treats during the month of April and instead donate the money to charity? That isn't going quite as well as our No-TV pledge. It was my Stockton boy's b-day so I bought ice cream. The problem was I bought ice cream on Wednesday, by Friday it was gone, so Saturday I had to buy two more gallons for Sunday's b-day party. Sheila said I could just pay double, my contribution to charity is going to be huge!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Raindrop by Brian D. McClure - Review

The Raindrop by Brian D. McClure (Author), Buddy Plumlee (Illustrator)

"I am just a raindrop, I am smaller than small. What am I doing here? I have no use at all..." So begins the story of The Raindrop. In this adventurous journey, many Truths are uncovered which help the Raindrop remember the higher purpose of his life. This simple and heartfelt story, allows children and adults of all ages to remember the Truth of who they are.

Buy Now from Amazon

Brian's Website

I loved the message of this story. We all have a mission. We're all important in our Heavenly Father's plan. It's a truly beautiful book - both the illustrations and the words.

I read the book then decided to take it to the important audience - my three sons. They all crowded onto my lap or the edge of the chair and listened intently throughout the story. When I finished I asked, "So what did you think?"

"Read it again!" my three-year old demanded.

"I liked it," my seven-year old said (he's my man of few words).

I turned to my oldest (eleven) before beginning the re-reading for the little one. He cocked his head to the side and said, "I think it's got a great message. It's kind of . . . serious, but it's something every kid should read and think about."

So there you have it. It's a serious book about an important issue and each of my children enjoyed it. In fact, I've read it to the three-year old over and over again. He loves how the raindrop learns to laugh.

I would definitely recommend it for your children and for you.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

No TV for a week?

My sons have declared a No-TV week. Of course I took it a bit further and decreed that no one in our family is utilizing any multi-media device April 19-25 (we had to make it the weekend also, my boys said to prove that I’m mean). What does no multi-media mean to us? No video games, television, movies, computer, games on Daddy’s cell phone. We’re returning to 1950. I’m going to sew me a cute apron and bake all week (great idea if I could sew). Maybe I’ll actually catch up on that stack of books and magazines piled on my dresser. I will be posting a review on Brian McClure’s book to this blog on the 20th, but I promise I will write it before and set up the automatic posting feature.

I’m thrilled to turn off electronics for a week. The boys won’t even have to ask, “Can we play video games?” 90% of the time the answer to that is no, this week it will be 100%. Yeah, for family bonding. Here’s a list of some of the fun things I hope we can fit in.

- Sports - our favorites are playing catch with a football, wrestling on Momma’s bed (ups the risk of injury), kicking a soccer ball around, and practicing baseball or basketball

- Hide and seek

- Playing board games - my boys' favorites are Monopoly, Sorry, and Risk (notice I said the boys' favorites, not mine!)

- Reading stories together - we love chapter books. Lately we've devoured the Dragon Slayer’s Academy series by Kate McMullan, Chickens in the Headlights by Matthew Buckley, and the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull.

- Going on a bike ride or walk. I enjoy the actual walk and bike ride, but my boys love making it to the park or finding a river to throw rocks into.

- Cleaning - We draw out of a jar the name of one room in our house. Then the boys and I clean that room from top to bottom - blinds, baseboards, drawers, everything. You'd think this would be miserable but it actually turns out pretty great. The boys work hard because I'm working alongside them and we get some wonderful chatting time in. Sure, it’s not their favorite activity but sometimes they have to do what Mom wants to do.

- Visiting our elderly friends

- Going to the library or bookstore (two of my favorite places on earth). I love giving my boys extra jobs so they can earn money to buy new books.

- Craft projects - I am horrible at hands-on projects, but Parenting magazine will often have fun and easy ideas that I can handle.

- Making magic potions or baking together – messy stuff, but so much fun.

- Setting up an obstacle course in the basement or backyard

- Building forts out of blankets

- Jumping on the tramp

- Playing in the sand (especially if water is involved)

- Having battles with Playmobils or Imaginext knights and pirates

- Chasing for a kiss - the boys run around screaming, if I catch them I get to kiss them.

- Dancing to music

- Making a band with pots, pans, and cooking utensils

- Letting them earn a dollar and then taking them to the dollar store to spend it - again, their favorite, I'd prefer they save their money or spend it on books.

- Playing silly games like airplane on Mom's feet or horse rides on Mom's knees or holding their leg and hand and spinning until we lose our equilibrium.

I’d love to hear from all of you. Please share some of your favorite family activities.

I think the best part of No-TV week is just spending more quality time together as a family. I won’t be sneaking in my office to work, Dad won’t be lounging in his theatre watching sports (he’s going to miss the NBA playoffs, yikes), and the boys will be forced to play with each other. I’ll let you know if we make it through the week without any serious injuries.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Fun Giveaway - The Pitch

Coming up on May 5th I'm reviewing and giving away several copies of The Pitch by Linda J. Lord. Linda is also doing a fun giveaway in conjunction with her blog tour. Here's how it works:

Prize 1: 1 $50.00 Amazon gift card

Prize 2: 2 $25.00 Amazon gift cards Prize 3: 2 copies of The Pitch

You will need to leave a comment (10 entries) or answer my soccer contest questions (25 entries) on my site. Or on any of the participating tour stop sites on the scheduled tour date to enter. And to finish off your entry, leave your email address in the post or send a message to

The questions are (1) name 3 soccer rules, and (2) name 3 soccer positions.

One dollar from the sale of each book goes to the Hemophilia Society of Ontario, South Western Ontario Region.

Purchase copies of The Pitch from Amazon Click here

Purchase copies of The Pitch from Barnes & Nobile Click here

Good for 300 entries per book you purchase by using the links above. Email your receipt to Not valid on past purchases.

The Pitch Tour Schedule

May 3-Interviewed and book giveaway at Working Writers May 4-Interviewed and book giveaway Jens Book Talk May 4-Interviewed and book giveaway Author Exposure Club May 4-Interviewed on Catch That Book Radio May 5-Interviewed and book giveaway at Cami’s Books May 6- Book spotlighted at Womenhomebusiness May 9-Book Review and book giveaway at Between the Pages May 10-Interviewed and book giveaway at Chitlit Club May 11-Interviewed and book giveaway at Reading At The Beach May 12- Interviewed and book giveaway at May 12-Interviewed on Moms Empowering Moms Show May 17-Interviewed and book giveaway at The Cajun Book Lady May 18-Interviewed on The Renee Bobb Show May 19-Interviewed on The Business Woman May 19-Interviewed on The Chris Treece Show May 20-Book Review at Soccerphile May 24-Book Review and book giveaway at Readaholic May 25-Book Review at The Book Guru

May 26-Guest Blogger at The Life Success Mindset May 29- Interviewed on BookDivasOnline

June 2-Interviewed on Book That Author Radio

Book prizes open to international readers.


The contest ends on June 3 at 11:59 pm Central and the winners will be contacted via email. You will receive your prize directly from the author. PLEASE LEAVE YOUR FIRST AND THE INITIAL OF YOUR LAST NAME as well as a valid email where we can contact you. REMEMBER the more things you do, the more entries, the greater the chances of winning. PLEASE ALLOW THIRTY DAYS to receive your prize BEFORE EMAILING US.

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Reluctant Rescue: Park City Firefighter Romance

Rescued by Love: Park City Firefighter Romance

The Daring One: A Billionaire Bride Pact Romance

The Faithful One: A Billionaire Bride Pact Romance

Pass Interference: A Last Play Romance

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The Independent One: A Billionaire Bride Pact Romance

The Feisty One: A Billionaire Bride Pact Romance

The Resilient One: A Billionaire Bride Pact Romance

Running from the Cowboy: A Snow Valley Romance

Spring in Snow Valley

Oh, Come On - Be Faithful

A Touch of Love

Christmas Kisses: An Echo Ridge Anthology

Protect This

Blog This

Redeem This

Fourth of July

The Colony

The Broken Path

Poison Me

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