Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all!

I'm on vacation and I'm taking a break this week from everything, except maybe cleaning that is.

Enjoy your loved ones, keep them close in your heart even when they are far, and instead of making a list of doomed to fail New Year's resolutions, make a life statement instead of how you would like your life to be and how you would like to be in it. Then make some measurable baby step goals to achieve that. Perhaps break it into twelve steps, one for each month of the year and by the time we ring in 2014, you'll be on your way to being that awesome person who you really already are. You just haven't taken the time to notice it or show it yet.

Cheers!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Faves

So everyone has their own version of It Can't Be Christmas Without . . . This Is  A Christmas Must . . . We Can't Break This Christmas Tradition . . .

I think you get the idea.

So, here's my list of things I love at Christmas time.

Movies
It's a Wonderful Life
Home Alone (only the first one, the rest were subpar to say the least)
Elf
A Christmas Story
Polar Express
Santa Clause 1 & 2 (but not 3, again subpar)
The Grinch (any version)
A Christmas Carol (any version, from Mickey Mouse to George C. Scott and in between)
Arthur Christmas (I waited a whole year to be able to buy and watch this one again!)
Holiday in Handcuffs (don't judge)
The Holiday
The Family Stone
The Preachers Wife
 (obviously this isn't a fully comprehensive list, but you get the idea)

Books
A Christmas Carol (I read this one every year!)
Skipping Christmas (the book is much funnier than the movie version: Christmas w/the Kranks)
The Christmas Blessing (I'd like to read Christmas Shoes someday)
The Christmas Box
Christmas Jars
Our own family compilation of short stories we read starting Dec.1. A story every night. FHE from Dec1 through Dec.24. Awesome. Wish I had that all year.

Music
John Denver & The Muppets
Christmas w/the Chipmunks
Jewel
Mannheim Steamroller (all of them)
Mo Tab's Silent Night
The Muppet Christmas Carol

To Do
Decorate sugar cookies
Bake cookies and give them to neighbors and teachers
Light and decorate the tree
Lights in downtown DC
Wrapping
Christmas cards
Lights at the temple
Family nativity and talent show

There is much to celebrate and be grateful for this time of year. Please remember why we do all this: because the Son of God was born. It would still be Christmas without all the trimmings and trappings at my house just for that reason and that is what I try to focus on during all the crazy.

What are some of your favorites during the holidays?



Polar Express
Mariah Carey
Handel's Messiah


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Winner of Tres Leches Cookie Contest!

Thanks to everyone who submitted cookie recipes! We've had a lot of fun making all the recipes and giving them away to our neighbors and friends as our holiday gift! (Plus it saved us all those extra pounds of eating them ourselves.) Not to worry we ate more than our fair share and I'll have to work out from now to the next Millennium to take off the sugar pounds packed on but as it was for a good cause...

Plus, I now have some way yummy recipes to turn to when I want something different than my rocking standby of  chocolate chip cookies!

We used a highly sophisticated grading system: a scale of 1 to 5 with my 4 year old skewing the results every step of the way by giving almost everyone 5's written on good old fashioned paper. I was nearly ready to throw out the highest and lowest scores for each but with only 4 scores to start with that wouldn't work. In the event of a tie we were prepared to put names in a hat and draw. Another highly sophisticated and random way to select a winner when the judges are stumped.  

So enough chatter already, you're thinking, tell us who won  so the winner's book can get shipped tomorrow and arrive before Santa!

The Winner Is . . . Kbrebes!

Her Chocolate Crackle Top with Mint Cookies were amazing! The recipe will be posted here once I have her permission. (I mean, I think it's okay, but I don't want to get sued over copyright laws or something.)

CHOCOLATE CRACKLE TOP COOKIE WITH MINT

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
3/4 cup cocoa powder, Ghiradelli preferred
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (may use miniature chips)
3/4 cup powdered confectioners' sugar, for coating cookies
2 boxes Necco Thin Mints (WalMart 99 cents last year)(I couldn't find these so use what you can find that works!)
Preparation:

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until evenly mixed. Set aside.

Scrape the melted butter into a smaller bowl with a spatula and add the cocoa powder. Stir until combined and no lumps remain. Mix vanilla extract with eggs, then whisk into cocoa butter mixture.

Add wet mixture to dry flour mixture and mix thoroughly by hand with a rubber spatula. It may seem as if you need more liquid, but do not add any. Just keep folding and pressing until the mixture comes together. It will eventually reach the consistency of stiff brownie batter. Fold in chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes to firm up.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with silpat baking liners or parchment paper. (If you do not line the baking sheets, be sure to lightly grease them.)

Pour confectioners' powdered sugar into a small bowl. Scoop dough by teaspoons or tablespoons (your preference), roll into balls, and drop into powdered sugar, rolling around to cover completely. Place on prepared baking sheets 1-1/2 inches apart.

Bake cookies for 12 to 15 minutes (longer for larger balls). The cookies will spread, puff a bit, and form cracks. The longer you cook them, the more crispy they will become. As soon as they come out of the oven, press a Thin Mint on top of each cookie. Let cool 10 minutes on the cookie sheets before using a spatula to remove to racks and cool completely. Store in a covered container.


Please e-mail me at the address above or through AI so I can get it shipped Friday. That's when I'm doing the final run to the post office.

Congratulations!

PS. Thanks to all of you who have become a follower of my blog. I'm looking forward to doing a happy dance when I reach 50! Maybe I'll do a giveaway. Hmmm...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Book Review: Kringle by Tony Abbott

Unlike the traditional Santa Claus myth, KRINGLE is a coming-of-age story about an orphan who becomes a force for good in a dark and violent time. It is a tale of fantasy, of goblins, elves, and flying reindeer -- and of a boy from the humblest beginnings who fulfills his destiny.

Our tale begins in 500 A.D., when goblins kidnapped human children and set them to work in underground mines. Kringle is one such child.... until he discovers his mission - to free children from enslavement. His legend lives on today, as he travels the earth every Christmas Eve to quell the goblins once more.

Okay, I didn't really get this book. I plowed through it and when I say plowed I don't mean in a hurry. It took me over a month. Translation: I wasn't into it.

Problem for me: The Voice
It was all over the place and as someone who keeps trying to keep all the different voices and ways you can tell a story straight, it drove me crazy that this one broke nearly every rule and got published because an established author wrote it! Grrr. Unfair! Plus, it kept breaking the 4th wall. And then at the end when it finally told me who was speaking, it didn't make sense. How could they know all that stuff about Kringle when they weren't even there half the time?!

It does incorporate all the typical Kringle themes: sleigh, flying reindeer, elves, children, north pole, etc. and in an inventive way, while introducing new characters: pirates, goblin, Romans, etc.

Will I read it again? No. Should you? I don't know. Try it. Read the first chapter. See what you think. Maybe it just wasn't my cup of Christmas tea.

Now, does anyone have a better story about Santa for me to read?

In the meantime I'll curl up with Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol.




Thursday, December 6, 2012

What I Learned From NaNoWriMo 2012

I'm a WINNER! (Now if I can only figure out how to put the badge in that column to the right!)

Yes, I wrote 50,000 words in 30 days! Actually, to be technical, I did it in 22!!! Yeah, overachiever, you can say it.

This was the first year I've been able to take on this challenge since entering the writing world a few years ago. The fates had conspired to keep me out of it until this year.

Here's what I did to achieve success and learned along the way.

First, I committed and officially signed up! Nothing like motivation to keep your word count up by having a whole state of writers counting on you.

Second, I did something I've never done before. I OUTLINED! A couple of days before the November started I outlined my book. Nothing fancy. A simple spreadsheet in Excel with chapter numbers, a one sentence idea of what to cover in that chapter and the time period in days. Voila! Ring on Her Finger was born! (Well, actually I've had the idea and title for a few months now, but not planned out.) This step was very important! Normally I'm a write by the seat of my pants kind of girl. (In my personal life I'm a pretty organized always has a plan A, B & C kind of girl, but when it comes to writing I toss the book out the window so to speak.) Outlining saved me from having to figure out where I was going and what was going on from writing frenzy moment to moment. I can still be creative but with just the right amount of structure. It saved me brainstorming time each day and when you are trying to write that many words in that few days, every minute counts! I'm going to give a Thank You to Karen Hoover on this step. I didn't go to the level of outlining given in her class at LDStorymakers Midwest but she made me a believer!

Third, I divided out how many words I would have to write each day to make my goal. Now, I had less days to work with because I choose not to write on Sundays (God's day) and I knew I was leaving on the 28th and couldn't write after that. Also, I couldn't be sure how much writing time I could get done on Saturdays, so I worked with a Monday through Friday schedule and any writing done on Saturdays were bonus and got me just that much further in the word count. Words to write each day: 2200!

Fourth, write in smaller time increments. This was the biggest thing I learned! Normally my mode for writing is pound away for 2 1/2 hours straight while my son is in preschool. That doesn't work. I found that the longer I wrote the harder it was to keep my word count and my fingers going, so I started working in 45 min stretches throughout the day. I could blast out better words faster if I did it that way. This sometimes meant getting up at 6 am ish to get in a few hundred words before starting my regular day. (The laundry, shopping, cleaning, getting ready for school, cooking meals, etc. doesn't stop just because I'm trying to write a good chunk of novel in <30 days!) So, a chunk in the early am, mid am, early pm and late pm were how I got it all done.

Fifth, when I hit my word count for the day, I stopped writing. GASP! all the more experienced and even more overachieving NaNo's go. Think of all the words I could've written, they say. Think of how much higher my count could've been for the month, they say. This was important for me for two reasons: 1) it gave my brain a break so it could be creative for the next day and my family to see me, 2) my carpal tunnel just couldn't take much more daily pounding. Gotta know your own limits.

Sixth, I sprinted for the first time. This has nothing to do with running. I would get on Skype with a good friend and we would write as fast as we could for 15 minutes. I couldn't believe how fast I could type when adding in a little friendly competition.

Seventh, have writer friends support. I accounted for my words on both NaNo's site and the Author's Incognito site. I cheered on fellow authors for each word they wrote and danced when they hit the 50,000 mark even if they couldn't see it. Also, texts here and there helped immensely from write friends.

Eighth, some things will have to slide. It's okay. This sometimes meant a frantic cleaning sweep on Sat nights with my kids to be  ready for Sunday. Sometimes it was a pile of dirty dishes next to the sink for a whole day. Sometimes it meant my hubby didn't come home to a cooked meal because we'd opted to make it a mac and cheese/leftover night. I'm a pretty good wife and mom the other 11 months of the year, so I cut myself a little slack for Nov. But my family always had clean clothes. This kept complaints down. Although you may not get a Christmas card this year! ;)

Ninth, trim your nails. Not kidding. Sliding and skittering across the keys impedes word count time and damages your proper typing form adding to your carpal tunnel issues.

Tenth, if I didn't make 50,000 words it would be okay! This one is crucial! The world would keep spinning even if I didn't make it. Life happens, people get sick, travel comes up, as do true tragedies like death in the family, or hurricanes, etc. The words written would still be a great start to a hopefully great book. And besides, how many people who actually get brave enough to sit down and write a novel, complete it? How many do it in <30 days? How many go on to write a second or a third or more? I'm still happy to be counted in a brave group of people.

So cheers to all of you who wrote in November!

Ring on Her Finger is my third novel. (Yes, I know, I still have to complete the second one) Here is the idea for it.

It's been a great week in Las Vegas celebrating college graduation with her friends for Amanda St.Claire. But when she wakes up on the last morning with a terrible hangover she realizes she's also made a horrible mistake. She accidentally married rich playboy Blake Worthington, the one guy she cannot stand and has loathed the past four years. Amanda convinces Blake to get the marriage legally terminated and goes home as if it never happened,  But when Blake gets thrown out of his family and shows up on her doorstep Amanda must admit her mistake to her family. Thrown together for better or worse until the legalities are cleared Amanda must play along until she can escape to her new job as a nurse in Africa. The danger is she just may do the one thing she thought she never would...fall in love with Blake Worthington!

Does it sound like something you'd like to read?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm taking the day off to celebrate and I hope you are too!

No matter where you are or who you are with or without, there is always something to be grateful for.

Look for the good and you will see it.

:)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Last Call For Cookies!

Last Call For Cookies!

The time to enter your cookie recipes is NOW! Entries accepted through Midnight EST tonight!

Remember you can win a signed copy of Tres Leches Cupcakes by Josi Kilpack.

Tomorrow I start baking!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cookies and Tres Leches Cupcake Giveaway

Part I: The Giveaway

So, I'm a little behind on promoting Josi Kilpack's Tres Leches Cupcakes, the latest in the Sadie Hoffmiller culinary mystery series. But that's because I was busy reading it and trying to figure out a cool way to give away a signed-by-the-author copy.

Yes, I said giveaway and signed-by-the-author.

Well, I'm not much of a cupcake girl, (which would be more appropriate for the book) but I love to bake cookies and I'm not to particular on which kind. (Although, I get more excited if there's chocolate involved and less if there's fruit.) Cookies are fast and take less effort than cupcakes. Plus it's holiday season and I want to bake cookies like mad!

So, how do you get in on such a sweet deal?

Send me your favorite cookie recipe by November 15th (that's next Thursday) and I will announce my favorite recipe and winner on December 13th. (I've got to have time to bake them!) This gives me time to mail it to you just in time for the holidays.

You may submit the cookie entries in the comment section here, the e-mail address above, AI if you're a member or message me on FB. There! You have four ways to send it and no excuses!

Go ahead and hit send and hopefully soon I'll be sending you Tres Leches.

Part II: Review

Sadie's on the run from her stalker and doing undercover work for the archaeology police in Santa Fe, NM. She's making new friends, new enemies, and gathering new recipes.

I'm so impressed with Josi's ability to keep coming up with twists and turns and quagmires for Sadie to fall into. At the same time she creates a total believeable reality and keeps the research so accurate. And she does it in such a short amount of time! Plus then there's all the recipes. Oy. Respect.

The only thing I can say about this is: Could you please send Sadie home in the next book? The romantic in me wants her home with Pete.

Links:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Tres-Leches-Cupcakes-Culinary-Hoffmiller/dp/1609071700/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1352346929&sr=1-1&keywords=tres+leches+cupcakes+by+josi+s.+kilpack
Deseret Book: http://deseretbook.com/Tres-Leches-Cupcakes-Josi-S-Kilpack/i/5081945

Josi's website: http://www.josiskilpack.com/





Thursday, November 1, 2012

WIP Blog Hop - I Got Tagged!

So, a wonderful author, Connie Sokol, tagged me in a WIP (that's Work In Progress) blog hop. So, here's what I'm querying. I picked it because it's a complete manuscript. SITMOL is only half done and I think needs a new title as it's taken an interesting turn. Anyways, here's the lowdown and see which 5 authors I tagged below:
 
What is the working title of your book?
Fallen Angel
 
Where did the idea come from for the book?
This story is the backstory of how Desdemona's parents met and fell in love. (Desdemona was my Italian alter ego when I sang and rowed a gondola in Las Vegas)

What genre does your book fall under?
Contemporary Sweet Romance 

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I am stumped on this one. Mostly because I don't think anyone looks all that Italian. But I'd love Catherine Zeta Jones to play the mother Francesca!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
  Okay, so I cheated, but this is 100 words.
In Fallen Angel, Antonio does not believe in love at first sight, until he sees her fall into a street in Milan and get hit by a motorcycle. Compelled to know who Renatta is and if she can return his affection, he becomes her hospital volunteer only to learn that the accident erased her memory. The to love is further obstructed by her tyrannical mother, her opera career, Renatta’s fiancĂ© (Marcello), and Antonio’s lower social status. If he fails, Renatta will wed Marcello and sentence Antonio to a lifetime of loneliness, for love at first sight never happens twice.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I am querying but if it doesn't pan out, I'll go the self pub route.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
A long time. Close to two years I think. And then I've been editing for more than another year.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
ME, Italy, opera.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
So this would be way fun to film cause you'd have to be in Italy and who doesn't want to be in Italy! It's a clean little romance. The characters have to redefine their ideas of love and what makes a family. And is love worth giving up everything for?
Thanks for taking a minute to be interested in my latest writing progress! Okay, taggees--you're up!
Lisa
 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Things Hoped For by Emily Gray Clawson

Ms. Clawson has a new book coming out and I'm always up for helping a fellow writer give a shout out when they announce a new book! Best wishes Emily! Many YW and their families will be grateful!

http://www.emilygrayclawson.com/2012/10/22/things-hoped-for-cover-revealed-and-a-giveaway/#comment-249

Here is the back cover copy:
16 year old Fran Jensen has been a member of the LDS Church all her life. But her faith is deeply shaken when she loses her best friend, her sister Anna, to a horrible accident. Suddenly everything that she has always believed isn’t so easy anymore. Her faith is rocky, at best, and her relationship with her family starts to crumble. Only her friendship with Seth, a handsome young sculptor, offers her refuge from the pain that surrounds her. But Seth has his own tragedy to deal with. He has his own secrets and his own questions. As he begins his quest for answers, Fran wonders if their friendship will survive through their changing attitudes toward faith. When Seth’s awful secret is revealed, Fran suddenly finds herself without an anchor. She has to decide to find out once and for all what she believes or risk losing everything . . . and everyone that matters to her.
 
Anyone else need a shout out?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

North & South BBC Miniseries

I was looking for something Austenesque on Netflix one night and came across this brilliant miniseries by the BBC called North and South. I read the teaser and proceeded to watch over the next few nights as it is a four hour film broken into one hour segments. It is based on a book by Elizabeth Gaskell. I haven't grabbed a copy of the book yet, but look forward to picking up a copy and enjoy it. Because even after four hours, I'm sure there is still stuff that got left out. There always is, when you convert book to film.

This is the blurb from Amazon about the book.
And the link:
http://www.amazon.com/North-Penguin-Classics-Elizabeth-Gaskell/dp/0140434240/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1345821109&sr=1-1&keywords=gaskill+north+and+south

"How am I to dress up in my finery, and go off and away to smart parties, after the sorrow I have seen today?"

When her father leaves the Church in a crisis of conscience, Margaret Hale is uprooted from her comfortable home in Hampshire to move with her family to the north of England. Initially repulsed by the ugliness of her new surroundings in the industrial town of Milton, Margaret becomes aware of the poverty and suffering of the local mill workers and develops a passionate sense of social justice. This is intensified by her tempestuous relationship with the mill-owner and self-made man, John Thornton, as their fierce opposition over his treatment of his employees masks a deeper attraction. In North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell skillfully fused individual feeling with social concern, and in Margaret Hale created one of the most original heroines of Victorian literature.

In this story we learn about industrial England, specifically about the life of cotton mill workers and their relationships to the owners. It is very eye opening about what life was like for these working men, women and children. Yes, children. I think that is what is the saddest part for me. The love story is definitley one of hate at first sight that turns to love over time and unexpected circumstances. As in any good love story, there is plenty of miscommunication and misunderstanding of one another and an inevitable happy ending. If you like Austen type films and book, you'll enjoy this one too even with it set in a different era.

I did notice in looking up the book, that there is a 1996 print and a 2010, plus  a Kindle. It looks as if this book may have been originally printed before 1923. Guess it's time to do some research on Ms. Gaskell

Here's the link for the BBC 2004 miniseries.
http://www.amazon.com/North-South-Daniela-Denby-ashe/dp/B000AYEL6U/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1345822695&sr=1-1&keywords=gaskell+north+and+south

Do you have a Victorian romance you recommend?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

You Got My Vote Winners!

I want to thank all of you who supported me by voting for Fallen Angel during the So You Think You Can Write Contest by Harlequin. Tomorrow is the last day for them to notify the top 25 and the additional 3 wild card spots. So, fingers crossed, but if not, then don't despair. I noticed that once the entire contest ends in Nov/Dec they will be contacting contestants who's manuscripts looked promising but didn't progress in the contest, so there is always that hope, and many more agents and publishers in the world.

But what you want to know is WHO WON? And WHAT did they win?

I had three finalists:

Danyelle Ferguson
Alison Love
Jenny Wirt

Each of their first names will be making appearances as characters in my third novel: Ring on Her Finger and will get credit in the acknowledgements.

How cool is that?

(Personally I think it's cool to be written as a character in a book, but...if you think it's lame, please give me ideas of what you think would be better for my next contest and leave them in the comments below. Thanks.)

THANKS!!! No writer does this alone and I appreciate all of your support!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Toby Gold & the Secret Fortune by Craig Everett

"Money is the most dangerous magic."


New Fantasy Novel Teaches Kids about Money

It is widely recognized that the lack of basic financial skills among adults and teens is a serious problem in America and around the world.  A new middle-grade novel by Craig Everett hopes to improve the financial literacy situation for children ages 9 to 15.

Toby Gold and the Secret Fortune is an urban fantasy, where a secret magical world of money and intrigue co-exists with the same everyday world we all know.  Toby grows up in Wallingford, Connecticut, not knowing about this secret society until one day when he discovers secret messages encrypted into the stock ticker “crawl” that moves along the bottom of the screen on the financial news channel.

Toby’s shock only grows worse when he realizes that the secret messages are directed to him!

His unique abilities with math and money have been noticed by the wrong people, and Toby is quickly sucked into a high-stakes life and death financial conspiracy, that he is only able to resolve by using his amazing skills with money.

At 260 pages, the book is fast-paced and entertaining.  It incorporates such financial literacy topics as: saving, banking, entrepreneurship, time value of money, return on investment, and simple financial statements.

“My whole purpose in writing this book is to introduce finance principles to people in an entertaining way using characters with which they can identify,” says author Craig R. Everett, a finance professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.  “Financial literacy is a huge issue now, particularly due to the financial crisis,” Dr. Everett continues.  “There is no silver bullet that instantly endows people with financial literacy, so the best approach is to expose kids to these concepts in as many ways and at as many times as possible…eventually, it will stick.”

Toby Gold and the Secret Fortune will be available in bookstores and online on October 18, 2012.

Author Bio for Craig Everett
 Craig R. Everett was born and raised in Maine, spending his childhood summers digging along the shores of Bar Harbor for buried pirate treasure.  Fortunately, he was able to remain blissfully unaware that pirates seldom, if ever, ventured that far north.  He received his B.A. in Economics from Tufts University, an MBA from George Mason University, and a Ph.D. in Finance from Purdue University.

Dr. Everett is currently a finance professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, where he teaches corporate and entrepreneurial finance. Dr. Everett also volunteers in public schools teaching financial literacy principles. 

To check out more about the book go to:
http://tobygold.com/

You can learn more about him at his website:
http://craigeverett.com/index.html

You can check out his blog tour at:
http://rachellewrites.blogspot.com/p/blog-tours.html

Best Wishes on the book launch Craig!


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Vote for Fallen Angel and we can all win!

I did something brave this week (and arguably possibly on the insane side). I entered the So You Think You Can Write contest by Harlequin.

Please go vote for my book Fallen Angel by Lisa Swinton in the new Heartwarming Line section. This is a clean romance line they wish to introduce next summer.

Public voting is Oct. 2- 11. Please vote everyday. The votes are anonymous. The top 25 from the public vote move on to be seen by the editors. Help me get there and thanks for your support!

http://www.soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com/manuscripts/series/harlequin-heartwarming/page/2/

I will offer up a to be determined prize to the person who votes for me the most times. This will be by honor system. Everyday you vote, make a comment below and next week, I'll announce the winner. If you voted the past two days include that in your comment. If there is a tie, I'll draw a name from a hat.

GO VOTE! THANKS!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Renegade by Angie Lofthouse

So, this month I'll be reviewing three novellas or short stories, if you will, by Angie Lofthouse. They are prequel or side stories to get you excited to read her new book Defenders of the Convenant which came out in March 2012. You can check out all her great writing and purchase links at
http://www.angielofthouse.com/
Seventeen year old Kwetoo'unuv Walker has nothing on his mind but hunting and girls. And how to avoid getting caught skipping school. But when Earth is attacked by alien invaders and Kwetoo'unuv watches his parents die to keep him alive, life becomes much more complicated. As the world falls before his eyes, he receives a vision from the Great Wolf, Toovuts, compelling him to put aside his fears and become the man God wants him to be. Because in the coming alien occupation, strength and wisdom will be Kwetoo'unuv's only chance to survive.

This book is certainly different than the other two as we see the invasion and aftermath from the perspective of a teenager who is Native American. He does some serious growing up in this book as he learns to be a soldier and warrior. His vision from the Great Wolf turns him into a leader and shows him a safe place to lead the survivors he finds and make a home safe from further invaders. This isn't as emotional or faith trying as the other two stories. So, in that repect is an easier read. We also find out what happens to the stolen children, although that part was the only confusing thing for me in this storyline and it comes at the end, so I won't go into it as it would spoil the ending. I'll have a conversation with Ms. Lofthouse about that the next time I see her.

Overall, good side stories well told and complete in their own rights. Enjoy.

What's a good series you've read lately?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Refuge by Angie Lofthouse

So, this month I'll be reviewing three novellas or short stories if you will by Angie Lofthouse. They are prequel or side stories to get you excited to read her new book Defenders of the Convenant which came out in March 2012. You can check out all her great writing and purchase links at
http://www.angielofthouse.com/
When Earth falls to alien invaders, young newlywed Vivi Thayer is called to serve as a group leader in a hidden, underground refuge. There she is charged with raising a generation chosen to carry on the work of God. Facing the criticism of the other, more experienced, women in the refuge, Vivi struggles with feelings of guilt and inadequacy. When a heartbreaking loss brings Vivi to her breaking point, she must learn to accept the role God has chosen for her or leave the refuge behind forever.

In this book we pick up the story where we left off with Carly from Covenant. We go inside the refuge with Vivi and Hannah to meet all those who will grow up as Hannah's family - the adults and other babies. We join Vivi in her struggle to raise the babies and her insecurities at being chosen to be a caregiver with her husband in the refuge. The faith struggle while no less real doesn't sit as heavy as in Covenant. The destruction is pretty much total on the earth and the window of time to take in babies is coming to a close. This one has a more positive ending.

Stay tuned for the final installment next week.

Any thoughts so far on the books?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Women of Strength by Tristi Pinkston


The need for courageous, faithful women has never been greater than it is today. As we draw nearer to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, we are faced with temptations on every side. But we can prevail as we gain true strength from living the gospel.

In 
Women of Strength, Tristi Pinkston shares inspiring stories, as well as insightful quotes from Church leaders, to demonstrate the power and influence of righteous women. This book invites women everywhere to deepen their relationship with the Savior, rely on the guidance of the Holy Ghost, and learn what it really means to be strong.

 
"If you are a woman who has wondered if you matter, if you are a woman who is concerned about the world, if you are a woman who has ever felt lost, afraid, or defeated . . . you need Women of Strength by Tristi Pinkston. When you read this book, you will discover your true worth, learn just how valuable you are, and find ways to turn the tide of evil flooding our world today." --C.S. Bezas, author and motivational speaker

"Every Latter-day Saint woman can be reinvigorated, inspired, and uplifted by reading this book. It is a compendium of wise counsel intended just for us and especially for our times. You may even wish to keep it around to reread whenever you need spiritual nourishment and an added awareness of your own power." --Susan Aylworth, author

Click here to read reviews and the first chapter:  http://womenofstrengthbook.blogspot.com

Click here to learn more about the author: http://www.tristipinkston.com

Click here to purchase:



 As women, we all need a little boost in the faith department from time to time. Don't miss this wonderful faith promoting and restoring book.
What have you read lately that increased your faith?
 

 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Consecrated by Angie Lofthouse

So, this month I'll be reviewing three novellas or short stories if you will by Angie Lofthouse. They are prequel or side stories to get you excited to read her new book Defenders of the Covenant which came out in March 2012. You can check out all her great writing and purchase links at
 http://www.angielofthouse.com/
Consecrated
Carly Emerson never imagined she would lose her two-year old son to faceless android soldiers, nor did she ever consider that keeping her temple covenants might break her heart. When aliens attack, Carly is asked to bear a child who will be hidden in an underground refuge—without her. The grief stricken mother must make a choice: keep her covenants and die or take a chance at survival on her own.

At 60 pages or less, you certainly have time to read this well written story that will challenge your own beliefs on what you think you would be capable of if you found yourself in Carly's shoes. 2 year old son kidnapped by alien soldiers with no hope of retrieval. Loss of friends and loved ones. Death and destruction surround you on every turn and cripple if not erase your father in your Heavenly Father. In your own struggle to find faith, your bishop has just asked you and your husband to sire a child you will give up right after birth to be raised in a safe refuge location and are likely to never see again, probably because you will be dead shortly after delivering the child. Thus is Carly's situation.

If you are a person of faith, whether LDS or another religion, this book will raise questions about how strong your faith is. It may help you to realize that perhaps you are not as strong as you wish to be, or perhaps you will be like Abby a woman whose faith never wavers no matter how great the loss of life is or sacrifice required. I like books that raise questions, even uncomfortable ones.

Look for my next review of another one of Ms. Lofthouse's novellas.

What book religious or otherwise has raised questions in your faith?


Thursday, September 6, 2012

My Secret Workout for August - I Dare You to Try It!

I'll give you three hints: spins, pirouettes, and body rolls.

Did you figure it out yet?

I've spent the month of August taking pole dancing classes. Yep, you read that right. Pole dancing.

So, how does a devout LDS (read that as Christian for you non-LDS peeps) stay-at-home mom end up at pole dancing classes?

With three things: a desire to have fun while getting fit, a streak of daring and a Groupon.

I can't stand to be bored while working out. If it's boring, I'm not going to stick with it. I have a dance background and I like workouts that incorporate that. They are fun for me. I'm a fan of movies that feature dancing, like Hairspray and Burlesque. Whenever I watch them, I'm totally energized to get up, dance and get fit. Which reminds me, I need to buy Just Dance for the Wii.

(Mom's heads up, even though Burlesque is PG 13, I probably wouldn't let anyone under 18 watch it. Not because of language or gratuitous sex or anything, but simply the impressions it might give without the proper historical perspective of what burlesque was and I'm just not up for having males watch women dance around in Victoria Secret outfits even though the movie to me in no way objectifies women. Just giving you my two cents worth.)

I have a great friend that I've joked around with about how fun it would be to learn chair dancing routines and other forms of dance, like Zumba, for fun. She had recently seen a Groupon for pole dancing in her city and I suggested she give it a whirl. She passed on it. In July, at the beach, I noticed a Groupon for pole dancing in my very own town of Frederick and I clicked on it. I read the offer and then checked out the website. Which you can do here:
http://www.apolenewyou.info/
or check out their Facebook page here:
https://www.facebook.com/#!/APoleNewYou
As it seemed a pefectly legitimate enterprise and I was looking for a way to pull out of my fitness slump, I clicked on the groupon and bought unlimited pole dancing for a month. I then filled my calendar with as many classes as I could. The only week I didn't attend was when we were at Deep Creek Lake.

The first day I went to class I wondered, What will it be like? What kind of women will be there? What will my instructor be like? (No offense to the guys, but pole dancing is currently a decidedly female trend, although there is discussion about including men if there is enough interest.  Until then, it's a girl thing.)  I fully expected to be sore in my arms, shoulders and core after the first class. Nope. That first week/week and a half, it was my legs. I used and stretched muscles that had been neglected in my bike and swim summer routine. The first week I took 3 classes. The second week, I took 5. The third week I took 2. The last week I took 2. My arms and core never felt all that sore. In fact, I was surprised at how quickly my muscles adjusted and strengthened. It is a serious workout that requires all of your body and mind. Remember you're holding all your body weight off of the floor and spinning around a pole. No easy feat, but way fun.

So, let's answer those questions I had on the way to my first class.

What will it be like?
The toughest workout you've ever had and probably the most fun too.

What kind of women will be there?
Other women and moms just like me and you who want to get fit and have fun doing it. I will say that the women are all on the younger to middle age part of the spectrum. I haven't seen a single grandma age woman there yet. Also, there are all body types. Some women are built like me, some smaller and some are what I fondly refer to as curvy. In one of my classes was a very curvy woman just starting on her fitness journey. She was wise and went to her doctor first before attending classes to see if she could take them and at our first class she informed our instructor that she has bad knees. Our instructor gave her modified moves to do until she becomes stronger and her knees become a non issue.

What will my instructor be like?
My instructors are women like anyone else and I had three different instructors over the course of the month who gave me insight into the techniques used that helped me get the hang of each move. Two are mothers. Watching an instructor invert on a pole gave me far more appreciation for this type of fitness. Also, there are both competitions and conferences for pole dancing.  I was impressed that they really stressed proper technique to prevent injury. They are very conscientious about that aspect. Learn it right and you can grow stronger.

So, perhaps I have helped you give up the stereotype you may be harboring about what kind of woman takes pole dancing classes. She's a woman like you and me who wants to get fit and have fun doing it. So, go ahead, unleash your inner diva and sign up to spin around the pole. I know I'm looking forward to taking more classes as soon a my life allows again. It's the first time I've ever wanted to join any kind of gym workout type thing. I'm hoping next time to take beginning chair dance. That sounds like my kind of fun, as does Zumba, yogalates, and a few other classes they offer.
Take a chance on this underground movement in fitness. There are exotic fitness studios all over the country. You'll be glad you did. I know I am.

So, here's the part you've been waiting for, THE CHALLENGE & GIVE AWAY.
The Challenge:
Sign up and take pole dancing classes. As proof, send me a picture of you with your instructor standing next to the pole. Use the e-mail address on the side bar to send me your pic.
The Give Away:
A fluffy feather boa.
The Deadline:
Halloween. Send the picture to me by Oct. 31. If there are mulitple entries then I will do a drawing. I will announce the winner on Nov. 1.

Ready, Set, Pole!

What new kind of fitness did you try this year? Did you like it or not?


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Seeking Persephone by Sarah M. Eden

Regency Romance may be my favorite genre. (For clarificaiton, Regency romance is distinguished by its time period - think Jane Austen and you're pretty much there.). This is the first novel I've read by Ms. Eden and I will be reading more. First, here's the enticement:
When Persephone Lancaster receives a marriage proposal from the ill-tempered Duke of Kielder, she refuses, and then reconsiders. The obscene sum of money he's offering Persephone would save her family from ruin. With her characteristic optimism, she travels to the far reaches of Northumberland to wed a greatly feared stranger. Lodged deep in a thick forest infested with wild dogs, the Duke's castle is as cold and forbidding as the Duke himself, a man with terrible scars on his body and his soul. But the Duke's steely determination to protect his heart at all costs is challenged by his growing attachment to his lovely and gentle bride. With caring persistence, Persephone attempts to pierce the Duke's armor and reach the man beneath. Yet he cannot tolerate such exposure, and his repeated rejections take their toll. But when grave danger arises, the Duke realizes he must face the risk of revealing his true feelings or lose the woman he cannot live without.

Ms. Eden is a romance writer on the master 1000 level. She keeps Persephone & Adam together and apart through every page of this novel. Lots of misunderstanding on both their parts as they try to make this arranged marriage work or keep each other at a distance in order to spare themselves heartache. Many secrets are revealed layer by layer of the inner workings of their hearts and minds so that by the time you get to the end you breath a contented sigh. It has a great cast of secondary characters too.

So typically me, it took me a while to catch onto the Hades/Persephone theme but once I caught the parallels it added another level of enjoyment. (I felt especially slow on the uptake with all the Greek mythology reading that's been going on at my house with my daughter's Percy Jackson craze.) Having met Ms. Eden a few times and seen some of her ridiculously funny films at LDStorymakers conferences I hoped some of her natural humor would be infused in the novel and I wasn't disappointed. I think she would make an incredible contemporary romance writer or YA romance writer. But I appreciate her love of this time period and ability to make a page turning romance of the beautiful kind.

If you enjoy regency romance, romance or just a well told story, pick up a copy of Seeking Persephone and when you are done, go pick up another one by Ms. Eden. You can find her at:
http://www.sarahmeden.com/

What's your favorite Regency Romance?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mozart's Last Aria by Matt Rees

First, here's the blurb from Amazon.

The news arrives in a letter to his sister, Nannerl, in December 1791. But the message carries more than word of Nannerl’s brother’s demise. Two months earlier, Mozart confided to his wife that his life was rapidly drawing to a close . . . and that he knew he had been poisoned.
In Vienna to pay her final respects, Nannerl soon finds herself ensnared in a web of suspicion and intrigue—as the actions of jealous lovers, sinister creditors, rival composers, and Mozart’s Masonic brothers suggest that dark secrets hastened the genius to his grave. As Nannerl digs deeper into the mystery surrounding her brother’s passing, Mozart’s black fate threatens to overtake her as well.
Transporting readers to the salons and concert halls of eighteenth-century Austria, Mozart’s Last Aria is a magnificent historical mystery that pulls back the curtain on a world of soaring music, burning passion, and powerful secrets.

This is a wonderful historical fiction novel and I love good historical fiction. I loved exploring the possible theory Mr. Lees presents about how Mozart may have died as uncovered by his sister Anna Maria aka. Nannerl. I could really get behind the attachment she has for her estranged brother and the connection she feels for him through his music. There are all kinds of twists, turns, riddles, espionage, love, and grief. An interesting history on the Masons, which I enjoyed as I haven't read much on them. Great description and word craft without getting heavy.

I haven't had the opportunity yet to travel to Germany or Austria to see the towns and cities where some of the great classical composers hail from. This book only adds to my excitement to see them someday. This book gave me a feel for what it would be like to be there. So take a trip back in time and enjoy Mozart's Last Aria.
Here's the link to Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Mozarts-Last-Aria-Novel-P-S/dp/0062015869/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1345428765&sr=1-1&keywords=mozart%27s+last+aria

What's your favorite historical fiction novel?






Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Devil Colony: A Sigma Force Novel by James Rollins

Did that title get your attention?

Again, I'm reading out of the box I usually stick to. This one was handed to me by my father. It is one of those conspiracy CIA type books where the world is about to end and only a team of elite forces can stop it while also vanquishing the bad guys.

Here's the summary from Amazon and the link:
www.amazon.com/The-Devil-Colony-Sigma-Force/dp/0061784788

From New York Times bestselling author James Rollins comes a novel of boundless imagination and meticulous research, a book that dares to answer a frightening question at the heart of America: Could the founding of the United States be based on a fundamental lie? The shocking truth lies hidden within the ruins of an impossibility, a lost colony of the Americas vanished in time and cursed into oblivion. A place known only as The Devil Colony.
Deep in the Rocky Mountains, a gruesome discovery—hundreds of mummified bodies—stirs international attention and fervent controversy. Despite doubts about the bodies' origins, the local Native American Heritage Commission lays claim to the prehistoric remains, along with the strange artifacts found in the same cavern: gold plates inscribed with an unfathomable script.
During a riot at the dig site, an anthropologist dies horribly, burned to ashes in a fiery explosion in plain view of television cameras. All evidence points to a radical group of Native Americans, including one agitator, a teenage firebrand who escapes with a vital clue to the murder and calls on the one person who might help—her uncle, Painter Crowe, Director of Sigma Force.
To protect his niece and uncover the truth, Painter will ignite a war among the nation's most powerful intelligence agencies. Yet an even greater threat looms as events in the Rocky Mountains have set in motion a frightening chain reaction, a geological meltdown that threatens the entire western half of the U.S.
From the volcanic peaks of Iceland to the blistering deserts of the American Southwest, from the gold vaults of Fort Knox to the bubbling geysers of Yellowstone, Painter Crowe joins forces with Commander Gray Pierce to penetrate the shadowy heart of a dark cabal, one that has been manipulating American history since the founding of the thirteen colonies.
But can Painter discover the truth—one that could topple governments—before it destroys all he holds dear?
I haven't read any of the other books by him, but this is a well written, fast moving, action packed book, that just might teach you a thing or two about nano technology, geology, native americans and oh yeah, the Mormons too. There are plenty of characters to keep track of, places and history. The best part, he has done his research and blends it all together while keeping it exciting. I might read another by him.
What conspiracy thriller do you recommend?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Surrender & Regret by Elana Johnson



You may be wondering why it has taken me so long (almost 2 months) to review a book I've been looking forward to for a year. A month of traveling for one and two, I wanted to be able to read it quickly from cover to cover because I knew I wouldn't want to put it down once I started it. I was right. So, I saved it to read at the beach. The anticipation of reading a really good book only heightens the experience of reading it, unless of course it turns to be a disappointment. Neither of these books fall into that category.

Surrender
In Possession we follow Vi and Jag strictly from Vi's point of view. In Surrender we meet them again, but primarily this story follows two other major players in the upcoming rebellion, Raine and Gunner, and the story alternates being told from their two points of view. The dual point of view I get was a necessary tool to tell the story and executed successfully, but I have to admit it hung me up to be switching heads every chapter. This mechanism allows you to get to know and love both characters very well and certainly progresses the story, which the majority of the time is fast moving action, a must I believe for YA. If you don't keep the teen reader engaged, they're going to move on to something else: their Ipod, smartphone, Facebook, whatever. I also give top marks for dialogue and creating a different but relatable world, which is tough to do, ask any writer that's attempted it.

Once again, when I reached the end of this book, I wanted to throw it against the wall (which I didn't because I read it on my Nook). One, because, just like in Possession, Ms. Johnson leaves us majorly hanging. AHHHHH! I wanted to scream, but didn't because I was in a town house full of sleeping kids. Two, because when a book is so good, you cringe to get to the end and know that it is over. Third, the only redemption I have for the major cliff hanger ending is the knowledge that this is a trilogy and in a year, I hope, there will be closure to this story that isn't a cliffhanger or I will have some serious words for Ms. Johnson. (Just kidding. Elana is an excellent writer and in my opinion the Queen of Query. If you need to know anything about querying, go see her blog to get educated. www.elanajohnson.blogspot.com .)

One thing I have to throw in as mom about these books. As I recall there are two 'naughty' words in Possession. I don't recall any in Surrender. (Other reviewers and Ms.Johnson feel free to correct me if I am wrong.) There is also kissing; that doesn't bother me. It is not gratuitous or graphic. Use your judgement as to what age YA you would hand this book to. I have a twelve year old niece who I think would love these and has trouble getting into books, but I hesitate only on the naughty word point. I have slightly less reservation with my high school nieces. It's one thing for them to hear it in the halls at school and another for me to put it in their hands as an aunt who feels responsibility for any part I take in their development. Still it won't stop me from recommending it once they hit sixteen or eighteen. There's plenty of guy stuff in here for the boys too, hoverboards for one.

Regret
This is the short story that tells us about Indy, one of the rebellion leaders we meet in Surrender. It's short but gives great insight into her character and how she came to be who she is when we are introduced to her in Surrender. It is aptly named and certainly up to Ms. Johnson's standards. Enjoy.

She also has one more short novel called Insider Information where you can learn more about the characters in her stories. I haven't downloaded it yet. But it's there and calling my name.

You can get all of her stories at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. 

So, what YA dystopia do you recommend I read next?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Storymakers Love Headed to the Midwest

I'm getting on the bandwagon to show my love for the LDStorymakers Conferences in order to get you excited for the new Midwest conference this Sept. 15th.
First, I have now been to two Storymakers conferences, both in Utah and both amazing and totally worthwhile. Every class has made me a better writer. I have also meant some totally awesome people who actually took time to speak to me and a few even learned my name. With attendance to your first conference you have the opportunity to join Authors Incognito. So, now I have this huge author family to draw knowledge and support from on any topic I can come up with and often lots I haven't even thought of.
Second, There's the saying that it takes a village to raise a child and I'd say it takes a lot of writers to make an author. You can reconfigure the wording how you wish but you get the idea.

So, now I have a chance to travel back to my former hometown to attend an intimate conference on writing and meet and know some awesome writers. I signed up, now it's your turn. Here's the link:
http://ldstorymakers.com/conferences/midwest-conference-2012/

and go see where we show the love
http://ldstorymakerauthors.blogspot.com/2012/06/show-love-for-storymakers-midwest.html

What conference have you attended that has made your hobby better?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Liebster Blog


Ok, so back in the beginning of July, Renae, a fellow blogger, tagged me on her blog http://www.renaeswritespot.blogspot.com
as a winner of the Liebster Award. It is for fledgling bloggers like me who have less than 200 followers. I certainly fall into that catergory. I'm am honor bound to answer a few questions about me and tag a few other bloggers who are in need of the Liebster love. So, here we go.

The rules:1. Each person must post 10 facts about themselves
2. Answer 10 questions the tagger has given you and give 10 questions for the people you’ve tagged.
3. Choose 10 people and link them in your post. (I'm just going to list 5. If you fall into this category, feel free to contact me and I'll add you.)
4. Tell them you’ve tagged them.
5. Remember, no tag backs

Facts
1. Only child with 3 sisters and I am the baby (go try to figure that one out).
2. Wife of a pediatrician.
3. Mother of two (age 8 in 1 day and age 4)
4. Spent two years as a vocal performance major at Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC
5. BA in Musical Theater from UNLV (that's Vegas baby!)
6. Spent summer semesters abroad in college in Italy and Spain (I have to live in a country to speak the language well).
7. Spent nearly 3 years as Desdemona singing for her supper as a gondolier at the Venetian in Vegas.
8. Grew up in Arlington, VA
9. Had a fish and cat growing up.
10. Never thought I'd write a book.
Extra fun fact: I've been every natural color there is. My faves were red with blond and blond with purple.

Questions Renae asked that I answer:
1. How long have you been blogging?
Since Feb. 2012
2. Why did you start up a blog?
Same as Renae. Writers told me to get a blog following before trying to get published.
3. What has been your weirdest experience with blogging?
I don't have one.
4. What is your favorite book?
Okay, that's just too hard. See the next answer.
5. Who is your favorite author?
Jane Austen. I love all her stuff. I enjoy the movies too esp. as there are several versions of each book.
6. What do you want to be when you grow up/what is your profession?
So, I'd like to do community theater again, continue as a writer, and figure out how to get certified as a professional organizer (like for your house, not an organization event coordinator.)
7. How many books do you think you might have?
I actually try to only own paper books I love and will read over and over again, so not that many. I'd say <200 which includes the med books and church literature. Otherwise, I'd have tons and they'd fill up the house! Plus with an e-reader there's plenty of room. I do know we have over 200 movies! (I counted them when we moved in Nov.)
8. Do you prefer reading a proper book or a ebook?
In general, I love a paper book, but I read something from my Nook everyday.
9. If you could choose to live one character's life in a book, who would it be?
Not surprisingly, I'll take Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice, but I'd also like Hermione Granger from Harry Potter too.
10. If you were stranded on a desert island what 10 items would you want to have with you?
1. People I love. Is it really a deserted island if you take the people you love with you? Because that would fill up my island pretty quickly.
2. Unlimited food & supplies.
3. Unlimited fresh water.
4. Transportation off the island by air. (I get sea sick, so the boat is sort of out.)
5. Internet access/Computer
6. Nook or Kindle
7. Phone
8. Movies
9. A really awesome place to live (not the grass hut) that is totally 'green' and would not destroy my tropical paradise
10. Ipod fully loaded

10 Questions
1. What is one of the best books you've read?
2. What is one of the worst books you've read?
3. What are you reading right now?
4. If you could interview an author (living or dead) who would it be?
5. Why do you blog?
6. What started you writing?
7. Describe one of your cooking catasrophes.
8. What was the scariest moment you've had?
9. If you could live anywhere, where would that be?
10. What do you hope to inspire those around you to do?

I am tagging the following people and their blogs.
Matthew:  www.matthewflitton.com
Deborah: www.debbiesinkspectations.blogspot.com
Marsha: www.marshaward.blogspot.com or www.charactersinmarthashead.blogspot.com
Margot: www.margothovley.com
Tera: www.teramecham.blogspot.com
Taryn: www.taryntaylor.blogspot.com


So, whose new blog did you like checking out?


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Motherhood Matters

Motherhood Matters: Joyful Reminders of the Divinity, Reality, & Rewards of Motherhood by Connie E. Sokol

So this is my second review of a book by Connie and I have another in my possession that I look forward to reviewing.

First, let me start by saying how much I love the cover. Beautiful, clean, uplifting and lovely and what girl doesn't love a purple flower?
Second, Connie has written this in bite size chunks so you can read it and reread it one tiny bite at a time or devour it like cake and eat it in one huge bite. Chew and swallow.
Third, I love books that remind me that it's okay not to be perfect, that as a mother we all make mistakes, and that we all deserve second chances and to cut ourselves a little slack.
Fourth, I met Connie at the LDStorymakers Conference 2012 and she was carrying a bundle of joy that has since arrived. Congratulations to Connie and her family. Best wishes on the journey of being a mom.

Here's the link to Deseret Book:
http://deseretbook.com/Motherhood-Matters-Connie-E-Sokol/i/5077832

What Motherhood book do you recommend?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Carribean Crossroads

Carribean Crossroads by Connie Sokol

Here is the lovely Connie Sokol and below is the back cover blurb to entice you to read her romantic book.

New college grad Megan McCormick just got dumped. Hard.
Swearing off men and relationships, Megan is coaxed into performing on a cruise ship where she meets the star performer, Bryant Johnson. Handsome and charismatic, he looks like trouble, but she can't deny the intense attraction between them.
Urged to find a wife and run the family lumber business, Bryant is torn between his family's expectations for his life and his own. However, when he meets spunky, but love-skittish Megan McCormick, settling down doesn't look so bad.
Just when Megan begins to trust again, and Bryant makes some big decisions regarding his future, her former fiance returns with a malicious surprise, taking Megan and Bryant to their own CARIBBEAN CROSSROADS.
Here’s some advance praise for this great summer read:
"Caribbean Crossroads is an entertaining read with a great plot and characters. I loved it! I got hooked from the very beginning...I highly recommend this book to all those looking for a very enjoyable and clean romance novel." Christina Tarbet, Book Reviewer
"Caribbean Crossroads is the perfect summer read. It's a story of love, forgiveness, and following one's heart. There is a lot of humor in the storytelling, and reality in the way relationships work. Connie Sokol captures this perfectly with a great cast of relateable characters who will make you want to keep reading late into the night."
Emily Cushing, Author of One Heart, Many Voices

You can find it on Amazon at

You can check out her fabulous website
www.8basics.com

Or her Facebook page
http://www.facebook.com/8basics

A little bit about Connie Sokol:
Connie Sokol is a mother of seven—a national and local presenter, and a regular speaker at Education Week. She is a monthly TV contributor on KSL’s “Studio 5” and regular blogger for LDSLiving online. She is a former TV and radio host for Bonneville Communications, and columnist for Deseret News and Utah Valley Magazine. Mrs. Sokol is also the author of Motherhood Matters, Faithful, Fit & Fabulous, and Life is Too Short for One Hair Color, as well as talk CDs and podcasts. Mrs. Sokol marinates in time spent with her family and eating decadent treats. Visit her website at www.8basics.com/
Pick up your copy of Connie's delicious book and tell me how you like it.

Reader Q: What's your best read so far this summer?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Woman's Power

A Woman's Power: Threads That Bind Us to God by Fay A. Klingler

This is the online description at Deseret Book: In today's chaotic world, most women feel like they're hanging on by a single, ever-fraying thread. But the gospel teaches us differently. As daughters of God, we're blessed with lifelines from above. All we have to do is reach up and grab hold of them. The author simply and beautifully illustrates which threads have the strength and power to carry women of virtue to safety, peace, and lasting happiness.This inspiring work will help you hold fast to the divinity within you, as you learn just how powerful a faithful woman can be.

My thoughts: This is an uplifting book and Fay takes you on a personal journey on how you can become a Daughter of God and more importantly the one you were meant to be, the one Heavenly Father knows you can become. My two favorite parts were about setting goals and our sisters. So, I'm a goal setter and like to be able to check things off the list, but that's not what her section is really about. Time to get to work on what's important. As for my sisters, we're not talking about literal sisters, although I have three really awesome ones, but we're talking about those women in your life that really get you, those women you can talk to you about anything, vent to, and cry with, laugh with and can call on whenever you need and they will support you. This is the therapy we require and no offense to the loving adorable men in our lives, but we women need sisters. Enjoy Fay's remarkable words and embrace your divine spirit.

Here's the link to Deseret Book:
http://deseretbook.com/Womans-Power-Threads-Bind-Us-God-Fay-Klingler/i/5077835

What book has inspired you to be a better woman?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Be Brave & Meet the Lorax

Be Brave & Meet the Lorax

So, let's kick off the summer with a few family friendly films. (Nice alliteration huh?)

BRAVE

Disney/Pixar's summer film doesn't disappoint, although the storyline didn't go quiet as I expected. There are alot of bears. Bear, hmm, didn't we do that in Brother Bear. Still, ya gotta love Merida's hair, her sneaky brothers, her hilarious father and loving but strict mum. It's all about being brave enough to be yourself and really isn't that what we are constantly trying to teach our kids. Everything about you is wonderful, but please follow the rules. You're very likely to add this to your DVD collection. And yes, you can take your four year old without emotional scarring. I did. I wonder how many red headed people we'll see walking around now.

Dr. SEUSS'S THE LORAX

So, I had no idea going into this that it was a musical. How fun! I love musicals! And this stuff was well written & performed. Big kudos to the artists for creating such an amazing world of cinematography. State of the art stuff. A great message on doing the right thing and saving the earth, even if you are just trying to impress a girl ,without it being shoved down your throat and leaving behind a bad taste like Happy Feet did. So, I'm big on having the right voices for the cast and I love these actors. I did find it ironic, that with this being a musical and having Zac Efron and Taylor Swift as the man characters neither of them sing. Why couldn't they at least sneak in a quick duet? Still a lovely watch and totally family friendly. Long live the Lorax!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Surrender to Elana Johnson!

So, I'm unofficially tooting Elana Johnson's horn as Surrender, her highly anticipated sequel to Possession, came out this week on June 5th. She has a huge blog tour going and if you want to check it out see her blog at

http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com

This is what the book is about:

The thrilling and seductive sequel to Possession puts love on the line in a dystopian struggle for independent thought. Forbidden love, intoxicating power, and the terror of control…
Raine has always been a good girl. She lives by the rules in Freedom. After all, they are her father’s rules: He’s the Director. It’s because of him that Raine is willing to use her talent—a power so dangerous, no one else is allowed to know about it. Not even her roommate, Vi.
All of that changes when Raine falls for Gunner. Raine’s got every reason in the world to stay away from Gunn, but she just can’t. Especially when she discovers his connection to Vi’s boyfriend, Zenn.
Raine has never known anyone as heavily brainwashed as Vi. Raine’s father expects her to spy on Vi and report back to him. But Raine is beginning to wonder what Vi knows that her father is so anxious to keep hidden, and what might happen if she helps Vi remember it. She’s even starting to suspect Vi’s secrets might involve Freedom’s newest prisoner, the rebel Jag Barque….
You can purchase it online everywhere, but if you like Amazon/Kindle, here's the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Surrender-Elana-Johnson/dp/1442445688/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1339169557&sr=8-1

Or if you a Nook fan like me, here's the link:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/elana-johnson?keyword=elana+johnson&store=ebook

I read the first two chapters of this as a teaser a couple of months ago and wanted to cry for having to wait to read the rest. Now I can and so can you!

And yes, Dystopia is not my usual beloved genre to read, but for Elana Johnson I will happily always make the exception! Raise a glass to Elana and sit down for a great read!

If you didn't read Possession first, I would. It's the reason I will read Surrender and I have my fingers majorly crossed that when the final book of this trilogy comes out I will have a happily ever after ending and not want to throw the book across the room like at the end of Hunger Games!

So, what is a book you enjoy that's not in your usual genre of reading, but want to tell everyone about?