Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Just One Wish

Annika's life hasn't been the same since doctors discovered that her six-year-old brother, Jeremy, has a brain tumor. He is about to have surgery, and Annika hopes that if she can convince him to think positively, he'll pull through. Her plan backfires somewhat when Jeremy wishes for something unexpected, but that doesn't stop her from ditching school and leaving the state to track down Jeremy's favorite TV character (Teen Robin Hood) to teach him archery.

I was drawn into this story right from the get-go (who can't relate to Day-After-Thanksgiving crowds?).

Annika may have been a tad unbalanced, but love and desperation make people do crazy things. She excels at early morning shopping, and running from large, angry men. She's bold, daring, sneaky, not afraid of pythons, and is proficient in archery.

Madison is such an excellent best friend. I love how she wouldn't let Annika go on her crazy journey alone.

Steve was a bit hard to read at first (he is, after all, an actor). When all was said and done, I liked him.

Just One Wish touches on many different emotions, and is a great ride!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Janette Rallison Week

Would you be weirded out if a stranger dedicated a week to you on their blog? I probably would, but I'm not a famous author, so maybe it isn't weird that I've decided to blog about Janette Rallison and several of her books this week.

My inspiration for this theme week came due to a recent visit to my sister's library where I saw three Janette Rallison books that I hadn't read yet. My sister generously checked them out for me (because my little library doesn't carry Janette's books . . . yet-I hope to convince them that they are missing out). I devoured the books. Then I got gutsy and emailed Janette telling her about my idea to have a Janette Rallison week. She responded by saying:

"Everybody should have a Janette Rallison week. (I have just suggested the idea to my children, but they are less than thrilled with that idea.)"

The woman is VERY FUNNY, and her sense of humor definitely comes across in her writing. If you don't have time to read a novel, or YA isn't really your thing, you should at least visit Janette's blog. It literally makes me laugh out loud (see her recent doll post).

I discovered Janette's books last fall when a book in the YA section caught my eye. It was My Fair Godmother and it was HILARIOUS! A few months later the laughs continued when I found My Unfair Godmother. Then earlier this year I found out that Janette Rallison also writes as C.J. Hill when I read Slayers (a Whitney Award Finalist-which was up against My Unfair Godmother for Youth Fiction Speculative).

Janette writes entertaining, funny stories (and as you will note over the next few days, heartwarming stories that have some tough issues, but overall still keep you smiling). In addition to these points, I really appreciate that Janette's books are clean!

Janette took some time out of her very busy schedule to answer a few of my questions.

I've read six of your books, and they've all been clean (thank you!). Do you ever have pressure (from fans, publishers, etc.) to include questionable content?

So far, I haven't. My editors and publishers have known from the beginning what sort of books I write. (One of my editors called them Normal Rockwell-esque, which I consider a complement.) Editors who wanted edgy books never looked at mine in the first place. My daughters read my books and I wouldn't want them or any other teens to ever feel uncomfortable about what they find in the pages of my novels so I think they'll always be pretty clean.

From the books you've published, what is your favorite, and why?

That's like picking a favorite child.  I love them all--so I can't choose one. My Fair Godmother was probably the most fun to write though.  After writing about high school life for so long, it was fun to finally be able to write about monsters, fairies, dwarfs, and dragons.

Other than your books, what is your favorite book?

I love the Princess Bride, probably because I love the movie so much.  Pride and Prejudice is also a favorite.

You have some great quotable lines in your books (like the first paragraph in How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-Boyfriend). Do you have any favorites? If so, please share.

There's a site somewhere on the web that has a bunch of quotes from me on it. I ran across it one day on accident and thought: Those are good. Did I really say all of that stuff? Maybe I should remember all of this so I can quote myself in public. 

Maybe I'll do that one day . . .

In My Fair godmother Chrissy says something to the effect that the only things you can really love at first sight are comfortable shoes.  I still think that's profound.

Have you always been funny? This probably sounds weird, but from what I've read on your sites, it sounds like you don't take yourself too seriously, and you're able to laugh at things that other people might let drag them down. What's your secret?

Life is a lot easier if you don't take it too seriously. I'd rather not stress about things so I tend to laugh off a lot of things.

I'm not sure whether I've always been funny or not. (My children still refuse to believe that I am in fact funny--although my son does a comic strip and I'm frequently featured in it as a haggard stick figure with curly hair.) My brothers and sisters are all really funny so I definitely  wasn't the clown in the family. They're still my favorite people to hang out with because they always make me laugh.  It's just too bad that none of them like to write, because I would love to read their stories.

Many thanks to Janette!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Love on the Line

Love on the LineLove on the Line by Deeanne Gist

Deeanne Gist does a great job writing historical fiction. Her stories are entertaining and enlightening.

Love on the Line is set in rural Texas where certain train robbers are held in high regard, making cooperation between the locals and the Texas Rangers hard to come by.

Georgie Gail is one of a few female switchboard operators, and has a lot to prove. She also has a love for birds, and is determined to save her feathered friends from the popular fashions of the day. (I haven't thought much about birding, but I just watched the movie "The Big Year" before reading this, so the birding aspects stood out even more than they otherwise might have.)

I was very entertained by the issues in the small town, and loved Georgie's strong personality and Lucious' undercover work. Fun read.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

More Wattpad Finds

Last night I discovered that Jenni James has several books on Wattpad (Jenni is the author of 2011 Whitney Award finalist Pride and Popularity). It looks like you can read a few chapters of her published books, and much more of her unpublished books.

If you come across any Wattpad finds, feel free to share them in the comments.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Misty Moncur on Wattpad

Misty Moncur (author of Daughter of Helaman, Whitney Award finalist for best historical novel) has been busy over at Wattpad. Not only has she posted Stripling Warrior, the sequel to Daughter of Helaman, but you can now read books #3 (Daughter of the Lamanite King) and #4 (Spy of Cumeni) in their entirety, AND she has starting posting book #5.

I thoroughly enjoyed Daughter of the Lamanite King. It finishes off Keturah's story (she is still mentioned in the following book, but is no longer the focus).

Keturah makes some big decisions about what to do with her life. I was somewhat surprised with some of her decisions, but they moved the story along very well, and I was happy with how her story turned out.

Moncur created some wonderful characters, and is great at grabbing the reader's attention with action and romance.

I also really enjoyed Spy of Cumeni. Here's the blurb:

"Kenai was the best spy in Helaman's army, but he came home broken. Isabel wants to know why. It doesn't take a spy to see his battle wounds are on the inside. He's silent and insolent, he shuns everyone, and he won't eat. So Isabel does a little reconnaissance of her own, and what she finds in the warrior's wounded heart might just help her find what's hidden deep inside her own."

Isabel is full of spunk and was fun to get to know. It was also great to learn more about Kenai. The action and romance was once again very well done.

I haven't had any concern about the content in Misty's books. The violence and romance are both tastefully done. Something I just noticed on Wattpad is that the books have ratings listed. How nice is that? The books in this series have been tagged with a PG rating.

Misty told me that there are eight books in this series. She does plan for them to be published, but is enjoying the creative freedom she has on Wattpad. I highly recommend this series! Head on over to Wattpad and take a look.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone

Palace of Stone (Princess Academy #2)Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was very excited when I saw the ARC for the sequel to Princess Academy on NetGalley. Sadly, I didn't enjoy Palace of Stone as much as its predecessor. Miri and her friends were still great, but the bulk of the story moved along at a snail's pace for me. The new challenges they found living in the palace just didn't excite me like their struggles in the first book. The characters also didn't seem as deep. Perhaps re-reading Princess Academy would have helped.

Overall it was a good story, but it didn't live up to my expectations.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Loving Vigil Keeping Blog Tour

Today I am excited to be a part of the blog tour for My Loving Vigil Keeping written by award-winning author Carla Kelly.

Kelly's latest historical novel takes place in Winter Quarters, a coal mine near Scofield, Utah, in 1900. Reading about the lifestyles of miners and their families was very interesting. These miners were very good at their jobs, and even though there was danger, it was what they knew best and few left the occupation (even after disasters).

Kelly tells a story about Della Anders. She never met her mother, and her father died in a mining accident when she was young. She was raised (poorly and unwillingly) by her wealthy aunt and uncle in Salt Lake. She wanted to get away from her cruel aunt, and decided that accepting the teaching position in Winter Quarters was as good an out as any.

Della had many struggles adjusting to the new lifestyle and the prejudices against her (because of her rich uncle, many miners and their families believed she was wealthy and trying to change them). Her efforts to reach out to the different immigrant groups and others living and working in Winter Quarters was heartwarming. The story also includes a romance that moves at a realistic pace.

Della and a handful of the miners are LDS, and the portrayal of life in the church in 1900 was eye opening.

As interesting as Della's story was, the part that really drew me into this novel was the Scofield Mine Disaster. I don't remember learning about it, which seems crazy since it was the biggest disaster in Utah History (and the largest mining disaster in US history up to that point). At least 200 people died when there was an explosion in one of the mining shafts. Such a tragedy! As soon as I finished the novel I was online looking up more details.

I also had a chance to learn a bit more about the disaster when I visited the Western Mining and Railroad Museum in Helper, Utah, on my way to a family reunion at the end of June.

I don't typically break up road trips by stopping at small town museums, but we weren't in a hurry and it was fun to stop having just read about the area.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Road to Grace

The Road to Grace (Walk, #3)The Road to Grace by Richard Paul Evans

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am a big fan of Richard Paul Evans' stories. They are clean, realistic and heartwarming books that can be read in a few hours, and The Walk Series definitely fits this description. Book #3 continues Alan Christoffersen's journey walking across the United States as his way of dealing with the loss of his wife and everything he owned in Seattle.

My favorite part of The Road to Grace was the wonderful message about forgiveness. There were several quote-worthy parts in the book, and this was one of my favorites:

“As we walk our individual life journeys, we pick up resentments and hurts, which attach themselves to our souls like burrs clinging to a hiker's socks. These stowaways may seem insignificant at first, but, over time, if we do not occasionally stop and shake them free, the accumulation becomes a burden to our souls.”

It's so sad that most of us carry around extra burdens that are dragging us down when we have the power to be free from them. Such a great idea to ponder.

Alan's journey was a bit slow in this book. Of course, walking across the U.S. would be extremely slow, but it didn't seem like he met as many people along the way as he did in the other books. There were quite a few details about the small towns he walked through, and a lot of this book did read more like a journal than a novel. I'd give the thoughts on forgiveness and grace five stars, and the rest of the story three stars.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dangerous Favor

Dangerous FavorDangerous Favor by Joyce DiPastena

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I recently learned about Dangerous Favor on LDSWBR. Their review and the sample chapter online grabbed my attention. It's a story with lords, knights, queens, mistaken identity, plots to overthrow kings, traitors, and mysterious "favors".

I didn't love the cover, but if you feel the same way, don't let that stop you from giving the book a try. The story is quite engaging.

I really enjoyed the interaction between Mathilde and Etienne. Mathilde is young and naive, but she is extremely loyal to her father and is determined to prove that he was wrongly accused of theft. Etienne seems like a player, but he has his loyalties too.

If you get hung up on unfamiliar foreign terms, be sure to note that there is a glossary in the back (I would have loved a pronunciation guide too).

Monday, July 16, 2012

Spires of Stone

Spires of Stone I've read several reviews and comments about how Spires of Stone is a (somewhat) modern re-telling of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. Sadly, other than the title, I'm not all that familiar with the play. Too bad, because I've liked a lot of re-tellings that I've read. They add an extra bit of fun to a new novel.

This third book in Annette Lyon's Temple Series was an enjoyable read. It didn't seem to have as many historical tidbits as the previous book in the series, but focused more on a few relationships.

Ben and Bethany were driven apart due to a misunderstanding. They combat with hurtful words whenever are in each others' presence, and try to encourage those around them that the opposite sex is horrible and marriage is a bad idea.

Two of Ben's brothers fall for Bethany's sister Hannah, and she has a hard time seeing that one of them is a scoundrel.

The ending was a nice happily ever after for all involved, and the historical details about the building of the Salt Lake Temple were interesting.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand ARC

With all of the electronic communication abounding these days, a visit to my mailbox isn't typically exciting (junk mail doesn't bring me joy). But, the other day I had a HUGE smile on my face because I GOT A BOOK IN THE MAIL! It was an advanced readers copy (ARC) of Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand by Carla Kelly. It is scheduled to be re-released on September 11, 2012, by Sweetwater Books, an imprint of Cedar Fort (it was originally published by Signet in 1994).

Although Carla Kelly has had many books published, I just learned about her earlier this year when I read her Whitney Award winning novel Borrowed Light (Best Romance). Since then I have had the opportunity to read another ARC of her's called My Loving Vigil Keeping (I'll be posting as part of her blog tour on July 19th). Both of these novels are LDS fiction.

Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand is not LDS fiction, but LDS standards will be kept in mind with the final published version. I'm excited to compare the finished product with the ARC.

After her husband’s death, Roxanna Drew is faced with the daunting task of providing for her two small girls on her own. Pursued by her lecherous brother-in-law, Roxanna knows her only hope is to escape his grasp by moving into a derelict cottage, owned by Lord Winn—a man known to his tenants only by his checkered reputation.

But when fate brings Lord Winn to her door in the middle of a snowstorm, Roxanna’s not sure which to fear more: letting him into her home or into her heart.

This was a very entertaining story with likable characters who don't quite fit their societal molds. Kelly does a great job of getting the reader emotionally involved with her characters. I was cringing several times when true feelings were hidden. People could eliminate so much hardship if they just talked! Eliminating conflict wouldn't make for much of a story though. :)

I was interested in how re-printing a novel with a new publisher works, and Mrs. Kelly gave me the scoop:

"When I left Signet for Harlequin, my agent told me to get my Signet copyrights to my regencies. I did, and it happened to be right before the ebook revolution began.

A year ago, I got an email from Signet, requesting a reversion of rights to my regencies, so Signet could release them as ebooks. I gave them four, and gave five to Cedar Fort. I've also given three to Camel Press in Seattle, because I like what they did with Daughter of Fortune, my first novel, written in 1984. I still retain the rights to three more of those Signet Regencies.

Since Signet had returned those rights to me in 2004, I was at liberty to do whatever I wanted with them. I thought it might be a good idea to spread them out over several publishers. It's proving to be a good move. Cedar Fort was originally going to just do a few as both paperback and ebook. Now they're planning to do all of the five I gave them as paperback and ebook, because they seem to have found a new home with LDS readers. I couldn't be happier."

Carla also indulged me on writing for various markets:

"While I have enjoyed – and still enjoy – writing for larger markets, I’m so delighted to write for the “LDS home crowd,” as well. Keeping a quill pen in both worlds suits me now. The big New York and London publishing houses have the numbers, so I’ve recently signed on for two more Regency-set novels. I’m also writing for a smaller firm in Seattle, which has contracted four historical mysteries set in the 1780s royal colony of New Mexico, starring Paloma Vega and Marco Mondrag√≥n, a charming couple. I’ve always wanted to write a historical mystery series; my downtime escape reading is crime fiction. The large presses are not flexible enough to let me even try that, since I’ve been stereotyped as a Regency romance writer. CamelPress in Seattle is happy to oblige, which is the cool thing about smaller publishing companies.

For the “home crowd,” I’m having a chance to delve into that late nineteenth-early twenty century era, when the LDS Church was flexing its muscles a bit and moving into a wider world. My novels for different publishing companies may have different levels of saltiness, but my prime interest is, and always will be, literary merit. If things go as planned, I probably won’t write any more Regencies for the large presses, once I finish this current contract. I’d rather focus on the mysteries and LDS-themed fiction, because at this stage of what I laughingly refer to as my career, that’s where my interests lie. And after all, how many Regencies can one writer write, and not get bored? I’m just pleased to write. Hard to say if it’s a passion of mine, but I have always enjoyed telling stories of my own creation."

Thanks so much to Carla Kelly for her input!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Kindling eBook Winner

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway for The Kindling eBook from Cedar Fort. selected entry #5, which happened to be an entry with a comment (special thanks to those of you who did the comment entry-it was fun reading what magical power you'd like).

And the lucky winner is . . .

Congratulations Rorie! I've sent you an email and will notify the publisher.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Lost Stones

The Lost StonesThe Lost Stones by Paul Rimmasch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ammon Rodgers served two tours in Iraq and his experiences there made him realize that there is a God and that he should pursue an education in renewable energy. Unfortunately, those who get power and wealth from oil keep an eye on people that are making strides in renewable energy-and they have the "problem" eliminated.

Ammon's journey is an exciting adventure in building his faith in God and His gospel, along with daring rescue missions, lost "treasure", and even romance.

Paul Rimmasch did an excellent job with his debut novel. Aspects of the story drew me in like a Dan Brown novel. The conspiracy theories were presented in a way that you couldn't help but think that they must be true. But, I appreciated Rimmasch's words in the Introduction about being careful about what you base your testimony on. There's one way to know if something is true, and if you go about it the right way, your faith won't be shaken.

A great book to add to your summer reading list. You can learn more by visiting

*I received an e-copy of The Lost Stones in exchange for a review.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Carnival Girl Blog Tour

I'd like to thank Sonja Herbert for introducing me to her memoir, Carnival Girl: Searching for God in the Aftermath of War, and for inviting me to join her Blog Tour.

Carnival Girl tells about Sonja's childhood in post-WWII Germany. Her father ran a carnival, so she and her siblings were raised in a caravan and traveled around the country. They made stops in many of the same towns each year, but weren't in any one place very long. It made schooling and making friends difficult.

Many times during the memoir I was very saddened by Sonja's life, especially the way she was treated by her mother. While Sonja doesn't have resentment toward her Mutti, her memories of the negative times were so clear that I couldn't help but think about the importance of using kind words. The Hymn Nay, Speak No Ill came to my mind, and I thought a lot about how I treat my children.

Even though Sonja had many struggles, the book was quite positive. Sonja wasn't dwelling on the negative situations, and through realizing that she has a Heavenly Father who loves her, she had a lot of hope.

Sonja's mom is half-Jewish and hiding for her life during WWII took a toll on her. I asked Sonja about her mother's background and their relationship, and this is what she had to say:

When I was a little girl, traveling in our small carnival caravan, I often listened to my mother talking about how she used to be a model in Berlin, the greatest city of Europe, and how she had to leave and hire on with the circus in order to stay ahead of the Nazis.

During the few times we carnival children attended school, I once received an A for a story about a Greek myth I had written, and on that day I decided to write about my mother’s life when I grew up.

All through the time I raised my six children here in the U.S.A., this thought was with me, and when the younger ones were a bit older, I started on my mother’s story. As the story unfolded, I realized that it would not be complete unless I also told my own story, the story of my childhood and my life with my mother.

And that’s how Carnival Girl began. I originally called it Conversations with Margot (my mother’s first name), but since the novel I wrote about her life isn’t quite finished yet, I decided to re-name the memoir and publish it first.

As I wrote the memoir and remembered the things that happened in my early life, old feelings returned, and I had to confront the childish assumptions of my younger self. Now, as a grown woman, I am able to see things I had not seen as a little girl, and when my memoir was finished, I had a new insight and understanding for my mother, who had suffered so much and still came out ahead.

My mother, Margot, is now ninety-one years old. She lives in Stuttgart, Germany, and is still going strong!

Thank you Mutti, for everything you have taught me!

Carnival Girl was published by Cedar Fort in June and can be purchased through their website, Deseret Book, or Amazon (you can also read excerpts on Cedar Fort and Amazon).

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Kindling Blog Tour

I am happy to be a part of The Kindling Blog Tour today!

If you have Middle Grade kids that love to read, Braden Bell's newest novel is a great book to suggest to them (it's actually quite enjoyable for parents too).

All thirteen-year-old Conner Dell wants to do is pass pre-algebra, play lacrosse, and possibly kiss Melanie Stephens. He didn’t mean to set anyone’s gym shorts on fire or make school lunches explode. But now that the strange powers inside him have been ignited, Conner’s normal teenage life is about to go up in flames!
Several years ago if someone told me I'd be interested in books about kids and magic, I'm pretty sure I would have laughed in their face. But, during college I worked at a city library and I could no longer ignore the magical books that I frequently checked out to patrons. It didn't take long to get hooked into this exciting genre.

The Kindling is a fun story that is original and well delivered. The characters are great (quirky "teachers" and average teenagers who discover they're not average). There's action and even a bit of young love.

One of the things I liked best about The Kindling is how much fun it seemed to be for Braden Bell to write it. Visit his website for book trailers, sample chapters, how the book came to be, and more!

Publisher Cedar Fort is offering an eBook of The Kindling to one of my followers. The giveaway is open internationally through July 11th. Enter using the form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 2, 2012

At the Journey's End

At the Journey's End At the Journey's End tells about Abe and Mattie. Both have had major heartbreak that is holding them back from moving on with their lives. They end up being part of a group traveling from Snowflake, Arizona, to Saint George, Utah, and their time together creates a strong friendship and more. As much as both of them want to move forward, there are several issues that they have to overcome in order to find true happiness.

I was drawn in by the intense emotions in the prologue, and found the issues addressed throughout the story very interesting (early life in the West, prejudices, etc.). I also enjoyed the historical tidbits included in the story, and Notes at the end of the book. Abe, Mattie, and the other characters in the book were well done. I felt for them, and hoped that they'd find happiness.

I won a copy of At the Journey's End, but was a little hesitant to put it at the front of my to-read pile because I was disappointed with the ending of its predecessor, House on the Hill. Although I read that a couple of years ago, I am happy to say that At the Journey's End resolves the issue I noted in my review for House on the Hill.