Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thursday Thought December

As you gear up to make New Year's resolutions, here's a special thought to keep in mind.

Not failure, but low aim, is crime.
--James Russell Lowell

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Benefit of Ebooks by David Vandagriff

For today's post, I'm happy to welcome a guest blogger, author David Vandagriff.
David and I belong to a writing group called LDStorymakers and he's always posting insightful information for writers. I loved what he had to say about Ebooks and he agreed to share with my readers. Enjoy!
You can visit David's author page: where you'll see info on his new book,
I Need Thee Every HourI Need Thee Every Hour and The Atonement Blog -

I have a copy of Pride and Prejudice downloaded from three different sources - Amazon, Apple's iBookstore and Google's eBookstore - available for reading on my computer and my iPhone and (Amazon version) my Kindle ereader - and I paid nothing for any of my copies of this classic work now in the public domain.

Access to classic literature has never been easier. Fifteen years ago if I wanted to read Pride and Prejudice, I had to buy it from a physical bookstore or drive to the library and hope a copy was available to check out.

Now, if I have any sort of computer no matter how old or inexpensive plus Internet access, within 30 seconds, I can begin reading Pride and Prejudice, Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment and every other literary classic in the public domain at no charge.

An English teacher in all but the most low-income schools can assign a class to read the first paragraph of David Copperfield:

"Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o'clock at night. It was remarked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously."

and compare it with the first paragraph of Moby Dick:

"Call me Ishmael. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me."

to compare the ways in which two major novelists began books showing young men making their way in a difficult world (both written from the first person point of view). If any of the students are intrigued by the first paragraphs, they can read the rest of either book. In fact, the English teacher can do the same thing with the first paragraphs of another dozen classic novels during the year without worrying about whether the students will have access to those books.

I know that copies of such books have been available for some time via computer, but the small-form ereader is, I think, a far better way to read a novel than a desktop computer and probably a laptop as well. In a family with one computer and many children, a personal ereader will be an increasingly less-expensive way of allowing each child to comfortably read material from the internet.

I believe ebooks easily available via sophisticated online bookstores at no cost may lead to a greater familiarity with the classics for a larger group of people than ever before.

When I was young, I was a voracious reader and my family almost always lived quite a distance from a library. I would have loved having access to an almost infinite number of interesting books right in my home.

David P. Vandagriff
Author Site -
The Atonement Blog -

*What do you think? Do you agree with David? I've been reluctant to jump on the Ebook band-wagon, but his points here are very persuasive. What do you like about Ebooks?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Taken By Storm & Unbroken Connection Book Review

I'm excited to review two fabulous books today by author Angela Morrison as a part of her virtual book tour.

Taken By Storm by Angela MorrisonTaken by Storm
Unbroken ConnectionUnbroken Connection
These are Young Adult novels full of the raw teenage angst that occurs over love/forbidden love and friendship with a guy that is a part of every adolescent's dreams and fantasies. Leesie is a straight-laced Mormon girl headed for BYU with her life perfectly planned out and then she meets Michael. He's a scuba diver and his parents were both killed in a hurricane during a dive trip. Leesie gets to know Michael and wants to help him heal. Michael uncovers a passion in Leesie that she's uncertain of how to deal with.

The story of Leesie and Michael is emotional, realistic, incredible--you'll feel like you know these two characters as well as your best friends! The romance that grows between them is so realistic--it shows just how easy it is for lines to blur when the kissing starts. I appreciated Morrison's theme of abstinence throughout the book and the reality of how difficult, yet worthwhile the choice is. I think this is a great book for teenagers and parents alike because it's an open window into the real world of teens and how vital it is to make the important choices about your life before you're in the heat of the moment. And yet, it doesn't come across as teaching a lesson--you just get it from getting to know the characters and seeing the results of their actions. Morrison's writing is so vivid and I love Leesie's poems and use of beautiful words. Reading from the point of view of Michael and Leesie in such creative forms--his dive log and her poetry notebook--creates great tension and character exploration that will leave the reader salivating for more.

Angela is also the author of another Young Adult novel, Sing Me To SleepSing Me to Sleep.
SING ME TO SLEEP has been nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award for YA Fiction!! Visit Goodreads to vote for Angela's book here SING ME TO SLEEP, 2010 Goodreads Choice Nominee

SING ME TO SLEEP, 2010 Goodreads Choice Nominee

Angela graduated from Brigham Young University and holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in Eastern Washington on the wheat farm where TAKEN BY STORM is set. After over a decade abroad in Canada, Switzerland and Singapore, she and her family are happily settled in Mesa, AZ. Angela enjoys speaking to writers and readers of all ages about her craft. She has four children--mostly grown up--and the the most remarkable grandson in the universe.

Angela is also writing the third and final book of Leesie and Michael and posting it chapter by chapter on her new blog--
Stop by her website here

Have you read Angela's books? What did you think? 
I hope you have some great reads picked out for the holiday vacation--enjoy!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Best Christmas Present of 2010

I'm grateful for the best Christmas present I could ask for this year.

 My sweet baby, Austin, came to our home in October and every day he reminds me of what is most important. I want to hold onto these moments and cherish them, but it's hard--really hard when baby makes #4 in our house! I feel like I'm constantly running trying to keep up with all the kids' needs, but then I get a quiet moment to cuddle with my newborn and I feel like everything is going to be okay.

I'm grateful to my Heavenly Father, who will take my best efforts and make up the difference. And I'm so grateful for this time of year when I can ponder on our savior Jesus Christ and how He loves each of us even more than I love my sweet little newborn. He loves us so much that He came to earth as a tiny babe, helpless, to show us how to love and how important we are to Him and to His father, our Father in Heaven.
I hope you'll take a moment during this busy holiday season to recognize how important you are and that Christ can see the best in you that sometimes is overshadowed by the world. I'm taking my moment now...
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

How Many Books Have You Read?

I pulled this idea from This Is Not My Day Job and would love to see what you've read and think as well.

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.


• Copy this list.
• Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety. 
• Italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read only an excerpt.

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien--so awesome it's hard for me to believe that some people haven't read Tolkien--he is the king!
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee-- I didn't read this in High School, finally did about 5 years ago and wish someone had made me read it back then. It definitely deserves the title of a "classic"!
The King James Bible 
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte I didn't like this one at all!
Nineteen Eighty Four (1984) – George Orwell
His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
Complete Works of Shakespeare --I need to go back and see just how many I have read because I think I'm pretty close on this one.
Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier--beautiful description in this one
The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger 
Middlemarch – George Eliot
Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell--read this 2 years ago and did a review here
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald-dumb, dumb, dumb
War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy--are you kidding? I just don't have any desire to read this.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck--Excellent!
Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll-- I can't remember if I finished this when I was a kid
The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
Emma - Jane Austen
Persuasion – Jane Austen
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis
The Kite RunnerKhaled Hosseini
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne
Animal Farm – George Orwell
The DaVinci Code – Dan Brown
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
Atonement – Ian McEwan
Life of Pi – Yann Martel
Dune – Frank Herbert
Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez I have this one out from the library right now.
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas--this one is in my to-read pile!
On The Road – Jack Kerouac
Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
Moby Dick – Herman Melville--read abridged version in High School, didn't get what all the fuss was about
Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
Dracula – Bram Stoker
The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
Ulysses – James Joyce
The Inferno – Dante
Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
Germinal – Emile Zola
Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
Possession – AS Byatt
Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
The Color Purple – Alice Walker
The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
Watership Down – Richard Adams
A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
Hamlet – William Shakespeare
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
So I've read 32 from this semi-random list. There are a lot of books on here that I would like to read, some I haven't even heard of. How about you? If you post this on your blog, I'd love to come and check out your list. Many of the books I read on this list were because they were recommended by a friend. I love my Goodreads account for that and if you check out my right sidebar, you'll find a big list of reviews I've done on other books.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thursday Thought December

Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.
--Judy Garland

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Oh Say Can You See by L.C. Lewis Book Review

It's blog tour time for
Set against the War of 1812 and the penning of "The Star Spangled Banner," Oh, Say Can You See?, the latest novel in the FREE MEN AND DREAMERS series by L.C. Lewis, brings this often overlooked period to life.
Though the capital smolders, the battered Constitution and the presidency have survived. But the British left the struggling government no home. Gone are the symbols of America--the Capitol Building and the President's House, and nearly every relic of the infant nation. Britain's next target is the port city of Baltimore, but has the raid on Washington stiffened the Americans' backs? As the Willows women mourn their absent men - gone to war, or wounded, or captured - they await the birth of a blessed child. Miles away, attorney Francis Scott Key embarks on a diplomatic mission that will leave an everlasting mark on America. Proving that the pen can indeed by more powerful than the sword, Key records the fears and hopes of his embattled people. His epic poem soon set to music and titled "The Star-Spangled Banner," rallies a shattered nation to rise from its knees to claim the dream of "one nation under God" during the closing hours of the War of 1812. 

I'm happy to be a part of L.C. Lewis' blog tour for her new book,
Oh Say Can You SeeFreemen and Dreamers Vol. 4 Oh, Say Can You See? (Freeman and Dreamers).
This is Volume 4 in her fantastic Free Men and Dreamers series but it can be read as a stand alone. I haven't read any of her other books and was able to pick up this one and get into the story. I'm reading several books at the same time right now, so I haven't finished this one, but I've read enough to tell you that Laurie is an exceptional author. She is able to manage several different characters and make each of them distinctive enough that I was able to picture each person I "met" in the pages of her novel.

Here's a little bit more interesting info on this novel:

The bicentennial of the War of 1812 is less than two years away, and America is gearing up to host spectacular celebrations of the 200th anniversary of her second war of independence. LDS author, L.C. Lewis, saw the event fast-approaching and began writing a historical fiction series to commemorate this often overlooked moment and generation. Along the way, Free Men and Dreamers has garnered an impressive array of reviews, endorsements, and awards.

Though "Oh, Say Can You See?" is volume four of Lewis's Free Men and Dreamers series, this historical fiction epic was written to commemorate the bicentennial of the writing of the "Star-Spangled Banner," and was therefore specifically written to serve equally well as a stand-alone. This intricately-researched novel weaves Lewis's well-loved characters into the winding-up scenes of the War of 1812 and the events surrounding the Battle of Baltimore and writing of the "Star-Spangled Banner." It also sheds new light on the complex poet, Francis Scott Key and
the reason this anthem hit such a powerful pulse point in America, causing Lewis to believe volume four, “Oh, Say Can You See?” may be the most timely of all the volumes.
One more volume is planned after this one and I asked Laurie to share that info with us along with the titles of her other volumes.

Lewis- Book five is set for a spring 2011 release and it will carry us forward, as we see how the events of this period shaped America and affected the next generation. We’re toying with two titles—“The Morning Breaks,” and “In God We Trust.” Right now, we’re all leaning towards “In God We Trust.”

The other three books in the series are:

Volume 1, DARK SKY at DAWN, introduces the complex story of our six lead families--three American, two British, one slave--and the devastating prelude to the war.

Volume 2, TWILIGHT'S LAST GLEAMING, carries readers into the harrowing events at Hampton, Virginia, and illustrates the toll the war takes on civilians--women and children. But through it all, a new tenacity begins to strengthen the young nation's spine as Americans rally to the cause of their nation.

Volume 3, DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT, throws our characters into the attack on Washington and the events that proved the mettle of hj the Constitution and the Presidency.

Tell us a little about L.C. Lewis.

Lewis- Well, many readers will be surprised to hear that I’m a grandma and not a grandpa! Publishers tend to obscure female historical fiction authors behind a pen name because some readers just expect the authors of these books to be male. I write women’s fiction under my real name, Laurie Lewis. My most recent release was in April—a women's novel titled, “Awakening Avery,” which is currently nominated for a Whitney Award. (

I’m a long time resident of Carroll County where my husband and I still reside. The past few years have been consumed by these books, but as soon as volume five is released I hope to pick up some of my old hobbies—genealogy, cross-stitch, the guitar and gardening. I’m dying to learn to play the piano and my brave daughter has offered to teach her uncoordinated mother the ropes.

Thank you Laurie for stopping by my blog--your book has such a history behind it--kudos to you for the exceptional work you did to bring it about!
And there's a contest for this blog tour as well!
THREE people will win a copy of Oh, Say Can You See? One GRAND PRIZE WINNER will win this beautiful patriotic necklace!

Blog tour runs from December 13th--December 22nd.

It's easy to enter.
1. Visit the fabulous reviews and leave a comment letting us know why "The Star Spangled Banner" means so much to you. Remember to include your email address.
2. If you tweet about the blog tour, or post about it on your blog or facebook, leave the link in the comments section and you'll receive an additional entry.

Good Luck! Entries close at midnight (MST) on December 31.

December 13
Braden Bell

December 14
Marsha Ward

December 15
Rachelle Christensen

December 16
Anna Del C. Dye

December 17
Stephanie Abney

December 18
Lynn Parsons

December 20
Susan Dayley
Marilyn Bunderson

December 21
Liz Adair
Valerie Ipson

December 22
Kathi Oram Peterson

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Perilous Blog Tour & Chance to Win a Kindle

There's only one day left to enter the fantastic contests Tamara is sponsoring for her new book, Perilous.
Tamara Hart Heiner's new book is called PerilousPerilous and she is giving away a Kindle!
You can visit her blog here to find out all the details of the blog tour dates and how to enter the contest.

Monday, December 13, 2010

David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants—Reaching the Next Level

I love reading David Farland's Daily Kick in the Pants for Writers. Nearly every day, I receive an email from Dave filled with wonderful information and inspiration for writers on pretty much every subject imaginable. Today I wanted to share a snippet from one of his emails with you:

Recently a writer asked, “How can I reach the next level in my writing?” 
...So there are really two steps to this process: You have to study assiduously, and then practice what you’ve been taught.
Beyond that, there are no quick fixes. You can’t simply wrap yourself in a cocoon of paper and expect to metamorphose into a writer.
--Dave Farland

Isn't that marvelous? If you'd like to subscribe to Dave's email list, click here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas With The Prophets Book Review

Christmas with the Prophets is a beautiful new book by author Laura F. Willes. I was thrilled to receive a review copy in the mail from Deseret Book and couldn't wait to get started reading. For those of you who might not know, this book is about the prophets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--the church that I belong to.

Christmas with the ProphetsChristmas with the Prophets
This book is absolutely gorgeous--a perfect gift book. The pages are thick, glossy, and filled with beautiful photographs. I love how Laura F. Willes built the format for this book. It studies each prophet of our church giving details on their life including Christmas traditions, childhood Christmas memories, favorite Christmases they celebrated, and a message from each prophet.
As you read the book, you'll be filled with the true spirit of Christmas, love for our Savior, and a desire to emulate these fine men who enjoyed celebrating this wonderful Christmas season.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Perilous Blog Tour

Tamara Hart Heiner has a new book out called PerilousPerilous that has received some rave reviews.
You can visit her blog here to find out all the details of the blog tour dates and how to enter the two different contests she is holding.
I've been following all of the reviews and it's been very interesting to see what everyone has to say--fun when there are so many people involved with varied opinions.
Tamara also has a cool book trailer, you can watch here

Christmas Spirit

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Christmas Lesson from My 7 Year Old

We went to see Santa last night with our four kids. Earlier in the day I told the kids we would be going and then asked them what they were going to ask Santa to give them for Christmas.

My five-year-old said, "A dolly."

My seven-year-old said, "I don't know."
Me-- Isn't there something you've been wanting?
7yo--There were some things but then I got them for being good, so I guess I don't need anything.
Me--swallow * pause * swallow (thinks about the things she's referring to that probably cost a total of $10.00) Well, think about it and if there is something, you can tell Santa tonight.
7yo--I did want a real little tea set, but then you gave me yours so I don't need that now either.
Me--swallow * she's referring to a little teacup and plate on a plastic stand that I've had for ages and I said she could put it on the shelf in her room.

I've had many conversations in recent years with my husband about how our kids just have too much stuff. It's so different from when we were young--you could not get a Barbie doll for $3.00 on a killer sale. You couldn't find an awesome car set for the same price. And even if the prices were good, there just wasn't the money to have a big, extravagant Christmas.
And guess what? That was okay.
It was wonderful. Simple.
I've worried so much that my kids might not appreciate the season or the toys they have because they have so much. My husband and I have tried to be careful to teach them about giving and appreciating what they have, but weren't sure if it was sinking in. Well, yesterday I decided some of it was sinking in. I'm sure that might variate from day to day and week to week, but my seven-year-old gave me a big reminder of the lesson I had been trying to teach her. Thanks, Sweetie.
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Enter to Win An Autographed Copy of Wrong Number Today

My friend Tristi Pinkston has a new book coming out and is celebrating with a spectacular month of giveaways in her Merry Month of Miracles. Her new book is the sequel to Secret Sisters and it's called Dearly Departed. What a cool cover!

Today I'm featured on her blog with the prize of one autographed copy of my suspense novel, Wrong Number.Wrong NumberAnd a box of delicious fudge brownies--if you've read the book you might know why I'm giving away this treat!

Hop on over to Tristi's blog to enter, but first become a follower of my blog here as that is one of the requirements to enter. But hurry this contest ends at midnight tonight!
Good luck!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thursday Thought December

It is not work that kills men, it is worry. Work is healthy; you can hardly put more on a man than he can bear. But worry is rust upon the blade. It is not movement that destroys the machinery, but friction.

--Henry Ward Beecher

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gratitude Giveaway Blog Hop Winner!

Thank you to all of my wonderful followers! Time to announce the winner...
Wow, there were a ton of entries for my giveaway! Thanks so much to everyone who entered. Sorry, I'm slow in posting this winner, it took me a bit of time to go through all the entries.

The lucky winner is Mystee
she said:
"A favorite that's really hard,they tend to change...right now I'm really into anything by Fyodor Dostoevsky"

Mystee, please email me at with your full name and shipping address within 48 hours and I'll get this sent out to you.

 I have some wonderful contests and prizes in the future so check back and be sure to enter.

Mystee won this prize package that includes $70.00 worth of merchandise!
One autographed copy of my award-winning novel,
Wrong NumberWrong Number
One delicious Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie MixBetty Crocker Fudge Brownies, Family Size, 18.3-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 12)--Read my book, Wrong Number, to find out why I'm giving a brownie mix with the book!

A pair of Longaberger Christmas Oven Mitts so you won't burn yourself when you take those brownies out of the oven!
One copy of Principle Centered LeadershipPrinciple-Centered Leadership Teaching People How to Fish by Stephen R. Covey

And for the kids, one copy of The 7 Habits for Happy KidsThe 7 Habits of Happy Kids by Sean Covey


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