Friday, May 28, 2010

Book Review: "Awakening Avery" by Laurie Lewis

This was a beautiful book. Though I've never read anything by Laurie Lewis before, I'd heard she was a great writer, so I was excited when her publisher contacted me about reviewing Awakening Avery on my blog. I didn't know what the book was about until I got it and read the back cover copy:

"You're depressed," the doctor declared.

"Ya think?" is author Avery Elkins Thompson's sarcastic response to the astute diagnosis for the malaise that set in following her husband's untimely death. Avery's carefully controlled world is imploding, and her adult children fear they are losing her too.

"You're just a shadow of the person you used to be...We'd gladly give you up for a while if it meant getting you back."

Avery can't write, and questions about their father's death leave the family mired in pain. "We need a healing place," her oldest son tells her, suggesting she find it on Anna Maria Island, Florida, a former family vacation spot.

When Avery returns to Baltimore to sell the family's waterfront condo, she meets rodeo-ers-turned-real-estate-brokers Teddie and Rider Davis, and Avery's quiet life will never be the same again.

The Davises help arrange a short-term house swap with widower Gabriel Carson from Anna Maria, whose overprotective parenting has resulted in two self-centered, twenty-something daughters. Avery and Gabriel are in for the summer of their lives as they step into one another's messy, complicated worlds.

Still, venturing out on her own again is challenging for Avery, whose experiences at the Ringling's magnificent Ca d'Zan mansion, and with the quirky characters she meets there, eventually awaken her to truths she has long forgotten - that as crazy as life can be, it is possible to laugh and love again.

I found the characters complex and well developed. They all seemed like real people to me with real challenges. There were so many little storylines for the characters that keeping them all straight should have been confusing, but other than when I couldn't get back to the book for two days, I had no problem keeping everyone's roles straight. (That's what happens when I set down a book for more than a day though). The descriptions were well done, the plot interesting with plenty of twists.

I loved that the story opened with Avery having ruined her television and computer monitor in her grief over losing her husband. Greif manifests itself in so many ways, and you see several of those displayed in the various characters in the story. The stories wrap themselves up maybe just a little too pat (in one case), but it left me with lots of warm fuzzies and I would definitely reccommend this book to anyone. It's an LDS story with LDS values, great lessons and the kind of far-reaching lessons that touch lives.

You can learn more about Laurie on her blog or website. She's also the author of the Free Men and Dreamer's series--three books set in the early 1800s of the U.S. (the first is pre-was of 1812).

Monday, May 24, 2010

Signings, yardwork and other fun stuff

There are lots of fun things going on for me lately. I've been busy, busy, busy with Costco book signings, which has been great, and I've had a chance to meet and talk with so many people I wouldn't have met otherwise. I don't anticipate that Costco will stock my books much longer, so if you have a membership (and live in Utah), now's the time! Their price is awesome ($10.49 instead of $16.99!).

I had my launch party in Fillmore last week, which was great! I got to talk to several people I hadn't expected to be there, along with a teen who is interested in publishing and stopped to chat for a while. The librarian said my book was checked out within five minutes of when they put it out on the shelf, which always feels good! I gave away some fun prizes and had chocolate chip cookies (which are almost a running joke through the story).

My book blog tour starts next week and runs through June, and I'll have some fun prizes and interviews all over blog land. Also, I have a second book launch party in Sandy at the Barnes & Noble on Thursday, June 3 from 6-8 along with the other women from my critique group. It'll be a ton of fun and we'll have more prizes and treats, so put it on your calendar!

I'm trying to finish up some edits on a new book and hope to have it submitted by next week. My critique members say it's the best thing I've ever written, so I'm really excited and nervous to hear what my publisher has to say about it.

Today instead of editing, however, I spent the day planning, shopping, and planting in my landscape. For those of you who don't know, I used to write a gardening section on my blog because I LOVE to garden, but last year I was so swamped with everything going on that I didn't get squat done in my yard, which means weeds are seriously overtaking everything. This spring my husband and I decided it needed some serious rehab, so we're doing a big overhaul. After a massive shopping trip for plants today we (and some awesome friends), finished digging out my biggest flower bed, pulled the rock border, stretched landscaping fabric, planted a bunch of new plants and spread mulch! Yes, I still need to buy more plants (apparently my neglect killed most of the perennials that were in there--but that's another post), but it looks so much better and I'm so excited to look out at my pretty garden again! Now we have to master the drip irrigation system (and where is Seth when I need him to explain this 'simple' setup to me? Huh? Northern Nevada! *sigh*). More yard work tomorrow--and definitely some editing--because I'm on a roll!

Friday, May 21, 2010

2nd Annual “Summer Treasure Hunt: Dig For Clues and Win” Contest!

Welcome to the second annual “Summer Treasure Hunt: Dig for Clues and Win” Contest! Last year, some of my author friends put together a month long contest where they gave away a prize a day for the entire month of June--which was totally cool (I won once!). The contest was so successful that they decided to do it again and invited me to join them…only this time we’ve gathered together enough prizes to last through the first week of July! Again, we have something for everyone: romance, fantasy, mystery, suspense, historicals, contemporaries, young adult and middle grade fiction; children’s picture books; and a variety of non-fiction titles. We also have some exciting non-book prizes: a hand crocheted book tote and cell phone case; a book/jewelry combo; a Mary Kay cosmetic assortment; a The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe DVD; and (you aspiring writers won’t want to miss this one!) a free edit/critique for the first 50 pages of an unpublished novel by a three-time published author!
How can you enter to win one of these awesome prizes? Just follow the rules below!
SUMMER TREASURE HUNT RULES:

You can send in an entry for each day’s prize, or only for those prizes that strike your fancy. The rules are simple:


(1) Go to the website or blog indicated for each day, find the answer to the question for that day, then email the answer with your name and AND MAILING ADDRES to jdipastena@yahoo.com. I promise you will not wind up on any mailing lists. This is only to facilitate the receipt of your prize. All entries will be deleted at the end of the contest.

(2) Please send a separate entry for each day and type the day you are entering in the subject line. (Such as: Summer Treasure Hunt, Day 1; Summer Treasure Hunt, Day 2, etc).

(3) Deadline for each day: Midnight PST

(4) The winner will be contacted and announced on the day following the deadline.

All winners will be “drawn” by WWW.RANDOM.ORG.

You do not have to wait until the designated day to enter. You can start sending in your entries right now, or begin entering at any point along the way. And check back here each day between June 2nd-July 9th to read the names of the winners.

If you have any questions, feel free to email Joyce DiPastena at jdipastena@yahoo.com.

And now…let the treasure hunt begin!
June 1
SPONSOR: Donna Hatch
PRIZE: Queen in Exile, (fantasy romance), autographed by author
QUESTION: The princess must rely upon her magic to save whom? (Hint: Look under “Bookshelf” tab)
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER: Amber Nielson of Vermont
ANSWER: Herself and her people from death and tyranny
June 2
SPONSOR: Laurie Lewis
PRIZE: Awakening Avery (women's fiction), autographed copy
QUESTION: Avery's signal that she isn't handling her husband's death very well comes to her when she tosses what into what? (Hint: Look under “books &reviews, then click on the cover to Awakening Avery and read the first chapter)
WEBSITE/BLOG: www.laurielclewis.com
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER: Barbara Stilwell
ANSWER: The Remote into the TV
June 3
SPONSOR: E.A. West
PRIZE: Riley's Mission (PDF: romantic suspense)
QUESTION: Where does Jade sit after she sees Aziz Khadoul? (Hint: Click on “Books” tab, then on “excerpt” link for Riley’s Mission)
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER: Judy Cox of Louisiana
ANSWER: An empty wheelchair
June 4
SPONSOR: Jenna Dawlish
PRIZE: Sprig of Thyme (Victorian romance), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the name of the hero in Jenna's first novel Love Engineered? (Check out “The Library” tab)
WEBSITE/BLOG: www.jennadawlish.com
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER: Ginny Romney of Arizona
ANSWER: Charles Lucas
June 5
SPONSOR: Rachael Renee Anderson
PRIZE: Divinely Designed (contemporary LDS romantic comedy), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the title of Rachael's second book, being released in August? (Hint: scroll down to Rachael’s “Goodreads” titles on the right hand sidebar))
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER: Karin Tillotson of Pennsylvania
ANSWER: Luck of the Draw
June 6
SPONSOR: Linda Kay Garner
Prize: Some Secrets Hurt (picturebook) autographed copy, plus a handmade cuddling blanket
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES.
QUESTION: The only thing worse than finding out that your child is being sexually abused is ____ ____ ____? (Hint: Listen to 5 minute KSL TV interview on the right side of the website or dowload the free Parents’ Guide)
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER: Laura Lewis of North Carolina
ANSWER: Not finding out
June 7
SPONSOR: Danielle Thorne
PRIZE: (New/Sealed) The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (Widescreen DVD)
QUESTION: In Danielle Thorne's novel, Turtle Soup, what is the name of the marine biologist who inspires Sara Hart to name her deli Turtle Soup? (Hint: read the blurb for Turtle Soup on Danielle’s website homepage)
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER: Carol Rainbolt of Arizona
ANSWER: Jack Brandon
June 8
SPONSOR: Larry Hammersley
PRIZE: Lab Partners (sweet 1950’s romance), ebook
QUESTION: What are the first names of the hero and heroine in the short story Lab Partners? (Hint: Check out “WIP Report” post for April 4, 2010)
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER: Mina Gerhart
ANSWER: Leroy and Jody
June 9
SPONSOR: Linda Weaver Clarke
PRIZE: Melinda and the Wild West: (historical romance, YA and adult), autographed copy
QUESTION: What was Melinda doing when she first met Gilbert and why did he act flustered and then abruptly turn and briskly stride away? (Hint:. Click on “Sample Chapters” tab, then on the book title for Melinda and the Wild West to read a sample chapter.)
OPEN TO USA AND CANADA ENTRIES
WINNER: Cassandra Cantrell of Utah
ANSWER: She was wading in a stream and her skirt was hiked up showing her legs and bare feet
June 10
SPONSOR: Angela Morrison
PRIZE: Taken by Storm (Penguin/Razorbill 2009), YA romance, autographed hard cover
QUESTION: A legendary LDS author of over 30 books for teens called Taken by Storm, "An amazing story written with a clear, refreshing and creative voice." Who was it? (Hint: check “Taken By Storm” tab)
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER: Diana Donahoo of Illinois
ANSWER: Jack Weyland
June 11
SPONSOR: Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen
PRIZE: Trapped (romantic suspense with a hint of paranormal fantasy), autographed copy
QUESTION: The first trap Emi Warrin encounters is a mysterious letter. To where does it lure her? (Hint: Read the book summary under the Trapped tab)
WEBSITE/BLOG: rondahinrichsen.com
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER: Angela Isbell of Utah
ANSWER: The Austrian Alps
June 12
SPONSOR: Anne Patrick
PRIZE: Journey to Redemption (inspirational romantic suspense), free download
QUESTION: What did Royce use to do for a living in my upcoming release, Out of the Darkness? (Hint: Look under the “My Books” link for Anne’s new release, Out of the Darkness)
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER: Cindy Schuerr of Wisconsin
ANSWER: He played pro football
June 13
SPONSOR: Rebecca Talley
PRIZE: Altared Plans (contemporary LDS romance), autographed by author
QUESTION: What is unique about my youngest son? (Hint: Watch the YouTube video Extra C posted on the right side of Rebecca’s blog)
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER: Rachel Stanely of California!
ANSWER: He has autism
June 14
SPONSOR: David J. West
PRIZE: Heroes of the Fallen (historical fiction), autographed hardcopy)
QUESTION: What is the name of my favorite author? (Hint: Scroll through David’s June blogs. He promises you’ll find the answer!)
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER: Tawnya Mayo of Utah
ANSWER: Robert E. Howard
June 15
SPONSOR: Jennifer Stewart Griffith, author of Choosing Mr. Right and Delicious Conversation
PRIZE: FREE edit and/or critique of first 50 pages of a novel
QUESTION: What is the Japanese word for the hairstyle worn by sumo wrestlers? (Hint: Check out Jennifer’s favorite sumo blog, Sumo Beautiful. Look for Hama Bijin’s April 13th post)
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES as long as the manuscript can be emailed to Jennifer and is in English
WINNER: Tracy Astle of California
ANSWER: Chonmage
June 16
SPONSOR: Rebecca Irvine
PRIZE: Family Home Evening Adventures (non-fiction book of FHE lessons), free e-book on CD
QUESTION: What is the title of the first book written by Rebecca Irvine? (Hint: Read “about me” on Rebecca’s blog)
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER: Tracie Travis of California
ANSWER: Adventures with the Word of God
June 17
SPONSOR: Marilyn Bunderson
PRIZE: The Mark (YA Fiction), autographed copy with a bookmark
QUESTION: In a deleted scene from my book, The Mark, Jon loses a bet to Shae. What does he have to do to pay up? (Hint: Found in post titled "Deleted Scenes From The Mark" dated April 15, 2010)
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER: Karen Haas of North Carolina
ANSWER: Go country line dancing
June 18
SPONSOR: Heather Justesen
PRIZE: Winner’s Choice: The Ball’s In Her Court (contemporary inspirational) or Rebound (contemporary romance), autographed by author
QUESTION: How much did the FBI agent expect John's bail to be set at? (Hint: Click on "My Books" tab, then "read more" about Rebound.)
WEBSITE/BLOG: HeatherJustesen.com
OPEN TO USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER: Colleen Conklin of Arizona
ANSWER: About half a million
June 19
SPONSOR: Nichole Giles
PRIZE: The Sharp Edge of a Knife (inspirational historical, based on a true story), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the correct title of the humorous anthology I coauthored? (Hint: Look in the right hand sidebar)
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER: Taffy Lovell of Utah
ANSWER: Mormon Mishaps and Mischief
June 20
SPONSOR: Karen Adair
PRIZE: Trendy blue/brown crocheted book tote with matching cell phone case (Check out Karen’s “Diva Strings” website for examples: http://www.divastrings.com/index.html)
QUESTION: Where did Karen learn how to type and what speed did she finally top out at? (Hint: Check Karen’s “Bio” tab)
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER: Beck Drew of Arizona
ANSWER: I took a class in middle school and my last clocked speed was 120 words per minute
June 21
Sponsor: Lynn Parsons, co-author of the soon-to-be-released non-fiction book: (dis)Abilities and the Gospel
PRIZE: A pair of hand-knit socks
QUESTION: What are three of the topics I list on the parent page of my website? (Look on “Parent Page” tab)
WEBSITE/BLOG: www.lynndparsons.com
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER: Karen Tillotson of Pennsylvania
ANSWER: ADD/ADHD, Autism, Learning Disabilities, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Educational Activities for Home, Transition to Adulthood
June 22
SPONSOR: Kinzie Monroe
PRIZE: Reservations for Two (inspirational romance), autographed CD
QUESTION: What was Maggie doing when she and Carson first met in Reservations for Two? (Hint: click on the “Excerpts” link on Kinzie’s blog)
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER: Paige Child of Utah
ANSWER:roller blading
June 23
SPONSOR: Michele Ashman Bell
PRIZE: Summer in Paris (YA romance), autographed copy and Eiffel Tower bookmark
QUESTION: What is Michele "dreaming of"? (Hint: found on sidebar above picture of Eiffel Tower
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER: Sharline Mata of Costa Rica
ANSWER: Paris
June 24
SPONSOR: Jaimey Grant and JaysDesign Jewelry
PRIZE: A signed copy of Redemption, a Regency romance by Jaimey Grant, and a 19" hand-knotted strand of freshwater pearls ($45 value) handmade by Jay T Lyons of JaysDesign Jewelry.
QUESTION: Artist Jay T Lyons did a sketch for the cover of an upcoming Regency romance of mine. What is the sketch of and what is the title of the upcoming book?
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER: Cydni Tongish of Utah
ANSWER: A prison hulk for the cover of Retribution
June 25
SPONSOR: Christine Thackeray
PRIZE: Lipstick Wars (LDS Women’s Fiction), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the name of the angel who needs a vacation in my recent pamphlet, “Could You Be an Angel Today? (Hint: Play the book trailer for “Could You Be an Angel Today” on Christine’s home page)
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER: Carissa Cantrell of Utah
ANSWER: Gladys
June 26
SPONSOR: Bonnie Harris
PRIZE: Mary Kay Satin Lips Set, Travel Size Satin Hands Set and a set of mineral eye colors
QUESTION: What is the name of my African Gray and African Desert Tortosie? (Hint: Read “About Me” in the left hand sidebar)
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER: Cheryl Snyder of Pennsylvania
ANSWER: Kumba and Digger
June 27
SPONSOR: Teralee Deighton
PRIZE: Cup of Comfort for New Mothers (personal essay anthology)
QUESTION: Name the editor of Cup of Comfort for New Mothers
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER: Susan Arroyo of Utah
ANSWER: Colleen Sell
June 28
SPONSOR: C. LaRene Hall
PRIZE: Martha’s Freedom Train (middle grade historical), autographed by both author and illustrator
QUESTION: How many short stories has C. LaRene Hall published in the humorous anthology, Mormon Mishaps and Mischief? (Hint: Look in the left hand sidebar)
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER: Chris Okelberry of Utah
ANSWER: 14
June 29
SPONSOR: Sarah M. Eden
PRIZE: Courting Miss Lancaster (Regency romance), autographed copy
QUESTION: In his "I Need Friends Friday" interview, what reason does Edward Cullen give for not sleeping at night?
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER: Teryn Ercanbrack of Utah
ANSWER:"Because I'm a monster."
June 30
SPONSOR: Marcia Mickelson
PRIZE: Reasonable Doubt (LDS Suspense), autographed copy
QUESTION: In what country was author, Marcia Mickelson born? (Hint: Click on “About Marcia” tab)
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER: Patricia Cochran of Texas
ANSWER: Guatemala
July 1
SPONSOR: Kimberly Job
PRIZE: I'll Know You by Heart (romantic suspense), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the title of my current work in progress? (Hint: Look under “My Books” tab)
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER: Archana Subramaniam from Georgia
ANSWER: "A Change of Heart"
July 2
SPONSOR: Joan Sowards
PRIZE: Haunts Haven (an LDS ghost story), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the name of the town in which the story of Haunts Haven takes place? (Hint: Found on sidebar synopsis of story)
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER: Jobie Marshall of Oregon
ANSWER: Cassidy Springs
July 3
SPONSOR: Margaret L. Turley RN
PRIZE: Save the Child (Reality Fiction), autographed copy
QUESTION: Where can you listen to an audio interview with Margaret L. Turley about her book, Save the Child? (Hint: Click on link at the bottom of Margaret’s bio on her “About the Author” page)
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER: Heather Parry from Utah
ANSWER: AuthorsRoost.com
July 4
SPONSOR: Joyce DiPastena
PRIZE: Illuminations of the Heart (sweet medieval romance, a 2009 Whitney Award Finalist), autographed by author
QUESTION: Who were gifts usually given to on Epiphany during the Middle Ages? (Hint: Click on “Stolen Christmas” tab and read excerpt from “An Epiphany Gift for Robin”)
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES:
WINNER: Lexie Hogan of Utah
ANSWER: small children
July 5
SPONSOR: Cindy R. Williams
PRIZE: Chase McKay Didn’t Get Up Today (Arizona Glyph Award Finalist and Southwest Book Awards Finalist), a snuggle, giggle children’s picture book
QUESTION: There is a picture of Cindy holding two dragons on her website, www.cindyrwilliams.com. The names of the dragons are in the caption below the picture. What are their names? (Hint: Look on the “Book” page)
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER:
ANSWER:
July 6
SPONSOR: Gail Pallotta
PRIZE: Love Turns the Tide (inspirational romance with suspense), free e-book on CD
QUESTION: Who comes to Cammie O'Shea's rescue after she has a break-in at her unit in Destin, Florida? (Hint: Scroll down to: MORE ABOUT THE BOOK)
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER:
ANSWER:
July 7
SPONSOR: Danyelle Fergusonm co-author of the soon-to-be-released non-fiction book: (dis)Abilities and the Gospel
PRIZE: A 30-page manuscript edit
QUESTION: Name three of the "special needs" addressed in (dis)Abilities and the Gospel. (Hint: Click on the "Books" tab for (dis)Abilities and the Gospel)
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER:
ANSWER:
July 8
SPONSOR: Karen E. Hoover
PRIZE: Sapphire Flute (YA Fantasy), autographed copy
QUESTION: How many bloggers have posted their reviews of The Sapphire Flute? (Hint: Check out the list under “Sapphire Flute Blog Tour” in the right hand side bar and count ‘em up)
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER:
ANSWER:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Book Review: "The Golden Spiral" by Lisa Mangum

After reading Lisa Mangum's first book in this trilogy, The Hourglass Door, last year I have been anxious to continue the series (Seriously, Lisa, could you try writing a little faster? Okay, fine, you have a family, and incredibly demanding job, and awesome books take time, so you're forgiven. I guess.). You can read my review of the first book here. Just as a note on the background, this series revolves around the idea that Leonardo Da Vinci created a time machine, and in The Golden Spiral, they have to recreate it. You see, Zo, one of four main characters who were sent into the time machine as punishment hundreds of years ago, has begun playing with time, tweaking and changing it to suit his own twisted desires. He and Dante, the love of Abby's life, have both become Masters of Time.

When he begins to target Abby's life, she scrambles to find answers and try to stop him from causing more problems. Unfortunately, time--the thing a Master of Time ought to have plenty of --is running out for her to find solutions, and her life, her family, and then the whole world hang in the balance. (Because what's the point of having a bad guy if he isn't thoroughly determined to destroy the world and remake it to his own plans?)

I'm not entirely sure how to classify this book, it's sci-fi without being futuristic, fantastic is a way that isn't really fantasy, but it's wholly awesome! Lisa has weaved believable characters with complex lives and motivations. Her descriptions sing--seriously, I wouldn't call the book literary, but her descriptions are completely gorgeous, rich and vivid and fit the feel of the book beautifully. Here's a random example from page 148:

The shifting, swirling fire shot upward like a fountain. At the apex of the column, the light began to bend, curving into a mushroom cloud as white and empty as the blackness it penetrated. Wherever the two touched, the edge glittered with golden stars.

I'm going to make you read the book to find out what that is all about! The action continues to grow and strengthen with each chapter as new problems arise that Abby has to deal with and try to figure out how to fix. Nothing seemed tired or like it had been done before.

Oh, and can I say how much I love Dante? As the love interest he's just about perfect--Every bit as endearing as Edward Cullen, only not half so dangerous (on the other hand, Abby hasn't exactly been twiddling her thumbs and going out for ice cream since Dante arrived in her life, so maybe dangerous is a matter of perspective!) Love, love, love their relationship and the way it's developing! Love even more that I could hand this book to my fourteen-year-old niece without the slightest qualm. Seriously, five stars on this book.

And just so you know, Shadow Mountain did send me a review copy, but didn't require me to blog about the book, and I certainly didn't have to write a glowing review. I really tried to find something Lisa screwed up on to make the review more balanced, but couldn't find anything. The book is really just that good.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Book Review: "Imprints" by Rachel Ann Nunes

Sometimes what you can't see means everything.

A young woman is missing. In desperation, her parents turn to Autumn Rain for help. Autumn reads imprints - emotions mysteriously left behind on certain treasured objects. But will this ability enrich her life or destroy it?

Autumn isn't sure - her life has become far from normal - but for people whose loved ones are missing, her talent might mean the difference between life and death. Even the infuriating Detective Martin has asked for Autumn's help, though at times she feels more like a suspect than a consultant. Too often Autumn find herself retreating to her antiques shop and the company of her best friend, Jake Ryan, to avoid notice.

But soon more than one woman is missing, and Autumn teams up with private eye Ethan McConnell to investigate their disappearance. Ethan's attraction to her is a pleasant change from Jake's frustrating offers of friendship, but once Autumn takes that first step, she sets in motion a series of events that risk not only her own life but the lives of those she cares most about.

I was totally excited when I heard Rachel had a paranormal romance coming out this year because I've been reading some paranormal books lately and enjoying the stories, but I hate the fact that everything else out there seems to be filled with scenes I have to skip. I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading because I hadn't read the back cover blurb, I just knew that the main character had some psychic abilities.

I liked the characters Autumn and Jake right away. They're well rounded and different from the norm. Autumn owns an antique store and Jake's herb store is right next door--in fact, they connect. They're been friends for years, and their chemistry was great--just enough to have you rooting for them from the beginning, but I still wondered if they would work out their relationship issues all the way through the story. Autumn never wears shoes (ever) and she feels vibrations on things, sees scenes from that artifact's past--but only strong ones. If the person was happy, sad, or upset when they were touching something, she can sense that, even see that few seconds in time when the owner held and felt that emotion. She also has a few precious belongings from her deceased parents that she cherishes and clings to when she'd feeling bad or upset--they calm and remind her of good times.

I liked that she felt conflicted about helping people with her talents because there was a cost to herself, but she wanted to help, to use her talent for good.

I thought the build up of the mystery was well done--I was wondering all the way through whose motives were pure, and whose weren't--and I changed my mind more than once along the way! I look forward to the second book in this series featuring Autumn!

Oh, and did I mention I stayed up until 5 a.m. to finish the story because I couldn't put it down? Yeah, it was that good!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Upcoming signings, cakiness, and reviews

Lots of fun and exciting things are going on in my next of the woods right now. My book, "Rebound" is now in Costcos across Utah (unless you're north of Sandy, though those are supposed to be getting copies of my books too), and at an awesome price of $10.49--which is $6.50 off the cover price! I know, killer deal! They tend to rotate their books quickly, though, so if you don't hurry out and get one in the next week or two, they may change stock and no longer be available there. I'll be signing from 11-4 in the Sandy Costco on Thursday, and 11-4 in the Orem Costco on Friday. If you live in the area, stop in and say hi.

If you don't happen to be a Costco member, you can still find "Rebound" in Deseret Book--another shock for me when my friend Graham mentioned they had copies there already--a good month earlier than I expected. They should be appearing in independent bookstores really soon, if they aren't there already, so keep an eye out in an LDS bookstore near you.

I'm gearing up for the launch of my book--and getting ready to host a big party next Tuesday (where has the month gone?) in Fillmore at the city library from 6-8 p.m. We'll have treats and prizes and fun, so if you live nearby, stop in and say hello! If you're a bit further north, I'm having a launch party in Sandy at the Barnes & Noble on June 3 with my friends Tristi Pinkston and Nichole Giles. Again, there will be prizes and fun--and chocolate, though they won't let me bring cake or cookies, so you'll have to settle for something of the pre-wrapped variety.

A couple of weeks ago, at the prodding of some friends, I finally started a cake blog--Heather's Totally Custom Cakes, which will host not only cute pics of the ones I make, but directions on how you, too can make these tasty treats including pictures, links to great cake sites, and yummy recipes. The cake I made for Mother's Day was really too cute to cut (according to Mom), but hey, it's cake, so we ate it anyway. Check out the blog here. I'll post pics and directions on that cake as soon as I finish this post. =)

On the writing front, I wrote over 10,000 words last week--pretty much all in two days--which was pretty cool, and I'm excited about the direction my my story is going. I'm going to have to squeeze in time to work on it this week because next week I'm going to have to set it aside to do edits for the one I'm getting ready to submit.

Wednesday I'll be posting a review of Rachel Ann Nunes' new paranormal romance, Imprints, and Friday I'm posting a review of Lisa Mangum's new YA book The Golden Spiral, which is the second in her trilogy--which I haven't finished yet, but am enjoying immensely.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Author interview and great giveaway with C.L. Beck and D.N. Giles

I've previously mentioned the fun collection of anecdotes my friends D.N. Giles and C.L. Beck put together called Mormon Mishaps and Mischief. I've known these ladies for several years through a writer's group we're all part of and we've grown to be friends. they even let me submit a story for their book (It's called Jardin de Ninos).

It's a fun collection of funny stories about the kinds of things we encounter every day--though we might not always consider them funny when they happen to us. Nichole and Cindy were happy to come to my blog to discuss their book today.

Q. What prompted you ladies to write Mormon Mishaps and Mischief?

Cindy: The moon was full, Aquarius was on the cusp, and the chickens were molting, all of which combined to make this the right time for a book of humorous anecdotes. Well, that and the pantry was empty, so a book that might actually sell a few copies seemed like a good idea.

Nichole: What Cindy says might be true. Or it could be that one sunny spring morning, one of us woke up and said, “I think I’ll write a book of humorous anecdotes today.” Then there was email involved. Lots of email. And brainstorming and collecting and chocolate eating. And maybe some Twinkies. Thus, the proposal for a book of humorous anecdotes was born.

Q. I know you spent months collecting and editing the stories. What’s your favorite story in the book?

Cindy: There’s this fantastic story about a crotchety old man who gets visited by three ghosts at Christmas, and by the end of the story, he vows to keep Christmas … oh wait, that’s Charles Dickens’ stuff. All right then, my next favorite is “A Good Impression” contributed by Cathy Witbeck. It’s about a little girl who gets all decked out for Easter and puts something interesting into her purse to take to church. (But I’m not going to tell you what, because it would ruin the fun.) On the other hand, I do have to tell you that because they’re all so funny, my favorite story changes about every five minutes.

Nichole: I’m with Cindy. Choosing just one favorite would be like playing favorites between my children. Which I’ve never done. Ever. I’m a good mother. I promise. Oh, but speaking of motherhood, there are several stories about children doing funny things, like licking worms and bringing a head of lettuce to pray. Love all of those.

Q. Those were funny stories. Kids are such an inspiration for books like this, aren't they? Where do the stories come from? Did they really happen?

Cindy: From the demented … er … I mean, the creative genius of our minds. And from the funny events that we, and our contributors, saw happening at church, home and everywhere in between. Rest assured, however, that all contributors to the book signed a statement that the stories were true, and so even though real names were seldom used in the anecdotes, the situations actually happened. Which means if you think you recognize your bishop in there, well … we’ll never tell.

Nichole: None of them came from my current ward. They all came from other people’s wards, which I visited while wearing my invisibility cloak. So if you happen to be in my ward and recognize a story or five or twenty, well I didn’t see those things or write them down in my handy-dandy notebook. Er. Um. I mean…I plea the fifth?

Q. Okay, now for the really good questions. What are your favorite things to eat?

Cindy: I’m not particularly fond of witchetty grubs from Australia or puffer fish from Japan— not to mention Brussels sprouts from my mother’s kitchen—but otherwise I like most food. Especially Twinkies. Yes, I think Twinkies count as a very nutritious snack. Which reminds me, I’m almost out of ‘em.

Nichole: Chocolate, licorice, carbonated beverages, and cheese. And snow crab. But not all mixed together. Fondue is great and all, but only if you have the right recipe. Sometimes I like Twinkies, but since Cindy loves them so much I try to give her my share to be nice.

Q. Okay, I'm in complete agreement on the chocolate, though I can take or leave a Twinkie, myself. Now, if you could choose to be any animal, what would it be?

Cindy: I’d choose to be pixie dust. Oh wait, dust isn’t an animal. Okay, I’d choose to be the pixie. In fact, I think I probably was one in a previous life. At least I had a haircut that made my look like a pixie when I was a kid.

Nichole: If Cindy gets to be a pixie, I want to be a mermaid. Then I could swim around from island to island and eat all the snow crab and mango I wanted. Plus, I think mermaid fins are beauteous.

Q. And to think I was thinking of mundane animals like lions and giraffes. I guess I should have known better. Pixies and mermaids sound pretty awesome (and hey, if you're going to answer a question like that, it might as well have a fantastic answer!) Thank you for letting me interview you. Do you have anything you’d like to add?

Cindy and Nichole: It was our pleasure! Readers can visit us at our website, MormonMishaps.com, or laugh with us at our humor blog at ldshumor.blogspot.com. In addition, there are our personal blogs—follow Nichole at nicholegiles.blogspot.com or Cindy at bythebecks.blogspot.com. We really like having followers. It makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Plus, we like to post funny stuff and make you laugh.

Now, for a great announcement of a giveaway, which I'm totally bummed I can't enter because it's a fabulous prize: LIGHTING THE WORLD WITH LAUGHTER!

Mormon Mishaps and Mischief: A collection of true, humorous anecdotes about Latter-day Saint goofs and gaffs.


In celebration of Mothers, and all they do for us, Mormon Mishaps authors C.L. Beck and D.N. Giles have put together a giveaway in conjunction with a week-long blog tour. If you aren’t interested in winning a fantastic advertising package valued at $150, you can stop reading now.

Wait, you’re still reading. That must mean you want to hear about our prize package, correct? Well. Okay then.

Let me first tell you a little about our sponsors, yourLDSneighborhood.com and YourLDSradio.com.

yourLDSneighborhood.com is an online shopping mall which features innovative products and LDS-based services, and great ideas for your home, all without the worries of questionable content. Shopping categories include Clothing, Music, Preparedness, Family Entertainment, Scrapbooking, Books and Art, Health and Food, Travel and Recreation, Weddings and more! Visit yourLDSneighborhood.com today.

Your LDS Neighborhood Newsletter is a free online newsletter that comes three times a week right to your email inbox. It provides topical stories and insights that set the tone for your day. The newsletter brings you articles, products, services, resources, and interviews from around the world, all with an LDS focus. Sign up today by clicking here!

YourLDSradio.com commits to bringing you the best in LDS Music – all day, every day and it is totally FREE to listen! Make them your web-surfing companion. It's free and easy to use and makes for the perfect online companion. Listen for yourself at yourLDSradio.com!

Okay, and now for the prize!

Your LDS Neighborhood has offered a YEAR LONG advertising package which includes space on the Neighborhood website as well as tiles in the newsletter. Were you to purchase advertising with them, this package would cost $150.

Here’s the best part. You don’t have to be LDS to advertise with the Neighborhood. As long as the business, blog, or product you’re promoting is family friendly, this advertising package will benefit you. Neighborhood ads are viewed daily around the globe, and by thousands of people.

So how do you win?

Entries will be accepted between May 4th and midnight, MST, May 16th. On May 17th, (or as close there about as possible) the winners will be chosen and announced on the LDS Humor blog. Although it's not required for entry, please take a minute to read the Mormon Mishaps and Mischief review/interview I've posted. Then, you must do the following four things to enter (but don't worry, they aren't hard):

1. Follow my blog, here.
2. Leave a comment here, at this blog.
3. Follow the LDS Humor blog.
4. Follow the Your LDS Neighborhood Newsletter blog.

Extra entries:

1. Blog about this contest, then come back and leave either a url address or a link in a comment.
2. Follow me on Twitter. (Bloggers, you can hyperlink this to your twitter page if you’d like, or include your twitter username.) And then tweet the contest. (Make sure to mention this in a comment.)
3. Facebook the contest. If your Facebook page is private, and I’m not your friend, I can’t see that you’ve done this, so you’ll need to friend me.(Same goes here.) Be sure to leave the link to where you've FB'd the contest in a comment.

All of these options can be mentioned in a single comment, and you can enter at all the participating blogs, as long as you follow and leave a comment for those bloggers so they know you love them.

You may enter this contest here, as well as on any of the tour posts at the following blogs:

May 4th Rachelle Christensen
May 4th Shirley Bahlmann
May 5th Karlene Browning
May 5th Heather Gardener, Fire and Ice Book Reviews
May 6th Kellie Buckner
May 6th Rachel Rager
May 7th Shauna Chambers
May 7th Heather Justesen
May 10th LDS Humor Blog
May 10th Keith Fisher
May 11th Tristi Pinkston
May 11th Rebecca Talley
May 12th Taffy Lovell
May 12th Kimberly Job
May 13th Connie Hall
May 13th Ali Cross

To purchase Mormon Mishaps and Mischief click here.