Sheila's Books Read

Sheila's bookshelf: read

The Best Intentions
Scotland's Melody
The Secret Society of Salzburg
Secret of the Sonnets
20-40-60-Minute Dinners: Meals to Match the Time You Have
Through the Wilderness: My Journey of Redemption and Healing in the American Wild
Secret Santa Claus Club: A Tool to Help Parents Unwrap the Secret of Santa
Mr. Pudgins
Revenge Never Rests
The Best Mistake
Meriden Park
More Inspirational Stories for Young Women
The Great Tree: A Christmas Fable
To Capture His Heart
The Call of the Sea
Livvy and the Enchanted Woodland
Come, Gentle Night
The Bad Boy Theory
Guide To Smart Wedding Planning: What You want to know and everything you haven't thought of yet.

Sheila's favorite books »

2024 Goodreads Reading Challenge

2024 Reading Challenge

2024 Reading Challenge
Sheila has read 4 books toward her goal of 100 books.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

An Interview With Me by Author Joyce DiPastena

I have the fun privilege of being the guest on author Joyce DiPastena's blog. At JDP News I am the featured guest reviewer. I am usually the one doing the interviewing, so it was strange to have the roles reversed. I would really like it if you would head on over to JDP News and read the interview.

Joyce DiPastena is the Author of LOYALTY'S WEB and ILLUMINATIONS OF THE HEART. I love both
of these books!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review of...My Double Life by Janette Rallison

Her whole life, Alexia Garcia has been told that she looks just like pop star Kari Kingsley, and one day when Alexia's photo filters through the Internet, she is offered a job to be Kari's double. This would seem like the opportunity of a lifetime, but Alexia's mother has always warned her against celebrities.

Rebelliously, Alexia flies off to L.A. and gets immersed in a celebrity life. Not only does she have to get used to getting anything she wants, she romances the hottest lead singer on the charts, and finds out that her own father is a singing legend. Through it all, Alexia must stay true to herself, which is hard to do when you are pretending to be somebody else.

Once again Janette Rallison has delivered a book that all ages will love. My Double Life is a story of a teenage girl who has grown up with very little. Alexia has always been on the "outside" wanting just a little piece of feeling like she fits in. When she is offered the job to be the double for a famous singer, she jumps on it. The underlying story has to do with Alexia not knowing who her father is. Some of the events in the story you could see coming, such as to the identity of her father. The fun part is how this information comes out.

Alexia, the main character, is so easy to like. She is not whiny or self-centered. She is always trying to do the right thing. I recall finishing this book and thinking how I would not hesitate at all to have my daughter read this book. This cannot be said of all books written for teens. One of the main themes learned in My Double Life is that you should be grateful for the life you have. Other people's lives may seem wonderful and perfect, but behind closed doors everyone has problems.

So, the main things I liked about this book was the humor, life lessons that are there, but not blatantly shoved down your throat, and likable characters. Readers that have read other books
by Janette Rallison will love this one. Those of you that have never read any of her books this is a good one to start with. My favorite book written by Janette is still Just One Wish so check out that one next. Go down below to watch the book trailer for My Double Life.

If you would like to learn more about Janette Rallison, go visit her at her website here.

BIO:Janette lives in Chandler, Arizona with her husband, five children and enough cats to classify her as "an eccentric cat lady." She did not do this on purpose. (The cats, that is; she had the children on purpose.) Every single one of the felines showed up on its own and refuses to leave. Not even the family's fearless little Westie dog can drive them off.
Since Janette has five children and deadlines to write books, she doesn't have much time left over for hobbies. But since this is the internet and you can’t actually check up to see if anything on this site is true, let's just say she enjoys dancing, scuba diving, horse back riding and long talks with Orlando Bloom.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"What Do You Think About...Wednesday" Why I Write... With Marieke Nijkamp

Today's "What Do You Think About...Wednesday" question is being answered by my new friend, a fellow blogger and writer, Marieke Nijkamp. She is answering the question "What do you think about writing?" She posted on her blog recently the perfect answer to this question. I just had to share it with all of my readers whether you write or not. It is one of the most beautiful things I have read recently.

“I will tell my kids stories, for that’s where we begin

He will play with Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn

We’ll pretend we are flying in a hot air balloon

In our house full of laughter, we will sing to the moon.”

(Nocturnes (Pre-echo))

These lines come from a song Jenny sings in Love Story the musical. And while I loved the whole show when I saw it a few weeks ago, this song resonated with me, especially that first sentence. Not just because it reminded me of a fragment from LOVING ADELINE -

“And Jaime runs and hides in a corner between shelves and cases and towers of books. Words to form a castle none may enter without permission. Between the books, behind the books, she reads to find the world she lost.”

But because if I believe one thing it is this. Stories is where we begin. Growing up, books were my friends, my teachers, and a place to hide. To say I read a lot would be an understatement. To say I devoured books would be closer to the truth. I didn’t just read several books a week, I read several books a day. And as a result perhaps I didn’t always pay close attention to the real world, but through those stories I discovered whole other worlds. I wanted to be part of a secret club. I wanted my own Kirrin Island. I wanted to fly, be a knight, go to boarding school, travel through the middle ages, solve mysteries, go to outer space.

But it was more than that. Those books taught me about friendship, when I felt alone. The main characters took me on adventures, when I was in hospital. Through stories I discovered life, when life didn’t always make sense. Somewhere between those adventures and my imagination I could be me.

Of course, when I discovered my own little bit of Neverland I never quite left. Only now the stories aren’t only the ones I read, they are the ones I write too. And every word I write is still that little bit of me. Because at the heart of my imagination there is still that girl waiting to get lost. The girl who loves the real world, but one day would really like to fly.

So that is why I write. Because stories is where we begin.

Hello! *points at pic* That’s me. At least, I should think so. You never really know with TARDISes and time travel. Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey and all that.

So you have probably come here to find interesting information about me. I will give you random factoids instead, shall I? Interesting sounds a little boring.

Factoid 1) I have an unpronouncable name

Factoid 2) I don’t eat chocolate – to satisfy my need for sugar I thrive on iced lattes instead. Or anything iced, for that matter. I heart ice cream.

Factoid 3) I have a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies. Useful? Hell yes.

Factoid 4) I also thrive on sarcasm. Bazinga! ^.^

Factoid 5) I can quote Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, Monty Python and a whole bucketload of geekdom for all occasions. Usually the more inappropriate ones.

Factoid 6) My friends refer to me as either Sherlock or Sheldon. This is probably accurate.

Factoid 7) I prefer seven over six. Just sayin’

I tend to ramble, tease, write, and if genre hopping were an Olympic sport I’d compete. I’m currently in love with two WIPs that couldn’t be more different and… I… realize that there’s a page called ‘writing’ somewhere on here too. Let’s stick to the labels. Anyway, I like to talk about writing, books, YA, time travel, and theatre, so if any of those things appeals to you – feel free to stick around.

Because – I might like to talk about all of those things, I LOVE to hear what others have to say.


Up to a year ago, I would have classified myself as a YA fantasy writer. Then Jaime came knocking at my door and at first the thought of writing literary YA terrified me. Now that I’m more comfortable with Jaime living inside my head, I’ve fallen head over heels in love with her story.


Loving Adeline ~ YA ~ Literary

Mystery of mysteries,
Faintly-smiling Adeline.
Scarce of earth nor all divine,
Nor unhappy, nor at rest;
But beyond expression fair,
With thy floating flaxen hair,
Thy roselips and full blue eyes
Take the heart from out my breast;
Wherefore those dim looks of thine,
Shadowy, dreaming Adeline?
(Source: Alfred Lord Tennyson, Poems, Chiefly Lyrical, 1830, 69.)

When seventeen-year-old autistic Jaime walks the halls of a high school for the first time in her life, she thinks home may not be so bad after all. A chaos, at most. Not nearly as overwhelming as the cacophony of colors and impressions swirling around her.

That first time, she manages 34.17 seconds before she bolts.

Determined to finish her senior year at Clover, Jamie finds rhythm in the rituals of her classes and new colors in the world around her. There are 86 red steps between her locker and Calculus. 192 azure ones between English Lit and the outside world.

But Jaime’s motivation is not just normalcy. On the run from her mother’s depression and the grief she doesn’t know how to deal with, Clover High is a hideout for Jaime, a place where the ghosts of her father’s death cannot reach her.

Problem is, ghosts have a tendency to sneak through walls, especially those of high school. And when the rules that hold her world together begin to unravel, Jaime has nowhere left to run.

LOVING ADELINE is a literary YA with a dash of magic realism. A story of grief, love, and freaks, LOVING ADELINE is complete at 51,000 words.


I loved writing the story and look forward to returning to the world of literary fiction. At the same time though, fantasy is still close to my heart. I’m currently working on two stories. A complete rewrite from my first novel PALADIN – a dark fantasy about abuse, PTSD, and discovering who you are when all that defined you is taken away – and YSOLDE, a YA retelling of the legend of Tristan and Ysolde. It’s fluffy, adorable, and I’m loving it.

I’m venturing into the realms of MG with my Sekrit Project, but that’s, well, secret

If you would like to visit Marieke please go to her website. She has many amazing posts
for you to read. Thanks Marieke for being my guest today on the blog.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday's Teaching Moment: Looking for Love, Wealth, and Happiness in 2011? 5 Quick and Easy Feng Shui Tips You Can Do Right Now!

Monday, February 21, 2011

My Blog's Sunshine Award

I was very happy and surprised when I found out that my friend Elizabeth Mueller awarded my blog the Sunshine Award. She has a wonderful blog that you should visit. It is always nice to have your blog acknowledged by someone. Thanks so much Elizabeth!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Upside of Down By Rebecca Tally: My Review

“Hmmm,” the doctor muttered.

Natalie wrinkled her forehead, almost afraid to ask, and said, “What does that mean?”

“You do know you’re pregnant, right?”

Her breath caught in her throat. “Excuse me?”

“You’re pregnant.”

Her heartbeat thundered in her ears. “I’m what?”

Natalie Drake certainly has her hands full raising a large family, dealing with her difficult mother, and maintaining a relationship with her rebellious teenager. Just when things seem to be going smoothly, she finds out another unexpected surprise—she’s going to have a baby. Faced with so many challenges, Natalie must learn to trust in a plan that isn’t what she imagined and discover that every situation has an upside.

I read a lot during the course of the year. I also read a wide variety of genres of books. Every once in awhile you come across a book that truly touches your heart. This kind of book stays with you for a long time. The Upside of Down by Rebecca Talley is just that kind of book. I read this novel several months ago and I still remember how I felt as I read the story of Natalie and her family.

In this novel you get to know the Drake family who have six children and lead a very busy life. Natalie, a stay at home Mom and with a new calling as a Relief Society President, she thinks she can't take anymore. Mixed in with the crazy everyday things that happen in a family, Rebecca has included a lot humor. I laughed so many times while reading this book. Some of the things that I found humorous were when she came home and walked into her bedroom and it resembled the aftermath of a tornado. Natalie asks herself, Did she live with humans or pigs? I have felt that way myself. Another example, while sitting in Sacrament Meeting waiting to be sustained as the new Relief Society President, her daughter Laura reaches over and jiggles the back of her arm and says, "You do have Relief Society Arms."There are so many other things that I could tell you that happen to Natalie, but I don't want to spoil the fun for you when you read the book. I will say my favorite thing to happen involves Nair. I could not stop laughing!

Along with the humor there are incidences that make you angry and sad. It starts with chapter one when Natalie is with her two youngest at a fast food restaurant. A young family in front of her has a daughter that she notices has Down Syndrome. The father, in front of all the patrons, verbally abuses his daughter calling her a retard. That just made my skin crawl. I also had little patience with Natalie's mother who continually criticizes her and her choices. Here is one example, "You have more than your fair share to handle here. I'm certainly not going to add to it. One of these days, I hope you wise up."

To wrap it up, I feel personally that this is the best book that Rebecca Talley has written. She writes Natalie so real and so beautiful. She has one of the hardest challenges of her life when she finds out she is pregnant again. Then she finds out how truly special this child is that is coming into her life. She has to lean on her Heavenly Father, with much prayer, to help her through. Her family also grows closer together as they get ready to welcome this new little angel into their lives. The cover of the book shows so beautifully the heart of this story. I smile every time I look at it. I highly recommend this book to all of the readers that come to this blog; LDS or other denominations.

I interviewed Rebecca Talley, and she so brilliantly answered the questions posed to her.

1. What prompted you to write this book?
I thought it would be fun to write an LDS version of "Cheaper by the Dozen." Since my 10 kids are constantly doing things like clogging the toilet, calling 911, or giving each other haircuts, I thought I could write what I know. :) Of course, the book is fictionalized but much of it is based on actual experiences in my family.

2. Was this book easier or harder to write than your others?
This book was a bit harder than my other books because it has so much of my heart in it. I recalled some painful real-life experiences to help give the story realism and it was difficult at times to relive them. In fact, I had to stop a few times and step away from it because my memories were too intense.

3. Did you have any input on the cover of your book? It is so beautiful!
I love the cover--makes me want to have a snuggly newborn every time I look at it. I can't take any credit for the cover. The designers at Cedar Fort are amazing and create incredible covers. I'm very pleased with this cover and hope it piques the interest of potential readers.

4. What book are you working on now?
I'm currently working on a YA paranormal about a young girl who derives her strength and power from her virtue and must use that power to fight demons. I just published an ebookSmashwords. I'm also working on a few more ebooks and outlining a possible series.

5. What is the best advice to give aspiring writers?
The best advice for aspiring authors is to never give up. Also, read, read, read. Write, write, write. Attend conferences, network with other writers, join a critique group, hone your craft. Persistence pays off--I know because I am very persistent.

Thank you so much!! If you would like to learn more about Rebecca and her books go here.

I received a review copy from Cedar Fort. In no way did this influence the review given.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Review for "Bumpy Landings" Blog Tour by Donald Carey

I have always wanted to journey to the Hawaiian islands. I would love to explore the beauty and mysteries that are there for the taking. Some day I will physically go there. For now, I can visit Hawaii by simply reading Bumpy Landings by Donald Carey.

When Jordan MacDonald goes behind his mother's back to get his pilot's license, he soon finds out that a life full of dishonesty attracts more turbulence than he's ever faced in the air. Set against the majestic backdrop of the Hawaiian islands, this heartwarming story of romance and self-discovery will take you to new heights with each turn of the page.

Bumpy Landings is a romance that is told from the male point of view. You do not see this very often. I really liked this aspect of the book. We meet the main character Jordan as he is struggling with many issues in his life. He has an overbearing mother who controls almost every part of his life, a "friend" who has bullied him for the past ten years and a girl he is falling in love with who is not returning his feelings.

Jordan really wants to become a pilot but his mother says "NO" while he is living under her roof. She tells him who he should date and what job he should work. I really was becoming quite fed up with his mother Beth. Well done Don for writing such an annoying character. Any character that can bring out that kind of emotion in a reader spells success for you.

Along the way Jordan moves out, secretly takes flying lessons and becomes involved with two different young women. Without giving too much away let me say this, Jordan during the course of the book, goes from a beaten down 21 year old "boy" to a 21 year old man who stands up for himself. I really wanted to cheer for Jordan as I lived with him through the changes that he made. He does have many "Bumpy" happenings along the way to get to that point, but who doesn't in real life?

This is Don's first published book. There was much in the book that he drew from in his own life. He worked in a flower shop, he was good friends with the women who worked there, he has lived in Hawaii and he does know how to make pani popo. For those of you that don't know what pani popo is you need to read the book. I have never tried it, but it sounds so good. I found these recipes for those of you that would like to try and make these.

Pani Popo (Samoan Sweet Bread)...Advanced Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minsTotal Time: 1 1/4 hrServings: 10
About This Recipe
"Pani popo is a Samoan sweet roll that has coconut (and if you like, pineapple) on the bottom. It is very popular throughout the islands, as many islands make different variations of the dish. Keeping your hands moist, will help with kneading the dough."

5 3/4-6 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 ounce yeast
2 1/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup sugar, plus
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon shortening or 1 tablespoon margarine or 1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 (8 ounce) cans coconut

Mix 2 1/2 cups of flour and yeast.
In a saucepan heat and stir milk;.
sugar, shortening, margarine, or butter; and salt til warm and.
shortening almost melts.
Add to flour mixture.
Beat with an electric.
mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly.
Using a spoon, stir in as much remaining flour as you can to make a moderately.
stiff dough that is smooth and easy to pull - 6-8 minutes.
Shape in a ball and put in a.
greased bowl.
Turn it on both sides to grease the whole ball of dough.
Cover and let rise in the oven on the top rack and below it in a pan put some hot water. (The steam from the hot water will help it to rise) about 45 minutes.
Punch dough down.
Roll 18 balls and cover for 10 minutes while you make the following milk mixture.
Mix 2 cans of coconut milk with 1 cup of sugar. (Add more sugar if.
you like it sweeter.).
In 2 13x9x2 pans, pour in half of the milk.
mixture in each pan, put in 9 bread rolls on top (or you can make the.
rolls smaller to make more rolls).
Bake at 375 degrees in the oven.
for 20 minutes or until bread tests done.

Easy Pani Popo, Samoan Coconut Bread

Prep Time: 1 hrTotal Time: 1 1/2 hrsServes: 18, Yield: 18 Rolls

About This Recipe
"I found this recipe off of the Rhodes website. I just love this bread, but don't want to go through the tedious task of making it from scratch. This is a faster way to enjoy this island favorite."

18 frozen dinner rolls
1 (13 1/2 ounce) cans coconut milk
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Line the 18 rolls (3 across and 6 down), and set aside to let rise according to package directions.
In a saucepan, add the coconut milk, fill the can with water and add to saucepan, add the sugar. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water until all the clumps are gone, set aside. Bring the coconut sauce to a boil add the cornstarch mixture. Simmer for about 3 minutes (sauce will thicken a little), then remove sauce from heat.
Bake rolls. After 10 minutes take rolls out of oven and pour the coconut sauce over the rolls till 1/2 to 3/4 of each bun is covered in sauce. Place the rolls back in the oven and continue baking the rolls with the sauce until the tops of the rolls are golden brown.
Remove pan and allow a few minutes to cool. Serve warm.
Left over sauce can be used to smother rolls when served individually or just make a second pan of Pani Popo.

Overall I want to say I like Bumpy Landings. It was a good, fast read that has a great emotional storyline. If you would like to learn more about Don you can go to his site here.

Thank you Don for letting me be part of your blog tour and introducing me to pani popo. Now excuse me please, as I now am feeling the urge to go make some pani popo for myself.

When he was eleven years old, Don Carey moved with his family to the Hawaiian town of La’ie, where his father taught at BYU-Hawaii. Don is a graduate of Kahuku High School where, when he wasn’t in the band room, he could be found in the library with his nose in a book.

Don was awarded the David O. McKay scholarship to attend BYU-Hawaii, where he met his lovely wife, Kara. During college, he scratched his creative itch by participating in a number of musical organizations, including the Polynesian Cultural Center Brass Band, and added a music minor to his degree in Computer Science.

Once the responsibilities of work and family took over his life, Don found the creative itch was better handled through writing fiction, and has enjoyed working to develop this talent.

Don currently lives in a small town outside Fort Worth, Texas with his wife and two daughters. His day job involves writing computer programs, which is almost the same as writing fiction, but with a lot more semicolons.

I want to thank Cedar Fort for my review copy of Bumpy Landings. In no way did this influence my review of the book.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What Do You Think About...Wednesday With My 2nd Grade Class and Contest Winner Announced

Today's "What Do You Think About... Wednesday" question is answered by my 2nd grade class. I was struggling with what question I wanted answered this week. As I stood there in my classroom thinking about this, it came to me that I was going to ask my class the question. I in no way coerced them or told them what to write on their papers. But here is the question I wrote on the board for them to answer...

What do you like about school?

Here are their answers and I did not include any of their names.

-I like school because sometimes we do art or something really fun. Or P.E., computer lab, library, music; that is why.

-I like school because when holidays come we get to do fun activities and I like my teacher and centers. what I don't like about school is math, "speeling", vocabulary test, comprehension test, recess and tests.

-I like school because I learn stuff. But I do not like school it is too long and I do not like Rocket Math.

-I like school because it's FUN! and SO awesome!! But I have the bestest! most Greatest! Teacher of them all. Mrs. Staley!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-I like school because I have a nice teacher and we do lots of fun things that I like. And I make lots of friends.

-I like school because math and homework is the best and recess and Rocket Math.

-I like school because my teacher is SO SO SO awesome!!!!! And that's why I like school!

-I like it because I like to do my work. Because I have a nice teacher.

-I like school because I am happy and I learn a lot from here.

-Boring all the work. BORING!

-I like school because I have a nice teacher and fun math.

-I have a great teacher!!

-I like to go to school because I get to see the neighborhood. What I don't like is I go in a car.

-I like school because my classmates are nice and my teacher is nice too.

-I like school because it helps you learn. And some day you get to go to the spelling test. School is fun. You can know math and learn a lot. School is fun.

-I like school because school is fun. I don't like school because of math.

-What I think about I love at school is cause my teacher is the best and cause she teached me how to figure the numbers because we learn math a lot.

-I like school because I have a fun teacher!

-I like school because I have a nice principal and teacher.

-I like school because I have a nice teacher. I have a lot of friends. I love recess. My friends like to play with me. I love math. I love calendar. And everybody is so nice.

-I love school because of centers and art and some math like these 19+4= 23 and it's really fun.

-I like school because I have the best teacher and friends.

I have to say that it was very uplifting to read my student's answers. I really did not pay them or bribe them in any way to say that they like me. I know that this is the best payment that I could ever receive in my job. reading their answers is also very enlightening to me to see how they are feeling about school. I hope that you enjoyed reading their answers!

NOW....the winner of The Squeaky Gourmet Cookbook is....Valerie Ipson! Congratulations to you. E-mail me your address and I will get the cookbook mailed out to you. Thank you everyone who participated!

Friday, February 11, 2011

My Review of "The Peasant Queen" by Cheri Chesley

After running away from home, Krystal is transported to a faraway kingdom where an evil tyrant is bent on taking the crown - and Krystal's hand in marriage. But when she falls in love with the rightful heir to the throne, she must make an impossible choice: sacrifice her one chance at happiness or face the destruction of an entire kingdom.

The Peasant Queen is a book for lovers of romance, and strong women. The main character, Krystal, will not accept someone else deciding her own fate. She takes charge of her life and changes many other lives at the same time. I am getting tired of reading about women that are victims and need a man to rescue them. Yes, I really liked the main character if you couldn't tell. Author Cheri Chesley also does a fine job developing all of the characters, even the bad guy, King Gregory. The King is very evil, but he also is so intriguing that you have to keep reading to see what he will do next. He is somewhat of a slimy character that makes your skin crawl. It is very easy to like the white knight in shining armor Prince Jareth. The romance is good, though somewhat fast on the part of Krystal . You will understand how Jareth fell in love with Krystal. I think Cheri writes the kissing scenes perfectly; the good and bad ones.

This novel will be well liked by romance lovers, those that love to see women with great inner strength and those who just enjoy a well written book.

I did a short interview with Cheri Chesley. I told her if she didn't want to answer the questions, then I would just make up something about her. It was funny, but the answers came back rather quickly.

1.Where did the idea of The Peasant Queen come from?

The story came from Krystal. She actually started as a regular girl from our world who got transported magically to another sphere. This is originally--when I was in high school 20 yrs ago. She's changed a lot since then.

2.Is this your favorite genre to read? Is there another genre that you would like to write?

This was my favorite genre when I was young. And let me tell you, there were precious few books back then in this genre! Since becoming an adult, I have expanded my reading preferences. A while back, I tried writing a kind of romantic suspense. That was fun. I may work on that a bit.

3.Are there any books or authors that influenced you in your writing?

Growing up, I read Tamora Pierce so much I could quote large sections of the books. I also read Guinevere by Sharan Newman. And a lot of Shakespeare and Edgar Allen Poe.

4.Will The Peasant Queen be a trilogy?

There are definitely three books--no more, no less.

5. Who is your favorite character to write in your book and why?

This may sound bad, but I love writing Gregory and it was really hard to stop. He's a rich character. It's kind of like when an actor is asked their favorite roles to play. They nearly always say the villain. There's something to stepping outside yourself that's appealing.

6.Do you have some words of wisdom to share with unpublished writers?

I don't know how wise they are, but I'll go with what works for me. Read a lot. Write a lot, even if you think it's terrible. Talk to other authors--network. And never, never give up!

Thanks Cheri for answering my questions. I look forward to reading the next book in the trilogy.

You can purchase The Peasant Queen Here.

I am a mom of 5 and a stepmom of 1 and of course all of them are amazing. My first novel, The Peasant Queen, is currently available for sale. And I'm working on The Tyrant King.

I was given a free copy of The Peasant Queen. In no way did this
influence the review given.

Remember, the contest that is going on here at my blog. You still have a chance to enter to win a copy of "The Squeaky Gourmet". You can read more about the details of the contest down below. You have until Monday, Feb.14th, midnight MST to enter the contest. Please share with your family and friends about the contest.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"What Do You Think About...Wednesday" with Joyce DiPastena

With Valentines Day approaching quickly, I thought that this would be the perfect time to ask some questions about the genre of Romance. I went to one of my favorite romance authors, Joyce DiPastena. She has written some of the best medieval romances I have read. She knows her genre very well. Thanks Joyce for being my guest today and for your wonderful answers.

What do you think about Romance books that are written today?

You know what disappoints me personally about too many romances that are written today? This is purely my personal opinion and I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority because so many romances have come to this so there must be a lot of readers for them…but for me, modern day romances have too much romance and too little plot. What I mean by that is, in too many romances (not all, but a LOT), it seems like all the hero and heroine do for the entire length of the book are think about each other. I mean, of course it’s a romance so of course they’re going to think a lot about each other…but really, is that ALL they have to do with their time for 300 pages or so? Don’t these people have families? Jobs? Hobbies? But really, it’s more than that. It simply comes down to plot. Nothing much seems to actually happen in a lot of romances today. It’s all about the “relationship”, which is great and I know a lot of readers love. But I just get personally frustrated when not much seems to actually “happen” in a book.

Compare today’s romances to Jane Austen or (one of my personal favorite romance authors of yore) Georgette Heyer. Their books are LOADED with plot as well as romance. And they’re lauded to the heavens by romance readers and publishers today. And you know what I think? I think if either of these authors were alive today and submitted a manuscript to the national market, they’d get at best a nice little rejection letter telling them they had a wonderful writing style, but their books have too much plot and don’t spend enough time on the “relationship”, good luck somewhere else.

That being said, I do think it’s somewhat different with LDS published books. I don’t think there’s as much focus by LDS publishers on what’s become the traditional romance “formula”. I think to a large extent it’s still more about telling a good story, so you’ll find both kinds of romances in this marketrelationship oriented romances and plot driven romances. (Yay!)

How would you compare them to Romance books written say 75-100 years ago?

Aside from what I just noted abovei.e., that older romances have much more plotthe writing styles are very different. What I do enjoy about today’s romances is the more “up close and personal” writing style. Older romances tended to use a more omniscient POV, where the reader is observing the story more from the “outside”. You’re never quite completely inside a character’s head or heart. That’s changed today. Today’s preferred 3rd person limited (or 1st person) keeps you tightly in one character’s head at a time, experiencing everything that character is experiencing just as if it were happening to you. (Assuming the scene is written well.) I’m an emotional person, so I enjoy this more emotional style of writing that is popular today.

About Joyce:

Author of LOYALTY'S WEB and ILLUMINATIONS OF THE HEART. Joyce DiPastena fell in love with the Middle Ages when she first read Thomas B. Costain’s THE CONQUERING FAMILY in high school. A graduate of the University of Arizona with a degree specializing in medieval history, Joyce lives in Arizona with her two cats, Clio and Glinka Rimsky-Korsokov.

You can learn more about Joyce by visiting her at...

-Her official website

-Her blog JDP News

-Medieval research with joyce

Monday, February 7, 2011

Win a Copy of Squeaky Gourmet...Simple, Clean, Food By Maureen Jeanson CMH and Jamie Wilson

Are you trying to change to a healthier lifestyle for you and your family? Are you not sure how to make this happen? Does choosing the right foods seem scary and confusing? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are going to want to read this cookbook.

Product Description

Squeaky Gourmet is a colorful and well written cookbook intended to educate and encourage the reader towards a healthy diet. Food knowledge coupled with exciting recipes makes this book a must have for anyone on any fitness level. There is no need for boredom in the kitchen or dead taste buds in order to eat healthy. Squeaky Gourmet offers delicious recipes for every meal, snack or even office party. Author Maureen Jeanson holds certifications in fitness from ACSM, ISSA and the US Navy. Jamie Wilson offers her experience in the struggle with being healthy and NOT sacrificing flavor and comfort at the same time. Together they offer you over 140 pages of wellness education, tasty food ideas and the exact steps you can take to achieve your own fitness goals.

I have known Maureen (I call her Moe) for 12 years. We both went through the horrendous trial of losing a baby. We met on a chat board for Moms dealing with grief. Moe is an amazing lady! This is why I wanted you to learn about her and how she has conquered many trials in her life. Part of healing and dealing with her struggles was to take control of her health. At the beginning of the book she tells her story; that alone is worth the amount of money you would pay for the cookbook. The main things I loved about Squeaky Gourmet are the easy to follow recipes and the nutrition facts that are listed for each recipe.

I am happy to tell you that you have a chance to win a copy of
Squeaky Gourmet. There are a few easy things to do in order to increase your chances of winning a copy of this book. Here is what you need to do.

1. If you are a follower of my blog you already have one entry.

2.If you direct a new follower to my blog and they "Follow" me, you will get two entries. If you are a new follower of my blog, you will also get two entries.

3. Share about this contest on Facebook, or twitter and leave the link here for me to see. You will receive an entry for each time you tweet about the contest or post about on facebook.

4. Go to facebook to Squeaky Gourmet's page and like it. This will get you one more entry.

5. Go visit the Squeaky Gourmet website and subscribe to receive e-mails or make a comment on the site. There is the potential for two entries here. Let me know that you did this.

6.Finally, comment on this post and receive two entries in the contest.

SO.... altogether you could have up to 10 or more entries in this contest. This contest is only open to residents of the USA...sorry. But, if you would like to purchase your own copy of Squeaky Gourmet head on over to

I hope to see many entries in the contest. You will have one week to do all of this. The contest will close on Monday, Feb. 14th, 2011 at midnight MST.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cold As Ice by Stephanie Black...My Review

I always think I am going to figure out "who-dunit" sooner when I read one of Stephanie's books. I always get so involved in the story I forget to be studying out the finer clues. Of course this is another fantastic book from author Stephanie Black. You are led into so many different directions that you are kept guessing until the very end.

There was a lot of head banging (I am not talking about the rock and roll kind) when it came to the main character, Abigail's, brother. Derek made me want to hit him, feel sorry for him, shake him and help him all at the same time. The situation that Derek gets into is very scary. You can see how someone could be framed for a crime so easily.

Stephanie creates strong characters, plenty of maddening bad people and a
story that takes off at the beginning and doesn't let up much until the very end. I read this book fast and enjoyed it a lot. If you have not had the chance to read Cold as Ice you should. This mystery is one that will leave you shaking your head and shouting out- loud at the characters. I am not going to say which characters that you will be shouting at. You may yell at different characters than I do. Or you may just read the book like normal people and not yell at characters in the book at all.

I borrowed this book from the library, but I will soon be adding it to my Stephanie Black collection. Thanks Stephanie for another fantastic mystery! (Yes, I did have the Foreigner song running through my head while reading this book. )

Friday, February 4, 2011

My Review of, Lucky Change, and Interview with Author Susan Law Corpany

After a fluke lottery win, Karen Donaldson - the ward charity case - is determined to use her millions to pay back all the kindness she's received. But the future holds a few more surprises for Karen, her neighbors, and someone she thought was gone forever. Sweet, funny, and full of heart, this off-beat comedy is perfect for anyone who's ever dreamed of making it big.

I really loved Lucky Change. This was a unique story of a down on your luck, divorced women, who strikes it rich. Karen, the main character, is a lively and good hearted woman. She is not like the other women in her ward, who at times have not been too kind to her. This does not stop Karen from wanting to help others and shower them with kindness and money. You can not help but love Karen and her humor. Her outlook on life can't help but bring a smile to your face.

Bishop Parley doesn't always know what to say, in guiding Karen in using her new wealth. Bishop Parley tells Karen to be careful about who she tells about her winning the lottery. Karen let's him know that she already gave her notice at Smiths that she won't be working there anymore. This is what she told her co-workers, "I told them I struck it rich and was gonna sit around the rest of my life eatin' cookie dough. Everybody just laughed. Nobody believed me, even though I had a whole shopping cart full." You can see just a little of her humor from that, but you have to read the whole story to really get to know her. When you finish the book, you wish that you really did have a good friend like Karen; and not because of the money that she could give you.

I wanted you to know more about how this fantastic book was written. I had the pleasure of interviewing author Susan Law Corpany. She is such a delightful person! Enjoy reading the fun answers that she gave me.

1-When did you get the idea to write "Lucky Change"?

I got the idea for Lucky Change (which I originally called Heaven Help Us!) back in the late nineties when I had a cheap boss in Florida. I was in the sales department, and whenever we had a good month, he would go across the street and buy ten lottery tickets and give one to each member of the team. I would just toss them into my purse and never even check to see if I had won anything. One day I was sitting in church and was looking for a pen and saw all these lottery tickets in the bottom of my purse and I thought about how embarrassing it would be if I actually won big. Then I said to myself, "Lots of 'poor person with a heart of gold wins the lottery' stories have been done, but I haven't ever read a story of an LDS person winning big, someone who isn't supposed to be buying lottery tickets in the first place." So there I was, sitting in church, mentally writing that first chapter. Also not good, but that's how it happened.

Then I remembered Karen, a rather minor character I had created for Unfinished Business, mostly as an example of a poor housekeeper. I remember how I had thought she was an interesting character and that someday she should have her own book. A match was made!

2-I love the main character Karen. She is so humble, funny kind, caring and without guile. Is she based on a real-life person? Was she your favorite character to write?

Karen started out very loosely based on a woman who was a challenge for me as a RS president twenty years ago, but she soon emerged as her own character. I share her dislike of housework. I have had the unique experience of having been on both ends of the financial teeter-totter, although not quite in the extremes that Karen has, so I knew how to write for Karen as well as for Toni.

When I was growing up, my father was a country boy transplanted to the city, so when he got a chance to manage a dairy herd for the stake welfare farm, that was as close as he could come to being a farmer in Salt Lake City. Because he worked for the Church, part of his pay came in the form of "commodities," so we did our grocery shopping at the church storehouse. As a teen-ager, it always bothered me that my mother would not keep those Deseret Brand cans out of sight of my friends, making us appear as if we were long-term recipients of Church welfare. After we could drive, sometimes she would send my me and my older brother to Welfare Square to pick up the groceries. I absolutely hated doing that! One time one of the cool girls from my high school was there doing a service project and saw me shopping. Another time an employee lectured me and my brother on the failure rates of teen-age marriage and told us how abhorrentt it was for us to be on Church welfare at such an early age.

There are lots of bits and pieces of myself in Karen, but there are bits and pieces of other people, too. On the rare occasion that we fly First Class, my husband always tells me that I get too excited about the hot towels and that I need to act like I belong in First Class. So I would joke that when I was in coach, I was a fledgling author of several self-published novels and everything from the booking agent to the cleaning lady of our vacation rental house on the Big Island. In first class I was the best-selling author of Hilo's largest publishing house and the owner/manager of an exclusive resort on Kealakekua Bay.

I wanted to make Karen guileless but believable. That humility is often found in those without means, so I gave her a humble job and lifestyle. Still, I didn't want to portray things in black and white, as in poor = humble, rich = haughty. I tried not to paint either those struggling financially or those well-off with a broad brush.

If I look around, I fear I may see more signs of Karen in my surroundings, including the chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream I bought to celebrate being a Whitney finalist. My once-nice green leather sofas, which at least one of my stepsons has asked for in the will because they are so comfortable, are now patched with green duct tape, because we might as well just wear them the rest of the way out because we are planning to move back to the mainland when my husband retires in the next few years. (The nice furniture is all at the vacation house.) I would rather have a handprint from a kindergartner hanging on the wall than an expensive oil painting. When I got a job as a legal secretary at 22, I worked for two attorneys and the semi-retired senior partner, S.J. Quinney. There are buildings at universities all over Utah named after Mr. Quinney. One of the words he used that I wasn't sure how to write in shorthand was "erudite," so I sent Karen on a quest to become erudite.

The more I think about it, Karen is probably me with exaggerated faults and a few virtues I don't quite possess. I weigh less. I vacuum more often. Our cats don't come in the house. I don't forgive as easily, but if I write enough characters who are good at that, maybe I'll become better at it myself. I am in charge of the meetings-formerly-known-as-Enrichment, so I don't have a Karen to contend with, but I've thought of doing how-to-avoid-housework tips for the ladies. While I doubt I would be quite as selfless as Karen--I would probably have bought Toni's house because I wanted it--this book did give me a fun opportunity to explore things I might do if I struck it rich. There were a lot of parts I had to cut, in the interest of getting the book to the desired length for the publisher, lots of other fun service projects Karen did.

I think a lot of people relate to Karen, because at some time or another, we've almost all been in that "don't quite fit" situation. I have always loved the line in "Away in a Manger" where it says "fit us for heaven to live with Thee there." We all, whoever we are, whatever our circumstances, need the help of the Master Tailor for that perfect fit.

3-When I finished "Lucky Change" I was left with that wonderful feel- good inside feeling. Was this your hope while writing this book? What other messages did you want to leave with your readers?

Thank you for saying it left you with a good feeling. My first novel was loosely based on my experience of losing my first husband, and since I was dealing with such a serious topic, and also because it is my nature, it is also laced with humor. I would find that it was the humor that people would comment on most often, even though I thought the book was more sad than funny. Sometimes because of the humor I wonder if my more serious messages get through. I don't start a book with a goal of sharing a specific message, because for me books with a heavy-handed didactic message are annoying. I remember my stake president asking me what was the message of one of my books, that it needed to have a message. I told him the message was whatever anyone took away from it. What I hope people will take away from Lucky Change is a desire to better love their fellow man, to be less envious and/or prideful, to be more accepting and inclusive and forgiving. That and not to take themselves so seriously, to eat more cookie dough and not to worry about cleaning the oven.

Another message I want to leave with my readers is that if they buy lots of copies of this book, I too, will be able to be generous and benevolent like Karen.

Seriously, the older I get, the more I try to let go of old hurts and embrace the joys of the here and now. I love when Karen told Dee to shoo her bad feelings away instead of carrying around a bag of bird seed and feeding them. My husband is a family therapist, as well as a professor at the university, and he has helped me to realize when I talk of an old hurt that the moment I can feel or hear emotion creep into my heart or voice, I am reliving it in an unhealthy way. I have learned to be able to speak of difficulties from the past without the anger or hurt feelings surfacing. For me, that is huge, because it is something I can measure. It is a way I can gauge my progress.

4-Congratulations on "Lucky Change" being a finalist for a Whitney Award in the General category. How did you feel when you heard that you were a finalist?

When I found out I was a Whitney finalist, it was kind of like Karen and her lottery winning ticket. "Let's make sure I wrote these numbers down right." I had already picked two books that I thought for sure would be finalists. I began scrolling through the list, and the first one I saw was Annette's book, which I had pegged as sure to be one of the finalists. I scrolled through three more and figured the last one would be the other author I had expected as a finalist. But then I saw the orange cover and the flying money. I was surprised and excited, but I was home alone, so I didn't do the game show dance or anything. At first I couldn't get my husband or any of our kids on the phone, so I just went out and bought some celebratory chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and told the cashier at Safeway.

5.Will you write a sequel to "Lucky Change"?

I have envisioned a sequel called "Going for Broke" where Karen and Ray go all over the world doing service in order to spend all the money and just get back to being regular folks. People seem to want to know if anything unfolds between Austin and Camille, and I'm sure they would like to see Dee have a better future than she has had a past, so I will follow their stories as well. I am imagining how much fun I could have taking Karen to foreign countries where she can mangle the language and yet somehow transcend the communication barriers with love. I have friends willing to share some of their global travel service experiences with me and we've done quite a bit of travel ourselves, so I am sure I can take Karen and Ray on some interesting adventures. I'll just do like I did with this book and follow Karen around and write about what she does.

Right now, however, I am working on "Packing for Heaven," which is a parallel novel about Toni and her family and her daughter's battle with cancer and Toni's battle with her pride. There will be some overlapping scenes from Lucky Change, told from a little different vantage point. I'm trying to get that done in the next few months. Anyone who wants to sign on as a nagger, let me know.

Thanks for the interview!

If you want to read something fun after reading the book, you need to go to Susan's blog. Here is where she interviews the characters from her book. I read the interviews and they are a lot of fun to read. It was like a continuation of the book. Here is the link...

Susan also wanted me to share this with my readers...

On this one, I am hopeful that eventually people who have my good deed pass along cards will post. In the meantime, I post my own experiences, which is good, because it makes me mindful of acts of service done for me, and it makes me look for opportunities to be of service to others.

About the Author

Susan Law Corpany

Susan is an LDS writer of fiction that is touching without being sappy, uplifting without being preachy, humorous without being contrived and true to life without being too depressing. She lives on the Big Island of Hawaii and is married to Thom Curtis, a Sociology professor at the University of Hawaii. Thom and Susan have a blended family of six, a daughter and five sons. They are adding new adorable grandchildren regularly. She loves to travel and see the world, and loves to stay home and enjoy the paradise in which she lives.

FYC- I received a free copy of this book, which in no way influenced my review.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"What Do You Think About...Wednesday" with Josi Kilpack

My guest today for "What Do You Think About...Wednesday" is award winning author Josi Kilpack. Josi is the author of thirteen books. This year she has been serving as the President of the Whitney Academy which sponsors and conducts the Whitney Awards. The Whitney Awards are given yearly to outstanding LDS authors. I wanted to ask Josi some questions having to do with the Whitney Awards.

What do you think about the positive impact of the Whitney awards on LDS writers? Have the Whitneys changed the books being written by LDS authors?

I think the positive impact of the Whitney awards on LDS writers is huge. Anything worth doing is worth doing well, and having goals as a writer makes all the difference. There are certainly personal goals that have to do with learning your craft, getting published, and procuring good reviews, but the Whitney Awards offers another arena in which to shoot for--that of public recognition. I'm thrilled that the Whitney Awards seem to have reached the point where becoming a finalist is, in and of itself, an accomplishment in it's own right. I'm equally thrilled that more and more writers and readers are becoming aware of the program and therefore spreading the word. I have seen very positive changes in overall quality of writing which is the mission of the Whitney Awards would accomplish. I have been involved in one way or another with the Whitney Awards since the start and it's been an exciting process to watch unfold. Hats off to all the writers who are working hard to write their best work. Hats off to the readers who are recognizing great fiction and taking the time to nominate their books. Hats off to the judges and committee members that do all the behind the scenes work to make the award program happen. I could not be happier with the way The Whitey Awards have grown and developed and I look forward to many more years of growth and awareness that will continue to bless the market, the readers, and the writers who make it possible.

The Finalists for the Whitney awards are posted on the Whitney Awards website. Please go there and see if some of your favorite books from 2010 are finalists. Thank you Josi for taking the time out of your busy schedule to be my guest today.