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.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Review of "The Key of Kilenya" by Andrea Pearson

A magical key has been stolen, and Jacob must retrieve it as soon as possible to protect his family and our world from danger.

Fourteen-year-old Jacob Clark's life is about to change when two vicious wolves chase him through a gateway from our world to another. They've been sent by the Lorkon--immortal and evil beings from the world Edana, who know Jacob and that he possesses powers which they desire to control.

He escapes the wolves and spends the night in the safety of a tree. The next morning, not knowing he is in a different world, he is surprised to be greeted by strange, human-like creatures.

They beg his assistance in recovering a magical key--which was stolen by the Lorkon and is mysteriously linked to him. He has two choices: help these people, or not. If he helps them he will be in great danger. If he doesn't, his family and our world will be, as the Lorkon will stop at nothing to unlock the key's and Jacob's powers.

He makes his choice and begins a quest of self-discovery and danger.

The Key of Kilenya is a story of a fourteen year old boy, Jacob, who finds himself on a journey that he hadn't planned on going. His whole world before was basketball, and now he is asked to help save a new world and possibly his own. At first he doesn't want to help, but he is persuaded by some wolves that he should. They would have scared me into helping for sure.

You can tell while reading this book that the key audience are boys between the ages of 10-15. Lovers of Fantasy and strange new worlds, will really love the imaginative creatures and all of the exciting situations that Jacob finds himself in. I found that the story had a slow start for me, and picked up when Jacob and his new friend, Akeno, go on a journey to look for the Key of Kilenya. There is a lot of world building going on as Andrea introduces new plants, monsters and races of people. Some were kind of confusing to keep track of, but as the story progressed pieces started falling together more. I also really like the added element of the journal entries of Prince Dimitri, that explained a back story of what had happened before in this land. These were found at the beginning of every chapter.

Jacob has powers that he didn't know that he had. Some of the scenes are kind of funny as he discovers what those powers are. His reactions are very true to how a teenage boy would respond. Andrea wrote Jacob realistically, and as I said, this will appeal to it's core audience. I believe that most people will be very happy with the ending of the story. Fans of this book will also be excited to know that there is a book 2: The Ember Gods. Jacob will head back to the world of Ecklaron to help his new friends again. 

If you would like to purchase "The Key of Kilenya" you can buy the e-book for a really good deal of 99 cents at...


The paperback copy can be purchased here at

If you want to learn more about Andrea and her book please go to her website.

About this Author

Andrea is an avid reader and outdoor-er, who loves traveling. She and her husband(AKA Mr. Darcy) were married only a few months ago, and have settled near a river that someday will overflow and flood their house.

It took her nearly a lifetime to do so (nine years), but she graduated with a bachelor of science degree in Communications Disorders from Brigham Young University. She plans to open a flying bicycle shop eventually, but for the time being, she is happy teaching orchestra to elementary students. 

 ***I want to thank Andrea for the review copy of her book. In no way did this influence the review that was given.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Review of "If I SHould Die" by Jennie Hansen

One morning on a routine jog, Kallene's running partner, Linda, confides that she's filing for divorce.  The next morning, she's gone without a trace, leaving behind her frightened young daughter.  Since Linda's enraged husband refuses to notify the police, Kallene steps in to initiate a missing person search, not knowing it would soon become a murder investigation -- or that she'd soon fall for the charming lead detective.  With Linda's handsome brother also on her mind, Kallene must navigate the rapids of a double romance as well as the deepening suspicion in her upscale Utah neighborhood.  Intrigue turns to danger as Kallene faces the consequences of hasty judgments.  And when startling new evidence casts Linda's murder as the work of a determined killer, Kallene needs the intervention of unlikely heroes to avoid being the next victim.

"If I Should Die", the newest book by longtime author Jennie Hansen, is a book that must be saved for when you have a long block of reading time. I promise you, once you start reading this book you will not want to put it down.

To start off with, the title and front cover picture are both very ominous. A woman is looking out the blinds at someone or something.What is out there? It is so intriguing that you can't wait to dive into the book. Without unnecessarily repeating the back liner of the book, the novel is centered around main character Kallene's search for her missing friend Linda. This storyline is very similar to a true story that has been in the headlines here in Utah. A woman goes missing and the husband is the main suspect. Jennie does a great job of introducing many possible murder suspects. Is it truly the husband, or the creepy neighborhood handyman, or the ex-con who committed rape and murder years ago? As you read, there are so many reasons to put suspicions on each of these men. There was one point I was even starting to suspect one of the "good" guys, a police detective. The way the story was going, I was suspecting everyone! I must be a pretty suspicious person. In the end the murderer is someone I hadn't considered until the very nice job Jennie!

To lighten the story a bit, there is a fantastic love triangle. The reason it is fantastic is because of the wonderful men that Kallene has to choose from. She dates both the very handsome and charming police detective Scott, and Linda's very good looking and personable brother Jon. Both men are very jealous of the other, which in turn makes them both work harder to win over Kallene. I would love to have this same problem that Kallene had of trying to choose between these two wonderful men. You will find yourself bouncing between liking Scott, and then Jon, and then Scott again, and then Jon. I liked Kallene'e strong character through most of the story, until she made a very poor decision at the end. You should have heard me yelling at her in my family room to not do something and that she should know better. I bet that you can't wait to read what Kallene does.

The part of the story that really touched my heart, was Kallene's relationship with her young neighbor Parker. He is neglected by his working parents and turns to Kallene for guidance and comfort. I don't want to say too much more, but I know you will also have a soft spot in your heart for Parker.

For those of you that are impatient, you may not like this book. The story's clues take awhile to surface and you must be patient and let the story unfold. In other reviews, readers have felt the pace of the story was slow at the beginning, but I didn't feel that way. There is a lot of character development that takes place, and the action is not always the driving force. Kallene's workplace and her job situation is focused on a lot. Though you may wonder, what does it have to do with the main part of the story? My main thought on this is, it shows that amidst trials we unfortunately have to continue on with our every day lives. 

With the review copy of the book came a sheet with a Q & A with Jennie. Question #2 asks:

What is the message of this book?
"This book is primarily entertainment, though I suppose it could be a reminder not to make assumptions. It also stresses the importance of getting to know a potential mate over time and that marriage is too serious to jump into without serious consideration. It's also about loyalty between friends whether the friend is an adult or a child."

I recommend this book to readers who love a good murder mystery, those who like a really good love triangle, and those who cherish stories of loyal friends. I know that you are dying to run out and buy this book now. Just be prepared for a ride with lots of twists and turn, when you read "If I Should Die".

You can purchase this book at, Barnes and Noble, and Deseret Book.

To learn more about Jennie and her books you can visit her blog and her website.


About this author

I was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho to Jed and Mary Smith. We lived in many farming and ranching communities in Idaho and Montana. My family moved more than 20 times as I grew up. As a youth, I associated home with family and Mama’s cake tin more than any particular house. Born the fifth of eight children, I grew up with a ready supply of playmates who are still among my closest friends. I married Boyd Hansen and we became the parents of five children of our own and three foster children. We’ve made our home in Utah since our marriage.

I graduated from Ricks College in Idaho, then continued my education at Westminster College in Utah after my oldest child was married and my youngest was in high school. I have been a receptionist, a model, a Utah House page, freelance magazine writer, newspaper reporter, editor, librarian, mother and grandmother.

Numerous first and second place writing awards from the Utah and National Federation of Press Women including the 1978 Second place national award for Page Editing were highlights of my journalism years. I was the 1997 third place winner of the URWA Heart of the West Writers Contest. In 2008 I received the Bronze Trumpet Award from my publisher, Covenant Communications, and in March of 2008 I was honored by the LDStorymakers at their Whitney Gala with the 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award.

I have been active in community affairs. In addition to numerous responsibilities in the LDS church, I served a term on the Kearns Town Council, and two terms on the Salt Palace Advisory Board, and was a delegate to the White House Conference on Libraries and Information Services.

All of our children are now married and have so far provided us with ten grandchildren, eight grandsons and two granddaughters.

***I want to thank Jennie and Covenant book for the review copy of this book. In no way did this influence the review that was given.**

Monday, September 26, 2011

And the Winner of the September Blog Hop Contest is...

Lori, (Lolawid) is the lucky follower who wins the $10.00 gift certificate from!! Thanks everyone for participating and following my blog. I hope to see you back here soon. Please tell your friends about me and let them know that I will probably be participating in the October Blog Hop. I will be contacting you soon Lori.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Book Tour "Hang 'Em High" by Tristi Pinkston

When Ida Mae Babbitt receives an invitation to visit her son Keith's dude ranch in Montana, she's excited to mend their broken relationship, but not so excited about spending time with cows. Arlette and Tansy go along with her, ready to take a vacation that does not involve dead bodies or mysteries of any sort - one must have a break from time to time. But it seems a no-good scoundrel has moseyed into Dodge City and is bent on causing all sorts of trouble for the ranch. Unable to keep her curiosity in check - especially when it seems her own son is the most likely culprit - Ida Mae decides to investigate. Can she lasso the varmint and get him to the sheriff in time? 

Cowboy up and head on over to read the new Secret Sisters Mystery called Hang 'Em High by Tristi Pinkston. Ida Mae Babbitt is once again trying to solve another mystery along with her two friends Tansy and Arlette. They go on a vacation to visit Ida Mae's son at his dude ranch in Montana. Little do they know that once again they will be pulling out their investigating skills to solve another mystery. 

We meet Ida Mae's son Keith and gain a new insight into Ida Mae's life. Mother and son have been estranged for years. Ida Mae hopes that this little trip will help mend some fences between them. There were some very touching moments as Ida Mae and Keith finally talked like they hadn't communicated for years. 

Now of course, there is a lot of humor and suspense along the way. I truly was laughing my way through this book. When you are reading things like...

"Jeans accentuate what you have. Girdles take it and smash it and squeeze it and...well, it's not unlike Playdoh.""

"...We're talking about horse murder right?" Tansy's forehead wrinkled
as she concentrated. " That's not homicide. What would it be-horsicide?"

"Well, well, well. If it isn't the geriatric cheerleading squad. If I didn't see it, I wouldn't believe it."

That last quote is from the scene I was laughing so hard, that I knew I was going to wake up my sleeping children upstairs. I can never get enough of the three women's shenanigans. 

As far as the mystery, Tristi does a wonderful job of making you think that everyone is guilty. It is a riot trying to figure out who dunit and realizing that you were led astray chapter after chapter. It is very surprising who is the culprit in the end. 

I know that you will enjoy this novel. If you haven't read the other Secret Sisters Mysteries yet, I would recommend you reading them first. They go hand in hand and it is a good thing to get to know everyone first. You can also go back and read my reviews of the first two books:

Secret Sisters here and Dearly Departed here

To purchase Hang Em' High here are the links:

Also, check out the information down below about the contest Tristi is having. You will not want to miss this one, especially if you are a writer! 

Thank you Tristi for allowing me to be part of your book tour and the free copy of the book!!


About the Author:
Tristi Pinkston can't remember a time when she didn't want to write.
Her first poem was penned at the age of five, as was her first book about a little puppy  with big dreams, Sue the Dog.  It was quite a journey from Sue to Tristi's first published novel, but a journey she loved taking.
When she's not homeschooling her children, ignoring her dishes, contemplating grocery shopping, or procrastinating the laundry, Tristi works as a freelance editor and online writing instructor.

She is a popular presenter at the annual LDStorymakers Writers Conference, and she finds some of her greatest joy in helping authors realize their true potential. She also enjoys blogging, reviewing books, watching good movies and taking really long naps every Sunday afternoon.
Hang 'Em High is the third Secret Sister mystery series, and Tristi's eighth published book.
You can learn more about Tristi by clicking on the links below...
Tristi Pinkston's website

Tristi Pinkston's blog

To celebrate the release of Tristi's eighth book, she's holding a contest!  If you leave a comment on this review, you will be entered into a drawing for a free manuscript evaluation, done by Tristi Pinkston Editing   In fact, you can leave comments on all the blogs participating in this virtual book tour!  Go to Tristi Pinkston's blog at for a list.  The deadline is October 5th at midnight MST.  If you win and you're not a writer, you can give this evaluation to a friend.

September 12th:   Aimee Brown  

September 14th :   Autumn Weber 

September 15th:     Karlene Browning 

September 16th:   Heather Justesen     

September 19st:     Holly Barnes                          

September 20th:   Cheryl Christensen

September 21st:     Rachelle Christensen         

September 23rd:     Sheila Staley                          

September 27th     Mindy Holt 

September 28th:    Kim Job      

September 28th:    Heather Gardner 

September 30th:    Nichole Giles    

October 3rd:                    Kathy Habel

Confirming Dates:

Heidi Durant       

Danyelle Ferguson     

Keith Fisher

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September Blog Hop!! Come and Win Some Prizes!!

Welcome to the September Blog Hop! Celebrate the beginning of fall with me and my blogger friends by hopping around, visiting our sites, and entering our contests! There are no limits - you can enter the contest on every blog. With over 40 blogs participating, that's over 40 prizes you could win. Just click on the links below to move on to the next blog.

On my blog, you can win … a $10.00 Gift Certificate to!! Would you like to win this prize? You just need to do two things. 
1. Become a follower of this blog. 
2. Leave me a comment and tell me why you'd like to win this prize. 

That's it! You are now entered. The contest ends on Saturday night, September 24th, at midnight MST, and the winner will be contacted shortly thereafter. Please either leave your e-mail address in the comment trail or make sure it's visible through your profile so I can contact you to tell you that you're the lucky winner. 

Now go visit my other friends ...
September Blog Hop Participants

1. Tristi Pinkston, LDS Author 2. Joyce DiPastena
3. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer 4. Mandi Slack
5. Michael D. Young
6. Six Mixed Reviews
7. Pam Williams
8. Laurie Lewis
9. Kristy Tate
10. Marilyn Yarbrough
11. Stacy Coles
12. Kristie Ballard
13. Lynn Parsons
14. Pushing Past the Pounds
15. Sheila Staley
16. cindy Hogan
17. Jamie Thompson
18. Jaclyn Weist
19. Cathy Witbeck
20. Secret Sisters Mysteries
21. Tamera Westhoff
22. Tina Scott
23. Lynnea Mortensen
24. Danyelle Ferguson aka Queen of the Clan
25. Jeanette A. Fratto
26. Bonnie Harris
27. Melissa Lemon
28. Mary Ann Dennis
29. Stephanie Black
30. Jane Still
31. Janice
32. Laura Bastian
33. Tamara Bordon
34. Betsy Love
35. Maria Hoagland
36. Amber Robertson
37. Debbie Davis
39. Christy Monson
40. Carolyn Frank
41. Rebecca Birkin
42. Melissa Cunningham
43. Emily L. Moir
44. Ronda Hinrichsen
45. Lisa Asanuma
46. Joan Sowards
47. Jordan McCollum
48. Diane Stringam Tolley

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Review of "Seers" by Heather Frost

When Kate Bennett survived the car accident that claimed her parents' lives, she knew her world would be forever changed. But her life is more dramatically altered than she first realized. Not only is she able to see “mood auras” on the people around her, she's even started seeing invisible people with no colors at all. And no matter how attractive the new addition to her American Lit class is, Kate sees what no one else can—the dangerous truths this mysterious man threatens to pour into her life.

Patrick O'Donnell was killed in the Irish Revolution in 1798. He's here now to try and keep Kate alive, and stop her life from spinning out of control. The one thing he's not going to do is fall in love with her. But plans change, especially when Demons are involved . . .

Kate is about to enter the world of Seers; where immortals are at war with each other, and unfortunate mortals like Kate are in over their heads. 

I really enjoyed reading Seers. I have not read many paranormal books with angels and demons. In this book there are demons, but the "good" guys are called Guardians.  The main character, Kate, is what is known as a Seer. A Seer can see the auras of all people, including the demons and guardians. This is why both groups of immortals are seeking her out.

Kate and her friends are still in high school. Even though the background is set in a high school, there are many strange things happening that change Kate's world quickly.There is a typical love triangle found in most YA books, but this one I liked better than most. The main focus in the story in not the love triangle, but is on Kate learning about how and why she is special. The beginning starts slowly, but once it picks up and Kate learns all about Guardians and Demons, there is a lot of action.

I like Kate's Guardian Patrick. Though he is very handsome and strong, he is a really nice guy.You can't help but really like him. Kate's boyfriend is also a nice guy, so I didn't favor one over the other until about the middle of the story.In fact, you feel very sad for Aaron by the end. Patrick is well written along with all of the other characters. One of my absolutely favorite characters would have to be Kate's Grandfather, Henry. He has wit, charm, love and a lot of understanding for his oldest granddaughter. There is a super secret about him that we discover later on in the story. I really like this twist and I hope that we see more of Grandfather Henry in the next book.Kate's best friend, Lee, is also a fun addition to the story. She and Kate are polar opposites, but the friendship works very well.

One thing that I should warn some readers about, most of the book is told in Kate's POV(point of view).  In the middle we suddenly have a chapter or two that switches to Patrick's POV. I had to stop and think for a minute about what was happening. I think the book would have been fine without the switch. I just know that many readers out there don't like sudden POV shifts and I wanted to prepare you. This did not ruin the story, but it just threw me for a loop.

Seers is a well written first book. Heather has a great way of writing interesting characters and has a fresh new take on Demons and Angels/Guardians. Teens will love this book and any fan of the YA Paranormal genre. Seers leaves things open for a sequel which I will happily read.

FTC: FYI The free e-book copy of Seers was given to me by Cedar Fort and Netgalley. In no way did this influence the review that was given.

For a sneak peak at "Seers" please go to Heather's website where you can read the first eight pages. Seers will be released on October 8, 2011. You can pre-order Seers at

About the author
I was born in Sandy, Utah, a few days before Halloween in 1989. I lived in Salt Lake City until I was about six, and then I moved North and settled into the place I still call home. I'm the second child of ten, and I absolutely love being the big sister.
I can't remember a time when I didn't enjoy reading, and I did a lot of it. I also dabbled in writing when I was young, though nothing serious until I entered the teenage years. Becoming an author is a dream come true!
I attended Snow College, and there got the best job ever as a writing tutor. I graduated in May 2011 with my Associate of Science, and am currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science as an English Major.
I love movies, music, and books—although I do think that the dumbest question on the planet is the whole “What's your favorite book/music/movie?” The best answer I've come up with is, “Whatever I'm reading, listening to, or watching at the time.” Generally, it's an accurate answer.
I love the smell of lilacs, wet cement, and freshly cut grass. I love brownies, rain, and curling up with a good book.
You can learn more about Heather and her book by going to her site

Friday, September 16, 2011

Review of Pride and Popularity: Book One in The Jane Austen Diaries

Chloe Elizabeth Hart despises the conceited antics of the popular crowd, or more importantly, one very annoying self-possessed guy, Taylor Anderson, who seems determined to make her the president of his fan club! As if! Every girl in the whole city of Farmington, New Mexico, is in love with him, but he seems to be only interested in Chloe. This modern high school adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice” is a battle of wits as Chloe desperately tries to remain the only girl who can avoid the inevitable—falling for Taylor.  

I love most re-tellings of Pride and Prejudice. It is my favorite Jane Austen book. Jenni James has created a modern, teen version of Pride and Prejudice that will delight any Jane Austen fan. Chloe Elizabeth Hart is the main female character in this fun tale. She is a normal teenage girl dealing with the ups and downs of high school life. For many years there has been one boy who has become the bane of her existence. Taylor Darcy Anderson is the most popular boy in school and he wants to recruit Chloe into his fan club. Chloe doesn't like the antics of the popular crowd and resists being assimilated into his group of admirers. This scenario is the basis for so many humorous things that happen in the novel. 

Jenni James has written a very engaging character in Chloe. This teenage girl is more mature than some adults. At the same time, she is very much written with a teenage voice. The characters are all very real and the situations are things that happen in every high school across America. It is a lot of fun to see the cat and mouse chase happening between Taylor and Chloe. The only thing I couldn't relate to was how strict Chloe's Mom was. I may have to get with it and start practicing being more strict before my daughter starts dating in three years. As in the original Pride and Prejudice, I liked the main character's father better than the mother. I also have to say that I was very happy with the ending of this novel.

I recommend that Pride and Popularity be read together by mothers and daughters. This is what I plan to do. I loved this book and I am giving this book 4 stars for being a fantastic read!! I truly look forward to reading the rest of The Jane Austen Diaries. The next book in the series, Northanger Alibi, will be released in November 2011. Here is a sneak peak at the next book,

BOOK TWO: Northanger Alibi (Nov. 2011)

Seattle Washington, and the Russo family, are no match for Claire Hart and her savvy knowledge of all things vampire related. Thanks to her obsession with the Twilight series--if there is anyone who would know a vampire when she saw one, it's Claire. And she's positive totally hot Tony Russo is a vampire, she just has to prove it! Follow Claire's hilarious journey on her first summer adventure away from home, where she learns everything isn't what it seems, and in some instances, reality is way better than anything she'd ever find in a book!

Author Bio:
I'm married to a totally hot, redheaded Air Force Recruiter, named Mark. Together we have 10 kiddos (7 ours, 3 fostered). We have just moved back to the States after living 9 awesome years in the Azores Islands of Portugal and England!  Our kids love the USA! 
When I'm not writing up a storm, I enjoy reading, acting, portrait painting, directing plays, cooking, planning eleborate parties and chasing my kids around the house. Oh, and before you ask--I haven't been to college, YET! But I've always been able to write one mean essay when I needed to. *wink*

To learn more about Jenni and her books please go here

To purchase Pride and Popularity go here to: and Barnes and Noble  

FTC FYI:  I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. In no way did this influence
the review that was given.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Memories of 9/11...I Will Never Forget

I Posted this last year on 9/11. I felt I needed to re-post it again today on the 10th Anniversary of this tragic day in American History.

I remember very well where I was and what I was doing the morning of 9/11. I was sitting at my computer checking e- mail and listening to the morning news. I was glowing in the excitement of the happy news that I was finally pregnant again. Two and half years earlier, our son Matthew had died at 35 weeks, due to a stillbirth. Sitting there, I heard my three year old daughter playing in her bedroom. Life was wonderful and I felt so blessed.
I happened to look up at the TV and they were showing the first footage of a plane that had flown into one of the famous twin towers in New York City. I thought how tragic that this accident had happened. Then suddenly, a second plane flew into the other tower. The sinking feeling in my stomach told me that this was no accident. As the news anchors spoke, we all knew that America was under attack. I placed my hands over my stomach thinking of the child that was growing in my womb. What kind of world was I bringing another child into? I felt so protective that moment of my daughter and my unborn child. What did this mean for us as Americans? Where would we be attacked next? To be attacked on American soil was new for my generation.

As the minutes rolled by, my daughter came into my bedroom and crawled into my lap. I just held her as the tears rolled down my face. The news came soon that the Pentagon had been attacked. Then finally, the story of the brave people on flight 93 that had fought back. That plane crashed into an open field, instead of The White House where it was headed. I sat mesmerized the rest of the day watching the same stories and footage over and over again.

9/11 has now become my generations Pearl Harbor. I will NEVER forget what happened that day. I will always remember what a great country I live in and fight for our freedoms. This is why I love the song, "Have You Forgotten" by Darryl Worley. This should be played daily in our country, to remind us of how united we felt after that tragic day of 9/11. God Bless our country and those that serve our country.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Review of "Hazzardous Universe" by Julie Wright and Kevin Wasden

A guy who works in his grandfather's magic shop expects weird things to happen. But Hap Hazzard has never had a day like this. First, a freaky old man in a cape who calls himself "Torval" visits the shop and somehow makes a trash can explode. Then Torval delivers an ominous message to Hap's grandfather, upsetting the old man so badly that he yells at Hap for the first time ever. Next, this girl Tara shows up to apply for a job, and for reasons Hap can't understand, his cool magic tricks send her away in tears. But that's nothing compared to what happens next. Under orders to apologize to Tara, Hap searches for the girl. But he can barely say he's sorry before three spaceships appear, the biggest of the three looking like a burnt slice of pizza.

The weirdness only ramps up as Hap and Tara soon find themselves aboard the pizza-shaped ship piloted by a pair of aliens. Even though they were accidentally abducted, the two humans are now forced to join an out-of-this-world mission that includes razor-toothed multilingual beetles, a psychic queen bee, manic ape frogs, a coveted crystal, and a hundred other bizarre things that just might make sense-if Hap could only remember and understand Torval's cryptic message. Join Hap and Tara as they begin a fantastic journey into the far reaches of the universe.

As a 2nd grade teacher I try to read as many books as possible that my students may like reading. Parents always ask me, "What books should I buy for my child?" I never like to answer, "Well I've heard that _________ is a good book, but I haven't read it yet." Seriously, that is not what they want to hear. As I read a Middle-Grade book (Books written for children ages 8-12), I try to read it from their perspective. In fact, I try to do this with any genre book that I read. I focus in on the target audience and judge/critique from their standards; what they like and would want to read. So, as I read Hazzardous Universe I shifted my thinking to my students. I knew right away that they would love this book! This age group(8-12 year old crowd) is so into space (Star Wars) and aliens. The idea of traveling on a space ship and exploring the Universe is right up their alley. There are great creatures and interesting planets to explore. Wonderful characters, Hap Hazzard and his eventual friend, Tara, learn some good lessons as they take a ride on Nana, the pizza shaped ship. I especially enjoyed the character of Mosh.

I have read books written by Julie Wright before, but this was a new adventure for her writing this Middle-Grade book. It is amazing what she has done with this story. Kevin Wasden, the illustrator, came up with the sketches for Hap and his alien friends back in 1993. When he met Julie, many years later, he knew that she was the one he wanted to write Hap's story. The illustrations are really wonderful. You can see them by watching the book trailer. 

There is a fun contest going on at their website:   Here is what it says on the blog.

"Kevin and I are in the process of creature creation for book HU3 (that doesn't sound as cool as HU2, does it? I'll work on it). This is your chance to get your work in a book! Draw us a picture of an alien creature. It can be as wacky or cool as you'd like. Give us a paragraph of background description on what your creature eats, where it lives, and what its life is like. The contest will run from September 1st through February 14th of 2012. Why February 14th, you ask? Well, because it's Valentine's Day, and I LOVE aliens, of course!

The winner of the contest will get a totally out of this universe T-shirt featuring Hap Hazzard and his cohorts, free copies of HU1, HU2 and HU3 when they are released, and your creature featured in HU3.

To read more about it, head on over to their website for additional details.

I also want to thank Julie for coming to my school for an author visit. The kids loved her!! She got them excited about her book and about believing in themselves. Julie gave a super presentation!

If you would like to purchase Hazzardous Universe, (and why wouldn't you), here you go!
Julie Wright, Kevi...
Best Price $9.95
or Buy New $12.99
 Last, but not least, meet Julie and Kevin.

Julie Wright has written over a dozen books, but especially loves writing about the fantastic.  She enjoys speaking to writing groups, youth groups, and schools.  She loves life and everything life has to offer, except mayonnaise and mosquitoes. She especially loves reading, eating (especially ice cream), writing, hiking, playing on the beach with her kids, and snuggling with her husband to watch videos. Julie’s favorite thing to do is watch her husband make dinner.  

Visit her at her website:
Kevin Wasden has an overactive imagination, is unable to sit through meetings without drawing, and tends to be silly at the most inopportune moments. He is an advocate of creativity in education and enjoys speaking to youth, writers, artists, and educators.  He studied illustration at Utah State University and has studied figure-drawing and painting from the exceptional figure artist, Andy Reiss, in New York City. Kevin teaches visual art at DaVinci Academy of Science and the Arts.   

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Contest to Win a Copy of Bloodborne by Gregg Luke

I just entered a great contest to win a copy of "Bloodborne" by Gregg Luke at Cami Checketts blog here! The contest is open until September 12th. I read the book, but would love my own copy. I will be posting a full review of Bloodborne soon. Let's just say, I LOVED this book! So, head on over and enter to win this great new thriller by Gregg Luke. Thanks Cami for having such a super contest!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Have You Read "Bad Guys of the Book of Mormon"?

Your enemy is smart. You can be smarter.

Warning! This book contains information about a deadly enemy’s top secret plans of world domination and total destruction. Your mission — should you choose to accept it — is to learn what the enemy is planning as well as what his weaknesses are so that you will be prepared to defeat him.
Gathered here are case studies of some of the enemy’s top soldiers in his army — Laman and Lemuel, Korihor, King Noah, Amalickiah — as well as the strategies that allowed the Lord’s righteous warriors — Nephi, Alma the Younger, Abinadi, Captain Moroni — to defeat them.
President Ezra Taft Benson said, “The Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ . . . . It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day.” By learning about the bad guys, by studying their traits, tricks, and tactics, we will be able to see clearly the plans and plots Satan used in Book of Mormon times. And because they are the same plans he is using today, we will have “insider information” on how to defeat him. 

This book is something like you have never read before. The Bad Guys of the Book of Mormon turned out to be something I wasn’t expecting. This book is full of humor and teaches young adults, as well as adults, gospel lessons in a way that you will not forget. I also truly loved the way that Dennis Gaunt presented each “bad guy” found in The Book of Mormon. It is so easy to dismiss all of these bad guys as just that, they were bad and didn’t live the gospel. Though that statement could be proven true, he also reminds the reader that all of the bad guys were also human. These people were more than the one dimensional wicked bad guy, there was so much more to them. Many had trials in their lives where they also had to make a choice of good or evil.

In this book Dennis teaches readers that there are lessons to be learned from the mistakes that these sinners made. Every chapter ends with 1.Lessons NOT Learned and 2. LessonsTO Learn.  Here is a list of the chapters in the book:
  • Chapter 1: Whiners in the Wilderness
    Laman and Lemuel
  • Chapter 2: It May Be Spacious, but It Ain't That Great
    Lessons from the Other Side of the River
  • Chapter 3: "I Am So Smart!S-M-R-T!"
  • Chapter 4: "Have a Great Summer!"
    The "Yearbook" of Omni
  • Chapter 5: Kings for a Day, Losers for Life
    King Noah, Amulon, and the Wicked Priests
  • Chapter 6: Popular Like Me
    Nehor and Amlici
  • Chapter 7: A Frenzied and Deranged Mind
  • Chapter 8: "Is It in You?"
    The Zoramites
  • Chapter 9: Throwdown with Captain Moroni
    Zerahemnah, Amalickiah, and Ammoron
  • Chapter 10: Stealth Fighters
    Secret Combinations among the Nephites and the Jaredites
  • Chapter 11: From Bad to Good
    Alma and the Sons of Mosiah, Amulek, Zeezrom, and Corianton

This book is a must read for youth. You can tell he wrote it with them in mind. This doesn’t detract at all from adults enjoying the way the messages are presented.Dennis relates so much of the gospel in language that teens of today can understand. There is a chapter about Nehor and Amlici called, "Popular Like Me". The chapter starts with what the being popular is like for teens today; sitting at the cool table, sitting with the football players and cheerleaders etc. Gaunt then goes on to tell how Nehor was very much like the "popular" person and became a celebrity with the Nephite people. With his humor he adds, "I wonder if he was on the cover of Nephite People magazine, topping their 25 Most Beautiful Nephites list"

My favorite chapter has to be chapter 11 about Alma and the Sons of Mosiah. It is the best story to show us how people can go from bad to good. The overall message is that there are many miraculous stories of repentance and change in the Book of Mormon. What a great message to share with the youth of our church. I look forward to reading more books by Dennis Gaunt.

This book can be purchased here at:
Deseret Book and

About the Author :
Dennis Gaunt has been an avid student of the scriptures for as long as he can remember. He studied history and English at the University of Utah. He taught seminary and institute in CES for a number of years, and currently serves as the Gospel Doctrine teacher in his ward. He and his wife, Natalie, live in Sandy, Utah.

To read more about Dennis and his work go to his website here.