Wednesday, December 30, 2009

BACK FROM THE DEAD!


YES! My third book, A Time for the Heart, has come out of oblivion and is again in print! I'm so glad, because I really liked this story.

Covenant has reissued it, and it is available through Seagull, Deseret Book, and online. I'll be having a small blog tour- small because it is a re-release, after all- and a contest here.

This is the back blurb:
For Claire O'Brian, a bright and beautiful archaeologist, working at a newly discovered archaeological site in the wilds of Guatemala is her opportunity of a lifetime. Unfortunately, the dig is being funded by Darren Stark, her manipulative ex-boyfriend. And if that isn't enough, several rare artifacts have disappeared--and Claire suspects everyone. Enter "Bump" St. James, a handsome and capable private investigator. As Claire and Bump work together to unearth the mystery, their mutual attraction deepens. However, in a dramatic confrontation, Claire learns that Darren Stark will do anything to keep her from learning the truth about the missing artifacts. Anything.

Click here to to check it out at Amazon.

If you haven't read it, I hope you'll give it a try. :-)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How many books do you have?


So I was looking around my library the other day and wondered exactly how many books I have in there. I would post a picture, but it's such a mess that I'll have to clean it up first.

My best estimate is somewhere around 500. I could be low on that guess- I have a whole lotta paperbacks. If it sounds excessive to you, you must understand that it's a disease with me, this whole collecting of the books. I must own what I read, and more often than not I like to keep it when I'm done.

That said, I do plan on going through the shelves someday soon and culling the best from those that need a new home. The first of a new year is always a good time to purge!

So what about it? Do you obsessively collect or are you a good library visitor? Speaking of which, I need to renew my card...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Things I Learned in 2009

These are some of the things I learned in 2009:

1. I am not perfect. I know! I was surprised too.
2. I can lose weight when I exercise and quit eating, like, 4,000 calories a day.
3. I like to exercise!
4. Too much sun really is bad for my skin.
5. I absolutely love my chosen careers. Writing and homemaking suit me well.
6. I love to cook.
7. I love to knit.
8. I love to kickbox. I know! I was surprised too.
9. My kids are growing up fast.
10. I fell in love with my husband all over again. 20 years look good on us.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

To be accurate, or not to be accurate...

Writers of historical fiction sometimes find themselves in a bit of a quandary. If you don't get it right, someone will know and will tell you. If you don't include enough of the history, armchair historians will be unhappy that the history is little more than wallpaper for the book, while those not so much into the history will be bored if there's too much.

Dialogue. Now there's a mess waiting to happen. Keep the dialogue too true to the period and it can come off sounding stilted and can be jarring for the modern reader. Make it too modern, and it will pull the reader out of the setting.

I suppose the question for me is not so much "do I want to be accurate?" as it is "how can I strike the right balance?" I think this is very hard, and trying to please as many readers as possible can be a challenge.

So as a reader, how do you prefer your historicals? Meaty, or just enough history to give the story a sense of place?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Josi Kilpack's Lemon Tart


Josi Kilpack'sLemon Tart is a fun book with a twisting plot and engaging characters. That line sounds totally cliche, but every word is true. This is the backliner from the book:

A recipe for murder!

* 5 families living on Peregrine Circle
* 1 flowered curtain tieback
* 1 missing child
* 1 body in the field


Mix with a long list of suspects and top with two very different detectives. Increase heat until only the truth remains.

Award-winning author Josi S. Kilpack introduces a new series of culinary "cozies" that is sure to tantalize mystery lovers. In this debut volume, cooking aficionado-turned-amateur detective, Sadie Hoffmiller, tries to solve the murder of Anne Lemmon, her beautiful young neighbor - a single mother who was mysteriously killed while a lemon tart was baking in her oven. At the heart of Sadie's search is Anne's missing two-year-old son, Trevor. Whoever took the child must be the murderer, but Sadie is certain that the police are looking at all the wrong suspects - including her!

Armed with a handful of her very best culinary masterpieces, Sadie is determined to bake her way to proving her innocence, rescuing Trevor, and finding out exactly who had a motive for murder.


Here's what worked for me with this book:

*I loved Sadie. She is a funny, funny character. Josi has a way of putting the reader in Sadie's head without intruding there, herself. So funny. Sadie meddles, is frustrating for some of the other characters but ends up being endearing rather than irritating. I think this is a hard mix to accomplish, and my hat is off to the author.

*I enjoyed the cast of secondary characters. There was enough going on to make me wonder whodunit.

*The plot. I enjoy a good mystery, and I liked peeling back the layers of this one.

*The recipes! They were such a fun addition to the story. Rather than just read about what Sadie made, I was able to look at the recipes and get a sense for exactly how it would have tasted or come together. I have yet to try them myself; I'm hoping for a chance to do some experimenting over the holiday season.

All told, I loved this book and am looking forward to getting my hands on the sequel. Reading Lemon Tart was an enjoyable experience, and I enjoyed the story so much I hated to put the book down. That's always a sign of a good read.

P.S. Same disclaimer as with Jennie's book: I do know Josi Kilpack and am pleased to call her my friend, however, I wouldn't have reviewed the book if I didn't like it. It's true. :-)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jennie Hansen's Shudder


This is the description from the backliner of Shudder, by Jennie Hansen:

Darcy and Clare grew up as best friends, sharing trials and triumphs from preschool through college graduation. Now they’re sharing an apartment in Boise, Idaho, where Clare just landed a great job and Darcy is pursuing a teaching certificate. There’s only one problem: Blaine, Clare’s boyfriend. His chauvinistic, know-it-all ways set Darcy’s teeth on edge. Darcy vows not to let Blaine ruin her lifelong friendship with Clare, but when Blaine insists on moving in, Darcy suddenly finds herself alone. The estranged friends forge ahead on seemingly separate paths. Engaged to Blaine, Clare becomes trapped in ugly family politics and vicious treatment from her fiancĂ©. Darcy finds a temporary home with Karlene, an accident victim seeking live-in help, but a twisted plot soon threatens their safety. Clare’s wedding briefly reunites her with Darcy, yet the friends have never been farther apart. And when Clare finds herself in mortal peril and finally calls on Darcy to help, it might be too late.

I liked this book for several reasons. I should probably preface this review by admitting that the author is a friend of mine. I will, however, attest to the objectivity of this review by stating that if I didn't like the book, I wouldn't have reviewed it.

Here, in a nutshell, are several of the things that worked for me:

*The realism. The book pulls no punches, no pun intended, and I liked that the author portrays the abusive relationship in the book as realistic without being gratuitous.

*Clare's internal dialogue. It's everything I've ever heard about the thought processes of a victim of abuse.

*The contrast between an unhealthy and healthy relationship. The difference is clear.

*The setting. Yes, I know, it's in Idaho. (If you're from Idaho, no offense intended. I live in Utah. Like I have a lot of room to talk). But it's BOISE, which is a very cool city. It really worked for me.

*The mystery/suspense portion of the plot. I love a good suspense novel, and the fact that I stayed up late trying to finish the book before exhaustion finally took over tells me something. When I fight sleep to finish a book, I know it's a good one.

*I found myself feeling for Clare, and there wasn't a tidy wrap-up to her story. I was sympathetic to her without thinking that she was TSTL. (Too Stupid to Live). I thought that given her painful background, her vulnerability to Blaine was believable.

I know this subject isn't an easy one to broach and I admire the author for doing it well. I can imagine she felt a certain amount of pain? discomfort? at throwing her creations into such a bad situation. This is more than just escapist fiction, (which I do love, I write it myself), it's stuff that happens in real life and it isn't pretty. The healing power of the Savior and loving friends and family is clear, though, and gives a ray of hope. I was satisfied with Clare's ending, and yet my first question for Jennie was to ask if there was a sequel on the way to continue her story. Her answer was that no, this is where it ended for her, that in real life, sometimes we don't know how things pan out. After she said that, it made perfect sense to me.

I would recommend this book to anyone- it's a good fix if you like suspense and romance, or also if you prefer your fiction to be more on the "realistic" side- rather like Anita Stansfield, Rachel Ann Nunes, Jodi Picoult, etc.

I loved it!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The worth of a soul...

Last night I had the privilege of attending a fundraiser at my husband's school. He's a counselor for the Youth in Custody program, and the school decided to hold a fundraiser to raise money for a family in need this Christmas.

The students have been doing research for projects, writing papers on those projects and putting together slide shows that displayed images of their research with original text, all set to music.

There was a group of four brave students who sang, "Angels Among Us." They were wonderful, and I say "brave," because there were eight more who were supposed to sing with them. These four were awesome!

The students also made five quilts that were auctioned off. They were beautiful, and each one was purchased.

I was so touched at the work the kids put into their projects and the quilts. These children have experienced a slice of life I can only gape at, and I'm amazed at their resilience. They are working hard to succeed in a world that hasn't given then a very nice beginning. My hat is off to them--I am in awe of them and humbled by them.

My kudos also to the staff, who are talented, dedicated, and who must have loads of patience and use it often. Teaching is not an easy profession; I speak from experience.

I suppose I just want to say to this group of people, staff and children, and to teachers and students everywhere--nicely done. This life is not an easy one, and I do believe that as long as we help each other, we'll all get through it intact.

Happy Holidays to Project Surpass, and truly, God bless us, everyone!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I am alive!

I am still alive and kicking- just not kicking too much online lately. I'm finishing up my Isabelle 2 novel, doing the mom thing, and trying to keep my house in some semblance of order, which is ever a losing battle for me.

Coming soon, though, I'll be posting my review of Jennie Hansen's Shudder. And I'm way behind the game, but I finally read Josi Kilpack's Lemon Tart and will be reviewing that one soon, too.

In the meantime, think of me fondly, as I am of you. :-)