Saturday, February 28, 2015

BLOG TOUR: Letters to My Future Husband by Lisa McKendrick

Letters to My Future Husband blog tour


ABOUT THE BOOK

Sophie doesn’t know what kind of man she’s looking for, so her father suggests she write letters to her future husband—and come to know him in the process. But Sophie soon learns her letters aren’t the most reliable key to her heart. This hilarious coming-of-age novel is a guaranteed laugh-out-loud read you’ll want to share with all your friends.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa has been actively writing for many years and continues to hone her craft as a writer by attending SCBWI conferences in Florida. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a master’s degree in English, and has published three books in the LDS market.

REVIEW

I read this book in a day.  I had to know what happened between Sophie and Peter.  When I started the book I wasn't sure I was going to like Sophie, but considering her mother's bossiness and almost constant negativity.  But Sophie does feel genuine flaws and all.  But I confess my favorite character was Peter. I think that's why I read the book so quickly, I wanted to see what would happen.  I'm a big fan of good men and Peter definitely fits that definition.  In fact, it's to bad that he isn't a real character or I might go after him myself . ;)

Despite the seriousness of the issues that Sophie dealt with regarding self-confidence and her difficult relationship with her mother there was quite a bit of humor in the story.  Especially when Sophia starts dreaming about her future daughter.  There interactions were funny and heart-breaking at the same time.  It's a good thing most parents don't start with strong-willed ten-year-olds. 

The letters that Sophia wrote to her 'future husband' which is where the name of the book came from, but she gives it up when her mother discovers it.  What is especially interesting is when she looks back at it after growing up.  It's always interesting to look back at where we came from and it helps Sophia figure out what she wants and where she's going.  A story with some interesting twists and turns, for example, the way Sophia initially meets Peter is definitely unusual.  A book that I would definitely recommend to those who enjoy a different sort of romance with some interesting twists and turns.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Eleventh Brother by Rachel S. Wilcox


ABOUT THE BOOK

When Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob, is sold into bondage by his brothers, Egypt is a land in turmoil—its fortune determined by the unpredictable rains that either bring prosperity or leave the people in famine and starvation. But Joseph is no common slave. Imprisoned and forgotten by all but God, he interprets a dream that reveals the future and alters his destiny. Now with his privileged Egyptian-born wife, Asenath, at his side, Joseph's transformation from the boy in the pit to the ruler of Egypt is nearly complete. But position and power cannot erase the bitterness he holds deep inside. When he suddenly comes face to face with the family that betrayed him, Joseph devises a plot to test his brothers' true character. Yet even revenge may not fill the aching hole in Joseph's heart, and the influence of a beautiful woman may be his only hope for redemption.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 After spending her high school years in the south of France, RACHEL K. WILCOX studied philosophy, literature, and film at Brigham Young University, where she graduated as the valedictorian. After college, she moved to West Africa to make a documentary film and instead used her camera to co-found a humanitarian project. She has been a researcher and case writer at Harvard Business School and writes and researches in the interdisciplinary fields of law and the humanities. She is in her final year of law school at Stanford University.

REVIEW

The story of Joseph of Egypt is one that I have long been fascinated by.  But the Bible doesn't give a whole lot of detail, just the essentials.  So when I heard about this book I was instantly interested.  But like all stories based on real people, places, and events, I went into it with a healthy dose of skepticism. But the lengthy author's note at the end and the detailed descriptions make it clear that the author did her homework.  Many of the chapters are named after the verses in the scriptures where that part of Joseph's story is told.  I greatly appreciated the fact that the author clearly focused on the events that the Bible describes.  All of this makes for an interesting read that created more empathy in me for the difficult things that Joseph experienced on his way to the position he ends up occupying. And of course, a position of power doesn't make things easier necessarily since Joseph was living in a culture not his own.  The thing I especially love about historical fiction is how it can help the reader imagine the feelings that a person might have experienced, somehow it makes the person seem more real and human.  And this is an excellent example of the genre that I can recommend to those who, like me, are fascinated by the story of Joseph.  I was also struck as I read this by the parallels between Joseph's experience and the Savior's.  Joseph was sacrificed so that he could later save his family.  Jesus was sacrificed so he could save his family.

Monday, February 23, 2015

BLOG TOUR: Sharing the Gospel through Social Media by Erin Ann McBride

 Sharing Gospel Social Media blog tour


ABOUT THE BOOK

Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ has never been easier. This book was written to help bishops, ward mission leaders, stake presidents, stake public affairs directors, mission presidents, and every day member missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, learn to navigate and appreciate the potential of social media in their missionary efforts. Explanations, ideas, and strategies are provided on how to incorporate Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and other networks into Mormon missionary efforts. This ebook makes it easy for even social media beginners to effectively share the gospel online.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erin Ann McBride is the author of Sharing the Gospel through Social Media, Increase E-Book Sales with Social Media Marketing, and the novels, You Heard It Here First, This Just In!, and Beyond Perfection. She is also a columnist for LDS-oriented Meridian Magazine. She is a full-time social media marketing consultant and writer. She graduated from George Mason University in Communications. She lives in the suburbs of Washington, DC.

REVIEW

Since the advent of social media the way people communicate has really changed.  With so many people using various forms of social media, it has become a valuable communication tool.  But like all tools, its effectiveness depends on how it is used.  Since becoming a blogger, I have learned a great deal about different forms of social media and how valuable they can be, but there is always more to learn.  Getting the advice of an social media marketing consultant seems like a good idea for anyone looking to boost their online connections.  The focus in this particular book is sharing the gospel (the beliefs and doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or Mormons) through social media.

The author spends the first chapter addressing terminology related to social media and what she calls "The Three Golden Rules of Communication."  She addresses the need to 'create awareness', 'educate your audience', and providing a 'call to action'.  Simply sharing one's beliefs she points out is not enough if it doesn't encourage others to seek further information or act on what they've read or heard.  She also points out the important of knowing your audience.  Sharing the gospel with those who are already members isn't what you are after if you are seeking missionary opportunities.

The rest of the book looks at each of the major social media sites, their features, and how they can best be used.  There are lots of great tips and ideas, some of which I plan to implement at some point.  The book is quite short but is a valuable resource for those who want to share their thoughts and feelings or gospel doctrine in an effective way.  Highly recommended.

OTHER RESOURCES

I've decided to gather some other resources on this same topic here as much for myself and for my readers.  If you have another great resource that you think I should add to this post, please share in the comments. Thanks!

LDS Church website links:

Sharing the Gospel Via Social Media
Sharing the Gospel Online
New Era article on Sharing the Gospel through Social Media
Elder Bednar's BYU talk about Sharing the Gospel through Social Media
Social Media Helps for Members
Videos

Monday, February 16, 2015

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: The Healer by Gregg Luke


ABOUT THE BOOK

After successfully completing his first-year professorship, Welsh folklore expert Chris Pendragon has earned a vacation. At least that's what the young scholar tells himself—but deep down he feels an urgency to reassess his life, to find a sense of purpose. Hoping that perhaps a trip to Wales will provide the answers he seeks, Chris embarks on a journey of self-discovery. But he could never have anticipated the unimaginable adventure that awaits him ...

Shortly after his arrival in Wales, Chris is witness to a horrific accident with more far-reaching consequences than he could have dreamed. Following Chris's heroic rescue of one of the victims, an unexplainable phenomenon is revealed: bones that had been broken were made whole with Chris's touch. Still reeling form this discovery, Chris is approached by a wizened old man with an implausible answer: Chris has been chosen to be the bearer of the Dial, a healer of unparalleled power. But the calling is fraught with peril, and Chris soon discovers there are those who will stop at nothing to seize the power of the Dial. With the help of a beautiful, if skeptical, doctor, Chris must choose: go back to the life he was leading or embark on a thrilling new destiny.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

GREGG LUKE was born in Bakersfield, California, but spent the majority of his childhood and young adult life in Santa Barbara, California. He served an LDS mission to Wisconsin then pursued his education in biological sciences at SBCC, UCSBB, BYU, and subsequently graduated from the University of Utah College of Pharmacy. His biggest loves are family reading, writing, music, science, and nature.

REVIEW

This is the first book I've read by Gregg Luke and it won't be the last.  I was pulled into the story immediately, intrigued with the whole premise.  Many people have struggled with the whole what should I do with my life dilemma, but not quite in the same way that Christian Pendragon does.  On a vacation in Wales, Christian faces just such a dilemma.  After stopping to help a couple of accident victims, Christian discovers that he has a powerful gift.  But when he meets an old gentleman who attempts to help him come to terms with this unbelievable gift, he finds the whole situation almost too much to believe.  I loved the way the author integrated the real with the fantastical creating a fascinating story of faith, compassion, and courage.  

Christian made for a great character, one I found myself rooting for whole-heartedly.  His inner struggles with finding his path in life and then having to make difficult decisions that effected not only his own life but those around him was a journey that I enjoyed following him on.  I loved reading about Christian's trip to Wales a place that doesn't show up in literature a whole lot.  The descriptions of the people and places made me want to hop into the book and visit there as well, even if I didn't have a clue about how to pronounce the names.  A thoroughly enjoyable book that I can highly recommend.  I willl definitely be seeking out more of Luke's books.

GIVEAWAY

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TOUR SCHEDULE

Feb. 20th: 



BLOG TOUR: Teaching Children about Sex using the Temple as Your Guide by Cherri Brooks

Teaching Children About Sex blog tour


ABOUT THE BOOK

It’s time for the talk. Teach your children the truth about sexual intimacy in a world of shifting values and ideas. With expert advice and age-appropriate wording, you learn how to use the temple as a beautiful analogy to discuss with your kids the sacred subject of sex. Timely and clear, this book is a must-read for parents, teachers, and leaders.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cherri H. Brooks grew up in Centerville, Utah and attended Utah State University where she earned her M.S. in Family and Human Development. She is the author of the LDS Living Magazine article, “Talking to Kids about Sex.” Her blog is www.timelesstemples.blogspot.com. She lives in Clarksville, Tennessee, with her husband and three children.

REVIEW

When I first heard about this book, I was immediately intrigued.  While I am not a parent this is a topic that has long concerned me, especially with the way the world perceives sexuality.  Brooks has done a superb job here explaining why teaching children about sex is so vitally important as well as great advice on how and when to do it.  The first part of the book looks at why it needs to be done and the importance of reacting appropriately to child questions.  She encourages honesty and calm explanations as the best way to address the topic.

I especially liked how she compared teaching children about sexual intimacy to preparation for attending the temple.  She encourages the use of positive terminology rather than portraying sex as dirty and bad.  Referring to sex as something to be experienced later within the commitment of marriage just as one teaches children to prepare for attending the temple later.

Since the home is the best place to institute moral values it becomes very important to teach children about sexual intimacy deliberately and carefully rather than letting children pick things up from the world around them.  The second part of the book looks at various issues and ways to teach children at different age levels.  I especially appreciated the ideas shared here because the author does such a great job of suggesting what can be said and how.  The general parenting advice included throughout the book is also spot on and a great reminder of how a good example can be the most effective teaching tool of all.  I highly recommend this book for parents or those who are concerned about helping children develop an appreciation for the importance of sex within the bounds of a healthy marriage.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

CD REVIEW: Madilyn Paige


ABOUT THE PRODUCT

This stunning self-titled debut EP features a set of tunes notable for their raw emotion and beautiful soundscapes. Madilyn wrote or co-wrote every song on the album, drawin from her own struggles as a teenager and her heartfelt expressions of the joy she finds in life. The first track, "Irreplaceable," begins with aching introspection and soars to an assurance of self-worth; the folloring track, "Foolish Game," was written right after Madilyn left the TV show The Voice and gives insight into the inevitability of discouragement in life and the realization that you can rise above the games that people play. An epic movie score string section combines with powerful rhythms on "Undercover," a breathtaking song about overcoming sadness and seeking the light all around you. The final track, "Little Things," playfully reminds us that the little things in life are the source of true joy.

ABOUT THE ARTIST

MADILYN PAIGE is a singer-songwriter from Provo, Utah. As a young child, she lived in Japan. She took up singing after she moved back to the U.S. She loves making music videos and short films with her friends and has performed in various local competitions.

MUSIC VIDEO


REVIEW

I have to admit, I was a bit surprised by the pop sound of Madilyn's voice/music.  I guess I was just expecting something else.  I hadn't heard her sing or perform before so I was surprised.  The sound has grown on me though as I have listened to it.  And I like the message of some of the songs, especially Irreplaceable and Little Things. As I've looked at the lyrics of the various songs (see here to listen to samples) it feels like Paige is sharing some of her experiences in her introduction to the music profession.  For example, in Little Things the song talks about how fancy cars and fame don't bring happiness, nor does running away solve one's problems, that it's the little things that are important.  Teens are likely to be the best audience for this music.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Eve: In the Beginning by H. B. Moore


ABOUT THE BOOK

The first love story on earth... Haunting... Lyrical... Unforgettable...

In a world where everything is perfect, yet the same day after day, Eve must decide if she wants to live forever in the garden with Adam and never know what lies beyond the walls. When she makes a choice with terrible consequences, the pain of mortality is swift. As she and Adam explore their new world, and her body changes, Eve discovers the sweetness of first love with the man who has always been at her side.


REVIEW

The story of Adam and Eve has always fascinated me, especially since there are so many details of their story that we don't know.  Which is why writing a story based on that scriptural story takes not only a great imagination but a willingness to explore the unknown.  I appreciated that Moore explains at the beginning of the story that there is much in this story that is fictionalized and that the story doesn't line up with any particular religious belief, even her own.  As a story it is very well done, with the alternating perspectives of Adam (told from third person) and Eve (told in first person). I thoroughly enjoyed Moore's writing, she certainly has a way with words.  She made me want to wander the garden with Adam and Eve. An engaging story beautifully told that while not doctrinal certainly made me think about what it might have been like to have been there.

Monday, February 9, 2015

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: The Rules of Rome by A.L. Soward


ABOUT THE BOOK


With Hitler's forces firmly entrenched in Europe, countless heroes seek to end the madman's reign. Bastien Ley is one of the best. Working in Italy for the Office of Strategic Services, he's been tasked with sabotaging German convoys. When his team kills an officer headed for Rome, the man's similarity to Bastien is undeniable, and seeing an opportunity to turn the tide of the war, Bastien makes a bold decision: he will assume the dead officer's identity. He become Dietrich, an Iron Cross-wearing German officer—an ideal position from which to infiltrate the Nazi ranks in Rome. Bastien's assignment becomes extremely stressful, and his superiors send him a reinforcement in the form of the lovely Gracie Begni, an intelligent, eager, and completely inexperienced radio operator.

With a gulf of resentment between them, these two agents must find a way to portray a couple in love. Soon their reluctant alliance becomes much more as Bastien and Gracie find themselves getting lost in their feeling for each other. But as they engage in battle against the deadliest foe the world has ever known, the pair quickly realizes their love may be doomed. As the Rome Gestapo threatens to destroy all they've worked for, will Bastien and Gracie survive their charade?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sowards is a graduate of Moses Lake High School and Brigham Young University. She swam competitively for sixteen years, including while she was in college. She found it more entertaining to think of plot ideas while following the black line up and down the bottom of the pool than having a song in her head that restarted with every flip turn. Sowards currently lives along the Wasatch front with her amazing husband and her adorable twin toddlers. She loves hearing from readers at ALSowards.com or on Facebook or Goodreads.

REVIEW

In The Rules of Rome, Soward takes the reader on a thrilling ride through the Nazi occupation of Italy.  The story starts with a bang as Bastien Ley, an OSS agent working in Italy stumbles across a German officer who bares an uncanny resemblance to himself. Going undercover is a risky proposition but if it helps end the war before his brother joins up, he's willing to risk it.  However, when his boss sends him an inexperienced young agent to help, he is extremely reluctant to accept her presence.  Things get even more complicated when despite their initial dislike they start to care for each other.  Soward does a great job of creating an intriguing plot in a place that doesn't receive as much attention from WWII novelists.  The story begins quickly and continues on that way until the end.  The challenges of facing a deadly enemy as well as their own emotions makes Bastien and Gracie characters that I was more than happy to read about, the story also helped create a greater appreciation for those who put their lives on the line to help end that horrible war.

GIVEAWAY


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BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

 
 
 
 
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