Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Emma Blog Tour

It's time for the blog tour! Here are the stops:

Tuesday July 30

www.thesecretunderstandingofthehearts.blogspot.com guest post on advice in Emma and giveaway 

Wednesday July 31

Thursday Aug 1

Friday Aug 2

www.literarytimeout.blogspot.com review, guest post, and giveaway 

Saturday Aug 3

Monday Aug 5

www.ilovetoreadandreviewbooks.blogspot.com review, guest post, and giveaway 

Tuesday Aug 6

Wednesday Aug 7

www.fireandicephoto.blogspot.com guest post and giveaway

mjmbecky.blogspot.com guest post about Jane Austen

Thursday Aug 8

www.mybookaday.blogspot.com review, giveaway, and guest post about Jane Austen inspiration

Friday Aug 9

 www.lisaisabookworm.blogspot.com review and giveaway 

Saturday Aug 10

www.everyfreechance.com  review, giveaway, and interview 

Monday Aug 12

www.ldsandlovinit.blogspot.com review, interview, giveaway 

Tuesday Aug 13

Wednesday August 14

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Book Review: Penumbras

My son and I had such a fun time reading The Kindling that I jumped at the chance to review the sequel, Penumbras. Both books are about a group of middle school friends who discover they have magical abilities. I know it sounds like Harry Potter, but Braden Bell has built a completely new and original world to inspire the middle-school imagination. His magic centers around light and the battle against darkness. One thing I like about the books is that there are so many life lessons running under the surface. The characters learn about following their impulses to do good and overcoming feelings of insecurity.

While The Kindling is action-packed, Penumbras has a balance of action, romance, and character growth. One of my favorite characters, Dr. Timberi, is absent for the first half of the book. Though I missed him, this also keeps things interesting, as the middle schoolers have to face the powers of darkness on their own.

From the Back Cover:
Conner Dell didn't meant to blow up the school bus.
Or the bathrooms.
In fact, he only wanted to go to sleep and possibly dream about Melanie Stephens.
But explosions had a funny way of happening when Conner and his friends were around.
Conner Dell wants to be good--he really does. But he is terrified that he might be turning into a Darkhand, especially when new powers start to surface. What's worse, the Stalker is following Conner, but no one else seems to be able to see him. The Magi think he might be hallucinating, the guilt of what happened in the Shadowbox keeps weighing on him, and his relationship with Melanie Stephens is complicating things. Even for a Magi, Conner knows his life is anything but normal.

About the Author:

Braden Bell grew up in Farmington, Utah and graduated from Davis High School. He earned bachelor’s and
master’s degrees in theatre from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in educational theatre from New York University. He and his wife, Meredith live with their five children on a quiet, wooded lot outside of Nashville, Tennessee, where he teaches theatre and music at a private school. An experienced performer, Braden enjoys singing, acting, reading, gardening, and long walks with the dog.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Diony George: Heaven's Just a Prayer Away

Today I'm sharing a story I enjoyed from Diony George's new book, Heaven is Just a Prayer Away:

Repeatedly through prayer I’ve received wisdom to handle situations in my life I wasn’t dealing well with on my own, especially in my role as a Mother.

My bedroom was quiet, and warm from the afternoon sun, but I didn’t find it comforting as I shut the door behind me. I was exhausted, filled with so much frustration I wanted to scream. I started to cry instead.
My son had lied to me again.

I had tried to do everything I knew how to get him to stop. Nothing worked. Not losing friends, video games or television. Not writing sentences, or doing dishes for a week. And none of the many talks or family home evening lessons we’d had about honesty. My discouragement ran deep and I had run out of ideas. How could I get him to understand the immense value of this principle? How could I believe anything he told me?
I’d prayed about it many times, at least I thought I had, in a general way, but the problem persisted and my discouragement and feelings of helplessness to change it increased.

I knelt down by my bed. The filtered rays of sunshine coming through the bedroom window warmed my back and I started another prayer. I felt tired, sad, and at a loss of where to go next. “Father in Heaven, I don’t know what to do. Please help me…”

I told him all of my concerns until my knees were sore. When I finished, I opened my eyes and grabbed a Kleenex to wipe the tears off my face. I got up and sat on the edge of my bed. Releasing the emotions helped lighten my heavy heart, but I still didn’t know what to do.

It wasn’t long before a thought entered my mind.

Really, Heavenly Father, I questioned. You want me to do that? How can that possibly work? What about the next time and the next time he tells me something?

I was to tell my son I was not going to look back anymore at the times he’d been dishonest, the times he’d covered the truth with excuses or denials. That was over and done with. From then on, I would believe he was telling me the truth. I was going to trust him.

I called my son to my bedroom so we could talk and I told him right then I was drawing a line, separating the past from the future. I watched his eyes grow bigger as he listened. With parted lips, he searched my face.
 “Unless you do or say something to break my trust, I am now giving it to you completely.” Heavenly Father are you sure, I questioned again, feeling afraid.

His answer was a warm feeling of peace.

My son’s eyes watered and he hugged me. “Thanks Mom, I love you.” He turned and left the room.
My tears fell again.

 Over the next several months I saw my son change. The first few times I asked if he was sure he was being honest or telling the truth, there was hesitation. Occasionally he changed his answers. As time passed the hesitations disappeared and his responses were strong and firm.

I would never have thought to handle that situation the way I did, on my own. That inspiration and guidance came directly from Heavenly Father as an answer to my prayers. 

Meet the Author:

Diony George is a wife, stay-at-home mom of seven, grandmother of three, motivational speaker, and the author of four books. Through her writing and public speaking she loves helping others draw closer to God. An avid reader whose favorite genre is romantic suspense, Diony also loves to travel, sew, and bake—especially pies and homemade bread. Born and raised in Alaska, she currently resides in Salt Lake City with her husband and family. Mrs. George can be reached through her personal website at http://www.dionygeorge.com

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July Pictures

My summer has been a little crazier than I'd thought. Is it just me, or does this happen to everyone? I'd imagined all these peaceful moments, relaxing with a book or writing. But those moments only happen twice a week during swim lessons. I'm so glad I signed the kids up.

In between the crazy stuff, we have had a lot of fun. One of the fun things we did was go to the Daughters of Utah Pioneers museum in Salt Lake City. It's been a while since I've been there, and all I remembered was quilts and a stuffed two-headed lamb. So I told the boys they could see a two-headed lamb if they went with me. I had no idea how much they would love that museum. It's like a collection from Ripley's Believe It Or Not. We saw coffin dolls, a baby skull, and a 100-year-old cake, among other things. My oldest son said they had a better collection of swords than the Marine museum in Washington, D.C. Here's a picture of the two-headed lamb (I borrowed the picture from http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/6379):

We have also done a little hiking. A while ago I promised my second son that I'd take him to Donut Falls, so we finally went. Aren't I a great parent? Especially since I made that promise six years ago! It was a fun hike and just the right level of difficulty for our four year old. The picture at the top of the page is from our 4th of July hike. I'll let you in on a little secret we've discovered lately about hiking. Saturday around 5 pm is a great time to start a short hike. It's cooler, and there are more parking spaces.

Last month, we held a court of honor for our oldest son because he got his Eagle scout award. I'm so proud of Luke for all he's accomplished. I was a little nervous about the ceremony, but Luke said he wanted it to be super short. He didn't want to be bored. So all I really had to worry about was invitations and refreshments. Facebook makes invitations much easier. And rootbeer floats made the refreshments easier. 

Between the two of us, my husband and I have gone to four camps this summer. It's fun, but it can be stressful too. Why is it that all the really stressful stuff happens while my husband is out of cell phone range?

Oh, and since I haven't said much about reading or writing, I'll share a book I read last month that was great: My Loving Vigil Keeping, a historical fiction about coal mines by Carla Kelly. How about you? Do you have any good books or fun activities to recommend?