Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Home & Away Book Review and Giveaway

Home and Away (1)  

Home and Away
Home and Away: A World War II Christmas Story 
by Dean Hughes 
Norma Hayes has always tried to make Christmas special for her family, but this year it is going to be difficult. Money is tight, and wartime rationing is taking its toll as well. Harder still, her oldest son, Glen, is on the front lines of the battle in Europe. Glen Hayes wants nothing more than to be home for Christmas. He holds a sprig of lavender in his pocket. The scent reminds him of his mother. The memory of home may be the only thing that is keeping him alive and sane during the horrors of war. Dennis Hayes is sixteen and longs to see his older brother again. He also longs to have a relationship with his father, but most important, Dennis is determined to buy something special for his mother this Christmas--the one gift he feels certain she deserves. So many families have had their hopes dashed in World War II. Will the Hayes family make it through?

My Review
I love World War II stories. I also love Christmas. Combine the two and you have a great, heart-warming read that put me in the Christmas spirit. I really connected with Norma, being an Army Mom myself. It's hard to make home, especially holidays, seem "normal" when it's not. Your family isn't together. I loved how the boys love their mom. How Glen, even as a "tough soldier", NEEDED her. And how Dennis just wanted to make her happy and make Christmas good for her. All around it was a sweet read and now I feel ready for the Christmas season. :) ****4 stars****

Praise for Home and Away
''It's 1944 and teenager Dennis Hayes longs to join his older brother Glen, who is fighting in Europe..When his family receives word that Glen has been wounded, Dennis realizes that going to war is not so glamorous. Christmas isn't the same without Glen, but the Hayes family members hope and pray that they'll be reunited soon. Hughes's faith-filled, old-fashioned story feels like it could have been written during the period in which it takes place.'' --Library Journal 

 ''Home and Away is far and away the best story I have read this year. Awesome and moving.'' --bestselling author, Obert Skye

 add to goodreads

Author Dean Hughes
Dean Hughes is a bestselling and prolific writer who published his hundredth book in 2014. He holds a bachelor's degree from Weber State College and master's degree and PhD from the University of Washington. He has attended post-doctoral seminars at Stanford and Yale Universities and taught English at Central Missouri State University and Brigham Young University.

$25 Blog Tour giveaway 
Blog Tour Giveaway $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 11/30/15
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded.
No purchase necessary.
You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Lord Fenton's Folly Book Review and Giveaway

Lord Fenton's Folly (1) 
Lord Fenton's Folly
Lord Fenton's Folly by Josi Kilpack 
Lord Fenton is a gambler, a dandy, and a flirt-and he must marry or else he will be disinherited, stripped of his wealth and his position. He chooses Alice Stanbridge for two simple reasons: he once knew her as a young girl, and she is the least objectionable option available to him. However, Alice has harbored feelings for Fenton since their first meeting ten years ago, and she believes his proposal is real. When she discovers it is not, she is embarrassed and hurt. However, a match with the most-eligible bachelor in London would secure not only her future but that of her family as well. Determined to protect herself from making a fool of herself a second time, Alice matches Lord Fenton wit for wit and insult for insult as they move toward a marriage of convenience that is anything but a happy union. Only when faced with family secrets that have shaped Fenton's life does he let down his guard enough to find room in his heart for Alice.

Fenton groaned and put his saucer back on the tray, making an instantaneous decision that eased his mind quite a lot. To look at every woman he met as a potential wife was irritating, and after only two weeks he was quite tired of it. Perhaps the solution was to orchestrate a match that would not lay all aspects of matrimony at his feet all at once. Perhaps treating it as a business arrangement would help it to be exactly that, thereby freeing him from all the discomfiting realities he was not yet prepared to face. "I leave for Fentonview on Tuesday and shan't be back for a week. Courting is such a boring prospect, and you yourself said that to become infatuated with anyone might become a complication." He paused, considered one last time what he was going to say next, and decided he felt as good about it as could be expected. "You like Alice Stanbridge and feel she would make a good wife for me?" Lady Chariton looked confused and perhaps a bit concerned. "I do, but-" "Then that is good enough for me," Fenton said, rising to his feet and smiling broadly at his mother, who stared back at him in surprise. "I do find her appealing and what's more she is not a silly little thing without a practical thought in her head." His mother's eyes widened and her eyebrows rose upon her forehead. Fenton struck a pose of consternation, with his thumb and forefinger on his chin as he looked toward the window a moment, then nodded crisply and turned back to his mother who still looked shocked by his pronouncement. "Yes, I think that Alice Stanbridge is exactly what I should like in a wife, and so I shall see to it before I leave for Hampshire-I see no reason to wait until Michaelmas and might as well get it over with." He leaned in and kissed his mother's hand. "Thank you for your help, Mama. I shall let you know how she responds to my proposal."

My Review
Lord Fenton and Alice knew each other years and years ago. When Lord Fenton is giving an ultimatum to man up and marry or lose his inheritance, he picks the first girl his mom points out- Alice. However, Alice has had a crush on Lord Fenton since she was 11. When she finds out this will be a marriage of convenience she is crushed. A good percentage of the book Alice is protecting her heart from the pain she's feeling. She does it through witty banter for the most part. The way they treated each other actually started to bother me after a while, but when I thought about it more, this is one of the only marriage of convenience books I've read where they didn't fall in love easily or quickly. This took work to make it work. Family secrets are revealed, and eventually an understanding comes between Lord Fenton and Alice. I'd recommend the book and give it 4 stars.

Author Josi Kilpack
Josi S. Kilpack hated to read until her mother handed her a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond when she was 13. From that day forward, she read everything she could get her hands on and credits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then. She began writing her first novel in 1998 and never stopped. Sheep's Clothing won the Whitney award for Mystery/Suspense in 207 and Wedding Cake, book twelve in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery series won in 2014. Josi was also the Best of State winner in Fiction for 2012. Josi currently lives in Willard, Utah, with her husband, children and super-cute - but not very friendly - cat.
$25 Blog Tour giveaway

$25 Blog Tour Giveaway
 $25 Amazon eGift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 10/29/15
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com eGift Card or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Weekend Getaway Part 2

Read about part one HERE

Friday after visiting Carthage Jail we headed back towards Kansas City. There was a writer's conference at a library with a lot of LDS authors.  Chesney and I were hoping to meet Jennifer Moore and Sarah M. Eden. We didn't realize we were kind of crashin' a conference. I mean, yes, there was a book signing, but I think Chesney and I were the only people there without an ID badge from the conference! haha We were able to purchase books from the conference bookstore. I already owned all of Sarah M. Eden's so I brought 5 or 6 (...or 7) for her to sign and then I purchased 2 of Jennifer Moore's.
First we went to Jennifer Moore's table. She was so sweet and down to earth. Chesney and I were all spazzy with excitement! She just took her time talking to us about our trip and her books. I am really so glad I had the opportunity to meet her. I'm also SO thrilled I bought the books I did. "Miss Burton Unmasks a Prince" was so super cute! And "Simply Anna" earned a place on my "Faves" bookshelf on Goodreads. I absolutely love, love, LOVED it! Jennifer was sweet enough to take a picture with me... and I look like my head is huge and I ate her. She is tiny. It was just so super to meet her. :)
Jennifer Moore and me :)
After chatting with Jennifer (first name basis now...;) we headed over to Sarah Eden's table. I happened to pick up a book in the bookstore I thought my son, Taj, might like, "Slayers" by C.J. Hill. She was seated next to Sarah, so I asked her to sign it for Taj. She was so sweet and made it out to Taj and everything. (C.J. Hill is one pen name for Janette Rallison.) After chatting with her a minute it was finally our turn to meet Sarah Eden. She graciously signed all 400 of my books. She said she was running out of original things to write, so in one book she wrote "This is a really good book!" I was laughing so hard! I happened to mention that when I went to Utah and met her I lost the "Layton" button I was bringing back for Chesney. Sarah actually took down Chesney's address and just this week she sent her several buttons and a couple pens! How cool is that? She signed all our books and we took a pic with her too. It was just over all a great experience. I'm glad we crashed the conference! ;)
Chesney, Sarah M. Eden, and Me!

After the book signing, we made our way to my sister's house. She lived about 10 miles from the library. My sister is always such a wonderful hostess. We got to go out to dinner that night and then hung out watching "The Wedding Singer" and eating candy in her basement. I love my sister! The next day while Tara was at a dog training class, Chesney and I went on an adventure to find fairy doors in trees that a friend of Chesney's sister had decorated a while ago. We found them and it was so fun!

Once Tara was free, we headed to Liberty and Independence to see a little more church history. We visited Liberty Jail, where Joseph Smith and others were held on false charges for several winter months. The jail was so cold that after being used as a jail for 23 years, it was used as an ice house. The ceiling was so low, the Prophet could not stand up completely. And they had a bucket for a toilet. A BUCKET, y'all.
The walls were over 3 feet thick.
It was weird to smile in this pic considering where we were. Chesney, me, Tara at Liberty Jail
 After visiting Liberty Jail, we went to the Independence, MO visitor's center. I had been there a couple times before so we just toured one part of it talking about the Saint's history in Independence. On the way back to Tara's we went by the Kansas City temple. The grounds are beautiful as well as the temple building!

That evening we ate dinner with Tara's crew and hung out, packed, etc... At 4am my alarm went off and it was time to head back to the airport, drop off the car, and head home. It was such a nice, fun, quick trip where I had the chance to not worry about grown up stuff and get to delve into history! Thanks to my sister, Tara, for being such a fabulous hostess, Chesney for being a great travel partner, and my amazing husband for taking care of the home and kids -- AND subbing for me as music leader in the primary nursery at church!! Love you!!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Weekend Getaway Part 1

Last week my awesome husband held down the fort so I could have a weekend away. It was much needed since my heart is still pretty raw since my missionary left. The weekend getaway actually gave me 4 days in a row that I didn't cry. So, that was huge. It hasn't happened since then, but having 4 days where I was occupied and didn't have time to get sad was refreshing. :) I love my husband.

What started out as my friend, Chesney, and I driving up to Kansas City for an author book signing morphed into us flying up the KC early, early last Thursday, renting a car, and driving up to Nauvoo, Illinois. Nauvoo is full of LDS church history, so I was pretty excited. I had just finished reading "The Work & The Glory" series, by Gerald N. Lund, for the 3rd time, so church history was fresh in my head. Nauvoo, according to GPS, is 4 hours and 20 minutes away from the KC airport. I'm not trying to brag, but I made it in 3:40... ;)

We spent Thursday touring historical Nauvoo. We took a wagon ride through the town, which helped up figure out what we wanted to visit with our limited time frame. We stayed in the cutest old-timey hotel called The Woodruff Hotel. It was catty-corner from the Nauvoo temple. We visited and toured a few particular sites, such as the gunsmith, the bakery, the Red Brick Store, Joseph Smith gravesite, etc... We also went to the temple that evening. OMG- it was beautiful. The hardwood floor, the spiral staircase, I was in aww the entire time. And it was not busy at all, so all the temple workers were super excited to see us. It was so beautiful inside, and absolutely breath-taking outside. I loved the stained glass windows and the sun stones. I also really loved "The Prophet's Last Ride" statue of Joseph and Hyrum Smith outside and facing the temple.
The Gunsmith Shop -- it was awesome. Did you know that the son of Jonathan Browning, John Moses Browing, is one of the most successful firearms designers of the 20th century, in the development of modern automatic and semi-automatic firearms, and is credited with 128 gun patents...
View of the Nauvoo Temple from our hotel
View of the temple from our wagon ride

"The Mansion House" where Joseph and Emma Smith lived and housed their many guests

Joseph, Emma, & Hyrum Smith's burial site
Joseph Smith's parents

The Prophet's Last Ride
We stayed Thursday night, and Friday morning we shopped some for souvenirs before leaving to drive to Carthage Jail. That is where Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, were murdered by a mob. We didn't have a lot of time because we needed to be to Kansas City for the book signing at 5pm. So we didn't watch the video, we just toured the jail.
Joseph Smith fell from the 2nd story window after being shot.
The window by the head of the bed is where Joseph Smith fell from after being shot.
The original door... You can see the gun shot hole in the door and on the side is where they tried to shoot off the lock.

Joseph and Hyrum

I felt the spirit very strongly at Carthage Jail. To be in the actual room where a prophet of God was killed was a little overwhelming. When the tour guide spoke about the murder I could almost feel the fear felt and when she pointed to the window Joseph Smith fell from I had to suck tears back up into my eyes. I am so glad we were able to make the stop at Carthage Jail.

After Carthage we had about 4 1/2 hours to make it to the book signing where we were excited to meet Jennifer Moore and Sarah M. Eden. I met Sarah Eden in Utah back in April, but Chesney hadn't met her yet. And we are fans of both so this was pretty exciting! Also, since my sister lives near KC we were going to stay with her and her family for 2 nights!!!

To be continued...

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Wishing for You Book Blast and Giveaway

I wishI Wish by Elizabeth Langston  
What Lacey needs is a miracle. What she gets is a genie with rules. Lacey Linden is hiding the truth of her life—a depressed mom, a crumbling house, and bills too big to pay. While her high school classmates see a girl with a ready smile and good grades, Lacey spends her evenings seeking ways to save her family. On a get-cash-quick trip to the flea market, Lacey stumbles over a music box that seemingly begs her to take it home. She does, only to find it is inhabited by a gorgeous "genie." He offers her a month of wishes, one per day, but there's a catch. Each wish must be humanly possible. Grant belongs to a league of supernatural beings, dedicated to serving humans in need. After two years of fulfilling the boring wishes of conventional teens, he is one assignment away from promotion to a challenging new role with more daring cases. Yet his month with Lacey is everything that he expects and nothing like he imagines. Lacey and Grant soon discover that the most difficult task of all might be saying goodbye.

Praise for I Wish  
From School Library Journal (I Wish #1) 
 Langston wisely limits the power of wishes, so there can be no easy fixes to complex problems. [The story] is all the better for it, putting the focus on the compelling and sympathetic characters. … the denouement offers enough twists and unresolved questions to have readers wishing the next book was already available.  

From K-books blog: I Wish is a fantastic storyline, with a dash of romance that is perfect for any YA fan. I can't recommend it enough.  

From Reese’s Reviews blog: This is definitely one of the most beautiful and amazingly written books I’ve ever read. Elizabeth Langston has written a fantastic story that drew me in from the first page.      

Wishing for You by Elizabeth Langston
She’s a girl who can’t remember. He’s the guy she can’t forget… It’s her final semester of high school, and Kimberley Rey is curious to discover what will come next. She needs to pick a college, but her memory disability complicates the choice. Will her struggles to remember make it impossible to leave home? Help arrives through an unexpected and supernatural gift. Grant is a “genie” with rules. He can give her thirty wishes (one per day for a month) as long as the tasks are humanly possible. Kimberley knows just what to ask for--lessons in how to live on her own. But her wishes change when a friend receives a devastating diagnosis. As she joins forces with Grant to help her friend, Kimberley learns that the ability to live in the moment--to forget--may be more valuable than she ever knew.

Wishing for You New

Excerpt from Wishing For You

There was a pounding on the bedroom door. My eyes fluttered open to find sunlight streaming into the attic. Lacey groaned. "What is it, Henry?" The door creaked and then banged against the wall. "Did Kimberley sleep over?" "Does it look like she's in this room?" "Yes." "Then she did sleep over." "Cool." Lacey's younger brother ran over to my side of the bed and plopped cross-legged on the floor. "Do you want breakfast?" I turned my head toward him, trying to focus. "Yes, I do." "Mom is making pancakes. Do you like them?" "Yes, I do." "Bacon?" "One of my favorites." I could smell it in the air. "Good. It's one of mine too. Will you be ready to eat soon?" I clapped a hand over my mouth to keep from snorting. Lacey had the most adorable little brother ever. "Is your mom making you wait until we come down?" "Yes, she is." "Give us ten minutes to get dressed." "Ten? That sounds like a lot." "Seven, then," I said in a firm voice. He rose and ran from the room. Beside me, Lacey laughed. "You handled that very well." "How do you keep from laughing every time you talk to him?" "Practice." We were ready in six minutes and were about to head down the stairs when Lacey caught my arm. "Do you know where Sean went for Christmas?" "I don't think so." I grabbed my phone and opened my notes. "What made you think of that?" "It's been puzzling me. Mrs. Tucker and Sara kept their consignment shop open until Christmas Eve. Did his father go with him?" "Yes." Lacey was right. It had felt strange when Sean mentioned it. But if I'd asked other questions, he hadn't answered because my notes only had the one detail. "Maybe he was visiting colleges." "Someone like Sean would already have that decision made. Has he said where he's applying?" I shook my head helplessly. It seemed like the kind of information a friend should know, but nothing was emerging from the recesses of my brain. "Hey, guys," Henry called up the stairs. "It's been seven minutes."
Lacey called back, "On our way, little man."
We smiled at each other. There were pancakes waiting. We'd have to solve the Sean puzzle later.
Author Elizabeth Langston
Elizabeth Langston lives in North Carolina, halfway between the beaches and the mountains. She has two college-age daughters and one old husband. When she's not writing software or stories, Elizabeth loves to travel with her family, watch shows on dance or Sherlock Holmes, and dream about which restaurant ought to get her business that night.

BookBlast Giveaway 
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash 
 Ends 11/1/15
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 09, 2015

Mending Hearts by Kimberly Krey Blog Tour and GIVEAWAY

Mending Hearts (1)

mending hearts
 Mending Hearts by Kimberly Krey
Logan & Candice, on the verge of divorce, decide to give their marriage one last try. But will they be able to get past the issues holding them back? Candice is through with married life and all it entailed: infertility, an adoption gone wrong, and the death of her husband’s twin brother. Now that they’ve been separated for nearly a year, Candice is finally ready to set Logan free. But when he steps back into her life, Candice begins to have second thoughts. Even though she hasn’t fully healed from the heartache she endured over their married years, she can't fathom the thought of losing him a second time. Can Candice let go of past hurts and give Logan a second chance, or will her fears keep them apart? Logan has spent the months of separation giving Candice the space she needed. But when he discovers that Candice is about to file for a divorce, he decides he better take action quick. He didn’t spend the best years of his life with this woman, only to let her slip away. Yet just when the opportunity comes again – his chance to finally make things right – an entirely new force threatens to tear them apart. Will opposition keep the heart-broken couple from getting back together or will they have the strength to break through the barriers, no matter what their future might bring?
The door creaked to a slow close, and Candice looked up to see their extra guest. Tall, dark, and completely unexpected, Logan stood at the entryway. Her eyes grew wide. If seeing her nephew flirt with his cousin had surprised Candice, the sight of her husband was an outright shock.
Logan offered an awkward wave and timid smile while tiny cracks formed trails into Candice’s heart. Trails that would lead her right back to places she’d already been. Spots she had chosen to leave behind.
The kids rushed over to greet him. But Candice stood rooted in place, her splintered heart picking up pace, working to piece itself back together again. When she could no longer take it, Candice darted out of the room and through the kitchen. A roomful of family caught in their own world. Completely unaware.
Mom.” The word was weak on her tongue.
Marge turned to look at her. The room stilled.
Candice’s eyes locked on her mother’s. Pale. Blue. Questioning.
She wanted to explain that she’d ruined everything Candice had worked toward over the last year. That, in one careless move, she’d ripped the healing scabs from her heart. Candice folded her arms, her hands feeling cold and numb, and forced out the only thing that would come to her lips. “What in the world are you trying to do?”

My Review:

I really have adored the Second Chances series. Logan and Candice are a married couple who are separated. Infertility and other issues just put a wedge between them. I loved the story of them trying to find their way back to each other. This book was HOT but clean. The characters were likeable. Everytime I read a Kimberly Krey book I find myself thoroughly sucked it. :)  

Kimberly Krey
Writing Romance That's Clean Without Losing the Steam! I'm a reader of good, clean romance, a lover of family time and Diet Coke, and the ultimate hater of laundry. I'm not patient enough to enjoy yoga, or tall enough to be great at basketball, but I do love to run - anywhere but on a treadmill. I love the sound of a rainstorm when I have no place to go, the feel of Soft Lips chap Stick on my lips, and the first peek of blue water as we round the mountains toward our favorite getaway in Bear Lake.

    $25 Blog Tour giveaway 
Blog Tour Giveaway $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 10/26/15
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash.
Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded.
No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

#Blessed ;)

I know I’m not the first missionary mom ever or even at this moment. There’s several women I know right now with a son or daughter out. There’s some with more than one kid serving at the same time! Heck, my husband’s uncle and aunt have sent 7 boys on missions. Yes, SEVEN. With how my heart feels right now I’m looking at my 12 year old son and already dreading the day he leaves. It IS hard and my son has only been gone a week. I have a countdown on my phone and I can’t stand to look at it flashing it’s 700+ days until “Elder Alec Gordon returns home from the California Anaheim Mission - ASL.” Boo you stupid countdown app. But I would be a total loser if I didn’t share the blessings that have come to our family in the last seven days.

I talked about how a mission is paid for by the missionary or his family in My First Missionary Mom Post. It can be a financial strain on a family. $400 a month isn’t easy to come by- especially if you’re working with a police officer’s and stay at home mom’s salary. ;) But we had been planning and saving and felt confident that we could do this. Well, then, about a month ago a part time security job literally (ok, not “literally” but you know what I mean) fell into Seiuli’s lap. And it pays well. So we were thinking, “Wow, they say you’ll be blessed when you send a kid on a mission. And wow, we are.” We were thrilled and content with that. Then along comes my parents, wanting to help, wanting in on a little of the blessings-action. So, they offered to make a monthly donation towards Alec’s fund for the next 2 years. Awesome! #Blessed again. THEN when Sei was in Utah dropping Alec off in Provo, he had lunch with one of his old mission companions, with whom he served in Venezuela. Y’all, this selfless man slid a check over the table to Sei… a $2000 check. He said he’s been so blessed by Heavenly Father to make really good money, so he wants to be a really good steward of that money. What?!!? There’s more y’all. Seiuli went back to work on Monday and calls to tell me that he got a raise starting on Oct.1. It’s not a huge raise, but it’s a little more each month. Between my parents, the mission companion, and his raise, the mission is basically paid for. 
So, that’s just a few blessings. But that’s not all. The other blessings aren’t monetary. These are more of a spiritual nature and pretty personal, but I feel like it’s wrong not to share. The last 2 years (ok more like 7, but the last 2 have been intense…) I have really, really struggled with my testimony. I can’t even really put my finger on what I struggled with exactly, but I felt very negatively towards church, in general. I started having a lot of doubts and feeling very frustrated. Then Alec received his mission call in May and these feelings intensified so much. I found myself thinking, “What the heck kind of church makes a mom send her kid away and not see them and barely talk to them for 2 years?!” I cried at the drop of a hat (Idk what that saying means, but if it means I cried all.the.time, then it’s appropriate.) I stopped going to my church classes other than sacrament meeting. I felt like my “failures” as a Mormon- I’m not a good scriptorian, I don’t like answering questions in class, I have tattoos (I love tattoos btw), I’m not out-going at all, or a very good missionary- stood out like on display. I started really questioning if I should let my son go teach about this church to people. I didn’t tell anyone about how deep my struggle and fears and doubts were, but I’ve never felt like that ever in my life. Then, a few weeks before Alec was suppose to leave, he broke down crying and told me that he didn’t think he was ready to go on a mission. He said he didn’t feel excited about it anymore like he had before. Every time he thought about leaving he wanted to cry and wanted to stay home. Now, I wanted to say, “SAME! Don’t go!!! Stay with me!!” But you know what came out of my mouth?
“Alec, you ARE ready and you know you need to go. Satan knows you’re about to leave and he knows the work you’re going to do. He’s working extra hard on you, grasping on to any tiny piece of fear or doubt you have and using it against you. He doesn’t want you to serve a mission. He doesn’t want you to reach people or serve people. He knows you’re gonna be awesome and change lives and he can’t have that.”
Then Alec said, “How do you know?” and I said, Because he’s been trying to do the same thing to me to stop you.”  
What the WHAT!? Where the heck did all that come from!? That talk was a huge turning point not only for Alec, but for me as well. I finally realized what the heck was going on with me. I wasn’t crazy. I wasn’t a bad Mormon or Christian or person. Misery loves company. Satan is miserable and he wants others to be as well. He doesn’t want people to know God or feel happiness or be an eternal family. He cannot stand missionary work. So, if he can’t get the youth to decide to not serve a mission, who better to convince their kid to stay home than their mom? 
Satan sucks. 
He’s played such a game with my heart and mind these last couple of years and now it all makes sense why. Yes, in this last week my heart has been hurting on a continual basis and my eyeballs feel like they are constantly sucking tears back up and I can see heartbreak in the eyes of my other kiddos. I’ve had to bring Sonic drinks home to comfort a 16 year old sister who’s missing her best friend and encourage siblings to help with silly care packages. But I feel differently than I have in a long time. I feel at peace. I don’t know all the answers and I am not very articulate at expressing my feelings or beliefs. I’m not even a smidgen close to perfect. I have an attitude and I laugh at inappropriate things. I’m totally not a scriptorian and I can’t remember a lot of things that I’m probably supposed to know. But I can honestly say I KNOW Alec is where he is suppose to be. I KNOW he is going to do amazing things. And I KNOW Satan is pissed off at me, which is really cool. I’m very competitive. I love to win. I hate losing. If you’ve seen me at my kid’s games you know I hate for them to lose as well.
Well, take that Satan.  
My kid is out there, ready and willing to serve the Lord. And I’m here, praying for him, encouraging him. Our whole family is and so many other people. I’ve released a secret weapon into the world who is going to bring people unto Christ.

To put it plain and simple Satan, YOU LOSE.

Elder Gordon and his cousin, Sister Greco-AhYou
Entering the MTC
Elder Gordon is off! See you in 2. 
Tell me this kid isn't awesome!?!? 

Friday, September 18, 2015

My First Missionary Mom Post

Most people know, if you've read my blog in the last 10 years, that I am LDS, aka "Mormon." If you aren't LDS also, then I'm assuming you've at least seen or heard of missionaries from our church. You know, the guys on bikes that knock on your door? Well, the time has come that my son, Alec, has chosen to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He received his mission call on my birthday, May 11.

Here's a blurb from Mormon.org about what missionaries are and what they do:

Who are the Missionaries?

Why would these young men and women choose to put on their dress clothes and traipse around strange parts of the world for two years? The Lord’s Church has always been a missionary church. Just as Jesus Christ and His disciples preached the gospel, more than 84,000 missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are spreading His word today. They are called to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in all parts of the world. Most missionaries are about 20 years old, though many older married couples also choose to serve. Missionaries voluntarily put aside school, work and dating for about two years in order to serve the Lord at their own expense.
Communication with family is even limited to letters or email and very occasional phone calls
so that they can focus wholeheartedly on serving the Lord and the people where they serve. During their two years of full time service they devote themselves to studying, meeting people and teaching about Jesus Christ and His restored Church. Their work is a labor of love, and most missionaries end up feeling they gained more than they gave by serving. 

Elder Gordon
So this is what my son will be doing. He's dedicating the next 2 years of his life to serve the Lord. He was called to the California, Anaheim mission where he will be teaching the gospel in American Sign Language (ASL). Next Wednesday, Sept. 23, he will report to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah. He will be there approximately 6 weeks while he learns ASL. He is familiar with the language because he took it for 3 years in high school. However, there is a lot of relearning he will do and he also needs to learn the Church words in ASL. He will go to California around November 4. If you are interested in hearing about his mission or keeping in contact with him, you can follow his blog at Alec in Anaheim. I plan to update it weekly and will keep his address and email address on it updated.

Most people who aren't LDS don't realize that:
  • Missionaries (or their families) pay for their own mission. Alec has been working the last 3 years as a lifeguard to save towards his mission. It's $400/month. Every missionary pays the same amount and it is dispersed throughout the world to the different missions. Obviously a mission in California costs more regarding living expenses, etc. than a mission in a 3rd world country. So it all works out evenly. Missionaries are responsible for the purchase of their bike, suits and other clothing, passports, etc... We were blessed because Seiuli's brother has a nice bike and is giving it to Alec to use. My parents bought Alec 3 suits, tons of dress shirts, slacks, ties, shoes... A lot nicer and more than we could afford to get him. My sister bought him his bag (which wasn't cheap at all...) We've been really blessed. I've basically bought him socks and each of us has picked a tie for him so when he wears it he'll know we are thinking of him. For missionaries who cannot afford to pay for their mission, members of the church can donate to a mission fund to help pay for these missionaries.
  • Missionaries can communicate once a week via email or letters. They can call home 4 times throughout the 2 year period. (Just typing that made my heart break a little more...) He can call home Mother's Day and Christmas. I'm so thankful we have email. I can't imagine having to wait and wait for letters. I did that for 9 weeks when Tristan was at bootcamp and it was brutal. 
  • We won't be visiting our missionary. My in-laws actually live a couple hours from where Alec is going and they probably won't see him either. But as a rule, his immediate family won't be visiting him. This is so he can continue to focus on where his focus is suppose to be- serving the Lord and the people in the California, Anaheim mission.

I'll write more about my feelings and things when I can do it without my eyes filling up with tears. I can do this. He can do this. I know our family can do this. But it won't be easy. I know he will grow and learn so much during this time. And I know we will be blessed. I also know it's where he is suppose to be. But if you see me crying, in mourning (because there really is a mourning process going on here), please don't say, "Is there any other place you'd want him to be?" I know the correct answer is "No", but you might get throat punched. I'm Mormon, but I'm definitely not perfect. Fair warning. ;)

1 Samuel
26 And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the Lord.
27 For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him:
28 Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

THE VILLIAN by May Nicole Abbey Book Blast & GIVEAWAY

The Villian by May Nicole Abbey
The Villain by May Nicole Abbey
A fall and crash A violent journey through the doorways of time A villain or hero in the making Rosemary Mayfield teeters on the brink of ruin. With the murder of her parents she is left the sole guardian of her younger brother and sister. Once a wealthy socialite in New York City, she now finds herself stranded in the untamed wilderness of the American West. When a wounded man comes crashing through her roof, as rough as the savage land, it is against her better judgment to bring him into her home and her heart. But she soon discovers he holds a secret that shatters everything, and she must make a choice, unaware that often destiny hinges on a single moment. Fresh from an unsavory past and a violent fall through time, Nicolas Ekkridon awakens to find himself cared for by three orphans ignorant of the role he played in their parents’ untimely death. They accept and embrace him, and a lifetime of hardened barriers begin to crumble. On the precipice between good and evil, only Rosemary and her spirited defiance stands between him and villainy. But time and space are against them. As its weaving tentacles envelop them in an indifferent grasp, they are swept into a shattering series of circumstances that threaten the very makeup of their lives. But when time can be bent, nothing is written in stone.

Praise for The Villain

There are very few words that can describe what they've accomplished in The Villain. Here are a few that come to mind: magnificent, overwhelming, heart-stirring, and a bit frightening at times. This author team writes some of the best characters I've ever read about and weaves them together in such a fascinating web. Each character has depth and an important role in the storyline (and possibly future storylines). Characters who didn't particularly interest me, at first, became very significant throughout the book. ~Shannon Keith

The Villain is one of those books you pick up and read in one sitting. The kind that surprises you with its powerful and compelling characters and its poignant message. To say that I was surprised at how much the story touched my heart would be an understatement. ~C.J. Anaya

Reading this book reminded me of the television shows I used to watch when I was a kid. “Little House of the prairie” and “Dr Quinn Medicine Woman”. I can confidently say if you enjoyed those shows, you will enjoy this novel. ~Nina Schluntz

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 “Have you done… very bad things?” I asked, wishing I didn’t have to ask. His answer was simple. “Yes.” “And are you going to go on… doing bad things?” He lay very still, like if he moved, he would be discovered. The man as big and hard as the mountain had a weakness. “The gods of the ancient world punished men terribly for their sins,” he said in a hollow voice, his accent there again, thicker than I ever heard it. “Tortured them for eternity. There was no point in trying to escape.” I put my sewing down. “We don’t believe in those gods anymore.” He laughed in a hard, hateful voice. “And why should you? You were protected and cosseted and kept from every sin. What do you have to fear from them?” “And you like to imagine yourself some sort of wild, dangerous creature, trapped in a dungeon of your own making. You are too stupid to realize there are no locks on the doors. Does it come as a shock that brute force isn’t always called for? Does it horrify you to find some kindness lurking deep in your heart?” “Kindness!” he repeated bitterly, “I’ve done no kindness to you, my girl!” “You have!” He regarded me steadily. “If you knew the things I’ve done, Miss Mayfield, your blood would boil with hate and you’d throw me out the door this moment. And you should.” My heart stilled. “What have you done?” He turned away, and I couldn’t see his face. He was closed off. But I felt a shrinking from him, a retreat from a memory. I pushed my specs up the bridge of my nose and picked up my sewing again. An image filled my mind of the shoe flying across the room. His incense at Benjamin ignoring me. His artless, diffident effort to make up with Emily. Instinct made me say with some gentleness, “Whatever you did, perhaps it’s not as bad as you think it is.” I was frightened even as I said it, but I did not wish it away. He scoffed, but he looked at me. I saw something inside that good eye hoping to be convinced. He reminded me, I realized suddenly, of Benjamin. “There is no doubt you’ve done things you shouldn’t. And sure, you can be a pig sometimes. Mother would have been horrified,” I smiled. “But a real scoundrel would have shown himself long before now. You haven’t hurt us. You’ve even been good to us.” “Maybe I’m biding my time. I’m weak and injured and still need you to look after my wounds.” His tone was a cold blanket. “In which case, you’d hardly warn me against you. Instead you’d be trying to put me at ease.” My voice was equally cool. He snapped and threw up his hands. “Oh, I don’t have time for this! The sooner I get away from you all, the better!” I gathered up my sewing basket and stood. “The west is a dangerous place. You’re ripe for the picking out here in the wilderness, just waiting for someone to come along and help himself!” He couldn’t help but say. “What do you care? You just said it yourself, it isn’t your problem.” His hand balled into a fist. “Rosemary, you can’t just trust people, all right! It isn’t wise! Don’t just let anyone through your door and nurse him back to health, you got that? Don’t let Emily sidle up to him and cry over him and tell him her stories. And Benjamin tries to be angry, but it’s all bluster. He’s easy prey for anyone who gives him attention and sounds like they have some useful knowledge. Don’t just let anyone through that door!” “We didn’t let just anyone in, Nicolas,” I said simply. “We let you in. And I’m glad.”    

About the Authors
Caroline Gregory and Shawnette Nielson are sisters on a mission. Their goal is to write clean, adventuresome romance stories, full of lovely characters, personal growth, truth, and hope. Although they live miles from each other, and are both busy with the daily needs of their respective families, they carve out time each night to put fingers to keyboard and write. Their goal? Twenty completed books. Set all over the world and throughout time, they thrill at the freedom that writing time travel offers them. From Georgian society, to Ancient Egypt and the Wild Western, the possibilities are limitless.
Book Blast Giveaway
$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 9/27/15
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 20, 2015

SUPER BAD Book Blast and $100 GIVEAWAY

Super Bad
Super Bad by Kai Strand  
The world is in chaos. Violence and thievery reign. And with the supers still balanced, it’s only getting worse. Without good versus evil, the supers care less and less. In order to restore purpose, the world needs its super heroes and its super villains, but the one who balanced them in the first place is missing. Sandra’s concern over finding her brother, Jeff, isn’t her only problem. Her pathetic excuse for super powers has left her needing a new ankle. And though she’s still very much committed to her boyfriend, Source, she’s growing unreasonably attracted to Set, the boy who double crossed Jeff by stealing his girlfriend. When Sandra is taken and held as bait by some kids who want to unbalance the super world, it becomes the inciting event that changes things for supers everywhere and forces them to answer the question, “Hero or villain?”

The classroom door opened and Sandra glanced toward it, along with the thirty other kids in the room. She snickered and raised her eyebrows at Lexa when a young man wearing a Hermes costume, complete with wings fluttering on his heels, floated in.
“I’m not gonna lie,” Lexa leaned over to whisper. “I hope a draft lifts his skirt so we can see what’s underneath.”
Sandra giggled. “My guess is bun huggers. Gold lame to match his shiny winged cap.”
Lexa waggled her eyebrows. “Shiny gold buns. I like.”
The teacher frowned at the young man. “Can I help you?”
“I have a delivery for Sandra Tohler.”
Sandra gulped. This couldn’t be anything besides embarrassing. A tidal wave of heads turned toward her causing her cheeks to flush with heat.
Seeing where everyone’s attention settled, the Hermes guy floated between the rows of desks and came to rest near hers. “Sandra Tohler?”
Reluctantly, she nodded.
He cleared his throat before delivering a soliloquy in a clear, resonating voice that Sandra was sure the students in classrooms across campus would hear.
“Sandra, oh Sandra, my lovely, stormy vixen, hear my humble plea. Your essence has absorbed into my every thought and now I wonder how I will sit for my exams. Will I answer essay questions by describing the intense sable color of your hair, or the enticing moss of your eyes that makes me imagine us lying in each others arms in a fairy forest?”
Sandra’s forehead hit her desk with a loud thunk, her voice a mumble against the surface. “Please stop. Go away.”
But the Hermes guy continued in his orator’s voice. “I’ve relived our kiss uncountable times. Your lips were velvet soft, but demanding.”
A chorus of “Ooo,” erupted through the room.
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 Praise for the Book
I have enjoyed every minute I've spent with the characters of the Super Villain Academy world, but I have to say that this is my favorite book of the series. There's action, romance, and a show down I didn't see coming. Mary Waibel, author

This is a great series and I am disappointed that it’s over. I will miss these characters. I may just have to reread the three books again!Amazon customer 

 [Y]ou’re in for an exciting ride with Jeff and the other superheroes. Told from different point of view characters you get to see inside the heads of the major players. Sometimes that’s a bit scary.Beverly McClure, author

Author Kai Strand
When her children were young and the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died. The end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and a short story blog, Lightning Quick Reads, Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults.

Book Blast Giveaway 
$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 9/6/15 
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway