Sorry I haven't been blogging much lately. I even missed Wednesday's WiP check-in last week. I'll have to make up for it tomorrow. I haven't been writing much lately, either, though. I hope I can get something done tonight so I'll have something to report on.

But part of my excuse reason for being such a slacker is that my first triathlon is coming up this weekend and I've been stressing training a lot lately.

It's a "sprint" distance tri, which is kind of funny because nothing I will be doing the ENTIRE time will even closely resemble a sprint, and it will probably take me in the neighborhood of an hour and a half to complete. But, nonetheless, I'm pretty confident in my ability to at least complete the triathlon. Then I'll probably be laid up in bed unable to walk for a week, in which time I will surely be able to get some writing done! :-D

Summer in Paris - Book Review

Michele Ashman Bell has authored more than 20 published books, but Summer in Paris is her first book intended for the national audience.

From the back cover:

    "I declared bankruptcy this morning. We've lost everything." Kenzie's father took a breath and continued. "We have thirty days to auction off our belongings and move out of the house."

    Kenzie's mouth dropped open with disbelief. "Bankrupt," she whispered. That one word had the power to reduce her life from chauffers and credit cards to nothing.

    "While we sort this out," her father continued, "we've made arrangements for you to stay with your aunt and uncle in Paris."

    Paris. That wouldn't be so bad.

    But wait . . . her uncle didn't live in Europe. He lived in Idaho.

So begins Kenzie Williams's fall from New York ballerina to Idaho farmhand.

I found the book to be pretty entertaining, though I didn't feel there was anything really original or fresh about it. I also felt like Kenzie's transition to farm life was a little too easy to be realistic. And I do have a pet peeve about authors keeping information from the reader that the protagonist obviously knows, which Bell does near the end.

Still, overall, it was a nice, light read, which is sometimes a good thing when all you've been reading about for a while is vampires and genetic manipulation and werewolves and Afghan history and wizards and dying cancer patients and post-apocalyptic dystopian societies. Not that that's what I'd been doing or anything. ;o)

I wouldn't feel comfortable recommending most of the books I've been reading lately to my kids. Even a lot of the "young adult" books on the market right now really aren't appropriate for young adults, IMHO. But this cute little book seemed like something my daughter would enjoy, and it was clean, so I didn't have any misgivings handing it over.

She did enjoy it for the most part, though the pacing slowed down a bit for her near the end and she had a hard time getting through some of the slower parts to get to the more captivating ending. But she said there were some exciting scenes throughout the book that kept her attention, (Sorry, no spoilers) and she liked Kenzie. When I asked her if she learned anything, she replied, "Sometimes going off to a new place and having a new life isn't the worst possible thing that could happen."

So there you go. If you're looking for a fun, clean summer read for your kids, Summer in Paris might be just the ticket.

Women of the Book of Mormon - Book Review

I've loved reading all of Heather B. Moore's books about the characters in the Book of Mormon. She really has a way of making them come to life. So I was excited to see that she was publishing a book specifically about the women in the Book of Mormon.

Women of the Book of Mormon: Insights & Inspirations is a beautiful gift-quality hardcover book with full-page illustrations at the beginning of every chapter. Moore teaches us about all of the women who feature prominently in the Book of Mormon, both those who are named, such as Sariah, and those who are only referred to in groups, such as the mothers of the two thousand stripling warriors. She paints these women in vivid detail, explaining the culture they lived in and the social customs that would have influenced their choices and responses to the events happening around them.

I really enjoyed reading this little book, so much so that even though I had already read it, I bought an extra copy to have on hand. I definitely recommend this book for anyone who has an interest in learning more about these great women. It's a quick read, but packed with good and interesting information.

Jenna Fox Winner!

First of all, thank you so much to everyone who participated in last Monday's National Hug-an-Author Day / Blogfest of Love / Spread the Awesome Contest Extravaganza! I had so much fun telling you all about a book I LOVE and hearing about all the books you LOVE, too!

For those who missed it or who didn't understand the full depth of awesome that IS The Adoration of Jenna Fox, here's a recap (and a different but equally awesome cover):

Jenna Fox wakes up from a coma not knowing anything about herself. She watches home movies and her parents tell her who she is, but the pieces aren't falling together as easily as she'd hoped. When they do, though, she and the reader are in for some shocking surprises.

This book is a mix of medical intrigue, futuristic science fiction, teen romance, and coming-of-age coolness that you will definitely not want to miss.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox was written by the amazing Mary E. Pearson, whose books are all on my to-be-read-very-soon pile.

Mary is so intensely cool, she has agreed to sign the winning book personally to the winner, and will be sending the book to him or her very soon.

It's not quite Monday at noon as I promised, but it is still Monday. And so, without further ado, I'd like to present to you the winner of the most awesome book, The Adoration of Jenna Fox. And that winner is . . .

Readerly Person

Congratulations! I hope to hear from you very soon regarding who you want Mary to sign the book to and what address you would like her to send it to. And just so you know, Readerly (I really wish I had a first name to use here. Unless Readerly Person is your true name, in which I apologize deeply for my faux pas) won with her "follower" entry. Woot! Woot! Yay for new followers. :o)

Happy Reading everyone!

WiP Wednesday

First of all, thank you to everyone who stopped by the blog tour of love on Monday! I've been conversing with Mary Pearson - I feel so cool just saying that! - and she has agreed to personalize the signed book and send it directly to the winner. Is she Made of Awesome or what? So be sure and read the last post and enter if you haven't already. You have until noon mountain time next Monday.

I've decided to jump on the WiP Wednesday bandwagon. I think it will help keep me on track and accountable. I've been going through some personal challenges lately and my writing has taken a nose-dive, partly because I'm deep in an everything-I-write-is-absolute-crap funk.

But I do know that I'm a much better re-writer than I am a writer, and I'm a firm believer in the idea that you can't revise a blank page. So, I'm ready to get back to work. I might even *gulp* send something to my critique group this week. And those of you who were at Elana Johnson's boot camp table or took her killer query workshop a couple of weeks ago know how scary that is! ;o) It's not just her, though - our whole group is pretty blunt about telling you when your stuff sucks.

My goal for this week is to get something ready to send to my group, and to work on Free Agents every day. I've also decided to start first-drafting by hand. I'm hoping this will help me in several ways. 1- I won't be able to obsessively check my wordcount every 5 minutes. 2- I won't be able to obsessively check my email every 5 minutes. 3- I won't be as likely to obsessively re-read and tweak what I just wrote every 5 minutes.

Are you starting to see a pattern here? :-D

I also hope it will help me let go and really feel like this is a first draft and it's not set in stone and it's okay if it sucks. I get so hung up on trying to write it perfect the first time, but by writing by hand, I know I can change it as I'm typing it in. It gives me a built-in second draft, basically.

We'll see how it goes, anyway. I'll report back next Wednesday.

Now get off the Internet and go write something. That's what I plan to do. :o)

Books That Deserve 10 Stars

My good friend Elana Johnson came up with the idea for a bunch of us bloggers to shout from the rooftops about books and authors that we think are AWESOMESAUCE. 60 + bloggers will be posting their reviews today. After reading my review, head on over to Jenn Johansson's blog to read about another well-deserving author. Keep clicking through the links to read about all the books on today's tour. Lots of giveaways and other cool stuff will be happening all over the blog tour, plus you'll get a ton of new books to add to your to-read list.

The book I've chosen to spotlight is . . . wait for it . . .

The Adoration of

Jenna Fox


Mary E. Pearson

Who is Jenna Fox?

Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a year-long coma, and she’s still recovering from the terrible accident that caused it. Her parents show her home movies of her life, her memories, but she has no recollection. Is she really the same girl she sees on the screen?

Little by little, Jenna begins to remember. But along with the memories come questions—questions no one wants to answer for her. What really happened after the accident?

In this fascinating novel, acclaimed author Mary E. Pearson presents an unforgettable look at one human life and a glimpse into a possible future that may be closer than we think.

To see a book trailer, read reviews, get discussion questions and a lot more, go to the official Jenna Fox website.

The reason I loved this book so much is because it was beautifully and simply written, there were a lot of awesome surprises, it really made me think, I fell in love with the main character, and there was just a lot of wicked cool stuff scattered all throughout. Really, I can't say enough good stuff about this book. If Goodreads would have let me, I would have given it 10 stars.

Because it was so awesome and I want all of you to read it, I'll be giving away a signed copy. All you have to do is leave a comment and tell me what YOUR favorite book is, or tell me about another author you think is just awesomesauce. And if you become (or already are) a follower, I'll add a second entry for you.

Oh, and I guess I should say when the contest ends. I'll draw the name of the lucky winner next Monday, May 10, at noon.

Happy Reading!

*Important Update* I'll be getting a signed copy for my giveaway! Sweet!