Saturday, August 30, 2008

Happy Birthday, Megan!

We officially celebrated Megan's 18th birthday last Sunday, but I couldn't let the day pass without giving her a shout out.

Happy birthday to my favorite 18 year old! Love you.

Now playing on my iPod: Mamma Mia sung by Meryl Streep

Summer Book Trek Wrap-Up Post

Technically, I have one more day to read for the Summer Book Trek, but I don't think I'm going to get anything new posted, or reviewed. So I'm posting my wrap-up now.

1. How many fiction books by LDS authors did you read?

2. Did you read more than you would have read if you hadn't participated in this book trek? Yes. I have a stack of national, non-LDS titles that I probably would have read instead, were it not for this challenge.

3. Did the reviews posted by other participants influence which titles you read? How? Sort of. I'd already picked my titles for this challenge—many based on books reviewed during other challenges or by regular LDS book reviewers. Reviews posted for this challenge influenced the list I'm creating for the Fall Into Reading challenge that starts on September 22nd.

4. Did the Whitney awards influence which titles you read? How? Not for this challenge. I'd already read them. But the Whitneys in general have caused me to read more LDS fiction.

5. Did the many, many virtual blog tours that happened this summer influence which titles you read? How? Well, yes, because I was asked to participate in many of them.

6. Did you finish all the books you had planned to read? If not, why? No. Got too busy. But I'm hoping to finish them by the end of the Summer Reading Thing. If not, they'll go on my fall list.

7. Did you discover any new authors whom you now love? I'd never read any by Lynn Kurland before, and she was pretty good. I also liked the triplets: Lael Litke, Carrol Morris and Nancy Anderson. I think I'll read them again.

8. Did you nominate any of the books you read for Whitney awards? Yes. Several.

9. Would you be interested in another LDS themed reading challenge either this winter, or next summer? Yes. Maybe twice a year? Winter and summer?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Introducing Mr & Mrs Christopher Davis

My son, Christopher, married his sweetheart, Ashley, on Friday, August 22nd.
It was a lovely wedding. It was held in the backyard of the bride's parents' home.

The handsome groom, Christopher.

The beautiful bride, Ashley.

Ashley's daughter, Destiny—my newest grandchild.

Waiting for the wedding to begin.
Christopher is on the left.
He asked his father, Craig, to be his best man,
and his step-father, Jim, to stand up for him.

The bridal processional.
Destiny was the flower girl.
Ashley's father escorted her down the aisle and gave her away.

The ceremony.
I never dreamed I'd see one of my children married by
a woman with purple hair, but she did a wonderful job.
The vows were very sweet.

Exchanging rings.

It's a done deal!

Photo compliments of McKenna.

The wedding cake.

My parents, with my niece Ryane.

Me, with the second cutest man at the wedding.
(I have to give Christopher first place honors today.)

After the wedding, we had a family dinner, then the reception. I gave a short toast at the dinner:

Jim and I are so pleased to welcome Ashley and Destiny to our family. We know that Christopher loves both of you very much. We’re so excited to have another sweet grandchild—this time a girl!

Ashley, I can’t imagine that I could have hand picked anyone who would make Christopher happier than you have. Thank you for loving my son.

My parents are here today. They will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in January. So I asked them what advice they would give to a young couple just starting their lives together. They said:

1. Don’t go to sleep angry; work it out or fight it out—but keep communicating until things are resolved.

2. Pray with each other and for each other.

3. Treat each other with great respect. Respect for each other will get you through times when love fails.

Chris and Ashley, I hope that the year 2058 has us all together again—in person or in spirit—celebrating your 50 wonderful years together as a family.

My greatest wish for the two of you is that through the years your love for each other will so deepen and grow, that 50 years from now you will look back on this day, your wedding day, as the day you loved each other the least.

I love you Destiny. I love you Ashley. I love you Christopher.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What's wrong with a little drama?

So yesterday, someone accused me of being a little dramatic.

What? Me?!


Okay, maybe.

But only a little. And she would know, having talked me down from many a ledge over our lifetime as sisters.

But really, I'm only a little dramatic.

And what's wrong with a little drama, anyway? Absolutely nothing. It makes life interesting.

So in honor of drama, I created stole borrowed this image from the Internet and I am dubbing it the Bloggy Drama Queen Award and giving it to myself.

I'm also presenting it to two of my favorite drama bloggers who I hope will thank me on their blog and link to me so that I get a little more traffic post it in their sidebar with pride. As I have done.

I hereby give this award to:

Kimberly, at Temporary? Insanity


Sue, at Navel Gazing at Its Finest

If you are a Drama Blogger or know one, feel free to borrow this image and award it to yourself or to them, as desired. (If you do, come back here and post a link in the comments so I can go read the blog.)

But if we get in trouble for using images without permission, you didn't get it from me.

(And now I have to go pack because I'm leaving for KY in less than 24 hours and I have close to 57 hours of errands and jobs on my "Must Do Before I Leave or Die" list.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sucked into the Whirpool

Have you ever felt that you were trapped in a whirlpool?

Not a pretty one, like this:

Or a practical one, like this:

Or a Calgon-take-me-away one, like this:

No. I'm talking about the full-blown, rip-roaring, the-kraken-is-going-to-eat-me ocean storm type of whirlpool, like this:

And I can't swim. . .

That's my summer in a nutshell.

It started with Megan's graduation in May.

Then my mother and cousin came for a visit and we had a great time together.

Then there was that totally spontaneous, totally fun Summer Road Trip.

Followed by the Summer Book Trek (which I helped set up and coordinate) and the Summer Reading Thing (sponsored by moĆ®). And various blog tours I participated in (see sidebar), which were hard because I needed new glasses but didn't know it and so spent several weeks feeling urpy.

Then the all-out Twilight craziness, in which I launched a new business, a trivia blog, and ramped up the Twilight inspired fragrances (all three of which are doing surprisingly well, btw), ending with the Twilight Sleepover Party that my sister talked me into doing. It was loads of fun—we had pedicures, made Twilight charm bracelets, Twilight t-shirts and book bags, Twilight bookmarks, went to the B&N Twilight party, then the next morning we went to breakfast and later made Twilight fragrances, oh and yes, in betwixt all that, we read the Twilight book—but I'm still recovering from all that fun and I haven't had a chance to blog about it yet.

And mixed in with all that, there were doctor trips for me (my new glasses are great, but are taking some getting used to), for my DH, for my puppy. We're all doing fine but that stuff sure eats up your day.

Plus there is my weekly Grandma Day, where I tend both my cute little grandsons all day.
Did I mention that Baby Shrek (left) can walk all over the place now and that Baby Burrito (right) is almost crawling?

And a weekly meeting with a group of women where we are supporting each other in changing our lives. And then there are the monthly Blogging Babes events (that I've sadly missed lately) and my monthly Writers Group. Oh, and church. Can't forget that.

Oh, and yes, I have to work for a living, so there are the UB parties, and the editing and typesetting, and the order placing and shipping of bracelets and perfumes. And UB just launched a new party format, new kit with reduced price to join up, and some other training things, so I'm concentrating on that. (You did know that UB is my baby's company, right?)

Next up, I'm leaving on Thursday for another trip to Kentucky. All my siblings will be there and we're having a family photo taken in celebration of my parents' upcoming 50th anniversary (this January).

I get back two days before my baby boy gets married. My parents are coming back with me, to stay for a week.

Then another baby starts college.

And my other baby is moving into a new apartment in September.

Plus I have a few freelance jobs with deadlines looming.

Whirl. Whirl. Whirl. And whirl some more.

I'm not complaining, really. Well, maybe just a little, but not because I don't like doing all this stuff. I do. But while I love it when my life is full, sometimes I get lost in the whirl-a-palooza. And this blog gets sucked into that whirlpool too, becoming a home for flotsam and jetsam and various sea monsters. Not at all what I intended it to be.

So, coming September, I'm making some changes. I'm slowing down and considering what is important to me, making priorities, cutting back, cleaning up. All that jazz.

But right now? Right now I have to go get Baby Shrek out of bed because I can hear him in there talking to himself, saying "Uh oh" over and over again.

Now playing on my iPod: iPod...iPod...where'd I put that iPod?!?

Summer Reading Thing Prize Winner!

Winner of Friday's Summer Reading Thing Prize, Enna Burning by Shannon Hale, is Cat!

Please send me your snail mail address ASAP because I'm going on vacation THIS week and I want to get it mailed out to you before I leave.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Summer Reading Thing Prize Winners!

Winner of Tuesday's Summer Reading Thing Prize, Voices in Summer by Rosamunde Pilcher, is Sandra!

Winner of Wenesday's Summer Reading Thing Prize, Room for Two by Abel Keogh, is Wendy!

Both of you have won things here on my blog before so I already have your snail mail addresses. I'll be sending those books out on Monday.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Surprise Packages by Anderson, Littke & Morris

Surprise Packages by Nancy Anderson, Lael Littke and Carroll Hofeling Morris

Book three in the series "The Company of Good Women"

Published by Deseret Book

Before I get into the review of this book, I need to make a confession. I've been a little grumpy about doing my book reviews lately. I started my summer reading season full of excitement with a two foot stack of titles I couldn't wait to get through. Most of them were fantasy or sci-fi, my genre of choice. But I've been able to read very few of those because of an issue I've been having with my eyesight which made me very ill every time I tried to read. So with my limited reading time, instead of reading the books I wanted to read, I was having to read books I'd agreed to review for blog tours. Not that the blog tour books haven't been good—they have been. It's just that they were preventing me from reading my books. So it was with a bit of an attitude that I picked up Surprise Packages —one more book that was from my "obligatory" stack, rather than my "fun" stack.

I was also at a disadvantage with Surprise Packages . I hadn't read the first two books, Almost Sisters and Three Tickets to Peoria. With this series, I think it's important to read the books in order because there are so many characters and so much backstory that is referenced but not fully explained that I very quickly became lost. It was frustrating at first, but even with the confusion of not remembering whose child was whose and who the heck this new character was supposed to be, this book very quickly won me over. I forgot my grumpy attitude and began to care about these three women and their lives. I found myself eager to learn what was going to happen next.

When asked to describe the series, "The Company of Good Women," the authors say it "is the story of three women in three different parts of the country and their quest to become Crusty Old Broads—written by three women from three different parts of the country who are self-professed Crusty Old Broads!" They got the idea in 1998 when they were on vacation together in Moab, UT. The first book in the series, Almost Sisters, was published in 2006 and book two, Three Tickets to Peoria, was published last year, and Surprise Packages, the final book in the series, is available now.

Promo Info for Surprise Packages:
Fifteen years after meeting at Education Week at Brigham Young University, Juneau, Deenie, and Erin face new challenges. Deenie, now living in Gainesville, Florida, begins to question everything she has believed about herself as she sees her actions through others' eyes. Juneau's feelings of guilt come to a head when a secret from her childhood and the mystery of her great-grandmother, Letitia, combine to force her to confront her past. And Erin, whose painful divorce has made her cynical about love and marriage, must decide if she can take a risk when she has a second chance for love.

Staying in touch through phone calls, e-mails, and periodic vacations together, the friends offer one another support, sometimes in the form of blunt feedback. But as they anticipate reaching their goal to become Crusty Old Broads, life takes a turn that puts their twenty-five-year pact in doubt.

Nancy Anderson writes from the perspective of Deenie, who has recently been uprooted from Wellsville, UT to Gainesville FL, where she must learn to fit in with a new group of people who don't immediately accept her; Lael Littke writes from the perspective of Juneau, who is feeling a bit distanced from her husband and who is raising her grandson; and Carroll Hofeling Morris writes from the perspective of Erin, a divorced woman wondering if she should take a chance on love again.

And that is only the beginning. Each of these women have a host of characters and trials dancing through their lives, making this book very rich with detail and emotion, very realistic, very much like my own life, in fact. Seeing how they faced or avoided their issues, how they acted or reacted to the events in their lives, was not only a great read, but also surprisingly inspiring to me. Here is just one example of the many insightful nuggets scattered through this book. Erin, speaking to her young daughter about divorce, says:

"Getting married in the temple isn't like gluing two pieces of wood together. It's more like setting two plants in the ground close enough to each other that they can grow together as the years pass. If they grow together so much that you can't tell where one begins and the other ends, then the Holy Spirit blesses them to be. . ."

"Forever Plants!" Hannah chortled.

"But if those plants—that husband and wife—let something or someone get between them, or if one starts growing in a different direction, they don't intertwine." (p 207)

As someone who had to explain divorce to her own young children, I wish I'd had this analogy then.

This book is not at all preachy. The women are LDS, and LDS theology is occasionally explained (as shown above), but not in a way that's trying to convert the reader. Neighbors and friends are converted and baptized in this book, but that's just part of the facts of the main characters' lives. It's not the focus of the book, in fact, it's very low key. I thought it was handled very well.

I give this book a 4.5 out of 5. I really, really liked it and I whole-heartedly recommend it to other readers with one caveat—start with book one!

You can read chapter 1 of Surprise Packages and learn more about these authors at their website.

You can read other reviews of this book and find out what the Crusty Old Broads are up to by visiting their blog.

Summer Reading Thing Prize

Enna Burning by Shannon Hale

Enna and Princess Isi became fast friends in The Goose Girl, but after Isi married Prince Geric, Enna returned to the forest. Enna's simple life changes forever when she learns to wield fire and burn anything at will. Enna is convinced that she can use her ability for good--to fight Tira, the kingdom threatening the Bayern borders--and goes on secret raids to set fire to the Tiran camps and villages. But as the power of the fire grows stronger, she is less able to control her need to burn. In her recklessness she is captured by the Tiran army and held captive by a handsome, manipulative young captain who drugs her to keep her under his influence. Can Isi and her old friends Finn and Razo rescue her without sacrificing themselves? And with the fire still consuming her, will Enna find a way to manage the gift that threatens to destroy her?

This is a sequel to Goose Girl, but it stands alone fairly well. You can read this one just fine without having read Goose Girl first.

Middle grade to YA fantasy. Hardback. Very gently read copy. Can't even tell. Looks brand new. If you're interested in winning this book, leave a comment.

Eligibility for this prize:
  1. Must be signed up for the Summer Reading Thing 2008. (If you're not, sign up now.)

  2. Must leave a comment on THIS POST before midnight on Monday, August 11, 2008.

  3. Must have a shipping address within the U.S.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Summer Reading Thing Prize

Light for My Path for Grandparents
Illuminating Selectionf from Scriptures

This collection of categorized scriptures and thought-provoking quotations, especially for grandparents, has sold nearly a million copies. Now in an upgraded edition, Light for My Path for Grandparents will continue to encourage, challenge, and inspire. Alphabetically arranged topics including Blessings, Comfort, Disappointment, Generosity, Heritage, Long Life, Prayer, Strength, Wisdom, and nearly four dozen more will point grandparents thoughts to their heavenly Father, and His plans for their lives.

(This is not an LDS book, but it does use the King James version of the Bible for its scriptures.)

Mass market size, paperback. Gently read copy. If you're interested in winning this book, leave a comment.

Eligibility for this prize:
  1. Must be signed up for the Summer Reading Thing 2008. (If you're not, sign up now.)

  2. Must leave a comment on THIS POST before midnight on Saturday, August 9, 2008.

  3. Must have a shipping address within the U.S.

Monday's Summer Reading Thing Prize Winner!

Winner of Monday's Summer Reading Thing Prize, The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin, is Meredith!

Please send me your snail mail address ASAP because I'm going on vacation next week and I want to get these mailed out to you before I leave.

I know you stop by here because you leave comments. Please send me your snail mail address. I have a prize from the Summer Road Trip sitting here waiting for you. :)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Summer Reading Thing Prize

Room for Two by Abel Keogh

When a life is destroyed, when guilt says you played a role in its destruction, how do you face the days ahead?

Twenty-six-year-old Abel Keogh chooses to ignore the promptings he receives concerning his wife's mental illness, and now he feels he is to blame for her choices. If only he had listened . . . At some point in our lives, each of us face devastating afflictions and must eventually cope with loss. Regardless of how it happens, the outcome is still the same—we are left isolated, alone, wondering what we could have done differently, and where we can turn for peace. This is Abel's story in his own words. His search for peace and the miracle that follows is proof that love and hope can endure, despite the struggles and tragedies that shape each of our lives.

You can read my review here.

Trade paperback. Very gently read copy. Can't even tell. Looks brand new. If you're interested in winning this book, leave a comment.

Eligibility for this prize:
  1. Must be signed up for the Summer Reading Thing 2008. (If you're not, sign up now.)

  2. Must leave a comment on THIS POST before midnight on Friday, August 8, 2008.

  3. Must have a shipping address within the U.S.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Summer Reading Thing Prize

Voices in Summer by Rosamunde Pilcher

Celebrate life's journeys with the beloved author whose stories of life and love have touched the world.

As in her worldwide bestseller The Shell Seekers and September, it is the richness of emotional seasons that has made Rosamunde Pilcher's novels beloved the world over. Now she invites you into long summer days on the coast of Cornwall-and into the stormy heart of newlywed Laura Haverstock. Shy, recovering from illness, and away from her husband, Laura's is a fearful heart on the verge of intimate discoveries...about herself, her family, and the source of true love within her. Voices in Summer speaks gently to the heart, in a voice that is Rosamunde Pilcher at her storytelling best.

Mass market size, paperback. My copy has a different cover—not quite as pretty. Gently read copy. If you're interested in winning this book, leave a comment.

Eligibility for this prize:
  1. Must be signed up for the Summer Reading Thing 2008. (If you're not, sign up now.)

  2. Must leave a comment on THIS POST before midnight on Thursday, August 7, 2008.

  3. Must have a shipping address within the U.S.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Summer Reading Thing Prize

As promised, here is the first of the book giveaways this week. If you're participating in the Summer Reading Thing, you are eligible to win this book.

The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin

This was a hit when it was first published and saw new life when made into a movie a few years ago. The movie, however, strayed from the plot of the book a bit.

All the beautiful people live in the idyllic village of Stepford, Connecticut, an affluent suburban Eden populated with successful, satisfied hubbys and their beautiful, dutiful wives. For Joanna Eberhart, a recent arrival with her husband and two children, it all seems too perfect to be true -- from the sweet, accommodating Welcome Wagon lady to all those cheerful, friendly faces in the supermarket checkout lines. But just beneath the town's flawless surface, something is sordid and wrong -- something abominable with roots in the local Men's Association. And it may already be too late for Joanna to save herself from being devoured by Stepford's hideous perfection.

Mass market size, paperback. Very gently read copy. Can't even tell. Looks brand new. If you're interested in winning this book, leave a comment.

Eligibility for this prize:
  1. Must be signed up for the Summer Reading Thing 2008. (If you're not, sign up now.)

  2. Must leave a comment on THIS POST before midnight on Wednesday, August 6, 2008.

  3. Must have a shipping address within the U.S.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Caught in the Headlights by Barry K. Phillips

Caught in the Headlights: 10 Lessons Learned the Hard Way by Barry K. Phillips. How many of you groaned when you read that title, thinking, "I come here to Karlene's site for reviews of GOOD books, not ones that make me think"?

Wait. Don't give up on this review yet.

First a bit about Barry Phillips. Barry loves to write and has been editor-in-chief of a national magazine and he's written for Glenn Beck's Fusion magazine. He has also written for a political website. But this book is not at all political. Barry is a religious man, a proudly proclaimed Christian. Those ideas inform the topics in his book, but it is not at all preachy. Barry is has been married to the same woman for nearly 25 years and has 5 children—that in itself gives him the street cred to write a book like this. Barry is also well-rounded. He loves to cook (and eat), hot air ballooning, woodworking, drawing, camping and playing drums. With all those hobbies, I'm not sure how he found time to write this book, but he did. And I'm glad.

Barry Phillips is a fun and entertaining writer and even though he's dealing with life-improvement topics, this is a great read. His humorous, sometimes self-deprecating style alone is worth the effort to read this book. This is a short book and a very quick and easy read. I read through it very fast to do this review, but I plan to go back and read it again slowly because I thought it was that good.

Have you ever gotten what you wished for, only to discover that it's not really what you wanted after all? You know, those times in life when we have that "aha!" moment, when you realize that you've been pursuing the wrong goal? (It's not just me and Barry that have those moments, right?) Barry discusses ten of those key goals that we chase after, that most of us think we want—including happiness, self-esteem, a perfect body. In his unique entertaining style, he examines these goals and values, shares what he believes we should be seeking instead, and then lets us in on what we need to do differently to obtain our new goals.

As I read through this, I found myself at times laughing, at times stabbed to the heart with realization, but always nodding my head in agreement.

Many of you know that since my publishing company tanked at the end of 2006, I've sort of been at loose ends, adrift on a sea of indecision and self-doubt, spinning my wheels a lot as I try to decide what I'm going to do next. This book did not have the answers but it did point out to me some of the things I'm doing wrong. There were several areas that rang so true for me that I know I need to go back and do some self-examination, make some changes. This book came to me at just the right time, when I'm ready to do that. (Thanks, Candace, for asking me to do this review.)

I highly recommend this book. It would also make a great gift book for college graduates (not high school grads—they don't have enough life experience yet), those in a mid-life crisis, or anyone who is "doing all the right things" yet still finds that they're dissatisfied with their life.

You can read a chapter from Barry's book HERE.

Other reviews of this book can be found HERE.

You can purchase the book HERE.