Sunday, July 31, 2011

Party With Tristi Pinkston and Her New Book Release!

Author Tristi Pinkston is excited to announce the release of the third novel in her Secret Sisters Mysteries series.

Titled Hang ‘em High, this novel takes place on a dude ranch in Montana. When Ida Mae’s son invites her to come for a visit, of course she brings Arlette and Tansy along with her. They are expecting to spend the week looking at horses, avoiding the cows, and making amends in Ida Mae’s relationship with her son. What they don’t expect is to be stuck on the ranch in the middle of a blizzard and to be thrust headlong into the middle of a mystery.
Help Tristi celebrate her new novel in two ways. First, come participate in the two-week-long blog contest, where you can win a book nearly every single day! All the details are up on Tristi’s blog.

Second, come to the book launch!
You are invited to an
August Authorama!
Saturday, August 13th
Pioneer Book, 858 S. State, Orem
12 – 4 pm
Games, prizes, balloons, face painting,
and Dutch oven cobbler
prepared by world champion cook
will all be there to sign books.
This is one book launch event
you will not want to miss!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Book Review: Sleight of Hand by Deanne Blackhurst

Daniel Cabrero does something in the beginning of this book which, in the thousands of books I've read, rarely happens to the main character at that point--he dies. Adding to the mix is that Daniel isn't an innocent person. He's a cheat and a cad, a con man who has spent his life caring about himself far more than others and treating his fellow men (mostly women) as rungs on his ladder to success.

Right away, Daniel meets his guide, Jonah, who takes him to a place called Wasteland. The setting is beautiful and peaceful, surrounded by nature. At first Daniel loves it there, but soon realizes that his idyllic surroundings are not all they appear to be. The con man is condemned to his fate unless he humbles himself and is willing to make some tough choices.

Deanne Blackhurst has a fantastic imagination, and all the detail added a rich dimension to the setting. I could picture everything as I read. A lot of the book didn't jive with my personal belief of the afterlife, but that's partly why I enjoyed this story. It made me think about the legacy I'll leave my family and the end results of my choices. I enjoy stories that make me think, "What if?" Sleight of Hand is like nothing else I've read before, though if Christian speculative fiction is like this, I want to read more of it.

The book needs a thorough proofreading, as I kept stumbling over editing issues. However, the story was so intriguing that I had to keep reading. I thought about the book when I was away from my computer and I looked forward to going back and finishing. The fact that I wanted to keep reading in spite of the editing scores major points for the author, as poor editing is usually a deal-breaker for me.

The only thing I would have liked to see more of was the conflict inside Daniel's soul. Part of the process he goes through includes reliving old memories of things he did. Instead of Daniel being thrown back into reliving most of the memories as they first happened to him, I would have liked to see him viewing his actions from an outside perspective more often. I would have been more sympathetic toward Daniel if I could have seen more of his emotional processing. However, I found his character very interesting and the whole book quite memorable.

Deanne is a great storyteller, and I'm very much looking forward to more books by her. I'll be thinking about Sleight of Hand for a long time and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

(Heads up: some of my readers might want to know that there are a few very minor swear words in this book.)

Until August 31st, you can purchase an e-book copy of Sleight of Hand for only $1.99. Go here: Smashwords and enter code MX73D.

**I was given a free e-book for the purpose of this review. I have not been compensated in any way for my opinions.**

Thursday, July 21, 2011

TAG! You're it! Or, Things You Didn't Know About Me That Won't Change Your Life

 I was tagged a while ago by my dear friend, Karen Hoover. I'm just getting around to doing this meme now. I love these things, random bits of useless information that forms an interesting picture of someone. (At least they form it for others; we'll see how we do today!)

Do you think you're hot?

Only in pictures of me as a teen. Too bad (or most likely, good thing) I didn't know it then.

Upload a picture or wall paper you are using at the moment

At the moment, I'm using neither a picture or special wallpaper. I'm using this:

When was the last time you ate chicken meat?

I guess with all the imitation chicken out there the "meat" has to be defined. Well, this comes as no surprise to those who know me, but I prefer Boca or Morningstar chicken. The last time I ate chicken meat was accidentally, in a jarred cheese dip, no less. I was 18 then, I believe.

The Song(s) you listened to recently?

The three that stick out from the last few days are:

The Prayer (Not sung by Josh Groban.) I heard this while on a day trip with my mom yesterday, and found myself singing harmony along with it in the store. Thankfully, no one else was in the aisle.

Bad - Michael Jackson (Before you wonder why this doesn't sound like my usual musical fare, guess why this is
                                   here. Then continue on to see if you're right.)

Fat - Weird Al (During school I used Youtube videos to teach my children what parodies are. Weird Al is the
                      master! And for those who think this song is insensitive, I'm fat, and I think it's hilarious!)

What were you thinking as you were doing this?

That I'm proving to be either 1) extremely weird or 2) extremely cool. I'm guessing the former.

Do you have nicknames?

Becca (family and friends)
Beks (one friend called me this, but I love it)

Only one person is ever allowed to call me any form of Becky, and that person is my husband, James. Occasionally he calls me Becky-Wecky-o. A bazillion points to the lucky person who gets that reference. It is rather obscure. (Points only redeemable for five gallons of awesomesauce, which is an air-condiment--hence, invisible and weightless. In fact, you can't touch it at all, but you can experience the feeling. Not responsible if you are immune to the effects of awesomesauce.)

Tag eight Blogger friends

Like thrift store items? That would hurt. And in Red Racks Thrift Store, they use staples.

Oh, I see what you mean . . .

Karen Burton
Betsy Love
Don Carey
James Duckett
Ted Finch
Kim VanderHorst
Karen Robison
Samantha Lord

Who's listed as number one?

Karen Burton, or Kazzy, as she's known on the interwebs, is #1. I got to meet her in person last year, and she's incredibly beautiful and sweet! She and I share a love for Zumba. Karen and her husband are so cute together. He writes her a sonnet every day. *romantic sigh*

Say something about number 5.

Ted is such a fun guy, and I don't mean a mushroom. I have a nickname for him--actually two. Tedders and Typo. Tedders for obvious reasons (it also sounds like cheddar, which I like a lot), and Typo for one specific reason that had me and several other people in stitches for about 30 minutes (we chat online at SprintWriters). I laughed so hard I nearly passed out from oxygen deprivation. You'll have to ask him about that one.

How did you get to know number 3?

I first met Don in Utah last year at a gathering the night before Storymakers. He was so nice and made us out-of-staters feel so welcome! I had the privilege of reviewing his book, Bumpy Landings, which is a great read!

How about number 4?

James is part of Authors Incognito, our group for LDS Storymaker Conference alumni. We've gotten to know each other a bit through SprintWriters and he's a very funny guy who totally gets geek humor.

Leave a message for number 6.

Hey, Kim, this is Rebecca. I miss you! I know you don't usually do tags, but maybe since Karen and I both tagged you, you will. :D I love you and I hope we get to "chat" soon!

Leave a lovey-dovey message for number 2.

This is hilarious since I didn't plan the order of my tags. How appropriate since Betsy's last name is Love?

Betsy, I love chatting with you and your words of support and encouragement mean a ton to me! I'm so proud of you and your hard work. Congratulations again on your book coming out, and I am patiently but eagerly awaiting my copy!

Do number 7 and number 8 have any similarities?

Yep. They are best friends. Karen is my lovely sister, and she and Sam have been friends since they were 12 years old. Sam lives far away now in Bozeman, Montana, but we keep up with her through her blog. She's a very talented photographer!

Well, I guess that's it, though the last question doesn't tie things up very well. I'm going to add a question of my own.

What do you predict you will be doing on this day one year from now?

Let's see . . .next year is a leap year, so the 21st will be a Saturday . . . I'll probably be just getting out of Zumba class at this time. Or maybe I'll be on vacation somewhere and will have to do Zumba from videos on our Youtube playlist!

This has been fun! Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Book Review: Safe Money Millionaire

I admit, I don't read many financial help books. About the closest I get is listening to Dave Ramsey on the radio occasionally (whom I like and respect, even if I want to yell at him that he does deserve how he's doing). So, with curiosity and a touch of trepidation, I opened the cover of Safe Money Millionaire by Brett Kitchen and Ethan Kap, and dove in.

A sales pitch makes me wary and I get the inclination to rebel (ask me the story of how I got rid of the Kirby salesman sometime), so after the intro titled "For Skeptics Only," I found myself even more skeptical.

Then I began reading the first chapter and was pleasantly surprised.

The chapter opened by telling a story, and this conversational style continued throughout. I liked this a lot, because I learn best that way and could better relate to the information. I really enjoyed the quotes given at the beginning of each chapter. The true stories of people such as Walt Disney, J.C. Penney, and Ray Kroc (the man who made McDonald's an empire) were fascinating.  The advice was presented in a straightforward, simple manner and was nicely written.

I admit that my eyes glazed over a bit while reading about the stock market and the charts didn't mean much to me. Then again, I have never been interested in the stock market. However, what I did get out of this book was that it's very important to explore different options and that putting money in a 401(k) is generally not the best idea. After discussing some of the information with my husband, we had a good discussion which has led to some interesting avenues to check out. I told James (the major source of brains in this family) that he should read this book so it can help us decide what to do about our financial future. He is currently doing so.

Since I live in the Show Me state, I want down-to-earth, common sense financial advice. This book gives that--mostly. The only real issues I had were some of the legit reasons given to borrow money. In one of the stories, a man and his wife who have just lost their retirement through their 401(k) "desperately" need a kitchen remodel, and during their financial planning found they could borrow some for that reason. I found that a bit of a turnoff. A kitchen remodel would be nice thing to have, but it's far from a pressing need for most people I know. Another reason included borrowing a couple thousand dollars for a vacation, or for a car. If I borrow money, even if it's a relatively safe way to do it, I need a good reason. Otherwise I'm stuck with an unnecessary monthly payment, and I'd rather save up to pay for things that aren't emergencies. I would have liked to see the advice given to be prudent and use discretion on what a person borrows money for and how much--no matter how easy it would be to pay back.

The basic information on how the program works is given in the last half or so of the book--and I do mean very basic. The book recommends contacting special advisers, found through the website, who can help you make the most out of your financial decisions.Getting more information is vital to having the full benefit of the program. The information given is like artichoke dip at Olive Garden--it whets your appetite for more! I had never heard of options like these before, and they do sound intriguing.

I plan on checking further into the information presented in this book and on learning about more financial planning options in general. The best thing this book did for me was make me curious about learning about all the different options out there. Oh, and a great chocolate analogy came at the perfect time in the chapters to help me understand what the authors were saying. I definitely want to enjoy my chocolate bar and have plenty for my kids as well. Read Safe Money Millionaire to find out more about an interesting plan for obtaining more "chocolate" of your own!

Purchase Safe Money Millionaire here: Amazon

Visit the website: Safe Money Millionaire

Review Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book for the purpose of review, and have not been compensated in any fashion for my opinions.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Adventures at Walmart

Last night, at Walmart, I got in the 20 items-or-less line. Princess stood next to me, clutching a package of Bonne Bell Lipsmackers to her chest. (My little girl has been asking about makeup--and this is the closest a five-year-old is getting to lipstick.) A package of contractor trash bags (for all the things I'm getting rid of) and a box of Klondike bars (for James' and my weekly at-home date night) rounded out the purchases.

The man ahead of us in line was quite friendly. Usually, I am too, but something about this guy made me wary. He looked pretty normal--40s, slight of build, white tee, slightly scruffy, not anything unusual. He leaned our direction and talked to Princess, and my alarm bells went off. He had a mumbling way of speaking, but I swore I heard something about a wink.

Princess had the same impulse as me, because she backed up and hid behind me. I resisted the urge to shove him, gave the man a half-smile, and he mumbled a few things to me, grinning. Uncharacteristically, I didn't say anything, but kept that half-smile plastered on.

The guy took a little time to pay, not quite understanding what the cashier wanted, and I tried to chastise myself for being so cold. It looks like he's mentally deficient, I thought. But the feeling of wariness was there still, and I couldn't help but listen. I put my arm around Princess and held her close to my side.

When the man had finished paying, he went to get his bag. I studied him discreetly for a moment, thinking that his movements looked familiar. He swayed a bit, and for a second I wondered, Parkinson's?, then realized that his motions reminded me of someone.

Johnny Depp, I thought. Yep, Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow.

Captain Jack . . .oh.


The guy lurched away, and I stepped up to the register into a funny-smelling cloud. The cashier and I gave each other a look.

"Drunk?" she said in a low tone.

"You think?" I laughed as I waved my hand around a bit trying to diffuse the scent.

She stiffened, then I felt someone behind me and I knew it was the drunk guy. He moved to my side and leaned (or swayed) into my arm a moment, mumbled something, then veered off again.

"How are you today?" the cashier asked brightly.

I swiped my card. "Oh, I'll be fine when we're in the car safely!"

We all laughed, then I took my bag, my daughter's hand, and on high alert, went out of the store.

I shook my head. I need some kind of drunkdar. Years ago as a dental assistant I helped with a patient who was, as the dentist put it, "drunk as a skunk." I had no idea, though he reeked. I was used to patients smelling funny at times and acting weird.

But now, as I headed to the van, Princess tightly in tow, being highly aware of my surroundings and going over self-defense techniques in my mind,  I had to admit that I have a blind spot where sloshed individuals are concerned.

Will someone out there please invent some inebriation-recognition glasses?

Edited to add: Once my wits came back and we went to leave, I realized I should report the guy to someone. I hurried to the door, looking for him and planning to tell the greeter. I didn't have any idea where he'd gone, and somehow the drunk had vanished into thin air. Otherwise I would have done my civic duty and reported him.