Books and Movies and prizes, oh my!

Let’s start with books.

I love doctrine. Here are two recent reads I got from Deseret Book, both written by current apostles:

21principles_detail 21 Principles: Divine Truths to Help you Live by the Spirit” by Elder Richard G. Scott. Elder Scott offers 21 principles distilled from his life experiences. These “concentrated truths” will help you understand more fully how to be guided by the Spirit. Elder Scott’s brief explanations open the way for your own discovery and exploration.  I really like this book. There are so many poignant quotes and thoughts and it’s a great, concentrated resource about what is and how to live a spirit-driven life.

OneDropTime5104405_detail“One Drop at a Time: A Message for Women” by Elder M. Russell Ballard.  Do you sometimes wonder if your little efforts could possibly make any difference at all? Consider a simple example from nature.

I would say this book is mostly a “gift book” because it’s short, decorative, and as far as I can tell, basically a lovely reprint of his recent talk “Be Anxiously Engaged.”

Other books: These are kind of random shares I wanted to pass along. When I was doing my own book signing for Covenant Motherhood at the BYU Bookstore during Women’s Conference, I got to share a table with Elyse of SixSistersStuff.com, who was selling their new cookbook. She was really nice and it was fun to get to know her a little, but I didn’t pick up the book because it was a cookbook and they scare me. SixSistersStuffNEW5097495_detail

Well just a week or two later, I won a copy of their cookbook as a door prize at an event I went to, and I have to confess, I’m pleasantly surprised. The recipes look like great family meals and the ingredient lists and instructions seem really simple. So I’ve decided I’m going to incorporate it into our summer plans by working with one child a night to make dinner. I think the recipes will be simple enough that they can join in and feel like they’re really being chefs.

Because my calendar has been so busy over the last month or so, I’ve done quite a bit of reading for pleasure just as an escape. I love Jane Austen. That’s no shock to anyone who’s read my blog before. I’ve read some Austenesque knock-offs before, and I’ve enjoyed some of them. (Most just can’t measure up to the originals in that genre.) I had heard good things about Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson, so I picked it up and read it recently. In a day. I loved it. It’s probably the best modern-written, Regency-set one I’ve read. So if you’re like me and you’ve heard of it, but haven’t picked it up, you should. Oh, and it just won the best Romance novel of the year at the Whitney Awards last week.  (My friend, Melanie Jacobson, had two books that were finalists in that category because she’s crazy talented. If you like more contemporary, sassy romances, you need to check her stuff out, too.)

Edenbrooke_detailoriginal_cover_detailSecondChances_detail

Okay, moving on to movies.

Do you like movies that make you weep and thank your lucky stars that you were not a pioneer? Well, I was recently invited to meet the director and lead actor for the new film, Ephraim’s Rescue. Ephraim's-Rescue-Poster-1200pixels

I’m ashamed to say that I was almost wholly unfamiliar with the incredible story of Ephraim Hanks. I think this movie is going to be super powerful, so you know, bring your tissues. It opens in several Utah theaters on May 31.

And finally, prizes. At that movie preview/launch event, Deseret Book offered to let me give away to my own little blog-reading friends two tickets to see a pre-screening of Ephraim’s Rescue. How cool is that? There will be special screenings in St. George (5/25), Ogden (5/28), Logan (5/29), and Orem (5/29). If you’d like to win tickets to that very cool, exclusive event, leave a comment below. Update: I’ll do a drawing for this winner first thing this Saturday morning.  Make sure you leave a valid email address when you sign-in so that I can contact you right away and get you in touch with your tickets on time.

For the win: In the comments, tell me your favorite movie that makes you cry every time. (Please just don’t say “The Notebook.” I’ve never seen it, but people are always saying how it makes them cry, and for some reason, I have an aversion to sobbing while cheesy people are kissing in the rain.)  Ready? Go!

It’s Launch Day!!

booklaunch

Today is the “official” launch day for Covenant Motherhood.  The launch party will be tonight at Seagull Book in American Fork. Click here for details. All are welcome.

Two exciting things going on in Internet world today that make the book launch feel like a real celebration:

1.  LDS Women Facebook page is highlighting three quotes from “Covenant Motherhood” today and giving away a copy of the book. They are also connected with FamilyShare.com (a division of the LDS Church’s media arm) which is an awesome site with a wealth of family-friendly resources. Go check out the giveaway and register over at FamilyShare today.

2. Bonnie over at Real Intent put up a review of Covenant Motherhood today and said some really nice things about the book. If you’re looking for an opinion other than mine (what?? you think I’m biased?), go check out what she has to say.

Happy Launch Day, everyone. To infinity and beyond!….

Christmas Gift Giveaways: Winners

Thanks for all your entries. Sorry I’m not a millionaire or I would send you all one for Christmas. They’re worth purchasing, though, so take the plunge and buy them for your own stocking. 🙂 I wrote down all your names and cut them out and did two separate drawings–one for each prize. Natalie pulled out the first winner, and Grant picked the second.  Winners are as follows:

Giveaway #1: The Rent Collector by Camron Wright


Congratulations to AMBERWAVES

Giveaway #2: The Book of Jer3miah, Season One on DVD

Congratulations to AMANDA (the one whose email starts with prig…)

Winners, contact me by email (look up in the right corner by my picture) and I’ll get these prizes sent to you this week.

Christmas Gift Giveaways: A Book and a DVD

I’ve got some stuff for you folks that I’m kind of excited about. I’m excited because there’s a book I read that I really liked, plus a DVD I recently watched and enjoyed, too, and I get to give away a copy of each. With Christmas just around the corner, they would make great gifts for someone you love or stocking stuffers for you (because does anybody ever step up and stuff Mom’s stocking with anything cool? No.).

Giveaway #1: The Rent Collector by Camron Wright


I really, really liked this book. I want to use it for my next book club pick. Based on a true story, It tells of a family that lives in a dump–an actual dump–in Cambodia and struggles to survive. When Sang Ly realizes that her belligerent landlord can read, she begs to learn. What unfolds is an unlikely and uncommon friendship that uncovers the secrets of a buried past. I loved the tenacity and grace of Sang Ly. The story proves that love and kindness and the power of literature can exist even in the most unlikely places.

Giveaway #2: The Book of Jer3miah, Season One on DVD

This was developed as a web-series, and it won all kinds of prizes because it really was so well done.  Now the whole first season is available on DVD with approximately twenty episodes that are each 5-10 minutes long. It tells the story of a freshman at BYU who experiences tragedy and intrigue and tries to rebuild his identity when everything he’s always known seems to be falling apart. It’s a suspenseful drama, with a lot of action and even some paranormal elements (not vampire-like, just kind of manifestations of spiritual gifts/superpowers I guess). The whole thing is set at BYU and throughout Utah, so it was actually really fun to watch and connect to so many common settings, plus I even recognized a couple of the actors as people I know! The story draws heavily on some LDS themes, and delves into some well-known Mormon myths and legends. Matt and I watched this together and we both enjoyed it. It led to a lot of conversation when it was over and a lot of speculation about season 2. I think it would be a fun gift for LDS adults, young adults, and even teens.

So, you want one? I have one copy of each to give away. Just leave a comment below. Tell me if you’re interested in the book, the DVD, or both*. I’ll add your name to the drawing. That’s it. Feel free to say anything else in the comments, too, like how your Thanksgiving was, and if you’re still eating pie for breakfast, or whatever. 🙂  Anyway, drawing will close at 10 p.m. MST on Friday, and I’ll announce/email the winner on Saturday.  Good luck!

*Will only ship within the U.S.

Especially for Who? (and a giveaway, too)

Some of you may be familiar with the Especially for Youth program. It’s a week-long LDS youth conference where teens can socialize, learn, interact, and set goals, all in a “For the Strength of Youth”-focused setting. I’m kind of a fan (except I wish it were free). I was a youth counselor for 5 years in the 90s (shut up), and I’ve been teaching at EFY sessions since 2006.  Each year the program theme focuses on the theme scripture that the young men and young women’s programs have selected.  So for 2012, the theme is:

“Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations” –Doctrine and Covenants 115:5

I have a confession to make. I was kind of a super-cheesy Mormon teen. Every day after school, I would drop my backpack on my bed, pop in my Janice Kapp Perry (or similar goopy inspirational) cassette tape into my boom box (again, shut up), and study to lyrics like, “Walk Tall, You’re a Daughter of God.” Once I grew into adulthood, I found that my appetite for that kind of music had been pretty much saturated.  Even now, I can’t really listen to it without feeling a tad bit nauseous.  BUT. The new music, like what they put on the EFY CDs nowadays, is much more modern and palatable. I actually quite like it, and it’s not just for Sabbath music. Some tracks are upbeat, and different songs have different vibes. Did you know you can buy the EFY CDs at your local LDS bookstore?  They’re not just for youth, and I’m suggesting you might like them. I’m all for playing music in the car that my kids can like and it’s totally SAFE.

You can listen to samples of all the tracks here. So, Do you WANT ONE? I have two, yes TWO copies to give away . . . if you don’t mind that my curious children actually opened up one of them.

I will tell you that I particularly like to put on track one, “Arise and Shine,” to wake my kids up in the morning.  They just love it when I belt out the words ARISE AND SHINE while lifting them out of their beds and shaking their sleepy selves. Truly.

How to win a copy? Just tell me you want to. And I’d love to hear confessions of the cheesy LDS music you used to listen to.  I promise this newer stuff is SO much better. I’ll announce winners next Monday.

(small print: These copies were given to me by myldsradio.com for a giveaway promotion that I volunteered to do. CDs can be purchased at http://www.yourldsmusicstore.com/)

CD Winner

Congratulations to the winner of the drawing:  Wendy

Answering the question, “What has motherhood taught you about Jesus Christ?,” Wendy answered:

On those hard days, I always think about “opposition in all things”, like if we don’t experience the hard times, we can’t have the good times. I have been touched as I have had promptings about different children. I know that it is a sacrifice to have children in some ways, but I also know that if I was living a different life, I wouldn’t be who I am. I wouldn’t be as nurturing. I wouldn’t be as sympathetic to other moms. I couldn’t be as Christ-like. I am in no way perfect, but I am on a journey of working for it!

Thanks to Wendy, and to all of your great and uplifting comments.  Thanks also to Mercy River for sharing their music, and especially to Whitney who wrote that great post and helped us see our role in new ways.

Wendy, send me your address and you will receive a copy of Mercy River’s new CD, Higher, in the mail.

To everyone else, pick up your own copy at the store or turn on some of your favorite uplifting music and have a great week.

Favorite Christmas Books for Families (including a giveaway)

I hope this doesn’t count as playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving.  I just want to give you some great ideas so you can get a jump start on the holiday season.  We love to read around here anyway, but come Christmas time, I hit the library and clean them out of nativity-related stories (I know, I’m selfish).  We also own several that we love to read every year.  I keep a basket full of Christmas books by the fireplace, and send my children there anytime I want them to settle down.  We all cuddle on the couch and read stories for a while, and we usually read several stories at bedtime as well.  Here are some of our favorites:  (I got the pictures from Amazon.com)

What is Christmas? by Michele Medlock Adams is a sweet rhyming book that talks about the true meaning of the day.

The Donkey’s Christmas Song by Nancy Tafuri:  I love this one about how Jesus loves us all just as we are.

The Fourth Wise Man by Susan Summers and Jackie Morris: You might have to tell it in simpler words to the youngest children, but the story and pictures are beautiful.  (Incidentally, I watched the movie “The Fourth Wise Man” at a zone conference on my mission and it fast became a holiday favorite for me.  I really recommend it as a great Christmas movie to watch with your family.)
Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson.  This is one of my favorite stories about a mouse whose selfish ways turn around when the real story of Christmas changes his heart. So sweet.

Bear Stays Up for Christmas is by the same author,but this one doesn’t count for the nativity-type.  The rhyming text is just whimsical, the story is cute, and my kids love it.

my very first Christmas Story: a very simple board book that tells the true story of Christmas with cute pictures

The Shepherd Boy’s Story: another cute Christmas story board book that encourages children to tell others about Jesus.



The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson is an excellent read-aloud about some rotten kids from a troubled family who forced their way into roles in the local Christmas play.  Your children will love reading about all their mischievous antics, and I’ll be surprised if you can read about the actual performance without tearing up.  It’s a great story about the goodness in all of us, even where we least expect it.

Okay, so technically this is not a book. Classic Holiday Stories is a Disney DVD.  I like to read my children some kid-friendly version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, or maybe the original text this year. This DVD has the Disney cartoon, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, which I think is cute and my boys really liked it last year. It will be fun to watch it again after reading the story.

Finally, I recieved this book as a gift from Jana Parkin (a.k.a. Charette in the blogging world) a few weeks ago.  It is called What Think Ye of Christmas? by Ester Rasband. 

Jana did all the artwork for the book in beautiful watercolor paintings.  It is really a lovely book that explains the Christian message behind all the symbols of Christmas time.  It helps you to find and recognize Christ even amidst a commercial wonderland.  “All things bear record of Him.” It encourages you to live out that Spirit of Christ as you celebrate the holiday.  And Jana’s paintings are so masterful and charming.  We went out to lunch the day she gave me the book as a gift, and after I took it home and read through it, I wished I had kidnapped her to come home with me and paint something beautiful like that on my walls.  Would you like to win a free copy of “What Think Ye of Christmas?” Anyone who leaves a comment will be entered into a drawing for this fantastic Christmas book, courtesy of the artist herself.  For anyone who would like to purchase copies as gifts, you can do so here (you can find a discount code on Jana’s blog).  Drawing will be open through Thanksgiving Day.

Do you have any favorite Christmas books in your family?