Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday's Word: Stars

Stars, specifically those awarded on Goodreads, have been on my mind lately. Recently an author friend  expressed her concern that I didn't like her book because I gave it three stars on Goodreads. I let her know, that coming from me, three stars is a good thing, that I liked her book and I could recommend it to other readers in her genre. I also assured her that I don't hand out 4 and 5 stars very freely. A book has to be something that really sings to my personal taste, knocks my socks off, and leaves me mulling the story over and over in my mind for days afterward, for me to award it 5 stars. And that is rare.

Am I wrong for being so stingy with stars? Maybe, but it's who I am.

I have found that I'm the exception rather than the rule. As I look at others' Goodreads ratings of books, I notice that many readers give 4 and 5 stars to everything they read. While this is nice for their author friends, it is very little help to me when I'm trying to discriminate and determine which books would be a good pick for me. I feel like I'm at an elementary school science fair where they award every project a blue ribbon just for participating. While that's admirable for not wanting to hurt any feelings, where's the reward for the student that went the extra mile in their project.

If I see a book on a friend's list receive 2 or 3 stars, I don't necessarily think it is a bad book. I weigh in the possibility that the book wasn't to their taste, especially when the book might receive 4 or 5 stars from another reader. I appreciate when people are honest with their reviews--that doesn't mean they can be mean and heartless. Most every book will appeal to some people and not to others. When people look at my Goodreads ratings and think I'm harsh, may I remind them of the meanings behind each star:
1 star: didn't like it
2 stars: it was okay
3 stars: liked it
4 stars: really liked it
5 stars: it was amazing.

Don't tell me you've never read a book you didn't like?
And did that necessarily mean the book was bad? No.
Taste isn't reserved only for the tongue.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Book Review: Bound by Christine Bryant

Bound is a debut YA paranormal romance by an amazing new author, Christine Bryant.    

When Kira’s deadbeat mother abandons her, she looks to her friend Lydia to become her surrogate family. When she discovers that the father that supposedly lived with Lydia in their old trailer home never existed, and her brother lives in a cave in the mountains, Kira’s world really begins to spiral out of control. She really has no choice but to stay with Lydia and her mysterious family—she has nobody else to turn to.
                In time she discovers Lydia and her brother Octavian are royalty from another world, hiding out on earth from their treacherous older sister who seeks to kill Lydia. Kira is swept up in their plight, being sucked into their magical way of life and bound to Lydia by means of an enchanted bracelet. She too gains powers, but they only serve to pull her deeper into Lydia’s and Octavian’s world and their problems.
                The book started out with a burst of intrigue, pulling me in immediately. As Kira learned about Lydia’s world, the pace slacked off, allowing me to set the book down often. But when the characters from Lydia’s world merged with Kira’s world, the intrigue returned and I had a hard time setting the book down. I was glad I had stuck with the story.
                Just a word of warning for those who don’t like to be left dangling at the end of a book, required by the author to wait for the sequel to gain a full resolution, you might not like this book. But if you’re one of those readers who love cliff hanger endings, you will love this book.
                I’m looking forward to the sequel.

For more information on the Dark CARma book tour, of which Bound is a part, check out the tour's website.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday's Words: Feminine Hygiene Kits

This past summer, in a neighboring ward in our stake, the Young Women made feminine hygiene kits to send to Africa. They solicited sisters in the stake who owned sergers to help make the sanitary pads that went in the kits. I volunteered to make a few stacks--they zipped up really fast. When I learned about what these kit were for, I was touched and pulled in by their project. I was also impressed by the need  in Africa for more of these feminine hygiene kits--many more.

As you can imagine, in many rural areas of Africa, the women don't have access to the conveniences of the modern world--like tampons, or even those big bulky Kotex pads I had to wear as a teenager in the 70's. Many women go without any type of protection to absorb their menstrual flow. Because of this they are ostracized, dis-allowed to work or go to school. In the case of some young girls, they are confined to a hut at the edge of town, alone or with other young girls, unattended and vulnerable to the lusts of men from the village who take advantage of them.

These crudely made sanitary belts (see picture) and pads can be the means of helping these African women carry on a somewhat normal life. The pads are made from cut-up cotton diapers, allowing the women to wash them out between use. They are thin so that they can hang them up to dry in the humid climates, but also can use several layers combined, according to their flow.

They aren't pretty, but they are effective and relatively easy to make if you know how to sew. I could e-mail you a set of instructions if you would like to participate in this wonderful cause. I could even send you a sample if that will make it easier. If you don't know what to do with them after you are done, I would be glad  to have you send them to me on my nickle and I will give them to a lady who goes over to Africa on a regular basis.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wednesday's Word: compassion

Definition: sympathy for the suffering of others, often including a desire to help.

I saw this in full force last Thursday, November 10 in the LDS writing community. One of our own--Robison Wells--had fallen into hard times in relation to his health and thus his job. I was so touched by the way everyone came together, getting the word out, buying Rob's new book as part of a "book bomb" started by fellow author Larry Correia. The bomb had the desired effect: Rob's book rose from relative obscurity to become in the top seven for YA sci fi on Amazon--all in one day.

I would like to give everyone a hug who participated in this act of unselfishness. The world needs more of this kind of compassion. And the neatest part of it all is that Robison Wells' new book, Variant, from what I have heard, is one awesome book. It wasn't like it was a chore for anyone to buy. In fact it was already on my list to read before this book bomb even happened. Now I can't wait for NaNoWriMo to end so I can jump into Variant and read.

For those of you who weren't lucky enough to participate in this book bomb, it's not too late for you to purchase a copy for yourself. Let's keep this talented new author at the top of Amazon's list. For more information, check out Robison Wells' website.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Winner of my November Givaway Blog hop

Jennifer, you are my winner
I had a great time participating in the November Giveaway Bloghop. I hope those of you participated did too. the winner of my prize (three awesome books and a giant puppet) is Jennifer. In checking out Jennifer's blog it appears as if she is a librarian in Texas. What a great recipient for books and a puppet.

Thanks everyone for the comments you left and the new followers I have gained.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November Giveaway Hop

I love blog hops. And this one is going to be great. Lots of participants and lots of great prizes to be shared. All you have to do to win on my blog is to be a follower and post a comment. That's it! I'm giving away a giant of a prize:

Three books:
1) Alone, Orphaned on the Ocean (A true story about Tere Duperrault Fassbender harrowing experience at sea)
2) Fool Me Twice (A mystery by Stephanie Black)
3) Paranormalcy (Paranormal romance by Kiersten White)

 And a Giant puppet (measures 21 inches tall).

Don't forget to leave an email address if I can't find it easily on your blog, in case you win.
Check out the awesome blogs of others participating in this blog hop:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wednesday's Word: NaNoWriMo

Yes, I'm participating in NaNoWriMo this year (National Novel Writing Month). I did it two years ago and had a blast. Mostly because of the friendships I made in the process in the online writing community. I was successful, I got my 50K words, but it has taken me two years of editing to have a novel worth publishing. Originally entitled Hitler's Promise, now entitled I Couldn't Serve Hitler, my first NaNoWriMo novel is  in its last leg of rewrites. Hopefully it will be to the liking of Covenant Communications and they will accept my changes and contract it for publication.
If you would like to participate, its not too late, or if you'd just like to learn more go to


If you've never heard of it,
don't feel like a turd.
is not a real word
It's thirty days of writing;
a whole novel in November,
who cares if there's a plot
or characters to remember.
The aim is simply words,
fifty thousand is the goal.
Then you spend the next year
rewriting it in full.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Debut Novel: Nourish & Strengthen, by Maria Hoagland

I am delighted to highlight author, Maria Hoagland on my blog today. Her debut novel, Nourish and Strengthen comes out today. I have asked her to tell my readers a little about her book and where you can obtain a copy for yourselves:

Happy National Diabetes Awareness Month and thank you for having me on your blog, Carolyn! I am excited to talk about the release of my novel, Nourish & Strengthen. Although written specifically for the LDS women's market, I think most people will be able to relate to the main character's struggles of raising a young family, accepting daunting church responsibilities, dealing with a chronic illness, and expecting perfection in self and others. It seems to me that people, especially women, have a tendency to be hard on themselves. And so does the main character of Nourish & Strengthen.

Chloe Taylor is a young mother who accepts a challenging new church calling around the same time she is diagnosed with a chronic illness. Overwhelmed with her problems, she becomes so nearsighted that she overlooks others' struggles and finds herself in jeopardy of losing one of her greatest assets: the support of her friends. As Chloe strives to develop Christ-like love for herself and those around her, she learns that outer appearances are far less important than inner peace and spiritual strength. But is she strong enough to face her most difficult trial yet?

Nourish & Strengthen deals with themes of judging others, perfectionism, and guilt—feelings that tend to hobble those who live with diabetes every day. November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and the perfect month to read Nourish & Strengthen.

You can learn more about Maria Hoagland and her novel Nourish & Strengthen at The paperback version is available at and any ebook version at Both Kindle and paperback copies can also be found at