Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Hidden Sun by J Lloyd Morgan

Today I'd like to share a few thoughts on my friend, J Lloyd Morgan's book, The Hidden Sun. This was an interesting, delightful read in many ways. The characters are fun, endearing, intriguing, calculating, and despicable as needed to provide many surprising twists and turns.

The story takes place in a kingdom called Bariwon. The Hidden Sun is the first of a trilogy featuring the Bariwon Chronicles. Book 2 and 3 are titled The Waxing Moon and The Zealous Star respectively. They are already published, so if you fall in love with The Hidden Sun, there is no waiting to see how the Bariwon Chronicles end, always a plus for readers.

As well as the main characters, I fell in love with the kingdom of Bariwon itself. Bariwon is governed by ancient rules established in the kingdom's infancy called the Tome of Laws. A book created by many founding fathers AND mothers of the kingdom hoping that as Bariwon's royalty and common citizens follow the rules in the Tome of Laws, all in the kingdom could live together peacefully. I really liked the angle that women's opinions were respected as much as the men's.

Bariwon has some unique laws dictating how the kingdom changes hands. Instead of a king leading the kingdom until he dies, then his firstborn son taking over, the kingdom switches hands every time the firstborn heir of the reigning king or queen turns twenty-one. The firstborn son or daughter marries soon after their twenty first birthday, and the reigning king and queen become advisers to the new king and queen. This ensures that changes can be made if the reigning royalty are failing to put the good of the people before their own desires.

Of course, those royalty who do not have the best interests of the people in mind play whatever cards they have to ensure they stay in power for as long as possible and try to up the odds that the future king and queen will continue their traditions, but the theory is that every twenty-two years or so, new management can take over and guide the kingdom the way they want.

Because I enjoyed the kingdom of Bariwon, I used the name Bariwon (with J Lloyd Morgan's permission) as a heroic character defending the downtrodden in a chapter in my new book: Being West Is Best. (Kindle edition to be available soon). The name seemed perfect to me.

I still need to read the next two books, but they are on my list.

Laugh lots ... love much ... write on!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Borrowed Angel: Coping With the Loss of a Child by Erica Keifer

Borrowed Angel is the poignant story of a mother who lost her first child to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In this captivating book, the author describes her journey through the gauntlet of grief and reveals how hope can be found, even amid tragedy. Weaving spirituality with a practical approach to healing, Borrowed Angel reflects on motherhood, the grieving process, and the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.


March 14, 2014 marked the 22nd anniversary of my second son's birth. Unfortunately, he had died 13 days before. David's birth brought full circle the reality that the child my husband and I had planned and prayed for would NOT be ours to raise in this life. While waiting to go into natural labor, I cycled through many ups and downs, trying to deal with the new reality that wouldn't result in a sweet, playful, noisy bundle of joy straight from heaven. 

I remembered reading a book called "Gone Too Soon: The Life and Loss of Infants and Unborn Children" by Sherri D. Wittwer shortly after losing my first child, a baby we named Promise. "Gone Too Soon" brought me a lot of comfort when I could swear my heart was literally breaking. So, when asked if I would review the book "Borrowed Angel: Coping with the Loss of a Child" I didn't hesitate to volunteer.

Books like: "Borrowed Angel: Coping With the Loss of a Child" by Erica Keifer resonate hope and inspiration that one dealing with such a devastating loss needs to find ... and maybe even cling to for a while. To know there will someday be peace, light, and understanding again while trying not to succumb to hurt, sorrow, anger, and numbness is a HUGE blessing. 

Erica and her husband, Dan, navigated through the choppy, undesired waters of losing their son by clinging to one another, their friends and family, and their Savior, Jesus Christ.  They share their struggle for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is a memorial to their angel baby, Ty, and his memory, bringing clarity for themselves, and helping other parents going through the same pain and loss.

Time does soften the pain and heartache, but will never erase the longing that things had turned out differently. Borrowed Angel deals with Erica's and Dan's journey through infertility, to conceiving their sweet son, Ty, to their adjustment as new parents. And then ultimately, finding him lifeless in his crib--a victim of SIDS--and dealing with the reality that their son would no longer be a part of their daily lives. Borrowed Angel deals with their journey to accept this harsh reality. The emotions Erica and her husband experience mirrored my own, raw at times, including grasping and clinging to whatever scrap of hope offered them through someone's hug, kind words, or thoughtful act. 

Erica and Dan coped differently with the loss of their son, and yet managed to strengthen one another when they needed it most. Both parts of this equation--recognizing that grief manifests itself differently for each individual AND choosing to allow each person to find their way while making an effort to strengthen the other are important keys to maintaining a good relationship and keeping the paths of communication open. Often, the loss of a child leads to the loss of a marriage-- a doubly tragic blow to many couples. 

Borrowed Angel is an uplifting story that inspires others while dealing with the very real devastation of losing a child. It offers hope, understanding, and most importantly--it acknowledges that there is no one right way to grieve and "deal with" such a horrific loss. 

I highly recommend reading Borrowed Angel if you have experienced the loss of child or know someone in such a position, if only to gain insight and understanding. 

Laugh lots ... love much ... write on!

Social media:
Twitter: @ericarockkiefer

Author Bio:
Erica Kiefer was born on Christmas Eve in Southern California to an American father whose ancestors arrived from Europe during colonial times and a Thai mother who moved to the US during high school. Adding to her rich and varied heritage, Erica grew up living abroad in Asia, including Taiwan, Fiji, Thailand and Indonesia. She gained a great respect for the beautiful mosaic of cultures found in various parts of the world. After graduating from International School Bangkok, she attended Brigham Young University in Utah, where she earned a degree in Recreation Therapy. Her career as a Recreation Therapist has allowed her to work with at-risk youth since 2007.
Erica made the best decision of her life by marrying her husband in 2005 and is currently a mother of three, one of whom awaits her in heaven. Erica also loves singing, reading, writing, and satisfying her sweet-tooth with chocolate-chip cookies. Playing collegiate rugby was one of the most memorable experiences of her life, thus far.
Erica’s first book is titled Lingering Echoes, which was published by Clean Teen Publishing in November, 2013. Rumors, the prequel novella, closely followed. Borrowed Angel is Erica's third published work.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Stone of Valhalla by Mikey Brooks

Welcome to The Stone of Valhalla Blog Tour!
A middle-grade fantasy-adventure by Mikey Brooks.

Don’t forget to check out the GIVEAWAY at the bottom this post
for a chance to WIN a $25 Amazon Gift card and other great prizes!


Aaron was chosen to save their world, but it might come at the cost of losing his own.

Breaking into an old lady’s basement was supposed to reward 13-year-old Aaron with new friends. Instead he finds an enchanted amulet that transports him to another world—one at war with magic. Before he knows it, he is accused of witchcraft and invited to a bonfire—where he’s the main attraction. If that’s not bad enough, a goblin army shows up and toasts the town...literally. The good news: Aaron escapes being charbroiled. The bad news: the goblins are after him. They want his amulet and will stop at nothing to get it. Battling to find his way home, Aaron teams up with a not-so-magical-wizard and learns it’s his fate to destroy the amulet and save this new world. But is he willing to sacrifice his own?
Check out what these talented authors are saying about it:

The Stone of Valhalla is one of those books that only comes along once in a great while. Brooks doesn't just create a world, he puts you inside of it, allowing you to experience the wonder in a way that only he can. His characters are likable and fun. His twists leave you asking ‘Why?’ Treat yourself to an exciting adventure through a beautiful new land. Make new friends and be a part of the magic. This is a book that you will not be able to put down!”
—J.R. Simmons, author of Ragesong: Awakening.

 The Stone of Valhalla drew me in from the get-go. Aaron’s journey is reminiscent of Dorothy’s trek in The Wizard of Oz. Magic, sword fights, danger, and more danger, sprinkled with humor and unexpected twists. This is one of the ‘best’ fantasy adventures I’ve ever experienced!”
—BBH McChiller, author of The Monster Moon Series.

The Stone of Valhalla is a riveting mystery revealing true friendship, loyalty and sacrifice. Brooks engages the curiosity of middle graders and older sleuths alike, until the very end. Fantastic!”
—L.R.W. Lee, author of The Andy Smithson series.

Excerpt From: Chapter Two: The Penalty of Witchcraft

Aaron thought he’d been transported to some kind of renaissance fair. People milled about in the street, all dressed like they belonged on the set of some medieval movie. Most of their faces were stained with dirt, and they wore soiled clothing. Large, wooden buildings, held together by plaster, loomed overhead and all around him. Some had signs announcing specific trades and goods. The sweet smell of bread came from one shop, clearly a bakery. A rotund man stood out front, arguing with an old man who had a silvery- white beard and a long, purple cloak. He was telling the baker that the rolls he had purchased tasted ‘day-old’ and he required a reimbursement.
Several passersby gave Aaron odd glances. One little girl with a group of women dressed like nuns pointed at him and giggled. He thought he heard her call him a buffoon, but she was quickly shushed by one of the women and pulled into a shop.
This is so unreal.
Aaron couldn’t figure out what had happened.
How did I get here? Who are these people?
Aaron waited for someone to jump out and yell, “Surprise, you’re on camera!”
It never happened.
The seconds drew on like hours, and Aaron stood unmoving like a statue in the middle of the dirt road. The sweet smell from the bakery was drowned by the stench of a sweaty mule pulling a cart packed full with what had to be manure. The wind blew and the wafting smell of poo filled Aaron’s nose. He coughed and tried to cover the reek with his shirt.
“Witchcraft! Witchcraft, I say!”
Aaron turned around to see a middle-aged woman with only three teeth shouting hysterically. She pointed directly at him. He looked over his shoulder to ensure no green-skinned, broom-commandeering, warty-faced lady in black stood beside him. There wasn’t anyone there. The noise on the street stopped dead except for the woman. She grabbed a small wooden crate from a cart filled with fresh flowers and stood on it. “Fetch the constable! Don’t let him get away, or he’ll set a curse on our town.”
Five large men formed a group behind the woman and advanced toward Aaron. He didn’t know what to do.

Where to Find The Stone of Valhalla:
Exclusive price for the eBook release is just $2.99! (List Price: $4.99)
And only $9.99 for the paperback! (List Price: $12.99)
On April 12th 2014 the price will return to the List Price

Another special offer:
During The Stone of Valhalla Blog Tour
Mikey’s other great middle-grade eBooks will also be set to the low price of just $0.99!
The Dream Keeper:
Kindle | Nook | Kobo
The Dreamstone:
Kindle | Nook | Kobo

You’re Invited to PARTY!!
The online launch party will take place on Thursday, April 10th at 4pm (MST). The party will run for 2 hours and you’re invited to drop by anytime. The longer you stay the more chances you have of winning prizes! We have slew of eBooks to giveaway, as well as a Stone of Valhalla necklace AND a $25 Amazon gift card! It is hosted by LovingtheBookLaunchParty on Facebook. Just follow this link to join the event: http://goo.gl/Q2Fd3r.

What’s that? Another Party!
That’s right! If you’re local to Utah you don’t want to miss this kickin’ party. We are having a launch party to celebrate the release of this awesome new book. Of course there will be plenty of giveaways there too, but what’s even better are the guest authors! Just check out these fabulous names: J. Scott Savage, Chad Morris, Lisa Mangum, Jenni James, Ali Cross, and many more. The Launch Party is: Friday, April 11th from 6-9pm at The Viridian Center in West Jordan, Utah. Follow this link for a map: http://goo.gl/dqVc0u

About Mikey Brooks:

Mikey is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of several books including the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures and Bean’s Dragons as well as the middle-grade fantasy-adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’. He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast. You can find more about him and his books at: http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/.

The Giveaways!

Enter the giveaway below to be entered to win one of the following prizes:

$25 Amazon Gift Card
The Stone of Valhalla Necklace
Autographed Paperback of The Stone of Valhalla
Autographed 11x17 Poster
a Rafflecopter giveaway