Friday, May 31, 2013

Greatest Kids Songs Ever? Check out Patty Shukla

My little one year old loves music. He bobs along to it, dances like a total frat boy, and giggles. Now, as I have learned over the past few months, not all children's music is created equal.

There are songs that are so annoying you want to pull your ears out.

There are 'entertainers' who dumb down the songs and talk in such baby high voices you can feel your child lose IQ points as you go.

There are cartoons with grainy, boring characters.

There are songs that you learn with, and songs that you don't.

Jake is very particular. If he doesn't like a song (which happens more frequently than you might think), he gets very angry. He throws his head back, sobbing, as if the world was about to end. This is why I have to share what I have found to be the greatest kid songs ever.
Sign Language Short Phrases - Patty Shukla: Clip 2:18 - In this video ...
Patty Shukla (with a channel on youtube and a website to check out if you are interested) is amazing. Her songs are a mix of kids jumping and playing and acting out the words and cartoons. The music is upbeat and educational. She also encourages kids to get off their butts and move! This is huge in today's world of videogames and iPads. Songs like "Twist", "I Can Do It!" and "Follow Me" make my little man run in circles and get his little baby exercise that he needs. Songs like "Grandma's House" and "Puppy" are cartoons and Jakey loves watching them when he's tired.

I recently learned that Patty has practically a whole empire... not just a few songs on youtube. She does Mommy and Baby music time popcasts, Music Time for older children and all kinds of things to help encourage love of music in little people. She also does sign language songs to help them learn ASL.

I love it.

My only complaint? How bloody addictive her songs. They WILL be stuck in your head all day! :) But definitely check her out on youtube and maybe even get a CD or two if you like her. She's worth it, as my baby will attest.

Thank you for many happy afternoons, Patty!  Now if only you made a song about balls... and Jake's life would be complete. :P

And for you momma's out there who need a nice break, check out my two published novels (with the third coming soon!) Iced Romance, where we deal with a cheating fiance, a runaway bride, and a potential new Prince Charming, all while hiding secrets and trying to escape into a new life. Or, if Hollywood is more your thing, you'll love Tanned, Toned and Totally Faking It, about a celebrity trying to hide who she is from the one person in the world who matters most. Betrayal, gossip, celebrities and fashion, this is a must read!


Monday, May 27, 2013

Book Review - Mary Higgins Clark "The Lost Years"

I have always been a Mary Higgins Clark fan. I started reading her when I was probably twelve or thirteen because my mom loved her books... and I fell in love with them too. They typically are keep-you-up-at-night thrillers and I adore them. I still think of scenes from Remember Me and Weep No More, My Lady, books that touched me and drew me in.

The newest one, The Lost Years was so far gone from those books I loved it's actually sad.

The premise was good. Here's the blurb from the book cover: "Just weeks after discovering a letter that may have been written by Jesus Christ himself, biblical scholar Jonathan Lyons is found shot to death in his study. Police suspect his wife, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, murdered him in a jealous rage. But the priceless parchment is missing, and Jonathan had recently confided to a family friend his suspicions that someone he once trusted had designs on the ancient document. It is up to his daughter, Mariah, to clear her mother of murder charges and unravel the real mystery behind her father’s death—before her own revelations become her last."
I was interested.... BUT when I tried to read it, I could not get into it. I forced myself past the first chapter... and then past the second chapter and so forth. It was never a can't-put-down novel, despite my best efforts. I found Mariah, a 28 year old, to be OLD. Her conversations sounded like a 50 year old woman, her mental state and the way she handled everything was not what a girl in her twenties would do. I should know... I am one! Even the love interest part was annoying... how do you go from "I am non-commital about you, since you are my dad's friend" to "I hate you because you probably killed my dad" to "I love you" all in a matter of chapters? Totally unrealistic.
Not to mention, all that aside, the premise of the ancient document was hardly touched upon. They had a blurb that was repeated almost word for word about the document that said "It was written by Christ to Joseph of Arimithea to thank him for his kindness" or something along those lines, and that was about all we got. I wanted more of a Dan Brown feel to it... give me something more!
Overall? Not her best work. I'd give it a 3 star rating... simply because I can't bear to give her worse than that! If you want a good mystery, stick to her earlier books. You will love them. But as for this one? Pass, unless you are a die hard fan.
xox Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Choose to Be Happy....

Sometimes life can suck. Things get thrown our way that have the potential to rob our happiness from us. But don't get bogged down in this. Choose to be happy. Religious leader Gordon Hinckley said: “Stop looking for the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight.” This is truth.
With disasters in the world and horrible things we hear about on the news and hard things occuring in our lives, it is easy to see the bad and not the good. "One day," you might say, "I will be happy." But you can be happy today.

Choose to be happy.

You have the right to be happy.

A venture not yet realized or an experience not yet undertaken, but planned, is a reason to be happy.

Life is short. Sadness is a waste of life.

Serve someone each day, even if it is just your family.

Be grateful for the things You do have.

Enjoy the positive things in your life without hesitation.

Stop looking for happiness around the corner. Choose to be happy. Choose to smile. Today.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Great books for the summer!

Summer has always been a time for sitting in a lawn chair or on a beach towel and reading in the sunshine. I love summer books. Absolutely love them. Something about the warm weather and escaping in the lives of fictional characters always makes my day.

So here's my summer reading list:

  • Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella. This book looks cute... Lottie, a girl who is desperate to get married and have babies and start her life, breaks up with her boyfriend when he won't commit. Then, out of nowhere, an ex calls her up and reminds her that he was her "if we're not married by the time we're 30, we'll marry each other" guy. So she jumps at the chance. Only her sister isn't too thrilled with this idea... and sets out to sabotage it. I love Sophie Kinsella books. They are not  feminist, girl power books, but that's why I love them. They are silly, sometimes stupid and the characters are likeable, sometimes ditsy and really fun. This book is on my list!

  • Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns by Lauren Weisberger. I liked The Devil Wears Prada. It was fashion and fab and the movie was pretty great too. This book is 8 years later. Sometimes I love sequels, sometimes I don't. Hopefully this is a good one! :)
  • The Racketeer  by John Grisham. Not a chick lit book, which is usually the ones I adore, but anything by Grisham is amazing in my eyes. Especially excited to hear that there is a Time to Kill sequel in the works too. This one is about a federal judge who was murdered and a man, Malcom Bannister, a former lawyer now in prison, is one of the few people who knows why. FBI, secrets, exciting. Can't wait.

What are you excited to read?

And, if you haven't read these two books yet, you need to.

Iced Romance and Tanned, Toned and Totally Faking It by Whitney Boyd.   Here's what people are saying about these books on Amazon:
Iced Romance:
"5 stars! Heartbreak and recovery complicated by secondary fame. Like cigarette smoke being involved with celebrities can be hazardous to your heart health. This is an entertaining read with a find yourself and recovery theme." - Linda Jean

"Loved this book! 5 stars! This book had me laughing out loud. Just what I needed to relax and escape for a while. Whitney [Boyd] is just too funny--I can see her in high heels at her job." - Kaikai

"Fun read! A clean, hilarious and captivating book. Kept me turning the pages. Loved the ending, not a typical romance, and I adored it. Will read again and again." - Lydia

"I liked this book. It was your typical love story in most ways, but had a different twist to it. If you are looking for a fun, easy read, then this book is for you!" - Melissa Rice

Tanned, Toned and Totally Faking It
"I loved this book and the way the author wrote in the first person aspect. Not many authors can fully pull that off but she did. Looking forward to reading more from her. I absolutely loved Micky and Jordan and of course story wouldn't be what it was with out good ole Kurt!" - Kimberly Beck

"The second book I read by this author. Great book. Loved how clean it was, funny and relatable. It is the perfect book for an evening in. Could not put it down."  - Lydia

"Totally enjoyed this book. It is such and upbeat book and it gives you a good feeling. Thought it would be a predictable book, but the author kept making turns that kept me from putting the book down. I actually think it would make a good movie. Of course they always say the book is better. I am now anxiously awaiting Whitney Boyd's next publication." -Rondopop

Don't be the last to read these great bestsellers! xox YOLO!

Happy Reading!

Friday, May 3, 2013

American Idol Judge Suggestions...

So the ratings for American Idol keep slipping. It is nowhere near the show it once was, despite many diehard fans hanging on, hoping for redemption. I liked this show a lot once upon a time. It was my date every Wednesday and Thursday night. But now? I watch a bit and occasionally read articles about it. I am not invested in the show anymore, sadly.

The judges have made it painful. I know, I know, this show isn't all about the judges, right? It's about the singers and their personalities. Actually, no, not for me. The judges back in the day were great. Simon and Paula had chemistry and even when they disagreed with each other, it was small and cute and funny and they got back to business. Simon also was truthful. He didn't mince words. He was honest and said what the audience was thinking. Randy was fresh... he didn't just repeat himself over and over. And it was mainly about the singers.

Remember Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson? And Kellie Pickler, who always made me laugh? And Chris Daughtry who had the good looking guy appeal, a ridiculous voice and the edge of being a unique rock genre? Mandisa, who could actually sing Whitney Houston?
You miss me. Admit it.
They were all singers who I connected with. Even annoying ones to me, like Katherine McPhee and Taylor Hicks were still fun.

But now? They focus way too much on the judges.

Keith Urban is good. He is the no nonsense type guy who says what he thinks, is kind, and you can tell he loves the music. He sways and sings along and always gives good feedback.

The other three? I'll pass. Mariah and Nicki are too obsessed with themselves, how they look, how their hair is, and what accent they are going to use and what nicknames they will call the contestants. They are shock factor... looking for drama to up the ratings. Watching them constantly roll their eyes when the other speaks? Not cool. Not professional. It's gotten to the point where even though they occasionally have good suggestions and input for the contestants, they are so all over the place that it's hard to listen. And as for Randy... he's saying the same thing he was a decade ago. Bland. Boring.
OK, why don't people take me seriously?
So here is my suggestion. Go back to having 3 judges. A panel of 4 is too many. Leave Keith because he knows what he's talking about but replace the others. Pink would be an awesome judge. She's been around since I was a teenager... a young teenager... and her music is amazing. She has an incredible voice, her personal life (while having the occasional rocky moment) is pretty stable, and she is a decent role model. She also does not beat around the bush and says what needs to be said. Check out any interview with her if you don't believe me. The last judge I think would be great is Ben Folds, the judge on The Sing Off. He is a singer/songwriter and record producer and really knows his music. He knows what is marketable and he is kind yet truthful. These three would be great.
 I am pretty awesome, huh.
And then? Focus on the singers. Give us guys and girls to root for. Tell us their stories. Choose contemporary theme nights that we can relate to and update the music lists of allowable songs so we aren't hearing the same song every single season.

And that is how American Idol can be great again.

You're welcome. :)

What do you guys think? Do you have any great judges you'd like to see on the panel? Do you miss the Idol  old days?


And, if you haven't read these two chick lit romantic comedies yet, you are missing out.  Iced Romance and Tanned, Toned and Totally Faking It, two novels that are clean, hilarious and will keep you turning pages. Dive into the life of a Hollywood popstar in Tanned,  or escape from a heartbreaking cheating ex with Iced.  You only live once, after all... read them, no regrets! :)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Places in Novels

I read an article this morning about books written about or in Calgary, my hometown growing up. They were talking about how excited they get when they read a book and suddenly stumble across a scene set in Calgary or when a character is from Calgary and went on to list a number of books that they've found that have this wonderful city in them.

I completely agree with their sentiment. I love to read about exotic places, and books by Sophie Kinsella, for example, always make me want to travel to England one day and whatnot. But there is something really special when I find a book that is about Calgary or Kissimmee, Florida, or any of the other places I've lived in throughout my life. Well, if they paint it in a flattering light, that is.

I've read a few books where Calgary is the setting and they make Albertans out to be a bunch of backward rednecks. Which, for the record, is not the case. A city of more than a million people, with oil and gas complanies making the citizens wealthy, Calgary is far from podunk.
My third novel, tentatively titled The One Who Got Away, which is due out probably later this year (it's in editing mode with my publisher right now) is set entirely in Calgary with a brief stop in Victoria on Vancouver Island. I love this book. It really does feel extra special to me. However, my other two books, Iced Romance and Tanned, Toned and Totally Faking It, still have Calgary connections. One has the main character who was born and raised in Calgary and the other has a character who visited Calgary. I feel the same way with Kissimmee, Florida, another place I lived in for a little while and grew to love immensely. That's why Iced Romance is my Florida novel, set in the city I have such fond memories of.

Do you prefer reading books set in places you have only seen on google or in your imagination, or are you like me and the authors of that article, and feel partial to a book set in your home? Also, what are your favourite books set in your local area, if you have one? I'd love to have you weigh in on this!