FAIRCHILD - Book Review and Giveaway

What better way to celebrate Spring Break than with a GIVEAWAY? And I've got a good one.

What do Jane Austen, Madeleine Brent, Julianne Donaldson and Jaima Fixen have in common?

They all wrote Regency romances that I LOVED! And today, talented author, Jaima Fixen, is offering a print copy of Fairchild to one of my lucky blog readers.

From Amazon: Good English families all have a house in the country with a deer park, a trout stream, and an army of gardeners. They should have a son and if it can be managed, he should be handsome. Cleverness isn’t important. Daughters in limited quantities are fine so long as they are pretty. Bastards are inconvenient and best ignored. 

It's not a big problem, unless you are one. Unfortunately, Sophy is. 

Sick of her outcast role, she escapes her father’s house, only to fall from her horse during a spring storm. Injured, soaked, and shivering, she stumbles to a stranger’s door—Tom, a blunt edged merchant from a family of vulgar upstarts. Mistaking Sophy for the genuine article, he takes her in. 

Sophy can’t resist twisting the truth. Soon she’s caught in her own snare—and it might just be a noose.

My Review: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Sophy is spunky, likable, and in over her head. Tom is independent and interesting. Their relationship with each other is exciting and unpredictable. (at least as unpredictable as it can be. It is a romance, after all.) The supporting cast is well-developed and provides a perfect backdrop for us to get to know the main characters.

Jaima's writing is true to the period and ironic. It's a perfect mix of humor and longing and I read it much faster than I wanted to. The style made me want to slow down but the story made me want to hurry forward to find out how and where it would go.

Now enter so you can win your own copy and read this fun, romantic book.

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Where I Stand


THE FAMILY

A PROCLAMATION TO THE WORLD

WE, THE FIRST PRESIDENCY and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.
ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
IN THE PREMORTAL REALM, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
WE DECLARE the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.
HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.
WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
WE CALL UPON responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

I  believe this is inspired and comes from God.


I believe God understands the purpose of our lives on earth better than we do.


I believe that when the prophet speaks, we would be wise to listen.


I believe there are many things we, as responsible citizens, need to do to strengthen marriages and families.

 

I know that I don't hate people who feel or live differently than I do. I know it is possible to love someone who you disagree with because I do love people who don't share my views and I know a few of them love me back, in spite of our differences.


I know that this entire debate makes me uncomfortable and that I'd rather stay clear out of it, but the last paragraph of The Proclamation, forces me to be more outspoken than I'd prefer to be.


That is all.

I Want to Live My Life in Context

My 21-year-old son and my parents are on a little road trip right now. Today they're visiting with my aunt. She's suffering from Alzheimer's and today she doesn't know them. She doesn't know her son, who's there, either.

My grandma suffered from Alzheimer's, too. There were times when we'd stop in to visit and she'd have a moment of clarity. She'd remember something about Grandpa or she'd remember something from when I was young. Those times were very rare. Most of the time, she'd ask us who we were.

Several years ago, an elderly man with Alzheimer's went missing. His family was on the news pleading for people to keep their eyes open for him. He sometimes liked to go for a walk and would lose his way and not know where he was. They finally found him, two days later and about fifteen miles from his home. I can only imagine how scary that two days and fifteen miles was.

I want to live my life in context. I want to know my family. I want to recognize the people I know and love. I want to know where my house is and how it fits into the neighborhood, the city, and beyond.

Old age has a twisted sense of humor. Slowing down. Clumsiness. Hair loss or a crazy chin hair that keeps coming back. Forgetfulness. Bad eyesight or hearing. So many things can go wrong. But the cruelest trick of all has to be losing your place in the world.

Thank You, Boys

Three weeks ago I was released as a Primary teacher. For the last year and a half, I've taught the class that's 8 turning 9. Twenty-three kids between the two classes.

I love those kids. They're energetic, curious, and want to learn. They respond to who loves them and I definitely love them.

This afternoon I was completely spent. I'd had a long, busy day and as I sat down to put my feet up for a few minutes, I wandered in and out of consciousness--mostly unconscious.

I needed to get busy. I had dinner to fix, guitar lessons to take kids to and cleaning to do. To revive me, I walked out in the cool air to get the mail. When I opened the door, one of my primary boys was running toward me as fast as he could, carrying the Scouting for Food bag. He grinned, handed me the bag and we talked for a minute as I walked to the mailbox.

Around the corner came two more boys followed by their scout leaders (two ladies pushing their babies in their strollers).

"I get to do Sister White's," one said.

"No, I do," said another. Both boys stopped in their tracks when they saw me at the mailbox, holding up my bag.

"Oh, I wanted to do yours," one of them said.

"I already did it," said the first boy proudly.

"They've been fighting over who got to deliver yours ever since we started," one of the women said.

My heart melted a little. They don't know yet that I'm not very cool. They don't care that I'm old or that I own sweater sets. They don't even notice (or at least they don't mention) that I wear flat, "comfortable" shoes.

They just like me. And that's exactly what I needed today.

Another Point for Junior MInts

I like Junior Mints. A lot. When I was a child, we'd go shopping at Grand Central, a large department store with a big popcorn popper like you'd see at a theater. Sometimes Mom would buy a box of Junior Mints and a bag of popcorn. She'd pour the box of mints into the popcorn and the result was a salty, sweet, minty, chocolaty, deliciousness I enjoy to this day.

For all my loyalty to Junior Mints, they haven't been so kind to me.

Incident 1 - As an 18 year-old, I went on a date to a movie. I really liked the guy. The movie was "Without a Trace," an intense, emotional movie that made me cry. That's embarrassing enough on a date. But my humiliation couldn't end there.

Oh no. That would be too easy for an awkward girl like me on a date with a boy she wanted to impress.

After the movie, we were walking to the car. I was hoping I didn't look a mess, that my makeup was in place and that I wouldn't have to sniffle. I'm not sure how he even saw it, but my date suddenly looked like he was sharing an inside joke with himself. I wasn't sure what was going on, but he smirked all the way home and when he said goodbye at my door.

I went inside and as I was getting ready for bed, my sister sleepily said, "What's on your pants?" She was pointing at my nether region.

I tried to look behind me but only succeeded in turning a complete circle as I tried to get a clear line of vision. When I couldn't see anything, I reached back and felt the seat of my pants.

Oh no! There was a junior mint melted right on the seat of my pink pants. I wanted to die of embarrassment.

Incident 2 - I was traveling to the funeral of a family friend with my parents, my sister, and my 1 year-old. (The funeral happened to be for the mother of the boy I'd dated during my first mint mishap. I didn't marry him. It might have had something to do with the mint. I'll never know for sure.) The trip was a couple of hours in the car. I had a large box of Junior Mints that we were passing around. At some point, I dropped one.

Given my history with Junior Mints, I knew it was imperative that I locate that wayward candy. Mom was in the back seat with me and my little boy. Despite the tight quarters, I unbuckled and shifted so we could look for the mint. No way in Candyland was I going to show up with a mint attached to my person in front of him. We looked and looked. When we couldn't find the mint, Dad grudgingly pulled over so we could get out of the car and have a better angle. I'm pretty sure his willingness had more to do with a melted mint on the car somewhere than a melted mint on his daughter.

We hunted. We searched. We removed the carseat. We shook out purses and diaper bags. We felt in seat crevices and lifted up floormats.

We never found the mint. But it didn't keep me from worrying about where it would eventually show up.

Incident 3 - Yesterday. I'd finished up an editing job and wanted to chill while I watched a few Youtube videos. My latest obsession is watching strangers open mission calls. I popped myself a bowl of popcorn, poured in some Junior Mints and sat down to relax.

When you pour the mints into a bowl of warm popcorn, they get soft and gooey and lovely. I was eating and watching when one of the mints stuck to my finger. I tried to put it in my mouth, but had an uncoordinated moment (I have a few of those every day) and it got stuck on my lip instead of making it to my mouth. I was glad no one was with me as I cleared it off my lip and into my mouth.

Or so I thought.

Until I went to bed last night. And found the mint stuck between my unmentionables and my skin.

Why? Why can't Junior Mints just like me back?


Sunday Evening Pinterest Sampler

I have a love/hate relationship with hash browns. I mean it. I love good hashbrowns. I remember eating them as a kid. My mom made great ones. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, just the right amount of salty, crunch goodness. So why can't I make them? Mine are never crunchy. They're always a little mushy. I'm a pretty good cook and yet, I have two things that trip me up every time. Hashbrowns are one of those two things. Any suggestions? I've tried several ideas from Pinterest. I tried cooking them in a waffle iron (that just made a mess). I tried steaming them before crisping them up. I might as well have made mashed potatoes. I just saw this one on Pinterest tonight. It looks promising, but I'm afraid to get my hopes up. Any suggestions.

By the way, my second cooking challenge is garlic bread. For some reason, I always burn it. It's become a family joke.

I believe in parmesan cheese. I love it. It improves almost any savory dish. I also love corn. I think this looks delicious.

I love getting ideas for studying the gospel. I'm using a study journal that I learned about from my cousin. It's greatly improved my studying so far this year. This pin links to a Book of Mormon study guide for kids (but is probably good for any of us). So nice to be able to share good ideas.

And now an opinion on the picture. I love some of the Book of Mormon artwork that has been done over the years, but I wonder if some of it is a little bit of a disservice. If I'm being honest, I don't think Nephi or Moroni or the Stripling Warriors were built like Arnold Friburg (and others) depictions. They almost seem to equate brawn with righteousness. I want to express my belief that even scrawny boys with skinny arms can be righteous.

Do you think if this was my laundry room, I'd be able to keep my laundry caught up?

I DO!



This is why I want to go to Norway. There are others. Like the fjords. And Grieg.



Book Review - Replacing Gentry by Julie N. Ford

Tour Schedule



Replacing Gentry

When Marlie agrees to attend a cadaver ball at Vanderbilt Medical School, she did not expect to actually see any cadavers. Or, that a strange apparition would issue her a chilling message.

Despite the cadaver's warning, Marlie is married a year later to Tennessee State Senator, Daniel Cannon, and living in a plantation-style mansion with two step sons. Add to the mix her growing suspicion that something is amiss with the death of Daniel’s first wife, Gentry; and newlywed Marlie is definitely in over her pretty Yankee head.

What begins as an innocent inquiry into her new husband’s clouded past, ends with Marlie in the midst of a dangerous conspiracy.

A modern twist on the classic Gothic romance novels of Rebecca and Jane Eyre, Replacing Gentry follows Marlie’s precarious journey as she learns the truth about the man she married.

Replacing Gentry will be released on April 9th
Preorder on Amazon

MY REVIEW

Last year I read Julie N. Ford's romance, Countdown to Love, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was funny, charming and entertaining, so when I was given the chance to read an advance copy of Ford's new book, I jumped.

This book was totally different, which shows Ford's versatility. Sure, it has a little romance, but it also has suspense, ghosts and twists and turns all over the place. I actually got a little scared when I was reading it late at night, which is both an endorsement and a warning for future readers. You might want to save this one to read in the light of day.

I'm curious to see what Ford comes up with next. I'll definitely be reading it.

There She Goes... And It's Perfect

After weeks of waiting and watching others (who'd sent in their papers after Veronica) get their calls, Veronica's mission call finally came yesterday.

She was excited and nervous. More than anyone I've ever seen, she didn't care where she was going. She just wanted to know.

Her patience was rewarded last night with loved ones who were able to make a last-minute trip to Utah County, other loved ones on computers and phones, and good friends who were all here to see what the next 18 months has in store for her. 

She tearfully opened her call and discovered she's going to the Washington, Seattle mission. That's the same mission I went to 27 years ago (keeping it real by admitting it was that long ago) although geographic area of the mission is much smaller now that they've trimmed off sections to create the Everett, Federal Way, Tacoma, and Vancouver missions.

Still, she's headed for my mission! I'm thrilled, but more importantly, she's thrilled.

These missions are amazing things. There aren't very many times in our lives when we hand over the future so entirely to our Heavenly Father. I've had two children open mission calls now and both times I was nervous and even a little fearful. Would they go somewhere that made them happy? Would they go somewhere suited to their personalities and strengths and abilities? Would they go somewhere that would cause me to worry the entire time they were gone? Would they experience joy when they opened their call or disappointment?

At both mission openings, I've had a lump in my throat and a little mother's fear in my heart. With each mission call, the envelope was opened and the letter read and instantly, my worries were over and I knew for sure that Heavenly Father knew best.

I'm so excited for Veronica to have this opportunity. She will love Seattle. LOVE IT! The people she meets will love her. They won't be able to help themselves.

 She's spectacular!

And I love her.
(I don't like doing multiple posts in a day. I feel like one or the other gets short-changed. Be sure to scroll down and wish my sister a happy birthday.)
 

Happy Birthday, Leslie

Today is my youngest sister, Leslie's birthday. She may be the youngest but she's also the tallest of us girls.

Leslie has been dealt some hard things in her life but always manages to pick herself up, dust herself off, put a smile on her face and move on. (And look at that smile!)

Leslie was widowed at age 30, just before her little boy's second birthday. She's raising a sweet, beautiful little boy.

I've always admired Leslie's empathy and concern for others. Several years ago my daughter was struggling. She had no friends at school, spent her recesses alone and was sad and lonely from the time she left home until she returned after school. When Leslie heard, she showed up after school one day, took her for a fun outing, bought her a necklace and then framed a picture of the two of them. It was such a blessing to my daughter and a blessing for a worried mom.

Leslie is a talented photographer and has made some of the prettiest cards. She sells them at a local boutique. If I can talk her into opening an etsy shop or a website to sell them, I'll be sure to link them for you.

Happy birthday, my dear little sister and friend! I hope this year is amazing for you! I love you.