Friday, December 17, 2010

THE STAR PROPHECY, by Joan Sowards

The Star Prophecy by Joan Sowards is a tale about a young Nephite’s quest to find the newborn Savior. However, it’s more than a Christmas story. This is a book that can be read, reread and enjoyed any time of the year. Mrs. Sowards tells the account of Enoch and his friends as though intimately familiar with the era, and weaves her tale through both the Book of Mormon and the New Testament’s scriptural accounts of Christ’s birth in such a way that, as a reader, I was convinced it could have happened just as she told it.

Even though they have largely turned wicked, the Nephites have grown up with the prophecies regarding the Savior’s birth. Young Enoch has always dreamed of returning to Jerusalem to see the baby Jesus in person and he begins his preparations as a poor orphan boy of fifteen. The odds against his leaving the land of Zarahemla, paying for a ship large enough to cross the ocean, and actually making the trek alive, are overwhelming. Enoch has never even sailed a ship.

After four years, Enoch receives word that the ship he commissioned to be built is finished. The shipbuilder Omnihah was trained by Hagoth of old who, it’s recorded in the Book of Mormon, built large ships and took several expeditions across the sea.

Enoch knows that according to Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy, only one year remains before the Savior’s birth, and he prepares for his voyage. Enoch’s mission to find the Savior is not without sacrifice. He leaves the drunkard uncle who raised him, hoping the man will be safe while he’s gone. He leaves the woman he loves, hoping she’ll wait for him, and he sets sail with only a few friends and his faith that the Lord will guide them to Jerusalem and safely back.

Once he and his comrades set sail, Enoch’s little brother nearly drowns while trying to swim to the ship so that he can go with them. Then, they discover a young man accused of murder has stowed away in order to avoid prosecution.

The Star Prophecy is full of interesting details that bring this story to life, such as customs of the time, the foods they ate, and their experiences aboard the ship. As the travelers come to various islands and then to the land of Jerusalem, they and the people are described in such a way that I felt as though I was standing in the distance and watching the story unfold. Enoch’s quest became my quest and I felt his confusion and disappointment when they arrived in Jerusalem only to discover that no one there knew of Christ’s birth.

Through perseverance and talking to those who are lowly of heart, they discover that the Savior has indeed been born, and is in Bethlehem. They wonder, as does their shepherd-guide, why baby Jesus was allowed to be born in such humble circumstances and not a kingly palace, and they are filled with awe and reverence when Mary allows them to hold her Holy child.

As I read this story, I found many parallels between Enoch’s life and the lives we live today. It reaffirmed to me that people, no matter when they’re born, all have similar fears and feelings as we do—that living in a wicked world is perilous no matter the era, and that the opportunity for hazard when we trust the wrong people is an ageless dilemma.

The Star Prophecy by Joan Sowards is written as an adventure by a young man who just happens to have lived anciently. It isn’t preachy, or doctrinal, yet I found that reading it was a profound experience. I highly recomend it as a gift for Christmas, birthdays, or for any occasion where you'd like to say, "I love you" with a good book.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


One of my first Christmas memories is of my dad making fudge. He did it every year, and we had fresh pecans in it from our trees in the yard. So, it's only natural that I also celebrate Christmas by making sweet treats to share. Just writing this blog post makes me want to run to the kitchen and make a batch of fudge.

However, this post is not about fudge. It’s about Sweetened Condensed Milk. It’s kind of pricey, and sometimes a recipe calls for it, and we don’t have any on hand. That’s when this recipe comes in handy. It's easy and inexpensive. Merry Christmas!


1 C. instant non-fat dry milk powder

¾ C. sugar

1/3 C. hot water

3 TBSP melted butter or margarine

Dissolve the sugar in the water and let cool. (I’ve found that the water cools off too soon, making it difficult for the sugar to dissolve properly. If this happened, put it in the microwave for several seconds until the sugar dissolves. I do this in a glass measuring cup. Add the powdered milk, the sugar mixture, and the melted butter to a blender and blend to liquefy. Approximately 20 seconds.

Monday, December 6, 2010


One of the things that I love about the month of December is all of the holiday movies. For some reason, I just love watching the girl get the guy and then kiss under the mistletoe. I’m not particularly fond of the tear-jerkers (in movies or books), and some Christmas movies are just too ridiculous (a recent movie with talking dogs in it comes to mind. Yuck!) But a lot of them are really fun to watch.

I enjoy The Miracle on Elm Street, in all its varieties. Then there’s this one Christmas movie (don’t remember the name of it) where the MC works at the mall as a perfume sales-woman. She’s in a stale relationship with a guy that’s more worried about his plans for the future than actually living for the day. She puts a wish-list in Santa’s mailbox—and they start coming true.

One of my other favorites is Christmas in Handcuffs with Melissa Joan Heart. She’s in her twenties and still single and working at a junky café. This is the year that she finally has a boyfriend to take to her parent’s Family-Christmas-Hideaway. It involves several days in a secluded cabin with siblings, parents, and an eccentric grandma. No cell phones allowed. The day the MC is to leave for the hideaway, everything in her life goes wrong—she accidentally fries her hair while trying to perm it—she missed the job interview her dad set up for her—her boss threatens to fire her—and her boyfriend breaks up with her in the café.

She goes berserk! No one can hardly blame her at that point. And when the next guy comes in the door, she kidnaps him at gunpoint with a display gun of her bosses, hauls him to the retreat, and says he’s her boyfriend. It’s pretty clever, actually. Not that I approve of kidnapping, of course—but I think Ms. Heart does crazy better than anyone I know.

If you’re the type of person who gets the doldrums during Christmas holiday, I’d suggest either Christmas in Handcuffs—watching someone go berserk on TV can really make our sometimes crazy lives seem so, so normal. The other Christmas movie that I absolutely love is Elf. I am not a Will Ferrell fan, but every time I watch this movie, I laugh out loud. And I love Ed Asner as Santa Clause.

So, if I seem distracted during the Christmas holiday, you can figure that I’m either busy with Christmas celebrations, unwinding with a fun Christmas flick, or reading a great book.

May the Lord’s blessings be upon us all as we prepare to celebrate His birth.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

THE STAR PROPHECY, by Joan Sowards

My friend, Joan Sowards has another book coming out. It's called, "The Star Prophecy." I have both of her other books, and have reviewed them here, and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this latest novel.
The Star Prophecy is  making its debut in LDS bookstores in time for Christmas gift-giving.

Here's the back-cover blurb: 
“You are crazy. No Nephite has ever returned.”
Most people laugh when they hear of Enoch’s dream of returning to Jerusalem to find the infant Messiah. Even Enoch's future father-in-law mocks him when he asks for a postponement of the long-awaited wedding to his beloved Rebekah. A few take Enoch seriously—the shipbuilder Omnihah, Enoch's teacher David, and Nephi the prophet.
Five years previously, a Lamanite named Samuel had stood on the wall of Zarahemla and prophesied that “five years more cometh” and the Christ would be born in Jerusalem. Time is running out! Enoch knows he must set sail across the great waters in search of his dream—to see the face of the Messiah.

The Star Prophecy is a surprising story of courage and love, faith and fortitude. Sail with Enoch and friends across the sea through hardship and adventure in search of the Christ Child.

Joan, tell us how you came up with the idea for The Star Prophecy  .
When my daughter Kristy gave me the premise for this novel, I felt electrifying tingles come over me, the ideas began to flow and I wrote the first draft in three months--an incredible experience!The main character, whose quest it is to find the infant Messiah, is named Enoch after my nephew, a beautiful, bright child, who passed away at the age of four.
When did you start to write and how long did it take you get published?
I have been writing novels for over fifteen years. A friend invited me to ANWA (The American Night Writers Association.) I've learned so much about writing through ANWA.

Kerry Blair lived in my ward back then. She'd edit my chapters and I tried to learn the rules behind her changes. I learned a lot from her, too. (During that time, she wrote her own first novel and sent it to Covenant. They excepted it within two weeks.) Gotta love her!

How did you break into publishing?
I admit it was luck. I was in the right place at the right time. An editor suggested I send Walnut Springs Press my novel The Star Prophecy--so I did. I pestered editor Linda Prince every few months asking if she had read it. After the eight month, she asked if I had an LDS romance and that she needed one right away. I sent Haunts Haven and she liked it! Chocolate Roses was published next. I was surprised when WSP came back and said they were ready to publish the Star Prophecy since it had been two years since I submitted it.

What are you working on now?
I'm writing a story about a recent ASU college grad who takes a summer journalist job in a seaside village in Oregon. The working title is Clairvoyance. I love the characters.

Joan is also talented musically and composes music. Do you write with music playing? If so, is the music likely to be songs with lyrics or only instrumentals?
I have too much music going on in my head as it is, so I have to have it quiet so I can think above it.

What has surprised you about being a published author?
As soon as Haunts Haven hit the stores, I was expected to promote it and myself. I've never felt comfortable with that.
What do you like to do when you aren't writing?
I'm a family history addict. I love to sew, and write music ( My adorable grandchildren take a lot of my time, and I love being with my husband.

What was the most usual way you came up with a story idea? What made you to think, ‘hey, I could make that into a story?’
My daughter came home from Institute class with the premise for The Star Prophecy. I loved it! It is about Nephite young men setting sail to find the Christ Child.

Several years ago, Jeni Grossman taught a class at an ANWA conference and handed out feature newspaper articles with big photos and told us to ask ourselves "What if…" I got an article about haunted inns of Southern Arizona and asked myself, "What if a young woman inherited one of these inns, not knowing it was haunted?" Haunts Haven blossomed from there.

I wanted to write a modern Jane Eyre tale, and after a lot of thought, I wrote Chocolate Roses.

What advice would you give aspiring writers today?
Don't give up. Be ready for when you are "in the right place at the right time." Learn the craft of writing and be open for critiquing. There's a lot to be learned from other writers.

Thank you for the Interview, Joan.
Follow her blog at:

As all bloggers know, there is joy in getting comments!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

TRUE MIRACLES WITH GENEALOGY, Author Interview with Anne Bradshaw

I'm excited to get to interview Ann Bradshaw about her new book, True Miracles with Genealogy. It sounds like an inspiring book that would also make a great holiday gift.

What is your current book and how would you describe it?
I actually have two new books out, but the one I'm concentrating on right now is "True Miracles with Genealogy~Help from Beyond the Veil." Compiling it was an amazing experience.

"True Miracles" is a collection of inspiring research stories, spiritual moments as help comes from beyond the veil. It is unique, comforting, and powerful. Each account can't help but touch hearts as readers come to the heady realization that there really is a world of spirits.
How and when did you gather stories for this book?
I put out requests for stories on many social websites, including Facebook. Genealogists from all over the USA and from other countries responded. It amazed me to read so many unusual experiences—to learn of the many different ways researchers received the help they needed.

I'm sure my book contains only a tiny portion of the vast number of stories that go unrecorded every year—even every day—throughout the world. As someone says in the book, "Heaven is only a whisper away." It really is that close, but most times in the busy hours of our life, we're not in tune, or not ready to listen and act. 

Is there a website for "True Miracles with Genealogy?"  
Yes, I created a website at to further the book's purpose of sharing research stories. I hope many readers will send in their experiences. I realize it's unusual for most people to have more than one or two genealogy miracles in a lifetime—and many have none—but treasuring and sharing these events is so worthwhile.

The website is also home to the book's reviews. These are under the Book Review tab, top of the page.

Where can readers purchase this book?
It's available in both paperback and electronic form. I deliberately kept the price low so more can afford to enjoy it. The Kindle and Nook eBook versions are only $2.99. I hope local bookstores will soon make it available. The book is on many Internet sites. Below are sample links. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download free software for your computer, phone, iTouch, iPad, and more on Amazon at .
Amazon's CreateSpace $8.99, shipping $3.61

Amazon $8.99, shipping $3.99

Kindle eBook $2.99

What other genres do you write?
I’ve tried my hand at several—YA mystery suspense (my other new book is titled "DINGO"), adult fiction, poetry, non-Fiction, and screenwriting.

How do you handle life interruptions?
Interruptions are good breaks for me. If I type too long, I get neck and shoulder pain, so I welcome a change of pace—unless I’m in the middle of something that’s going particularly well, or coming to an end—then I grit my teeth and hit “save.” And I usually scribble down whatever thought was passing through my mind at the time, because I'm sure to forget it later.

What else do you do besides writing?
My hobbies include vegetable and herb gardening, photography, and getting lost in great books. I’m a lousy cook, but we have to eat. Years ago in England, we reared goats, chickens, and bees, and I really enjoyed those times. As for travel, if it weren’t for children and grandchildren spread around the country, I’d be perfectly happy staying home. Travel seems such a huge, uncomfortable thing these days, but, like eating, it has to be done.

What have been some of your most successful work habits as a writer?
Probably my most successful habit is the ability to stay focused. And I'm happy to change a manuscript if it means a better story. Growing a thick skin against rejection was a tough one for me, because rejection feeds self-doubt. It never gets any easier to read, "Thanks for your manuscript, but . . .” However, these days I'm doing better at shrugging it off and battling on.

Do you believe there is any "magic" formula to being published?
I’d love to know it if there is one. Sometimes, it seems more like good luck, striking the market at the right time, and combining that with huge marketing efforts.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

ENGLISH TRIFLE, by Josi S. Kilpack

I’d heard about Lemon Tart by a colleague—she loved it. So, when I had the opportunity, I bought English Trifle and had it signed by the author. It is worth the hoopla. Think Murder She Wrote, where an extremely curious, yet charming older woman noses around looking up clues to discover ‘who done it.’ I haven’t read Lemon Tart yet, and Mrs. Kilpack has another culinary mystery, Devil’s Food Cake, but I’m confidant they’re both as entertaining. As an extra bonus, set within the pages of this cozy mystery are several hand-written recipes that Sadie collects during her extended stay in England.

It was a surprise to Sadie Hoffmiller’s daughter, Breanna to discover that the man she loves is in line to be the tenth Earl of Garnett in his home country of England, and after mother and daughter spend their holiday touring England while Liam cares for his father, Breanna realizes that she has no desire to live the life of an aristocrat.

It’s while they’re waiting for their ride back to the London airport, and thinking that the staff is a little too anxious to have them leave that Sadie and Breanna discover a dead man skewered to the wall behind the draperies in the sitting room.

The extremely wealthy are nearly untouchable no matter what part of the world they’re from. So it is in England, and it’s a crazy romp around English aristocracy when Sadie and Breanna call the police. Extremely hesitant to believe that the Earl’s estate could be the place of a murder, the police are even more hesitant to investigate when Lord Austin Melcalfe (who’s been caring for the estate) tells them that the women were merely pulling a prank.

It doesn’t look so good for Sadie and Breanna when, instead of sending a homicide detective, a recorder who collects facts appears—and the body’s been moved. Without a body, could there have been a murder? Except no one can explain the absence of John Henry. Lord Melcalfe and Liam keep arranging for the Americans to go home, and sequestering them to their assigned room. This doesn’t sit well with Sadie. She knows that with a little cooperation and charm, she can solve the murder by herself.

Saying the butler did it is cliché, so Sadie knows it wasn’t him—but all the staff knows more than they’re telling the inspector. When the cook, who doesn’t know how to cook, tells Sadie too much, she is surreptitiously sent to London on holiday.

Austin (Lord Melcalfe) is Sadie’s prime suspect—he’s arrogant, hateful, and he encourages the staff to hold back on telling the truth. Plus, he’s a little too curious about the order of inheritance. But, even though Sadie never discovers a motive for Liam to commit the murder, he keeps doing things that put him on her suspect list.

Mrs. Kilpack expertly weaves the clues in a story that keeps the reader guessing—was it Liam—or Austin—or the butler. Sadie finds evidence to incriminate each of them, and is disturbed to discover the many secrets her own daughter is keeping—but when she finds herself locked in the room where vegetables are kept cold, Sadie doesn’t know if she’ll live to discover the killers true identity.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Have you ever felt like you might die of frustration? That one more dirty dish—one more bed to make might just send you over the edge? The mundane things of life are so, so mundane! This quandary brings me to two of my aunts, who I’ve referred to over and over through the years—one kept a fairly tidy house and spilt dirt from the potted plant (by my young son) seemed like a fairly big embarrassment as she fussed around to get it cleaned up. My other aunt had a laundry room with a mountain of clean clothes piled in it and every time one of the kids wanted something clean they’d get it from the pile and iron it. Messes weren’t a big deal. Her house was also reasonably clean, but it was a place that welcomed children.

So, a prophet of the Lord has asked us to get back to the basics—God—family—self. Does that mean I don’t have to waste time cleaning up anymore??? Please? Oh the luxury of having a maid! It’s something I’ve dreamed about (not literally, but figuratively). But I don’t have and will never have a maid. Bummer.

Back to the basics—does that mean I should quit writing and focus on church and family things? That would be ignoring SELF, and would certainly classify as hiding my talent in the dirt. One apostle said, “If we put God first, everything else falls into place.” This advice is actually very helpful for me.

When we pray for guidance in balancing our efforts we will gain the help and perspective we need. Even so, I find that I am continually having to scale back. My parents were both collectors of things, and thus I’m a collector by nature. Instead of collecting THINGS, I collect THINGS TO DO. Pretty soon, I’ve got things to do scattered everywhere and my life is too cluttered. I’ve got to scale back.

I know from experience that we CAN be trying to develop too many talents at one time, and we CAN have too high of expectations for the perennially dusty home. These things, though good, can bring a mountain of frustration and give us less time for temple attendance, less time to read the scriptures. How do we keep from continually tipping the scales?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I was at a restaurant a while back that had this little ditty included in a newsletter. Who knew that Dr. Seuss had a computer? Anyway, I think it's cute and I hope you get a chuckle out of it, too.

If a packet hits a pocket on a socket on a port, and the bus is interrupted at a very last resort, and the access of the memory makes your floppy disk abort, then the socket packet pocket has an error to report.

If your cursor finds a menu item followed by a dash, and the double-clicking icon puts your window in the trash, and your theta is corrupted cause the index doesn't hash, then your situation's hopeless and your system's gonna crash!

If the label on the cable on the table at your house, says the network is connected to the button on your mouse, but your packets want to tunnel to another protocol, that's repeatedly rejected by the printer down the hall.....

And your screen is all distorted by the side effects of guass, so your icons in the window are as wavy as a souse; then you may as well reboot and go out with a bang, 'cuz sure as I'm a poet, the sucker's gonna hang.

When the copy on your floppy's getting sloppy in the disk, and the macro code instructions is causing unnecessary risk, then you'll have to flash the memory and you'll want to RAM your ROM, and then quickly turn off the computer and be sure to tell your Mom!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

THE BLACK MOTH, by Georgette Heyer

For a person unlearned in the ways and dialogue of Regency England, it is amazing to me that I might attempt the task of reading The Black Moth, by Georgette Heyer. However, the novel came highly recommended by Joyce DiPastena, so I decided to give it a read. (Of course she has more knowledge and experience in this era.)

Reading this novel reminded me of past trips to Europe, where you ask a question, the local gives the answer (or directions as unfortunately was sometimes the case), and though both parties spoke quite simply there has been an absolute miscommunication.

While reading The Black Moth, I had several ‘scratching my head’ moments where I wondered what in the world they were going on about. Of course finding yourself lost or experiencing a language barrier is much less frightening in a novel, because all you’ve got to do is read over the confusing passage a couple of times, and then read on. You eventually clue in.

I learned a few things about the era, such as many of the wealthy were carted from place to place by “chair.” My mind conjures up the image of Cleopatra riding on a shaded platform mounted on two large poles and carried by strong men—and I speculate that this was probably the first taxi.

At the risk of sounding thick-headed, I must confess that I got to page 100 before deciding absolutely what the plot was about and what the Black Moth had to do with anything. Since I had only just read The Scarlet Pimpernel, I thought the Black Moth was going to be some type of spy. I was wrong.

The book was engaging though a trifle too full of French phrases, but only once was I tempted to use the Internet language translator.

So, here’s the skinny on The Black Moth:

At a time when a man’s honor was paramount, Jack Carstares—heir to his family’s fortune and the title of earl, is accused of cheating. Disgraced, he leaves the country for six years rather than deny it and accuse his younger brother, Richard. Richard would have confessed a hundred times over the past years if it weren’t for his lovely bride, Lavinia. To admit his dastardly deed will also disgrace her—and she will have no part of it. Lavinia threatens to leave him should he confess.

Jack knows he can never go back home and take up his title and honor without betraying his beloved brother. However, yearning for home, Jack finally comes back to England under mask and poses part time as a country gentleman, and employs himself as a thieving highwayman. When he comes upon a different type of highway robbery—one where a beautiful young lady’s virtue is at stake, Jack makes no hesitation in coming to her rescue, and nearly losing his life in the process.

The lovely Diana and her aunt nurse Jack back to health and Diana and Jack fall in love. Unfortunately, Jack believes that marrying her would selfishly bring dishonor to her and her household because of his “spotty” past.

While the first of the book is paced rather slow, taking its time introducing characters and giving us a feel of the era, the last half of the book is paced a little faster as we begin to wonder—will Richard ever confess he was the cheater—will his wife Lavinia stay or will she leave him and marry another—will Jack and Diana get their happy ending—or will the Black Moth succeed in yet another kidnapping, and gain her hand in marriage.

Although the novel as a whole is quite engaging, it was wrapped up rather quickly. One thing I’ve noticed is that authors during Ms. Heyer’s era liked to wrap things up quickly at the end, whereas nowadays authors spend more time on the “Ahh” moment in the end. Nevertheless, it was a good read and I would read another of Georgette Heyer’s books.

Friday, October 22, 2010


And I’m a guest on Christine Bryant’s blog It’s on her blog that I first divulge my secret identity as the tree whisperer. Haha. Not really, but I did climb trees as a girl.

For those who visit me here, I’m including a yummy recipe for caramel apple dip.

It’s finally fall in Arizona with (at least temporarily) the chilly weather that we wait for all year long. It’s time for apple pie, apple cakes, caramel apples, candy apples—and apple pancakes with apple syrup. I had them for breakfast this morning. YUM! Nothing says autumn like apples. And, as they say, “An apple a day …”

My son-in-law has this great recipe for apple-dipping caramel. I’ve made it several times, and my kids lick the bowl clean. It makes a great FHE dessert.


1 can of Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk

1 C. light Karo (if all you have is the dark, it’s equally good in this recipe, I’ve tried it)

2 C. brown sugar

2 sticks of real butter

Mix ingredients together in a medium-sized pot, and melt over medium heat. Bring just to a simmer. Enjoy!

Monday, October 18, 2010


Inspired by the television show, Hell’s Kitchen, I decided to make risotto. I’d never had it before, never even been to a restaurant where it was on the menu. But at every season of Hell’s Kitchen, they make risotto. It must be good.

I got curious, so I did an Internet search and found a risotto recipe using dried tomato and fresh basil—two ingredients that I happened to have on hand. The recipe called for white wine, but since I’m not an alcohol drinker, I substituted white grape juice and added a tablespoon of vinegar.

Another Internet site explained the importance of warming the liquids before adding them. Making risotto didn’t look hard at all, and it wasn’t hard, actually. When the rice started looking like it might be done (I didn’t want the mushy risotto that makes Gordon Ramsey so angry), I tasted it. It was good.

One of the main flavor ingredients in risotto—and a constant in all the recipes I looked up—is parmesan cheese. Still, a cup seemed like an awful lot. I added about 2/3 cup instead, and the full recipe of dried tomato and basil.

The smell almost choked me! Dog vomit. (I’ve had a lot of recent experience with this, so I know.) Short grain rice isn’t cheap, however. Neither were the other ingredients—over a quart of chicken stock, the cheese, and the fresh basil and dried tomato—and I’d spent over a half hour making it.

I tasted it—almost like it smelled. Unfortunate. The kids ate it and said it wasn’t that bad, but there were still leftovers the next day. Brave soul that I was, or desperate, I added more chicken stock and luckily it helped. But I still won’t make that particular recipe again; too many bad memories of the first time.

What went wrong? I’m pretty sure it was my choice of parmesan cheese. It was the kind they sell in a jar already grated into dust-like bits. I have enough of the short grain rice to make another batch, and I will. I’ll just use a different recipe, and less parmesan. I can always add more if needs be, but once it’s stirred in, there’s no going back. Maybe I’ll try to find a recipe for the kind of green risotto that Gordon Ramsey makes (unless it’s green because of green olives).

When you try new recipes, they can’t all be wonderful. Right?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy

I had never read The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, but recently did so at the recommendation of my friend, Joyce DiPastena. It is set during revolutionary France and is a compelling read from the very first sentence. And, as a teaser, here is the first sentence: “A surging, seething, murmuring crowd of beings that are human only in name, for to the eye and ear they seem naught but savage creatures, animated by vile passions and by the lust of vengeance and of hate.”

Since this book is a classic, there are a few differences between it and contemporary novels. The publisher made full use of the paper with only quarter inch to eighth of an inch margins. The type is small (think scripture-sized font) possibly size 10.

The novel is written with a European flare and spelling, and there are occasional words that were spelled differently back then—today, for instance is spelled to-day, realize is spelled realise, and for me, there is a general overuse of commas that is sometimes confusing.

All in all, it was an enjoyable read and all I could think about is what was going to happen next. While I was making dinner, I had to check on poor Marguerite and see exactly how she was doing for a page or two until the timer chimed. While writing my own novel, Marguerite’s awful dilemma ticked at the back of my head until I took a break from writing to see if she would survive her latest ordeal.

It’s not that I didn’t guess what was going to happen before it did, because I did guess correctly more often than not. However, with a good novel the joy is in the journey. And as long as you’re reading, there’s still the uncertainty of how they (the main characters) will arrive to the end of their story.

Unfortunately, I must dare to admit right here that I was slightly disappointed in the last chapter. The baroness had gone into great detail showing us Marguerite’s emotions and motivations throughout the novel, until this last chapter where it is all wrapped up neatly in narrative that seems to say, “That’s all folks!” And, having enjoyed the novel immensely until then, was definitely not ready for a summarized ending.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Warm Fuzzies for All

My husband and I were on our way to the temple today and the radio was turned to a talk show. They asked the question: “What does your spouse do that really bugs you?” I'll share two of them. One guy blew his nose in the shower—now that’s pretty gross! Another guy liked to cook in the nude—whether a bbq outside, or cereal in the house. The wife was fearful that the neighbors would complain (and rightly so).

This evening, we had the missionaries over for dinner. After we’d finished eating, my husband went to the kitchen and was cleaning up. I’m thinking: “Why don’t you quit worrying about the kitchen, and come and visit with the missionaries?” Anyway, after the missionaries were done sharing their message with us and challenging us to place a Book of Mormon this week, my husband says, “I’ve made you guys a plate.”

So, while I was wondering why he didn’t come sit down, my husband was making a “to go” meal for the missionaries. Very thoughtful, don’t you think?

To tie this all together, my thought was this: We (meaning people in general) spend far too much time rehashing in our minds the things that our loved ones do that irritate us, and far too little time feeling grateful for the blessing they are in our lives.

If any of you have a nice story to share—something that your spouse does that you really love, please share. I’d love to hear your story.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Actor and the Housewife, by Shannon Hale

It was exciting for me to hear about The Actor and the Housewife, by Shannon Hale—a story about a Mormon housewife, mainly because I had been told repeatedly that national publishers will not publish novels with LDS main characters.

Shannon Hale busted the myth and has laid the groundwork for us all. Thank you!

Although The Actor and the Housewife is a comedy, it’s more than fluff, and it comes with my WARNING: there are several poignant moments. (Meaning you may cry. I did.)

Hale delves quite expertly into LDS family relationships and encourages the reader to question what is truth. Is it okay for married people to have best friends of the opposite sex? Can it even happen without one or the other falling in love with that friend? What kinds of activities are acceptable for this type of friendship without putting the marriage in jeopardy?

We can feel nonreligious Felix’s pain when he attends a ward dinner with the Jack family. We can sympathize with Becky when she’s feeling oh-so-awkward at a cast party. We can understand handsome-movie-star-Felix’s confusion as he becomes increasingly attracted to Becky, a Utah-Mormon-mother-of-four.

There are plenty of times when this friendship works as easy as breathing, but there are numerous times when we as readers worry, worry, worry about the depth of their friendship—Will Becky cross the lines and allow it to turn into something more?

So, how does a sexy-supermodel-wife cope with (or even process) her husband’s growing attraction and emotional connection to a poorly dressed, frumpy Mormon mother—especially when this actor refuses to have children of his own? The answer is sometimes quite graciously and other times not so well at all.

And, how does even the most secure husband deal with his wife becoming LIVER (Love-like Intensity Via Emotional Rapport) to a sexy-heartthrob movie star? The answer to that is also: sometimes quite graciously, and other times not so well at all. After time, he accepts his wife’s friendship but this is only because of his ironclad belief in his wife’s ultimate fidelity.

Becky’s meeting Felix (the actor that she’s drooled over for several years) is purely coincidence, as is their second and third meeting—and due to the fact that they’re both staying at the same hotel. Although he’s wary of meeting anyone (apparently he’s tired of all the adoring fans, and would like a little privacy), Becky is quick-witted and keeps up with his banter, never once fawning over his celebrity.

So, although she’s big with child, he’s intrigued. Becky becomes his link to reality. She keeps him grounded and loves to poke fun at his looks, stardom, accent—you name it. This is something that his sexy-supermodel-wife couldn’t do for him or even understand. Becky fills a void in his life.

The void that Felix fills for Becky is that of her high school chum, Augie. She missed the free flowing banter they had—until Felix. He is able to draw Becky away from all things mundane and makes her feel special in a way that neither her husband nor her children can.

This is a book full of serendipity and what-ifs, and Hale takes us on an amazing roller coaster ride while answering each question with sensitivity and wit. Although the book would be rated PG at most, the subject matter: will two LIVER’s keep their friendship without becoming lovers, might make some readers nervous.

As for me? I’m going to find her other books at the library and read them all. I’ve included a link to her blog so that if you’d like, you can see her cute new twins. Congrats Shannon Hale on their safe arrival!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tristi Pinkston, Author. Making Friends Monday

Tristi Pinkston is one of my dearest cyber-friends (meaning that I’ve only just briefly met her in person and that she probably only knows me by the picture on my blog and on Facebook). I know her as an amazingly kind person, and also as the author of Agent in Old Lace (I’ve reviewed it on a past blog).

She has a new book out, Secret Sisters, that I haven’t had the pleasure of reading yet. I’m trying to save my pennies so that I can attend the LDStorymakers Conference in May and then purchase a signed copy.

Tristi Pinkston and pre-published author, Tina Scott

Making Friends Monday is Tristi’s idea, and on October 4th, she will post a blog about me. Like I said, she is amazingly kind, and even though she has five published novels, she is genuine and approachable and at the last conference we had our picture taken together. (I’m not a stalker, I promise.)

Tristi Pinkston has been blogging since 2006. On her main blog, ( she covers everything from writing tips and the life of a published author to kid funnies, spiritual thoughts, and embarrassing moments. She also has a weight loss blog, one for writing challenges, another for her fictional characters … and she lost count of how many others she has. You can find the links for them on her sidebar.

Tristi is the author of five published novels and a whole kit ‘n caboodle of unpublished novels. Right now she’s focusing on cozy mysteries, although she has written historical fiction in the past and plans to write more in that genre. She works as a freelance editor and a virtual book tour coordinator. She loves taking long naps, being charmingly annoying, and watching good movies. She’s a Mormon, a homeschooler, a Cubmaster, and most of the time, a headless chicken.

Thanks for playing along, and hopefully, this will bring us all much fun, merriment, and new friends!! Tristi

Tristi and I have enough in common to be friends in real life (still not a stalker)—we’re both Mormon, I served in the Cub Scouting program for approximately 13 years, I love a good movie, and a good book—and my children say that I’m charmingly annoying (minus the charm).
Check out Tristi’s blog if you can, she’s a great gal.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pretzel Jell-O Salad

Sorry I didn’t get my last couple of salad recipes posted before getting sidetracked. Here is the jell-o salad recipe that I promised weeks ago. It’s oh so delicious!

Pretzel Jell-O Salad

Ingredients list:

Cream cheese
2 C. Cool Whip
2 small boxes of strawberry-flavored Jell-O
1 3/4 C. Boiling water
16-oz tub of sweetened, frozen strawberries

Mix together in a 9x13” pan:

2 C. lightly crushed pretzels. I used the stick pretzels, but any plain-flavored shape will do.
¾ C. melted margarine
3 TBSP sugar
Bake at 325 for 8 minutes or until margarine is bubbly.
Allow to cool.
Pretzel crust just out of the oven.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together:

softened, 8-oz cream cheese
2/3 C. sugar
2 C. Cool Whip
Spread over cooled pretzel crust. Refrigerate until firm.
Cool Whip and cream cheese layer.

Dissolve both packages of strawberry Jell-O in 2 cups of boiling water. Add the (still frozen) sweetened strawberries. Stir until the strawberries thaw. Refrigerate until the mixture is slightly thickened. Pour over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate until Jell-O is firm--several hours.

Serve and enjoy!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Part of Me

My last two children are passing through the portal and into adulthood.
It hurts.
My daughter--my youngest child, was recently asked to model for a store in Safford, AZ. I've written a poem that awkwardly describes my feelings.

A part of me
Applauds my children’s first steps

A part of me
Rejoices as they learn new things

A part of me
Lives for each accomplishment

A part of me
Is proud because they’re so smart

A part of me
As they grow independent
Ready to face the world on their own

Another part of me
That I am whole because
My children are always and forever

A part of me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Tender Mercy

That’s what Sunday was for me. I must admit that I’ve been quite discouraged as of late—bogged down with things. You know how it is, or maybe you don’t.

Anyway, I went to Sunday School with my niece, and the instructor was a teacher like none other. He gave the most magnificent lesson on talents and how they were gifts from God, and how He expects us to use them—and to improve them.

I already knew this, and yet his words hit me like a hammer.

How will we feel at the end of our life when we’re asked what we did with God’s gifts? Will we have been too busy with things to have developed them properly—will we have taken the time to know what our gifts and talents are (what talents? I don’t have any talents)—or will we be pleased with our report?

For me, it seems I’m always walking a fine line—I don’t want to be overly involved in personal pursuits at the expense of my family—nor do I want to ignore my talents and do nothing but take care of my family, though I do love them enough to do just that. I feel the line and I don’t want to cross it, but when I look around, I feel that others are achieving more. So, I wonder if I’m just giving myself excuses.

So, as a person who struggles to give myself permission to explore my talents and improve them, his message was like a dewdrop from heaven resting on my tongue.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Memories of My Dog Roxy

In Memory of Roxy Scott  1996—2010
Roxy at home.

Roxy came to our home as a two-year-old adult. She was an outside dog, but due to her sweet nature and my husband’s spoiling she soon became an indoor dog.

an upside down Roxy
I think her original owners named her Roxy because she loved to eat rocks. This is no lie. If we caught her doing it, she would spit them out when we told her to.

When she was younger, she would get on our trampoline either to rest or to run around it and chase flies.

Roxy sleeping with her favorite toy.
When someone rang our doorbell, Roxy would knock us over in her attempt to get to the door first—not because she wanted to protect us, but because she wanted to see who was there and have them pet her.
Roxy felt like one of us.
Roxy was a good-natured dog and allowed all kinds of silliness at her expense—we buried her up to her head in the sand once and she waited patiently until we were done—my husband played hide-and-seek with her and she loved it—she loved chasing the laser light.

She wasn’t forgiving with small dogs—but after we babysat my daughter’s dog for ten days, Roxy went around the house looking for her.

Roxy loved chasing cats, and if she didn’t want to eat something, all we had to do is say, “Here kitty, kitty” and she would eat it up.
Roxy is a man's best friend.

“When my husband would say, “What’s that?” Roxy would jump up from a sound sleep and race to the door to protect us from some unseen evil.

She did have her faults, but she had a big heart and tonight our house feels awfully empty.

Roxy's helping dig the hole.
Half way buried and still patient.

Up to her neck in sand.

Roxy loved to lounge on her back.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Knives Sharpened Here

I’ve got a drawer full of knives—most of them have lived out their lives in various stages of dullness. Having wanted sharp knives for years, I’ve received an assortment of knife sharpeners for Christmas and other gift-giving holidays. But, although I’ve tried and tried, those dang knives remain dull. Am I holding them at the wrong angle when sharpening? What’s up?

In the quest to own a knife sharp enough to cut a tomato, I have purchased or had purchased for me (gift-giving holidays), a few fairly expensive knives. Even expensive knives are only sharp for so long. Then, along with their less expensive cousins, they get dull.

Imagine my delight then, when driving home from the grocery store, we spotted a man standing outside of his truck in a vacant lot. The sign said, “knives sharpened here.” WooHoo!!! We came home and decided which knives we should sharpen, and at only $3 a knife, I now own some sharp knives.

I feel like a pro! I never knew what I was missing! Not only can I slice a tomato, but I can chop!!! I can also slice skinny slices of carrot, celery or onion. I am now master chef in a functional home-kitchen.

You want some carrot sticks? Here, let me do that for you. Need to slice an onion? I’ve got your back.

Who knew that having sharp tools made the job so much easier? Well, I did really, but now I'm living the dream!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Fruited Spinach Salad

Lest you think that all I eat is spinach in one form or another, I’ll tell you right now that is absolutely not true. I’ve had this recipe for ages, and the other day I was perusing my recipe book and came across it. It is similar to the spinach salad that I’ve already posted, and yet so different.

Also, my advice is that if you’re tired of only spinach in the salad, this recipe is also good with a mixture of lettuces such as red leaf lettuce.

Although I seldom use it, I have a case of raspberry jam in the pantry, and this was my incentive to try this recipe. However, mine is full of seeds so I took the trouble to warm the jam and strain the seeds out. (I know, I know. I need to get over it and get a life.)

Fruited Spinach Salad

1 (11oz) can of mandarin oranges

¼ C olive or vegetable oil (I used canola)3 TBSP raspberry jam or spreadable fruit

1 TBSP red wine vinegar

1 (10 oz) pkg fresh spinach, torn

1 red apple, chopped

1 C chopped pecans, toasted.

Drain oranges, reserving ½ C juice. In a jar with tight-fitting lid, combine oil, jam, vinegar and reserved juice; shake well. In a large salad bowl, toss oranges, spinach, apple and pecans. Serve with the dressing. (Yield 6-8 servings)

Also, if you try this salad and like it (or even if you don’t) I’d love to hear about it.

**Stay tuned next week for a yummy jello salad that my family made me promise to serve on Thanksgiving day.**

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

For Dog Lovers

Trying to sleep in the car, and not
She's more comfie now.

Do dogs get senile? Do they get IBS when they’re older? Our dog, Roxy, has always been a bit eccentric, it’s true. She’s a loveable boxer who loves to sleep on her back, chase laser lights, and lean against you so that she can get her belly rubbed with your foot. She sleeps on the floor beside her bed instead of on it—and, even though she’s my husband’s dog—she prefers sleeping by me.
Roxy in the pool.

But recently, (recently meaning since our move) she has developed some bizarre behaviors. Eating out of the trash is one. We’ve never had to worry about it before because our trash cans used to fit under the sink. Word to the wise—a smaller house also means less space under the sink—don’t ask me why this is, because I have no idea.
Roxy being pampered by her papa.

It is true that Roxy is now a city dog—but she’s only been a country dog for five years—and she’s ten-ish. The problem is that she used to have a whole acre for doing her ‘business’ and now she just has a small yard. But that doesn’t excuse her peeing on the patio! We have grass, after all. Grass is the toilet of preference for sophisticated pooches worldwide. I thought every dog knew that. I thought it was an ingrained instinct they were born with. So why does my dog go on the concrete? Does she not remember that grass is cooler and softer?

The wood floor is slippery,
 and yes, we bought her gripper socks.
Roxy loves our pool, and even though she has bad hips, she will race my husband through the pool gate every time—and win. Why then, has she tried peeing in the pool twice? Doesn’t she realize that it’s not sanitary? Can’t she understand that this is NOT acceptable behavior?! It doesn’t matter that she can get in and out of the pool, and in and out of the pool gate, sometimes she just takes a notion and squats.

These doggy shoes we bought over
 the Internet were equally innefective. And,
she hated them. Can you tell?
I love Roxy, I do, but when she squatted and peed on the wood floor in the kitchen while I was standing not more than two feet away, I almost pitched her out the door on her nose and declared our home a dog-free zone. Don’t worry, there’s no danger of that really—she’s too heavy—and my husband insists. She did spend a long time outside though.

It seems that our dog has lost her sense of propriety. She no longer remembers the guidelines in One Hundred and One Rules to be a Good Pet, volume 1 for dogs. What’s next—chewing holes in the underwear?

(We’ve had a dog that did that, too.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pesto Pasta Salad

I served this salad Thursday for a little family get together. This salad is a bit different than other pasta salads I've made, but it's good. I've made it before with basil pesto, and with the addition of spinach with equally pleasing results (meaning everyone liked it).

Pesto Pasta Salad

1 lb. box of spiral pasta

3 oz Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

8 oz Tuscan House Italian dressing

1 C. frozen peas, thawed

12 oz cherry tomatoes, halved (or two roma tomatoes diced.)

½—1 C. Sliced almonds

1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and then sliced

Goat cheese—optional

Two shakes of Cayenne pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Mix the pesto sauce, Cayenne pepper, and Italian dressing in large bowl, then combine the rest of the ingredients. Chill and serve. [In this recipe, I also added two sweet mini-peppers.]

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Alchemist, by Paolo Coelho

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, is a book like none I’ve ever read before. To me, it seems to break several rules regarding novel writing—it doesn’t have chapters—and the main character, Santiago, is merely called “the boy” throughout the story. But, even so, the story works and it floats through your mind and heart like a whisper of wind speaking of legends and eternal truths.

Coelho writes the story as though he is in your living room telling it in person. I can almost see the group gathered around as he speaks of the shepherd boy. His face wrinkles in thought as he occasionally pauses for effect, and he strokes his beard as he talks fondly of the boy and his adventure.

The story begins with the boy settling in for the night inside the ruins of an of an old church. The boy is on his way to a town where he will sell his sheep’s wool. He was there a year ago, and the merchant’s daughter caught his eye. He is anxious to return and see if she remembers him. After awakening before dawn having had a dream that he has had before, he decides the church is haunted.

In town, he meets a gypsy who interprets his dream for him—he is to travel to the pyramids in Egypt, and near them he will find his treasure. This is his Personal Legend—or his mission in life. It sounds too bizarre to be true, but soon after, he meets an old man who says his name is Melchizedek. He gives the boy two stones, one black and one white. They are called Urim and Thummim and can help him read omens.

Melchizedek concurs with the gypsy, and this starts a long journey for the boy. Several times he is tempted to give up and go back home. But each time the road gets hard, he remembers what Melchizedek told him. “If you want something bad enough, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”

The universe might have conspired, but it didn’t make the way easy. Everything the boy owns it stolen from him on three occasions. Instead of becoming bitter, he works hard and earns it back. He meets others along the way who are happily ignoring their Personal Legend, and some are even afraid of achieving it. The boy thinks that perhaps he will ignore his, too, but eventually he persists. When he falls in love, the boy is no longer interested in following his Personal Legend. But the girl is wise. She knows that he will never be happy if he doesn’t follow after his dream. She tells him to go, and if he comes back, she will be waiting.

This is a story of following your heart, and of dusting yourself off and continuing on in the face of adversity—it reminds us while we’re reading that money isn’t everything—and even love cannot make us happy when we aren't happy with ourselves. Although I enjoyed the book, I felt it had an odd little ending that left me hanging. But, the book mirrors life this way; even though we achieve our goal, we still have the rest of our life to live. Our life-story isn’t over until we meet our Great Redeemer. We gain new dreams and adventures with every day. Just don’t be afraid to take that first step and then follow through.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


That e-reader debate (my last post) made me hungry so I put my laptop aside and went to the kitchen. I ended up making a salad. It is summer, after all. This salad is a little more filling than the average tossed salad and is an impressive addition to buffets or luncheons. I made this recently for a meet-and-eat at the church. Everyone loved it and asked for the recipe.

In honor of summer and salads, this is post two of seven salads in seven weeks.

Layered Spinach Salad         

1 (9oz) pkg cheese tortellini

2 C. shredded red cabbage

6 C. torn baby spinach

2 C. cherry tomatoes, halved                                                 
½ C. sliced green onions
1 (8oz) bottle ranch dressing

8 bacon strips, cooked & crumbled (optional)

Cook the tortellini according to package directions. Drain & rinse with cold water; set aside. In a large glass bowl, layer cabbage, spinach, tortellini, tomatoes, and onions. Pour dressing over the top and sprinkle with the bacon. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

NOTE: While this salad looks beautiful in the proper bowl, it is also an attractive salad tossed together with the dressing and bacon served on the side.
This is the same recipe, tossed instead of layered.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Kindle, e-Readers and Books

Have hard-bound books become the newest eight-track—outdated and unusable? The Kindle and the Sony e-reader etc. etc.—are they the future of books? Will we consign ourselves to the virtual reading of virtual books? Will we no longer stand in long lines to have a famous author sign the title page of his/her most recent accomplishment?

In my wildest dreams, I could never have imagined such a thing happening. As a virtual author trying to get her first book published, I have to wonder if technology has rendered me obsolete. It’s a scary thought, especially in light of Barnes & Noble’s recent decision to put their company up for sale.

Yet, according to Robert Robb, a columnist for the Arizona Republic, and a die-hard real book reader who has recently discovered the benefits of e-readers, it’s not a bad thing for authors as much as it’s a bad thing for the traditional publishing world.

But, I have to wonder still—if traditional publishers go down the toilet—Will their be e-book advertising? Who will pay for it? If traditional publishers become obsolete, who will be the voice of reason and experience for readers and let them know which books merit their time?

I can see the advantage of e-readers when traveling. I could take as many books on a trip as I’d like without having to worry that my carry-on is too big, or too heavy. I could buy e-books for pennies on the dollar for what a real book costs—and rent them from the library without ever having to leave home. After purchasing ten novels (which I generally do at one writer’s conference per year), I will have paid for, or nearly so, an e-reader. They’re easy to use and read, too, from what I’ve heard.

But e-readers also have their disadvantages. They’re expensive. They’re always being upgraded. They take us one step further away from personal/human interaction. In this high-tech world where texting replaces personal conversation, where wall-sized televisions replace our desire to visit with the next-door neighbors, and computers/the Internet has made obsolete our need to leave our homes and go to the store—e-readers are taking us one more step toward this less-personal world.

Now books—they’re personal. They aren’t a big investment, and a book is always a book—no need to upgrade. We can share the books we love. We can have the author sign them. We can buy used books for pennies on the dollar compared to the price of a new book. Children can read a book in a tree without ever having to worry about dropping it and breaking it. If you get ketchup on it while you're eating, it's not too big of a deal. We don’t have to buy new batteries for a book. And … what about the millions of children worldwide who can’t afford e-readers? Will e-readers turn reading into an activity for the upper-middle class?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

AGENT IN OLD LACE, by Tristi Pinkston

Agent in Old Lace is the third novel by Tristi Pinkston, and is the best LDS/thriller/romance I’ve ever read.

You go girl!!!

Although I’ve only read two LDS/thriller/romance’s (who even knew it was a genre???), this one surpassed my expectations. It’s short length being the only disappointment—but I’ve heard that publishers are brutal toward longer novels these days. However, I strongly believe that books this good should be twice as long.

Here’s the skinny:

Shannon is a successful (single) businesswoman. She lives in the Utah Valley, as do her parents, but they aren’t natives of the area. After her father’s heart attack and lingering (and undiagnosed) illness, Shannon temporarily moves back home.

Glenn (Dad) has a wonderful and caring doctor, but neither he nor any of the specialists seem to be able to figure out what’s causing his symptoms. He comes to terms with the idea that he will die.

Mark works for an investment company that has invested money for Glenn. He’s done a marvelous job of it, and in the meantime, he and Shannon hit it off. She hopes he’s going to propose. But that’s only because she doesn’t know he’s also embezzling money on the side.

Mark wants to marry Shannon. He does. But she gets cold feet after he kidnaps her at gunpoint. It’s a scary ride up the mountain with him trying to convince Shannon that her only chance of living is to be his bride. While I read this part, I keep urging her to jump out of the vehicle—which she finally does. Luckily she lives through that ordeal—but things don’t get immediately better.

Mark hasn’t given up. The mountains around Salt Lake City are beautiful (think of thick trees and undergrowth), and Shannon is able to make her way down the hill without him catching her. He does try though, and in a thriller you never know who you can trust.

(I’m leaving out a lot here so as not to give away any tense moments.) Mark ends up in jail, and it’s time for his court date, but half way through the trial, he breaks free—and now he wants revenge. (It’s a living nightmare.)

The FBI takes over the case and at the last minute sends a guy to do a girl’s job. Now agent Rick has to dress up like Shannon’s Aunt Anita in order to give Shannon the round-the-clock protection she needs. Here’s where the romance comes in—stalkers and maniacs are seldom apprehended quickly—unfortunately for their victims. And while agent Rick busies himself saving Shannon’s life at every turn and being there during her emotional breakdowns, they grow quite fond of one another.

Shannon and agent Rick deal with rocks thrown through windows—acts of vandalism—and stalking. But when Mark kidnaps Tate (Shannon’s best friend), Shannon realizes that in order to save her friend, she’s got to offer herself up as bait.

I am waiting and hoping that Tristi writes another book soon. In the meantime, this is definately worth a second read.