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Dear loyal LDSWBR follower:

Happy News - LDSWBR has a new home! Please come visit us, tell us what you think, and let's talk books. Happy reading!

- Shanda, Sheila, Mindy, and Hillary

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Review of "Famous Family Nights" by Anne Bradshaw

I had the privilege of receiving and reading Anne Bradshaw's new book called, "Famous Family Nights". On the front cover it says, "Stories to make you smile, and inspire you to see the humor in our Monday night tradition from Mormons you know and love."

I don't know about you, but some Monday nights and trying to have a decent Family Home Evening, are a big joke. I was so grateful to start reading this book for some super ideas to make Monday nights better at our house. I think you will be well pleased, as I was, at what you will find in this book.

The main thing I learned from this book, is that we all are in the same boat. It is hard sometimes, for all families to have well structured, reverent and quality Family Home Evenings
every Monday Night. Maybe your family is the exception, but I think most of us struggle with the "quality" part of Family Home Evening.

Anne, interviewed many famous LDS people, asking them to send her their best ideas and favorite memories of Family Home Evenings. I can assure you , with the wide variety of people sharing ideas, you will be able to find something to fit your family's needs.

I have to say, one of my favorite sections was written by one of my favorite author friends, Josi Kilpack, called "Healthy Bodies, Healthy Spirits". It made me crack up! Josi has the best sense of humor and it shows in her contribution to this book! :) Then I really appreciated the section by, Shannon Hoffman. She also is a single parent like me. It was good to see how to have FHE's when you are having to fly solo and keeping things running in your family. I also really loved Eric Dodge, a country music singer, and his chapter called, "Nothing as Valuable as Family". I have to admit here, I could go through this whole book and tell you what I liked about each chapter. I found something worthwhile to be used with my own little family, from every contributor.

I highly recommend this book to every family out there! It doesn't matter what kind of family you are, there is something for you in this great book that Anne Bradshaw compiled. With Christmas heading our way quickly, this book would be a fabulous gift for family members.

I always love to interview authors and find out more about them and why they wrote their books. I enjoyed reading Anne's answers and I know that you will also.

1.Where did the idea for "Famous Family Nights" come from?

Several years ago, I kept hearing of families who no longer held home evening, or who never even started, so I began a small monthly post for a colleague's blog, highlighting various LDS authors' home evenings. From there, I had the idea to turn the project into a book, expanding to include prominent LDS people from the USA and other countries. I hoped these fascinating anecdotal stories and ideas would encourage others to follow the prophetic plea to embrace our families through this weekly activity.

2.How did you decide who to include in your book? There is a great mix of people that contributed to the book.

I first sent emails to every contact I could find on the website Famous Mormons.com. If there was no email given, then I researched every avenue to find some other way of communicating - websites, Facebook, TV, and movie agencies - even friends and work associates. I also sent many letters containing stamped, addressed envelopes, but none of these ever returned to me. I wanted to include many talented people who were less well known and struggling to make their way in their chosen profession, to help them become more recognized. I love anything that is a win/win situation, and this book is just that - participants, readers, publisher, author - we all win. The entries are not only from entertainers and artists, but also from achievers in the world of sports, business, and service to the community.

3.What is your favorite FHE memory? You shared a few of them in the book. Would you share one of them with my readers?

It’s not easy to pinpoint a favorite. We had our share of disasters, of course, and those now blur in with all the others. I think pre-Christmas family nights invoked the most tender feelings that still linger in my memory. In addition to sharing the Christmas story each year, we had a “Christmas Mints” tradition. I loved the closeness and laughter we shared as the children helped make chocolate covered mint sweets (candies), which we delivered to friends and neighbors. Two of our sons still tease about being “made” to play the trumpet and violin while the rest of us sang carols. Those were fun times.

4.Why do you feel FHE's are important?

I feel they are a vital safe haven in today’s dangerous world. Nothing can replace the good feeling that settles in a child’s heart knowing someone cares enough to make time for family home evening. Children may not always recognize the benefits at the time, but later in life most have fond and grateful memories.

5.What is your favorite time to write? How long are your writing sessions?

I begin my writing day at 5:30 AM, and often continue until 5:00 PM with short breaks in between. I know several hours non-stop at the computer isn’t good for bones and joints, but sometimes, when an idea is boiling, time simply flies.

6.What are you working on now?

I’m currently marketing “Famous Family Nights.” I plan on taking a break early 2010, and then want to begin something completely different. A few ideas are in my head, but I haven’t yet decided which to follow.

7.What is your favorite thing you have written? Maybe you still hope to write your dream book some day?

Like most things, writing is a skill that grows with practice, and so I feel my best work is yet to come. I cringe now when reading my first book, “Terracotta Summer.” But we all have to start somewhere, and I hope my work is improving with each new project as I continue to learn more about the craft. I think my favorite so far is the book of short stories, “Please, No Zits.” I really enjoyed the creative process involved, and tackling the many problems facing today’s youth was a meaty challenge.

8.What are your best words of advice for aspiring writers or even established writers?

They are familiar words that will always be relevant – read, read, read, and write, write, write. I would add that reading how-to books about writing, and attending writing conferences are equally important for any aspiring writer who wants to get published.

Thank you Anne! I hope many people will buy this book to include it in their family library.

Go visit Anne at her blog. She always has such fun games and contests going on there; besides wonderful book reviews.


and at her website here:


If you would like to purchase this book go to:




Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Winner of "Illuminations of the Heart"...

We have a winner of the latest contest. The winner of a copy of "Illuminations of the Heart" written by Joyce DiPastena is...Shirley Bahlmann. Congratulations Shirley and thanks for entering the contest.You will be receiving a copy of this great Historical Romance novel. I know that you will enjoy it! I will get your address and get your book sent out to you! Thanks for everyone who left a comment on both blogs and participated in the contest. There will be another contest coming soon for another chance to win a book.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

New Look for the LDSWBR Website!

I'm so excited to announce that the LDSWBR website has undergone an amazing makeover! We've changed things up a little bit in the past, but that was nothing compared to this latest update. I've had a great time adding fun little widgets & features to the sidebar, and the new categories and tags will make looking for book titles and authors in podcasts & posts a lot easier.

It will take a little bit of time for me to get links to the podcasts moved over and tags added, but I'll do my best to get everything current as fast as possible. Please go check it out and let me know what you think. I'm always open to suggestions, so be honest (but nice :) ).

Thanks and happy reading!

Shanda :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Review of "Illuminations of the Heart" by Joyce DiPastena...Enter to win your own copy!

"Clothilde." He spoke her name on a breath like a prayer. Then he lowered his head and kissed her.

What a perfect scene! It truly belongs in a romance novel. The only problem is, the women being kissed is not Clothilde, her name is Siriol De Calendri. Triston, the hero in the novel, is still full of guilt because of the death of his late wife, Clothilde. Siri greatly resembles Triston's late wife, but is very different from her in personality and spirit. This is where the Historical novel begins. Can Siri win Triston's heart and help him heal from the past? Will Triston be able to keep Siri safe from the many enemies that threaten he and Siri's future together? You will need to read "Illuminations of the Heart" to have these questions answered.

I enjoy reading Joyce DiPastena's books. They are known for being "clean" romances. Now days, the idea of a clean romance is a very rare thing. This is not to say that you won't be swept away in the growing romance between Triston and Siri and the heat felt between them. They are clearly attracted to each other and their shared kisses made me yearn for a "Triston" in my life. You can safely read this book, as well as your teen-age daughter, and know that no sex will be spattered throughout the pages.

As for historical fiction lovers, this book will greatly appeal to you. Joyce does incredible research into this time period. I always feel like I learn new things when I read one of Joyce's books. She has a "Glossary of Medieval Terms" at the back of the book. For example, do you know what
"Crenellated" means? What does "Fealty" mean? Do you know what a "Hauberk" is? I found this Glossary very helpful as I read the book.

This sweet romance from Joyce is 425 pages long. It is well worth your time to read it. Hide away in a room, pull out the chocolate or popcorn, get comfortable and escape to the medieval times. I enjoyed getting lost in the romance and suspense that is interwoven in "Illuminations of the Heart."

If you would like to win your own copy of this new novel here are a few ways to enter:

-Look up one of the meanings to one of the medieval words I mentioned in this blog post. Tell me the definition to the word/s and that will count as one entry.

Post a comment telling me what is your favorite kind of Romance novel. What era appeals to you the most. This will be another entry for you.

-The third thing you can do, is to become a follower of one of my blogs, here at LDS Women's Book Review at "Why Not Because I Said So" and it will count as two entries.

One winner will be chosen from entries posted at both blogs. So start posting to win your own copy of this wonderful romance. You have one week to enter the contest. It will end next Monday night, Sept. 21st and the winner will be announced the next day.

Learn more about Joyce, her writing and research at:





You can purchase "Illuminations of the Heart" here at....
Amazon.com and DeseretBook.com

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Saving Madeline by Rachel Ann Nunes

During the "Recent Reads" section of LDSWBR Podcast Episode #36, I shared a review of Rachel Ann Nunes' latest novel, Saving Madeline, due to be released mid-September. If you don't currently have plans to visit a book store before the end of September I highly suggest you make some plans and add Saving Madeline to the top of your list. Rachel addresses a tough issue that most people aren't fully aware of- or at least I wasn't until reading her book.

Parker has a tough decision to make: continue
to allow his daughter, Madeline, to remain with her drug-using mother or do something to protect her from Dakota's negligence. Parker makes his decision and must face the consequences of his actions, unless proof of Dakota's drug abuse & negligence can be found. Caitlin McLoughlin has become tired of defending petty criminals she knows are guilty, but the rare opportunities of helping someone who is truly innocent keep her from leaving her job. That, and her obligation to her special-needs sister, Amy. When she considers taking Parker's case as a favor to a friend, Caitlin quickly learns that while he is technically guilty of the crimes he is accused of, the reasons behind it are valid- if only they could find the evidence they're looking for. Caitlin begins to love little Madeline, and her feelings for Parker start to grow as well.

Rachel has done an excellent job of writing about difficult choices,
troubled circumstances, and situations that blur the line between the black & white of the law. The chemistry between Caitlin and Parker is touching and romantic. Rachel has written believable, endearing characters- not just the hero & heroine, but minor characters as well- who are comfortable and natural within the setting of the story.

Saving Madeline gets 5 stars and a Whitney nomination from me. Well done, Rachel!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Episode #36 with Josi Kilpack & Michele Paige Holmes Released!

Sheila, Hillary & I were thrilled to have authors Josi Kilpack & Michele Paige Holmes join us once again on the podcast! These beautiful and talented ladies are always fun to talk with and Episode 36 was no exception.

Josi's latest novel, English Trifle, is the sequel to her very successful book, Lemon Tart. During the podcast, Josi spoke about the next book in her culinary mystery series, Devil's Food Cake, as well as giving us a glimpse into the future of the series. Josi's writing style for her mysteries is fun and unique- she let us know that even she doesn't know the culprit until she writes the end- and if the story keeps the author guessing until the end, it's definitely going to keep the reader guessing, too! English Trifle takes place in a castle in England as Sadie and her daughter visit Breanna's fiance, Liam, over the Christmas break. While taking a "turn about the room" on the last day of their visit, Sadie & Breanna make a gruesome discovery- a man, run through with a fireplace poker & pinned to the wall behind a curtain. When the body disappears and the people of the house start doubting Sadie & Breanna, Sadie's determined to prove they aren't making up what they saw. What follows is an adventure where everyone has something to hide and Sadie is determined to uncover the truth. English Trifle is a fast-moving, thoroughly delicious mystery and just like any good dessert, you'll savor every bite!

Sheila reviewed Michele Paige Holmes' All the Stars in Heaven a few posts ago (go check it out), however, I wanted to add my thoughts to hers. Michele has a powerful way of making the reader invested in the story she writes, caring about and rooting for the "good guys" as well as evoking strong feelings toward the "bad guys." She can even help the reader feel a certain amount of sympathy for the "bad guy" without lessening the incorrectness of the choices he made. All the Stars in Heaven is ultimately a romance, with some good mystery-suspense as well. It's a moving story of growth & change, contrasts and unexpected commonalities, courage and forgiveness. Michele is currently working on her third book in the Stars series called My Lucky Stars. Michele calls it a romantic comedy. She told us a little about the premise of My Lucky Stars during the podcast and it sounds like a lot of fun!

Thanks again, Josi & Michele, for taking the time to come visit with us and for entertaining us with your wonderful stories!

On one final note, for all of the DOROTHY KEDDINGTON fans out there, Dorothy let me know that her new manuscript,
The Fairy Thorn, has been accepted and is scheduled for an October release through Granite Publishing. All of you who have been leaving comments and waiting and wondering- the wait is over!! There is even talk of re-releasing her older novels as well! As soon as I know more I will post updates on the blog, so check back often. Congratulations, Dorothy!