Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Book Review: "The Hidden Branch" by GG Vandagriff

The Hidden Branch is the fifth in the Alex and Briggie mystery series about two genealogists who solve murder mysteries. I haven't read the previous books in the series, but references to previous books in the series only piqued my curiosity, without giving away anything that appeared crucial to previous plots. After I got through the first few chapters, I found myself drawn into the story, and my attention was riveted. It isn't high suspense like those that grab you by the throat and make you hold on while your pulse bounds wildly in your throat. It is, however, very engrossing and well worth a read. I'm definitely going out to search for earlier books in this series. Here's the back cover copy:

Paul Mardian is a shining example of the American dream. The grandson of an Armenian immigrant who fled to the United States during the genocide of 1915, Paul is a self- made industrial tycoon and one of the most eligible bachelors in the country. But the dream is shattered when Paul turns up dead and his valuable collection of ancient Armenian artifacts goes missing.

Hired to find the murdered man's heirs, professional genealogist Alexandra Campbell and her sidekick, Briggie, are brought to the swanky beaches of Southern California and a community of Armenian relatives who all seem to be hiding a secret.

When another family member is suddenly murdered, Alex discovers there is more at stake than an unclaimed fortune or missing antiques, but piecing together Paul's complicated family tree may be more dangerous than she ever anticipated. Author G. G. Vandagriff combines mystery, suspense, and romance in this page- turning thriller!

Vandagriff has four other books out which are unrelated to this series, which you can learn about on her website. She also has a blog she updates regularly. Her books are available everywhere LDS books are sold.

Deseret Book sent me a review copy of this book but it in no way influenced what I said about the book.

I had a great signing in Beaver earlier tonight, and I have a few more this week. Friday evening I'll be in Nephi at Mt Nebo Thriftway from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.. Saturday I'll be at Kent's Market in Ephraim from 10-2 and Manti Market from 3-7.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I love winning things online!

A couple of weeks ago Custom Scents Online had a "Countdown to New Moon" contest featuring scents karlene designed to do with the Twilight series. She gave away products on her blog and I won a full bath and body set and chose the Bella fragrance which contains jasmine, freesia, lavender and white tea scents. I got a bottle of the perfume, one of matching lotion, and shower gel. I LOVE them.

There are other scents designed for Edward and Jacob, among others. Right now CSO is having a special promotion of these scents on their website. To get 25% off every CustomScentsOnline order, simply enter the Discount Code TwiHard during check out! Code is valid through December 31, 2009. These products are made with scents that won't bother most people who are allergic to perfume, so chances are even those who normally can't wear any fragrances will have no trouble with those produced by Custom Scents Online.

Also, if you're a busy mom who's had trouble keeping track of everything--medical records, special dates, scout awards and ranks, school schedules, and all of the million other details that you need to keep handy in your life, you should check out Mary Greathouse's new Family Record Keeper.

Learn more about this awesome book here.

One last note. Today I'm going to be signing books at Crisp Grocery in Monroe from 10-2, and at Lin's Market in Richfield from 3-7. If you're in the area, pop by and say hello!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Oodles and scads of giveaways

I'm starting out with a new drawing for "Agent Bishop," since Kristen never left me any way to reach her. The new winner is: Kimberly Job! Congrats Kim, I'll contact you to arrange delivery.

Now, there are tons of other giveaways going on right now, so I thought I'd share. We'll start with Danyelle Ferguson's blog where she's giving away two copies of Rhonda Hinrichsen's new book "Missing." Check that out here.

She's also part of a big giveaway for the Original Scrapbox 12 Blogs of Christmas Giveaway where they are giving away the EZ View Craft Desk. The company is also giving away a craft desk to the Children's Justice Center if they get enough click-throughs to their website. Having been a foster parent and had reason to become familiar with this great place, I heartily support them. They do a great service to children who have been severely neglected and abused. Check out this post on Danyelle's blog, along with posts on the following blogs (there's lots of ways you can enter to win!): Rachelle's, Lou's, Priscilla's, Vanilla Joy, Capadia Designs, Crafty Makes, Stephanie's, Nichole, Auntithesis, Park City Girl, and Lovely Little Handmade's.

This is the LAST day to enter this contest so don't wait!

Anne Bradshaw is giving away a copy of an autographed DVD of George Dyer's show which was recorded live on her blog here. She's also part of a giveaway for Laurie Lewis's book "Dawn's Early Light," which you can learn about here.

MarthE has a ton of giveaways on her blog here.

Rachelle Christensen is giving away a gorgeous bracelet watch by The Bead Princess. Click here to see the details.

Mary Greathouse is holding a giveaway for her new release, The Family Record Keeper on her blog. Click here to enter that contest and find out more about the book

LDS Women's Book Review is giving away a whole list of cool things. If you'd like to find out more, click here.

On another note, I went to a launch party Wednesday night for Nichole and CIndy's book, "Mormon Mishaps and Mischief" where they sold something like 80 books in three hours. Seriously, it was the coolest launch party I've ever been to. Priced at only $9.95 each, the books are priced right to give away as Christmas gifts for visiting teachers, home teaching families and friends. This is the cake I made for their launch, with each thing representing something from each story.

This was my first tiered cake, but it turned out reasonably well, I think. I really enjoy working with fondant and love trying new things. Obviously I've got a ways to go before I can even remotely compete with the staff at the Pink Cake Box, but you gotta keep trying!

If you want to buy a few copies of Mormon Mishaps and Mischief, you can attend one of Cindy and Nichole's signings over the next couple of week.s. And the story I submitted is on page 75! Here's their schedule:

Dec 12, 11 am-1:00 pm
Barnes and Noble Gateway
Salt Lake City, UT

Dec 17, 6-9 pm
Provo, UT

Dec 19, 11 am-1:00 pm
Barnes and Noble
Sandy, UT

If you want this book, but can't make it to one of the signings, it's available online at Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Final Three Winners!

Thanks for all of those who participated in my giveaway. I'll be doing other random ones from time to time (though not generally on this scale ). Check back occasionally, follow my blog, or friend me on Facebook to increase your chances of finding out.

Today I'll be signing at the Orem Barnes and Noble with six other great authors from 2-4 p.m. Swing by and say hello if you're in the area!

The winner of Bone Warriors is:


The winner of Famous Family Nights is:

Nichole Giles!

The winner of the gift certificate to His and Her Treasures is:


Friday, December 4, 2009

Lots of contests out there, and Friday's winners!

There are a bunch of other contests going on right now, so I thought I'd mention a few of them:

My friend Marta is having a giveaway all month with various prizes on offer, including the new Christmas album by David Archuleta called "Christmas From the Heart." She also does a musical Christmas Advent calendar where she posts a video of a great Christmas song each day. Each time you post a comment on one of her advent posts you are automatically entered into her drawing. Yesterday's post was a man playing "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy" on glasses of water--it was totally cool. Check here for details.

Kathi Oram Peterson, author of The Forgotten Warrior is holding An Angel in Your Life Contest on her blog. thorugh December 15th she's collecting stories about someone who was an angel in your life. Check out her blog for details.

My friend Nichole is involved in a giveaway for by EZ Scrapbox on her blog (this is a seriously cool product and if they get enough clicks to their website they'll give two away to charity!). I'll be posting more about this another day, but or now, go check it out!

Rachel Nunes reviewed Laurie Lewis' new book Dawn's Early Light, and if you leave a comment on her post you will be entered to win an autographed copy of the book, and a handcrafted silver necklace. You can read more about it here.

Anne Bradshaw is giving away a copy of Dallyn Vail Bayles' inspirational album, Prayer on her blog this week. So click here to find out more about how to enter.

Rachel Rager is having a contest on her blog where she's giving away a copy of the movie While You Were Sleeping.

I probably missed some, but these were the ones I could find easily. Hope you all win something on someone's blog! Remember, there's still a little time left to enter to win one of tomorrow's prizes on my blog too!

And today's winners on my blog are:

The edible image from Kristi's Creative Cakes in West Valley City goes to

Valerie Ipson!

And the copy of Cory Poulson's book goes to


Today's blog tour stop is Connie Hall.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thursdays Winners and my trip to the Four Corners

Even though I would far rather stay curled in my warm bed with my laptop then spend hours driving across state, I've enjoyed visiting areas I've never been before. This week I drove out nearly to the four corners--If I hadn't had a signing at the grocery store last night, I might have been terribly tempted to finish the trip.

Just a few notes about the long drive to San Juan:

There's a big scrub evergreen (I really ought to know what kind of trees they are, but I don't. If anyone else does, I'd be happy to be educated) on the East side of the road near Moab that is covered in tinsel and Christmas decorations. It even has a huge star posted on top. It was cool. I hoped I would see if on the way back so I could stop and take a picture, but it was dark and I totally missed it. The tree gave me something to think about, though. It reminded me of the shoe tree in Park City (which I blogged about here). I can't help but wonder whose idea it was to begin with, why they picked that tree, and what they were thinking about when they did it. Could one of them have wondered if someone would see the tree and blog about it? Did they want to encourage holiday cheer to spread and hope the idea would catch on so others would do the same with random trees in their areas?

Actually, that's not a half bad idea....

Anyway, Tuesday evening I spoke to a small group at the CEU San Juan Campus library about writing and what I've learned over the years. Then we had some tasty cookies and talked for a bit before my new friends, the Razors, took me home and fed me some seriously tasty homemade pizza. Many thanks to them and their mom for putting up signs and feeding and housing me for the night.

The next day I went to Mexican Hat Elementary school where I spoke to the kids all day with each grade coming in for half an hour. I did two presentations to kindergartners. We'll just say that I got a bit hoarse by lunchtime. Thankfully there was a bit more break time between the afternoon sessions. It was fun, but my voice box was ready to have a break when I turned my car back north.

The red mesas and rock formations near the Navajo reservation at Mexican Hat are so cool. I took a number of pictures--mostly while I was driving back to Blanding. I couldn't stop because school got out a bit later than I planned on, and the drive was a good 20 miles further than I remembered from my early research, so I had to rush back so I wouldn't be late.

This formation is near the reservation. I remember when I drove near it in the morning I thought it looked like fingers coming out of the ground It's more gray than the reddish dirt and rocks around it--the picture doesn't do it justice.

This one is called "Hat Rock" and ask you can see, it kind of looks like a Mexican Hat. I'm assuming that's where the town gets its name.

One day I'll have to drag my husband down that direction and we'll have to spend a few days going through Arches and Canyonlands national parks, then see some of the other sights that I didn't have time for on this trip.

All right, now for the big announcement of the winners--I know you've been slogging through the rest of the post just to be polite, but here's what you really want.

1) The gift certificate to Vinyl Expressions donated by Valerie Ipson goes to:

Rachelle Christensen!

2) The hardbound copy of The Shelly Game goes to:

Nichole Giles!

Okay ladies, you know the drill!
Today's blog tour stop is by Molly--who had never read an LDS book before, but even after reading mine is not adverse to reading another. =) Check out her review here.

Also, Jennie Hansen reviewed my book in her column for Meridian Magazine yesterday--and I was very pleased! You can read that one here.

Wednesday's Winners!

Okay, so I know it's technically Thursday, but I just got in from my trip and I didn't have Internet access until two minutes ago. My voice is hoarse from singing along with some music to stay awake the past two hours. I did, however, make an interesting discovery tonight. Driving unfamiliar twisting turns under a full moon is way less stressful than doing the same thing under a new moon. More details of my trip in tomorrow's post.

Now for the winners:

Missing by Ronda Hinrichsen goes to

Laura Zemp

Agent Bishop goes to


Congratulations ladies, send me your mailing addresses and I'll see that you get the prizes.

Today's blog tour stop was Allison Palmer.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Prize Winners and Latest Confections.

It's been a while since I posted up any cake photos, and I've been meaning to, so I thought I'd share my most recent projects. I did mention yesterday that I was going to, right?

Have you ever noticed how mom's get the short-shaft on their birthdays? They get plenty of love and hugs and hopefully a few gifts as well, but when was the last time your mom got a nice birthday cake? I don't remember mine EVER getting anything fun, and she usually had to make her own, which is not cool at all.

My mom had her birthday a week or so ago and my sister Kristi came down to celebrate, so we decided to go ahead and do something special for my mom's birthday. I've spent oodles of time online researching different cakes over the past few months, so I called her with a specific idea, which she shot down, and we replaced it with this choice instead. I learned round cakes are really hard to do with fondant. Seriously. But I think the teapot turned out fine for a first attempt and I'll definitely give it another go as soon as I have an opportunity.

At Halloween I was asked to bring cupcakes to my ward party, so I did some more research and found this cute idea. i think they turned out totally cute!

Okay, now for the winners for today's drawing. Winners were selected using

The first prize, an autographed copy of Nothing to Regret goes to

Connie Hall!

The second price, a copy of Strength to Endure, goes to

Rebecca Irvine!

Congratulations ladies, send me your mailing addresses and I'll get those in the mail as soon as I get back from Blanding!

Check back tomorrow to see who wins the next set of prizes!

In the meantime, today's stop on my blog tour is Kim Job.