Book Review: Family by Design by Heather Justesen PLUS GIVEAWAYS!

 Family by Design by Heather Justesen
Cover Blurb

Before he could think better of it, he blurted out, “I understand your concerns. I’m going to speak to my commander about getting an early discharge. My girlfriend, Rena, and I have talked about getting married. There just hasn’t been any rush.”

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he wondered what he was thinking. Yes, they had discussed marriage, but not to each other! He and Rena had never even dated.

Tucker’s on his way to the biggest challenge of his life. Rena already has it all—except a family of her own. But neither one expected their friendship would take such a dramatic turn.

When Tucker becomes the guardian of his newly orphaned niece and nephew, he knows he can’t handle them alone, not when he might be shipped out with the Marines at any moment. Desperate, he turns to Rena for a major favor. His marriage proposal would give her everything she wants, but can she learn to live without the romance she’s always dreamed of?

As time, prayer, and a life-changing kiss work a little magic in her heart, Rena wonders if someone up there has a plan for her that’s better than anything she could’ve come up with on her own. And though it seems crazy at first, this could become her chance for a marriage that will last for eternity.

My Review

Each time a new Heather Justesen book comes out, I think it's my favorite of all time. But then the next one captures my heart. I've come to the conclusion that I just love them all! Family By Design was such a fun, delightful read that had me laughing, blushing, and occasionally reaching for some tissues. I think the cover is a great representation of the characters the reader falls in love with - some sassy red heals, some cute pink Mary Janes, typical spunky boy shoes, and one hunky builder/military man's set of work boots. Who doesn't love a story about a sassy woman and a man who's good with his hands (not to mention gorgeous!). Now that just makes me a bit weak at the knees right there.

What I admire the most about Family by Design is that Rena & Tucker's relationship is based on friendship. They are each other's best friends and have been forever. Those niggling thoughts of "What if" become reality when Tucker becomes the guardian to his niece and nephew. From there, some very interesting conversations and situations arrive. Then through the journey, they become a real family. But once again, life steps in and complicates things. How does it end? Happily, of course. But if you want specifics, you'll just have to read the book!

You can purchase Family by Design at or any local book store.

Special Promotion

Also, as a special promotion for anyone who buys a book before January 31, you can get a free ebook for her companion novella, “Shear Luck.” Once you buy a copy of her book go here to get your free copy.

As if that weren’t enough, Heather’s holding a host of giveaways on her blog throughout the next few weeks, see the rules at the bottom of this post to enter. 

Here’s the blurb for Shear Luck:

Chelsea Robison has never forgotten the older boy next door whom she crushed on as a teen, so when she runs into him at the restaurant he’s preparing to open, it’s a delightful shock. And learning he’s available again is more than a little tantalizing.

Vaughn Krenshaw had never seen his neighbor as more than a nice kid—but Chelsea had definitely grown up in the decade since they saw each other last. He’s attracted to the feisty red head, but still struggles over his wife’s death the previous year. And then there’s his five-year-old daughter, Molly, who really liked Chelsea—until she realized the woman was dating her dad.

As Chelsea starts to wonder if their love for each other will be enough to make things work, a specter from Vaughn’s past rises, making her question whether she really knew him at all.

Blog Tour Stops

Tuesday, Jan. 17 Kim Job
Wednesday, Jan. 18 Nichole Giles
Thursday, Jan. 19 Liz Adair
Friday, Jan. 20 Susan Dayley
Saturday, Jan. 21 Keith Fisher
Monday, Jan. 23 Robbin Peterson
Tuesday, Jan. 24 Julie Bellon
Wednesday, Jan. 25 Cindy Hogan
Thursday, Jan. 26 Rebecca Talley
Friday, Jan. 27 Kathleen Brebes
Saturday, Jan. 28 Debbie Davis
Monday, Jan. 30 Danyelle Ferguson 
Monday, Jan. 30 Maria Hoaglund
Tuesday, Jan. 31 Tristi Pinkston
Wednesday, Feb. 1 Joann Arnold
Thursday, Feb. 2 Christine Bryant
Friday, Feb. 3 Rebecca Blevins
Saturday, Feb. 4 Mindy Holt

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Elana Johnson's New Book Covers!

Elana Johnson has new book covers!

For fun, she's asked her friends to announce and (ahem, honestly) critique them. So, to refresh your memory, here's the hardback cover for Elana's book Possession.

When Elana first revealed her cover, I thought it was unique, trendy, and awesome. But unique doesn't last for long in the publishing industry. Cause once something cool comes out, everyone wants to jump on the band wagon with their own versions. Browsing through the YA section, I've noticed more and more mostly white (or a light, mixed shade of white) covers. For example . . . 

Here's another series I love which as a white theme & funky captured image on the front cover.

 Then there's the facial close ups . . . When done well, they aren't nearly as freaky as this one is.

An everyday object to break up the stark white.

The white, washed out cover where the model wears clothes that blend into the background. You know what I see here - weeds.

And pictures of headless people - some of which just involve the lower portion of the body, other covers actually show shoulders down, and make me think of poor Marie Antoinette.

For as many white covers out there, there are just as many black, dark themed books too. It's like a clash of good and evil on the shelves. And in between those light and dark cover are super bright "happy teenage girl" color covers. And generally an eye-popping pink color.

Now, Elana has new covers. First, an updated cover for Possession's upcoming paperback release.

And the cover for the release of Surrender . . .

So, Elana wanted honesty. (No take backs, Elana. You're not allowed to hunt me down at the next writers conference and harass me.)

I have a love-hate reaction to the covers. Personally, I love the colors, but they are so NOT Vi and the society in my opinion. Although they really are excellent complementary choices for the images on the front cover.

I liked the original font better. This one seems too YA romancy to me.  I really like the graduated background coloring, but the layout reminds me a lot of Allie Condie's Matched series. I'm not so hip about that. I like being able to tell my friends' books apart at first glance. I admit to occasionally seeing either Elana's or Allie's covers and accidentally saying, "Oh that's Allie's book. Wait, no Elana's. Oops." and vice verse. But that has more to do with the captured image on the front than the background. Although Allie's series had more color with the graduated tints, while Elana's was stark white.

My overall opinion - I like the covers. I think they'll stand out on the shelves between all the white and black covers. But I think they went from looking distinctly dystopian YA to romance YA.

And now, I believe I'll send a bacon themed e-card to Elana so she'll forgive me.  =)

What do you think of Elana's new covers? Or the trend of YA covers in general?

I've been published internationally!

Today, I received this awesome package in the mail . . .

It's the advance copies of my article, How Do I Help This Child: Seven principles for helping Primary children who have cognitive disabilities, which will appear in the international LDS magazine, Liahona, in February 2012. Six whole pages about how to help kids ages 3-12 during Sunday school classes. Six pages! That's huge in the magazine world!!! And the article is featured on the front of the magazine! We need more exclamation points!!!!  =)

I was sent copies in English, Spanish, and French. But the magazine is sent world-wide and interpreted into all sorts of awesome languages, like Chinese, Portugese, and so many more. It's so exciting to realize something I wrote is helping people all over the world!

And isn't that an awesome picture of me and my son? Thanks to the fabulous Erin Jensen. Oh yeah, and our guest reader, Mr. Blue Rock Monster, courtesy of my son, Isaac.  LOL!

What a WOW moment!

Help Us Learn, Give Us Hope - Part 1

Two of my munchkins are in the QUEST gifted program at school. This year, they are participating in a service project called Help Us Learn, Give Us Hope. They plan to sew 100 backpacks and fill them with school supplies for troops to hand out to kids in need in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa.

I have been lucky enough to get to see these incredible kids in action. I was asked to talk to the older QUEST kids about how to ask companies for donations. I worked with them for a few days, giving tips and guidance when needed. I have been so impressed with their excitement, organization, and leadership! The kids have worked together, made phone calls to local businesses to introduce themselves and ask for information to send a donation request, then followed through by writing letters, answering questions and gathering donations. I know first hand how scary it is to call someone to ask for a donation - even as an adult, it makes my heart race and my hands shake. You never know if the person on the other end will be kind, rude, or even hang up on you. The 4th & 5th graders experienced every single one of those reactions. It made me just want to gather them up into big hugs. They were so brave!

But their work has paid off. One local business has generously donated all the supplies (except thread) the kids need to sew 100 backpacks. WOW! The kids were absolutely thrilled and are excited to schedule our sewing nights to get to work. As we work on this project, I am going to post updates and pictures of my munchkins as they continue to gather, sew, put together, and deliver the supplies for Help Us Learn, Give Us Hope.

If you or the company you work for would like to donate, please contact me for more information ( Donations need to be received by January 16th.

Here's a list of supplies needed. 

sewing thread
pencil sharpeners
chalkboard erasers
coloring books
sports balls
small toys

Question for my readers - In what ways do you or your school teach your kids to give back to other kids in need?

Plumbers & Water

Over Winter Break, I took some time to think about my blog and some changes I'd like to make. There are so many things I'd like to blog about, but don't. Something I love about Facebook is when friends post about stuff they love or good experiences they have. I decided to add that to my blog and call it Friday Faves. Sometimes I spotlight a charity, share a funny story, or talk about products I love. Lots of random favorites. My hope is that we'll share ideas and discover new faves together.

Today, some of my favorite things are plumbers and running water.

Late last night, my hubby discovered our basement had flooded. So. Not. Fun. A plumber came out, snaked the line, ran a camera when that didn't work and discovered a break in our water line. A really nasty break. So there's no water for food, cleaning, or hygiene. YIKES! It's going to be about a week before our plumber can get everything arranged and fixed, but man, I'm so glad there are experts out there to help when emergencies like this occur.

It's so true that you don't appreciate something until it's gone. I never realized just how much water we use and how dependent our lifestyle is on the ability to access it. It makes me grateful for where I live and also much more empathetic to those who live without the conveniences my family has.

My question for you today: What experiences have you had with plumbers, floods, or water disasters - and what did you learn? Did you laugh your way through the stress (like I'm trying to)? What advice do you have for me as I wait out this craziness?