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Reasons to Read: Saving Shadow by Laura Beers

Monday, April 2, 2018
The last few years have been lucky for me in finding some great books totally by happenstance. I found The Glamourist Histories through a free Audible download when I did the trial. The feeling I had learning there was an entire series is difficult to describe. I immediately tracked them all down and read nonstop for days. Then I noticed The Maggie Hope Mysteries by Susan Elia Macneal in the gift shop of the International Spy Museum. I snapped a picture of the cover and, long story short, my calendar currently has the scheduled release dates for new books in the series so I can suggest them to my local library. Everyone should have the opportunity to read them.

Now imagine my excitement when author Laura Beers shared the debut of her first book, Saving Shadow, in a Facebook group for LDS moms. It was basically love at first sight with a historical setting, an LDS author, and a unique story with a vivid female lead. I jumped on the chance to read and review the book.

**This post contains NO affiliate links. All writing and opinions are mine and exist only because I want to share cool stuff with you.**

A little summary for you: Lady Elizabeth Beckett is daughter of a duke and a spy for the British government. In her most recent assignment, Lady Elizabeth is partnered with Lord Sinclair, the now heir to a marquess after the murder of his older brother, to take down a human trafficking scheme run by one of the highest members of European society. Up until now, Lady Elizabeth's position, identity, and relationships have been secure thanks to her code name, Shadow. As the investigation moves forward, Lady Elizabeth and Lord Sinclair piece the clues together and uncover secrets, getting closer to the truth and possibly each other.

A quick, yet compelling read

Beers uses simple, straightforward writing to move things along in the book. For avid readers this might be cause to assume the book is sub par, but honestly the writing works to your advantage because you probably won't want to put the book down. I finished the book in a couple of evening sessions and was surprised at how quickly I got through it. I was even more surprised at how the story pulled me in. While the story seemed almost predictable, Beers uses different voices and realistic explanations to make things worth hanging on until the end.

The first book in The Beckett Files

The quickness of the read may be disappointing. Thankfully there are two more books in the series so far. As you can tell I am a series loyalist (don't get me started on Harry Potter or The Circle of Magic). And I am anxious to get into the next two books. Next in the series, A Peculiar Courtship, is already available, and To Love A Spy is on the horizon.

Clean writing

I freely admit that as a Mormon I can be very sensitive to sex, drugs, and rock and roll in my media consumption, especially when it's unexpected and unnecessary. Sure, I've read the majority of George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire, but I knew what was coming. Don't ask me to turn on HBO though... Anyways, what I truly appreciate about Saving Shadow is its directness without the sleaze. There is obvious romance in the story, and even the human trafficking lends a dark tone to the book, but there is still a level of modesty to the storytelling that I was happy to see. Beers should be proud of the way she writes true feelings and invites the reader to experience them without feeling unnecessarily embarrassed. However, if you're into that kind of storytelling this book isn't as deep as you want.

A balanced story

Another great job done by Beers is how she gives equal attention to the different themes in story. The book wasn't overly mushy with romance, too self-important about women's roles and rights, or too smart with the spying. The historical setting of the story is only shown in the classic 19th century etiquette that creates a familiar, if not overdone, framework. Still, there was just enough energy in each area of the book that moved the story forward at a good pace.

Overall, the book introduces a story that is certainly different and provides a look into a world we don't get a chance to read about very often. I recommend Saving Shadow for readers who enjoy historical fiction and intrigue with a hint of drama. Don't be caught of guard by the directness of the story. The clear plot, changing perspectives, and developing relationships are advantages to the beginning of a series.

Easter Egg Hunts for Babies

Sunday, March 25, 2018
Aren't traditions wonderful? They can make our experiences more fun and personal with memories to share with our favorite people. My family tries to add extra pizzazz to all types of events. Yes, we'll take any excuse to make a party out of nothing, often creating new family traditions.

To this end, holidays are no exception and Easter has always been one of my favorites with new Sunday dresses, gospel discussions, candy, and Easter egg hunts. This year Easter falls during a semi-annual conference held by the LDS Church and my little girl's first birthday. We won't be attending church in the traditional sense, and in a way we'll be missing some of the spectacular hoopla that goes with it. Sad, I know. We're still doing baskets, and with General Conference there will be plenty of gospel discussion. But finding a baby-appropriate Easter egg hunt has not been easy. I've been going back and forth on whether we would do one. Thankfully I did end up finding a few totally acceptable twists that are fit for baby's first Easter.

Flower Picking Egg Hunt

These super easy to make plastic egg "flowers" would create a cute scene in your backyard or a bucket filled with little rocks. All you need is a few plastic eggs and some pipe cleaners. Both are available at your local Dollar Tree. Stick them into your place of choice and let baby pick flowers until her heart's content.

Baby Pool Egg Hunt

This was the first (and only for a while!) egg hunt idea I found for babies and it is so clever. Fill a cheap baby pool with plastic Easter grass and eggs. Sit baby down and let her explore. If you want to skip the grass, fill it with all those eggs you have and only fill some of the eggs and leave most of them empty. That way it's more of a true hunt. Plus, less work for you. Don't have a baby pool? Make bath time exciting with lots of bubbles and hidden eggs. Just be sure you don't put anything in the eggs you wouldn't want to get wet...

Poke A Bunny Egg Hunt

This idea from Oriental Trading is originally for your Easter-themed party, but I thought it was completely age-appropriate. Stick some plastic cups on a poster board and put an egg inside. Cover them with tissue paper. They use rubber bands to hold the tissue paper in place. Keep it thin so baby can get in easier. Then sit back and watch as baby discovers cause and effect. See, learning can be fun!

Balloon Marker Egg Hunt

Using helium balloons to mark eggs in a yard is really popular for babies and toddlers. There isn't much hunting involved, but it serves its purpose and is certainly festive. Babies will get a kick out of the double reward of a prize and a balloon. You could go even further and put something creative in the balloons as well. Then you'll have quadruple prizes!!

If you're not sure what to put in the eggs, never fear. Mommy and craft bloggers have you covered and there are plenty of lists with filler ideas from yogurt melts to bubbles. I'll probably be filling eggs with stickers, flavored Cheerios, and hair bows. No matter what you choose, you're sure to have a successful first Easter egg hunt for your little one. Enjoy!!

Hokey Holiday Movies to Watch Tonight

Tuesday, December 12, 2017
The Christmas Spirit has finally made a home in my preoccupied heart. We went to get our live Christmas tree in the first snow of the season this weekend and suddenly I'm looking at life through red-and-green-colored glasses. Next thing my poor husband knew I wanted to bake cookies from scratch (which I don't have time for) and give to those in need. Long story short - CHRISTMAS HAS ARRIVED!!!

There are some beautiful traditions that come with the Christmas season. Many of us have planned for nights of decorating the tree, sipping cocoa while eating loads of homemade treats, and snuggling up to read a holiday-themed story in brand new pajamas, just to name a few. One of the most amusing rituals, if you will, that December has to offer is the seemingly endless supply of corny, lovey-dovey made-for-television Christmas movies. My mom and I are suckers for these movies, even if we have been burned a few times. Not all flicks are the same. Nevertheless, let the hokey holiday movie viewing begin with those I've given my seal of approval.


It's A Christmas Carol meets The Time Traveler's Wife, and it is surprisingly intriguing. Attorney Kate Jordan gets things done and she is sent to Vermont to get an historical inn sold as soon as possible. The trouble is an original inhabitant of the inn hasn't crossed over and he doesn't take kindly to new people, or the curse he's been under for about two hundred years. The two end up working together to end the curse, but at a price.


Shelby Haygood and her parents run a berry farm in a quaint mountain town that is facing foreclosure. Meanwhile, town hero and country music star Mason Wyatt has returned home for a fresh start musically and romantically. Despite trying to keep her distance from their uncomfortable past, Shelby realizes that Mason might be what her family's farm needs to stay afloat. Still, this movie isn't as predictable as it sounds and Alan Powell does some sweet crooning that is worth witnessing.


A secret admirer is sending the 12 Days of Christmas gifts to a woman who has some high expectations regarding love. At first all the attention only feeds her hopeless romantic vibe. But as she works to figure out who the sender is she has to learn to redefine what being in love actually means. In the end, the lesson learned is universal and so real. Also my friend Anna Daines was in it and she's just an amazing human. Therefore the movie is amazing. The end.


Amber is an aspiring journalist who is finally sent on her first assignment: to get dirt on the womanizing future King of Aldovia. After a couple mistaken identities, Amber ends up deep undercover and learns more about the royal family than she expected. Now she must choose between her big break or breaking hearts. I've recently heard that people are not digging this movie and I can't understand why. This one is a good effort at bringing together all kinds of "magic" from royalty to romance wrapped up in a Christmas bow. 

Now remember, if you've never watched a cheesy holiday movie before you have to go in with an open mind (and heart). But if you are willing, let the clichés of the season warm your soul. Merry Christmas!

Last-Minute Buys for Baby's First Airplane Ride

Sunday, December 3, 2017
Travel can be all kinds of crazy for many uncontrollable reasons. Add a baby to the equation and the craziness increases exponentially. For a new mom who already sees the world a little more anxiously than the rest, preparing for a last minute trip across the country with a new baby can be terrifying. From making sure you have everything to battling germs there is a significant amount of brain work.

November found us in a bittersweet place saying goodbye to my husband's grandfather and taking Bunny on her first airplane ride and introducing her to some of our favorite people. Since we only had about two days to get ready I was definitely nervous. However, I managed to keep the packing list simple with some last minute essentials that made for a successful trip.

**This post contains NO affiliate links. All writing and opinions are mine and exist only because I want to share cool stuff with you.**

Disinfecting Wipes

By far my biggest concern was Bunny getting sick. I caught the flu on the plane last year while I was pregnant. There is only one thing more miserable than a sick pregnant lady, and that's her sick baby. I was going to do everything in my power to make sure we didn't come home with one. We went on the defense with a couple packs of disinfecting wipes. When I got on the plane I gave my daughter to my husband with the instructions to not let her touch anything while I wiped EVERYTHING down. And it must have worked, for her at least, because my husband and I got colds and she didn't. Works for me.

Compact Stroller

If asked, I could go on about my Chicco Cortina CX travel system all day long. I had my heart set on taking it with me to Idaho. With all the storage room and features I figured there was no other way to travel. That is until my mom showed up with a cheapo compact Cosco stroller she snagged the day before we were leaving. I mean at first I wasn't sold - no storage - but we took it with us and it ended up being lighter weight and simpler to lug around. The fact that our carseat fit over the handles for easy carrying was nice surprise. Try it next time you're out trekking!

Tray Table Busy Pad

I wanted to make sure Bunny was well occupied during our trip in case she decided to be awake the entire time and one tip I found said that having something "new" helped keep baby's attention in flight. I snagged this airplane tray table busy pad off of Amazon (no affiliate) and I'm glad I did. Not only are there lots of fun tactile things for littles, but it also has some extra cool features for parents including a touch screen pocket for phones and it's two-sided. Bunny used this activity pad for floor play on the trip too which means this piece could get a lot of use.

Kids Mode App

Bunny doesn't exactly need phone access per say, but she still gets her fingers on mine every now and then. I downloaded the Kids Mode app from Samsung because it kept the rest of my phone secure while giving her access to plenty of engaging and unique activities. I recommend this app because it required a pin to exit the launcher, it allowed customization by adding your own games from your phone, and it was free without ads. The app is available for Android here, though I'm sure Apple has plenty of options for kids apps too.

Well, I must say I'm probably too happy November is over. It was busy with travel at the start, a full agenda at work in the middle, and the holidays coming as it ended. Though, I'm looking forward to the holidays and more down time to write. And of course sharing special time with my little girl. Hashtag baby's first Christmas!

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