BOOK REVIEW: The Tutor's Daughter, by Julie Klassen

I really enjoyed this Regency Romance by author Julie Klassen. I've been a reading tutor myself and could relate well with the storyline. I loved the intrigue, mystery, and wonderful setting. Throughout the book I kept blaming the wrong characters for all the misdeeds/pranks. I liked being in kept suspense! Now I want to know what happens to Emma and Henry, as a couple. Time for a sequel.

BOOK REVIEW: Courting Miss Lancaster

Book Review: Courting Miss Lancaster (The Lancaster Family #2) by Sarah Eden
I thoroughly enjoyed this regency romance. The pacing was good, the setting and characters were delightful. Sarah Eden did a wonderful job with character development throughout the story. I began to look forward to which horrible character flaw the next gentleman, that Harry would introduce Athena to, would exhibit. I enjoyed the roughness of Adam and the strength of character and love for her husband that Persephone had. This was a wonderfully entertaining book!

BOOK REVIEW: Icefall by Matthew Kirby


In his middle grade novel, Icefall, Matthew Kirby demonstrates his talent for storytelling at its finest. This story shines! No wonder it received such recognition as:

Nominee: 2013-2014 Utah Beehive Book Award for Children's Fiction
Winner:   2012 Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery
Winner:   2012 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Children's Literature
Winner:   2012 Judy Lopez Memorial Award
Finalist:   2011 Agatha Award
Winner:   2011 Parents Choice Gold Medal

Icefall is the perfect title for the book and the cover is beautiful; it depicts a critical point in the story. Matthew does a great job with steady pacing that builds the story up to the cover's crescendo.

I have Scandinavian ancestry and appreciate the setting of the story. I could envision the mysterious backdrop of the glacier, mountains, and steading. The description of the hall, daily drudgery, characters, and scenery, all helped to make me feel like I was there, experiencing the drama with them. It was exciting to learn about Norse legends and mythology.

The story held my attention with the tension, betrayal, sabotage, and intrigue, as I was steadily lead on the journey with the young Norse princess, Solveig. Her relationship with Hake, the fearsome captain of the berserkers guard, was fascinating. Throughout the story Solveig discovered her various talents of being brave, honest, loyal, strong, noble, and compassionate. She gained confidence and wisdom. I would love to see a sequel to learn if Solveig ends up as Crown Princess, or even Queen. I felt that she exhibited more royal ability than did her siblings.

At the end of each chapter Matthew captivated me with the beauty and language of Solveig's stories, so poetic and lyrical. I found myself looking forward to those monumental pages.

Icefall is a wonderfully crafted story and I enjoyed the time I spent in the incredible world that Matthew Kirby created.

June 17-21 I attended the Writing & Illustrating for Young Readers Conference, held in Sandy, UT. I met Matthew and his literary agent, Stephen Fraser. It was enlightening to read the book that they are both passionate about. I really enjoyed the book and I appreciate the time and effort spent to create it.

Add Icefall to your summer reading list and get ready for an adventure!



A New Book to Read

I have a new book to read!
I am so excited to get started!
Guess what? It's not literally new.
I saw this book at a book store last week and had to have it.
I couldn't afford the $60.00 cover price so...I came home, checked on Amazon, and voila!...I had a used copy of the book on its way...straight to my house.
I received the copy on Wednesday. It took less than one week. Way to go Amazon seller!
Now to start reading. I'm going to pace myself, I want to savor every last bit of this book. I really expect this to be a summer-long experience. Oh, the joy of having such an adventure on the horizon...sigh.
Are you intrigued yet? What is this book that has Crystal so excited? It's a coffee table sized book titled: BARBRA STREISAND My Passion for Design.
I was in awe as I glanced through the book at the book store. Barbra Streisand is a wonderful actress, singer, director, and Broadway star. I am now impressed with her accomplishments as a photographer and designer.
The first thing to catch my eye was the exquisite cover's gorgeous! I love the color of her clothes and the sofa...the exact match to her astonishing slate blue eyes.
Then when I opened the book there were pages upon pages of glorious pictures.  I'm so excited to start reading about her design dreams and to have a "private tour" through her California estate. The architecture is fascinating and I'm looking forward to seeing what she did with her yards and gardens.
I think it's time to read a few pages in My Passion for Design...sigh.



Here it is...My 2013 Summer Reading List

                                        * After Hello     (Lisa Mangum)
                                        * A Great and Terrible Beauty     (Libba Bray)
                                        * The Alias     (Mandi Tucker Slack)
                                        * Divergent     (Veronica Roth)
                                        * Enthusiasm     (Polly Shulman)
                                        * Everneath     (Brodi Ashton)
                                        * Friends and Foes     (Sarah Eden)
                                        * The Maze Runner     (James Dashner)
                                        * The Mortal Instruments / City of Bones     (Cassandra Clare)
                                        * Regally Blonde     (Heather Horrocks)
Here is my list of "want to read" books for this summer. I've listed them in alphabetical order. I want to allow myself some flexibility to select my next book depending upon how I feel on the day that I'm ready to start another book. This summer I am leaning towards young adult fiction. I'm giving myself until August 25th to finish the list. We'll see how I do with the ten books listed. It will be great if I can add to the list before my deadline arrives. Can you tell which book I'm starting with? What will you be reading this summer? Have you made your own "Summer Reading List?"
You should. Anytime I finish a list I feel a sense of accomplishment. I hope you have a fun summer, full of great books and adventures!
Happy reading!

IRIS: Plant of the Week (#plantoftheweek)



The garden with its little gate of green,
Invites you to enter, and view mysteries unseen,
Its vine laden bowers and overhanging trees,
The air filled with sweetness, the hum of the bees,
The flagged walks with Iris galore,
Of most beautiful coloring, unknown before,
Pink, white, purple, yellow, azure blue,
Mixed and mingled of every hue,
You come away wondering, can more beauty be seen
Than in the garden with its little gate of green.


"The iris poem is from an old catalog of "Green Gate Gardens 1931" which used to be in Bennettsville, South Carolina. The owner’s name was Gabrielle Drake McColl."
I found this poem at the web site for the Canadian Iris Society. Iris are amazing plants that come back each year from rhizomes. Their colorful flowers add depth to the perennial garden. I love the irises in my yard; each year they seem to grow taller and the flowers are more beautiful. Do you have iris growing in your garden/yard? If not, it's time you added some. Iris is my Plant of the Week.
Happy gardening!

BOOK REVIEW: Longing for Home

Book Review: Longing for Home by Kathryn Springer

Longing for Home is a very good, clean, romance story. I enjoyed getting to know the main characters, Kate Nichols and Alex Porter. I enjoyed their arguments, Kate's spunky spirit, and Alex's arrogance. It was fun to watch as Alex changed his priorities and fell in love.

My parents own a Bed & Breakfast establishment, so I could relate to that part of the storyline. I loved the small-town setting near a lake. This was a fun story and I was disappointed to finish reading it; I didn't want the adventure to end! Now I need to read the other books in this series.

WISTERIA is the Plant of the Week

WISTERIA...need I say anything more? Really?
Wisteria is one of my all time favorite plants. Whether climbing a wall, rambling over an arbor, or trained into tree form, the vines are beautiful. I love the clusters of fragrant flowers that grace us with their presence for such a short time each year.
Yesterday I visited Red Butte Garden, in Salt Lake City, UT. It was a beautiful, sunny day. There weren't very many visitors so I was able to wander around at my leisure. I was disappointed that my trip was too early in the season; the wisteria will need more time before it blooms in all its glory.
 I did find some wisteria in full bloom at the shopping area called The District, in South Jordan, UT. It was a pleasure to behold! You should drive around your city and discover this gem. Sometimes it is growing in the most unlikely places.
Wisteria is the Plant of the Week (#plantoftheweek).

Mistress Mary, Quite Contrary

In the book The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Basil chants:

"Mistress Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And marigolds all in a row." 

I thought of this rhyme as I wandered around my yard, checking on my new plants. I've been intrigued with the idea of planting more "wicked" plants this year and creating my own version of a "poison garden."

This week I made my yearly trek to Millcreek Gardens in search of a chocolate cosmos. I was not disappointed (I planted it in my herb garden flower pot, next to the chocolate mint). I also found a black mondo grass that looks menacing and a delicate looking solomon's seal. That nursery always has a wonderful assortment of perennials to choose from. Next I visited Cactus & Tropicals where I found a fun little bonsai. Then I went to Smith's Marketplace for lupine and a jacob's ladder plant. I rounded out my tour at Glover Nursery. I was a little disappointed in the condition of a lot of their plants, however the nursery itself has had a face lift and looks nicer.

As I strolled around my yard I noticed that the forget-me-nots are in full bloom, the wild violets are just finishing their blooming, the lily of the valley is spreading, and I saw a few flower stems starting to peek out from between their leaves. My cherished monkshood (you'll have to read my book/manuscript to understand this) now has a delicate stem with promising flower buds. The blossoms of both varieties of lilacs are just barely opening up and I caught a faint fragrance. Just finishing their season, the flowering crab apple and flowering pears were very pretty this year. The spirea are covered with leaves and have just a few blossoms teasing me. A couple of weeks ago I trimmed the rose bushes with Madison's help, their leaves are coming on quickly now. The daffodils, hyacinths, and early tulips are done. The mid season tulips are starting to show color and the iris are growing their flower stems as I write. I was very tempted to buy another clematis when I saw vines with the largest flowers ever, but I somehow exercised restraint! My clematis is growing well and starting to tangle around the aspen pole ladder again. This is how MY yard is doing. How are YOUR plants doing now?

The prettiest plants in the yard right now are the forget-me-nots. I have to choose them as the plant of the week! I'm excited to see Mother Nature at work in my small Garden of Eden. We have warm weather predicted for this week and I can't wait to see what the warmth and sunshine will do for my plants.

Happy gardening!

All of these photos were taken on May 5, 2013
Plant your dreams and watch them grow!


Book Review: EDENBROOKE by Julianne Donaldson

Julianne Donaldson's Regency period romance, Edenbrooke, is a beautifully written, captivating story with charming characters and wonderful pacing. I enjoyed the plot with its elements of suspense, romance, and intrigue.

Transported through time, back to 1816, when reputation, societal rules, proper etiquette, inheritance, social class, and a good dowry were of utmost importance, I was caught up in the excitement and tension of the story. The dialogue was engaging and I thoroughly enjoyed Marianne's lesson in romance by Sir Philip. Love letters are now an art form! Who wouldn't appreciate more than just a signature on a greeting card? Men could learn a lot from the dashing, honorable, gentleman, Sir Philip Wyndham...who actually leaves Mr. Darcy wanting in a few areas!

I was drawn in by the friendship and then the romance of the lead characters.

The supporting characters were delightful, and delightfully wicked! I appreciated the wit, banter, chemistry, and flirting between the characters. The focus on emotional rather than physical relationships was satisfying and I look forward to reading more books labeled as "A PROPER ROMANCE."

From the moment I saw the cover I was captivated by the charm of the setting. From the wonderful descriptions I could visualize the lush, vibrant countryside and the elegant, grand, country estate, Edenbrooke. I want to visit its library, gardens, stables, and orchard! It seems so real to me.

While reading Edenbrooke I found myself anticipating the times when I could pick the book up again and read more of the engaging story. Julianne did such a wonderful job with her debut novel. It's a fulfilling story that I will read again...I absolutely loved it!

Tulips #plantoftheweek

On Friday, April 19th, 2013, I went with a good friend to the Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point Gardens in Lehi, Utah. It was a chilly and overcast day that caused us to bundle up with jackets, scarves, and mittens. I was somewhat disappointed with the weather, but pleased with the wonderful displays of flowers in bloom!

I'm so glad that I made the effort to go to the gardens during the festival. TGP gardens are always breathtakingly beautiful, but even more so during the festival. I was enchanted by the varieties of tulips that were in different stages of blooming. The color assortment was fantastic and lovely to behold. Tulips are a short-lived, sure-sign of spring. Feeling impressed to plant more tulips in my own garden, I look forward to researching and discovering some unique varieties to add interest to my flower beds; a black tulip, such as 'Queen of Night,' would add a mysterious element to the poison garden that I have begun.

"Tulips are clearly plants for the foreground: bold and confident, they have the ability to rule their surroundings, stimulating our senses with colour, form and pattern, and thereby altering our mood and the atmosphere of the spaces they occupy."
Gardening with Tulips by Michael King 

Tulip is my PLANT OF THE WEEK!


BOOK REVIEW: Sanctuary for a Lady

BOOK REVIEW: Sanctuary for a Lady by Naomi Rawlings

Naomi Rawlings's book, Sanctuary for a Lady, is a well-written, compelling, inspirational historical romance. Set during the French Revolution this story shares inspirational messages of faith, hope, strength, determination, and love. It reminds us of God's love for matter their station in life or bad decisions previously made.

Sanctuary for a Lady is a story about the power of forgiveness and its importance in our lives. Naomi presented realistic characters, lush settings, and great details while bringing the characters to life. I found myself engrossed in the romantic story, yearning to read and learn more about the characters' plight. Sanctuary for a Lady is overflowing with the struggles of everyday life, strife, tension, and danger. I was caught up in the heartbreaking decisions that Isabelle and Michel faced while they tried to achieve their dreams.

Pick up a copy of this Love Inspired book today and fall into the breathtakingly, beautiful, French countryside!
I really enjoyed this story and would love to read a sequel!

Love Note #1

"I believe in the compelling power of love. I do not understand it.
I believe it to be the most fragrant blossom of all this thorny existence."
Theodore Dreiser

"Love is the flower you've got to let grow."
John Lennon

Sixteen years ago I married my sweetheart. How time flies! 
Our marriage has been an amazing journey that I hope will
continue for many more years to come.

Happy Anniversary to my fantastic, incredible, wonderful husband!
You brighten my day and make me complete.
Thanks for all that you do for me Steven E.
With love, Crystal


Who is the most Romantic of all?

Spring is a time for romance!
Here is my list of some of the most romantic things and places.
  • Most romantic language: French
  • Most romantic men: Italians
  • Most romantic movie: Casablanca
  • Most romantic song: I Will Always Love You, by Whitney Houston
  • Most romantic book: Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
  • Most romantic city: Paris, France
  • Most romantic country: Italy
  • Most romantic food: Chocolate
  • Most romantic flower: Red Rose
  • Most romantic perfume: L'air du Temps
  • Most romantic color: Red
  • Most romantic car: Red Ferrari convertible
Is it time for more romance in your life?

Most Romantic Fragrances

The Most Romantic Fragrances

Everyone loves to smell attractive and beautiful!
With so many romantic perfumes to choose from, how do we select the right one for us?
Should we go soft, sweet, and delicate?
Warm, sensual, and spicy?
Crisp, clean, and green?
The options can seem overwhelming at times.
You need to consider which flower scents are the most appealing to your nose:
carnation, gardenia, jasmine, rose, tuberose, muguet, lilac, iris, peony, honeysuckle, hyacinth, freesia, or magnolia. Which one inspires thoughts of romance
Then consider the underlying perfume scents might include: musk, lemon, amber, and sandalwood.
Friends, family, coworkers, boyfriends, fiances, or husbands can certainly weigh in with their opinions and suggestions for you.
Ultimately this romance decision is up to you!
There are so many diverse opinions and lists available for you to ponder before spending your hard earned cash on what you hope will be a romantic scent, on you. I am going with
Allure's list of the Top Ten Romantic Scents.

8)   CHLOE
9)   ROSE 31,  LE LABO

I think it's wise to follow suggestions from trained perfume and fragrance professionals.
I also think it's time to purchase a romantic fragrance from the top ten list.
Have fun perfume sniffing!

"Make someone feel worth it tomorrow by saying the nicest thing you can to someone who may or may not need it. I dare ya!"  Lea Peterson
This dare really got me thinking. How do you show your love for your family and friends? Do you write a card or a note? Do you make them delicious treats or meals? Do you sing them a song or invite them to watch a movie with you? Do you simply tell them, "I love you"?
February is the month of love. Have you helped the world to keep the love spreading? How can you do YOUR part? Follow Lea's suggestion to say something nice to someone...anyone...and see what happens! I'm sure YOUR day will be brighter and THEIR day will be happier. Small compliments can go a long way. 
Go on...share the love!

BOOK REVIEW: The Hourglass Door

Book Review:

THE HOURGLASS DOOR by Lisa Mangum was a well written and intriguing story. I was drawn into the storyline, enjoyed the intricate plot and characters, and appreciated the delicate balance of fantasy, romance, and suspense.

The main characters were realistic. I could appreciate the relationship between Abby and Jason, Abby's fascination with the new guy in town, Dante, and Abby's relationship with her closest friends. The dark characters were incorporated well and I caught myself wondering what the sweet revenge will be like.

I loved the references to Dante, Shakespeare, and Leonardo da Vinci. Lisa presented a unique interpretation of time and time travel. I embraced the imagery of the river and the concept of time. I felt like I was experiencing a great adventure! Lisa drew me into the story, I kept turning pages and hurrying back to the book with anticipation.

I was disappointed when the story ended, just because my adventure was over! I look forward to reading the sequels, as soon as possible, and finding out what happens to Abby, Dante, Zo, and Leo.

 Thank you Lisa Mangum, for a wonderful adventure!

My 2013 Garden Bucket List

Because I'm tired of the cold weather I've started dreaming about sunshine and beautiful gardens. There are many gardens around the world that I would enjoy having the opportunity to visit. Here is the short Bucket List of gardens that I would most like to visit during my lifetime:
  • Butchart Gardens; Vancouver Island, British Columbia
  • Longwood Gardens; Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
  • Thomas Jefferson's Montecello Historic Gardens; Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Chateau de Versailles Garden; Southwest of Paris, France
  • Claude Monet's Garden at Giverny; Normandy, France
  • The Botanical Garden of Padova; Padova, Italy
  • Giusti Gardens; Verona, Italy
  • Boboli Gardens; Florence, Italy
  • Ville d'Este Gardens; Tivoli, Italy
  • Singapore Botanic Garden; Singapore
I have actually visited Montecello, but I was only sixteen at the time. I don't think I fully appreciated the significance of the garden at that young age; I would like to visit again. Even though I recently travelled to Italy, I was not able to visit the famous gardens. It would be wonderful to travel back to Italy with the gardens as a top priority.

Can you think of places that you would love to visit during your lifetime?
Make a list and see how many you can check off!

Substituting in 6th Grade

Yesterday, I was a substitute in a 6th grade classroom for an hour and a half while the teacher left the school for a meeting. I wasn't prepared for how nice the experience would be. The teacher had taught/trained her class so well that, even in her absence, the students were incredibly polite, stayed in their seats (unless they had a specific reason for getting up), conversed with whispers, followed all of my directions, worked independently, and seemed to stay on task. Only a couple of students raised their hands needing help. The one student who got frustrated with the assignment still used a quiet voice and was pretty polite during their private argument with me about the options I suggested. One student wasn't feeling well and checked out of school right before their recess time. Overall the time went pretty smoothly.

I sat at the teacher's desk, totally in awe of the situation as it unfolded before my very eyes. It was a substitutes dream and I was the lucky one to experience it! Before I shout out my volunteer to substitute for this teacher anyday, I realize, what are the chances that this experience will repeat itself? I will probably never have such an easy time again. Come on! These were 6th graders! So I will just file the memory in my brain and bring it out to remember and analyze over and over again.
Awesome teacher? Amazing students? Probably a combination of both!

BOOK REVIEW: Mrs. Miracle

Mrs. Miracle is a pleasant story to read during the holidays. Debbie Macomber did a nice job with the character development and weaving several story lines together. I loved the inclusion of the recipes.

The story was a little too predictable and came to a rushed conclusion with Mrs. Miracle leaving in a hurry, saying goodbye only to the young twins. The message of forgiveness is good, but you can't force someone to feel forgiveness in their heart. I felt that Reba was justified with her anger and hurt feelings, yet Debbie had her cave in to the pressure everyone was putting on her. Reba's sister, and mother, needed to offer up more information, sooner (not waiting four years!)Snapping your fingers and saying "forgive her!" isn't realistic. The swear words and detailed love scenes were unnecessary and served to detract from the story's wholesomeness

Overall I felt compelled to keep reading and enjoyed the story.">View all my reviews</a>