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  • Teaser Tuesday – The Sound of Sleigh Bells

    teaser_tuesdays1MizB of Should Be Reading hosts the Teaser Tuesdays weekly event

    Here are the rules:
    * Grab your current read
    * Let the book fall open to a random page
    * Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12
    *You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
    * Please avoid spoilers!

    This week’s teaser is:
    “Lizzy had no doubt that even Jonah heard the disdain in her niece’s voice. She lowered the phone. ‘Could you take your wet-blanket attitude elsewhere for just a minute please?'”
    pg. 101 – The Sound of Sleigh Bells by Cindy Woodsmall

    – Okay, so this Christmas novella doesn’t officially release until October 6, but I’ve been reading it for work, and it’s wonderful! It’s so fantastic and it’s written by New York Times bestselling author Cindy Woodsmall. Take a trip to Amish country with Beth and Jonah and you’ll be swept away into the beautiful story of learning to forgive. Seriously. You don’t want to miss this.


    Monday Movie – Princess Protection Program


    After last year’s debacle that was Camp Rock … wait. Let me back up just a little bit more.

    When the original High School Musical aired on the Disney channel, I was one of many who tuned in. I love the original High School Musical. What’s not to love about star-crossed lovers, random outbursts of song, and cheesy teen dialogue?

    I love teen movies–as witnessed by my blog about the Au Pair 3. So after enjoying High School Musical, I thought I’d try Camp Rock last summer. Oh, it was bad. Not good. Amy and I just cringed the whole time we watched it.

    So imagine my hesitation when I saw that Disney was doing another made for TV movie–Princess Protection Program–starring Demi Lavato, who was also in Camp Rock. But I’m all about giving a second, so I thought I’d take a chance.

    Turns out it was a cute movie. No earth-shattering revelations, but the acting was 300% better than Camp Rock. It was a cute movie about friendship and worth a watch with the family. My favorite part was the compltely over the top general trying to take over a country no one has ever heard of. Awesome!

    Thinking that teeny bopper movies should air on ABC Family and Disney every weekend until next time. -LJ

    Friday Favorite – Burn Notice

    My name is Michael Weston.  I used to be a spy until … when you’re burned burn-noticeyou’ve got nothing. No cash. No credit. No job history. You’re stuck in whatever city they decide to dump you in. You do whatever work comes your way. You rely on anyone who’s still talking to you. A trigger-happy ex-girlfriend. (“Should we shoot them?”) An old friend, who used to inform on you to the FBI. Family too. If you’re desperate. Bottom line … until you figure out who burned you, you’re not going anywhere.

    Thus begins every episode of Burn Notice, which–you guessed it–is about a spy who is burned. But he’s not just any spy. Michael Weston (played by Jeffrey Donovan) is thespy. He’s like MacGyver, only with bombs and guns and tracking down bad guys. Wait. That is totally like MacGyver. Okay … I got it … Michael is like MacGyver, only really cool! And modern–like making cell phones work even when there’s a signal blocker.

    As a spy you have a lot of ways to get information. You can get it with a gun. You can get it with a lock pick. You can get it with a listening device. But most often, more than all the other information gatherin techniques combined, you get it with a free lunch.

    Michael’s tips and tools of the trade between scenes are like a “how to” book for smart spys. Makes me want to be a spy. Except for the being shot at thing. But really, it’s awesome! Who knew getting lunch for an informant could get you everything you wanted?

    Each episode Mike and the gang help someone in Miami who is in trouble. Single parents looking for their kids. Big brothers on the run from a gang because they were protecting family members. The combinations are endless, and Mike’s ability to solve the problems are incredible.

    burn-notice2In a hostage situation any idiot can steal a gun and start shooting. It’s a great way to get a bunch of innocent people killed. Keeping people alive, means fighting like a spy.

    One of my favorite things about this show is the supporting characters. Fiona, played by Gabrielle Anwar, who all you girls out there will remember from Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, is Michael’s arms dealing, sharp-shooting ex-girlfriend. Fi is spunky and funny, and the tension between Michael and her is almost enough to set my 6-year-old TV on fire … in a good way. 🙂

    Sam, a former Navy SEAL, is Mike’s side-kick and the truest kind of friend. He literally has put his life at stake to keep Mike and Fi safe. And the bickering between Sam and Fi is generally laugh-out-loud funny.

    Life with a hypocondriach mother gives you a useful knowledge of pharmacuticals.

    Mike’s mom Madeline is forever asking him to go to family therapy, help his brother, or help one of her random neighbors. She doesn’t understand what Mike does, but she does know he’s a good man.

    One of my favorite quirks in the show is Mike’s penchant for yogurt. Every episode, he’s spooning the good stuff in. Or going to the store to buy some more.

    The one-liners are brilliant, and the dialogue is super-smart. If you haven’t seen this show yet, meander over to USA Network or pick up seasons 1 and 2, now available on dvd. This show absolutely rocks!

    Thinking about a career as a spy until next time. I’d be an awesome spy! -LJ

    Teaser Tuesday – Return to Love

    teaser_tuesdays1MizB of Should Be Reading hosts the Teaser Tuesdays weekly event

    Here are the rules:
    * Grab your current read
    * Let the book fall open to a random page
    * Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12
    *You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
    * Please avoid spoilers!

    This week’s teaser is:
    “The goal was to save the penguins, honor Reverand Alexander’s memory–and aquairium contributions–and do the best job she could. So when exactly had the goal altered to involve Carter?”
    pg. 106 – Return to Love by Betsy St. Amant

    – I’m super-exicted about this book by my good friend Betsy. 🙂 It releases July 1 and is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and lots of other retailers. Betsy did tons of research for this book, and it comes through clearly. It’s like she really works at an aquarium with penguins. But I know she doesn’t. 🙂 Hope you’ll enjoy it too!


    Monday Movie – Persuasion

    jane-austens-persuasionWhere have I been? As a card-carrying girly-girl, who has seen multiple versions of every other Jane Austen book-turned movie, how is it possible I’ve never seen Persuasion? There are a million versions to choose from, so why haven’t I ever picked one up?

    Well, I changed that this weekend, with a quick trip to the library, where I borrowed a newer version from the BBC. I think this version, staring Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones, was part of the PBS run of Jane Austen’s stories last year.

    So Katie and Stephanie and I sat down to enjoy this version on Saturday afternoon. It was overcast, and Katie and I had spent the morning shopping, so we were all feeling rather sleepy. We popped in the dvd, none of us knowing the story. I suggested we turn on the subtitles, because, let’s face it, British English isn’t anything like American English. But even with the subtitles, we all spent about the first 20 minutes not quite sure who was who and what was going on.

    Were Penelope and Mrs. Clay the same person? Who was Elizabeth and how was she related to Anne Elliot (our heroine)? And was Captain Wentworth as amazingly handsome as everyone kept saying?

    After several pauses and much discussion we discovered that in fact: Penelope and Mrs. Clay were indeed one in captain-wentworththe same … Elizabeth is Anne’s sister … and Captain Wentworth? Oh, he’s absolutely as handsome as everyone says!

    What a delightful story of the constancy of love. Eight years ago, Anne Elliot broke off her understanding (aka engagement) with Lt. Frederick Wentworth, a lowly naval man with no nobility in his family. Sir Walter Elliot, Anne’s father, believes Wentworth is unworthy, and Anne’s confidant and friend believes it’s unwise to be engaged to a man with no wealth, no position, and headed off to war (still slightly unclear what war it was that he was fighting in). So Anne was persuaded to end their understanding.

    Now the Elliot’s money is dwindling, and they must rent out their family home. Admiral and Mrs. Croft let the estate. But Mrs. Croft is also Wentworth’s sister. And Captain Wentworth, who received a promotion and made his fortune in the war, has come to visit.

    Anne still loves Wentworth, but struggles to keep her feelings to herself, as she thinks he has fallen for her brother-in-law’s sister. Confusion ensues as Mr. Elliot, Anne’s cousin begins to pursue her, but her heart has never wavered from the man she loves.

    In true Austen form, love is lost and found again, and the sweetness of this story is one to cherish. I can’t recommend it enough. With gorgeous period costumes and setting, it’s gorgeous to watch. And as I mentioned, Captain Wentworth didn’t disappoint with his brooding stares and ruffled hair. 🙂

    Next time you’re looking for a really wonderful chick-flick, pick up Persuasion. You’ll love it, like I do!

    Dreaming with an English accent until next time. -LJ

    Happy Father’s Day

    I didn’t call my dad today. I didn’t send him a card or a gift or anything. Shame on me.

    But we talked for about 30 minutes on the phone yesterday, which must count for something. Right? Well, in order to make up for my bad-daughter status, I thought I’d wish my daddio a huge Happy Father’s Day on my blog. And, taking a cue from Amy, I thought I’d offer a couple things I’m really thankful for about my dad.

    1. I’m glad we share a similar sense of humor. We must have laughed for at least half of our talk yesterday. Usually we have good chuckles about movies and embarrassing things we’ve done lately. But I can always count on Dad to laugh at my jokes. We repeat the same one-liners and still laugh at You’ve Got Mail’s best line–“Cause it makes my apartment smell mossy!”

    2. When I go back to Arizona to visit, my dad and I usually bond at a movie. We generally go see something that Mom isn’t interested in so that we get to hang out just the two of us. I love that we have a special time just to talk alone.

    3. Dad was the first person in my family to read The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn long before it was under contract. He told me I wouldn’t find him buying that kind of book at the store, but he was really proud of me. And he told me he believed I would get published.

    4. When my publisher did call, Dad was the first call I made. I told him I was scared. What if they were turning me down? He told me it would be okay. Told me that whatever happened, God was still in control. He promised to pray for me … which is I’m sure why my nerves were so much calmer as I talked to my editors. Sure enough, they were offering me a contract. And when I hung up, my dad was the first person I called. He celebrated with me like no one else could.

    5. He’s one of the friendliest people I know. At church every Sunday he walks down every row greeting people–and even takes my oldest niece with him most weeks. He really exemplifies loving others and a caring heart.

    6. He always gives good advice–but only when I ask for it. 🙂

    7. He writes the best coverletters and resumes I’ve ever seen. He always helped me write mine when I was still living at home. Even after. I’d probably have a had a grand total of no jobs since college without him.

    And there are a hundred other things I love about you. The Johnson genes run strong, and I’m proud to carry them.

    Love you,

    More Reviews of Kenzie

    I’m stoked about more reviews of The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn coming in. They’ve been pretty positive so far–although it does seem that a lot of reviewers agree that the premise is a little improbable. Hmmm … I’ll have to noodle on that.

    But you can check out some of my new reviews at these links:


    I’m busy doing a bunch of online interviews for the book, and I’ll be sure to post links to those here as soon as they go up.

    Hoping I haven’t said anything too embarrassing in my interviews until next time. -LJ

    Movie Monday – The Proposal

    I miss good romantic comedies. You know what I mean? Movies that are really funny and just happen to have a bit of romance. Movies that make me laugh so hard I snort (not that I ever would snort). Movies with scenes like While You Were Sleeping’s  Bill Pullman falling down on the ice and his pants splitting down the back. And scenes like Lucille Ball losing her slip while on a date with Henry Fonda in the original Yours, Mine, and Ours.

    I first saw those two movies and lots of  other classic rom-coms while I was inthe-proposal high school. Since then, there’s been a bunch of duds and a few chucklers … but almost no snort-inducers.

    Until Saturday night.

    Ever since I saw a preview of The Proposal months ago, I knew I had to see this movie. I generally love Sandra Bullock movies, and I confess to having a little crush on her co-star Ryan Reynolds. So when I saw that there was a sneak preview showing on Saturday, I had to go. I dropped an e-mail to a bunch of girlfriends, and pretty soon, we had a whole evening of fun planned.

    We started at Katie and Stephanie’s new place for fondue. I’ve never had fondue before, and it was wonderful! Steph made an awesome cheesy dip to start with. We dipped bread, pretzels, apples, and even grapes in the cheese and it was awesome. The best moment was when Katie realized that she had dripped “cheese juice” on her shirt. Needless to say, there was much discussion of the new phrase, includingthe idea that if I ever start a band, I should call it just that. I can just see it now … “Now taking the stage … CHEESE JUICE!!!”

    For dessert Steph made an awesome chocolate fondue, and we dipped everything from brownies to marshmallows to strawberries. A-maze-ing!

    So then we headed to the movie. Arriving half an hour early, we should have no problem getting seats together. Right? Wrong. It was crammed, and the best I could find was 4 in a row. So I got the other 4 settled into their seats and sat in a lone seat several chairs over. And then a couple very nice ladies offered to move over so I could sit with the other girls. Thank you random kind women!

    the-proposal-3So the previews started. Nothing too memorable. And then the last preview before the movie started, and I was nearly rolling on the floor when Seth Green was singing a love song to a very large gorilla. It may sound strange, but it brought tears to my eyes. So funny!

    So then The Proposal starts. It’s the story of Margaret, a high-powered executive at a New York publishing house (I felt a connection already) and her assistant Andrew, a brow-beaten aspiring editor. She treats him like trash, and the rest of the office fears her. For good reason. And then she finds out that she’s going to be deported (“But I’m from Canada!”) and lose her job. Her only hope. Marrying Andrew so she can stay in the country.

    Andrew agrees to marry his boss. If she’ll give him the promotion he’s been working toward. But first their immigration agent demands they visit his family. Alaska, here they come. Quirky family, check. Beautiful scenery, double check. Softening hearts, check and check.

    Hoot out loud humor. At every corner!

    If it sounds trite, it easily could have been. But the laughter didn’t stop until nearly 3/4 of the way through. And by then my cheeks were hurting so bad, I needed a break. The funny bits from the preview were all there, along with a scene where Margaret tries to offer a puppy to an eagle in exchange for her cell phone. One of my favorites is when Margaret is in bed and Andrew is on the floor at the foot of the bed. They share a poignant moment, and then Andrew bursts out in terrible singing. My kindly neighbor in the seat next to me was laughing and clapping so hard, I almost peed my pants because of her. Trust me on this. You’ve got to see it.

    Now, of course, I have to add a caveat, that there is a scene where Andrew’s mom takes Margaret to a club (in the the-proposal-2name of laughs) that’s inappropriate for children … and well, I sure didn’t need to see it either. But fortunately it definitely keeps its PG-13 rating. And I definitely could have used a more fleshed out couple of subplots. The ex-girlfriend and father/son struggle story lines weren’t filled out completely, but I can definitely overlook that for the sheer fun of this flick.

    Not to mention, this is the first rom-com I’ve seen in ages where our hero and heroine don’t jump into bed together on the first date. It was quite refreshing, and so sweet. And still funnier than anything I’ve seen in a while.

    Still snorting just at the memories of some of those scenes. Can’t wait to see it again this weekend (when it fully releases) until next time. -LJ