Dec 172012

8 days until Christmas


Lu Ann Staheli got her start as a celebrity paparazzi-stalker-chick, which led to her award-winning career as a ghostwriter for celebrity memoirs. A masochist at heart, she has taught junior high school English for 33 years, and is currently the school librarian, (a job which she absolutely LOVES), plus she once spent two weeks summer vacation backpacking through Europe with 15 of her students. She has won three Best of State Medals—two for writing and one for teaching—but refuses to wear them all at the same time because she’d hate to be known as a show-off. She is the true bibliophile, with something in excess of 1,000 books in her personal home library.


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LDSWBR: Do you top your Christmas tree with a star, angel, or something else? Does it have special meaning to you?

LU ANN: For many years, while I was single, I would buy the annual Mattel release of Barbie’s Holiday and use the doll at the angel on the top of my Christmas tree. Then I got married and adopted five sons. End of Barbie’s reign! We have two trees set up again this year and a SpiderMan ornament is the tree-topper on one, and a plush Sponge Bob SquarePants is at the top of the other. Since my boys now range in age from 12-23, and ornaments like these still seem to be preferred, I guess there will be no change into the distant future. Sigh.

LDSWBR: What is your favorite Christmas movie? Why is it your favorite?

LU ANN: My favorite Christmas movie is White Christmas, starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen. I’m sure it’s the first Christmas movie I ever saw since I was only a few months old when it came out. (Oops! Giving away my age, here.) And by the time it was being shown on television, watching it became an annual family tradition (just like watching The Wizard of Oz every spring). Some years my mom and I would watch White Christmas multiple times while we worked our Christmas scene puzzle. Yes, I still work that crazy 1,500 piece puzzle every year, and it’s gotten to the point where I have it memorized, so I can pull it off from start to finish in a couple of hours by myself.

LDSWBR: What Christmas gift have you been most excited to give?

LU ANN: Hmm . . . I had to think about this one for awhile, but I finally decided it was the year our oldest son, Carl, turned 16. We’d all had a tough year emotionally, and sometimes there were hurt feelings, but my husband and I had a plan. He had found a little Honda Civic, used, that we were able to pick up for a song. We got the car on Christmas Eve, and parked it up the road at a neighbor’s house where it was hidden from view. Early the next morning, my husband got in the car, put it in neutral, and coasted it down the hill so Carl didn’t hear it, and rolled it into our driveway, placing it so the Suburban completely hid it from view. As we opened gifts that morning, there was nothing under the tree for Carl. The other boys were having a great time with their gifts, and poor Carl just sat there, looking like he might cry because there was nothing under the tree for him. Finally, we handed him a box, a tiny box. When he opened it, he found a key. Suddenly it dawned on him why his gift wasn’t under the tree. Even though we were all still in pajamas, he ran outside and found the car. I love to watch the video we took from that moment on. It was one of the happiest days ever for him. He insisted my husband teach him how to drive a stick right there and then, and his grin almost split his face. It turned out to be a wonderful Christmas.

LDSWBR: What a great Christmas memory for your family! Thank you, Lu Ann! Oh, and Happy Anniversary!

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Purchase A Note Worth Taking


The end of eighth grade should be an exciting and happy time for Laura Breathnach. But when her best friend gives her a note saying their friendship is over, Laura can’t figure out what hit her. Still reeling, Laura goes to science class only to find out she needs a partner for the school science fair. Vickie, who has always been her project partner before now, chooses a popular girl who hangs out with Laura’s worst enemy. Laura realizes she can only get over the loss of an old friend by making new ones. When Kim asks Laura to be her partner, she accepts. In addition, Laura spends more time with a band buddy who shares her love of music. Even as Laura tries to heal from the pain of lost friendship, she keeps an eye on Vickie and her new friends, hoping to see a turn in the tide of popularity, and wondering if a friendship is really one worth saving.

 What is the physically largest gift you’ve ever given or received? 

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To enter the LDSWBR Countdown to Christmas 2012, leave a thoughtful comment below.

Be sure to comment on each Countdown to Christmas 2012 post for more chances to win. Please click through to the website as only comments submitted directly on this post will be accepted.

Prizes include a $50 Amazon gift card and the author-donated books listed below. This is raffle-style drawing where all entries throughout the contest period are entered into the same “hat” for all prizes. US only. 18 years and older please. See all contest rules and restrictions below.

If you don’t already follow LDSWBR through email, Facebook or Twitter (those cute little book buttons on the sidebar) you may want to consider doing so during the contest so you don’t miss any posts or chances to enter the drawing. Following LDSWBR is not required but it is nice to know that our book reviews are useful to other readers. :)

If one of our LDSWBR reviews has ever helped you find a book you enjoyed, perhaps you would consider helping us spread the word about the LDSWBR Countdown to Christmas 2012. A link posted to your friends and family either in email or on your favorite social network would be so greatly appreciated. Thanks!

By leaving a comment and entering the Countdown to Christmas 2012, you agree to the contest rules below:

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY; entrants must be 18 years or older; open to residents of continental US only; giveaway begins December 3, 2012 and all entries must be received by 12:00 Midnight December 23, 2012 Mountain Time; to enter, complete the required entry on each post and any additional entries of your choice if listed; LDS Women’s Book Review reserves the right to determine what is considered a thoughtful comment as per each posts required entry; giveaway prizes include a $50 Amazon gift card and a variety of book prizes donated by featured authors; the number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning; LDS Women’s Book Review is not liable for technical problems which may affect entry into the giveaway; winner identity will be verified by email address; winner will be selected December 27, 2012 by use of a sequence generator on; winner will have until January 3, 2013 to claim their prize; if any prize winner forfeits or does not claim prize, prize will be re-awarded to next winner in sequence; all prizes will be awarded; limit of two prizes per entrant; this contest/giveaway is not associated with Facebook, Twitter or any other entity unless otherwise specified; by entering the giveaway you give LDS Women’s Book Review the right to publicize your name on the LDS Women’s Book Review blog; winner agrees to release LDS Women’s Book Review from any liability as a result of winning; email comments & questions to LDS Women’s Book Review – ldswbr (at) gmail (dot) com; giveaway subject to Utah regulations; VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Book Prizes (as of December 17, 2012 – many more to be added to this list!)

  • Tres Leches Cupcakes by Josi S. Kilpack (signed paperback copy)
  • Not Your Average Fairy Tale by Chantele Sedgwick (paperback or ebook)
  • Deadly Undertakings by Gregg Luke (personalized paperback)
  • Turning Pages by Tristi Pinkston (personalized paperback)
  • Athena by Heather B. Moore (autographed paperback)
  • The Kindling by Braden Bell (paperback, signed if desired)
  • Sudden Darkness by Margot Hovley (personalized paperback)
  • Code Word by Traci Hunter Abramson (paperback)
  • The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Anderson (ebook)
  • The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson (ebook- PDF/.mobi)
  • Lady Outlaw by Stacy Henrie (signed paperback)
  • A Note Worth Taking by Lu Ann Staheli (Kindle)
  • When Hearts Conjoin by Lu Ann Staheli (paperback)

Previous Countdown to Christmas 2012 posts:


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  18 Responses to “A Note Worth Taking by Lu Ann Staheli – Countdown to Christmas 2012”

  1. The largest gift I have ever received is horse ride. I have loved horses ever since I was a little girl, and my parents surprised me with one on Christmas morning. I had a blast!

  2. Great story made tears com to my eyes

  3. I gave my husband a paddle board (there was definitely no wrapping involved with that one). :)

    Lu Ann’s gift story was so great!

  4. Our Jeep Grand Cherokee, was bought in November last year for me from my husband. I wasn’t even
    there when he bought it. We did go out looking for one together, a few times, so it wasn’t a total surprise.

  5. My parents bought us kids a trampoline. We had been asking for one all year.

  6. My parents also bought all the kids a trampoline. The largest gift that I, personally, have received, that I can recall, was a stereo when I was a teenager. Or the pair of earrings that my husband gave me for our first Christmas that he wrapped in several nested boxes. :-)

  7. A couple of Christmases ago, my awesome in-laws gave us a car! Best. Gift. Ever!

  8. The largest gift I think I have ever received would be my wedding quilt from my grandma. Love it!

  9. Probably a big set of pots and pans – the box was pretty decently sized!

  10. I received a very large, very ornate wrought iron bird cage for my parrot when I was a kid. Kind of cool.

  11. I got some garage shelving units for my husband one year and had to keep them in my sister’s garage — he got to unwrap a box with a picture of the shelves.

  12. Lu Ann’s story made me teary. :) The largest gift…You know what? I think it might be the dollhouse my dad made, that I mentioned in the last post! Ha! I did get I nice big teddy bear once. I named him Papa Bear. I slept with him through college. My oldest daughter adopted him.

  13. Maybe a dollhouse or a bike. They are about the same size. I have enjoyed reading these stories and memories. Merry Christmas everyone!

  14. A baby goat. I had been bugging my parents for my very own goat to take care of, raise, and show at the fair. They spent the time to research out a good goat with a strong family line. I named her Ariel and had a great time with her.

  15. Probably my puppy – he was about 2 months old, half golden retriever and half black lab. Loved that dog!

  16. a play kitchen with all of the accessories! It was in a trash bag waiting for us to open Christmas Morning!

  17. We got our oldest (when he was a baby) one of those bouncer wiggly chairs. Those boxes are huge!

  18. We got my son a play kitchen for Christmas this year. The box was enormous! And it filled our entire car driving it home.

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