Monday, June 23, 2014

LDS BOOK REVIEW: The Lincoln Hypothesis by Timothy Ballard


ABOUT THE BOOK

Abraham Lincoln became the sixteenth US president during a very dark time in America's history. Author Timothy Ballard explores the crucial role that President Lincoln played to bring this nation closer to heaven. Readers will see Lincoln as a man inspired of God who invoked a covenant relationship between America and its maker — not unlike the national covenants invoked by righteous leaders in the Book of Mormon. In addition, The Lincoln Hypothesis reveals documented evidence that Abraham Lincoln did, in fact, check out the Book of Mormon as he struggled with making some of the most critical decisions of his presidency. Did he read it? Did it influence him? Was the Book of Mormon a key factor in Lincoln's success and the healing of a nation?

The author states, “As you read, you will, like a prosecutor reviewing a case, or like a jury determining a verdict, identify valuable pieces of evidence that can be fully substantiated. You will also identify pieces of evidence that cannot. I ask you to consider all the evidence and weight it accordingly. Through this study, many questions regarding the interplay between the restored gospel and the Civil War will be answered. New questions may emerge that will not be so easily answered. Either way, in the end you will find yourself on a most exhilarating investigative journey.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

TIMOTHY BALLARD graduated cum laude from Brigham Young University in Spanish and political science, then went on to receive and MA (summa cum laude) in international politics from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Tim has worked for the Central Intelligence Agency as well as an agent for the Department of Homeland Security. He is also the author of The American Covenant: One Nation under God. He lives in Southern California with his wife and six children.

REVIEW

Abraham Lincoln has long been a hero of mine that I love to read about, so when I heard about this book I really wanted to read it, especially when I found out the topic. Did Abraham Lincoln read the Book of Mormon? I really wanted to know.  The book did not disappoint.  In fact, it's one of the most amazing, thought-provoking books that I've ever read.  The evidence that Ballard presents is compelling although not definitive.  The book is very readable with lots of quotes and stories, many of which I hadn't heard before, despite my extensive reading about Lincoln and the Civil War.

The major focus of the book is on the United States as a covenant nation under God.  As such the blessings of righteousness are tremendous, but the consequences of sin are horrible. While there are many sins in our past, Ballard chooses to highlight two: slavery and the horrible mistreatment of the early saints (as well as other minorities).  He states his belief that the Civil War was the consequence of the refusal to repent of these sins.  But God isn't eager to punish His people if they'll repent, so He sent Joseph Smith to give them a chance to do so.  Ballard goes through the prophecies and efforts that Joseph went through, including a run for the presidency, that were intended to lead to national repentance.  When those chances were ignored, the Civil War became inevitable.

The scriptures, quotes, and stories that Ballard shares are fascinating.  My perspective on Joseph's run for the presidency has shifted significantly.  I'd long believed it was mostly to give the saints someone to vote for, but Ballard has convinced me that there was a lot more to it than that.

The stories about Lincoln I found very touching, as the author tracks the changes in belief and action that Lincoln underwent during his time as President.  Lincoln really learned to rely on the Lord as he dealt with his very heavy burdens and griefs.  Ballard makes his point that Lincoln did in fact read the Book of Mormon and use what he learned very plausible.  Of course, there is no way to know for sure, but Ballard really does a good job making his case.

An absolutely fascinating book that I highly recommend you read if you are at all interested in the topic. Beautifully written and well-thought out, I will never look at Joseph Smith, Abraham Lincoln, and the Civil War the same way again.

Friday, June 13, 2014

BLOG TOUR: Power in Prayer by David A. Christensen


ABOUT THE BOOK

Take a minute to gauge your relationship with God. Do you underestimate the power of prayer? This daily guide, with insights from General Authorities, scriptures, personal experiences, and commentary, will enrich and empower your prayers. As these thoughts increase your understanding of the significance of your prayers, your communication with God will be an unprecedented source of strength in your life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from book)

David A. Christensen's love and enthusiasm for being a missionary was sparked in a missionary preparation class at Ricks College in the late 60s.  His love and testimony for the Book of Mormon was ignited in a religion class the following semester.  These two classes combined as a new beginning for what would one day become not only a passion but also the centerpiece of his professional contribution in the Church Education System and at Brigham Young University-Idaho.  David has taught missionary preparation and Book of Mormon classes for over thirty years.  His testimony and enthusiasm for the restored gospel was shared with missionaries and members in the Chile Santiago North Mission where he served as president, and again in Central American when he served as president of the Guatemala MTC.  He counts his eight children and growing number of grandchildren as his most important converts, and his best friend and wife, Deena Bond Christensen, his eternal companion.

REVIEW

This book has come along at a time when I really need the counsel offered within about the importance of prayer.  I really appreciated the four principles that he offers at the beginning. First, that prayer takes work, like all relationships, a relationship with God takes time and effort.  Second, "A person's spirituality will never be greater than the quality of his or her prayer life."  Third, quantity does matter. And fourth, prayer is often the first thing to go.

I found these principles all worth thinking about and I will undoubtedly ponder them more in the coming days and months.  The format of the book is perfect for reading quickly or taking time to ponder the quotes, experiences, scriptures, and self-examination questions provided. The thoughts and perspectives on prayer that the author shares are all good ones and well worth considering.  The book is perfect for those like me who need some guidance in more fulling taking advantage of and understanding the concept of prayer. Highly recommended.

Deseret Book

Friday, June 6, 2014

LDS BOOK REVIEW: Fresh Courage Take by Dean Hughes


ABOUT THE BOOK

The United States turned a blind eye when the Mormons were driven from Missouri to Illinois and finally out of the country altogether. How can the government—and Brigham Young—now be asking the Mormons to come up with 500 able-bodied soldiers to assist in the war with Mexico? And how can Will Lewis be asked to join the Mormon Battalion when it means leaving Liz and their two little boys on their own in the wilderness? How many sacrifices will be required in order for the Saints to create Zion?

And in modern-day Nauvoo, Jeff and Abby Lewis are facing challenges of their own. Juggling family priorities, professional responsibilities, and Church callings becomes and almost impossible feat. It is clear that building Zion in the latter days will require sacrifices, just as it did in the time of Jeff's ancestors.

In this concluding volume of the Come to Zion trilogy, beloved novelist Dean Hughes provides a unique perspective on the struggles and sacrifices—and ultimate joy—of faithful Saints in any generation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

DEAN HUGHES has published more than 100 books for readers of all ages, including the bestselling historical fiction series Children of the Promise. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Weber State University and master’s and PhD degrees from the University of Washington. He has taught English at Central Missouri State University and Brigham Young University. Dean and his wife, Kathleen Hurst Hughes, served a mission to Nauvoo, Illinois. They are the parents of three children and grandparents of nine.

REVIEW

One of the biggest challenges with writing historical fiction is including enough detail for the story to feel authentic without getting bogged down.  In addition portraying real people in acceptable way can be challenging, especially well known individuals like Brigham Young.  Dean Hughes has, in my experience, always done an excellent job with this.  And that is no different here.

Fresh Courage Take portrays the struggles of two couples, Will and Liz, and their descendents, Jeff and Abby, who are each struggling with some big challenges as well as the routine ones.  Will and Liz live in Nauvoo during the time just before the Saints were forced to leave.  When Will joins the Mormon Battalion the chance that he and Liz may never see each other again is very real.  For Jeff and Abby the challenges of job and home can be overwhelming.

I think one of the things I like best about this series is how real it all feels.  Will and Liz as well as Jeff and Abby are characters that I found it very easy to care about and root for.  I sincerely empathized with their struggles.  To me that's the sign of a good writer, when the story becomes so real that the writing becomes secondary. A great series that I'm sorry to see end.



SAINTS and SOLDIERS: THE VOID

Saints and Soldiers: The Void in theaters August 15th

Germany, May 1945, the twilight of WWII.  On a final mission deep in the Harz mountains a U.S. tank crew discovers a platoon of Germans, including three infamous Panzer tanks, preparing to ambush allied supply trucks.

Before the war, private Jesse Owens, was a product of segregation and racial discrimination. Forced by law to ride in the back of the bus and disenfranchised from the political process. Now, Owens fights the greatest tyrant in history, knowing the tyranny of racism will be waiting for him back home if he can survive the war.  

With a deadly game of cat and mouse quickly unfolding, Owens and his predominantly white tank crew find themselves out-gunned and out-manned by the German Panzer tanks.  Several in Owens’ crew are reluctant to put their faith in a black tank driver despite their dire circumstances. As the German tanks bear down on his unit, Owens has to fight for freedom on two fronts. With tension and fear beginning to manifest Owens knows they must put aside their differences to stop the enemy from their deadly plan.  Knowing that a victory over the Nazis means a victory for racial justice, Owens and his men find a way to work together to save hundreds of lives in a desperate battle against the greatest odds they have ever faced.

TRAILER


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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

BLOG TOUR: Quantum Breach by Denver Acey




ABOUT THE BOOK

Tanner Zane is a Mormon with a secret criminal past. Nobody suspects that, before his religious conversion, Tanner hacked into thousands of computer networks across the globe. He accumulated millions of dollars from his illegal activities until a sudden, life-changing event caused him to abandon hacking and give his fortune to charity. But Tanner’s guarded past is exposed when he is kidnapped by his mysterious neighbor and forced to hack into an impossible target – Los Alamos National Labs. Inside the government facility is a prototype quantum computer that is powerful enough to crack the digital safeguards of the Internet. When Tanner learns that cyber-terrorists will use the quantum computer to commit massive identify theft and corporate espionage around the world, he deliberately engages in an intellectual battle with his captors to prevent them from obtaining the device.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Few people understand the terrifying, yet realistic threat of computer hacking like Denver Acey. Denver has spent his entire professional career in the information technology industry where he has witnessed and even thwarted actual cybercrime. From his top-secret job working for the US government to securing computer networks at Fortune 500 companies, Denver is personally familiar with hackers and their unscrupulous activities.

But over the years, Denver has become increasingly frustrated with Hollywood's inaccurate portrayal of cybercrime. Hackers are more intelligent and more sophisticated than simple teenagers, who guzzle down Mountain Dew while playing video games. Cybercrime is a billion-dollar business that encompasses organized crime and foreign governments. For these elite hackers, the fruits of success are iconic trademarks, innovative patents, and government secrets.

Because of his unique background, Denver decided to write a book to dispel hacking myths while highlighting the tenacity of cybercriminals. Utilizing actual computer hacking concepts and scenarios that he has experienced firsthand, Denver illustrates  -- in a simple way for even the non-techie to understand -- how vulnerable we all are to cybercrime.

REVIEW

I haven't actually finished this book yet, but hope to do so in the next couple of days.  I do like what I've read so far and the topic interests me greatly.

Monday, June 2, 2014

BLOG TOUR: Memories of Me by Laura Hedgecock





ABOUT THE BOOK

WE ALL HAVE STORIES TO SHARE with our children and grandchildren. Whether it’s a proud moment, your memories of grandparents, or a lesson you’ve learned, Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life helps you put the episodes of your past onto paper share them with loved ones.

INSIDE YOU’LL FIND: 

SIMPLE, DOWN-TO-EARTH INSTRUCTIONS TO GET YOU STARTED 
WORKSHEETS WITH IN-DEPTH BRAINSTORMING EXERCISES 
PLENTY OF EXAMPLES TO SPARK YOUR CREATIVITY 
WRITING ADVICE TO MAKE YOUR MEMORIES SHINE 

Preserve your stories and share them with the important people in your life using the easy tips and advice found in this comprehensive guide.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura Hedgecock was born in South Carolina but came to live in Michigan by way of Chicago and Germany. Leaving her career in International Business to be a stay-at-home mom and her association with non-profits led her to helping other tell their stories. Treasure Chest of Memories: How to Capture and Share the Stories of Your Life results from the intersection of Ms. Hedgecock’s experience in genealogy, photography, and scrapbooking, as well as her journey of compiling her own memories. She blogs about preserving and sharing memories at http://www.TreasureChestofMemories.com.

REVIEW

This book is a great resource for those like me who want to create a personal history but don't really know how to get started. The author starts by talking about what got her into memory keeping and reasons the rest of us might want to do so as well. She goes on to talk about the importance of making writing a  part of the routine, otherwise it may never happen.  She also shares lots of ideas for different methods and strategies to use in putting together one's own Treasure Chest.  There are lots of ideas here that I plan to use in putting together my own memory book, starting with the brainstorming activities.  

Sunday, June 1, 2014

FAIRY TALE NOVELLA CONTEST!


Rooglewood Press is delighted to introduce their second fairy tale novella contest—

Five Enchanted Roses
a collection of “Beauty and the Beast” stories

The challenge is to write a retelling of the beloved fairy tale in any genre or setting you like. Make certain your story is recognizably “Beauty and the Beast,” but have fun with it as well. Make it yours!

Rooglewood Press will be selecting five winners to be published in the Five Enchanted Roses collection, which will be packaged up with the gorgeous cover you see displayed here. Perhaps your name will be one of the five displayed on this cover?


All the contest rules and information (how to enter, story details, deadline etc.) may be found on the Rooglewood Press website. Just click HERE and you will go right to the page.

This cover illustration was rendered by Julia Popova, “ForestGirl.” You can find out more about this gifted artist on her website: www.forestgirl.ru


Rooglewood Press’s first collection, Five Glass Slippers, is available for pre-order now and will be released on June 14. Do grab yourself a copy and see what these talented writers have done with the timeless “Cinderella” tale!

 
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