Friday, January 30, 2015

TALK ON CD REVIEW: Embark! by John Bytheway



ABOUT THE TALK

An ideal talk that supports the new 2015 Mutual theme!

In this motivating talk related to the 2015 youth theme, John Bytheway explains what it means to truly embark — to get fully on board in the service of God with all your heart, might, mind, and strength. Using scriptures, powerful stories, and his characteristic humor, John explains that with the Savior's help, we can remain on board and eventually stand blameless before God at the last day.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

JOHN BYTHEWAY served a mission to the Philippines and later graduated from Brigham Young University. He has a master’s degree in religious education and is a part-time instructor at the BYU Salt Lake Center. John is the author of many bestselling books, audio talks, and DVDs, including How to Be an Extraordinary Teen; Life Rocks; and his first children’s picture book, The Sacrament. He and his wife, Kimberly, have six children.

REVIEW

I've always enjoyed listening to John Bytheway.  He is such an informative as well as entertaining speaker.  He manages to combine the spiritual message with humor in such a way that it is unforgettable.  And this talk is no different.  This talk focuses on the upcoming youth theme for 2015: Embark.  He speaks first about what embark refers to and uses the analogy of getting on the gospel train throughout the rest of the talk.  This creates a concrete image in the listener's mind.  He goes on to discuss exactly what it means to embark by discussing service (whole-hearted service rather than half-hearted), following Christ, and staying on board once we get there.  A wonderful collection of doctrines, quotes, stories, and humor that any teen or adult is bound to enjoy. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

LDS BOOK REVIEW: Only the Brave by Gerald N. Lund


ABOUT THE BOOK
 
As this standalone sequel to The Undaunted begins, four years have passed since the first Mormon pioneers made the harrowing journey to carve the Hole-in-the-Rock trail to the region of the San Juan River in southeastern Utah. In that time, the settlers have dug in deep to try to establish roots in this untamed and unforgiving desert, but life is still far from easy. Biting winds, devastating floods, scorching heat, barren terrain, and tensions with everyone from Indians to outlaws to competing ranchers have threatened the pioneers' ability to thrive—or even survive.

But the call from Church leaders to establish peaceful, stable settlements in the volatile region still stands, so young Mitch Westland and his family must find a way to make a home amid the harshest of circumstances. They soon learn that their only chance of success lies in uniting together with the other faithful Saints—including the Zimmers and their charming daughter, Edie. Can the families withstand the blows that seem to come every step of the way as they struggle against man, nature, and their own fears to heed a prophetic call? Many settlers will try to conquer that rugged territory, but only the brave will prevail.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elder Gerald N. Lund received his B.A. and M.S. degrees in sociology from Brigham Young University. He served for thirty-five years in the Church Educational System, and he served as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy from 2002 to 2008. He is a prolific and bestselling author of both fiction and nonfiction and is best known for his historical novels, including The Work and the Glory series, Fire of the Covenant, The Kingdom and the Crown series, and The Undaunted. He and his late wife, Lynn, are the parents of seven children.

REVIEW

One thing I've always loved about Gerald Lund's books is how real his stories feel.  His characters seem to live and breath both the fictional ones and the real ones.  I've also always appreciated his honesty in terms of what he has added or changed to make the story work, it's helpful in terms of knowing what really happened and what didn't.  Only the Brave is just as good as all his other works. I can safely say that the people who settled the San Juan area were truly courageous people.  To settle in such a harsh landscape, far away from any real source of help, they were really on their own most of the time.  The notes that the author includes at the beginning make reference to church leaders referring to these pioneers as buffers, shock absorbers, and lightning rods. I'm pretty sure that if I were called that it would make me run away very quickly. Great characters, Great story. Great book.

BLOG TOUR/GIVEAWAY: Wedding Cake by Josi S. Kilpack

Wedding Cake (1)  


Wedding Cake


 ABOUT THE BOOK

After years of mysteries, murder, and mayhem, the big day has arrived, and Sadie wants nothing more than for her wedding to Pete to be completely uneventful. When she receives a threatening, anonymous text message just days before the ceremony, she's determined not to let it interfere with the celebration she has carefully planned for months. But as the threat escalates from a distant fear to a frightening reality, Sadie realizes just how much she's underestimated the situation. Desperate to put an end to the games, lies, and manipulation that has shadowed her life, Sadie, her fiance, Pete, and her children pull out all the stops. What they don't know, however, is just how far Sadie's nemesis is willing to go to make good on the thread she made to Sadie three years ago. Will the wedding go off without a hitch, or will "'til death do us part" come far too soon? There's no turning back for anyone in the riveting conclusion to this twelve-volume culinary mystery series.


Josi culinary

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Josi
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Josi S. Kilpack hated to read until her mother handed her a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond when she was 13. From that day forward, she read everything she could get her hands on and accredits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then. She began writing her first novel in 1998 and never stopped. Her novel, Sheep’s Clothing won the Whitney Award 2007 for Mystery/Suspense. Lemon Tart, the first book in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery series was a finalist in 2009. Josi currently lives in Willard Utah with her husband, children and super-cute cat.


REVIEW

Kilpack has done it again. She's written a mystery that pulled me in from the first page. Sadie is finishing up preparations for her wedding which is only two days a way when she discovers that an old enemy has returned and is determined to do as much damage as she can. Being the last of twelve books it is definitely better to have read the rest of the series before getting to this one because the climax is a doozy and it helps to know what has happened previously.  I'm not really much of a cook but the recipes the author includes sound mouth-watering good.  I've also noticed just how good the author is at building tension until it all explodes in the fast-paced, unpredictable climax. I'm sad that this is the last in this series because I've gotten quite attached to Sadie and her family and friends, but I am very much looking forward to reading more from this fabulous author.

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Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 2/10/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

BLOG TOUR: The Cottage Park Puzzle by Richard M. Siddoway

Cottage Park Puzzle blog tour


ABOUT THE BOOK

When two teenagers are found beaten in the quiet town of Cottage Park and another boy is standing over them holding a baseball bat, it seems like a simple task to convict the perpetrator. There’s just one problem: he’s autistic. This poignant tale of one town’s journey to forgiveness and love will stay with you long after you've finished reading.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Richard M. Siddoway was born in Salt Lake City and reared in Bountiful, Utah. He was a professional educator for over 45 years. In 1994, he was asked by Governor Leavitt to create the nation’s first state-wide virtual high school—the Electronic High School—which served students nation-wide. Richard served three terms in the Utah House of Representatives; the last two years he served as Speaker Pro Tempore of the House. He has served as a Bishop and Stake President in the Bountiful Utah Val Verda Stake. He and his wife, Janice, have served missions in Nauvoo, Illinois, and Taylorsville, Utah. He is the author of ten books including the New York Times best seller—The Christmas Wish which was made into a movie starring Debbie Reynolds, Neil Patrick Harris, and Naomi Watts.

REVIEW

I found this to be a very thought-provoking book.  The story follows the reactions of a number of characters to the beating of two young men.  Corky Rogers who is severely autistic was found with the bat in his hands and it causes a great deal of furor.  The boy's parents are heart-broken and even enraged and plan to sue the school district, principal, superintendent, as well as Corky's parents.  An even bigger question is why no one saw it coming.  Corky doesn't communicate and so the only witness who can speak is the principal's son, Scott.  But things aren't always what they seem and Cottage Park has a difficult journey ahead of them in coming to terms with what did and did not happen.

I really liked seeing the events from multiple perspectives, it gave the story a more complete feel as I considered the different reactions. For a tender story of love and forgiveness set against a background of anger and suspicion I can recommend this one.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

BLOG TOUR/GIVEAWAY: Betrayed by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen





ABOUT THE BOOK

1851: Niagara Falls, New York The evidence has been well hidden—the Thayers were confident that it was safe from the clutches of the ruthless Murphy Gang. But it has all been in vain. The lawless group is closing in on the family homestead, and seven-year-old Penny is given only one instruction: Run. After two long years eagerly anticipating her fiancĂ©’s return, twenty-year-old Julia Barrett is ready to make a fresh start with Adam Wolcott—even if it means putting her dream of traveling west with the Mormons on hold. But when Adam’s return is overshadowed by the unexpected arrival of a young orphan girl in desperate need of help, Julia is drawn into a dangerous mystery that will threaten all she holds dear. Charged with the protection of little Penny, Julia quickly finds herself relying on the help of Tom Harrison, an endearing young man who has long admired her from afar. Torn between two suitors, Julia soon uncovers a shocking trail of corruption and deceit—a discovery that pulls her inescapably into the race to locate telling evidence that Penny’s family gave their lives to protect . . .

REVIEW

Betrayed grabbed me from the first page. I was immediately drawn in by Penny's heartbreaking circumstances, being forced to flee after having lost her family.  I also enjoyed getting to know Julia as she struggled with making decisions about her suitors and her family and heading West to join the Saints in Utah.  Having been in love with Adam Wolcott since she was twelve, she plans to marry him.  But when he returns after a two year absence she realizes that things aren't quite what she had hoped for and the arrival of Tom Harrison quickly complicates things.  When Julia meets Penny, some of the things she thought she knew start to change and she finds herself struggling to deal with challenges both internal and external.

Hinrichsen has done a superb job here with both her characterization and her plot.  The story moves along quickly making for an exciting read, but at the same time we get to see the characters grow and develop as they have to make hard decisions.  I really enjoyed the good writing and the intense plot.  I especially liked the fact that there was more to it than just the romance as the characters deal with other relationships and the choices of others both good and bad.  This adds depth to the story.  I can heartily recommend this book to those who enjoy a great read with intriguing characters that feel like real people flaws and all, a plot that plunges ahead like the Niagara Falls itself and a beautiful setting (near Niagara Falls).

GIVEAWAY

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TOUR SCHEDULE

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

GHOST MOON NIGHT by Jewel Allen

Source: ebooks for review (http://www.ebooksforreview.com/)
All opinions expressed are solely my own.

ABOUT THE BOOK

A Secret to Save Them All . . .

It was whispered years ago that when a pirate cursed a Philippine village with langbuan, or flying undead, a boy received a secret that would protect him from certain death. But even armed with a secret, can anyone survive the undead for long?

Seventeen-year-old Antonio Pulido has never known a time when the langbuan didn’t roam the streets every Ghost Moon Night, killing anyone in their path. He works hard to protect his family and the girl he loves from the deadly attacks, but he wants them stopped once and for all. Can Antonio uncover the decades-old secret and will it help him defeat the langbuan? Or will Ghost Moon Night come again and take someone he truly cares about? It falls on Antonio to save his village, but time is running out. The next Ghost Moon Night is nearly here and Antonio knows this is his last chance to destroy the undead and end their reign of terror -- or die trying.

REVIEW

Wow! I'm not sure what I was expecting when I picked this up, but this wasn't it.  I can safely say that this is different than anything I've ever read before.  I loved the setting, a small village in the Philippines.  I always find it interesting to read about places I've never been.  Antonio is an interesting character in that it is clear from the beginning that he is a complex character.  He makes some good decisions along the way, but he also makes some bad ones that have unpleasant consequences.  There were several different plot lines here that all blend together, like real life, as the choices of Antonio, his family and friends as well as enemies all come together to create a fascinating story with plenty of twists and turns.  I figured that Antonio would play a role in trying to break the curse, but it came about in a way that I really did not expect.

Interestingly, the book did not read like a zombie story, in fact I didn't really think about the langbuan being zombies until the end while reading the author's note.  Except for the parts where Antonio fights with the langbuan, most of the story felt pretty realistic.  The author did a great job saving up details for the big reveal at the end.  I had suspicions about some of the events of the story, but I was still very surprised at the end.  I thought that I'd already passed the climax when boom, something is revealed that changed everything.  It was a great move on the part of the author.  It's always fun when an author still manages to surprise you after you think you've figured everything out.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even though it's quite different than anything I've read before. A culturally interesting read with some intense fantasy elements that add a nice spark to the story. Recommended.

Monday, January 19, 2015

BLOG TOUR: Keeping Kate by Lauren Winder Farnsworth

Keeping Kate blog tour


ABOUT THE BOOK

Orphan Kate Evans is determined to make a life for herself on a Utah ranch, taking care of a little girl named Addie. But when she meets her irritable employer, Kate is forced to confront the past she’s been running from—and face a future she never dreamed possible. This latter-day twist on the classic Jane Eyre is a romantic and gripping read.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lauren Winder Farnsworth was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is an avid reader, a chocolate enthusiast, a musicophile and a CPA…who somehow also finds time to indulge in her real obsession—writing. She obtained bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from the University of Utah, and the only entity that holds more of her heart than her alma mater is her husband, Bryan. Lauren currently lives in South Jordan, Utah, where she spends entirely too time watching Gilmore Girls and looking for excuses not to clean.

REVIEW

When I first heard about this book, I strongly suspected I would like it because I like Jane Eyre. Of course, not all books based on classic literature come across very well.  I am very happy to say that I absolutely loved this one. Kate and her spunkiness drew me in right away along with her initial clashes with Tyler Thorne.  There were enough similarities to Jane Eyre that I knew kind of where the story was going, but there were enough differences and changes to keep me enthralled with the story.  I had a really hard time putting this one down, even though I pretty much knew how the story was going to end, getting there was a really intense journey. And I confess I sighed with relief when the story ended the way it was supposed to. That's a sign of a good writer when they draw in the reader even when following an already well known path (similar path).

There is a religious side to the story which can be awkward depending on how it's done, but I found it really well done here.  The discussions that Kate has with those she meets feel genuine and sincere and not overly preachy.  While religion is an important aspect of the story, it does not dominate the story which I appreciated.

Overall, a fabulous new clean romance for my favorites shelf!

Friday, January 16, 2015

DRAVEN'S LIGHT Cover Reveal and Excerpt with GIVEAWAY


In the Darkness of the Pit
The Light Shines Brightest

Drums summon the chieftain’s powerful son to slay a man in cold blood and thereby earn his place among the warriors. But instead of glory, he earns the name Draven, “Coward.” When the men of his tribe march off to war, Draven remains behind with the women and his shame. Only fearless but crippled Ita values her brother’s honor.

The warriors return from battle victorious yet trailing a curse in their wake. One by one the strong and the weak of the tribe fall prey to an illness of supernatural power. The secret source of this evil can be found and destroyed by only the bravest heart.

But when the curse attacks the one Draven loves most, can this coward find the courage he needs to face the darkness?


Coming May 25, 2015

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ANNE ELISABETH STENGL makes her home in North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a kindle of kitties, and one long-suffering dog. When she’s not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and practices piano, painting, and pastry baking. She is the author of the critically-acclaimed Tales of Goldstone Wood. Her novel Starflower was awarded the 2013 Clive Staples Award, and her novels Heartless, Veiled Rose, and Dragonwitch have each been honored with a Christy Award.

To learn more about Anne Elisabeth Stengl and her books visit: www.AnneElisabethStengl.blogspot.com


Excerpt from
DRAVEN’S LIGHT
By Anne Elisabeth Stengl
(coming May 25, 2015)


He heard the drums in his dreams, distant but drawing ever nearer. He had heard them before and wondered if the time of his manhood had come. But with the approach of dawn, the drums always faded away and he woke to the world still a child. Still a boy.
But this night, the distant drums were louder, stronger. Somehow he knew they were not concocted of his sleeping fancy. No, even as he slept he knew these were real drums, and he recognized the beat: The beat of death. The beat of blood.
The beat of a man’s heart.
He woke with a start, his leg throbbing where it had just been kicked. It was not the sort of awakening he had longed for these last two years and more. He glared from his bed up into the face of his sister, who stood above him, balancing her weight on a stout forked branch tucked under her left shoulder.
“Ita,” the boy growled, “what are you doing here? Go back to the women’s hut!”
His sister made a face at him, but he saw, even by the moonlight streaming through cracks in the thatch above, that her eyes were very round and solemn. Only then did he notice that the drumbeats of his dream were indeed still booming deep in the woods beyond the village fires. He sat up then, his heart thudding its own thunderous pace.
“A prisoner,” Ita said, shifting her branch so that she might turn toward the door. “The drums speak of a prisoner. They’re bringing him even now.” She flashed a smile down at him, though it was so tense with anxiety it could hardly be counted a smile at all. “Gaho, your name!”
The boy was up and out of his bed in a moment, reaching for a tunic and belt. His sister hobbled back along the wall but did not leave, though he wished she would. He wished she would allow him these few moments before the drums arrived in the village. The drums that beat of one man’s death . . . and one man’s birth.
His name was Gaho. But by the coming of dawn, if the drums’ promise was true, he would be born again in blood and bear a new name.
Hands shaking with what he desperately hoped wasn’t fear, he tightened his belt and searched the room for his sickle blade. He saw the bone handle, white in the moonlight, protruding from beneath his bed pile, and swiftly took it up. The bronze gleamed dully, like the carnivorous tooth of an ancient beast.
A shudder ran through his sister’s body. Gaho, sensing her distress, turned to her. She grasped her supporting branch hard, and the smile was gone from her face. “Gaho,” she said, “will you do it?”
“I will,” said Gaho, his voice strong with mounting excitement.
But Ita reached out to him suddenly, catching his weapon hand just above the wrist. “I will lose you,” she said. “My brother . . . I will lose you!”
“You will not. You will lose only Gaho,” said the boy, shaking her off, gently, for she was not strong. Without another word, he ducked through the door of his small hut—one he had built for himself but a year before in anticipation of his coming manhood—and stood in the darkness of Rannul Village, eyes instinctively turning to the few campfires burning. The drums were very near now, and he could see the shadows of waking villagers moving about the fires, building up the flames in preparation for what must surely follow. He felt eyes he could not see turning to his hut, turning to him. He felt the question each pair of eyes asked in silent curiosity: Will it be tonight?
Tonight or no night.
Grasping the hilt of his weapon with both hands, Gaho strode to the dusty village center, which was beaten down into hard, packed earth from years of meetings and matches of strength held in this same spot. Tall pillars of aged wood ringed this circle, and women hastened to these, bearing torches which they fit into hollowed-out slots in each pillar. Soon the village center was bright as noonday, but with harsh red light appropriate for coming events.
Gaho stood in the center of that light, his heart ramming in his throat though his face was a stoic mask. All the waking village was gathered now, men, women, and children, standing just beyond the circle, watching him.
The drums came up from the river, pounding in time to the tramp of warriors’ feet. Then the warriors themselves were illuminated by the ringing torches, their faces anointed in blood, their heads helmed with bone and bronze, their shoulders covered in hides of bear, wolf, and boar. Ten men carried tight skin drums, beating them with their fists. They entered the center first, standing each beneath one of the ringing pillars. Other warriors followed them, filling in the gaps between.
Then the chieftain, mighty Gaher, appeared. He carried his heavy crescent ax in one hand, and Gaho saw that blood stained its edge—indeed, blood spattered the blade from tip to hilt and covered the whole of the chieftain’s fist. Gaher strode into the circle, and the boy saw more blood in his beard. But he also saw the bright, wolfish smile and knew for certain that his sister had been correct. The night of naming had come.
“My son,” said the chief, saluting Gaho with upraised weapon.
“My father,” said Gaho, raising his sickle blade in return.
 “Are you ready this night to die and live again?” asked the chief. His voice carried through the shadows, and every one of the tribe heard it, and any and all listening beasts of forests and fields surrounding. “Are you ready this night for the spilling of blood that must flow before life may begin?”
Gaho drew a deep breath, putting all the strength of his spirit into his answer. “I am ready, Father.”
Gaher’s smile grew, the torchlight flashing red upon his sharpened canines. He turned then and motioned to the darkness beyond the torchlight.
The sacrifice was brought forward.


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Thursday, January 15, 2015

BLOG TOUR: Eruption by Adrienne Quintana

Eruption blog tour


ABOUT THE BOOK

Jace Vega has finally landed her dream job—working for Omnibus, an up-and-coming tech firm. But a mysterious message from her future self sets Jace and her old friend Corey racing to piece together clues before Omnibus destroys their future—and their past. This fast-paced thriller will keep you guessing till the very last page.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adrienne Quintana is the second of nine children and has always loved to read. After a mission, marriage, and four children, Adrienne completed her Bachelors of Science and Communication at the University of Phoenix. In the midst of housekeeping, potty-training, and carpooling, Adrienne discovered that she could still find time to accomplish her a life-long dream of becoming a writer.

REVIEW

I haven't read enough of this book yet to give a complete review, but it certainly has an intriguing beginning.  I'll post the rest of the review soon.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Love Unexpected


24127387ABOUT THE BOOK

They say a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but as mistaken identities abound, three heroines will put this age-old adage to the test! Showcasing a trio of LDS fiction’s finest authors, Love Unexpected: A Storybook Romance is a heartwarming collection of short stories that begs the question: can true love really conquer all?

Storybook Romance by Melanie Jacobson —New York City book editor Ellie Hanover has discovered a groundbreaking manuscript that may be just what she needs to save her job. But when her anonymous correspondence with the author begins to develop into more than a professional relationship, Ellie is left wondering if her real find is actually Mr. Right.

He Loves Me Not by Jennifer K. Clark —When Kenedee spies her boss leaving flowers on her desk, she’s swept into a whirlwind of infatuation. If only he didn’t have a girlfriend . . . Undeterred, the young woman enlists in the scheme her employer’s brother has put in motion for the company’s sake in hopes that she can win over the man of her dreams. But even foolproof plans can go awry.

Fools of Us All by Julie Daines —The course of true love is never smooth, as Jane discovers when a case of mistaken identity results in a date with the man she’s admired from afar for years. But she knows all too well that masquerading as her twin sister can only go on for so long before the truth comes out.

REVIEW

Storybook Romance: I think what I loved most about this one was that it took place in the publishing world.  A story about books and falling in love with a story.  Ellie was a likable character from the beginning and her online interactions with Max were delightful to read.  The author did a great job of creating conflict from the first page which helped me become invested in the story despite how short the story was.  Novellas can be hard to write that way because you have to squeeze so much into only a little space, but Jacobson has done a great job here.

He Loves Me Not: I didn't like this one quite as much because of the deception involved. I'm one who believes that lies in relationships are a surefire way to destroy a relationship.  Luckily for Kenedee things all work out for the best, although not in the way she thought she wanted.  In an effort to help save the business she works for, Kenedee enters into a scheme that involves deceiving her boss but ends up getting entangled in matters of the heart as well.  I did like the characters and the interactions were fun (except for the lies).  Plus, Kenedee does have to face consequences for the lies so all in all a nice read.

Fools of Us All:  This story is rather thought-provoking as it deals with a young woman who has clearly experienced years of mistreatment that have a huge impact on her interactions with those around her, including her sister and the love interest.  She has a hard time trusting and the fact that she lies to the man about her identity (she has an identical twin) doesn't help.  I enjoyed watching Jane slowly learn to trust as she and Mason work on their relationship.

Overall, a nice collection of enjoyable novellas that make for a quick read.

GIVEAWAY

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TOUR SCHEDULE

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Monday, January 12, 2015

WHAT GOOD MEN DO by David S. Baxter


ABOUT THE BOOK

From slavery abolitionist William Wilberforce to Olympic gold medalist Eric Liddell, great men throughout history have left an example for us to look to. Elder David S. Baxter takes a closer look at the characteristics and attributes of good men so that you can apply them too. He acknowledges that there are no perfect men, but the works and attributes of good men have profound effects. There is no end to the good that a man can do!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Baxter was born in Stirling, Scotland, and became a General Authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in 2006. He previously worked in senior leadership roles in the telecommunications industry, and on the boards of various UK Government agencies, and holds a BSc degree in economics. In his Church service he has been a bishop, a stake president, a member of a mission presidency, and an Area Seventy. He has served in Church area presidencies in Europe and the Pacific. His early home life was traumatic and disrupted, and in 2009 he underwent surgery to remove two brain tumors. He and his wife, Dianne are the parents of four children and nine grandchildren.

REVIEW

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  The author makes really good points about the need for more good men in the world.  There are plenty of bad men who unfortunately leave their mark, the world needs more good men and it all starts at home.  While there is not such thing as perfect men it is possible to be a good man.  Not only does Baxter talk about the attributes that good men possess (faith, integrity, etc), how to create a good man (good examples, following Christ, etc), but he also shares examples of some good men who made a difference in the world.  He includes William Wilberforce who spent 50 years trying to outlaw slavery, Eric Liddell who changes sports during the Olympics so he didn't have to run on Sunday, and Raoul Wallenberg who sacrificed everything to save Hungarian Jews during World War II.  After giving brief profiles, Baxter shares what he sees as making them the good men they were and how we can do the same. Then he talks about the best man of all, Jesus Christ, and how he is such an example.  A wonderful read that is inspiring for both men and women and a reminder that good men are vitally important.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

BLOG TOUR: A Boy Back From Heaven by Celeste Goodwin

Blog-Tour-Banner-A-Boy-Back-From-Heaven




ABOUT THE BOOK

Standing above his hospital bed, Celeste and Billy Goodwin watched in horror as their young son Matthew’s eyes rolled back in his head and he became unresponsive for several harrowing minutes. Doctors called the episode a medical anomaly, but what really happened can only be described as a miracle. Discover the truth about heaven through a child’s eyes as you read Matthew’s account of his walk with angels and his shocking revelation months later about the angels’ identities.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Celeste Goodwin, pediatric hypertension advocate, is a Christian speaker, patient advocacy presenter, national award-winning mom, and founder of the National Pediatric Blood Pressure Awareness Foundation. Her passion to help others is evident by the dynamic presentations in which she uses humor and her love of God to encourage change. Through her writing and speaking, Celeste encourages others to never lose faith and to always rely on the power of prayer. She ignites thought provoking transformations in the hearts and minds of those she communicates with. Her effectiveness is evident by the honors she has received, such as being selected by Disney owned Babble.com, as one of 2011’s Top 100 Moms Changing the World in the education division. Celeste was honored as Baton Rouge City Social Magazine’s January 2012 Extraordinary Woman. Celeste has appeared on local and regional news, radio, and television programs. She has also been featured in varying print media.

REVIEW

Life after death is a topic of great interest for a lot of people, but there is also a lot of debate the different accounts that have been shared over the years.  I don't have all the answers about what's truth and what's not here but it's clear from what I read in this book, that this family believes what they are sharing.   The story is certainly a compelling one, well-told.  I read it in one sitting I was so involved.  Above all, it's a story of the heart-wrenching circumstances that led a four-year-old boy to almost die.  I could almost feel the mother's anguish as she tells the story of how they discovered Matthew's problem and the challenges that have come with it.  She also describes her son's description of a journey down a path with four 'angels'.

I have my own beliefs about angels and they don't line up precisely with the descriptions in this book, but I can't claim to have all the answers.  The family is Christian but not LDS.  So while I'm not sure what to think about the angel part of the story, I can confirm that the story is compelling and empathy-inducing.  And I do believe in angels and spirits of family members continue to care about and help loved ones here on earth. And that seems to be what happened here.  So, whatever your beliefs about angels, this is definitely a story worth reading and contemplating.
 
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