Tuesday, June 23, 2015

LDS NONFICTION: Love is a Choice by Lynn G. Robbins


ABOUT THE BOOK

We all know that actions speak louder than words. We may say "I love you," but do our actions back up that claim? Elder Lynn G. Robbins teaches us that love is more than a feeling—it is a commitment, a promise to be responsible, respectful, and responsive to the needs and experiences of other. And like any other action we undertake, perfecting the act of love requires a lifetime of practice and good choices.

As Elder Robbins teaches, the daily choices we make in our marriages and families are what shape lasting love. He helps us to recognize the role that our agency plays in developing forgiveness, patience, kindness, responsibility, and other virtuous traits. We come to see that as we actively try to do things differently, Christ helps us to be the people He wants us to be—people like Him.

Whether you're engaged to be married, a newlywed, or someone with decades of marriage under your belt, this counsel from an inspired leader will help you develop more Christlike love for those around you. As you draw closer to the Savior through your daily choices and actions, His love will fill your home.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lynn G. Robbins was sustained to the Presidency of the Seventy on April 5, 2014. He became a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy on april 1, 2000. Prior to that, he was a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy for three years. Elder Robbins served a full-time mission in Argentina and later served as president of the Uruguay Montevideo Mission.

Elder Robbins received his bachelor's degree from Utah State University and an MBA from the American Graduate School of International Management. He was one of the founders of Franklin Quest (later Franklin Covey). Elder Robbins and his wife, Jan, are the parents of seven children and eighteen grandchildren.

REVIEW

Love makes the world go round, love of God, love of neighbors, love of family, and love of ourselves.  Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of real love and Robbins spends most of one entire chapter discussing charity, what it is and why we should seek to be charitable.  I especially liked the chart he included documenting each of the characteristics that Paul mentions related to charity in 1 Corinthians 13.  He included both examples and nonexamples in the chart of charitable and noncharitable behavior.  The point is made that love IS a choice, that falling in or out of love implies that we as humans are being acted on rather than acting of our own choice.  Sharing scriptures and quotes from LDS Church leaders, the author clearly makes the point that we can CHOOSE to love others, especially our spouses and families.

With love being a choice, it then behooves us to take 100% responsibility for making that choice.  The second chapter discusses the importance of being willing to be responsible for the choices we make in every respect of our lives.  Robbins presents what he calls "The Anti-Responsibility List".  Basically, the list is a whole bunch of ways human beings don't take responsibility for their lives whether it's making excuses, blaming others, letting fear hold sway, or anything else that prevents us from being proactive.  Several examples are given both professional and personal that demonstrate the points being made.

Other topics covered in the book include self-reliance, love and agency in family life, as well as counsel on finances and family home evenings. All in all, I found this an amazing book with lots of useful counsel given that I for one need to implement in my life.  I highly recommend this one.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

CLEAN ROMANCE REVIEW: Kisses in the Rain by Krista Lynne Jensen


ABOUT THE BOOK

Georgie Tate is a survivor. She survived an abusive relationship. She survived the car accident that took the life of her controlling fiance. Now she just needs to survive the memories that haunt her. Escaping to her aunts' cozy home on a tiny island outside of Seattle, Georgie finds just the change of pace she needs to pick up the pieces of her life. Taking a job at a local seafood restaurant is the first step in reclaiming her sense of self, but she is completely unprepared for the battle that awaits her there.

Jace Lowe has loved and lost, and he's determined that it will never happen again. Hardened by heartbreak, he stays focused on his work as sous chef at one of the island's top seafood restaurants. When beautiful Georgie takes her place on the restaurant's staff, Jace is resolved to keep her at arm's length, and his downright rudeness her first week goes a long way in achieving that goal. Georgie, on the other hand, doesn't want anything to do with Jace anyway and prickles against his abrasive behavior. As the combative pair comes together on a joint project for the restaurant, they find their distaste for one another dwindling. The connection is undeniable—and it terrifies them both. Can two people jaded by the past be softened by the promise of once-in-a-lifetime love, or is this just another recipe for disaster?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nearly every one of Krista Lynne Jensen's elementary school teachers made a note on her report card pointing out that she was a daydreamer. It was not a compliment. So, when Krista grew up, she put those day dreams down on paper for others to enjoy. When writing, she fuels her creativity with chocolate covered cinnamon bears and popcorn. When shes not writing, she enjoys reading, hiking, her family, and sunshine. But not laundry. She never daydreams about laundry. Krista is a native of Washington State and now lives in the northern Rocky Mountains. Through her stories she places characters in settings she loves, brings them to life, and challenges them to fight for what they want. The Orchard was inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion and Flathead Valley, Montana, a favorite family vacation spot. If she had a cat, she would call it Jane. She is the author of Of Grace and Chocolate, 2012.

REVIEW

To put it simply, I loved this one.  Kisses in the Rain drew me in from the first page and never let go.  Both main characters, Jace and Georgie, were very sympathetic as they both had some tough challenges to face. Jace has just been dumped by his girlfriend who was just using him to get her old boyfriend back.  Understandably he feels betrayed and as a result makes a bad first impression on Georgie who starts working at Peter & Andrew's restaurant with him.  Georgie is also struggling with major heartbreak having been in a serious car accident in which her fiance died.  But it's more than that as she struggles to remember what happened and to find herself after her fiance's extremely controlling behavior.

All the food details were fun. Even though I don't enjoy cooking myself I do enjoy reading about it, or maybe it's just the yummy sounding food.  In any case, I found it enjoyable to read about the glimpse of what it's like behind the scenes in a restaurant.  It was interesting the way Jace and Georgie came together over food.  I think what struck me the most about this book was how real it felt, the way the relationship developed with plenty of ups and downs.  This is definitely going on my favorites shelf with the other clean contemporary romances that I love.  I normally prefer historical romances so that tells me just how good this one is.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

THE BLUEPRINT OF CHRIST'S CHURCH by Tad R. Callister


ABOUT THE BOOK

A strong testimony requires a solid foundation. This is especially true in our day, when we have so much access to information from so many sources, both reliable and spurious. With the numerous voices competing for our attention, how can we avoid being "carried about with every wind of doctrine" (Eph. 4:14)?

In The Blueprint's of Christ's Church, Tad R. Callister provides a thoughtful, systematic explanation of foundational gospel principles, tying them to Jesus Christ and demonstrating how the "blueprint" of the original Church of Jesus Christ matches the structure of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Seasoned Church members and new converts alike will benefit from this "refresher course." The carefully reasoned, scripture-based summaries of a variety of basic principles offer a great resource for parents, missionaries, and Church leaders and teachers.

REVIEW

In The Blueprint of Christ's Church, the reader is presented with an incredibly readable account of Christ's church, the apostasy, and the restoration of the gospel and Christ's church known today as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I've never read a clearer presentation of the foundational principles of the church and the main doctrines associated with it.  The organization and design of the book are fabulous and help the reader find the parts they are most interested in reading (although I recommend you read the whole thing).  There is a note from the author at the end of the book addressed specifically to readers who are not members of the LDS Church.  A truly wonderful book that I heartily loved reading.  The writing is so easy to follow and the quotes and scriptures used add to the reader's understanding of the points the author is trying to make.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

LDS BOOK REVIEW: Men of Covenant by Robert L. Millet


ABOUT THE BOOK

We are a covenant-making people, but do we fully appreciate the power of the promises contained in just the twelve short verses of the oath and covenant of the priesthood?

In Men of Covenant, companion to Men of Valor and Men of Influence, author Robert L. Millet invites us to explore such questions as these:

What are the terms and conditions of the oath and covenant of the priesthood?

What would my life be like if I were more focused on my covenants?

How could my more covenant-focused life affect my family and others for whom I have responsibility?

As we consider the promises Melchizedek Priesthood holders make to God and His irrevocable promise to faithful priesthood holders, we discover the glorious blessings He makes available to us all, both men and women.

REVIEW

There are some authors that I know I will love everything they write.  Relating to gospel topics, Robert Millet is one of those authors.  I know that when I pick up a Millet book I will learn something that I didn't know before.  The focus of the book is COVENANTS: what they are, their importance in our lives, and the blessings that can come into our lives when we live them.  One thing he points out in the first chapter that I had never thought about but which makes complete sense is that Jesus Christ himself made covenants with Heavenly Father when he stepped forward to be our Savior.  And because he made and kept that covenant he received the connected blessings.  The rest of the book focuses on the covenants that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints make and with the Savior's help strive to keep.  The last part of the book talks about the blessings that are connected to those covenants.  A wonderfully written book that I can highly recommend to both male and female readers.  While the book specifically focuses on men, it's useful for women to know as well since the covenants women make connect and overlap with those made by the men.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

KISS THE COWBOY by Julie Jarnigan


ABOUT THE BOOK

What if your competition for your dream job…was your dream man?

All Lucy Pickett needs to become executive chef in one of Dallas’s finest restaurants is to pull off the high-profile wedding she’s catering. So what if she’s forced to share duties with Dylan Lawson, a modern-day chuck-wagon cook? So what if he’s got rugged looks and cowboy charm? None of that is going to knock her off her game. Until she learns the restaurateur is considering Dylan for the position she wants. Game on—and it’s a winner-take-all event!

Dylan Lawson finally has the opportunity he’s been waiting for to prove he can do more than just be a ranch hand. The only thing standing in his way is the fiery chef fighting for the same position. Will the heated competition scorch any chance they have for love?

REVIEW

When I started this I didn't realize this was connected to a book I'd previously read called The Art of Falling. It was fun to meet up with some of the characters from the previous novella.  I fell in love with Dylan right away, I love male leads like him, kind but confident, and his cowboy charm certainly didn't hurt anything.  Lucy, it took longer for me to warm up to, probably because she's living the life her family wants and not the one she wants but she's hiding that for herself.  But as Dylan helps her remember who she was, he also helps her discover that maybe it's time to stop hiding from the past and pursue the life she really wants.

The contrast between the two chefs I found thoroughly enjoyable as Dylan and Lucy compete for the executive chef job.  The ups and downs between the two added to the plot and compelled me to keep reading to find out how things would work themselves out.  I appreciated the clean romance and sweet story and the hunky cowboy didn't hurt any. I do after all have a sweet spot for the good guys.  And here Dylan helps Lucy find herself, but leaves her free to make her own choices.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

BLOG TOUR/GIVEAWAY: Playing for Keeps by Ranee S. Clark

Playing for Keeps


ABOUT THE BOOK

Football-loving TyAnne Daws has long admired BYU's star quarterback from afar. This semester, she's determined to step away from the sidelines — and she has the perfect game plan for winning the heart of Anthony "Rocket" Rogers. When some smart moves land her in one of his classes, she finds herself in the perfect position to make her play. But as she gets to know the real Anthony, away from the lights of the stadium, Ty realizes that this is no game — she's falling in love.

Anthony takes full advantage of his all-star status, holding girls at arm's length for one reason: it keeps him from repeating the same mistakes that once led to a devastating heartbreak. When he meets Ty, his assumption that she's just another pretty face is quickly proven wrong. Though he's completely drawn in by this sweet young woman, her intriguing mix of amusing football know-how, and her quiet selflessness, he will not let himself fall in love. But when faced with the reality of losing the woman he's come to care for despite himself, Anthony's resolve is tested — and he finds it's getting harder to keep his head in the game when his heart's on the line.

REVIEW

Being a big fan of BYU football I found this book, Playing for Keeps quite enjoyable.  I enjoy love stories like this one that feel believable and real.  Anthony and Ty are great characters that I liked reading about.  They have their problems and struggles but they face them, eventually, with hope and faith.  Like most relationships, Anthony and Ty's has it's ups and downs but they get it right in the end.  The sweet romance was the highlight of the book but other issues are touched on, including mental illness, the challenges of being in the spotlight and the complications of stalking.  All in all a sweet LDS romance that I can recommend for those who enjoy a smidjen of sports with their romance.

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Monday, June 8, 2015

Colorful Characters in Mormon History by Kathryn Jenkins Gordon


ABOUT THE BOOK

Most Mormons are mild-mannered, well-behaved, law-abiding citizens who tend to get along well with their neighbors. But every once in a while, there's a renegade. You know the one: a little bit wild-eyed, ready to rumble, out to go where no Mormon has gone before. Face it: we all know one.

Well, if you think you've seen a colorful character or two in your ward, you should check out the colorful characters in this book—some Mormons, some non-Mormons who impacted Church history. These people are a whole new breed of colorful.

You'll meet the guy who is credited with starting the gold rush and putting San Francisco on the map—California's first millionaire, who dies selling pencils on the street. You'll meet the Mormon FBI agent who was killed in a shoot-out with "Baby Face" Nelson, but not before taking out the Baby. You'll gain a whole new appreciation for the General Authority who peppered his sermons with profanity. And that's just scratching the surface.

Most of all, you'll find yourself shaking your head in wonder, having a knee-slapping good laugh, and maybe even shedding a tear or two here and there.

REVIEW

Without the colorful people of the world, life would be a lot more boring, better in some respects, worse off in others.  Like every other group in history, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) have had their share of colorful individuals.  In this book Gordon shares the stories of some of these colorful individuals and their association with the church.  Some of these were members some of them simply had contact or interactions with the church at one time or another.  Some of these people are honored for the good they did, others did harm to the church or her members.  Some were friends, some were enemies.  Some of these individuals have stories that are well known, even legendary, others aren't as well known, but all are fascinating examples.  I'm not sure that I would go so far as to say that I found any of them "hilarious" though.  The 'good' are worth admiring, the 'bad' are sad or infuriating, and the only story that could have been hilarious (that of Mark Twain) wasn't because he used his wit to make fun of sacred church doctrines.  However, all the stories are of interest and I appreciated the author's care to dispel some of the myths or misconceptions associated with some of these individuals.  Some of these stories I'd heard before some of them I hadn't, but I appreciate the author's skill in bringing these stories to the public.

The individuals included in this book are: Samuel Brannan, Mark Twain, Thomas B. Marsh, Jim Bridger, J. Golden Kimball, Lilburn Boggs, Butch Cassidy, James G. Willie, Charles Anthon, Parley P. Pratt, Lewis Bidamon, Edward Martin, Mary Fielding Smith, Martin Van Buren, Orrin Porter Rockwell, Thomas L. Kane, Samel P. Cowley, Ephraim Hanks, and John C. Bennett.

I can easily recommend this book to those like me who enjoy a good story, especially when the stories are true.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

CHRISTIAN FICTION: Stranded by Dani Pettrey


ABOUT THE BOOK

When her friend vanishes from a cruise ship, reporter Darcy St. James isn't satisfied with their explanation that she simply left her job of her own accord. Something isn't lining up, and Darcy believes the only way to find the truth is to put herself in Abby's position. Within days, Darcy learns her friend wasn't the only person to disappear mysteriously. Last summer, a woman vanished under almost identical circumstances.
Gage McKenna has taken a summer-long stint leading adventure excursions for the passengers of various cruise lines that dock for a few days of sightseeing. He's surprised to find Darcy working aboard one of the ships, investigating a troubling report. Something sinister is going on and the deeper they dig the more Gage fears they've only discovered the tip of the iceberg.

REVIEW

Another great book by a great Christian author, Stranded takes you on a ride. From the moment Darcy sets foot on the cruise ship the Bering, she knows something is very wrong. And when her reporter friend doesn't show up to tell what's going on she fears that things are even worse than she thought.  An encounter with Gage McKenna complicates things since he disapproves of what she is doing, but she's determined to find her friend and he can't let her put herself in danger when he can try to protect her.  They quickly discover though that there is more going on than they thought and if they don't solve it quickly, Darcy may follow in her missing friend's footsteps.

Dani Pettrey sure knows how to write romantic suspense.  I find myself finishing them quickly because I want to know what happens.  It's interesting the way she integrates the whole McKenna family into each of the stories and foreshadows the next book's main characters.  Frankly, I love series like this where the characters are related and as a reader I get to see them more than once.  This is one of the main reasons that I like series books in the first place.

While I don't agree with all the Christian doctrines presented in the book, I think the author does a nice job of blending it into the book without being overly preachy.  Another great book to add to my collection.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

SUMMER IN SNOW VALLEY Blog Tour



#1 Bestselling Amazon Authors of Christmas in Snow Valley, have teamed up again with six wonderful summer novellas that are sure to make your summer sweet and sassy!


Catching Caytie by Amazon Top Seller Cindy Roland Anderson


On the night Caytie Holbrook intends to break up with her cheating boyfriend, he blindsides her by announcing their engagement at a dinner party. When Caytie discovers her father is in on the scheme, she runs away from her home in Beverly Hills to hide out at her uncle’s ranch in Snow Valley, Montana. While Snow Valley is a beautiful place, Caytie only plans to stay until her twenty-fifth birthday when she’ll inherit a trust fund her grandmother left her, allowing her to pursue her dream to move to Italy. That is until she meets Jace McAllister, an incredibly sexy—although somewhat grumpy—cowboy who threatens to disrupt her plans.


Tin Foil Tiaras by Amazon Top Seller Jeanette Lewis


Cameron Elliott has come to Snow Valley to coach Annalisa Drake in the Miss Snow Valley pageant, and prove to her demanding boss that she deserves a place at the prestigious Westbrooke Agency. But Annalisa’s handsome and protective big brother, Kyle, is determined to keep his sister from becoming a reluctant beauty queen. As Cameron tries to win Kyle over, Kyle insists some things are more valuable than a title and as crazy as it sounds, Cameron might just believe him.


A Touch of Love by Amazon Top Seller Cami Checketts


Annie Stirland has endured a lifetime of teasing, embarrassment, and isolation due to her speech impediment. When irresistible cowboy, Luke Wilson, seems to be falling for her, she’s certain he’s too good to be true. A tragedy involving his ex-girlfriend proves she’s right. What man can resist sheltering someone they once loved? Annie knows she should walk away, but Luke isn't ready to give her up.


First Love by Amazon Top Seller Taylor Hart


Janet Snow doesn't expect to get caught in a full-blown make out session at her brother’s wedding. Especially not with Michael Hamilton, the boy she’d written off ten years ago. Even though they both agree to no complications, Janet's not sure they can stick to it given their past. After a trip to the hot springs, a helicopter ride, and a proposal, even the most cautious single mother would start to wonder if true love really is just about the timing. Now Janet has to make a choice—play it safe or trust that her first love could also be her last. 

Romancing Rebecca by Amazon Top Seller, Kimberley Montpetit


Rebecca Dash loved spending her teen summers swooning over Jane Austin and helping her aunt at the Starry Skies Bed & Breakfast in Snow Valley. But as a recent college grad, she’d rather write sappy romance novels than go out with guys that make her a nervous wreck. When a team of fire-fighters set up camp on the lawns of the B&B and Captain Wade catches her eye, Becca soon learns that there’s more to a happily-ever-after than a flirty firemen with muscles the size of the Montana hills.


Love in Light and Shadow by Amazon Top Seller Lucy McConnell


Mercedes O'Shay has sworn off gorgeous men because they have a tendency to break her heart. When she meets her new neighbor, Chet Bauer, she immediately puts him in the Do Not Date category based on his well-defined muscles and stunning blue eyes. But the more Mercedes learns about the cowboy who reads classics and forges iron, the more she realizes the heart doesn't see in black and white; it sees light and shadows.



REVIEW

While I haven't yet finished all six novellas I have thoroughly enjoyed the one's I've finished and I have no doubt that I will enjoy the others as well.  Snow Valley sounds like one of those places that once you visit you never want to leave.  That's what it feels like to me anyway.  I found it easy to fall in love with the characters and their idiosyncrasies.  And the romances were grin-inducing.  The sparks flying between the characters definitely made me smile.  Of course, I'm a clean romance junkie and these certainly fit the bill. Some might say these are a bit sappy, but the wit flying between some of the different characters makes up for any sap.


 
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