Friday, July 31, 2015

LDS NONFICTION: Will My Child Be Ready? edited by Emily Freeman andMerrilee Boyack


ABOUT THE BOOK

Mothers have an immeasurable influence and a significant responsibility in raising up young men and women who are prepared to further the work of the Lord. This unique resource includes 12 training chapters for moms of prospective missionaries, all written by mothers who have sent children on missions (and some by mothers who have also served as mission presidents wives). Whether you have young children and are hoping to begin the mission training process early or you have less than a year to pull all the pieces together, here is the good news: the path of preparing a child for a mission begins wherever you are. Chapters on topics such as fostering good daily habits, developing relationship skills, being resilient, and recognizing the Spirit shed light on what future missionaries need to know, what they need to do, and what they need to be. 

REVIEW

As a school librarian, I've learned just how hard it can be to teach children effectively. And the more children there are the harder it gets.  Thus I have a huge amount of respect for mothers  who dedicate their lives to raising children.  But  all of us need help sometimes and with the increased emphasis on missionary work, Will My Child Be Ready?, is a timely resource.  The book is divided up into chapters written by a variety of mothers who have raised missionaries and are offering advice on the things that children need to be taught that will help prepare them for a mission.  Topic covered include: obedience, work, self care, inspiration through the Holy Ghost, teaching, and bearing testimony.  Each  chapter also includes snippets from actual missionary letters as well as a summary of the principles discussed in the chapter.  I found the book very well written and full of great advice about mothering prospective missionaries.  There are tips on what to teach and how to teach it.  Despite the fact that I am not a mother, I found the book inspiring and would definitely refer to it if I ever did become a parent.  And there is much here of worth for me as an individual member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Love on a Whim by Aubrey Mace





ABOUT THE BOOK

Six months out of law school, Rachel Pearce is completely disillusioned by her job hunt. Despite pounding the pavement with her Ivy League degree in hand, her job prospects are no brighter than the day she graduated. Then in a chance meeting with a former acquaintance, eccentric young millionaire Henry Walker, Rachel finds an unexpected opportunity: Henry is looking for a personal secretary. Swallowing her pride, Rachel sets aside her law firm aspirations for what she envisions as secretarial work—mountains of paperwork and filing. But when she finds her most demanding duty to be daily cookie runs for her new boss, she’s baffled by her unconventional job responsibilities.

As she’s pulled into Henry’s delightful whims, caught in a whirlwind of private jets and fancy dinners, Rachel finds herself inexplicably drawn to this handsome and charismatic man. But reality always has a way of intruding, and logic tells her that this adventure can’t last. When real life inevitably comes calling, Rachel must decide if she’s willing to trade in her dream of success in the courtroom for a chance at love.
 

REVIEW

I confess, I found Rachel and Henry a trifle odd.  Rachel with her tendency to repeat herself all the time and Henry with his difficulty relating to people make for an entertaining couple.  The most interesting aspect of the story were the interactions between Rachel and Henry.  Even their arguements seemed unique to them.  Rachel's friendship with Shannon who used to date Henry before marrying Nathan add some interesting emotional currents to the story.  The unique characters and situations made this quite an enjoyable read as I didn't feel like I'd read the story a bunch of times before like I do with some romances.

GIVEAWAY

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TOUR SCHEDULE

*July 28th: 
*July 29th: 
*July 30th: 
*July 31st: 


LDS BOOK REVIEW: What to Know Before You Go by Don H. Staheli


ABOUT THE BOOK

As a former mission president and missionary preparation instructor, author Don H. Staheli is familiar with the questions, concerns, and needs of new missionaries. He also knows that the most effective missionaries are those who have learned how to be a missionary, not just those who have learned how to do missionary work. The most important elements of good missionary work are the heart and soul of the missionary, he states. This book provides gospel insights, tips, and inspiration that will give new missionaries confidence in their callings and help them to overcome discouragement, recognize the voice of the Spirit, eliminate distractions, set realistic goals, get up in the morning (even when it is cold and dark), find joy in the work, and prepare to bear a bold testimony of the restored gospel.

REVIEW

Becoming a missionary can be a frightening and intimidating thing, I mean going to a different place away from home, talking to strangers about something as important as the gospel of Jesus Christ.  As a former mission president Don Staheli sets out to share some of the things he has learned over the years about missionaries and missionary work.  Each of the thirty short chapters addresses issues and concerns that missionaries and prospective missionaries need to consider in order to become the best missionary he/she can be.  Topics include: listening to the Spirit and not the 'voice of the flesh', repentence, justification and sanctification, doing one's duty, pure service, and other related gospel topics related to missionary work.  While specifically aimed at prospective missionaries there is much here that applies to anyone who believes in Jesus Christ and wants to share that belief.  The inclusion of stories from real missionaries adds to the value of the book.  A truly valuable resource for those who will be, are, or have been a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

COZY MYSTERY: Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering


ABOUT THE BOOK

Drew Farthering loves a good mystery, although he generally expects to find it in the pages of a novel, not on the grounds of his country estate. When a weekend party at Farthering Place is ruined by murder and the police seem flummoxed, Drew decides to look into the crime himself. With the help of his best friend, Nick Dennison, an avid mystery reader, and Madeline Parker, a beautiful and whip-smart American debutante staying as a guest, the three try to solve the mystery as a lark, using the methods from their favorite novels.

Soon, financial irregularities at Drew’s stepfather’s company come to light and it’s clear that all who remain at Farthering Place could be in danger. Trying hard to remain one step ahead of the killer–and trying harder to impress Madeline–Drew must decide how far to take this game.

REVIEW

I'm a big fan of cozy mysteries and I'm on a kick right now, so don't be too surprised if you see a lot of these reviews in coming weeks.

Drew Farthering is a proper 1930's English gentleman who arrives home to find his bedroom occupied by a man he detests.  But things start to look up when his stepfather's niece arrives for a visit and he finds her attractive and intriguing.  Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse when the man Drew found in his bedroom is found dead in the greenhouse.  The unveiling of secrets and additional deaths make it clear that a lot of things that Drew thought he knew may not be what they seem to be, including his stepfather.  As the stakes get higher, Drew and Madeline (the niece) and Drew's friend, Nick, set out to find some answers.

I enjoyed this mystery, not only because of the great twists and turns but also because Drew, Madeline, and Nick are very charming characters that I couldn't help but like.  The author does a great job of spreading out the reveals and twists throughout the book.  The setting and time period also make the book unique.  I felt truly invited into the small English village with all it's beauties and idiosyncrasies.  I am very much looking forward to reading the other books in the series.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Another Time for Love by Lynne Larson


ABOUT THE BOOK

Salt Lake County, Present Day
Sam Carroll is living life in the fast lane--sleek cars, nice clothes, and lovely ladies have replaced the gospel values he grew up with, and he's going nowhere fast. But when a serious car accident brings his fun to a screeching halt, Sam is left comatose, aware only of his older brother reading aloud from the hundred-year-old journal of an LDS bishop, Moroni Chadester. As Sam drifts in and out of consciousness, the words begin to take root in his mind . . .

Alpine, Utah, 1915
Standing on a dusty mountain road, Sam is bewildered. The cars are different. The clothes are different. Where and when is he? The answer comes from an impossible source: Bishop Moroni Chadester. Hurtled back in time by forces he can't understand, Sam finds his memories of modern existence quickly fading as he becomes immersed in a new life and a romance with the town beauty, Laney Williams. But as the pair becomes entangled in a murder mystery, the thrill of courtship is replaced by terror as fate conspires to bring the couple into the path of a killer. Little do they realize that the clock is ticking on more than their lives Sam can't stay in the past forever. As danger looms ever closer, Sam must fight to save Laney. But can their love stand the test of time?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lynne Larson is an award-winning teacher and writer with a special interest in western history, particularly as It relates to women. Several of her stories, essays, and articles have appeared in regional magazines, as well as in Latter-day Saint publications.

Her novel, In the Shadow of an Angel, grew from her great regard for the pioneers who put the statue of Moroni on the temple long ago, never realizing the changes that would come as the golden figure watched over their Zion for the next one hundred years. Nor could those early builders fully imagine the generations coming after them, for whom the statue would be a beacon and a guide, millions of people, each with a life to live and a story to tell, and all connected by the angel on the spire.

REVIEW

Time travel romances sometimes have a feeling of inevitability to them just because of the challenges associated with them.  So it takes an special sort of touch to make them believable and enjoyable with that feeling of impossibility associated with them.  Larson has done a nice job here answering the questions associated with Sam's 'visit' to the past.  Having Sam visit the past while in a coma and his brother reads to him from an old journal provides context to the things that Sam experiences and learns.  I enjoyed watching Sam learn that while the pleasures of the world might be fun for the short term, long term they offer very little. Same learns this when he befriends a young man much like himself, simply from an earlier era and a beautiful young lady whose younger brother who is dying.  All of this happens in a small farming community where a shocking murder has really thrown everyone into confusion.  Another Time for Love is a quick read with some thoughtful insights about the power of love and sacrifice and learning that service can provide more long term happiness than any amount of goofing off.

GIVEAWAY

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TOUR SCHEDULE

*July 22nd: 
*July 23rd: 


Thursday, July 16, 2015

LDS NONFICTION: How We Got the Book of Mormon by Richard E. Turley Jr. and William W. Slaughter


ABOUT THE BOOK

From the moment a fourteen-year-old Joseph Smith decided to enter a grove of trees near his home to pray to the Lord about which church he should join, the stage was set for the eventual translation and publication of the Book of Mormon. In How We Got the Book of Mormon, authors Richard Turley and William Slaughter recount in words and pictures the trials, setbacks, and eventual successes that have led to more than 150 million copies printed over the lifetime of the book.

Beginning with Joseph Smith's initial visit from the angel Moroni, How We Got the Book of Mormon marks each major step in the production of the Book of Mormon, from its translation to the difficulties Joseph Smith and his followers had finding its first printer, then on to each major edition, detailing the changes and refinements that each edition brought to the book.

Photographs and other illustrations enhance the text, bringing history to life with portraits of the individuals involved, historical photographs of the locations under discussion, and scans of pages of the various editions of the Book of Mormon to illustrate how its presentation has changed over years. How We Got the Book of Mormon gives readers a unique look at the history of a unique book, the keystone of the Restoration.

REVIEW

While I was familiar with the history surrounding the original publication of the Book of Mormon, I wasn't as familiar with the editions coming after that.  I found it fascinating to follow the history of all the major editions of the Book of Mormon and the experiences associated with them.  The miracles surrounding the publication of the second edition I found particularly intriguing.  But I think what I loved most about this book were the photographs and illustrations that showed the different people and places involved in the publication of the Book of Mormon.  The scans of pages from the various editions helped me see the changes that occurred over time as the leaders of the church worked to make the book as easy to read and understand as possible.  I thoroughly enjoyed this account of one particular aspect of the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Worth Waiting For by Sally Johnson


ABOUT THE BOOK

Sophia thought she was over her broken heart, but the news that her roommate has eloped with Sophia's ex-husband hits her like a ton of bricks. She knows she should be fine with the unexpected revelation—after all, her boyfriend, Luke, is incredible, but it would seem her heart is not as resilient as she thought. And as Luke prepares to leave for his European study abroad, Sophia's feelings of fear and inadequacy threaten to overwhelm her. A summer with her family in Las Vegas gives Sophia the time she needs, but she still can't shake the questions haunting her, the questions that continually threaten to put more than physical distance between Luke and her. Is she really ready to jump into a new relationship when the last one ended so painfully? Will her divorce always define her? Is she the one with the problem?

As she wistfully observes others' love stories blossoming around her, Sophia must decide whether she's prepared to take another chance on love. Luke's return from Europe forces Sophia to confront the decision she's not sure she's prepared for—will her troubled past destroy the happy ending of which she's always dreamed?

REVIEW

As a sequel to Johnson's The Skeleton in My Closet Wears a Wedding Dress, this book stands fairly well on its own.  Having not read the previous book, the author included enough information from the previous book that I didn't feel completely lost.  Having said that though I would undoubtedly have understood and appreciated Sophia's and Luke's relationship better if I had read the first book.

Having married young and been divorced soon thereafter, Sophia has a lot of emotional baggage that she struggles with.  While she is strongly attached to her boyfriend, Luke, she's afraid to express her love for fear of getting hurt again.  Underlying it all is her fear that the problem is with her, that she's not good enough to hold on to a guy.  Mixed in with her emotional struggles are the issues with her former roommate eloping with her ex-husband, her brother's upcoming marriage to one of her current roommates, and the return of a friend from her mission.  I sat down and read this book in one sitting being drawn fully into Sophia's life and concerns.  Being an LDS fiction novel there are references to going to church and to LDS beliefs but they are few and don't take away from the story in the slightest.  I did like the emphasis on the fact that relationships take work and that if both parties don't fully invest themselves the relationship isn't likely to survive.  A clean romance with great characters and a thought-provoking plot that felt real to me and that I thoroughly enjoyed.

GIVEAWAY


TOUR SCHEDULE

Monday, July 13, 2015

SUMMER BOOK TREK 2015

SBTPageImage

I've participated in the Summer Book Trek before and was thrilled to win a couple of books.  So I thought that even though July is half over it would be fun to participate again.  Especially since I will already be reading books that qualify.  If you are interested in participating, check out the website here.  Thanks to the blog New LDS Fiction and the authors for sponsoring the trek!

Here are the books that I've read or will be reading:

  1. Worth Waiting For by Sally Johnson
  2. Another Time to Love by Lynne Larson
  3. Love on a Whim by Aubrey Mace
  4. Veils and Vengeance (A Wedding Planner Mystery #2) by Rachelle Christensen
  5. Falling by Clair M. Poulson
  6. Motive For Murder by Marlene Bateman
  7. Lemon Tart by Josi S. Kilpack
  8. Caller ID by Rachelle J. Christensen
I don't know that I'll finish all those, but that's my goal.

Friday, July 10, 2015

LDS BOOK REVIEW: The Way Back to Heaven by S. Michael Wilcox





ABOUT THE BOOK

Our earliest scripture tells the story of those who thought they could build a structure high enough to get to heaven, and of the consequences of that mistaken belief. In contrast, the prophet Jacob dreamed of a ladder sent down from heaven by God, with rungs—steps—that we could ascend to return to Him. In The Way Back to Heaven: The Parable of the Crystal Stairs, award-winning author S. Michael Wilcox helps us discern the "stairs of man" from the "stairs of God." Using the metaphor of a beautiful crystal stairway, he shows us the difference between a focus on "being and becoming" and "believing and doing" in our life's journey. While we may think we know the steps we'll need to take, the author suggests some unexpected—even counter intuitive—yet essential stairs each of us will encounter as we make our way back to our Father in Heaven.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

S. Michael Wilcox received his PhD from the University of Colorado and taught for many years at the LDS Institute of Religion adjacent to the University of Utah. He has spoken to packed crowds at BYU Education Week and has hosted tours to the Holy Land and to Church history sites. He has served in a variety of callings, including as bishop and counselor in a stake presidency. He has written many articles and books, including House of Glory, Sunset, 10 Great Souls I Want to Meet in Heaven, and Finding Hope. He and his late wife, Laurie, are the parents of five children.

REVIEW

The thing I most like about reading gospel related books is the way they make me think.  Being a lover of analogies and parables, I really liked the author's presentation of the way back to our Father in Heaven as a staircase.  It was a good reminder that there's only one way back to God and that 'staircase' is provided through the Father's plan and the Savior's sacrifice.  While many desire to return home building our own staircases based on man-made ideas or philosophies or plans isn't going to get us there.  While man-made staircases may contain elements of truth, there is only one staircase that will get us to heaven and it's only by following the perfect example of the Stairbuilder that we can make it up that staircase and go 'home'.  Wilcox includes a number of experiences that highlight the points that he is trying to make.  I appreciated how vivid these stories are both personal and scriptural in highlighting the importance of loving the Savior.  It's only through developing that love that complete submission and obedience will follow.  If like me you enjoy looking at gospel principles through the lens of parables and analogies than I can highly recommend this book.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

COZY FOOD MYSTERY: Death of a Crabby Cook/Death of a Chocolate Cheater by Penny Pike


ABOUT THE BOOK

At the San Francisco Seafood Festival, someone is steamed enough to kill a cook.... 

When restaurant reviewer Darcy Burnett gets served a pink slip from theSan Francisco Chronicle, she needs to come up with an alternative recipe for success quickly. Her feisty aunt Abby owns a tricked-out school bus, which she’s converted into a hip and happening food truck, and Darcy comes aboard as a part-timer while she develops a cookbook project based on recipes from food fests in the Bay Area.

But she soon finds someone’s been trafficking in character assassination—literally—when a local chef turns up dead and her aunt is framed for the murder. The restaurant chef was an outspoken enemy of food trucks, and now Darcy wonders if one of the other vendors did him in. With her aunt’s business—and freedom—on the line, it’s up to Darcy to steer the murder investigation in the right direction and put the brakes on an out-of-control killer….

RECIPES INCLUDED!

REVIEW

I really enjoy cozy food mysteries like this one.  And while I did enjoy this one, there were a couple of content issues that I didn't like.  I liked the characters including Darcy, the main character, and her aunt and cousin, Dillon.  Darcy's Aunt run's a food truck business that Darcy starts helping out with after being downsized as a food critic at the local newspaper.  Darcy's love interest, Jake Miller, also runs a food truck (cream puffs, yum!).  When a local restaurant owner gets killed after a very public argument with Darcy's aunt, Darcy feels like she needs to find the guilty party before her aunt gets arrested.  The inclusion of luscious sounding recipes and food makes the book that much better.  The characters are enjoyable, the mystery takes a bunch of nice twists and turns, and worked well as a cozy mystery.  I would have liked it better though without the swearing/profanity and sexual innuendo (though nothing more than a kiss happens). I liked it enough though to read the others in the series.

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Food truck vendor Darcy Burnett unwraps a murder at the San Francisco Chocolate Festival in this mystery from the author of Death of a Crabby Cook

At this year’s chocolate festival, Darcy and her Aunt Abby hope to win the $10,000 prize in the chocolate contest with Aunt Abby’s taste sensation: the chocolate raspberry whoopee pie. A little friendly competition from Darcy’s sometime-beau Jake Miller, who plans to enter with his chocolate cream puff delight, only sweetens the deal. But things get sticky when one of the judges, Polly Montgomery, is taken out of commission—permanently.

The suspects include every contestant with reason to believe Polly wasn’t too sweet on their sweets, including Aunt Abby’s high school friend. Now Darcy must pick through an assortment of secrets to catch a killer before someone else gets a bittersweet finish.
 

REVIEW

Darcy and her friends and family return to the food truck business by entering the local Chocolate Festival with Aunt Abby's new whoopee pie.  But once again things get complicated with not one judge but two of the judges for the contest die.  Darcy doesn't intend to get involved until one of her aunt's friends gets accused of murder.  To make things worse, her love interest Jake is helping out his ex-girlfriend with her divorce.  Another mystery full of delicious food (and recipes) with fun interactions between Darcy and the other characters.  I did enjoy this mystery except for the profanity/swearing and mild sexual innuendo.  The twists and turns were fun with plenty of interesting questions being addressed.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

MUSIC CD REVIEW: What Heaven Feels Like by Calee Reed


ABOUT THE CD

Calee Reed makes her mark as a thoughtful and exciting new voice in spiritual and inspirational music with this beautiful follow-up to her debut album. The folk pop sound on this album has hints of Gospel and forges a new exciting direction for her music. These songs will help you see and enjoy more in life, it’s the perfect album to keep you dancing and singing through the summer.

Track List:

Living Water
I Am Enough
Possible
Miraculous
What Heaven Feels Like
Sunshine
Come Unto Christ

ABOUT THE ARTIST

A native of San Diego, CALEE REED has been writing and singing songs since she was a little girl. Her latest work shows her at her peak vocally and stylistically. She writes songs that capture raw emotion and vivid imagery, helping the listener tune into their own faith journey and find the peace and joy that she points out from her own experience. As a new mother, she makes poignant observations about the depth and meaning of the human experience, with all of its ups and downs. Her latest album is a heartfelt testimony that reflects the joy she has found in her journey.

REVIEW

This lovely album by a talented new artist shares beautiful messages combined with a nice pop sound.  The songs carry a strong Christian message about the power of Jesus Christ to help us be 'enough', find miracles in our lives, and Come Unto Christ.  The music is fun and upbeat with a couple of slower songs to balance things out (Miraculous and Come Unto Christ).  I especially liked the song, I Am Enough, which refers to God loving us despite our imperfections and need to change.  The combination of a nice voice, beautiful songs, and great messages makes this a very pleasant album, especially if you like Cheri Call and Hilary Weeks, as this CD is reminiscent of their style.
 
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