Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Believing Christ

By Stephen E. Robinson

Author Stephen Robinson illustrates the power of the Savior as he uses analogies and parables, such as his own bicycle story, and scriptures and personal experiences in this moving, best-selling book. “Mortals have finite liabilities,” he explains, “and Jesus has unlimited assets.” By merging the two, exaltation can come. As long as we progress in some degree, the Lord will be pleased and will bless us. We must not only believe in Christ but also believe him — believe that he has the power to exalt us, that he can do what he claims. People will better understand the doctrines of mercy, justification, and salvation by grace after reading this book.

This book is only 125 pages long. It took me four months to read. What does that mean? It means this book has more to offer than anything I've read in a long long time. It took me a long time to chew on its contents and I'm still in the process of digesting it all. If I even can! This book helped me understand so many misconceptions that I held about just exactly how grace works, and how the atonement is meant to change our lives. This book is for people who are so hard on themselves when they make mistakes. This book changed how I view myself and my relationship with Christ. I realized that I too was someone who believed in Christ, but I had a really hard time Believing Christ. This book is absolutely wonderful and I recommend it to everyone who has ever made a mistake. And that's all of us. I was told it was a great book to read as a companion to The Miracle of Forgiveness, because it brings the hope that the straightforwardness of President Kimball's book often time lacks. But for me, I'm glad I read it, because it has literally changed my life.

The Maze Runner

By James Dashner

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

Holy cow. This book is...I don't know how to even describe it. Amazing. Horrifying. Unputdownable. I've been dying to read this and waiting for Christmas was nearly unbearable. I stayed up until 3 AM finishing it, simply because I honestly could not put it down. The book begins with Thomas waking up in the shaft, and you have to find your way along with him. No memories except for brief fuzzy images. He knows what pizza is, he knows what skyscrapers are, but he has no recollection of faces or names. Not even his own family. But when he finds out that the place they are being kept is a maze, and that every day the boys called Runners go out into the maze to find their way out, he wants more than anything to become a Runner too. But they must also face the Grievers, horrible monsters that are let loose in the maze at night, and sometimes during the day too. As Thomas tries to figure out why the maze seems so familiar, everyone is in an uproar when the girl comes...the first girl ever to come. And she has a message: "Everything is about to change." It took me a full two days to decide if I liked this book or not. It certainly had my emotions in turmoil. Especially since I wasn't expecting the gigantic cliffhanger at the end. I would've been so much happier without the epilogue. That's all I'm saying. This book reminded me a lot of how I felt the first time I read The Hunger Games, so if you like that book, I definately reccomend Dashner's new series. Wow.

My Not-So-Fairy-Tale Life

By Julie Wright

Looking away, I asked as nonchalantly as my rapidly beating heart would allow, "So you're the kind of guy that believes in fairy-tales." "I am. And you're the kind of girl that believes in the reality of here and now." "When you're pregnant and living with your brother and his wife, reality seems like a safer place to stay."
Suzanne Quincy was raised by an abusive mother and an apathetic father. In an effort to escape her upbringing, Suzie chooses the numbing effects of drugs and alcohol--and the accompanying lifestyle. She reaches a crossroad when she discovers she is pregnant. Will she listen to the world and abort the baby, or will she listen to the conscience she has ignored her entire life? The choice she makes sends her down a path of self-discovery. This story is about choices and consequences, laughter and tears, and finding the truth in the midst of it all.

This one I bought because the author was in Deseret Book and it looked interesting. Not the usual stuff I would pick up. When I talked to Julie, she told me that if I didn't laugh I had no sense of humor and if I didn't cry I was a cold-hearted beast. Well, I do have a sense of humor, but aparently I'm a cold-hearted beast. Not that it wasn't cry-worthy, it truly was, but I just wasn't really connecting enough to cry. I think women who have had children will bawl. Suzanne was a very funny and completely real character. It was really awesome to see her change her life around. She finds everything that she thought was impossible, even though her life is filled with incredibly horrible things. This is a very true-to-life story that will get you thinking, and make you thankful all over again for the life that you have. Warm-fuzzies abound. Slight warning though: the first part of the book is fairly sad, so just keep plugging and it gets A LOT better.

Once Upon a Marigold

By Jean Farris

Christian is gaga for Princess Marigold. But he's just a commoner, and no match for royalty. Heck, he lives in a cave with a troll! And now he's discovered another reason to put his love-soggy heart on ice: Queen Olympia is scheming to take over the kingdom--and she'll bump off her own daughter to do it. Can Christian foil her diabolical plans?

Now this book was fun. It had just the right amount of everything. Light-hearted and funny, it follows Christian, a foundling boy that lives with the cave troll Ed, until his heart can't take just looking across the forest to where Marigold, his p-mail (pigeon mail) friend lives. The only problem is, she's a princess and he's a commoner. Hilarilous! It envolves a horrible plot to off the princess, who is just a bit strong minded, and has a pretty horrible curse on her. The book just made me smile the whole time, though it was very transparent, I just liked being along for the ride.

The Forgotten Warrior

By Kathi Oram Peterson

Forgiveness has never been an attribute of sixteen-year-old Sydney Morgan's. Loyal and loving to her mother and sister, a crisis forces her to find her absent father, which in turn begins a chain of events leading her to the last place and time she would have ever expected.
The Forgotton Warrior follows Syd as she is transported back to Book of Mormon times by touching a mysterious clear stone. She meets Chief Captain Helaman; nursemaid, Mariah; and the stripling warriors. They believe Syd to be a boy, and worse yet, Helaman's second-in-command, Tarik, thinks Syd is a Lamanite spy and threatens to kill her.
Come follow Sydney as she desperately tries to find her way back home, fights to gain Helaman's respect, and despite herself, falls in love with Tarik.

I was really excited to read this, and have wanted to for months. I hate to say it was a let-down. Hate it when that happens. And I didn't know it was the beginning of a series. Blast! Now, even though I didn't really like it, I have to finish it so I know what happens. Bother. I mean, it was okay as far as the time-traveling into the past kinda books go, but I don't think anybody can really top the Tennis shoes series on that particular genre. This paled in comparison. It just was...novice I guess. I wasn't really into it at all. But to each his own. Sydney was an interesting character. I can see the author doing a whole lot better on the next book in the sequence and developing the characters better. So maybe I'll end up liking it as a whole when the story is finished. I let you know!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How NOT to Spend Your Senior Year

By Cameron Dokey

Jo O'Connor has never finished a year of school in the same town. Her and her father have been constantly moving since she was about six years old. Jo has it down now. She doesn't even unpack her suitcases anymore. But when Jo finds out the reason why they move around so much, her life gets flipped upside down. She finally found a place that she wants to call home, and it's her senior year! But so many things go horribly wrong, and Jo finds herself running for prom queen...and everyone thinks she's dead!

This was actually a pretty funny a high school kinda way. I was a little bored and disappointed. It could've been hilarious, but there was just too much immature drama going on. I admit that I did like the plot, but some things were just unrealistic. The whole part where everyone thinks she's dead and they keep seeing her "ghost" is pretty comical. But sadly, I don't reccomend this book. It was fluffy. 'Nuff said.

The Sky Inside

By Clare B. Dunkle

Martin lives in a perfect world. Every year, a new generation of genetically-engineered children is shipped out to meet their parents. Every spring the residents of his town take down the snow they’ve stuck to their windows and put up the flowers. Every morning his family gathers around their television, and votes, like everyone else, for whatever matter of national importance the president has on the table. Today, it is the color of his drapes. It’s business as usual under the protective dome of suburb HM1.
And it’s all about to come crashing down.
Because a stranger has come to take away all the little children, including Martin’s sister, Cassie, and no one wants to talk about where she has gone. The way Martin sees it, he has a choice. He can remain in the dubious safety of HM1, with danger lurking just beneath the surface, or he can actually break out of the suburb, into the mysterious land outside, rumored to be nothing but blowing sand for miles upon miles.
Acclaimed author Clare B. Dunkle has crafted a fresh and fast-paced science-fiction thriller, one that challenges her characters—and her readers—to look closer at the world they take for granted.

cue twilight zone music now! This book was very weird. I usually don't go for science fiction, but this one was just intriguing and I enjoy Dunkle's other books. All in all, as science ficiton goes, it was suficently creepy, eerie and a pretty good read. I liked The Giver better, but this book had the same kind of feel to it. If you're into that kind of thing. Martin is a 14; stubborn and loyal to a fault. When his little sister is taken away by a stranger, he leaves the little suburb bubble and goes outside. Something everyone has been told will kill them. When he finds out the horrible truth about his life and why they live in a buble suburb, Martin has some serious choices to make. This book pretty much is about the horrible things that humans are capable of when it comes down to survival. Or survival of the fittest.

The Frog Princess

By E.D. Baker

Princess Emerelda is just about as opposite of a fairy-tale princess as one can imagine. With a laugh like a donkey's bray, and about as graceful as a three-legged cow, she never expected that when she escaped to the swamp to find a prince-turned-frog practically begging her to kiss him. But in true fashion with her life, things go wrong. Horribly wrong. And Emma, as she is called, finds herself wrapped up in an enchantment with the only way out being she has to cooperate with Eadric, the prince that might actually be the frog of her dreams...

This book was really cutesy and fun to read. It wasn't at all surprising at what happens though. It was just a fun book to pass the time. There were even a few laugh-out-loud moments, which I greatly appreciate. Eadric is such a guy, even when he's a frog. The whole book he just keeps begging Emma to kiss him, which is really pretty funny. Emma, on the other hand, blows him off and just wants life to go back to normal again. This book is really really close to the new Disney movie that just came out "The Princess and the Frog". If you like fairy tales, this one is pretty fun to read.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Artemis Fowl

By Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl II is a twelve year old millionaire, genius, and the worlds leading criminal mastermind. His family's motto, "Gold is Power", has been the driving force for Artemis since his father's disappearance almost two years ago. With him gone, it's up to Artemis to keep the family business flourishing, and it does indeed flourish under his criminal activities.

But when Artemis decides that his next endevor will be to abduct a fairy, his bodygaurd Butler, is a little worried about his employer's sanity. But when he turns out to be right about the existance of fairies (as usual) Artemis gets more than he bargained for when he has to deal with the LEPrecon forces of the People, the fairy version of the police.

An exciting story about fairies, elves, dwarves, centaurs and many mythological creatures you only thought you knew. Artemis Fowl is the first in a series of magical proportions.

Okay, this one is a bit older, maybe ten years old now, but it is one of my all-time favorites. Now this is what I'm looking for when I want a good fantasy! The main character is an evil criminal 12-year-old genius that you can't help but like, in a I'm not sure I would ever actually want to meet you, kind of way. Each character is rich and deep. The plots are full of laughs and schemes that leave you smiling at Artemis's cranial prowess. This book is more attuned to a criminal/police story than fantasy. The fairies are just the cherry on top to make you smile. I reccommend Artemis Fowl, and his five other adventures to anyone who likes a great story with a little bit of magic in it.


By Aprilynne Pike

Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful-too beautiful for words. Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings.

In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever.

I saw this book online and it was reccomended for people who enjoyed fantasy. I admit, there were a lot of things I though were cool about this book. The fact that they say fairies are actually the most evolved plant on earth was interesting. It was very creative and a new way to look at old myths and legends. But all in all I didn't care much for it, especially the love triangle in it. I really dislike teenage drama, and with the whole gushy-mushy way overdone teen love I was pretty sugared out by the time I was done. I don't know thought, I'm sure lots of people would really like it, Stephanie Myers actually reccomends it, so people who enjoy Twilight will probably like it. I recommend it to you people! Otherwise, beware of teen angst and hormones. (shudders)


By Carrie Jones

Zara White suspects there's a freaky guy semi-stalking her. She's also obsessed with phobias. And it's true, she hasn't exactly been herself since her stepfather died. But exiling her to shivery Maine to live with her grandmother? That seems a bit extreme. The move is supposed to help her stay sane...but Zara's pretty sure her mom just can't deal with her right now.

She couldn't be more wrong. Turns out the semi-stalker is not a figment of Zara's overactive imagination. In fact, he's still following her, leaving behind an eerie trail of gold dust. There's something not right-not human- in this sleepy Maine town, and all signs point to Zara.

In this creepy, compelling breakout novel, Carrie Jones delivers raomance, suspense, and a creature you never thought you'd have to fear.

Okay. I picked up this book against my better judgement. The cover led me to believe it was yet another vampire book. When I read the synopsis, however, it made me hope that it would be a book I would really enjoy. Wrongo-bongo. I need to listen to my subconscious. Sure it had a lot of interesting plot twists, but other than the creepy way the book proceeds, I was highly disappointed. Too much mushy stuff for me, and making out. Although I did like the phobia thing. And the way the author described her character going through the death of someone she loved was very believable. If you like werewolves and fairies you maybe might like this book. I personally don't reccommend you to read it. There are better books out there to entertain you.

Brianna, My Brother, and the Blog

By Jack Weyland

Brianna needs a friend, someonw to keep her from being lonely while she's wiating for her missionary, Robbie, to come home. And who better for the job than Robbie's brother, Austin? He can keep the other men at bay while giving Brianna guy-type help, like hauling her harp around on weekends to play at wedding receptions.

Austin needs a friend too. And Brianna is the perfect choice since there's no romantic involvement-of course not, how could there be, she's waiting for his brother after all. As a friendship develops between Austin and Brianna, Austin is free to learn what it means to be "true and faithful friends" with a girl. He begins posting his findings in blog entries that quickly gather a following of interested readers. But what will happen to his friendship with Brianna when she finds out who the real author of the blog is? Because the truth is, Austin isn't looking for just a friend anymore, but something more. WIll he have the courage to tell Brianna the truth-before Robbie comes home?

You've gotta love Jack Weyland if you're LDS. He brings this all too real story to life with humor and a few shake-your-head moments where you are yelling at the various characters, "Oh no! Don't say that!" This story is one that people in the singles ward scene will enjoy. I mean, you've got the girl 'waiting' for her missionary, and the brother who feels deeply for someone who might end up becoming his sister-in-law! Weyland pretty much perfectly has the differences between guys and girls down in this book. I laughed my head off many times...though it could've been the late hour that I read it. I picked it up to just read a few chapters and I was hooked and finished the whole thing in one sitting and didn't even get tired. I honestly started crying I was laughing so hard at the last page. This was a great read for anyone who enjoys Weyland's down-to-earth style about life.