Sunday, August 28, 2011

Perfection Pending

By Russell M. Nelson

“We need not be dismayed if our earnest efforts toward perfection now seem so arduous and endless. Perfecion is pending…it awaits all who love Him and keep His commandments…It is the end for which we are to endure.”
In this important book Elder Russell M. Nelson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, offers o=hope and valued counsel to those who are struggling along life’s path to perfection. “If we do the best we can,” he says, “the Lord will bless us according to our deeds and the desires of our hearts.” And, in the same encouraging spirit, he notes, “Men are that they might have joy—not guilt trips!...Remember that the Lord gives no commandments that are impossible to obey.”

This is a book of favorite discourses by Elder Russell M. Nelson, who always gives wonderful talks at the LDS General Conferences. I adore his talk that this book is named for; if you are a perfectionist you MUST read this one talk at least. I'm sure you could find it at, but whatever you do it is wonderful and gives you peace about trying to follow the commandment to 'be perfect evan as your Father in heaven is perfect'. This talk is just the beginning in this book that focuses on the plan of salvation, home teaching, serving others, and many many other topics that will enhance your understanding and enrich your day. I loved it and hope others will pick it up and read it.

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy

By Gary D. Schmidt

Turner Buckminster can’t find anything good to say about his first six hours in Phippsburg, Maine, where even baseball is a different game. He’s about ready to light out for the Territories, where every shirt he wears won’t have to be starched white and no one will know him as the new minister’s son. But after meeting Lizzie Bright Griffin, a smart and sassy girl who lives on nearby Malaga Island, a poor community founded by former slaves, he doesn’t feel quite so miserable. Lizzie shows Turner how to hit a Maine baseball, dig for clams along the shore, and row a boat next to a whale—opening up a whole new world to him, one filled with the mystery and wonder of Maine’s rocky coast.
But the two soon discover that the town elders, along with Turner’s father, want to force the people of Lizzie’s island to leave so that a lucrative tourist trade can be started there. Although Turner is forbidden to step foot on the island, he and Lizzie try to save its people—and get caught up in a spiral of disasters that alter their lives forever.

Depressing. I was so depressed after this book was finished. I felt lost and sad for Turner and Lizzie. It started out so fun and light and then it had to dive into racism and serious matters...But really this book was very good. I can see why it is an award winner. It brings up a lot of controversy and tells a very human story of a boy who is just learning that he doesn't always have to be 'the minister's son' and a negro girl who knows far too well what is expected from her and of her. This is their story of friendship, love, and understanding each other in the most basic of ways. It's a great story by a talented author, though I wish that it could've ended happier for them.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians

By Brandon Sanderson

A hero with an incredible talent…for breaking things.
A life or death mission…to rescue a bag of sand.
A fearsome threat from the powerful secret network that rules the world…the evil librarians.

Alcatraz Smedry doesn’t seem destined for anything but disaster. But on his thirteenth birthday, he receives a bag of sand, and his life takes a bizarre turn. This is no ordinary bag of sand…and it is quickly stolen by the cult of evil Librarians who are taking over the world by spreading misinformation and suppressing truth. The sand will give the evil Librarians the edge they need to achieve world domination. Alcatraz must stop them! …by infiltrating the local library, armed with nothing but eyeglasses and a talent for klutziness.

So this book is actually a pretty fun fantasy. I was a bit annoyed at the ramblings of the narrator Alcatraz that distracted from the actual story, but once you get through them (I admit I skipped some reading) the story is quite fun and interesting. Apparently we live in a world of controlled information and our librarians are the ones controlling it! There really is a place in the world where magic exists and technology is more advanced than we could imagine. Alcatraz is a part of a powerful family of Oculators that are trying to free the world from librarian rule. Each member of this family has a 'talent' of some kind; all of which at first seem ridiculous but then are shown to be extraordinarily handy. Especially when you're infiltrating a metropolitan library in search of sand and have to defeat an evil oculator. This book will have you smiling and leave you thinking. And don't read the last page early like I did...though it was pretty funny. :)

Nancy Drew: The Spider Sapphire Mystery

By Carolyn Keene

Thrilling, dangerous adventures confront Nancy Drew while on a safari in East Africa with a group of American college students. Excitement runs high as the teen-age detective delves into the theft of a fabulous sapphire formed by nature millions of years ago. The mystery starts in Nancy’s home town. Her lawyer father’s client, Floyd Ramsey, who fashions beautiful and unusual synthetic gems, is accused of stealing the magnificent spider sapphire and exhibiting it as his own creation. Mr. Ramsey’s enemies blackmail him and by their vicious acts try to deter Nancy from going on the safari.
How the daring young sleuth uncovers a nefarious scheme and also solves the strange disappearance of an injured jungle guide will keep the reader breathless with suspense form first to last page.

So I loved Nancy Drew when I was in elementary and was looking for some nostalgia and I really think that I read a different Nancy Drew because this was very...well boring. I'm sorry, that's just how I felt. Everyone was a little too prim and propper and it was strange. I suppose that comes from the time period some, but I still don't think they were that straight-laced even then. I don't think I'll read another for a while unless I find the ones I think I got into when I was younger. I know they were set in more modern eras. My opinion is also probably because I'm not a fan of mysteries. I overdosed as a child and am still getting over it!

Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports

By James Patterson

This is the end friends.
But I promise that you’ll fly higher than ever before in this wild adventure, witness battles worthy of multiplex movie screens, and laugh until your sides burst.
Believe it or not, there’s even a little romance.
But all good things—and even terrible, unspeakable ones—must come to an end. This is that moment in time, I’m afraid.
Either we save the world, or we crash and burn. And I mean all of us—even you, faithful reader, because you play a very big part in this story.

A page turner as usual, this next installment in the Maximum Ride series is as action-packed and sarcastic as the last two. This series is purely for entertainment's sake. There is some swearing and of course the action bits with descriptions of blood and guts; though not overly gory. Max and the flock fight the baddies, and find out some mysteries that have been plaguing readers for a while including just who Max's parents are. If you've read the series, this one is good. It's got a very little romance in it as well...not overly mushy so I liked it. :)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Buck Up Little Buckaroo!

By Mary Ellen Edmunds

Sometimes you just feel lonely…
“Being lonely at times seems to be part of life,” writes Mary Ellen Edmunds, “and even the friendliest and most outgoing of people experience those feelings. Being lonely isn’t necessarily bad for you, but staying lonely is.” With that idea in mind, Mary Ellen applies her trademark good cheer and careful thinking to the topic of loneliness, helping us understand that loneliness is painful but not terminal, that we don’t have to be lonely, and that loneliness doesn’t need to rule our lives.

This caught my attention from the first time I saw it; the title made me laugh so I looked to see what it was about. When I found out it was a book about being lonely and how to deal with it and what it is exactly I was excited. It sounded like just the book for me, who like so many others have faced long periods of loneliness. I'm so glad I found this book. After reading the thoughtful remarks of Ms. Edmunds I sincerely want to write her a letter of appreciation for taking the time to write this book. It helped me understand a lot of things about what causes loneliness and why it can be good at times. The suggestions are wonderful, and I know I'll turn to them time and again when I get in the doldrums. I think my favorite part was the chapter on solitude. How profound! I won't say any more because I want people to read this for themselves and find the joy I did in figuring out my own unique way to deal with being alone.

Crispin: The Cross of Lead

By Avi

“Asta’s son” is all he’s ever been called. The lack of name is appropriate, bcause he and his mother are but poor peasants in fourteenth-century medieval England. But this thirteen-year-old boy who thought he had little to lose soon finds himself with even less—no home, family or possessions. Accused of a crime he did not commit, he has been declared a “wolf’s head.” That means he may be killed on sight, by anyone. If he wishes to remain alive, he must flee his tiny village. All the boy takes with him is a newly revealed name—Crispin—and his mother’s cross of lead.
His journey through the English countryside is puzzling, amazing and terrifying. Especially difficult is his encounter with the juggler named Bear. A huge, and possibly even mad, man, Bear forces the boy to become his servant. Bear, however, is a strange master, for he encourages Crispin to think for himself.
Though Bear promises to protect Crispin, it becomes clear that the boy is being relentlessly pursued. Why are his enemies so deterined to kill him? Crispin is gradually drawn right into his enemies’ fortress, where—in a riveting climax—he must become a different person if he is to save Bear’s life and his own.

Before this book, I had never read anything by Avi, of which I have been told is a shame. I am inclined to agree after my first sampling. Avi is something of a writer that I like; he is thourough, has a high but easy-to-read style, has a message to present, and memorable characters and vivid scenes. I enjoyed Crispin, as a historical fiction, and also a tale about a boy who simply wants to be free. Being a book placed in the middle ages, there is always some reference going on towards the church and priests, and prayer, and it's lovely. It seems like a lot of people don't want to touch the subject of any religion except to put it down. I enjoyed Avi's view on it; it's only as good or as bad as the men who teach/preach (speaking of the church of England). If you haven't read Avi, I think Crispin is an excellent place to start, and I was excited to find that Avi has written other adventures with Crispin but this book can stand alone; you need not read the others if you don't want to.

Peter Pan

By J.M. Barrie

Considered a masterpiece since its first appearance on stage in 1904, Peter Pan is J.M. Barrie’s most famous work and the greatest of all children’s stories. While it is a wonderful fantasy for the young, Peter Pan, particularly in the novel form Barrie published in 1911, says something important to all of us. Here “the boy who wouldn’t grow up” and his adventures with Wendy and the lost boys in the Neverland evoke a deep emotional response as they give form to our feelings about parents, boys and girls, the unknown, freedom, and responsibility. Humorous, satiric, filled with suspenseful cliff-hangers and bittersweet truths, Peter Pan works an indisputable magic on readers of all ages, making it a true classic of imaginative literature.

This book has been on my 'to read' list for years, and finally I got to it, and was a little disappointed. I never really liked the disney movie much, but as a kid loved Sandy Duncan as Peter Pan and watched it all the time. Sadly, I have never seen the actual play in person, and liked the live-action version with Jeremy Sumpter well enough. Peter Pan has always been touchy with me, but I did laugh every time in this book when Peter declares, "Ah, the cleverness of me!" He's quite the arrogant little bloke. I suppose I was thinking it wouldn't be quite so wordy, being a children's sort of play, but it was quite wordy at times and I looked forward to the dialogue. It was fun to read and brought me some pleasure in reading, but I want to look for the play version to read now and see what differences in feeling there are. Peter Pan will always be a classic adventure, and it's worth a gander, even if you've seen every adaptation there is under the sun!

Midnight for Charlie Bone

By Jenny Nimmo

What’s happening to Charlie Bone? Chalie doesn’t want to believe it when he discovers that he can hear the thoughts of people in photographs. But his horrible aunts are delighted—it means he is one of the chosen and must attend the Bloor’s Academy for gifted children. Once there, Charlie realizes that some of his classmates have equally mysterious powers, and soon Charlie is involved in uncovering the mysterious past of one of them.

This is a Harry Potter-esque book, I think pointed toward a younger audience than Harry. But like Ms. Rowling's phenominal series, this is about Charlie Bone (of course) who finds out one day that he is one of the 'endowed' and must go to a special school called Bloor's Academy. With his best friend Benjamin, Charlie is thrown into a mystery surrounding a student that may be attending his new school and has promised to find out what ever happened to a little girl that was traded for a case that is now in Charlie's posession and which his ill-intending aunts want very badly. This book was a cutesy sort of story, and while you are supposed to be horrified at someone trading a child for a strange black case, it seems rather unbelievable. Especially when all the adults tell Charlie he has to figure things out; what adult flipantly tells an eleven year old kid to do something that important? It's a fun story, and kids will like it, but young adults and adults probably will find it a bit too juvenile for personal enjoyment.

Tennis Shoes and the Seven Churches

By Chris Heimerdinger

Join fifteen-year-old Harry Hawkins as he takes the baton from his noble father, jim, and embarks upon a perilous quest to grant what may be his sister’s last wish and reunite her with the love of her life. In the process he discovers secrets about the mysterious caverns of Frost Cave that his father never dreamed of—secrets that plunge him into a world he never expected. A world in rebellion against the oppressors of Rome and against the pure and undefiled doctrines of Christ and His newborn Church—the dangerous and reeling world of Jerusalem and the New Testament in the first century A.D.

So, the tennis shoe series continues...and this one is awesome. I love Harry, he is a great character that you can relate to, and having Meagan there just adds spice and makes Harry learn patience. I think the funnest thing about this series is the way that Chris Heimerdinger brings the scriptures to life and makes them applicable. I know it makes me see things in a new perspective when I read now, not to mention it's just plain fun to read about time travel, ancient cultures, a throw in some romance and loads of adventure. This series is touching and has a great spiritual lift, along with laughs and tears, and good times. Though this is written in the standpoint of Latter Day Saint culture, it can be read by anyone; especially this book and it's adventures taking place in New Testament times. Great series, can't wait to read the last book (which is why I'm reading through them again as a refresher!)

Thursday, August 4, 2011


By Meg Cabot

Pierce knows what it’s like to die, because she’s done it before.
Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can’t help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she’s never alone…because someone is always watching her. Escaper from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.
But now she’s moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid. Only she can’t. Because even here, he finds her. That’s how desperately he wants her back. She knows he’s no guardian angel, and his dark world isn’t exactly heaven, yet she can’t stay away…especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most. But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in te one place she most fears: the Underworld.

I was pretty excited to read this one, having read Meg Cabot's Avalon High and was plesantly surprised (and if you saw the Disney movie, please read the book soooo much better). And when I heard that she was writing a series based on the myth of Hades and Persephone, I was stoked. I love mythology and Meg is a good author. But, I'm sad to report that this is another paranormal romance. Some of you may shout for joy, but I'm kinda sick of them to be honest. Now, don't get me wrong, this book is way well-written and I absoultely love the character that paralells Hades. It was just a little werid and dark for me with all the death stuff and the Underworld. I was wishing there was some lightheartedness inserted somewhere, but it was pretty much all doom and gloom and darkness. I wanted less drama. Maybe I should quit reading teen I'll give it some thought. :)

Warning though: This book does deal heavily with death and has a huge scene with a teacher/student affair and some mild language along with violence and suicide. Wow. I think that covered it. There is some sensuality as well. Take a gander if you like the paranormal my opinion this is one of the best ones I've read (even though I'm not really into them).

Maximum Ride: School's Out--Forever

By James Patterson

Max is sure that a microchip has been inserted under her skin—leading freakish forces of evil to ambush them at any moment. She and the others are supposed to save the world. But from what? And When? And How? Max will stop at nothing to find answers. One thing she does know: it’s got something to do with an astonishing ability they have that no others can claim. They can fly.
Max’s heart-stopping quest to protect her “family” and investigate the mind-blowing mystery of her ultimate destiny continues in the scariest, strangest, and funniest James Patterson thriller yet.
The angel experiment was just a test drive. Now, brace yourself for the maximum ride!

This is the second book in the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson. I read the first book, The Angel Experiment a few years ago and just decided for the heck of it to pick up the next one. It was a series that was fun to read, but didn't really seem to have any value other than entertaining you for a few hours. This second book is much like the first. It's a page-turner and something is always happening to the flock, a bunch of mutant kids with avian (bird) DNA fused into their human DNA. They are being chased by the people who created them, and they want them back. And Max, the heroine of the story, is supposed to save the world. They're trying to find out from who and what is going to happen. Along with trying to find their parents...and oh, surviving would be nice. Filled with action and adventure, it's a non-stop trip, though sometimes a bit too unreal. I don't remember this from the first book, but this book sure does take the Lord's name in vain a lot. Rubbed me the wrong way. Just fair warning. Other than that, you've got battles with wolf-bird hybrids and a few scenes of bloodiness, but that's it for parental guidance from me. Check it out if you like that sort of thing.