Sunday, September 25, 2011

Through His Eyes

By Virginia H Pearce

As anyone who has ever cleaned out a closet or a basement can attest, clutter is a reality of life. And it’s not just a physical reality. Our minds can become cluttered too, filled with beliefs about everything from our relationship with God to our feelings about our bodies to our housekeeping methods. Some of these beliefs are what author Virginia H. Pearce calls “Truths with a capital T.” They are eternal and will always be true, whether anyone believes them or not. The confusion in our lives comes because mixed in with those Truths are other beliefs, some of which might be useful but some of which are just plain harmful.
In this insightful new book, Sister Pearce invites us to become “inquirers after truth,” to examine all of our beliefs and try our best to see them in the light of the Truths we know to be eternal. By doing so, we can discard the half-truths and lies that may be hindering our progress. Our lives can be filled with greater happiness than we ever thought possible as we learn to see them Through His Eyes.

Read this book. Really. Read it. Doesn't matter if you're LDS or not. This is an awesome book to help you clean out the attic upstairs and gets some better ones in their place. This book is all about watching our thoughts and realizing that sometimes the things we take as truth can be outright lies and bad for our health and self esteem. It helps you to recognize truth with a captial 'T' and truth with a lowercase t and the outright lies that we tell ourselves daily that we hang onto without even realizing it. This is such a wonderful book full of great exercises to get you thinking and on the way to feeling better about yourself and rooting out the weeds in your mental garden.

Double Identity

By Margaret Peterson Haddix

As Bethany approaches her thirteenth birthday, her parents act more oddly than usual: Her mother cries constantly, and her father barely lets Bethany out of his sight. Then one morning he hustles the entire family into the car, drives across several state lines—and leaves Bethany with an aunt she never knew existed. Bethany has no idea what’s going on. She’s worried her mom and dad are running from some kinds of trouble, but she can’t find out because they won’t tell her where they are going.
Bethany’s only clue is a few words she overheard her father tell her aunt: “She doesn’t know anything about Elizabeth.”

Margaret Peterson Haddix is an author I haven't read much of, so I saw this one and decided to give it a try. It was interesting, but sadly it was pretty obvious what was going on and I figured out the whole story simply by reading the summary. I didn't put the whole summary up top because it tells the entire plot and outlines the book. So, if you do read this, DO NOT read the summary on the back. I myself could never not read summaries, but try not to if you want to be at all surprised. Pretty run of the mill when all is said and done.

The World Above

By Cameron Dokey

Gen and her brother, Jack, were raised with their mother’s tales of life in the World Above. Gen is skeptical, but adventurous Jack believes the tales and trades the family cow for magical beans. Their mother rejoices, knowing they can finally return to their royal home.
When Jack plants the beans and climbs the enchanted stalk, he is captured by the tyrant who now rules the land. Gen sets off to rescue her brother, but danger awaits her in the World Above. For finding Jack may mean losing her heart…

Oh, I liked this one. I wasn't too interested in a telling of Jack and the Beanstalk, but Cameron just seems to have quite the imagination for re-creating this timeless stories. Honestly, it felt more like a Robin Hood crossover with Jack and the Beanstalk simply mentioned. It was great fun to read and I enjoyed the heroine, practical Gen. The little love story was sweet and fun, but I've always been a sucker for Robin Hood...

Caleb's Creed

By Brent A. Barlow

Caleb had extraordinary character and impressive stamina. Although he endured many hardships, he kept a positive attitude and learned to create grand opportunities. Even at age eighty-five he was healthy, full of life, and hopeful about the future. His example is one from which all of us can draw great strength and courage. Renowned Church scholar Brent Barlow has formed six guidelines taken from Caleb’s biblical record for living a happy and exemplary life. Incorporated into your lifestyle, these simple guidelines can help you improve your way of life and overall well-being, whether you be eighteen or eighty-two.

This is another shorter LDS inspirational book about Caleb from the Bible. I don't know about you, but I didn't know hardly anything about Caleb simply because I didn't pay much attention to him when reading the Old Testament. After reading this book I can see why the author thought he would be a good inspiration for changing your life. The author gives 6 or so creeds to follow as the heading of each chapter of this book, which are all wonderful. My favorite feature is at the end of the chapter he gives questions to ask yourself to see what you need to improve on based on the specific creed he has just talked about. There were so many good suggestions and there are a lot of things that it gave me to work on. A great, quick read (about 80 pages) that I'll be going back to again and again.

The Storyteller's Daughter

By Cameron Dokey

In a faraway kingdom, a king has been betrayed. Deeply hut and bitterly angry, he vows he will not be deceived again. Unfortunately, the king’s plan to protect himself will endanger all of the realm’s young women, unless one of them will volunteer to marry the king—and surrender her life.
To everyone’s relief and horror, one young woman steps forward. The daughter of a legendary storyteller, Shahrazad believes it is her destiny to accept this risk and sacrifice herself.
On the night of her wedding to the king, Shahrazad begin to weave a tale. Fascinated, the king lets her live night after night. Just when Shahrazad dares to believe that she has found a way to keep her life—and an unexpected love—a treacherous plot will disrupt her plan. Now she can only hope that love is strong enough to save her.

I've never read Arabian Nights, but I knew the basic story of Shahrazad, and I really enjoyed this re-telling. The way the stories are told is fun, with them running their fingers over a length of fabric or cloth. I liked the stories embeded within the story that were akin to the simplistic fables you hear as a child, with adventure, sadness, and a moral to learn. This is a fun addition to the Once Upon a Time series.

Too Much to Carry Alone

By Camille Fronk Olson

Are you carrying a burden or facing a challenge that defies resolution? Challenges are an inescapable fact of mortality. But do we make our burdens heavier by trying to carry them alone?
The Lord has promised us His help if we will turn to Him. Author Camille Fronk Olson writes, “Each of us is personally invited to come unto Christ and trust Him to heal us.” She testifies that “by accepting His invitation to come to Him, we find the way to resolve every one of our problems. We are not talking about temporary, Band-Aid treatments but eternal solutions.”
With such help available, why continue to be weighed down? The Lord has promised to lighten our burdens and give us rest if we take His yoke upon us. This perceptive and hope-filled book reminds us that the only real and eternal solution to our problems is to believe in His promise—and shows us how to take Him at His word.

This is a great little book from Time Out for Women that is only 60 pages long.  I read it in about half an hour and was uplifted and found great insights. This book follows the scripture in Mathew 28; The one about taking His yoke upon you that your burden may be light. This book disects this message and breaks down how we can more easily take His yoke upon us. A great light read with lots of perspective.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Continuous Atonement

By Brad Wilcox

“I’ll never do it again,” we say—and then we do it. In a world full of challenges, temptations, and even addictions, it is easy to lose hope for ourselves and those we love. During times of discouragement, we must remember that the purpose of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is not just to cleanse and console, but also to transform—and that takes time. Christ is not waiting at the finish line once we have done “all we can do.” He is with us every step of the way, and His Atonement will be available as long as the perfecting process takes—continually.
Most members of the Church acknowledge that perfection is a long-term process, but overlook the continuous nature of Christ’s Atonement that makes that process possible. Peace is found not by giving up or erasing the need to change, but by turning to the One who makes change possible and realizing that we get lots of chances to start again. So, if at fist you don’t succeed—if at second, third, or fourth you don’t succeed either, don’t find excuses. Find the Savior and the blessings of His continuous Atonement.

"Christ doesn't just make up the difference, He makes all the difference."

Reviewing this book is somewhat difficult, because the words to describe it are hard to find. It's inspiring, touching, and filled with hope and love. Everyone finds themselves wishing they didn't make some of the mistakes they made, or like the first line says, breaking promises to never do "it" again. There is so much to know about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and so much that we misunderstand or simply never knew; for me this book brought to light many things that I just didn't understand or misconceptions that I had about regrets and repentence. If you struggle with anything in your life, pain, sin, sorrow, or loss; this book is for you; a labor of years of experience and collaboration from Brother Wilcox. I only wish with all my heart I could've read it about 10 years ago. It's a book that I know I'll return to with pen and paper in hand and love in my heart.

Wild Orchid

By Cameron Dokey

Wielding a sword as deftly as an embroidering needle, Mulan is unlike any other girl in China. When the emperor summons his army, each family must send a male to fight. Mulan is determined to spare her aging father and bring her family honor, so she disguises herself and answers the call. She never expects to be hailed a hero, and to be granted the first wish of her heart...but can even the Son of Heaven, emperor of all China grant her heart's true desire?

Loved it! This made me want to go find the disney movie Mulan and watch it again. It's similar in a lot of ways, but just different enough to keep you reading and cheering for the girl who simply wants the freedom to be herself. This book was awesome because it wasn't just a story about a girl finding love, it was about a girl who was different and knew it, and had to find a way to be true to herself and learn that people who really love you will value what you are, not what they wish you to be. It was awesome...wait, did I already say that? Sorry. I think I want to own this one. Great story, fun characters, and depth.

Favorite Quote: "All of us hold something unexpected deep within ourselves. Something even we may not suspect or recognize. While our heart's rhythm may seem steady, so steady that we take it for granted, this does not mean the heart is not also full of wonders and surprises. That it beats in the first place may be the most surprisingly wonderful thing of all."

Winter's Child

By Cameron Dokey

Free-spirited Grace and serious kai are the best of friends. They grew up together listening to magical tales told to them by Grace’s grandmother and sharing in each other’s lives. But when they turn sixteen and Kai declares he loves Grace, everything changes. Grace yearns for freedom and slowly begins to push Kai- and their friendship away.
Dejected Kai dreams of a dazzling Snow Queen, who entices him to leave home and wander to faraway lands. When Grace discovers Kai is gone, she learns how much she has lost and sets out on a mystical journey to find Kai…and discover herself.

I really love the lesser known fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson, entitled The Snow Queen. That's what this book is a re-telling of; so how could I resist? Once again, sorry for those of you who are getting tired of my fairy tale will be over soon, I promise!
Anyhow, while this book is pretty different from the original fairy tale, it is also quite fun to read. I was satisfied that the book turned out the way I wanted it to, and that Cameron didn't go along with what was expected. I found it difficult to connect with Grace in a lot of ways, but Kai was a lot easier to understand. I also adored the Winter Child, who felt more like the protagonist than Grace was. This is a fun one, though probably not a huge favorite in the Once Upon a Time series, but still a great one that I enjoyed reading.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Label Update!

So I just spent a good chunk of my weekend updating the labels at the end of each post so you all can pick a topic and all the other books I've linked will pop up, like if you want to find books that are movies, all the books on the blog I've posted about will pop up if they have been made into a movie. I've got a bunch of different tags, and I'll continue to try and vary my reading so it's not all fantasy; though I'm not promising I'll start reading adult books. :) Hope you enjoy the new feature!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

By Sherman Alexie

Junior is a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian reservation. Born with a variety of medical problems, he is picked on by everyone bus his best friend. Determined to recieve a good education, Junior leaves the rez to attend an all-white school in the neighboring farm town where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Despite being condemned as a traitor to his people and enduring great tragedies, Junior attacks life with wit and humor and discovers a strength inside himself that he never knew existed.
Inspired by his own experiences growing up, award-winning author Sherman Alexie chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one unlucky boy trying to rise above the life everyone expects him to live.

I have a bit of a torn nature about this book. I'm super sheltered, and so a lot of the things that he talks about in this book I thought were really inapropriate, even if it's true. And a big disclaimer for strong language and crudity abounds. There is a lot of talk of sexuality and other teenage hormone related things. There is lots of drinking as well and deaths. This book is rough to review because it is a true telling of what being an Indian on a 'rez' is like and how hard it is to break free of those expectations that Junior aka Arnold has on him to stay there forever. There are lots of laughs in this book, tears, and struggles for meaning and a purpose in life. I'd recommend it to those who don't mind or care about language and a bit of leud teen language and references. And I mean crude. All in all, I won't recommend this book; had good stuff in it, but too much of the bad to take. It's kinda like biting into a cupcake and then realizing there's a cockroach in the middle. Sad sad day.

Before Midnight

By Cameron Dokey

Etienne de Brabant is brokenhearted when his wife dies in childbirth, and he cannot bear to see his infant daughter, La Cendrillon .But before he abandons her for king and life at court, Etienne brings a little boy, whose identity he does not reveal, to be raised alongside her.
La Cendrillon and the boy, Raoul, pass sixteen years in the servants’ care. Then Etienne remarries, sending his new wife to live at the estate.
When they all are invited to a great ball, La Cendrillon’s stepmother makes a decision that will lead La Cendrillon and Raoul to challenge their understanding of family, test their courage, and ultimately, teach them who they are.

So I've read about a billion Cinderella stories in my time, so I didn't really want to read this one, but heck I thought I'd read it anyway. It's different than any other story, it's got a werid sort of magic in it; and love at first sight is made real. I like how Cameron explains love at first sight because I admit, I'm not a believer. The weirdest thing happened though when I read this book; I got pretty close to the end and I knew what was going to happen. It was the biggest de ja vu I've had in a long time. I've either read this before, or something almost exactly like it, because it was no surprise what happened at the end. But it was still good. I enjoyed it.


By Cameron Dokey

Before Rapunzel’s birth, her mother made a deal with the sorceress Melisande that if she cold not love newborn Rapunzel just as she appeared, she would surrender the child to Melisande. When Rapunzel was born completely bald and without hope of ever growing hair, her horrified mother sent her away with the sorceress to an uncertain future.
After sixteen years of raising Rapunzel as her own child, Melisande reveals that she has another daughter, Rue, who was cursed by a wizard years ago and needs Rapunzel’s help. Rue and Rapunzel have precisely “two nights and the day that falls between” to break the enchantment. But bitterness and envy come between the girls, and if they fail to work together, Rue will remain cursed…forever.

This is such a great retelling of Rapunzel. I adored that Ms. Dokey made her bald. This is the story of Rapunzel as you've never heard it; and it is romantic and sweet and full of great characters and motivational moments. This is another favorite in the Once Upon a Time series.

Beauty Sleep

By Cameron Dokey

Cursed at birth, Princess Aurore is fated to prick her finger and sleep for one hundred years. To protect her Aurore’s parents forbid traditional princess activities like sewing and embroidering. Aurore instead wanders the kingdom’s grounds.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Aurore learns that the impending curse will harm her and the entire realm. Unwilling to cause suffering to the townspeople she knows and loves, Aurore embarks on a quest to end the evil magic. The princess’s bravery will be rewarded as she finds adventure, enchantment, a handsome prince, and ultimately, her destiny.

I'm sorry to all you out there who don't like fairytail retellings, but I've been on a kick lately, so I'm apologizing in advance for annoying any of you. They are fun and quick to read, and I'm having to read textbooks and other such things that are not of my choosing for my university classes right now, so sue me for wanting some fluff.
Anywho, if you can't tell, this is the story of sleeping beauty, but told with rich characters and a fantastic story to boot. I love this story and have to say that Cameron Dokey nearly always gets it right for me. The little love story is perfect and it was sweet enough to make me sigh in contentment and not gag on too much honey, or feel like covering my eyes from too much...ya know. If you like these retellings, try this one it's great.

The Work and the Glory: Pillar of Light

By Gerald Lund

The first volume in the series The Work and the Glory begins the epic story of the Benjamin Steed family. In the 1820s they move from Vermont to Palmyra Township in upstate New York in search of better farmland. There they meet a young man named Joseph Smith and are thrown into the maelstrom of conflict and controversy that swirls around him. Did he really see the Father and the Son in a pillar of light? Has he truly been visited by angelic messengers? What is all this talk about gold plates and new scripture? In short, is he a prophet and seer or a monumental fraud? The answers each one gives to these questions-intensely personal, potentially divisive-will dramatically affect the lives of the Steeds forever after.

So here's another great historical fiction about the LDS (Latter Day Saints) and just how our church was founded and started. I adore this series, it helped me learn the history and I fell in love with the fictional Steed family of the early 1800s. If you are a member and you haven't read this series, I highly highly recommend it to you, and if you aren't a member go ahead and read it anyway, it's a great way to understand the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (also referred to as Mormons). Hear it from the mouth of an LDS author and follow the amazing history of this church and its pioneers.

You may have seen the movie- the first one was okay, but you really need to read the book my friend. Don't judge a book by its movie!