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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"after the moment"

by Garret Freymann-Weyr, 2009, 328p, rating=1

This book didn't click for me.  I didn't really by into the teen love story ... perhaps it was missing vampires and wolves... haha!  It was basically missing everything.  Too many characters that didn't have substance.  The story line was too busy and slow.  I'm sorry but I just didn't like this one.  I don't know what else to say!  :(

Book's synopsis:

Maia Morland is pretty, only not pretty-pretty.  She's smart.  She's brave.  She's also a self-proclaimed train wreck.  Leigh Hunter is smart, popular, and extremely polite.  He's also completely and forever in love with Maia Morland.  Their young love starts off like a romance novel--full of hope, strength, and passion.  But life is not a romance novel and theirs will never become a true romance.  For when Maia needs him the most, Leigh betrays both her trust and her love.  Told with compassion and true understanding.  After the Moment is about what happens when a young man discovers that sometimes love fails us, and that, quite often, we fail love.

Friday, June 25, 2010

"The Quilter's Kitchen"

by Jennifer Chiaverini, 2008, 202p (large print), rating=3

A novel with recipes...genius!  Unfortunately, the novel part was not that great but the recipes sound divine so she scored an extra point for that.  I would consider this more of a cookbook than a novel ... nice try though Ms Chiaverini!  Anyway, there's really tons of cool recipes in this book.  To name a few...apple strudel, BBQ pork sandwich, biscuits, chocolate zucchini bread, Thai chicken peanut satay, sour cream cake, Jagerschnitzel, Moroccan vegetable stew, white chocolate mousse, panzanella, ratatouille, rosemary rolls, raspberry tart, shoofly pie, vermicelli salad, etc.  Getting hungry!!  I want to learn to make dough for bread and pie so I might start there but dessert sounds more tempting!!

Book's synopsis:
Anna Del Maso's twin passions have converged in her position as head chef at Elm Creek Manor.  A full renovation of the kitchen must be completed by the start of the new season, and she and Sylvia Bergstrom Compson begin to dismantle the old to make way for the new.  Sylvia's reminiscences remind them of how many of the manor's traditions have involved food and celebrations.  Just as there is recipe for every story, there is a story for every recipe.
I must admit I do like that this book reminded me that certain foods can bring back fond memories.  I love food!!  It's no wonder I've got extra jiggle to wiggle!!  :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ch. 13: The Priesthood

from Gospel Principles:

The priesthood is the eternal power and authority of God.  Through the priesthood He created and governs the heavens and the earth.  By this power the universe is kept in perfect order.  Through this power He accomplishes His work and glory, which is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39).  Our Heavenly Father delegates His priesthood power to worthy male members of the Church.  The priesthood enables them to act in God's name for the salvation of the human family.  Through it they can be authorized to preach gospel, administer the ordinances of salvation, and govern God's kingdom on earth.

We must have priesthood authority to act in the name of God when performing the sacred ordinances of the gospel, such as baptism, confirmation, administration of the sacrament, and temple marriages.  If a man does not have the priesthood, even though he may be sincere, the Lord will not recognize ordinances he performs.  Another reason the priesthood is needed on earth is so we can understand the will of the Lord and carry out His purposes.  God reveals His will to His authorized priesthood representative on the earth, the prophet.

The Lord has prepared an orderly way of His priesthood to be given to His sons on the earth.  A worthy male member of the Church receives the priesthood "by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof"... the same way men received the priesthood long ago, even in the days of Moses.  Furthermore, men cannot buy and sell the power and authority of the priesthood.  Nor can they take this authority upon themselves.

The priesthood should be used to bless the lives of our Heavenly Father's children here on earth.  Priesthood holders should preside in love and kindness.  The Lord has told us that the power of the priesthood cannot be controlled except in righteousness.  Such wonderful things a priesthood can do for his family and others such as baptize, confirm, and administer the sacrament, bless the sick, give priesthood blessings, perform ordinances, etc. (more detail in the next chapter).

The Lord has promised great blessings to righteous priesthood holders who use the priesthood to bless others (see D&C 121:45-46).  President David O. McKay promised every man who uses the priesthood in righteousness that he "will find his life sweetened, his discernment sharpened to decide quickly between right and wrong, his feelings tender and compassionate, yet his spirit strong and valiant in defense of right; he will find the priesthood a never failing source of happiness--a well of living water springing up unto eternal life".

I am grateful for the priesthood for much of God's blessings comes through it.  I have seen it in action and have benefited from its power.  One can really feel the hand of God when a worthy priesthood holder performs his duties.  I have high regards for righteous priesthood holders and find true comfort that the Lord is in charge.

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!
especially to our Heavenly Father.

Monday, June 14, 2010

"Whiter than snow"

by Sandra Dallas, 2010, 292p, rating=4

Now this book has characters with depth!  I got to thinking about my neighbors or just people around me in general.  What path of life have they really gone through to be at the place they're at now.  Everyone has a story ... even as rough or rougher than the characters here.  A sinful past, maybe?  A heavy burden that needs forgiving?  How well do we really know of the people around us?  Would we be able to count on each other at a tragic time?  How much of our life is destined to cross for someone else's benefit ... perhaps to even meet one that will also illuminate ours?  Wow, an awesome book!  I'm such a sucker for stories that highlight the strength of humankind to bond regardless of race or social class.  Hurray for the potential greatest in us all!  A surprisingly great read.

This was a moving book but also had light moments that I appreciated reading.  People have dark moments but they also have funny ones too.  Here's a couple of examples: 
  1. "First off, never eat nine persimmons in a row, or you'll turn into a boy." pg 92.  ~One of many superstitions that Grace Foote was told as a young girl.
  2. "horizontal refreshments" pg 143 ~A term that Minder Evans heard from one of his co-soldiers.  (think brothel!)
Here's the book's synopsis:
On a spring afternoon in 1920, Swandyke--a small town is changed forever.  Just moments after four o'clock, a large split of snow separates from Jubilee Mountain high above the tiny hamlet and hurtles down the rocky slope, enveloping everything in its path.  Meet the residents whose lives this tragedy touches:  Lucy and Dolly Patch, two sisters long estranged by a shocking betrayal.  Joe Cobb, Swandyke's only black resident, whose love for his daughter forces him to flee Alabama.  Then there's Grace Foote, who hides secrets and scandal that belie her genteel facade.  And Minder Evans, a Civil War veteran who considers cowardice his greatest sin.  Finally, there's Essie Snowball, born Ester Schnable to conservative Jewish parents but who now works as a prostitute and hides her child's parentage from the world.  Fate, chance, and perhaps divine providence all collide in the everyday lives of these people. and ultimately, no one is without sin, no one's soul is whiter than snow, and no one is without the need for forgiveness.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ch. 12: The Atonement

from Gospel Principles:

Let me back up a bit and sum the previous chapters that lead us to this point.  Well, we learned that their is a God and we lived with Him as spirits in our premortal life.  There the plan of salvation was presented to us and we rejoiced.  Most followed Heavenly Father's plan over Satan's which meant that we would be away from Heavenly Father's presence for awhile and dwell on earth where we would receive our physical bodies and be tested.  The fall of Adam and Eve jump started this testing for us in that we were are now accountable for our choices.  Should we follow God's commandments we would be blessed and be able to return in the presence of Heavenly Father once again; while if we do not follow His commandments we would reap consequences and be under Satan's power.  Heavenly Father was thorough and included assistance so that we may be able to stick to the right path.  We have the Holy Ghost, prayers, prophets, and scriptures to help us discern God's will.   Yet, the central part of our success is through our elder brother Jesus Christ and so the atonement comes to play.

In our mortal state we will be subject to sin and be unclean, thus disqualifies us to return back to Heavenly Father's presence. So an atonement was necessary for our salvation.  The Savior atoned for our sins by suffering in Gethsemane and by giving His life on the cross.  Hence, Christ is our mediator.  Follow me for a moment on a story: 
A man wanted something very much and in order to have this, he incurred a debt.  He signed a contract that he would pay it off some time along the way.  Before he knew it, the day came and the contract fell due and the debt had not been fully paid.  The creditor at this point had the power to repossess all that the debtor owned or cast him to prison.  The man asked for mercy, but this would not serve justice for the creditor.  Then came a friend to help.  He paid the debt in full and thus saved the debtor from prison.  The mediator then became the debtor's new creditor with new terms.  It was not going to be easy but it will be possible to repay.
Our sins are our spiritual debts.  Without Jesus Christ, who is our Savior and Mediator, we would all pay for our sins by suffering spiritual death.  But because of Him, if we will keep His terms, which are to repent and keep His commandments, we may return to live with our Heavenly Father.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"Admission"

by Travis Thrasher, 2006, 284p, rating=1

What a disappointment.  It started out mysteriously enough to keep the pages turning but after awhile the see-sawing from 1994 to 2005 got irritating.  Tell me what happened on that bloody night already!!  I kept turning the pages because eventually it would tell me and hoped it was a good one.  Nope! 

No real depth to the characters and what's with the title?  Yes, it was set in a university but really no link to what the author wanted to signify "admission" to in the book. 

Here's the book's trailer:

"Jake River has it all.  One last semester of college. A close-knit group of friends.  The love of his life he's nearly won over.  A promising future almost here.  Until something unspeakable happens and his life, and the lives of his friends, are changed forever.  Eleven years later, Jake is finally given a chance to renew friendships, to rekindle a lost love, and to come to grips with the dark legacy of his college career."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"The Christmas List"

by Richard Paul Evans, 2009, 349p, rating=5

Mr. Evans did it again!  He made me cry!!  I'm such a sucker for stories about people changing for the better.  He did this along the like of A Christmas Carol and launched it by the main character discovering his obituary in his local paper while still alive!  James Kier wasn't sure whether to laugh or sue.  Well, he discovers more in the paper's website ... comments about what they really felt about him.  No shocker, it was mainly unkind.  I certainly didn't like the man as first described.  So what does James do now?  He sees what they see in him and agrees.  That's not the legacy he wanted so he seeks out for redemption.

The characters are amazingly you and me.  Every character had a purpose to put depth into the story.  This truly is incredibly heart warming and a treasure find!

***My quoteables:
"We all get lost sometimes.  The trick is to believe that we're worth finding." pg 20
"We've both left a trail of suffering in our wake, and we both got a glimpse of our legacy before we died." pg 123
"We humans--at least some of us, are seriously flawed.  The things that are the most necessary, the most critical to us, are the things we take most for granted.  Air. Water. Love.  If you have someone to love, you are lucky.  If they love you back, you're blessed.  And if you waste the time you have to love them, you're a fool." pg 29

Friday, June 4, 2010

"Our Search for Happiness"

...An invitation to understand The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

by M. Russell Ballard, 1993, 124p, rating=5

I know, I may be biased at my rating score but this is truly and extraordinary book in that great messages are found in its pages.  If one is sincere about wanting to understand The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and its members, then this is for you!  A quick read with much depth.  Here you will even find answers to life's most bewildering questions (taken from front flap):
  • Who am I?
  • Where did I come from?
  • Does God have a plan for me?
  • What is my relationship to Jesus Christ?
  • Is there purpose in what I am doing?
  • How can I find peace and happiness?
I found myself in tears because I was reminded of the totality of the Church.  It is truly Christ's church because it runs in that matter... organized, complete, and full of love. 

I like the analogy that Elder Ballard used to describe faithful saints and I don't think I can sum it up well so I'll just quote him:
"I continue to believe that faith--real faith, whole-souled and unshakable--can be as important to a healthy, balanced life as a sturdy anchor is to a ship bound for the open seas.  If you've ever seen the anchor on a large ship, you know how massive it is and how sturdy and strong the metal links of the anchor chain are.  But when compared to the total size and weight of the entire ship, the anchor and its chain seem small indeed.  Still, if properly placed on the bottom of the sea, a sturdy anchor can hold a giant ship fast, even in troubled waters.  That's the same function faith in God serves in the lives of believing Latter-day Saints.  Well-founded and carefully maintained, it holds them steady and calm despite the social turbulence and wickedness that swirls around them."
This book really does sum the basic beliefs and organization of the Church and does so in a way that speaks to the reader personally and exhorts him/her to ask God of the truthfulness of its content.  A powerful book!!  Please read it. :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"April and Oliver"

by Tess Callahan, 2009, 326p, rating=4

I struggled in the beginning because I read this choppily but once I was able to devote proper time to it, I found it quite unique. The story line grabbed me and the characters were intriguing. The writing was very good as well. An excellent first novel by the author. Oh, the ending caught me off guard but this time it worked for me. --So many interesting insights about relationships ... between husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, and friend to friend.

April and Oliver have been childhood friends and was reunited as adults due to the death of April's beloved brother. At this point, Oliver is engaged and in law school while April seem to lead a destructive life... hooking up with bad boyfriends. With April in his midst again, Oliver's carefully planned life becomes jumbled up. Family secrets are discovered and life trials enrich their lives. In the end, well, life moves on but to where?

**My quotables:
"...Remorse fosters devotion. It's the foundation of most religions." pg 199

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