Living in the Eleventh Hour is a fairly quick read. There are several quotes and scriptures cited that I found inspiring in living a more Christ-cente...moreLiving in the Eleventh Hour is a fairly quick read. There are several quotes and scriptures cited that I found inspiring in living a more Christ-centered life, which is relevant no matter the dispensation or how near the time of the Second Coming. The author also speaks on establishing Zion wherever we are currently living, beginning inside our own homes. Also, working to share the gospel and save the souls of our spiritual brothers and sisters should be of great importance to us, and accomplishing this work to the best of our ability is the only way we can affect the events of the last days.
We might well ask ourselves, “Our Lord and Savior is coming. What do I need to do today to prepare myself for tomorrow? What efforts can I make now to ensure that when he does come he will see my face with pleasure?” -page 52
While the message of Living in the Eleventh Hour is inspiring and a good reminder to prepare now and keep our focus on Christ, it touches only lightly on events and details leading up to and surrounding the Second Coming. Those who do a fair amount of gospel-related reading will probably not find much new or eye-opening here. It is an uplifting read, but anyone looking for a more piercing or detailed message related to the Second Coming might find themselves disappointed. Not every book discussing the Second Coming needs to pierce the soul or be detail-specific, however, and readers who appreciate an encouraging read they can finish in a Sunday will enjoy Living in the Eleventh Hour.
Review originally posted on LDS Women's Book Review - www.ldswbr.com FTC FYI: free hardcover review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review(less)
It’s been a while since I’ve sailed through a nonfiction book as quickly as I did Does This Insecurity Make Me Look Fat?. Only eight pages into it, I...moreIt’s been a while since I’ve sailed through a nonfiction book as quickly as I did Does This Insecurity Make Me Look Fat?. Only eight pages into it, I read the words Michelle had told herself during her day-long pity party and heard their familiar echo in my mind. Soon I was asking myself, “Who is this woman? And how does she know me so well??”
Michelle’s voice is genuine. Her writing style is fun and easy to read. The stories that she shares in relation to the principles she discusses are quick, relatable, effective, and often entertaining. I exhausted a pad of Post-Its leaving notes on pages I wanted to reread and highlight. I look forward to going back through the book and revisiting those paragraphs that inspired me.
“We are not required to be all things, but we are asked to do our best. We are to magnify who we are, not necessarily what we do. An immaculate house, perfectly behaved children, and an unbroken record of punctuality will not matter if our character is tainted with pride, anger, selfishness…and guilt.” –page 46
I laughed out loud several times. I truly enjoy her sense of humor. Michelle knows how to intermingle the funny and the serious without detracting from the spiritual message.
I cried at least half a dozen times but in a hopeful, I-needed-to-hear-that kind of way. I appreciated the sincerity I felt from her. I loved her message of Perspective and how strongly she advocates for women to see themselves as Heavenly Father sees them.
The Nine Expectations she outlines are excellent. They fill me with hope. I plan to print them and hang them where I can see them every day.
One of the analogies Michelle shared that really stood out to me was the story of when her daughter really wanted to help her, but she kept saying no, preferring to accomplish the tasks on her own.
“We so deeply want to be heard and to be helped, but when the help comes, we often turn it away. Sometimes we feel unworthy of His help. Sometimes we are prideful and don’t want to be helped in His way…It is up to us to hear Him and accept His answers. It is up to us to let Him help us.“ –page 68
Some time later, her daughter asked again and she accepted her help. After they were finished, her little daughter thanked her, gave her mom a hug, and told her she really loved her. Through my tears, I read the following:
“I looked down at her and realized that her desire to help me wasn’t just because she liked to help. It was because she loved me. … Heavenly Father sends help to us not because He doubts our abilities but because He loves us…” –pages 69-70
There is so much more. I could go on and on. I highly recommend Does This Insecurity Make Me Look Fat?. It is worth every one of the five stars I’m giving it.
Review originally published on LDS Women's Book Review - www.ldswbr.com Free paperback review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.(less)
In Happiness is a Habit, author Michele Phillips strives to inspire readers to adopt new habits into their lives. She says “If all you did was add a n...moreIn Happiness is a Habit, author Michele Phillips strives to inspire readers to adopt new habits into their lives. She says “If all you did was add a new habit every 90 days, in five years you would have accumulated 20 new, positive, life-inspiring habits…”
In the introductory chapters, Michele briefly shares her history and the events that led her to where she is now. Chapter Four introduces the first of 44 habits that have helped elevate Michele’s happiness over the last several years. The chapters are only a few pages long, and each one ends with a few suggestions to help develop that particular habit. The range of habits discussed cover both physical and emotional aspects of daily life. There are several quotes and anecdotes to help motivate and inspire the reader.
Michele is a really happy person and it comes through in her writing. It’s easy to see how much she wants to inspire happiness in others on whatever level she can. One passage I really liked was in the chapter detailing “Habit 37: Nourish Your Passion.”
“When you are passionate and enthusiastic you are being lifted to a higher space. You are exhibiting the spirit of God within yourself. When you feel this excitement and passion grow within you, I believe that this is God’s way of telling you that you are on the right path.” –page 155
In the conclusion, Michele explains four steps to help implement new habits into your life. Though this is not a thick book, it contains a lot of information. The short chapters are perfect for reading one each day/week/month or whenever you are ready to move on to the next new habit. If you are looking for inspiration and motivation to help you add joy to your life, Happiness is a Habit might be just the book for you.
Review originally published on LDS Women's Book Review - www.ldswbr.com FTC FYI: received a free paperback copy in exchange for an honest review(less)
This story is one reason I am happy for the opportunity to review A Match Made in Texas. Having read the first tw...moreA Cowboy Unmatched by Karen Witemeyer
This story is one reason I am happy for the opportunity to review A Match Made in Texas. Having read the first two books in the Archer Brothers series (Short-Straw Bride and Stealing the Preacher), I was excited to read Neill’s story. He is the youngest of the Archer brothers, and it was fun to see him all grown up and making his way in the world. Clara’s story is a tragic one, but it is easy to respect her for the strength and courage she shows in the face of difficult circumstances.
Because I like the Archer brothers, I do wish this story was a full-length novel so I could spend more time with them, however A Cowboy Unmatched is a complete and satisfying romance. I look forward to future releases from Karen Witemeyer.
An Unforseen Match by Regina Jennings
Grace O’Malley was a schoolteacher until her fading sight kept her from doing her job. The school board has purchased a small, rundown homestead for her and she’s fed through the generosity of the residents of Dry Gulch. Her pride has definitely taken a hit, but she has little choice and almost no other option available to her. The homestead desperately needs work–repairs that she can’t see well enough to do–so when Clayton Weber answers a newspaper ad that she didn’t place, she accepts his help.
Clayton is grateful that Grace can’t see the mark left years ago by troublemakers who falsely accused him of being a horse thief. He only accepts the work in Dry Gulch to help pay for the horse he needs to run in the approaching land race. Clayton is reserved around others and does his best to keep his scar hidden from curious stares. He’s a bit gruff, but Grace accepts him in a way he hasn’t experienced since before he was attacked. He never expected to find a woman like Grace on the way to claim his dream–land of his own.
I really liked Grace. It’s heartbreaking to read of Grace’s sight slowly being taken from her, but she manages to keep her spirits up. It took a while for me to “get” Clayton, though, and I never quite loved his character. At times, their dialogue was confusing to me. For example, I expected Grace to be upset at something Clayton had said, but she laughed, and I read back over it wondering if I had missed a joke. I think perhaps there were some missing cues for the reader so they could better grasp the emotion of the exchange.
Their first kiss was great. No details, but the experience certainly grabs the reader. Grace’s reaction afterward was so honest, I couldn’t help but smile. The scene in the barn when Grace goes looking for Clayton was emotional and touching, as was the scene in the house after Grace woke up, certain her sight was completely gone. Overall, a nice romance that fans of Christian historical romances will enjoy.
No Match For Love by Carol Cox
After Lucy Benson’s father passes away, her life changes forever. Not only is she alone in the world, she has nothing left. Her father’s poor investments, discovered only after his death, mean that everything must be sold. Living on the charity of her friend’s parents, Lucy jumps at the chance to earn her own way as companion to an aging widow.
Only after arriving in North Fork, Texas, does Lucy learn that Martha Simms is not a frail old lady waiting out her remaining days, but a spirited and capable woman. Her nephew, however, is concerned for her mental state. Andrew Simms’ windmill business is bustling, and he can’t spend as much time on the ranch as he would like. When his aunt begins talking about strange things happening on the ranch, he wonders if she is becoming senile. He hires a companion for his aunt, never expecting someone like Lucy. After a rough start, Lucy and his aunt quickly become friends. But Andrew finds himself wanting to be more than Lucy’s friend…
I liked all three of the main characters: Lucy, Andrew, and Martha. Lucy’s father intended to marry her off to someone with money and station, so he insisted on having servants perform the domestic chores. She has little to no experience with cooking or cleaning, but is an eager and quick learner. Martha is spunky and direct, but is patient with Lucy and they soon enjoy each other’s company. The more time she spends with Martha, the more Lucy is convinced that she is of sound mind. But how can she convince Andrew that the strange events coinciding with each full moon are really happening?
There is a decent amount of suspense in the story due to the strange events on the ranch. There are also some sweet romantic moments between Lucy and Andrew that carry no pressure to jump into anything physical. The reader also gains insight into who is most likely playing matchmaker for the couples in each novella. There is a fast, intense climax that felt a teeny bit rushed, but in the end, it’s a nice clean romance with a dose of suspense for good measure.
Meeting Her Match by Mary Connealy
Hannah Taylor is both schoolmarm and mother to her younger siblings. She has resigned herself to becoming a spinster, despite being all of 22 years old. The only other single, church-going man in Dry Gulch is shy, awkward Marcus Whitfield. He is constantly avoiding her and has only spoken a handful of sentences to her over the last six years. He takes his coffee break about the same time as she leaves the school each day, and they walk the two-minute distance to the diner together, Hannah making all of the small talk. She doesn’t understand the depth of Mark’s feelings for her and he can’t find the words to tell her.
So he kisses her.
I can’t remember the last time I read a kiss with almost no detail that sizzled like that one. Very clean, but…wow. After this kiss, circumstances are such that, despite nothing unseemly happening, both fathers insist they wed. Though everyone knows Hannah’s reputation and they trust her, they also know how long Mark has loved her and turn that Sabbath afternoon into an impromptu wedding celebration. One of the best parts of this story is when Hannah and Mark talk in his parlor after the wedding celebration. I love the meeting of hearts that occurs there, the sincere communication between husband and wife.
I don’t think I’ve read anything by Mary Connealy before, but I am excited to seek out her novels. I have a feeling I’m going to like them very much.
Review originally published on LDS Women's Book Review - www.ldswbr.com FTC FYI: Received a free digital galley from NetGalley. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for the opportunity to read and review A Match Made in Texas.(less)
This past year I have been delighted to discover many enjoyable short-story romance collections. I really liked Carla Kelly’s Borrowed Light series, a...moreThis past year I have been delighted to discover many enjoyable short-story romance collections. I really liked Carla Kelly’s Borrowed Light series, and am happy to be able to review this Christmas Collection.
The stories in this collection are conveniently arranged in order of my favorites, starting with “The Christmas Ornament.” I got a kick out of two fathers playing matchmaker with their children, as well as the two main characters, James and Olivia, who were both too intellectual to fit in with the ton. I related to their love of learning and education, and found James’s occasional bumbling to be kind of charming. Suffice it to say, apologizing is something he quickly became skilled at doing.
Peter Chard in “Make a Joyful Noise” is a character I really liked. He is a good father, a hard worker, and even takes over his mother’s duty to find singers for the annual choir competition when she is called away to help care for sick grandchildren. When the woman he has seen walking across his property from time to time sits in front of them at church one Sunday, he hears her voice and knows she must be a part of their choir. Rosie finds herself in unfortunate circumstances when her father, whom she travels with in the army, is killed. She has no protection and no choice but to marry a selfish cad of a man, the son of Peter’s neighbors who nobody cares for much at all. When he falls out of a window while drinking with friends and dies, she appears at his family’s home, a surprise to everyone. They consider Rosie a burden and treat her as such. Peter, however, is soon smitten by more than her lovely voice.
In “An Object of Charity,” Captain Michael Lynch finds himself on shore while his ship is in dry dock for repairs after a harrowing skirmish in the blockade. He is unhappy about the situation, much preferring to remain at sea. While staying in his favorite boarding house, he is approached by a young woman, Sally, and her little brother, Thomas, who are looking for their uncle, the man who had served as Captain Lynch’s first mate until his recent death in battle. He is the one to break this unfortunate news to them. When he discovers the two siblings later, shivering in the dark by the docks, he realizes their situation is much worse than he suspected. He takes them into his care, deciding to go home for Christmas for the first time since a falling out with his father and older brother 22 years earlier. Things at home are both better and worse than he expected, yet Sally brings a long-absent peace back into his life.
I learned something new about the Christmas traditions of Regency era Spain in “The Three Kings.” Sarah and her brother James are caught in a predicament while doing research in France and James is shot and killed. Sarah is determined to get their research back to England, but there are French troops everywhere and she is basically on her own to find refuge across the front lines of the English army. She is placed in the charge of a Spanish colonel who will escort her to Ciudad Rodrigo so she can continue on to England. Before they can depart, the encampment is attacked and she is swept to safety by Colonel Luis Sotomayor. They make their way across the countryside, managing to stay ahead of the French troops, until events escalate near a village where Sarah learns more about the colonel than she or her heart could have expected.
All in all I enjoyed all of the stories, though the first two were my favorites. If you are in the mood for a little romance as the Christmas holiday approaches, this collection from Carla Kelly may be just the thing for you.
Review originally published on LDS Women's Book Review - www.ldswbr.com FTC FYI: received a free digital review copy in exchange for an honest review(less)
The romantic in me enjoys the occasional mail-order bride/marriage-of-convenience story. The concept of a man having three failed mail-order bride att...moreThe romantic in me enjoys the occasional mail-order bride/marriage-of-convenience story. The concept of a man having three failed mail-order bride attempts definitely caught my attention.
Julia had been very hurt by the two men closest to her, so she had some trust issues with men. That, compounded by the fact that Everett resembled the man she was hurt by most, created an awkward first encounter for the two. Everett longed for a companion, enough to have asked three mail-order brides to venture out West. Through different courses of events, none of those marriages occurred. He was resigned to being alone for the rest of his life, though a good friend and neighbor thought otherwise.
Everett had no idea what was headed his way, but when he learned what had been arranged, he was open to the idea. Until he saw how pretty the woman was. He knew a woman that looked like that could have whatever man she wanted, and would eventually leave him like the others did, so he distanced himself from forming any attachment to her. This, despite his kind nature, made him come across as a bit of a jerk, but only toward her.
Once they were married, and Everett’s unhusbandly-like treatment of Julia was pointed out to him, he did his best to form a better relationship with her. Julia, however, was slower to open up because of her traumatic past, certain Everett would reject her. While they got along fine, there was no real closeness between them because of her fear.
The most tender scenes for me were when Everett stayed and prayed at Julia’s beside, and the final scene of the book. I did feel that Everett’s final struggle initially came across as more harsh than conflicted, but the events that followed were satisfying and full of emotion. There were a few weak spots here and there, but nothing that kept me from finishing.
A Bride for Keeps is an enjoyable read that fans of Christian historical romance will like. I look forward to the next book from Melissa Jagears.
Review originally published on LDS Women's Book Review -- www.ldswbr.com FTC FYI: I received a free digital galley from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.(less)
As with the first book, Longing For Home, I feel inadequate to express how much I enjoyed Hope Springs. I devoured every word of it. The wait to read...moreAs with the first book, Longing For Home, I feel inadequate to express how much I enjoyed Hope Springs. I devoured every word of it. The wait to read the conclusion of Katie’s story was bittersweet for me. I longed to know how things would turn out for her, yet I didn’t want my time in Hope Springs to end.
I was pulled into the story from the first sentence. The townspeople’s struggle with pride, resentment, hate, compassion, and forgiveness makes this more than a good romance. I don’t remember turning any pages except for the last one because that meant it was over. Things ended as I hoped they would, even if the journey was more difficult and heartbreaking than I expected.
Hope Springs is a satisfying conclusion to a well-loved series. If I could have one wish, it would be to visit Hope Springs again in the future through another character. The Longing For Home series has become an all-time favorite of mine and I highly recommend it.
Review first published on LDS Women's Book Review -- www.ldswbr.com FTC FYI: free review copy from publisher in exchange for an honest review(less)
In As You Are, we read about Corbin Jonquil, one of the quietest of the Jonquil brothers. He is brilliant, especially with horses, but he struggles to...moreIn As You Are, we read about Corbin Jonquil, one of the quietest of the Jonquil brothers. He is brilliant, especially with horses, but he struggles to express himself to others. When he is won over by the beautiful smile of the mysterious woman who has moved into a nearby cottage, he longs to get to know her. Considering how difficult it is to speak to his own family, carrying on a conversation with Clara seems an impossible endeavor.
Corbin is so endearing. I couldn’t help but love him, even though I cringed (and laughed) at some of his attempts to get Clara to notice him. He was trying so hard, not realizing that it was enough just to be himself. Clara is a very likable character. Because of her past, I related well to her. I love that there is a bit of suspense in As You Are, as well as several cameos of characters from Sarah’s other books.
I look forward to each new book in the Jonquil Brothers series. (Good thing there are lots of brothers!) As grateful as I am for the digital review copy of As You Are provided by Covenant, I will be buying a copy of the physical book as well. First, I need Sarah to sign it for me, then it will be placed on the bookshelf reserved for my treasured Sarah M. Eden collection.
Review originally published on LDS Women's Book Review - www.ldswbr.com FTC FYI: free digital review copy in exchange for an honest review(less)
In honor of the 50th anniversary of President Thomas S. Monson’s call to apostleship, Deseret Book has released Consider the Blessings, a compilation...moreIn honor of the 50th anniversary of President Thomas S. Monson’s call to apostleship, Deseret Book has released Consider the Blessings, a compilation of 50 true stories shared by President Monson throughout the years.
I have heard President Monson share some of these stories previously, but many I had not. Some are simple, based on service to others. Some are miraculous, amazing answers to prayers. There are lovely and relevant photos throughout the book. Each story is short, anywhere from one to four pages long. I’ve listed three of my favorites below:
--“You Are Our Brothers and Sisters” (page 7): This is an excellent and moving example of loving our fellowman beyond boundaries, both physical and religious.
--“No More Strangers” (page 81): I love the way these Italian members distinguished new members, ensuring they would be recognized and fellowshipped.
--“You’re My Primary Boy” (page 135): Another example of the loving service President Monson excels at giving that has touched and inspired me.
Consider the Blessings is available as a jacketed hardcover, perfect as a gift or for use in Family Home Evenings, as well as in ebook format. I will be referring back to several of these stories in the future, and look forward to sharing them with my children.
Review originally published on LDS Women's Book Review - www.ldswbr.com FTC FYI: received a free review copy in exchange for an honest review.(less)
Written on Our Hearts is full of spiritual messages and questions that pierce the heart. Emily shares her talent for inspiring others through her hear...moreWritten on Our Hearts is full of spiritual messages and questions that pierce the heart. Emily shares her talent for inspiring others through her heartfelt words and lovely artwork in this thought-provoking book.
Each section is only a few pages long, and these sections are grouped by books of the Old Testament. The size of each section is perfect for a personal morning devotional, family home evening, or revisit during a tough day when seeking inspiration or reassurance. There are beautiful sketches depicting Old Testament scenes sprinkled throughout.
Every single section of this book offers something that touches my soul and fuels my desire to become a better person and to draw closer to Christ. It’s difficult to single out a favorite section, but I will list some that really stood out to me personally:
-“Empty Your Sack”
-“My Whole Soul”
-“That Which Doth Cost Me Nothing”
-“I Will Heal Thee”
-“Filling the Empty Places”
-“Hope in Thine End”
I have always been overwhelmed at the thought of an in-depth study of the Old Testament. Written on Our Hearts has shown me that there are wonderful things to be learned from such a study. I highly recommend it, both as an addition to your personal library, but as a gift as well. After all, Christmas is just around the corner.
Review originally published on LDS Women's Book Review -- www.ldswbr.com FTC FYI: received a free review copy in exchange for an honest review.(less)
It is more difficult every day to find movies without objectionable material. Author Jonathan Decker has set out to make the decision of “What to watc...moreIt is more difficult every day to find movies without objectionable material. Author Jonathan Decker has set out to make the decision of “What to watch?” easier for us. His book, 250 Great Movies for Latter-day Families, is a useful resource for those who are looking for clean, enjoyable movies they can watch with their families.
An insight shared by the author had significant impact on me and the way I view certain content in media. In the “What Makes a Good Movie?” section, Jonathan explains that he used to feel every instance of media he watched should comply to the letter of the law, and any amount of violence or language or innuendo that he saw made him feel guilty. His eyes were opened after hearing President Monson refer to uplifting themes in the musical Camelot during a talk, the same play that made Jonathan feel uncomfortable during one of the songs where Lancelot sings of his love for Guinevere, a married woman. The author then recalls a BYU film professor’s words: “The portrayal of something is not the same thing as condoning it.”
Jonathan goes on to say something I consider profound:
“I realized that, in art and entertainment, sometimes darkness must be portrayed in order to contrast it with the light. There is no good without evil, and both must be depicted for righteousness to be promoted.” –page 9
Jonathan does not use this truth as an excuse to disregard standards, however. He includes content information in every movie review so that the reader can decide for his/herself what they are comfortable viewing and what they want to avoid. I love that he does this. I also enjoy his concise but informative reviews and his grading system.
I appreciate the “Messages to Discuss” as much as the “Content Overviews” in each review. Included here are the scriptural themes, with scripture references and quotes from Church leaders, that can be found in each film. Not only is this a great way to start family discussion in general, but when you need to plan a last minute Family Home Evening, the scriptures and quotes provided keep it spiritual.
As I flipped through the pages and read his reviews, I came across a number of movies I hadn’t seen, some I had never heard of, as well as some long-time favorites. The classics appear alongside more modern films. The three indexes at the end (organized by Genre, Gospel Topic, and Rating) are incredibly handy.
I think 250 Great Movies for Latter-day Families will become a staple in many LDS homes. I look forward to referring to it many times in the future when choosing movies for my family. I hope Jonathan is already working on the next installment.
Review originally published on LDS Women's Book Review - www.ldswbr.com FTC FYI: free digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.(less)
I’ve been anxious to read The Witnesses, sequel to The Believer, for many years. It did not disappoint. The Believer was Stephanie’s first published n...moreI’ve been anxious to read The Witnesses, sequel to The Believer, for many years. It did not disappoint. The Believer was Stephanie’s first published novel, and I loved it so much it earned 5 stars and made it onto my taking-with-me-on-a-deserted-island bookshelf. Well, I’ll be adding The Witnesses to that shelf as well.
I was turning page after page, at times wondering how in the world Ian and Jill and Daniel would make it through, who would betray whom, who would live and who would die. I was in suspense to the very end, unsure of how things would turn out as the situation became more and more dire for our heroes. There was an unexpected and fascinating twist that I loved.
I am in awe (though not surprised) at how well-crafted and layered the story is throughout both books, and the way the twist worked into events near the end. While the book had a very satisfying conclusion, I still find myself wondering how things worked out in the long run. I need to sit down with Stephanie and either get her to tell me or convince her to write a follow up because I really want to know. I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to Ian.
I highly recommend both The Believer and The Witnesses. They made me think, kept me reading, and stayed with me for days. Well done, Stephanie. Now get going on that follow up for me. (Please?)
Review originally published on LDS Women's Book Review - www.ldswbr.com FTC FYI: received a free review copy in exchange for an honest review(less)