Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Along For the Ride by Sarah Dessen

When Auden impulsively goes to stay with her father, stepmother, and new baby sister the summer before she starts college, all the trauma of her parents' divorce is revived, even as she is making new friends and having new experiences such as learning to ride a bike and dating.

Quote from the book:
It's the things you fight for and struggle with before earning that have the greatest worth. When something's difficult to come by, you'll do that much more to make sure it's even harder--if not impossible--to lose."

I enjoyed the story from start to finish. It may be an old story formula, like some reviewers have mentioned, but it's a tried and true story maker.
Every character had something unique about them, positive or negative. I felt like I got to know each person and I almost knew what they were going to say or how they would act by the end.
There were characters I related to, some I liked but didn't relate to and some I wanted to beat over the head with my purse.
By the end, I wanted friends like Auden's (actually, I did in high school), I wanted to go to the Prom (didn't get to do that in high school), live by the ocean for the summer and make pies everyday. I also wanted to buy my own green bike (mine was pink) and ride it.

Rated PG
S:some kissing
L:Jay Leno swear words

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Women of the Book of Mormon by Heather Moore

Explore the lives, circumstances, and choices of women in the Book of Mormon in this uplifting and inspiring volume that illustrates the parallel between the lives of the women of the Book of Mormon and LDS women today. With new insights on practically every page, author Heather B. Moore explores the written and unwritten stories of the prominent women in the Book of Mormon—taking familiar material and providing vivid details about family dynamics, domestic practices, and other aspects of daily life. By applying historical and cultural contexts to the situations of women like Sariah, Abish, Eve, Mary and the faithful mothers of the stripling warriors, you will peek beneath the surface of the scriptural accounts to better understand both the righteous women of the Book of Mormon—and the women who didn’t use their agency wisely.

After I finished reading Women of the Book of Mormon; Insights and Inspriations, I made a mental list of all the extraordinary women in my life I wanted to give this book to: my mother, mother-in-law, sisters-in-law, one for each of my visiting teachers, the women I work with in my calling and a few extras for friends. The ideal day to give this book as a gift would be Mother's Day since many of the women in Heather's book are mother's. But this is a book to give all year long.

I didn't realize how many women were actually in the Book of Mormon. We don't know all their names but they play a role in history from Sariah to the wife of Lamoni to the Stripling Warriors mothers.
Heather shows us how each of these women lived in their time and gives us a look at what they may have felt or acted according to their era.
For instance, Sariah most likely lived on a big estate with servants. Then her husband tells her they need to leave their home and she lives in a tent. What was that trial like for her? With no servants, Sariah and her daughters were now in charge of gathering, cooking, and running a household in the wilderness.
This is just one example Heather shows us. There are eleven more in her book for us to get to know and maybe understand better.

As I read Heather's book, I was expecting all righteous women but there were a few that weren't. How about the story of the Daughter of Jared who danced for a man so he would kill her grandfather who sat on the throne. How was she to know that her new husband would also kill her father and eventually her son?
But Heather also taught me that we are ALL daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves us unconditionally. We can all strive to do what's right and return to Him one day.

Women of the Book of Mormon: Insights and Inspirations is a well-written , well- researched book with a look into the lives of the twelve women in the Book of Mormon. Each woman has her own chapter, which makes it easy to pick up and read again and again. Heather's words weave a story and history together that helps any reader understand what is written without feeling overwhelmed by facts.
I also looked forward to each picture at the beginning of the chapters. They were beautiful!
This book is very appropriate for anyone to read and another great book from Heather Moore.

Check out her author website here.

Book of Mormon women can be pre-ordered at Deseret book here, and Barnes and Noble here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Life is looking up for D.J. Schwenk. She's in eleventh grade, finally. After a rocky summer, she's reconnecting in a big way with her best friend, Amber. She's got kind of a thing going with Brian Nelson, who's cute and popular and smart but seems to like her anyway. And then there's the fact she's starting for the Red Bend High School football team—the first girl linebacker in northern Wisconsin, probably. Which just shows you can't predict the future. As autumn progresses, D.J. struggles to understand Amber, Schwenk Farm, her relationship with Brian, and most of all her family. As a whole herd of trouble comes her way, she discovers she's a lot stronger than she—or anyone—ever thought. This hilarious, heartbreaking and triumphant sequel to the critically acclaimed Dairy Queen takes D.J. and all the Schwenks from Labor Day to a Thanksgiving football game that you will never forget.

I have to admit I really love D.J.s voice in this book and 'Dairy Queen'! She is a spunky, down-to-earth, normal teenage girl. Except she lives on a small dairy farm; is taller than some boys (probably stronger too)and is a natural athlete. But she's dating a cute QB from the rival high school, she's starts on her high school football team, she's back to being BFF with Amber and her older brothers both play on national t.v.
But life has a way of throwing a curve ball. D.J. gets hurt, she notices Brian, the QB, ignores her in public, the farm isn't doing well financially and one of her older brothers is seriously injured in a game.
D.J. has to make some personal sacrifices through it all. She grows from her trials and realizes things aren't always as they seem.

I like this at the end of the book: " But I guess he (Brian) never learned those other kinds of toughness, like how to stand up to your so-called friends, and how to defend those people who really are your friends even if they're unpopular or poor or the wrong size."

Taffy's rating:
Deals with issues such as: teen hormones, homosexuality, finances, families and teen angst.
I would read this book again.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Card has taken the venerable sf concepts of a superman and an interstellar war against aliens, and, with superb characterization, pacing and language, combined them into a seamless story of compelling power.

I really enjoyed this book. The book was a good study in character development. I didn't like the swearing or the course way some subjects were dealt with or how young boys were treated. It reminded me of 'Maze Runner' or 'Lord of the Flies' in dealing with young boys.
But overall, it was a fascinating book and I had a hard time putting it down.

Taffy's Rating:
Some swearing, course language, themes of bullying, death, war and aliens.
Boys would like this book.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

This unabridged edition of the New York Times bestseller is the direct sequel to the classic Ender's Game from Orson Scott Card, winner of the Nebula and Hugo Awards. In the aftermath of his terrible war, Ender Wiggin disappeared, and a powerful voice arose: the Speaker for the Dead, who told the true story of the Bugger War. Now, long years later, a second alien race has been discovered by Portuguese colonists on the planet Lusitania. But again the aliens' ways are strange and frightening ... again, humans die. And it is only the Speaker for the Dead, who is also Ender Wiggin the Xenocide, who has the courage to confront the mystery ... and the truth. Orson Scott Card infuses this tale with intellect by casting his characters in social, religious and cultural contexts.
That is the only word I can think of to describe my experience while reading 'Speaker for the Dead'.
Mr. Card doesn't waste any words while writing this book. Every word, sentence or person moves the story forward.
Ender Wiggins wants to redeem himself after killing thousands of aliens. Only after killing did he realize the aliens or 'buggers' weren't trying to hurt Earth. And Ender was used as a killing machine to kill them, but he didn't know he was a tool until after. Ironically, most humans hate him, calling him a murderer.
But no one knows that he saved one alien and will make penitance when he is able to find a new home for the bugger queen.
By this time travel among the stars is a way of life. On another planet, a repected scientist is killed by aliens he is studying. Speaker for the Dead is called and Ender responds.
This story has twists and turns and strange worlds to explore. All the characters are flawed which made it easy for me to identify with their stories and love them.
I even cried. A sacrifice made for another was moving.

Taffy's rating:
Death, a few swear words, deep themes, strange words and names

Friday, March 12, 2010

Listening For Lions by Gloria Whelan

Historical fiction with a wicked twist.

Listening for Lions is a breathtaking story of tragedy, deception, and triumph against all odds. National Book Award–winning author Gloria Whelan sets this richly historical coming–of–age adventure in British East Africa in the year 1918.

This irresistible novel entangles an orphaned girl in a deceit filled plot. Young Rachel Sheridan is made to leave her beloved Africa for England, where she must pose as the deceased daughter of a nefarious couple in an effort to gain them an enormous inheritance. Her irrepressible spirit and extraordinary wit turn her from victim to heroine in a surprising and empowering tale of a remarkable young woman.

My daughter and I read this book for our library's mother/daughter book club. We read most of it together but as the time got closer she read it on her own with me catching up.

Rachel is a young girl who loves her parents and Africa. When tragedy strikes, she's thrust into a world of deception by adults who should have taken care of her instead of use her. She is sent from her beloved home and freedom to a London where it actually snows! She also finds someone who wants her to be happy.

There were a lot of symbolism in the book. She describes birds while in Africa and England.

I wonder if this story could have been two books? The ending was obvious and felt a little rushed or not as well told as the beginning. There weren't any real stumbling blocks for Rachel. And if there were any, she overcame them easily.

Overall, it's a good book, especially for young girls.

Winter's Child by Cameron Dokey

"Once Upon a Time" is Timeless

Free-spirited Grace and serious Kai are the best of friends. They grew up together listening to magical tales spun by Kai's grandmother and sharing in each other's secrets. But when they turn sixteen and Kai declares his love for 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.

This is a quick, enjoyable retelling of Winter's Child. There were a few twists, most which I guessed except one. I think I didn't guess the one because it happened so quickly.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mormon Mishaps and Mischief by Giles and Beck

There should be a warning that comes with this book. "Do not read while in sacrament meeting or during a funeral. Loud laughter will ensue and disrupt meetings. Not advisable to read to snarling dobermans."

This book is hilarious. I love that I can pick it up , read a few stories, laugh my head off, then put it down for when I need a laugh later.

I didn't realize that so many members had similar stories! As I read I would think, 'hey! That happened to me too!'. For example: my son called the FHE prayers opening and shutting prayers.

Great book to give as a gift as well!