Wednesday, October 31, 2012

BLOG TOUR: For All the Saints by Kristen Smith Dayley

by Kristen Smith Dayley
CFI, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4621-1064-3
LDS Nonfiction
Complimentary copy provided for review by publisher.
All opinions expressed are solely my own.


For All the Saints provides an uplifting account of the ways in which the Lord builds his kingdom through ordinary men and women. Set in Boston, Massachusetts and its surrounding areas, the book draws upon the experiences of hundreds of members, ranging from prominent Church leaders to brand new converts. Their collective insights teach powerful lessons about commitment, faith, sacrifice, and leadership that are applicable to us all, no matter our corner of the vineyard.
Drawing upon accounts both humorous and profound, these Saints remind us of the impact one person can have when partnered with the Lord. They also instill a sense of gratitude for the contributions of those who precede us and demonstrate that the Lord’s promises are sure, as we each play a role in a work much larger than our own vantage point might suggest.


Willing to work. Fervent in faith. Led by the Lord.

The members of the Church of Jesus Christ are not perfect. But that doesn’t stop us from striving for perfection. And when it’s the Lord’s work we’re engaged in, He’s happy to help.

This inspirational collection of stories and experiences from the lives of real church members shows how the gospel connects us with others and magnifies our daily efforts into greatness. Grouped by topic, these accounts illustrate the great and marvelous things the Lord can do through faithful, dedicated Latter-day Saints. Discover the everyday, ordinary heroes who accomplish extraordinary works in the service of the Lord.

No matter what your calling or where you serve, you are not alone. Filled with true-to-life moments that will benefit every member and every organization, this is an uplifting and motivating read you’ll want to share with your fellow saints.



As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I was predisposed to enjoy this book.  I enjoy studying the history of the church, despite the tremendous heartaches and trials that have occurred (and continue to occur) throughout that history.  I enjoy reading such stories because of the faith and courage of those who have dedicated themselves to building the Lord's kingdom. This book provides a glimpse into the hearts and minds of those who have labored to do so throughout the New England states since the Church was founded in 1830.

The efforts and struggles of the early saints have lead to a flourishing church presence as well as the building of the Boston Temple, where saints meet to receive sacred ordinances. (See here for more information.) I also found it interesting to realize that while a lot of things have changed over the years, the opposition to the church has not waned and continues to this day. But despite the opposition and sometime lack of interest, the church has grown through the direction of the Lord and the efforts of those like Clair Robison, who helped establish the first Relief Society (the women's organization that is part of the LDS faith, see here for more information) and served as it's president for 27 years. I highly recommend this book as both a learning experience and an inspiring example of what is possible when faith in God is present. I feel blessed to have my own ancestors involved in these efforts.

Check out the rest of the tour here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: The Wide-Awake Princess by E.D. Baker

by E.D. Baker
Bloomsbury, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-59990-487-0
MG Fantasy
Grades 4-7
Reviewed from purchased copy.


In this new fairy tale, Princess Annie is the younger sister to Gwen, the princess destined to be Sleeping Beauty. When Gwennie pricks her finger and the whole castle falls asleep, only Annie is awake, and only Annie—blessed (or cursed?) with being impervious to magic—can venture out beyond the rose-covered hedge for help. She must find Gwen's true love to kiss her awake.

But who is her true love? The irritating Digby? The happy-go-lucky Prince Andreas, who is holding a contest to find his bride? The conniving Clarence, whose sinister motives couldn't possibly spell true love? Joined by one of her father's guards, Liam, who happened to be out of the castle when the sleeping spell struck, Annie travels through a fairy tale land populated with characters both familiar and new as she tries to fix her sister and her family . . . and perhaps even find a true love of her own.


A delightful retelling of Sleeping Beauty, A Wide-Awake Princess, begins with Annie watching from a distance as her sister opens her birthday presents shortly before her sister pricks her finger and falls into an enchanted sleep. Annie has been shunted off to the side her whole life because of a fairy's gift/curse of being completely immune to magic of any kind.  As a result, anyone who spends time around her finds his/her magic fading as well.  After the whole castle falls under the wicked fairy's spell, she sets off with Liam, a new guard, to find Gwen's true love to break the spell.  Run ins with an enchanted bear, a witch, and a variety of princes makes Annie wonder if she can truly break the spell or if she's stuck with a sleeping family and a quiet castle.

Like many of E.D. Baker's books this one is full of humor.  My favorite parts involved someone trying to cast a spell on Annie and then having to live with the amusing results. Both Annie and Liam are very likeable characters with lots of charm and spirit.  As always it was a pleasure to follow along as Annie and Liam face a multitude of challenges involving kelpies, witches, and interfering mothers. An entertaining read for fairy tale fans, but especially appropriate for middle grade girls ready for their first taste of romance.

Monday, October 29, 2012

BLOG TOUR: Arn? Narn. by Bruce Meisterman

by Bruce Meisterman
John Gosslee Books, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-9833655-2-5
Complimentary copy received as part of blog tour.
All opinions expressed are solely my own.


Arn? Narn., while telling the true story of a disappearing rural Newfoundland, is also a cautionary chronicle of an imminent world wide concern. In 1992, the Canadian government enacted a cod fishing moratorium on the over 500 year old fishing industry, throwing over 40,000 fisherman out of work. In the next ten years, nearly 20 % of Newfoundland’s population migrated off the large island. Now, 20 years later, the fish have not returned nor have the people.

The implications of this are only now just beginning to be understood. In 2006, Dr. Boris Worm of Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia published a paper which received world-wide attention. In it, he predicted that by the middle of this century all stocks of wild, edible fish will be in total collapse. What happened in Newfoundland is expected to occur planet-wide.

Arn? Narn. is a photo-documentary of a culture vanishing before our eyes; perhaps as an early warning to all countries to learn how to manage their resources more carefully. This could very easily happen anywhere.

The title refers to a short conversation in Newfoundland English. It comes from the story of two fishing boats in a Newfoundland bay: one boat is departing, the other returning. The departing boat’s captain yells across his bow, “Arn?” The returning boat’s captain replies, “Narn.” The translation is simple: “Any fish?” “No fish.” That is the tragedy of this story. Through over-fishing, government mismanagement, and greed, the fish are gone.


As a photographer, Bruce Meisterman has worked in areas as diverse as fine art and commercial photography, always looking to meld the two. Originally studying to be a painter, Bruce found that he could express himself and his art more effectively with a camera. Starting out as a photo-journalist with a newspaper, he honed his eye, insight, skills, and story-telling abilities from working with the demands of daily deadlines.

The book Arn? Narn. was initially conceived as an examination of a western culture, isolated from the world. Isolated not so much as to having no contact with the outside world, but as to being a destination rather than a place along one’s way. In researching the then-untitled book, Meisterman determined Newfoundland would be the perfect place in which to do this study.

After his first trip up there to photograph, he realized that a core element to his photos was missing, necessitating another trip to Newfoundland the following year. It was then where the story became apparent to him. The title of the book tells it all.

“Arn? Narn.” is the shortest conversation in Newfoundland English. The story behind it is this: two fishing boat captains are in the bay: one departing, the other returning. The departing captain yells out across the bay “Arn?’ The returning captain responds “Narn.” The translation is simple: “Any fish?”; “No fish.” And this book is about a culture, that culture, having supported itself for many years on fishing, finding itself now unable to do. The fish are gone.

While Arn? Narn. is about Newfoundland, the implications are of a much broader scope. The lessons learned here have global ramifications. Meisterman likens it to a canary in a coal mine, but on a planetary scale. When the canary dies, it’s time to get out of the coal mine and avert a human catastrophe. In this instance, the canary (the Newfoundland fishing industry) died, but no one took notice until it was too late. Evidence indicates other such global collapses are inevitable but may be avoidable, but only if action is taken.

Meisterman has been widely published in numerous publications such as: the New York Times, The Sun magazine, Yankee magazine, Country Journal magazine among many others and has been featured in a number of books. He has had numerous exhibitions ranging from galleries to museums. And his work resides in many private collections. Arn? Narn. is Meisterman’s first book.

He has been a guest lecturer at colleges and universities, religious organizations, and trade groups conducting them in a fashion where he also learns from the process as well as those attending. “We are all teachers to each other. How fortunate that I can be the recipient of a whole room full of teachers’ knowledge. They have made me a much better photographer. The one thing I never want to do is stop learning.”

Visit Bruce on the web at


As a geography major in college, one of the major issues I studied was economic sustainability and environmental and human interaction.  This book could be a case study for such a class.  The minimal text and the photos provide a sad commentary on a disappearing way of life.  Newfoundland, Canada is an island in the Labrador Sea to the Northeast of the United States.  This island was settled for one reason, and one reason only, FISH, specifically cod. You could not visit a single town on the island and not see the connection to the ocean.  Unfortunately, places founded on a single resource often find themselves in trouble when that resource is threatened or disappears.  And that is exactly what is happening here.  With the disappearance of cod, the towns of Newfoundland are shrinking and the unique cultures that exist there are disappearing as well.  Meisterman does a nice job of highlighting the things that make the island unique and how things are changing as a result of the loss of the cod.  The black and white illustrations give a distinct feeling of the past and yet the cars indicate that the island isn't completely isolated.  Clearly, the island is both a harsh place and a beautiful place.  This book provides a thought-provoking look at what happens when a resource is not managed as wisely as it could be.

Check out the rest of the tour here.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

MMGM: Storybound by Marissa Burt

by Marissa Burt
Harper, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-06-202052-9
MG Fantasy
Grades 4-6
Reviewed from purchased copy.


In the land of Story, children go to school to learn to be characters: a perfect Hero, a trusty Sidekick, even the most dastardly Villain. They take classes on Outdoor Experiential Questing and Backstory, while adults search for full-time character work in stories written just for them.

In our world, twelve-year-old Una Fairchild has always felt invisible. But all that changes when she stumbles upon a mysterious book buried deep in the basement of her school library, opens the cover, and suddenly finds herself transported to the magical land of Story.

But Story is not a perfect fairy tale. Una’s new friend Peter warns her about the grave danger she could face if anyone discovers her true identity. The devious Tale Keeper watches her every move. And there are whispers of a deadly secret that seems to revolve around Una herself....

With the timeless appeal of books like A Wrinkle in Time and the breathtaking action of Inkheart, Storybound has all the makings of a new classic. Brimming with fantastical creatures, magical adventure, and heart-stopping twists, Storybound will leave readers wishing they too could jump through the pages into this enchanting fairy-tale world.


Marissa Burt writes middle grade fantasy and is represented by Laura Langlie of the Laura Langlie Literary Agency. She grew up in Portland, Oregon, and drifted eastward, living in Colorado, Illinois, Tennessee, and South Carolina, before coming back home to the Pacific Northwest.

Along the way, she studied Sociology, Ancient Languages, and Theology and clocked hours as a social worker, barista, 5th grade teacher, bookseller, faculty assistant, and reference librarian. But not all at the same time.

Marissa now lives in the Seattle area with her husband and three sons where she enjoys time spent around family, friends, and good books.


I'll start off by saying that I loved this book.  I enjoyed the characters, Una, Peter, and Indy, especially, but I even connected a bit with Snow White despite her bullying tendencies.  I like the world that the author created around fairy tales, the land of Story, where people/creatures train to enter a story and then live out the story before returning home to their 'regular' lives.  The plot moved quickly and intricately through Una's unexpected arrival in the land of Story during Peter's 'practical' through the surprises and shocks of life in hiding.

I appreciated that the characters felt three dimensional to me, Peter and Una are great characters but they make mistakes along the way. I also appreciated how Snow White who tries to bully Una, is presented as more than a bully, but a girl who has experienced much heart-ache and rejection in her life.  This adds a nice twist to the story.

Plotwise, there were some expected revelations, but also some unexpected twists and turns which always makes for a more interesting read.  There were plenty of hints here and there leading up to the climax and some of the plot elements I was able to predict but others I did not, this makes for a fun read. I admired the creativity exhibited in this story.  Little things like classes such as Outdoor Experiential Questing, and testing of one's Villain's laugh and the whole concept of Talemasters who kept the books with the 'tales' from Story's past.  I'm a sucker for books about the value of books. :)  I also found the underlying theme about history and how the way we view our history depends a great deal on how it is presented to us and who is telling the story.  I found this a great read and can't wait to read the sequel, Story's End, coming out next year.

Be sure to check out the other great Middle Grade recommendations over at Shannon Messenger's website.

Friday, October 26, 2012

BLOG TOUR: Open Fire: J. Golden Kimball Takes on the South by Scott M. Hurst

Complimentary copy provided by publisher for blog tour.
All opinions expressed are solely my own.


In this fast paced story filled with holy hi-jinx and missionary mayhem, Golden squares off with his characteristic cowboy sense of humor against everything from spiteful preachers to the threat of death at the hands of the terrible Ku Klux Klan. Join Golden as he takes on the South with these unbelievable, true stories.


Scott graduated from Brigham Young University and is currently enrolled in the School of Hard Knocks. He is a nomad who claims his home in Utah, California, Hawaii and wherever else in the world he happens to be. The closest thing he’s ever done to being a cowboy was dude ranching for a day. He couldn’t sit down for two weeks afterwards. Like Golden, he’s tall and skinny. He also shares some of Golden’s colorful vocabulary and his immense love for the gospel.

While this book is presented as biographical, the author mentions at the beginning that he has fictionalized some things, like actual dialogue, he's condensed other things so the story flows better, thus making this biographical/historical fiction. The main events of the story however did actually occur and the man was quite a character.  Before leaving on his mission, Golden had never left the Utah/Idaho area, so going to the Southern States was a huge shock, especially with the huge amount of anti-Mormon prejudice that existed at the time.  I was amazed at the courage of these men leaving their homes and families to share the gospel at a time and place that was anything but welcoming.  Today's missionaries receive a lot more training, back then they simply packed up and went.

This is a story of faith and courage and one man's efforts to share what he believed.  Golden wasn't perfect and he never claimed to be. I think what made him effective was that he was sincere and never pretended to be something he wasn't.  You don't need to be a Mormon to appreciate the determination of this man and the lasting impact he made on those he met.  While fictionalized to some extent, this book still gives insight into the life of J. Golden Kimball.  It's also just plain full of entertaining stories. I highly recommend this book.
 Check out the rest of the tour here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Welcome to my YA Mythology Giveaway.
This giveaway hop is being hosted by 

For this giveaway I am offering a book of your choice related to mythology (young adult or middle grade) up to $20 from the Book Depository.

Here are some possible choices:





To be entered to win a YA/MG mythology book of your choice from the Book Depository, complete the mandatory entry in the Rafflecopter form below. You must be at least 13 to enter. After you complete the mandatory entry, more will be unlocked and you may complete which ever of those you would like. This giveaway is international, as long as the Book Depository ships to you. Giveaway ends November 4, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. (EST). Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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