Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Here are some other quotes from the book that stood out to me:
I am a Mormon because the heft of sound scholarship reaffirms the sweet whisperings of faith."
- Robert F. Bennett, former U.S. senator
"... the way the Church is organized, it puts opportunities to help others in my path every day. It facilitates my efforts—and in some instances almost compels me—to practice Christianity, not just believe in it."
- Clayton M. Christensen, businessman and Harvard professor
"Go on a mission. To some it may seem like the most ridiculous, silly, nonsensical thing to do. Think about it. You're nineteen years old. You're going to give up school, home and family, a social life, your car, sports, friends, maybe a scholarship. You're going to give up the good life. For what? To go out and lead a highly regimented, spartan life of rejection? It makes no sense! and it won't make any sense until you add one element into the equation—that at the end of the day, the gospel of Jesus Christ is really true. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is what it claims to be. Joseph Smith saw and heard what he said he saw and heard. We are led by a modern prophet. Once you add this into the mix, going on a mission is the most logical, "of course" thing you could ever do."
- Larry Gelwix, high school rugby coach whose story inspired the movie Forever Strong
"Why am I a Mormon? I'm a Mormon because the way I was taught to communicate with God works. I'm not sure I could believe in a religion that offered less than a personal relationship with my Heavenly Father."
- Brandon Mull, #1 New York Times bestselling author
"From the moment the airplane went up in flames, I was praying. I knew God would never leave me. I knew it then and I still know it now.
I never lost my faith in God or blamed Him, even through my struggles to heal, my multiple surgeries, my physical changes, and the role these all play in my children's lives (and mine). In fact, I am thanking Him every day for this trial. I feel honored to carry it, and I hope I am doing it in a way that is pleasing to Him."
- Stephanie Nielson, blogger (NieNie Dialogues) and plane crash survivor
"This is what being a Mormon gives me: context, understanding, and the peace of home. I am a Mormon because belief is life, and I don't want a life without it."
- Steve Young, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback
(Readalikes: Hm, I can't really think of anything. Can you?)
If this were a movie, it would be rated: G for nothing offensive
To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Why I'm a Mormon from the generous folks at Deseret Book. Thank you!
Monday, February 27, 2012
Friday, February 24, 2012
"I know I'll go to sleep tonight, and then tomorrow I will wake up and not know anything again, and the next day, and the day after that, forever. I can't imagine it. I can't face it. It's not life, it's just an existence, jumping from one moment to the next with no idea of the past, and no pan for the future. It's how I imagine animals must be. The worst thing is that I don't even know what I don't know. There might be lots of things, waiting to hurt me. Things I haven't even dreamed about yet" (194).
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Have you ever looked at your siblings and wondered what makes them tick? Why, for instance, is your oldest brother or sister so driven, so exacting, so uncompromising? How about the baby in your family? Why can't he/she settle down? Why does he/she treat life like one big party, refusing to take anything seriously? And what about you? What makes you so demanding or so laidback or so serious-minded? Does it have anything to do with your siblings and the order in which you all came into the same family? Dr. Kevin Leman, a psychologist who's written more than 30 books on marriage, parenting and other family relationships, believes it does.
In The Birth Order Book (I read the Revised and Updated version, published in 2009), Dr. Leman discusses the idea of birth order influencing people's actions and personalities. While he admits the concept can't explain everything about a person or a family (both of which are affected by a virtually limitless list of variables throughout its lifetime), he presents pretty strong evidence to support his claims. We all know the birth order stereotypes: oldest children and only children are aggressive, goal-oriented people; middle children are easygoing, natural peacemakers; youngest kids are fun-loving comedians. Dr. Leman explains why this is so often the case. Of course, families don't always work out so predictably, but the psychologist has reasons for this, too, and, while some of his theories seem a little too convenient, a lot of them make a lot of sense.
In addition to talking about the usual stereotypes, Dr. Leman also talks about how birth order is affected by things like divorce, death, adoption, and so on. Using vivid examples, he shows how families evolve because of these kinds of life changes. His evaluations aren't always spot-on (I could think of exceptions to just about all of his rules), but more often than not, they are. It's fascinating. Not to mention a little eerie.
Besides using it to psychoanalyze yourself and others, of what use is the information in The Birth Order Book? Well, according to Dr. Leman, knowing about birth order can help you better understand your spouse (leading to a stronger marriage), your children (helping you become a better parent) and even the clients you may encounter at work (creating a more successful business as well as a larger personal income). He gives specific ideas for doing each of these things, using examples from both his professional and personal lives.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Thanks to all who entered the contest. Stay tuned for more book giveaways!
"'Princess' is how we tell little girls that they are special, precious. 'Princess' is how we express our aspirations, hopes, and dreams for them. 'Princess' is the wish that we could protect them from pain, that they would never know sorrow, that they will live happily ever after ensconced in lace and innocence" (81).
If you're the mother of a little girl, you're no doubt familiar with the Disney Princess phenomenon. How could you not be? The princesses—Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, Tiana, etc.—decorate everything from clothing to bedding to cans of Spaghettios. Their wholesome, inspiring images appeal not just to young girls, but to parents, who find the innocent, fairy tale magic appealing in the increasingly risque world of pop culture. But how innocent is the multibillion dollar "girlie-girl" industry (which includes not just the Princesses, but Barbie, American Girl, etc.), really? Is it doing what parents hope it's doing—encouraging imaginative play, teaching girls to reach for their dreams, and empowering them to embrace femininity, but not be limited by it—or is it turning sweet little princesses into self-centered, narcissistic material girls who expect to be treated like royalty, no matter how they act in return?
To find out, Peggy Orenstein, a writer and mother of one daughter, studied all things pink—from the Princesses at Disneyland to historical dolls at American Girl Place to the backstage world of child beauty pageants. As she trolled through this frothy pastel world, she discovered some shocking trends, issues that convinced her to approach the pretty Princess world with caution. All mothers want their daughters to feel attractive, confident and empowered, but not if it means turning out spoiled brats who are so greedy, selfish and materialistic that they can't function in the real world. As Orenstein examines this troubling fantasyland phenomenon, she offers encouragement and information with the goal of arming parents against the potentially damaging effects of Princess culture on their daughters.
While I don't agree with everything Orenstein says ("I expect and want my daughter to have a healthy, joyous erotic life before marriage. Long, long, long before marriage"  - I mean, what mother wants that?), I found Cinderella Ate My Daughter to be both entertaining and disturbing, revealing and troubling. Orenstein writes with an engaging, mother-to-mother tone that allows readers to feel her passion and concern for young girls everywhere. Whether you find Orenstein's attitude toward the sparkly girlie-girl world hysterical and exaggerated or convincing, if not right-on-the-money, one thing is certain: She'll give you something to think about.
(Readalikes: Hm, I can't think of anything. Can you?)
If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for language (no F-bombs) and frank talk about sexuality
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Friday, February 10, 2012
You've probably noticed that I don't read a lot of inspirational-type books. I probably should scatter some enlightening reads in among my dark dystopians, but, yeah, that doesn't always happen. Still, I like the idea of reading these books, so when I was contacted about reviewing Enjoy Every Sandwich by Dr. Lee Lipsenthal, I readily agreed. I'm so behind with everything right now, though, that I haven't had a chance to read it yet. I will, it just hasn't happened yet.
No matter. Even if I'm a slacker, the book's publicist is offering two of my readers a chance to win a copy of this feel-good memoir. I'm not even going to make you answer a question to be entered—all you have to do is comment on this post. I'll draw the names of two winners on February 20. The giveaway is only open to readers in the U.S. Good luck!
As medical director of the famed Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Lee Lipsenthal helped thousands of patients struggling with disease to overcome their fears of pain and death and to embrace a more joyful way of living. In his own life, happily married and the proud father of two remarkable children, Lee was similarly committed to living his life fully and gratefully each day.
The power of those beliefs was tested in July 2009, when Lee was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. As Lee and his wife, Kathy, navigated his diagnosis, illness, and treatment, he discovered that he did not fear death, and that even as he was facing his own mortality, he felt more fully alive than ever before. In the bestselling tradition of Tuesdays with Morrie, told with humor and heart, and deeply inspiring, Enjoy Every Sandwich distills everything Lee learned about how we find meaning, purpose, and peace in our lives.
Thursday, February 09, 2012
To the FTC, with love: I received an ARC of All the Flowers of Shanghai from the generous folks at William Morrow (an imprint of Harper Collins) and TLC Book Tours. Thank you!
"I thought childbirth was a sort of journey that you could send dispatches home from, but of course it is not—it is home. Everywhere else now, is 'abroad'" (58).
"I can make babies, for heaven's sake, novels are a doddle" (60).
"Children are actually a form of brain-washing. They are a cult, a perfectly legal cult. Think about it. When you join a cult you are undernourished, you are denied sleep, you are forced to do repetitive and pointless tasks at random hours of the day and night, then you stare deep into your despotic leader's eyes, repeating meaningless phrases, or mantras, like Ooh da gorgeous. Yes, you are! Cult members, like parents, are overwhelmed by spiritual feelings and often burst into tears. Cult members, like parents, spout nonsense with a happy, blank look in their eyes. They know they're sort of mad, but they can't help it. They call it love" (148-49).
(Readalikes: Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott)
If this were a movie, it would be rated: R for strong language and sexual content
To the FTC, with love: I received an ARC of Making Babies from ELLE Magazine in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
For those of you who are, maybe you'll enjoy his newest, MICRO. The book, completed by thriller writer Richard Preston (click here to read an NPR interview about how the novel was created), concerns a group of interns lost in a deadly microscopic world overseen by a psychotic scientist. It's kind of hard to explain, so let me use the jacket flap copy, which does so quite nicely:
In a locked Honolulu office building, three men are found dead with no sign of struggle except for the ultrafine, razor-sharp cuts covering their bodies. the only clue left behind is a tiny bladed robot, nearly invisible to the human eye.
In the lush forests of Oahu, groundbreaking technology has ushered in a revolutionary era of biological prospecting. Trillions of microorganisms, tens of thousands of bacteria species, are being discovered; they are feeding a search for priceless drugs and applications on a scale beyond anything previously imagined.
In Cambridge, Massachusetts, seven graduate students at the forefront of their fields are recruited by a pioneering microbiology start-up. Nanigen MicroTechnologies dispatches the group to a mysterious lab in Hawaii, where they are promised access to tools that will open a whole new scientific frontier.
But once in the Oahu rain forest, the scientists are thrust into a hostile wilderness that reveals profound and surprising dangers at every turn. Armed only with their knowledge of the natural world, they find themselves prety to a technology of radical and unbridles poower. To survive, they must harness the inherent forces of nature itself.
An instant classic, MICRO pits nature against technology in vintage Crichton fashion. Completed by visionary science writer Richard Preston, this boundary-pushing thriller melds scientific fact with pulse-pounding fiction to create yet another masterpiece of sophisticated, cutting-edge entertainment.
Sounds intriguing, no? I thought so, too. The problem, once again, is not in the novel's premise, but in its execution. Now, my husband (who has fond memories of reading Jurassic Park to his youngest brother as a bedtime story) insists that the beauty of a Crichton novel lies in the science. I happen to believe that science is all well and good, but that if you're trying to create exciting fiction then you're going to need a little more than just cold, hard facts and concepts. For instance, you should have some colorful characters, people who speak and act in interesting ways. You don't want cliches or stereotypes, and you certainly don't want emotionless paper dolls. Once you've created some lively folks, you should let them engage in informative, but entertaining conversations. Some kind of action is required in a story, of course, and yet, you cannot make it the only thing. There has to be some human emotion (not melodrama) involved so that readers feel connected to the story and its cast. Most importantly of all, though, is dynamic storytelling. Settings, characters, and plot events need to be described in a way that makes them live and breathe in the reader's imagination. Without all this, you just have science and, I don't know about you, but I don't think that makes for much of a story. A documentary, okay, but not a fictionalized thriller.
In case you can't tell, MICRO just didn't do it for me at all. Even though (as you can probably tell) science isn't really my thing, I think I could have enjoyed this book if it had had all the things I mentioned above. It didn't. For me, then, it became dull. I felt so little connection to the characters that I really didn't care whether they lived or died. Well, I guess I cared enough to finish the book, but that's it. Like Pirate Latitudes, it left me thinking, "What's all the hype about here? I just don't get it." Maybe this is just a classic case of "different strokes for different folks," but I really do believe that I can enjoy a novel on any subject under the sun—provided the story is told well. For me, MICRO didn't fit that bill at all.
My task now, I think, is to go back and read a real Crichton book. I think I'll start with Sphere, since that's the movie I like best. Unless, of course, there's a written version of ER ...
(Readalikes: Reminds me a little of Jurassic Park—the movie version, since I haven't actually read the book)
If this were a movie, it would be rated: R for language, violence/gore, and sexual innuendo
To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of MICRO from the generous folks at Harper Collins. Thank you!
Monday, February 06, 2012
Friday, February 03, 2012
Speaking of LDS writers, I'm excited to be part of the Whitney Academy again this year. The Whitneys recognize excellence in fiction writing by authors who are also members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The finalists in all 7 categories were announced today. Winners are decided by the Academy, a group made up of LDS writers, booksellers, bloggers, etc. Members of the Academy are asked to read all 35 of the books on the list or, at least, all the titles within one category. I'm going to try to do the former so that I can vote for best novel overall, but we'll see how it goes. Like I may have mentioned I've been a little preoccupied lately.
At any rate, here's the list of finalists. I was disappointed that more of the books I loved and nominated (Circle of Secrets by Kimberley Griffiths Little and Back When You Were Easier to Love by Emily Wing Smith, for example) didn't make it to the final round, but I'm excited to explore some new novels and authors. Okay, here's the list for real. BTW: I crossed out the titles I've already read and the asterisks in the list denote books that are eligible for the Best Novel by a New Author award.
Before I Say Goodbye by Rachel Ann Nunes
Gifted by Karey White*
Evolution of Thomas Hall by Kieth Merrill
The Walk: Miles to Go by Richard Paul Evans
The Wedding Letters by Jason F. Wright
Daughter of Helaman by Misty Moncur*
Fires of Jerusalem by Marilyn Brown
Isabelle Webb: The Pharaoh's Daughter by N.C. Allen
Letters in the Jade Dragon Box by Gale Sears
Miss Delacourt Has Her Day by Heidi Ashworth
Borrowed Light by Carla Kelly
Captive Heart by Michele Paige Holmes
Count Down to Love by Julie N. Ford
The List by Melanie Jacobson*
Not My Type by Melanie Jacobson
Acceptable Loss by Anne Perry
Bloodborne by Gregg Luke
If I Should Die by Jennie Hansen
Rearview Mirror by Stephanie Black
Smokescreen by Traci Hunter Abramson
The Alloy of Law: A Mistborn Novel by Brandon Sanderson
I Don't Want to Kill You by Dan Wells
The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card
A Night of Blacker Darkness by Dan Wells
No Angel by Theresa Sneed*
Youth Fiction Speculative:
My Unfair Godmother by Janette Rallison
Shifting by Bethany Wiggins
Slayers by C.J. Hill
Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George Variant by Robison Wells
Youth Fiction General:
Girls Don't Fly by Kristen Chandler
Miles from Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams
Pride & Popularity by Jenni James
Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt
With a Name like Love by Tess Hilmo*
As you can see, I've got my work cut out for me! I'll be keeping track of my progress on my right sidebar—kind of a personal challenge—so you can follow along with me.
How about you? What do you think of the finalists? Which books did you love? Which are you excited to read? And, most importantly, will I be seeing you at LDS Storymakers?