Thursday, October 23, 2008

Grace by Richard Paul Evans


By Richard Paul Evans
Simon and Schuster, October 2008

Review by Heather Moore

If you are a Richard Paul Evans fan, you know that you’ll probably need a tissue when reading one of his books, especially towards the end. Grace is no different. This book debuted on the New York Times Bestseller list—and for a good reason. Heralded by Glenn Beck as Evans’ best book yet, readers will quickly find that this high praise is well deserved.

The book opens with a retelling of the well-known tale—The Little Match Girl. Of course with a precedent set like that, the theme of the story quickly comes to life. The reader is then thrown into the year 1962 in a poor neighborhood of Salt Lake City. Two brothers build a tree house—which becomes the place they spend almost every minute of their summer hours. With a working mother and a disabled father, they create their own entertainment by searching through the old junk in the garage.

When the main character, Eric, meets a runaway girl named Grace, he offers her a place to sleep in his backyard tree house. Little does Eric know, but Grace will be the one helping him, and changing his life forever.

But more than the story, and even more than the message, something extraordinary arises out of the pages. A mission from the author. Richard Paul Evans is a person who not only “talks the talk” but walks the walk. He’s launched a new project in conjunction with his charity, The Christmas Box International, called The Christmas Box Initiative. His goal? To help every youth in America who is aging out of foster care. It doesn’t take much imagination to see what a difficult road an eighteen year old has ahead of him with no parental support. Many of these youth simply become homeless. But The Christmas Box Initiative provides Christmas Box Lifestart Kits to the youths as they leave foster care. And that’s only the first phase.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Brittany's Books

By Brittany Mangus

Lately I have been channeling my inner Edward. And I can now tell, from reading your minds that all of you have always wanted to know which books I love to read! This is a short list of my favorite church-related books (other than the scriptures) (and my book) (ha ha).

Mantle: A Windy Day in August, at Nauvoo by Robert G. Mouritsen. This is a relatively short book about the day that some say Brigham Young received the countenance (and some said even the voice) of Joseph Smith, proving to them that Brigham was his intended successor. It has a lot of excerpts from pioneer-era journals. It's very interesting to read, especially if you're about to travel to Nauvoo.
Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, by Richard L. Bushman. There have been a lot of biographies written about Joseph, but I really enjoyed this one (some of it I took with a grain of salt). It really attempts to paint a "cultural biography" of the prophet. After reading it, I now see Joseph as he was: a real person with an extraordinary and exemplary calling as the prophet who ushered in the restoration.
Symbols in Stone: Symbolism on the Early Temples of the Restoration by Matthew B. Brown and Paul Thomas Smith. I love anything by Matthew B. Brown, but this book has a special place in my heart. This was one of the first books I read about the temple when I was preparing to go. It gives a wonderful perspective on temple symbolism and explains the symbols on the outside of the Salt Lake Temple.
The Savior and the Serpent by Alonzo Gaskill. Also a great temple-related book. (It talks a lot about the Garden of Eden and eternal progression.)
Brigham Young, American Moses by Leonard Arrington. I love Brigham Young. To me, he was tough as nails (and of course, the "Lion of the Lord" nickname fits him). I love that he was one of the only people who never betrayed Joseph Smith. I love that he had both a testimony of Joseph Smith and a testimony of Jesus Christ and the restored gospel. This book gave a great background on him. I recommend it.
Leaves from my Journal, Wilford Woodruff. This is a collection of excerpts from Wilford Woodruff's amazing journals. He of course is the source of many facts concerning the early history of the church.
Gospel Symbolism by Joseph Fielding McConkie. Another book I read while preparing for the temple. Read it even if you've already been to the temple. It really helps to open up another level of understanding concerning gospel principles and the Savior's atonement.
The Lost Language of Symbolism by Alonzo Gaskill. I use this more of a reference guide, it's like an encyclopedia.
Endowed from on High by John D. Charles. Another book I read when I was preparing for the temple. I read it again right after I received my own endowment. This book is one of the reasons why my first temple experience was so wonderful.
Brigham Young: Images of a Mormon Prophet, by Richard Holtzapfel and R.Q. Shupe. This is a coffee table book. (Err... hot chocolate table book?) It has lots of great photos of Brother Brigham and gives you another perspective on his life.
Joseph Smith: The Man The Mission The Message by Matthew B. Brown. Another... hot chocolate table book. Lots of great photographs of personal articles owned and worn by the Prophet and Emma.
Mafia to Mormon: My Conversion Story by Mario Facione. No, this doesn't have anything to do with that movie Mobsters and Mormons. This is an autobiographical account of Mario's life both before and after he left the Mob and joined the church. It's a quick read (105 pages) and I guarantee you'll read it again.

There are more of course, (like The Holy Temple by Boyd K. Packer, and Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage, etc.) but I know most of you have read those. I wanted to talk about books that maybe you haven't read before. Or maybe you have read some of the books I've mentioned? What are your thoughts? Were you upset because you thought I was going to talk about the Twilight series and I didn't? Talk to me.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Recovering Charles by Jason F. Wright

Recovering Charles

By Jason F. Wright
#1 New York Times Bestselling Author
Shadow Mountain, September 2008

Reviewed by Heather Moore

“Every life has a second verse” is the theme reiterated throughout Jason Wright’s latest novel, Recovering Charles.

When Luke Millward, a Pulitzer winning photographer, receives a phone call from New Orleans, his routine life is turned upside down. On the heels of Hurricane Katrina, Luke is told that his father has gone missing.

Estranged from his father for many years, Luke decides to make the journey and join in the search. But the search for his father turns out to be a discovery of the soul—both past the present for Luke.

Throughout the story, we learn about Luke’s mother who became addicted to prescription pain medication and his father who faithfully stayed by her side until her tragic death. We also catch a glimpse of Luke’s father and his descent into depression and alcoholism following his wife’s death. Luke moves on with his life after graduation, but he never forgets his upbringing.

This novel was a wonderful, compelling read. The writing style is fresh and even poetic in some places. The characters are vibrant and engaging—I was caught up in the plight of the main character as he was swept into the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and started to put together bits of his past together as he tried to find his father. Readers will be reminded of the devastation that occurred in Louisiana and will see it firsthand again through Luke’s eyes.

Recovering Charles is a great story that is universal in appeal—for anyone who believes in a second verse.

Book is available for purchase here.