Friday, November 29, 2013

House on Rose Creek by Jenny Proctor

The House on Rose Creek by Jenny Proctor

"Kate Sinclair wasn't planning on inheriting her family's 100-year-old farmhouse. She wasn't even planning on going back to Rose Creek. But when her aunt unexpectedly passes away, leaving her the house, she finds herself forced to confront her past, including the family she hasn't spoken to in years. 

When she finds a journal belonging to a distant ancestor in the attic of the old house, she begins a journey that reconnects her with her faith, her family, and herself. 

But trouble looms. Kate's new love interest, Andrew, has a past full of secrets. And the state department of transportation wants to bulldoze the old farmhouse for a highway project.

Will Kate be able to see through Andrew's past? Most importantly, will she find a way to save her house and hold onto the fragile threads that tie her to her family?" (
Summary from author's website)


So, I really enjoyed the House on Rose Creek.  One of the main plot lines does center around a non-member who eventually joins the church, which just happens to be the religion of the main love interest. I know this plot trope gets a lot of negative reactions because it has been done a lot and sometimes not all that well. However, I felt that Proctor did an excellent job with the story. Kate has real and compelling reasons to investigate the church. After finding the long forgotten journal of her ancestor in the attic of the house that her aunt left to her after her death Kate finds herself thinking not only about God, but about her family connections. Just as she begins to settle in and decides to rebuild her ties with her family, she discovers that her house is in danger of being torn down by the city so they can build a new freeway. To make matters worse her aunt’s death caused Kate to miss the paperwork that would have allowed her to appeal the decision. So, she has to discover a way to save the house that has been in her family so long and that has become her new home. In addition, to the conversion and house plotline there is also a sweet romance with Andrew.  The romance plotline felt a tad predictable to me and I didn’t enjoy it as much as the other plot threads, but over all this was a really enjoyable read with interesting characters and dilemmas that kept me reading until the last page.

Visit Proctor's Website

Friday, November 22, 2013

Christmas From Heaven

Christmas from Heaven

Thanks to Shadow Mountain for giving me the opportunity to review this unique picture book that tells the story of the candy bomber. At the end of WWII Gail Halverson participated in the effort to drop supplies into West Berlin. Gail started out small in giving small treats to the children he saw and ended up at dropping thousands of parachutes of candy on the bombed out city.  Over 21 tons of candy was collected from company and private donations so that the sweets could be dropped on the city during the Christmas season.

I really enjoyed the historical aspect of this little Christmas story. As a former teacher I could imagine myself using it in a classroom setting on those last few days before the holiday break when the kids need a prod to focus on doing work.  The story sets up the political and social conditions that affected Europe after WWII and shows the kindness of the human spirit. The book has instructions on how to make your own candy parachutes that could be a fun hands-on project for younger children. I’m planning to use this little book in my picture book advent calendar this year, as our family counts down to Christmas. The book also includes a DVD of Tom Brokaw reading the text of the picture book with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in the background. It has a scene where they drop parachutes onto the audience during the finale that is just marvelous to watch.  
Find out more about the book at Deseretbook.

Biblical Names of Christ Christmas Set Review

Product Description from Deseret Book:
Create a Christ-focused holiday tradition as you review the sacred names of the Savior. Display these antique pewter-finish ornaments on the tree, as gift tags, or adorning a wreath on the front door. A list of scripture references is included, perfect for a "Twelve Days of Christmas" countdown. 12-piece set.

I like how these stars are light but sturdy. They have rounded corners so I don’t have to worry about my kids getting hurt on them. They have different names of the Savior printed on the front so they would be a good way to organize devotionals, 12 days of Christmas count downs, or even a little FHE event. One of the things that disappointed me was that I assumed the corresponding scriptural references for the names were on the back of the particular star, but the scriptural references are only on the box. From the point of view of keeping these ornaments as a keepsake for years I found this slightly annoying. If you lose the box or it gets damaged you may find yourself doing some prep work in years ahead. Still they are a wonderful gift and a really nice way to bring the Savior into family Christmas traditions.

Ornament sets can be purchased from Deseret Book.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Witnesses by Stephanie Black

The Witnesses by Stephanie Black

“Welcome to New America, where patriots are traitors and religion is a crime. After government agent Daniel Lansbury fakes the executions of three believers on national television, he and the fugitives Alisa Kent, Ian Roshek, and Ian's sister, Jill face the perilous task of outwitting President Amanda Ryce and her power-hungry Council long enough to escape to freedom. While a government reformer is on their side, rigorous new security measures thwart any chance of aid. And Daniel's estranged father, Marcus, an underground terrorist leader, is hatching plans to sabotage the breakable trust between Daniel and Ian and put himself in power at the head of the nation. As faith and loyalties come under fire, the fugitives struggle to stop Marcus and his zealous terrorists and bring to light the wrongs committed against the citizens of this fragile, fledgling nation.” (summary from Deseret Book)
  I was super happy when I discovered that The Witnesses was a direct sequel to Black’s previous novel The Believer. I reread the first book so I could remember the plot for the second book. The novel leaves off right where the first left off, which surprised me a bit. I was looking forward to seeing more of the world and how things had changed in her future, but it turns out that her characters were never able to escape New America and the corrupt government. The strain of staying in hiding is threatening to tear apart the fragile bands of loyalty the group only just forged. It doesn’t help that Marcus Landsbury is still out there making plots to take over the presidency, and is still trying to manipulate his son. With the way things are going it is only a matter of time before Ian, Alisa, Jill, and Daniel are caught. What they didn’t expect was that their capture may be the key to getting the reforms that they wanted all along. I really liked experiencing another adventure with these characters and seeing how they were able to change their country for the better even if it happened in a way they would never have expected. I love how layered and complex Black’s characters are, especially her villains. She did a superb job of showing their motivations and revealing their fascinating decisions. I really enjoyed getting back into this intense dystopian world.

Visit Stephanie Black's Website