Reading Roundup | October 2017

October 2017 Reading Roundup

Wow. I am really on top of blogging this fall. Haha. But, you know what, it’s been kind of nice not to think about it. (It actually took me an entire day just to write thus far!) Let’s just jump right into October’s Reading Roundup, huh?

October 2017 Reading Roundup

Vendetta: The Nikki Boyd Files by Lisa Harris

Via

This was October’s church book club pick. Typically, I don’t care for Christian fiction (too many authors tend to be a bit too preachy or stretch the amount of miracles that happen) and typically, I don’t like murder mysteries. But, it was book club, so I endured.

Nikki Boyd is a young detective who works specifically on missing person cases. Her own sister was abducted as a teenager, spurring her passion to help prevent this happening to others. While she and her late best friend’s widowed husband where climbing mountains, Nikki gets a call about an abducted girl in the same National Park she was at. Nikki becomes emotionally invested in this case as it is strikingly similar to the way her sister’s abductor worked. This case focuses on Nikki’s ability to not only use her previous experience to help the current missing girl, but also the struggle to overcome her past to save someone’s future.

As a Christian fiction, I actually enjoyed it. I didn’t feel that the author was too preachy. Religion wasn’t necessarily a main point in the story, but it was still poignant. Religion and God’s role in our lives came up when discussing her sister’s abduction and assumed death as well as Nikki’s best friend’s death. There were some questions toward God, such as “Why do you let this happen to innocent young girls?” I think it was nicely poised. There wasn’t a big, overwhelming transition of faith or even reconciliation of faith. If anything, I think this book said it was ok to question things in times of hardship (such as a death in the family) as long as you endure. I am so very glad there weren’t any extraordinary miracles. At one point in time, Nikki was held “hostage” and prayed for God to save her and put the bad guy in custody. While she did end up escaping, it wasn’t for any miracles of God and the perpetrator at that specific time went away.

As for a murder mystery, it was very average. I don’t want to give away any specifics or the “who-did-it”. So, I’ll say this. The way they went about policies and procedures made me grimace. Nikki’s friend, a retired military man (like Special Ops guy) was very involved in the case and doing official police business even though he didn’t have any badge or affiliation with the police. I didn’t like that at all. And, then I didn’t really like the ending. That’s all I will say because I don’t want to spoil it. I don’t think the ending fit in well with the rest of the story. We were all kind of in agreement with that at book club.

To my knowledge, this is a trilogy and many members of Book Club are continuing the series. I’m stopping here.

Whatever Happened to Faith? By Robert L. Millet

**I received this book from the Deseret Book Store in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

http://readingismysuperpower.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/vendetta.jpg

This book actually took me most of the month of September and the first week of October to read. It wasn’t necessarily a long or difficult book, but if you remember, I read a lot of fiction during September and they were more interesting. It was a good religious book with good, religious discussion…I just wasn’t captured by the way Millet wrote it.

As a Millennial Mormon, there are a lot of times I feel I have been at odds with either the history of our church, our doctrine, our culture, and/or what our leaders have said (whether it was divinely inspired or their own thoughts and decisions). Many Millennial Mormons, as well as Millennial Christians, go through this issue of a faith crises. So, I love grabbing any and every book about struggling with faith.

The author of this book, Robert L. Millet is a current professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University and an emeritus Dean of Religious Education at BYU. So, he knows what he is talking about scripturally. Millet does focus his book on Mormons and does use a lot of Mormon doctrine and scripture, but the overall ideas and philosophies in this book could apply to any and all Christians.

Millet describes what faith is, how we gain faith, the importance of faith not only in history and in religion, but in the world’s culture. Millet discusses different reasons people tend to lose their faith and he gives examples and plan on how to help regain that faith. Overall, I really liked this book. It had some good points and I loved a few of the quotes. Many times I found myself nodding my head or saying “Oh, yeah! That makes sense.” However, there were a few things that I didn’t like.

Millet is a life-long member of the LDS Church. I am too, but the past few years, I have had some struggles with different aspects of our church. Millet couldn’t really empathize much with Millennial Mormons. He never really had a “faith crises.” He claims he did because he thought he was going to get one calling (voluntary job/position in the LDS Church) due to a dream, but ended up getting a “lower” calling instead. I kind of guffawed at that–that’s not a faith crisis. I also didn’t really like how talked about homosexuality. It almost seemed a little patronizing. Now, I don’t know Millet in person, nor do I know his personal believes or experiences, but that’s just the way it seemed as I read it.

The World of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Teresa Patterson

Book review on The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time for October 2017 Reading Roundup

I’ve owned this book for many years and have typically flipped through it, but I have never actually read it straight from cover to cover. I am a huge Wheel of Time fan. I started reading the books in junior high and still haven’t finished the last two (they only came out in the past few years). The series is a long fantasy action-adventure. Seriously…the series is 14 books long, with each book being a little over 1000 pages each!!!! It’s definitely an investment of your time. Hence, it’s taken up all of my adolescence. It is very Tolkien-ish, very Lord of the Rings-ish.

This book came out around half way through the series. It is kind of like an encyclopedia of the world Jordan created. It discusses the world’s history, the different countries and culture, the “magic”, and the characters. There is a lot of information in Jordan’s series. Seriously, he created a whole new world and was very detailed about everything in his world. Sometimes, it’s a little difficult to keep track of who was from what country, etc. So this is a great companion resource book—haha. A fantasy series that needs resource companion book. Man, I must be a geek.

Well, the thing that I really like about this book is that it was written like a real history book. As if the world really existed. It pulled from “true” “historical” sources. And it works perfectly because there is a character in the book that follows the main characters because his goal is to write a complete history of the world and he wants to write events as he witnesses them first hand. So, theoretically, this is the book that character wrote.

While reading this book, I felt like I was back in Jordan’s world. For the week or so I read it, I breathed his world. It’s all that I thought of. It was all-consuming. It made me miss reading Wheel of Time. I really need to finish the series!!! Before I’m 30 at least!!!

The BFG by Roald Dahl

Book Review for The BFG by Roald Dahl for October 2017 Reading Roundup

This was one of my favorite Dahl books growing up. My third grade teacher actually read it to my class out loud. It is a very quick read, as is many of Dahl’s books. This one is best known for its “vernacular” of the Big Friendly Giant. He talks weird, very much like someone from Dr. Seuss’s world would.

The BFG is about an orphaned girl who meets the BFG–Big Friendly Giant. He catches dreams and blows them into the minds of sleeping children. The BFG is actually the runt out of 10 giants. The other 9 are twice his size and eat humans. The BFG takes Sophie to Giant Country and she helps him make a plan to stop any more humans from being eaten by the giants. And, they get the Queen of England to help them carry out the plan.

I absolutely love this book! I can’t wait for Rhys and Evelyn to be a few years older so I can read it to them. And, when the BFG came out as a movie last year, I immediately rented it. I love how they did it. The BFG looks exactly how Dahl imagined him and I think the actor they got for him fit the part perfectly. Obviously, there was some extras added in to make it a full-length film, such as the boy the BFG had before he took Sophie. But, it works. And, I think the movie was beautifully and artistically done.

Read the book and see that movie! You can do both within one day!

Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

Book Review for Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl for October 2017 Reading Review

I actually had never read this book of Dahl’s before. But, it was quite interesting. Danny is the son of a poor, widowed car mechanic. They live in an old gypsy wagon behind their tiny little shop. Danny is the narrator and tells how much he admires his dad.

Then, one night, he finds out a secret about his dad. His dad is a small game poacher on English nobles’ lands. Now, this has actually been illegal for over a thousand years. Peasants (or common folk) aren’t allowed to hunt on noble land. But, this book, Dahl’s characters (and therefore, Dahl by extension as he always inserts his personal thoughts and feelings into his books) revere poaching and feel the nobles deserve it. I don’t really like it because it is illegal. Yes, the law is elitist, but it is still a law. Dahl is famous for showing that kids can be smart and heroes and sometimes adults are jerks–which is all true. But, to condone an illegal act, I don’t really agree with.

Well, the noble that his dad poaches on is an absolute jerk–everyone in town thinks so. Danny’s dad falls in a trap while poaching and breaks his leg. So, Danny, his dad, and everyone in town come up with a plan for the biggest poach in history. And it was all Danny’s idea. It is carried out and successful–therefore, Danny is the Champion (of poaching) of the World.

I do like the relationship that Danny has with his dad. They are basically destitute, but neither wants anything more because they have each other. I love how close father and son are, how much the dad respects Danny and how much Danny idolizes his dad. That is the kind of relationship I hope Justin and Rhys have. Maybe I will have Justin read this book to Rhys when he is older. It’s definitely a father-son book!

What books did you read in October? Would you like to read any of these books?

10 Ways to Experience the Christmas Season with Young Children

Last year’s Christmas season was wonderful. Rhys was 2.5 years old and he was getting a baby sister for Christmas. But, more than that, he was finally grasping the concept of Christmas. He understood about Christmas trees (and was so excited about it). He loved wrapping presents and eating candy canes. He knew who Santa was and would wave to him every time we went to the mall.

Even now, when we ask Rhys what Santa says, he says “Ho Ho Ho” and explains in his own little speech-delayed way how Santa goes through the chimney and leaves presents. He also tells us that Santa left him a play kitchen last year.

We love celebrating Christmas. It is actually my absolutely favorite holiday. It’s so festive, so bright, so full of fun, family, and friends. In the weeks before having Evelyn (two days before Christmas morning), we were so busy. We had so many Christmas parties to attend to.

But, while the commercial and festive part of Christmas is really fun, it isn’t the true reason we celebrate Christmas. As a Christian and as a Mormon, I celebrate Christmas because I celebrate the birth of my Savior, Jesus Christ. I absolutely love the Christmas spirit: religious Christmas songs (like Mary, Did You Know), the Nativity story, Advent devotionals, visiting Salt Lake City’s Temple Square, and Christmas church services are the absolute best part of the season.

But, I don’t think you have to separate the two. I want to raise my children to know and understand both parts of Christmas and celebrate them in tandem. And now that I have a 3.5 year old and an almost-one-year-old, it is the perfect time to start really getting into the holiday season. So, I have compiled a list of ways you can really bond with your children and teach them about the Christmas season and spirit. Continue Reading

Evelyn | Ten Months

Evelyn's 10 month update: sleeping, communication, mobility, likes, dislikes, and more!

Dear Evelyn Morgan,

Evelyn's 10 month update: sleeping, communication, mobility, likes, dislikes, and more!

Oh boy. Poor Evelyn. Poor second child. Another monthly update that is a week two weeks late! I haven’t really been blogging at all last month, and of course this gets pushed to the back as well. Even the pictures aren’t the best. I actually used your Halloween costume for this month’s pictures. You were a snow leopard for Halloween. It’s been cold, windy, and cloudy a lot recently and I just never had the time for dress you up and take pictures outside.But, boy what a month this has been Evelyn! One major up and one major down. You are walking!!!! And, Grandma and Grandpa came for a quick visit. You loved all the attention they poured on you all weekend long. But, you’ve also had a major teething session and currently have a double ear infection and bronchitis! You are actually on a nebulizer right now.

When you took the first bit of steam from it at the pediatrician’s office, you did not like it at all. It was a big oxygen mask on your face and I had to pin your arms down. You fought the whole time. Rhys got very upset, to the point of crying for fear. He was scared of the “bad guy medicine” on his baby sister. He only calmed down once he saw that you were safe and out of the nebulizer. Your brother loves you so much. I hope you know that, even when he pushes you and takes away your toys. You are the apple of his eye. Continue Reading

Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge

Hagerman's National Wildlife Refuge Butterfly Day in Texas near Lake Texacoma

One of my resolutions this year was to discover where I live more than I had ever done. I grew up going to National Parks for the summer and camping with my family. During the rest of the year, we would go hiking and geocaching on trails. I loved it. I loved exploring nature. I loved being out in the open. I loved feeling that unique holiness of nature–that’s why I was super excited to go to Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge.

We had been doing pretty good exploring and discovering the North DFW area: restaurants, activities, little shops, playgrounds. But, for our anniversary, Justin gave me a wonderful gift. He sent me a list of State and National Parks and said every three months we would go and either spend all day or camp overnight. It seriously was the best gift.

On Saturday, we went to Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge in North Texas on the south end of Lake Texoma. This is a pit stop for migrating birds and butterflies, and we came on the perfect day: official Butterfly Day.

Beautiful animal photography from Hagerman's National Wildlife Refuge Click To Tweet

I have a DSLR, but I only have the two lenses it came with. I’m not a professional by any means. But, I am very proud of these pictures I took. I especially loved the pictures of the butterfly garden–I couldn’t believe that I took these pictures! I didn’t let anyone else touch my camera, so there aren’t any pictures of me.

Hagerman's National Wildlife Refuge Butterfly Day in Texas near Lake Texacoma Continue Reading

Quinoa Chicken Taco Salad

Easy, delicious, and healthy! Quinoa Chicken Taco Salad recipe!

A few years back, Justin and I decided we wanted to eat a little healthier. So, we decided that once a week we would have vegetarian dinners. At this point in time, quinoa was a huge fad. I decided to give it a go, but I was unsure how Justin would feel about quinoa tacos…

I made it and held my breath as I told him what dinner was when he got home from work. But, after one taco, he ate a second. Then a third. He loved it. He liked the texture and the flavor. We had a healthy Mexican recipe!

Easy, delicious, and healthy! Quinoa Chicken Taco Salad recipe!

Continue Reading