Reading Roundup | July 2016

Book reviews on: The Devil in Vienna, Why Not Me, Miriam, and Understanding Your Endowment. Join the Reading Roundup linkup, a monthly linkup of book reviews for all the books read that month!

Well, it typically seems like when my interests online wane, my interest in reading waxes. This month for the Reading Roundup, I actually read and completed four books! I’m so proud of myself! However, one isn’t pictured below because it was an e-book.

Book reviews on: The Devil in Vienna, Why Not Me, Miriam, and Understanding Your Endowment. Join the Reading Roundup linkup, a monthly linkup of book reviews for all the books read that month!

Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling

Book review on Mindy Kaling's Why Not Me.

I had loved reading Mindy’s first book, so I was excited to read this book, especially since I had watched all of the Mindy Project. This one was a bit more thematic, especially when it came to the empowerment of women and working hard to follow after your dreams. Mindy talked a lot about how she still is an ordinary person, and to be honest, I believe it. She was very clear on her sometimes disdain for her body, looks, and eating habits. I liked this book a whole lot more than her first. I feel like I really caught a glimpse of her in real life and separated that from her Mindy character–and that was a big point of hers. She hated being seen as Mindy Lahiri in real life.

Miriam: Book 2 of Treasures of the Nile by Mesu Andrews

Book Review on Miriam by Mesu Andrews

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

This is the second in Andrews’s Treasures of the Nile series. I read and reviewed her first book, The Pharaoh’s Daughter, and when I found out that she was writing a second, but it wouldn’t be published until 2016, I couldn’t wait. So, I was very excited to read this one!

Miriam takes place a long time after the first book. Miriam is now 80 rather than the young woman helping to raise her brother Moses and keeping his birth a secret. Moses has already run away to Midian for 40 years. Miriam is known as a seeress, a prophetess, able to communicate with El Shaddai–an ancient name for the Hebrew God. But, He has recently been quiet towards her…and then Moses returns with the news that Yahweh, El Shaddai’s true name, has communicated with him and told him to free the Hebrew slaves. The book follows Miriam as she struggles with her new relationship with a suddenly unknown God and her nephew (Aaron’s son), Eleazar, a slave-warrior who is the body guard to Pharaoh’s first born son and how he grapples with loyalty and protection and believing in his Hebrew heritage’s religion.

Again, Andrews did a great job developing her characters. I loved seeing Miriam struggle with her personal relationship with God. It was so poignant. He never changed, but her understanding of Him did and that was hard for her to grasp. It really spoke to me because of my trial of faith last year. However, I did feel that the book followed Eleazar more than Miriam. And, as the 10 plagues of Egypt continued, Andrews seemed to speed up the pacing, which was a bit sad. However, I do really hope that she writes a third about the 40 year journey in the wilderness!

The Devil in Vienna by Doris Orgel

Book Review for The Devil in Vienna by Doris Orgel

This is a WWII book, as is obvious by the front cover. Inge, a Austrian Jew, has to say good-bye to her best friend, Leisolette, as she moves to Germany to go to a Hitler Youth program against her will. Inge receives a journal from her grandpa and writes her feelings about the fast changes of Austrian nationalism to complete acceptance of Hitler’s idealism.

I did feel like the author tried to make it Anne Frank-ish, but with a hint more sarcasm as Inge makes fun of the idea of naming a journal, etc. Also, the back cover leads the reader to think that Inge and Leisolette’s “forbidden” friendship is the main plot of the story, but it really is only mention in the very beginning of the book, then the last 1/3 of the book. However, it was a quick read and I didn’t like putting it down. A lot of it was open and honest, like Anne Frank’s journal because Orgel said that this book was based off many experiences she had herself as a young Jew in Austria during Hitler’s raise to power.

Understanding Your Endowment by Cory B. Jensen

Book review of Understanding Your Endowment by Cory Jensen.

This is a Mormon book, with Mormon theology in it, so I’m sorry if it isn’t of interest to my other readers. But, it was definitely of interest to me.

For those who don’t understand, the endowment is the “ritual” of ordinances and covenants we make the first time we go through an LDS temple. A lot of it is very confusing to those who go through for the first time. Mainly, because we aren’t really sure what to expect. What happens in an LDS temple is personal and sacred dealing with our personal relationship with Christ and understanding His saving Grace and His plan for us on a deeper, more intimate level. Because of this sacredness, we don’t really discuss much about it outside of the temple–it’s sacred, not secret.

I, personally, received my endowment four years ago, a week before I got married. I have been through the temple numerous times since then, repeating these ordinances and watching a sister-in-law, a brother, and a sister go through their own endowments. Every single time I go, I experience and learn something new–that is the point of the endowment. However, it also happens to be a point of questioning for many. Many think it is too Mason-based, some think it is ridiculous, some don’t understand the deeper levels, etc. That is why I was really interested in reading this book. Although I will be the first to admit that I don’t understand everything about the endowment or the reasons behind it, I do feel pretty comfortable with it. I wasn’t necessarily confused the first time I went through. But, that is because I am very good with symbolism and its intertwining with history. It’s always been an interest of mine. Yet, this past year, I’ve been trying to understand my faith and beliefs on a deeper level. And that’s what I liked about this book. Jensen tries to peel back layer after layer and made you realize that each part of the endowment meant, symbolized, promised, and required numerous different things. It was real interesting to think of the endowment in some different ways I never had before. I suggest all Mormons read this book! Honestly, it should be part of Temple Prep curriculum!

What books did you read this month?

Tayler from The Morrell

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.

  • I could have used that last book years ago. I spent so much time prepping the way others advised, but found myself in shock when it was time. I’ll have to pick this up and see if it helps settle some of my many feelings.

    • I’d also recommend Brad Wilcox’s Continuous Conversion…seriously, it was a testimony saver! It also talks a lot about the temple and symbolism behind it and really opened my eyes.

      • But can it also help with polygamy and the random polyandry? I have a lot of feelings and issues. Should have ignored the rabbit hole.

        • Honestly, Emma, what is in the past is in the past. All religions make mistakes. Are Catholics terrible or their theology terrible because they caused the Inquisition? Nope. Remember…the GOSPEL is perfect…the church (which is run by mortal men) and its members aren’t. Even Biblical prophets had their own fallacies. What has really helped me is refocusing on the center of the Gospel and the simple parts of the Gospel, which really is all that is important. Read the scriptures–Bible and Book of Mormon–and focus on having Christ speak to you and teach you through His word. Read Conference talks past and present with the same intent. Read these posts I’ve done in the past year: My Trial of Faith–
          Christ is the Center–
          Milk Before Meat–
          Also, I suggest not only reading Continuous Conversion, but also Lectures of Faith and Rough Stone Rolling–both available at Deseret Book.

          • Whoa, I’m legit not trying to start anything. I would never say, nor did I say, that all Catholics or Momons or Muslims are terrible. I’m simply asking if that book would be helpful in resolving several different issues one may have in general, including the teaching of polygamy in the eternities. Sometimes it can be difficult to fit square pegs in round holes, unless you can find tools to reshape the pegs you have. I appreciate your advice and experiences. Thanks!

          • I am so sorry if it came across that way–that’s the downfall of just typing rather than speaking face to face! Honestly I don’t remember if the book does mention polygamy, but it does focus a lot on the whole grace vs works debate (and happy surprise–we do believe in grace only!) I consider myself an “evangelical” Mormon…I try really hard to divide the actual true Mormon doctrine from culture and traditional ideology…that’s the most important and successful way to overcome any doubts.

  • That Miriam Book sounds really interesting. I absolutely love reading and yet I’ve been on the same book since June! I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Maybe I’ll visit the library this weekend, that always gets me reading.

    • You should definitely check out both of Mesu Andrews’ books! They are very well-written!

  • Ashley Ziegler

    Thanks for sharing about the Endowment book! I’ve been wanting to read it!

    • You should!!!! It was quite a quick read!

  • Chelsea Johnson

    I loved Mindy’s first book, so I definitely will have to go read her second one. I’ve wanted to for a while but I just haven’t gotten it yet. Thanks for the advice!

    • You’ll love it even more!

  • Lindsay Katherine

    Mindy anything is amazing!!! Looking forward to reading that Endowment book.

    • She is really great! And the Endowment book is really good, too!

  • Rachel Golden

    These all look like really great books! I’ve also noticed that as my interest in reading peaks, but blogging lags. I think I’ve found a balance, but it’s so difficult not to spend all my time reading once i get swept up in a good book!

  • The Devil in Vienna sounds interesting. And I still need to read Mindy Kaling’s book!

    • You should see if your library has it! And the Devil in Vienna would be great for a weekend read!