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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


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.**


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?

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.

Reading Roundup | November 2016

Reading Roundup November 2016: Book reviews for The Lampfish of Twill, Repurposed Faith, Potty Training for Dummies, and Potty Training for Boys

I know, I know…I say it every month…but boy did this month just fly by! It seems like less than two weeks ago we went Trick-or-Treating, and now before my eyes, Thanksgiving is over, and the house is decorated for Christmas. Luckily, I was able to read four and a half books for this month’s reading roundup.

Reading Roundup November 2016: Book reviews for The Lampfish of Twill, Repurposed Faith, Potty Training for Dummies, and Potty Training for Boys

Potty Training For Dummies

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We decided to try potty training around Halloween. So, I read this book in hopes of advice in addition to all my friends’ and family’s advice and tips. It was the first “For Dummies” book I’ve ever read and I can tell that I do not like the set up of this series–it’s too crowded, to junk-y.

I did get some good tips, but they tried to be as generic as possible. They also switched back and forth from referring to your toddler as a him or a her and with different names. I know they were trying to appease to both moms of girls and of boys and of different cultures, but it got really annoying. There was also a ton of links to specific brands of training potties or apps, etc. Did they expect me to type the entire URL out after reading the book? Because this book tried to be light-hearted for the series, even though it was “written” by PhD’s and pediatric specialists, I feel that it was ghost written by some intern.

Potty Training for Boys: The Easy Way

This was a much more useful book. I mean, for starters, it was specifically geared towards boys, who apparently have different issues with potty training with girls. It helped me get into the mindset of my almost 2.5 year old son and see things the way he sees them, which helped me a lot. It gave a lot of specific tips and tricks to help boys and made me a lot more confident about quitting potty training for now. I’ll definitely pick it up again when we start again. It also give a lot of troubleshooting and different methods for different boys. Even Justin read this book!!!

The Lampfish of Twill by Janet Taylor Lisle

Book review of The Lampfish of Twill for Reading Roundup November 2016

I actually unknowingly read another one of Lisle’s books before: The Afternoon of the Elves, and to be honest, liked that one better. This book follows young Eric, an orphan being raised by his aunt in the perilous fishing community of Twill. Twill is settled on harsh cliffs near rough waters. Fishing is all they know, and it is a dangerous game on their shores–they are used to lives being lost constantly. However, the lampfish brings them hope. These legendary fish are huge and provide a ton of meat as well as bones and oil for deeply needed supplies. However, they are rare and extremely tricky to hunt and catch. After meeting weird, mystical old Mr. Cantrip, he begins to change his mind on fishing lampfish after he learns the truth about them.

I am unsure on how I feel about this book. I think the writing could’ve been better. The ending was a bit anti-climatic, as was the climax itself. It just kind of fizzled out with no real resolution. It was also confusing at times. But, I did like the culture that Lisle created for the village of Twill. It would definitely be an interesting read for a junior high class to do together!

Repurposed Faith: Breathing New Life into Your Quiet Time by Rosie Williams

Book review for Repurposed Faith for Reading Roundup 2016 November

** I received a copy of this book from Ambassador International Publishing in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. **

This book is about taking your quiet time you use in the Word or studying devotionals and making it more purposeful, more intentional. Sometimes, we either get out of the habit of daily scripture reading, and sometimes, we just go through the process of reading verse after verse without really getting any meaning out of it. I know that I’ve had that issue recently…Rhys has been waking up a bit earlier ever since Daylight Savings, which is during my daily scripture study time. So, I try to do scripture study while Nick Jr. is on…I haven’t really gotten a lot out of it this past month. So, I’m now trying books only for Rhys while I read scriptures.

What I love about this book is that Williams gives all sorts of different suggestions on how to be more purposeful with our scripture study in ways that will benefit us and our personalities. She also mentions promises that God gives to us for when we are intentional about studying His Word. I think that sometimes, we all need a small reminder on how to be better about our personal time with God and Christ.

What books did you read this month?

Tayler from The Morrell Tale.com

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.

Trusting in God

My husband is a private person. I am not. If up to me, I’d tell the whole world my entire life story. But, my husband is a bit more decisive on what he likes or wants to share. I know bloggers who are completely transparent about their personal lives. My husband prefers to draw a line in the sand between our personal lives and our blogging lives, and sometimes I like to flirt with that line.  However, I feel this time should be handled differently. And, as much as I’d love to write more for therapy and support, I highly respect my husband. So, all I’m going to say is this:

I’m very sorry I’ve been absent from social media for a while. In the same short time period, we have received some wonderful news for our family as well as some devastating news affecting us directly. Justin prefers to keep quiet about both for now, and I’ll will follow that request.

But, timing is a butt. It truly is.

I know the apostle Paul once said that he “glories in tribulation”, but to be completely honest, I am sick and tired of all the trials Justin and I have been given in our almost 4 years of marriage. We’ve had our fair share, I feel. The worst (before now), was right before Rhys was born…we hadn’t found a place to live yet and Justin hadn’t found a job yet. I wanted to give up having faith that God would provide for us. But, just at my lowest point, God spoke to me and answered my prayer. In a fatherly tone, he then commented, “See, I told you.”

I’m trying really hard to keep that lesson in mind right now. But, even though I want to give it all up, wallow in pity, and say “woe is us, we are destined for a lifetime of disappointments,” there is a small spark of hope left.

Yesterday, while trying to figure out a scripture to post for my #sharegoodness Instagram post, Proverbs 3:5-6 kept coming to my head:

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

God is trying to teach me the same lesson. I’m afraid of making light of our situation, which should not happen. But, I’m trying my absolute hardest to not doubt. The Lord does have a plan. He will help us. I may not understand when or how or why He is doing it the way He is, but He requires and demands my trust. I want to give Him that trust. Things will work out for the best for our family in the end.

So, if I am not super responsive or present on any social media, or light-hearted and jovial, please be patient with me as Justin and I try to navigate the next few weeks.

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.

A Hopeful Church

Not your typical heaven and hell outcome. Because of HIM, because of His Grace, we can all live again because He loves us so dearly and so deeply. #hallelujah

The more I become an adult, the more I begin to understand the doctrine of my church more and more. Being a teacher, and now being a mother, has opened up my eyes and allowed me to glimpse at what it must be like for our loving Heavenly Father. And, the more and more I feel for Him, but the more and more I am so grateful for such a hopeful church.

I have been Mormon all my life, as you know. Throughout my life, I have heard from friends, Internet, articles, history, school, literature, etc. of heaven vs. hell. I have read and heard of ministers preaching brimstone and fire. I have seen and learned of religious men and women who have the fearterror (not the fear-respect) of God. I have felt for my friends and characters who mourn lost ones who failed to join their religion because they believe they won’t end in heaven.

What a relief for me in what I and my religion believes. We have a more hopeful outlook in the afterlife.

Not your typical heaven and hell outcome. Because of HIM, because of His Grace, we can all live again because He loves us so dearly and so deeply. #hallelujah

Christ died so that we may live. Through His Atonement, He gave the greatest gift to mankind–GRACE and the hope of eternal life. In the LDS Church, we believe that after the say all and end all, after the end of the world, the Millennium, the Judgement, and the ultimate success and triumph of Christ and Heavenly Father over Satan, there is a wonderful plan for us. (Click here to read more about the Mormon view of the afterlife and the 3 degrees of heaven.) We don’t believe in “heaven” and “hell” in a traditional sense. But, we do believe in 3 kingdoms of glory. The highest is where God and Christ have domain and where the most righteous of His followers will live forever after. Then, two lower degrees, both of which are still better than any life known here on Earth. Even the sinner, the murderers, the bad guys have a chance to repent and accept Christ as their Savior and the only Way in the after life.

This is because if we mess up, if we sin, and of course we will-we are mortal men, we have the opportunity to repent and to receive His grace and forgiveness. There is no limit to the amount of times we can repent and use His Grace. How hopeful is that!?!

God is our loving Father. We truly believe that He is our literal father and we are His literal children. Because of this, He cares so deeply for us. He is not truly a vengeful God. Yes, the Old Testament describes Him as such, but do you really think that God would change between the Old Testament and the New Testament? God does not change. But, our understanding of Him does. He knew that we would fail constantly to our carnal and mortal weaknesses, and because He loved us so much, He sent His only Begotten Son, Christ, to atone for us. God loves us as children because we ARE His children. Therefore, although He may be very, very exasperated at us, He still loves us and desperately wants us to succeed and return to Him.

I am coming to understand this more and more with each passing year. Being a teacher to junior high students really opened my eyes to this characteristic of a long-suffering, disappointed, but still ever-loving God. Teaching is all I ever wanted to do when I grew up. It was (and still is) my passion in life. I immediately formed a loving, caring bond for each and every one of my students. My goal was to help them succeed. And, as a teacher, after getting to know them and see their work, I could tell what their potential was. I knew what their abilities were. I knew what they were capable of achieving. Of course, God knows that about all of us–He created us!

But, alas. I taught 12-14 year old kids. Of course many of them didn’t care about school work. Of course many of them weren’t living up to their potential or ability. It exasperated me. I wanted so badly for them to succeed because 1) I knew they could, 2) I knew it would relieve them and make them happier. I would tell my students that I knew they could do better. I told them how much I wanted them to succeed. I explained to them that I didn’t like their current grades, it twisted my stomach. But, that their current grades going home on report cards should be a lesson. Tomorrow was a fresh start. Tomorrow they could try again. Tomorrow we could forget about yesterday’s failed test or forgotten homework, or misbehavior. Tomorrow we could and would do better. Many times, I’d give them a second chance–I’d extend deadlines, I’d allow them to correct tests for points back. I would always plead with them to take the opportunities I was giving them. However, I never forced them. It was their decision. They already knew what was expected, and they had their agency. Many never did, even though in class they would promise to do better, they would promise to submit a paper, promise to do corrections, promise to get a parent signature. A few did, a few would apologize even though they did everything I ever asked and more. I knew there were some who really did struggle but always went above and beyond in their effort. Those were the few that I really cherished. I used them as examples. I wanted them to help lift up and encourage their peers. There were times I’d be very passionate in my lectures about wanting them to do better, about their potential, about giving them second chances. Many times I would warn it was the last time I was going to give them this opportunity. But, I’d still offer it on other assignments. It hurt when they didn’t try, but I never gave up being hopeful.

Can you see how I believe I am beginning to understand my Father in Heaven better? He has given us all agency. He has given us all commandments and expectations. Sometimes we fall short. He asks us to repent and to change. We promise to do better. But, then fall short again. He admonishes us to do better and forgives us again. We promise to do better and then fail again. He warns us to repent and change. We do…for a short amount of time. But, I cannot emphasize enough the amount that He loves us. He loves us so much that He has already given us the knowledge that He will triumph. That we have a hopeful future. That we can always ask forgiveness, receive Grace, and try again and become better. That we will be with Him afterwards.

What a hopeful church I belong to!

Tayler signature


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.

What I Love About My Faith | #LoveBlog Challenge

What is it about religion and faith that is so important? That causes wars of blood and words to be fought? That causes such deep soul anguish and such ethereal happiness?It is what the religion teaches, what it promises, what it provides, and how it makes you feel. I am so grateful to my religion and I love it so much.  These are the reasons why.

What do you love about your faith? I love the Atonement, and the hopeful view of the Gospel the LDS faith brings
Jesus Christ’s Atonement
Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. He is Only Begotten Son of our Heavenly Father. He is our eldest brother. He lived and died that we may die and live again. Through His infinite atonement, we can be forgiven of our sins and live with Him and our Father in Heaven again. For more information on His Wonderful sacrifice and Atonement, click here.

Eternal Families
We believe that in our church, we can be sealed together for all time and eternity. “Until death do you part” has no place in our religion. When we are married in an LDS Temple, a husband and wife are married to each other forever. And, all your children are automatically part of that promise. So, we believe families can be together forever. To learn more about our view on eternal marriage and eternal families, click here.

The Community
We Mormons are super tight-knit. No matter where you move, you can easily look online for your new congregation family because we are organized by geographical location. We have callings to help minister to each other personally and individually. To learn more about the culture and community of Mormons, click here.

The Temples
Have you ever seen a Mormon temple? They are beautiful! Such gorgeous architecture. But, more than how they look is what I experience in them. The Temple is a place for individual learning, growth, and communication with our Savior and Father. Sacred ordinances are performed there for those living and by proxy for those deceased. It is such a peaceful, tranquil, loving place. To learn more about Mormon temples, click here.

Hope in the Afterlife
We have a very positive, hopeful view of the afterlife. We believe families will be together forever. We believe in three kingdoms of glory. We don’t necessarily believe in a fire and brimstone hell. I don’t really want to get into the theological details in this post, but you can learn more about the Plan of Salvation (or the Plan of Happiness as we sometimes call it) here. But, the point being, because Christ died for us, we can ALL have a chance to return to the highest degree. 

What are your religious beliefs? What does your faith teach about love? How does your faith influence your relationships?

And now, I want to introduce two new friends, my lovely co-hosts for the #LoveBlog Challenge.

Brita Long: Christian feminist blissfully married to Dan Fleck for almost two years. Lover of Paris, pink sparkles, sensible shoes, manicures, and books. Fueled by hot tea and mimosas.

Twitter // Instagram // Facebook // Pinterest // Tumblr // Google+ // Bloglovin

Meet Alessia Cesana: Catholic bachelorette in the big city of London, navigating the world of dating and broken hearts like a Carrie Bradshaw in mantilla veil and ballet flats. Historian, professional geek and charity co-founder in her spare time. Loves Jane Austen, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, her Ray-ban Wayfarers and Tim Stanley’s hair.

Twitter // Instagram

And of course, Me: Mormon stay at home mom married to her best friend, Justin, for 3.5 years. Mother to 19 month old Rhys. “Retired” history and English teacher, runner, lover of video games, fantasy, books, and cooking. Consumer of Italian food, chocolate, steak, and strawberries.



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.