Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Disciple's Life: The Biography of Neal A. Maxwell

Goodreads Says:    The story behind the writing of this book really began in 1976, when Elder Maxwell invited me to take a leave from Brigham Young University and work for two years under his daily direction in the new Correlation Department at Church headquarters. In later years, when I was an administrator and a teacher at Ricks College and then at BYU, I saw him often in Church Educational System meetings, where he was a key figure on the Church Board of Education. In 1996 I was called to the Seventy and assigned to an Area Presidency in Australia, where I remained until returning to Utah in August of 2000. Like so many other Church members, my wife, Marie, and I were stunned by the news of Elder Maxwell's leukemia in late 1996, and we worried and prayed about his health. During October conference 1999, he invited me to come by his office. As we talked, he indicated he was not certain about his condition. He said he was receiving an experimental treatment but "one of these days" the leukemia just might fully return. That was the main reason, he said, why he'd finally yielded to prodding from others that he allow the writing of his biography. I thought a book on his life story would be wonderful until he asked if I would write it. As honored as I felt, I honestly thought my doing this was not a good idea. I believed that he, his family, and the Church deserved thorough research and writing, and the work needed to be done at once to maximize the possibility of being published during his lifetime. He shared those hopes. But given the frightening uncertainty about his health; given that acceptable biographies can take years to document and write; given that he hadn't kept a personal journal, which would necessitate additional months of original research; and given that I was half a world away on a Church assignment I replied that someone who could give this project immediate and full-time attention was needed. Nonetheless, after more visits with Elder Maxwell and with others, within a few days I had agreed to begin the project and to move as quickly as possible. In the weeks that followed, I worried about having committed myself to something as unreachable as this task seemed. As I would awaken to hear the colorful birds that rule those fresh Australian mornings, I would sometimes wonder if indeed, I would hope that I had agreed to write Elder Maxwell's biography only in a dream. Then the reality would hit me again. At times I would remember Nephi's words about the Lord preparing a way for people who have a work to do.

My Thoughts:

-    This was my third attempt to read this book, and I finished this time!! Woo!! Elder Maxwell was my favorite speaker as a teen, and it has always been a goal of mine to finish this book. I DID IT!

-    This book was part text book, part biography, part BYU history, part church history, and part uplifting. I wish it had been mostly biography and uplifting. I really didn't need the all the BYU history and church history. Those parts were tedious to read.

-    I was really moved by Elder Maxwell's obedience, especially during World War II.

-    I like that the author didn't sugarcoat the horrors of war. The chapters about World War II were some of my favorite. It was thrilling to read about, and I loved how Elder Maxwell's faith got him through.

-    I love how highly Elder Maxwell praises his wife. They supported and loved each other, and they were true companions and partners. It is nice to read about marriages like that.

-    A lot of Elder Maxwell's university days read like a textbook. It was very boring, and I didn't really understand much of it.

-    I liked finding similarities between Elder Maxwell and myself. I also get bored in church and start reading my scriptures, I am having to learn empathy, and I'm often impatient and in a hurry to get things done. 

-    I love how the author addressed the way Neal Maxwell spoke. It was very interesting to read how he developed his cadence of speech. His love for language and words was fun to read about, and I love the quotes from the other apostles about Elder Maxwell's speech. 

-    Elder Maxwell was an incredible man, and he accomplished so much in his life. Even though I struggled through some of the book, I'm really glad I read it. His story is inspiring. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Fantastic Mr. Fox

17242192Goodreads Synopsis:    Nobody outfoxes Fantastic Mr. Fox!

Someone's been stealing from the three meanest farmers around, and they know the identity of the thief—it's Fantastic Mr. Fox! Working alone they could never catch him; but now fat Boggis, squat Bunce, and skinny Bean have joined forces, and they have Mr. Fox and his family surrounded. What they don't know is that they're not dealing with just any fox—Mr. Fox would rather die than surrender. Only the most fantastic plan can save him now.

My Thoughts:

-    This was different for Dahl. I felt like it was lacking the fun imaginative elements.

-    The plot was very simple and so were the characters. I felt like the most developed characters were the mean farmers. 

-    I was cheering for Mr. Fox the whole way through.

-    While this wasn't my favorite Roald Dahl book, I still liked it alright. Gnome really liked this story.

Gnome's Thoughts: (spoilers)

-    I liked the rat at the very end. He was silly.

-    I thought the book was funny cause they never got Mr. Fox.

-    I liked the pictures.

-    I didn't like when they shot off Mr. Fox's tail. That was sad.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: 5 Star Books

Ten of My Most Recent 5 Star Reads

I love topics that are easy like this. I just list my most recent five starred books on Goodreads!

 13206900 13206828
Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2) Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)
28462220 Darth Vader #13
Salt to the Sea 6393631
Batman Adventures Vol. 1

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Long Haul

21535019Goodreads Says:    Greg Heffley and his family hit the road in author-illustrator Jeff Kinney's latest installment of the phenomenally bestselling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.

My Thoughts:

-    I thought this series was done, but I guess not. Will this series ever end? Don't get me wrong, I enjoy these books. I think they are hilarious, but I don't like it when series don't end.

-    Worst family trip EVER! Wow! Anything that could go wrong, does go wrong. 

-    The book was really funny. I read parts of it to my daughter and she loved it. I might start reading these to her.

-    The illustrations really make these books better. I love them, and they are hilarious!

-    I feel like Manny is the smartest one in the family. 

-    I loved the little piggy!

Previous Wimpy Kid Books
(click on the cover to see my thoughts)

 7823678 11254250
13563669 17733898

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Princess in Love

1141600Goodreads Says:    Princess Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo may seem the luckiest girl ever. She's a princess, for starters. She also lives in New York City. And while she's no supermodel, mirrors do not crack at her reflection. Best of all, she finally has a boyfriend.

The truth is, however, that Mia spends all her time doing one of three things: preparing for her nerve-racking entree into Genovian society under the slave-driving but elegant Grandmere, slogging through congestion unique to Manhattan in December, and avoiding further smooches from her hapless boyfriend, Kenny.

All she wants is a little peace and quiet...and a certain someone else to be her boyfriend. For Mia, being a princess in love is not the fairy tale it's supposed to be...or is it?

My Thoughts:

-    Is Mia going to grow/mature anytime soon? Or at least have some character development? I've read this series before, but it has been a while, and I remember being this annoyed with Mia. I guess not a lot of time has passed. It has only been a couple months in the timeline. 

-    It really bugs me that Mia is more concerned about stupid teenager stuff than her introduction to the Genovian people. Her priorities are all messed up. She needs to take a step back and look at the big picture. I wish the book had more of Mia training to be a princess.

-    I'm SO tired of Mia worrying about "self-actualization" for herself and everyone else. 

-    Lilly is a lame friend. She is very critical and doesn't seem to care about anyone but herself. Tina is a WAY better friend and a lot more supportive. Mia can actually talk to Tina and be open with her.

-    I do have to admit that I like the Mia/Michael relationship. Michael is hot. . .at least he is in my head.

-    I kinda feel bad for Kenny. He seems like a really nice guy, and Mia shouldn't have encouraged him like she did. 

Previous Book in The Princess Diaries Series:
(covers are linked)
568617 1141599

Friday, March 25, 2016

Fan Art Friday: Cress


I was SUPER happy with the fan art I was able to find for Cress. I hope you enjoy them too!

I don't really have a favorite for these. I love all the scenes depicted, and I like the character illustrations. They are so fun!

Which is your favorite?

Pictures are linked to the source where I found them.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Princess in the Spotlight

1141599From Goodreads:    Just when Mia thought she had the whole Princess thing under control ...

Things get out of hand, fast:

Since Mia's the brand-new crown princess of Genovia, indomitable dowager princess Grandmere arranges a national primetime interview for her. With just a few innocent remarks, Mia manages to enrage her best friend Lilly, practically get one of her teachers fired, and alienate the entire country of Genovia. (Population 50,000, but still!)

There's the havoc of the interview's aftermath and her dreaded princess lessons at the Plaza. Plus an unexpected announcement from her mother, and intriguing, exasperating letters from a secret admirer. Mia is swept up in a whirlwind of royal intrigue the likes of which hasn't been seen since volume I of The Princess Diaries.

What's an heir to the royal throne to do?

My Thoughts:

-    Mia is still a spaz and still obsesses over EVERYTHING!

-    Mia's mom is a basket case. Does she ever do any actual parenting? I feel like Mia takes care of their apartment and lives more than Helen.

-    I do enjoy all the pop culture references. They are one of my favorite things about these books. 

-    Donald Trump is EVERYWHERE!! No one can escape him, even in a 15 year old book!

-    I still don't like Lilly, and I'm not sure about everyone else. 

Previous Book in The Princess Diaries Series:
(covers are linked)


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Princess Diaries

568617Goodreads Says:    She's just a New York City girl living with her artist mom...

News Flash: Dad is prince of Genovia. (So that's why a limo meets her at the airport!)

Downer: Dad can't have any more kids. (So no heir to the throne.)

Shock of the Century: Like it or not, Mia Thermopolis is prime princess material.

Mia must take princess lessons from her dreaded grandmére, the dowager princess of Genovia, who thinks Mia has a thing or two to learn before she steps up to the throne.

Well, her father can lecture her until he's royal-blue in the face about her princessly duty--no way is she moving to Genovia and leaving Manhattan behind. But what's a girl to do when her name is Princess Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo?

My Thoughts:

-    I read this series before I started blogging, and apparently I wrote a review on Goodreads after finishing this book. Here is what I wrote:

I have to admit that the Princess Diaries series is my guilty pleasure. I usually despise stuff like this, but something about the books makes me want to keep reading.

The characters MAKE this book. Mia is a comical teenager with a lot of teenager worries and problems, plus the added stress of being a princess. I think Mia is a very lovable character, and I think a lot of girls can relate her in some way. I liked seeing her develop some backbone in the book, and how she became more assertive. I also like all the sub-characters. Lily can sometimes get on my nerves, but she is a good friend. 

Even though this is written in a diary form, I don't think it takes away from the story at all. I actually really enjoy Meg Cabot's style. It's fun and easy to read. 

There are a few things that I don't think are appropriate for the target age group, but overall it's a fun book. 

-    I've wanted to re-read the series cause I remember liking them a lot, but now I wonder why I liked it so much. It isn't that great.

-    Mia is a spaz! She freaks out over everything, and it's like it is the end of the world. I just want to yell "CHILL OUT!" at her.

-    Lilly is also a spaz, but in a different way. I don't really like her. 

-    Tina is probably my favorite out of Mia's friends. She seems a lot nicer.

-    I still think there is inappropriate material for the target audience. I don't see teens really reading this. I think twelve year old girls are more the target cause Mia is only 14. I wish Mia was at least 16 and a little more mature.

-    There are a lot of deity swears, but nothing else major as far as language.

-    This is first time I've felt this way about a YA book, but I think this is just too young for me. I found it pretty immature and silly.

-    Despite all the complaints, there were still some fun moments in the book and I'm going to continue the series. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Haven't Talked About Enough

Ten Books I Really Love But Feel Like I Haven't Talked About Enough/In a While

Love the topic this week!! There are SO many under appreciated books.

24217 Eyes Like Stars (Théâtre Illuminata, #1)
396742 The Phantom Tollbooth
21787 Life As We Knew It (Last Survivors, #1)
Girl in the Arena 824729
Mandy 6580510