You’ve Got This!

32703163You’ve Got This!: How to Look Up When Life Has You Down
edited by Elise Hahl
Pub Date: October 11, 2016

I say, “You got this!” to my library patrons a lot. I run into a lot of folks who don’t know how computers work, or struggle with using a mouse or navigating a website. I give them the opportunity to do it themselves, and stay at their side encouraging them, letting them know they can do this, they have the knowledge. Whatever the task is in front of them, it is not insurmountable.

And that’s the basic gist of this compilation of essays from some well-known LDS personalities/speakers, giving words of encouragement aimed at a youth audience. But I wouldn’t restrict it to just the youth. I found a lot of edification in this slim volume. Some of these writers I knew of already, and others I got to know through their stories. And each gave me a little piece of thoughtful wisdom to dwell on and utilize in my life.

The essays from the Wilcox family about moving to Chile for a mission president calling, and learning to adjust and thrive, reminded me very much of the time my family moved from the north Virginia suburbs to inner-city Atlanta. We visited what would be our new ward, and found my sister and I would be the only white girls in Young Women. And we didn’t mind that since one of the young women immediately befriended us. We felt welcomed into our new ward, where my dad was eventually made bishop, and all these years later after I moved away it still feels like my home ward. Whitney Wilcox Laycock’s story of living in Chile reminded me that no matter where I am, I can be that welcoming person to someone else. You never really know how big of an impression you may leave on someone for such a seemingly small act.

Hank Smith’s breakdown of the story of Joseph of Egypt was pretty much exactly what I needed to hear right now, facing my own trials and hardships. It was a really refreshing take on the scripture story, and I want to seek more of his work out now. Zandra Vranes, who I had the pleasure of seeing at Time Out For Women last year, also touches on the story of Joseph of Egypt in her own unique way. (Clearly there are many things our youth can learn from him!!) Al Carraway delivers a wonderfully essay on perseverance and keeping up with the little things to retain our faith, and recounts her conversion story, which made me want to go back and read her book again because it’s just marvelous.

You’ll find a story in this volume that will speak to you. You’ll probably think of someone who needs to read that story as well. Maybe you can do one of those “pay it forward” things with this book. Read it, and then pass it along to someone you think might benefit from these words of encouragement. We could all use these nice pep talks throughout the week.


Many thanks for Cedar Fort Publishing for providing a review copy!


Shelf Evaluation: Amanda Mae

Amanda Mae Shelf Evaluation A “shelf evaluation” seems to be the kind of thing nerdy book lovers enjoy – getting to talk about their books. I saw other book sites and blogs do these, and I thought it would be a fun exercise for the Not Your Relief Society Book Club community! What I have featured here is a portion of my “church books” shelf, books related to religion and Mormonism. (Being a former bookseller, I tend to shelve my books by genre.) So let’s give this a try!

Starting on the far left, you will see my copy of Daughters in My Kingdom with The Beginning of Better Days barely making the frame. I devoured both books when they became available, and my DIMK is looking a little worn with Post-It’s stuck in it from when I’ve prepared talks and lessons. I’m delighted with the renewed interest in the history of the Relief Society, and I’ve made it a mini mission of mine to encourage all women in the church to learn more about the organization of the Third Hour they attend. It’s followed by Sheri Dew’s Women and the Priesthood and Neylan McBain’s Women At Church. If you’re interested in learning more about the experience of women in the LDS church, these are also required reading. Both tackle similar issues from different angles, and both offer invaluable advice and encouragement. I definitely took a pencil to both of them. Continue reading

All Fall Down, by Ally Carter

All Fall DownAll Fall Down
By Ally Carter
Pub. Date: January 20, 2015

After devouring the Gallagher Girls series, when I heard Ally Carter was coming out with a new book I knew I would have to read it. For those who haven’t read the Gallagher Girls series, I would highly recommend it. Picture this: a hidden all-girls school to train spies where hacking into government websites is homework, martial arts and combat training is p.e., and friendship means risking your life to save each other. These books dealt with some serious issues, but had enough comedic moments to keep it light.

All Fall Down, the first book in the Embassy Row series, has a lot of secrets and twists with another unreliable narrator like the Gallagher Girls series, but it is darker without as much humor. Grace is the daughter of a military man, the granddaughter of an ambassador, and the witness of her mother’s death. Three years later after her mother died, Grace still has daily flashbacks, only made worse by the knowledge that no one believes her when she says her mother was murdered. She is trying not to act too crazy, but she knows everyone is worried about her mental state. Now she is living in Europe at US embassy with her grandfather, where a wrong move could start a war and everyone wants her to act normal and go with her grandfather to state functions. Of course, things do not work out as planned and Grace finds herself getting into even more scrapes than usual with a new group of teens as she tries to figure out how to stop the man she believes murdered her mother.

I thought this novel was well done: it has a unique setting based on life in an embassy and it does a good job staying in a first person narrative with a complex story line. I often found myself annoyed with the protagonist, but I can see she is the way she is because Grace went through a traumatic experience. The Gallagher Girls series is still my favorite though, because I liked the humor and I enjoyed the characters and felt more invested in what they were doing. Altogether, I would recommend reading All Fall Down for those who want a good suspense where the teenage girl everyone thinks is crazy collaborates with her friends to save the world. It doesn’t have any romantic entanglements (although there is a hint of one), and it doesn’t have a lot of violence. I enjoyed reading it, although I kept myself distant from the protagonist.