Seek These Things

a blog discussing Celiac Disease, & the Gluten Free Diet, Books, Parenting, Politics, Religion, Pets, Product Reviews, and whatever else catches my interest

Counting Stars – Book Review March 7, 2009

Filed under: Product Review — seekthesethings @ 1:13 pm
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Counting Stars

  • by Michele Paige Holmes
  • published by Covenant
  • 384 pages, softcover
  • $16.95 USD

If you are looking for a good cry, you need look no further than this book. I balled my eyes out the first half of the book, and for good reason. Counting Starts is a book about Jane, an almost 30 single LDS woman still looking for Mr. Right, and so desperate for children that she agrees to help a strange man with terminal cancer raise his premature twins after his wife dies in a car accident returning from her baby shower. Keep the tissues handy because you will need them for the end of the book as well.

Counting Stars is well edited and has only minor punctuation errors. The book is divided into 3 parts and over eighty chapters, and the narrative is choppy in the chapters that are less than 2 pages long, which appear with more frequency toward the end of the novel. There is a minor character that probably could have been written out of the novel completely, but it sets up a second book that is not yet published. The working title is “A Canopy of Stars.”


The Bracelet Series – Book Series Review March 3, 2009

The Bracelet Series

  • by Jennie Hansen
  • published by Covenant
  • 4 volumes
  • hardcover, softcover, and audio cd
  • $15.95 – $21.95 USD

This series, aptly named for the first book, follows a set of 5 jewels that are stolen, abandoned, and carried to the new world by a Mormon immigrant. Jennie Hansen is a prolific writer and weaves beautiful stories around the bracelet and each of its precious gems.  This is one series I would say truly can be read out of order. Each book relates the tale of new characters that live independent of the characters in the other novels.

While the series could easily contain two more books, both the author and publisher have announced The Ruby concluded the series, a pity. But if you like The Bracelet series, you may consider reading one or more of Hansen’s other 20+ books.

The Bracelet

  • 296 pages

This book tells the story of a girl named Georgiana, a servant in 1840’s England. Running from the antagonist of the story, her mistress’s son, to protect her life and virtue, she justifies stealing from the rich family. She sets precious gems in a worthless brass bracelet, a gift from the aforementioned villain.

Settings and descriptions are beautiful throughout the series, but especially so in this first novel. It also includes heartwarming conversion stories of characters who invite God into their lives through sincere repentance.

There were some unresolved threads in the first book that never get touched on in detail in the latter books.  

The Emerald

  • 248 pages

Picking up the story of the bracelet from when it was abandoned, a widowed Mormon immigrant and her two children protect the bracelet in hopes of returning it to the nameless woman who hid it in the baby’s possession. Running from the abusive home of her Scandinavian in-laws after her husband dies, Margarette uses everything in her power to keep her children from being reclaimed by detectives hired by her battering father-in-law to return his “property” to the old world.

Aided by a young English Mormon immigrant and a childless Scandinavian couple, Margarette’s family is finally able to make their way to Nauvoo where she finds employment as a housekeeper for a childless English widower.

When it comes time to flee the city, and she has been unable to locate the woman who abandoned the bracelet, Margarette separates the gems as she is inspired by God to part with them. The topaz is sent with a Mormon Quaker, to help a black family flee slavery. The diamond and ruby are traded to outfit her family for their journey to Zion. The sapphire is sent with the childless Scandinavian couple to help them settle in Salt Lake. And the emerald, the baby’s favorite stone, goes with the family as they march in the Mormon Battalion.

The Topaz

  • 289 pages

The Topaz tells the story of Serenity, Hannah’s daughter. Hannah was murdered and the topaz ring stolen while she was aiding fugitive slaves using the underground railroad. Serenity is desperate to learn what her father knew about the incident that brought about his own murder five years later.

Like approaching a rabid dog, Hansen is able to approach the unsavory topics of forced marriage, murder, attempted rape, abuse of spouse and offspring, and substance abuse without offending the sensibilities of her readers. This is true in all her tales, but the ability is best showcased in The Topaz.

The Ruby

  • 329 pages

This final novel details the story of Charlie Mae, who witnesses her father murder a non-mormon living in Nauvoo as a mob ransacks the city. Believing the man may not be dead, she goes to view her father’s handiwork and sees a coal that doesn’t burn out. She picks it up. Afraid her father or the other mobbers might return, she absconds with the ruby. Fleeing her abusive home with her brother, the novel describes her life as they make their way to California to find gold.

This last book is the most poorly edited. There are time sequence errors through the first 6 chapters. The sections are dated and in one part of the novel it says it has been 5 years when it has only been 2.


Meet Your Match – Book Review February 7, 2009

Filed under: Product Review — seekthesethings @ 8:09 pm
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Meet Your Match

  • By Stephanie Fowers
  • Published by Covenant
  • 303 pages, softcover
  • $15.95

Characteristic of Fowers voice, the personality of the main character screams off the page of this LDS Romance, a simple love story that ends with a kiss and an engagement.

There are two absolutely great lines in this book, which is why I decided to review it. The first is a quote about Charity from a German Proverb:

  • Charity sees the need, not the cause.

Each chapter begins with a quote on Charity. It’s fun to take a moment and reflect on these quotes between being caught up in the singles ward drama. Charity is also the character name of the ward Relief Society President.

The second line I loved is “You realize of course that according to Shakespeare and every chic flick in existence, we should be going to this fireside together.” I won’t tell you who said that to whom, it might ruin the ending.

I am raising the big red flag to anyone not familiar with the lingo of the Latter-Day Saint audience. Even I had trouble with it. I appreciate that Fowers begins the novel with the “Singles Ward Dictionary” which explained to me that the squirrelly girl was the heart-breaker, not the homeliest girl in the ward.

A good message included in the book is that every person is beautiful to someone else, it just may not be the someone they had planned on.

This is an easy read, and if you can stand the obliviousness of the main character, so wrapped up in her own drama that she doesn’t see the needs and plots of others around her, you’ll like this book.