Category: Spirituality & Metaphysics

#ChristmasReads Book Review | “The Crooked Christmas Tree” by Damian Chandler

Posted Saturday, 23 December, 2017 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna

Acquired Book By: I am a new reviewer for Hachette Books and their imprints, starting with FaithWords which is their INSPY (Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction) imprint of releases focusing on uplifting and spiritual stories which are a delight to read whilst engaging your mind in life affirming and heart-centered stories. I found Hachette via Edelweiss at the conclusion of [2015] and have been wicked happy I can review for their imprints Grand Central Publishing, FaithWords & Center Street.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Crooked Christmas Tree” direct from the publisher FaithWords (an imprint of Hachette Book Group Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why this story was one I thought I’d enjoying reading this Christmastide:

I almost laughed out loud – in the middle of the night – whilst reading the opening to this delightful Christmas story! Why dear hearts, did I find the laughter ready to burst out of me? Despite the hour and the darkness encroaching outside whilst I prayed for colder weather this Christmas instead of the traditionally humid stink of bright sunshine intermixed with forest fire smoke billowing into the skyline? The congested air is the worst – especially as whilst others are braving non-controllable burns – my county chose to have controlled burns which pollute the toxicity of the local air space during Christmas week (of all times!) adding to the absence of Christmas Spirit in our towne. You don’t have to look far to see someone saying something snarky – to find a cheerfulness during Winter is quite rare these days – which is one reason I surround myself with uplifting Literature – both fiction and Non-Fiction – whilst finding the simpler joys in life itself. To give of my own spirit to those who might not reciprocate but that’s their walk, not mine.

I read this story the week our car ran out of gas in the middle of the parking lot – right in-line with heavy traffic, negative comments from passerby (of whom judged the situation out of hand) and a genuine sense of “Lord, you know I’m not going to be able to move this car an inch – pray then, what am I going to do?” Out of sight behind me, a good Samaritan had arrived – a woman in flip-flops with a heart of gold – who was as immediately surprised as I was we could ‘move’ said stalled car out of the main lane of traffic, dodge a car who cut us off and volley between pushing in the front & rear of the car to make it into a ‘safe parking space’. She left to purchase an emergency can of gas before we could say anything other than ‘thank you’ and when she returnt to help us fill the tank, we only had time enough to give her hugs and a hearty ‘thank you’ before she disappeared back in queue to head off to where she was heading before her path intersected with ours.

Less than three days later – our car didn’t overturn, the battery was dead – we had to walk to make an appointment and blessedly had a kindness of a return trip back home given to us. The battery itself? Supposedly covered under warranty but only to the person who purchased it – if you have a used car, the total replacement cost of a battery which if installed improperly would kill the ‘brain’ of said car was not an option in a family who relies on the work life of their Mum. Getting the estimate was a test of faith in of itself – the fact we could run the car off the ‘emergency jump’ our insurance paid for was incredible – we travelled throughout our towne to seek out prices for batteries, a free test to confirm the dead state it was in and perhaps, if there were resources for help with dead batteries which need replacement. It was a long, long day – by the time the car finally was turnt off we were ready for comfort food and a Christmas movie (we chose a Bing Crosby film). Mum was only expecting a few days off but now has closer to five – as we await replacing the battery. That’s a walk of faith in of it’s own – she woke up this morning feeling quite ill – we hoped it wasn’t the seasonal flu everyone keeps telling us is horrid – which affected her hours at work but now – with a dead battery, we are drawing closer to hearth and home; encouraging each other knowing this new bit of strife shall pass and blessedly, even at Christmas – things could be far worse than they appear.

So you see, as I was reading this story – it came at a point in time where I needed some ‘extra’ Christmas cheer, a healthy dose of humour and a humbling account of another person’s insight in how even without our awareness, we are being guided through life lessons which help shape who we are and who we are becoming. In regards to the trials of the car – even at the height of the uncertainty of realising your car won’t turn over – either due to needing gas (there is a back-story about how we ran out) or needing to replace a battery; you find ‘the helpers’ Mr Rogers infamous quotation about the random acts of kindness strangers give to us throughout our lives. You’ll have a lot of naysayers and a lot of snark but then, if you look a bit closer – you’ll find the ones walking as humbled of a path as you are – where sometimes a person who stops their car in the middle of a parking lot, flashers ablaze and refuses to move their car until you can get yours parked is a reminder we’re all someone’s hero blessing each other with empathy and compassionate sympathy for life’s unexpected moments of adversity.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

#ChristmasReads Book Review | “The Crooked Christmas Tree” by Damian ChandlerThe Crooked Christmas Tree
Subtitle: The Beautiful Meaning of Jesus' Birth
by Damian Chandler
Source: Direct from Publisher

In this real-life Christmas fable, when a Dad decides to let his kids select the family Christmas tree, he gets an unexpected lesson about God's love.

In this thoroughly contemporary holiday story, a father lets his children choose the family Christmas tree. To his surprise, the kids pick one that is crooked. As he tries one thing after another to make the tree look right, he rediscovers the power of God's love. He begins to understand Christmas in a new way, particularly when his family decorates their tree and crown it with a star, never even noticing the crookedness he spent hours in the garage struggling to hide. The tender and laugh-out-loud narrative of real-life relationships propels the reader through the most un-generic Christmas story. This upbeat and comedic treasure refreshes the Christmas message of love and faith.

Genres: Christmas Story &/or Christmas Romance, Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Short Story or Novella, Spirituality & Metaphysics


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 9781478918370

Published by FaithWords

on 3rd October, 2017

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 144

Published by: FaithWords (@FaithWords)
an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc. (@HachetteBooks) via Hachette Nashville

Formats Available: Hardcover, Audiobook & Ebook

Converse via: #INSPYbooks & #ChristmasReads

About Damian Chandler

Damian Chandler Photo Credit: Asun Olivan Photography

DAMIAN CHANDLER was born in Toronto Canada and raised on the island of Barbados. His ministry journey started in a small church housed in the basement of his uncle's home. With only nine members, the burden of the ministry fell equally on the shoulders of all, including 16-year-old Damian. That small church created his spiritual hunger and formed the foundation of his call to ministry.

He holds a Masters of Divinity; founded Impact Youth Ministries, an urban youth ministry focused on developing teens with a contagious and fearless faith; and has served churches in Seattle, Huntsville, and now Sacramento, where he is senior pastor of Capitol City SDA Church.

Damian is passionate about ministry but he is even more passionate about family. After years of dedicated pursuit, God gave him the desire of his heart and a partner in life, his wife Tanzy Chandler. They later added to their partnership daughter Zoe and sons Salem and Levi.

Photo Credit: Asun Olivan Photography

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WYChristmasReadathon
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Posted Saturday, 23 December, 2017 by jorielov in 21st Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blog Tour Host, Christianity, FaithWords, Family Life, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Modern Day, Non-Fiction, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Spirituality & Metaphysics, Vignettes of Real Life

#ChristmasReads Book Review | “Kissing Father Christmas” by Robin Jones Gunn

Posted Tuesday, 19 December, 2017 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna

Acquired Book By: I am a new reviewer for Hachette Books and their imprints, starting with FaithWords which is their INSPY (Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction) imprint of releases focusing on uplifting and spiritual stories which are a delight to read whilst engaging your mind in life affirming and heart-centered stories. I found Hachette via Edelweiss at the conclusion of [2015] and have been wicked happy I can review for their imprints Grand Central Publishing, FaithWords & Center Street.

I received a complimentary copy of “Kissing Father Christmas” direct from the publisher FaithWords (an imprint of Hachette Book Group Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I am enjoying reading this lovely Christmas series:

There is a cosy comfort of joy warming into this novella omnibus – as you delight in the ambiance of the British village whilst caught up in the mystery surrounding the lead character! What drew her to cross the North Atlantic flying all the way over the Pond and then, find herself remiss with regrets, longingly hopeful to embrace the warmth of a tea cafe and yet, hesitating just outside the door. Upon entering, your caught up in the quaintness of the cafe itself – the unexpectedly cheerful ‘hallo’ of a man you hadn’t expected to see and the willingness of the woman descending the stairs to stay open a bit later than planned, simply to fill a request for a cuppa tea and a scone to satisfy fatigued hunger.

You pick up on the subtle gestures which are underwrit into the story-line – such as the mysterious greeter might have a purpose yet unknown and how twinkling in the back of your mind, there is something quite amiss about how this woman presents herself and how she internalises her experiences and seasons. Whilst sitting there by the glow of the hearth, her memories spilt out of her soul as if she were re-living them each in turn to the awareness of what was going to come once she reached a certain window back into the past. Her upbringing was spent on the road with her mother – an actress who took on various theatrical roles up and down the West Coast between California and Oregon; the stage was her mother’s passion but she still found golden moments of unexpected happiness spent with her mother off-stage. Miranda had a heart full of memories but there was a twist of uncertainty untying the joyfulness of her remembrance. Almost as if there was something nibbling at her to remember and in so doing, the joyful manner of her reminiscing would buckle under that unwanted truth that was just out of sight.

The way in which Ms Gunn tucked her character into the ambiance of the setting and timescape of the novellas is partially what allowed you to suspend time and simply soak inside her world. The other bit is how openly honest she left Miranda to provide glimmers of the truth percolating to the surface and left the other half as a self-exploration of truth (on behalf of Miranda) as seen through the journey we take alongside her as readers (always favourable!). She has a genuine ease about her writing style – where you can just feel as if you’ve stepped inside her heart and are watching how she’s pieced the words together to develop the arc of the narrative itself! The space for a novella is short and yet, she has filled these novellas with the depth of a novel!

-quoted from my review of Finding Father Christmas / Engaging Father Christmas

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

#ChristmasReads Book Review | “Kissing Father Christmas” by Robin Jones GunnKissing Father Christmas
by Robin Jones Gunn
Source: Direct from Publisher

Bestselling, award-winning author Robin Jones Gunn welcomes us back to the cozy English village of Carlton Heath for a winter romance that will melt your heart.

Anna's first visit to Carlton Heath in England was last May for the wedding of her cousin Ian to Miranda. The beautiful event ended with a dance under the stars and Anna receiving an unexpected kiss from Peter, the groomsman who caught her eye and now holds her heart.

Now, at the invitation of family and friends, Anna is returning to Carlton Heath for Christmas. She has Peter's recent email to fill her with assurance that he's looking forward to seeing her again as well.

More than his brief words, though, the vivid memory of their unforgettable kiss provides a promise of more to come. Anna, ever the imaginative artist, has been busy painting a romantic conclusion to her holiday visit. Certainly she's not the only one who has been dreaming of another dance and another kiss.

But when she sees Peter again, his intentions seem to shift as speedily as the blustery winter weather. Is Anna's heart misleading her, or will Father Christmas bestow on her the gift of love for which she has long dreamed?

Genres: Christmas Story &/or Christmas Romance, Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Spirituality & Metaphysics


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 9781455565603

Also by this author: Finding Father Christmas | Engaging Father Christmas

Also in this series: Finding Father Christmas | Engaging Father Christmas


Published by FaithWords

on 4th October, 2016

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 192

Published by: FaithWords (@FaithWords)
an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc. (@HachetteBooks) via Hachette Nashville

Formats Available: Hardcover, Audiobook & Ebook

The Father Christmas Series includes:

Finding Father Christmas & Engaging Father Christmas (omnibus edition) by Robin Jones GunnKissing Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn

Finding Father Christmas

Engaging Father Christmas

Kissing Father Christmas

Converse via: #INSPYbooks, #ChristmasReads

About Robin Jones Gunn

Robin Jones Gunn Photo Credit: Ross Gunn III

Robin Jones Gunn has written 82 books over the past 25 years, with almost 4.5 million copies sold worldwide. She received a Christy Award for her novel Sisterchicks in Gondolas, and speaks at events around the US and Canada as well as in South America, Africa, Europe, and Australia.

Photo Credit: Ross Gunn III

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WYChristmasReadathon
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Posted Tuesday, 19 December, 2017 by jorielov in 21st Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blog Tour Host, Christianity, Christmas Romance &/or Holiday Story, Contemporary Romance, England, FaithWords, Family Life, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Modern Day, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Romance Fiction, Spirituality & Metaphysics

Non-Fiction Book Review | “At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women” by The Church Historian Press (edited by) Jennifer Reeder and Kate Holbrook

Posted Monday, 27 February, 2017 by jorielov , , , , , 4 Comments

Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna

Acquired Book By: I received an enquiry from the (LDS) Church Historian Press regarding working with them on select non-fiction releases – which interested me as I have been reading LDS Fiction and Non-Fiction for the past two years. My interests in non-fiction (LDS or otherwise) tend to parallel through the historical past (as I love learning about History) and thread through biographical accounts of persons who lived. I love to seek out a variety of topics across different sub-interests of mine – including Science, Philosophy and Feminism as well. Being an ancestral sleuth in my family alongside my Mum, I love finding out the hidden histories not as well known as other aspects of the historical past, too. Therefore, when they approached me about reviewing for them, I was quite keen to find out more about their releases. This marks my second review following my first review for this publisher on behalf of ‘Saints at Devil’s Gate’ and extraordinary spiritual legacy of travelling the historic Mormon Trail through visual representations in Fine Art and accompanied by journalled insights by the Pioneers.

I received a complimentary copy of “At the Pulpit” direct from the publisher The Church Historian’s Press (in conjunction with The Church of Latter-day Saints) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I was keenly interested in this particular release:

Throughout 2016, I had the joy of finding a lot of Feminist Historical Fiction – wherein Women’s Rights, Suffrage and issues of fighting for Equality across gender lines were explored through the historical past. Stimulating works by Eva Flynn, L. Davis Munro, Nicole Evelina and others who sought out to pull incredible stories out of the pages of History which still need to be told for today’s audience. Continuing from where I left off, I am still very interested in seeking out the lives of women who were on the forefront of activism, advocacy and helping to create social change.

When I first heard about the premise of this particular release, I was encouraged to notice it is a collection of women voicing their opinions about service and being mindfully present of how spirituality and faith can help guide us forward in our lives when we are compelled to act and cause change on behalf of others who need someone to advocate for them. These are spoken dialogues on behalf of LDS Women who felt motivated to rise to the occasion to give voice to their beliefs but also, to inspire others by what they had to say about the things they felt were most important to them.

Over the history of active participation in communities, LDS Women have always sought out to be of service to others – striving to help make the world a bit better and to find ways to make a difference by fulfilling the needs of their neighbours. What is interesting is how this collection is assembled and presented – similar to ‘Saints at Devil’s Gate’ (see also Review) the presentation of these discourses allows the reader to take a personal approach to how the information is absorbed and digested. The discourses themselves were hand-selected and presented in such a way, as you can get a feel for the woman who is speaking through the biographical sketches which accompany the speeches themselves. You also have illustrations complimenting the speeches – where you can see a visual photograph of the woman whose words you’ve just read.

Not all of the speeches are traditionally written – but what is conveyed is the strength of sisterhood bonds and the joys in being united as women who seek to serve and make a difference in our world.

As previously stated:

I also appreciated the Church Historian’s Press for being open to having a diverse group of reviewers and book bloggers receiving their releases from different backgrounds – as this highlights something I’ve been trying to understand better about why there is such a division of interest in INSPY Non-Fiction and Fiction releases. INSPY is the shortened word for Inspirational Fiction and Non-Fiction – the main umbrella of literature for faith-based literature – not limited to one religion nor branch of Christianity; as sometimes I think is wrongly perceived. I read INSPY Lit as it was intended – across cultural and religious backgrounds whilst finding inspiring stories in both fictional and realistic (non-fiction) settings of interest.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comNon-Fiction Book Review | “At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women” by The Church Historian Press (edited by) Jennifer Reeder and Kate HolbrookAt the Pulpit
Subtitle: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women
by (Editors) Jennifer Reeder and Kate Holbrook
Source: Direct from Publisher

At the Pulpit contains fifty-four discourses given by Latter-day Saint women throughout the nearly 200-year history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While the book illustrates the history of women’s public preaching in the church, its most important feature is the actual words of Mormon women.

From the time that Emma Hale Smith, wife of church founder Joseph Smith, first exhorted women at meetings of the Nauvoo Relief Society in 1842, Latter-day Saint women have been charged with instructing their congregations, their families, their Relief Societies, and other groups. The addresses featured in this volume show Mormon women doing the spiritual and intellectual work inherent in a life of Christian faith—seeking to do good works, understand the mission and teachings of Jesus Christ, and strengthen their own faith and the faith of those around them. These women endeavored to live what they believed and to help their listeners do so as well.

Each discourse in the volume begins with an introduction that acquaints readers with the vibrant personalities of the women who have shaped the church. Readers may encounter some familiar figures from the church’s history and from the contemporary church—leaders like Eliza R. Snow, who was the first Relief Society general president in Utah Territory, and Linda K. Burton, current Relief Society general president. But they will also learn from largely forgotten women like Jane H. Neyman. Neyman applied to join the Nauvoo Relief Society in 1842, but her petition was rejected due to gossip about her daughters. Over twenty-five years later, she spoke in a Relief Society in southern Utah on charity, urging members to be forbearing and forgiving of one another.

Genres: Biography / Autobiography, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Interviews & Conversations, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Spirituality & Metaphysics


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 9781629722825

Published by The Church Historian's Press, The Church History Department

on 27th February, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 484

Published by: The Church Historian Press (imprint of) The Church History Department

of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Formats Available: Softcover

Converse via: #INSPYbooks, #LDSChurch, #WomenOfHistory, #Feminist

About (Editors) Jennifer Reeder and Kate Holbrook

Jennifer Reeder is the nineteenth-century women’s history specialist at the Church History Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. She holds a PhD in American history from George Mason University. Kate Holbrook is the managing historian for women’s history at the Church History Department. She received a PhD in religious studies from Boston University.

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Posted Monday, 27 February, 2017 by jorielov in Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blog Tour Host, Christianity, Family Life, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Spirituality & Metaphysics, The Church Historian's Press

Non-Fiction Book Review | “Saints at Devil’s Gate: Landscapes along the Mormon Trail” by Laura Allred Hurtado and Bryon C. Andreasen

Posted Sunday, 26 February, 2017 by jorielov , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna

Acquired Book By: I received an enquiry from the (LDS) Church Historian Press regarding working with them on select non-fiction releases – which interested me as I have been reading LDS Fiction and Non-Fiction for the past two years. My interests in non-fiction (LDS or otherwise) tend to parallel through the historical past (as I love learning about History) and thread through biographical accounts of persons who lived. I love to seek out a variety of topics across different sub-interests of mine – including Science, Philosophy and Feminism as well. Being an ancestral sleuth in my family alongside my Mum, I love finding out the hidden histories not as well known as other aspects of the historical past, too. Therefore, when they approached me about reviewing for them, I was quite keen to find out more about their releases. This marks my first review with a second shortly following: ‘At the Pulpit’ a special overview of LDS Women.

I received a complimentary copy of “Saints at Devil’s Gate” direct from the publisher The Church Historian’s Press (in conjunction with The Church of Latter-day Saints) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I was keenly interested in this particular release:

Originally, I was meant to post my review on behalf of ‘Saints at Devil’s Gate’ in January – however, due to personal reasons (related to life after my father’s stroke) I haven’t been able to post as frequently as I had beforehand – I’ve been spending the past few months re-adjusting to my father’s recovery and being his main caregiver whilst my Mum works full-time in order to offset my father’s recovery. It hasn’t lended itself to feeling very readerly or in the mood to blog – I’ve had to make adjustments to my online life as I re-emerge into my reading life one story at a time. I admit, I haven’t quite found the balance I am seeking but throughout January & February, I can say, my family and I have found positive enroads moving forward with my father’s recovery, as well as keeping observant on how the after effects of his stroke’s are affecting his everyday life.

Having said this – I originally wanted to post this review far ahead of my second review for the LDS Church, however, sometimes in our lives things happen which upset the course we’re walking. The best we can do is try to make amends lateron and follow-up after the dust settles. I’ve been struggling to re-inspire myself forward in my readings – finding that whilst I feel more confident in what I’m doing offline to help my Dad, I haven’t quite transitioned through to finding down-time to focus on things outside our personal sphere. I’d like to find a way to read and blog more regularly similar to the pace I was starting to set forth as my ‘new regular norm’ last Autumn, as despite pairing down my commitments, I was finding reading several books a week to be quite enjoyable – especially with a more relaxed pace of deadlines.

I am hoping with each new post and book I consume now, will be one story closer to finding my bookish spirit renewed as I inch towards balancing being a caregiver and a hearty reader of stories – coming full circle since the fateful day I watched my father have a stroke before the paramedics and doctors were involved. Some events cause small ripples of changes and other times, our lives change in such distinctive ways, it takes us a bit of time to ‘catch-up’ to realising we’re not quite the same as we were but that doesn’t mean life won’t continue forward – it’s simply we need to allow ourselves a bit more breathing space to sort it all out. Find our way, and hope everyone along the way understands our absences where we cannot always pull things together.

The reason I wanted to accept receiving ‘Saints at Devil’s Gate’ is because it’s a photographically inspired art book – following in the footsteps of the Mormon Pioneers who went West in search of a new place to call home. Through my ancestral research – I have come to find out more about how all of our ancestors made their way in the world. Courtesy of the LDS Church for providing us with the best resource to seek out our ancestors: FamilySearch.org. I’ve mentioned this previously on my blog – how thankful I am to Family Search and the LDS Church for providing all of us a method of researching our family and ancestral lines.

Although I am non-LDS Protestant, part of what I researched led me to find I have Pioneers of the LDS Church in my ancestral past – where a marriage separated part of my ancestral family. The wife of one of my ancestors had to say ‘goodbye’ to her family as they moved West – taking the long road out to Utah, whilst staying behind to start her family, having been recently married. This is as much as I can pull together by what is left behind to be found. At least, I think this is what happened! There is always an error of caution when researching your ancestral heritage – are the pieces pulling together in the right way and are we interpreting the clues in the right way to understand the lives of our ancestors? I am unsure if I will find more at a later date or not, but for now, I thought it was keenly interesting on the fringes of finding out about this – a book about the Mormon Trail was available to be reviewed!

I also appreciated the Church Historian’s Press for being open to having a diverse group of reviewers and book bloggers receiving their releases from different backgrounds – as this highlights something I’ve been trying to understand better about why there is such a division of interest in INSPY Non-Fiction and Fiction releases. INSPY is the shortened word for Inspirational Fiction and Non-Fiction – the main umbrella of literature for faith-based literature – not limited to one religion nor branch of Christianity; as sometimes I think is wrongly perceived. I read INSPY Lit as it was intended – across cultural and religious backgrounds whilst finding inspiring stories in both fictional and realistic (non-fiction) settings of interest.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comNon-Fiction Book Review | “Saints at Devil’s Gate: Landscapes along the Mormon Trail” by Laura Allred Hurtado and Bryon C. AndreasenSaints at Devil's Gate
Subtitle: Landscapes along the Mormon Trail
by (Artist) Bryan Mark Taylor, (Artist) John Burton, (Artist) Josh Clare, Bryon C. Andreasen, Laura Allred Hurtado
Source: Direct from Publisher

The book showcases fifty-two landscapes paintings of the Mormon Trail, the 1,300 mile route from Nauvoo, Illinois to Salt Lake City that some 70,000 Latter-day Saint pioneers travelled between 1846 and 1869. Each painting is paired with quotations from the original journals and reminiscences of pioneers who made the journey.

The paintings were created from 2011 to 2016 by award-winning Latter-day Saint landscape artists John Burton, Josh Clare, and Bryan Mark Taylor. Jean Stern, executive director of the Irvine Museum in Southern California, said that these artists are 'noted for their remarkable ability to paint beautiful and elegant works, filled with natural light and brilliant colour.' He added that the paints will 'appeal to all viewers, those who seek meaning and enlightenment in the historical background of the trail s well as those who seek beauty in art and nature'.

The pairings of the paintings with historical quotations allows modern-day readers to share in some of the feelings that Mormon pioneers experienced while travelling west. For example, Bryan Mark Taylor's Looking Back which depicts Nauvoo as seen from across the Mississippi River in Iowa is paired with a May 1846 excerpt from Wilford Woodruff's journal: 'I left Nauvoo for the last time perhaps in this life. I looked upon the temple & city of Nauvoo as I retired from it and felt to ask the Lord to preserve it as a monument of the sacrifice of his Saints'.

Laura Allred Hurtado, global acquistions art curator for the Church History Museum points out that 'not all the experiences of the Mormon pionners were tragic. Journal entries capture the mundane and practical toiling of daily life', such as finding places to wash clothes, picking flowers, and dancing and playing music.

Pioneeers also commented regularly, sometimes quite poetically, on the beauty and grandeur of the land they were traversing. Referencing bluffs she had passed in western Nebraska on the journey in summer 1853, English convert Hannah Tapfield King wrote, 'The Bluff ruins... are very beautiful - I should like to have an explanation about them - but I suppose none know their history - They stand out in bold relief with a silent eloquence that speaks trumpet-tongued to every thinking mind - They are looking eternally silent.'

The new book accompanies an exhibition of the same name that opened at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City on November 17. The free exhibition is open to the public and will run through August 2017. The exhibition is also available online via LDS Church History Department.

Genres: Art & Art History, Biography / Autobiography, Epistolary | Letters & Correspondences, Fine Art & the Natural World, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Interviews & Conversations, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Spirituality & Metaphysics, Travelogue


Places to find the book:

ISBN: 978-0-692-78585-0

Published by The Church Historian's Press, The Church History Department

on November, 2016

Format: Softcover Edition

Published by: The Church Historian Press (imprint of) The Church History Department

of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Formats Available: Softcover

Converse via: #INSPYbooks, #ArtBooks. #OilPaintings, #LDSChurch, #MormonTrail, #MormonPioneers

About (Artist) Bryan Mark Taylor

Bryan Mark Taylor

A world traveler and an accomplished painter, Bryan Mark Taylor has won numerous top awards at the most prestigious plein air invitationals and is regularly featured in western art magazines. His work can be found in private, corporate, and museum collections around the world. He received his BA from Brigham Young University in 2001 and his MFA from Academy of Art University in 2005. He lives with his wife and four children in Alpine, Utah.

About (Artist) John Burton

John Burton

John Burton is an award-winning oil painter best known for his stirring and vivid depictions of the transitory beauty of our ever-changing world. A graduate of Academy of Art University, Burton has traveled and painted around the globe, always maintaining his home in the American West. Burton’s deep American roots permeate the rich, natural character of his art and inform his work’s reverent tone. John is married with four children.

About (Artist) Josh Clare

Josh Clare

Josh Clare graduated with a BFA in illustration from BYU-Idaho in 2007 and has earned numerous awards, including Artists’ Choice at the 2012 Laguna Plein Air Invitational and second place in the Raymar 6th Annual Art Painting Competition. His work has been featured in Western Art & Architecture, Southwest Art, and Art of the West. He lives with his wife, Cambree, and their children, Nathan, Anna, and Emily, in Cache Valley, Utah.

About Bryon C. Andreasen

Bryon C. Andreasen

Bryon C. Andreasen earned a JD at Cornell University and a PhD in nineteenth-century American history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is currently a historian at the Church History Museum, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. Previously he was the research historian at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, where he also edited the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association and helped found the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition that pioneered heritage tourism in Illinois.

About Laura Allred Hurtado

Laura Allred Hurtado

Laura Allred Hurtado works as the global acquisitions art curator for the Church History Museum, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. She has curated exhibitions at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, CUAC Contemporary, Alice Gallery, Rio Gallery, Snow College, and the Granary Art Center. Previously, she worked at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Brigham Young University Museum of Art, and the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art.

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Posted Sunday, 26 February, 2017 by jorielov in Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blog Tour Host, Christianity, Family Life, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Spirituality & Metaphysics, The Church Historian's Press