Across a Harvested Field

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Across a Harvested Field by Robert Goble

(Summary taken from the back of the book) “To Jordan Fairchild, the dark-haired girl renting his basement apartment seems somewhat quiet and reclusive. Just a business arrangement, he thinks, as he watches her sign the name “Nattie Hand” on the contract. Though two thousand miles away, Celeste Betancourt, an attractive Georgetown graduate student he met through a mutual friend, has captured his attention. A budding friendship with Nattie soon begins to bloom. Little does Jordan know his girl-next-door renter is none other than the world-famous pop star, a.k.a. Natalia Antonali, who recently disappeared from the public eye; little does he know how much his friendship will mean to her, how, for the first time, a love begins to grow, untainted by ‘Natalia,’ and how she hopes Jordan never discovers the truth.”

I need to begin by saying that this author, Mr. Goble, found me on Facebook and sent me this book to review. I thank him for the opportunity and hope that he still “Like”(s) my blog after reading my review.  Although I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon are other sometimes used names), LDS fiction has never been my favorite genre. Unfortunately for Mr. Goble, this book did not change my opinion of LDS fiction. One look at the cover and I knew I was in trouble. I would never have picked this book off the shelf. Having said that, I did read it. I liked the characters in the book, but the whole scenario just seemed too impossible. How would a superstar (comparable to Brittney Spears) end up in Magna, UT? It never explained why she chose to go there or how she even knew where it was. I thought Jordan was a nice guy, but the pieces didn’t really fit together for me. I felt bad that he had lost his family at such a young age, and I could have empathy for him, but I just could not see a widowed man in his mid-to-late twenties canning pumpkins, peaches, and pears. My husband does help me when I can fruit, but he would NEVER do it if I weren’t around. That just never felt right to me, but maybe other men would do it. And then the thought that “Nattie” and “Natalia” might be the same person never crossed his mind as he saw her on the news and in magazines, never? I don’t know.

Mr. Goble’s writing style is different. He uses a lot of parenthesis to explain little side-notes that add to the “cheesy” feeling in the book. I was also confused….was it LDS fiction or not? Let me explain: you would expect an LDS fiction book to have references to LDS buildings, church meetings, and standards (not smoking or drinking alcohol, or using profanity), but you would also expect the characters to follow those standards. There was a lot of profanity in this book. Not all the worst words, but a lot of little four-letter words. It drove me crazy. His writing feels forced. He tries in a few instances to have Jordan sound intellectual, but it comes across as someone trying to sound intellectual, not as someone who is actually intellectual.  I think Mr. Goble would have made the whole thing feel better if he had taken all the LDS references out and just made it a fictional love story. To all LDS fiction writers everywhere–that is what readers want, just good, clean reads. We are LDS and we consider ourselves normal, everyday people, not a group that needs special books written just for us. Besides, you will get a lot more readers if everyone can read it and not just one group.

Anyway, this happens to be one of my “soap-box” topics, so please forgive me for going on. Overall, the middle of the book was the best. It actually had me turning pages to see what happened with the paparazzi and with Jordan finding out the truth. Except that I hated how Jordan went into this mad rage and ruined everything in a split second. His rage was over-the-top. The ending was okay but unbelievable. I didn’t hate the book, but I would not recommend it to my friends because I know they feel the same way I do about LDS fiction. If you like the genre and are okay with profanity then I would recommend it.

Rating: PG-13 (Profanity, some kissing and some innuendos)

Recommendation: High school and up. I would recommend it if you enjoy LDS fiction and are okay with profanity.

Exploring the Connection Between Mormons and Masons

Exploring the Connection Between Mormons and Mason by Matthew B. Brown
(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) “Why did Joseph Smith become a Freemason? Who introduced Freemasonry into Nauvoo, Illinois, in the early 1840’s? Do the Masons really descend from the stonemasons who built King Solomon’s temple? Is there an ancient relationship between the Masonic lodge rites and the Mormon temple ordinances? The subject of Joseph Smith and Freemasonry sparks a wide range of responses among Latter-day Saints, from curiosity to suspicion to outright excitement. In this helpful guide, trusted LDS scholar Matthew B. Brown clearly and skillfully addresses the subject’s history, theology, traditional understanding, and myths. Readers will consider provocative questions as well as meaningful scriptural patterns and interfaith connections. With research ranging from the particular to the panoramic, this volume offers engaging, edifying exploration of the relationship between Freemasonry and the blessings of the House of the Lord, and early Christianity and the practices of biblical times.”
I’m not a crazy conspiratorial person, but the Masons have always intrigued me. I wanted to read this book because it sounded interesting. It actually was. I had no idea that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Hyrum Smith, and other early apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were Masons. My knowledge of the Masons came mostly from the History channel documentaries and Dan Brown’s books. I knew that some of the symbols of both groups were similar, but I didn’t know what they meant to the Masons. This book is very thorough and well researched. It is easy to understand and well-laid out. I found it engaging and informational. I liked it and I learned a lot about Masons and their symbols, their history, and some of their members who were prominent in the early LDS church. I would recommend this book to those of either group who would like to learn more. Yes, I would recommend this book. It dispels many common myths and helps to find the truth.
Rating: PG
Recommendation: High School and Up

Believing Christ

Believing Christ by Stephen E. Robinson
(Summary taken from the book jacket) “In Believing Christ, Stephen E. Robinson eloquently discusses the marvelous news of the gospel: what Jesus Christ has done for us. Using examples from people’s lives and modern-day analogies and parables to illustrate scriptural principles, he explains the doctrines of atonement, grace, justification, salvation, and perfection so clearly and understandably one need never be confused by them again. ‘The good news of the gospel is good news to me not because it promises that other people who are better than I am can be saved, but because it promises that I can be saved–wretched, inadequate, and imperfect me. And until I accept that possibility, …I have not really accepted the good news of the gospel.'”

I remember when this book came out and everyone read it and said how good it was….except for me. For some reason I never read it, and I wish I had. This book is amazing! My whole life I have felt guilty about not being able to do everything in the gospel perfectly all the time (let’s just say…family history). After reading this I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I now know that it is okay if I’m not perfect at family history right now as long as I am doing my best. As long as I try my hardest and do my best, and continually stretch myself just a little, then I know I will be okay. Wow. What a relief. I might go so far as to say this book is “life changing.” He puts it in so many ways that if you don’t understand it at first, by the end you will because there is an example that would relate to everyone. I wish I had read it years ago!

Rating: PG (It’s a little deep for younger readers, but I would still let them read it.)

Recommendation: 12 and up. And yes, I would have everyone read it! I loved this book!