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The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel
The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel
by Diane Setterfield
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.11
739 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A book for book lovers, November 10, 2008
First of all, I applaud Diane Setterfield, the author, for writing such a novel. I believe it must be a challenge to craft a story that is entirely plausible yet gripping and puzzling and unique.

The central character in The Thirteenth Tale is Margaret Lea, a reticent young woman who is the only child of parents who own a bookshop. I say parents, though it is Margaret's father who is the book expert who spends most of each day in the shop with Margaret. The father and daughter share a tender closeness that adds to the humanity of the book.

Margaret confesses that her love for books actually transcends her feeling for many of the people she knows. Her delight is to slip into bed each evening with a hot cup of cocoa on her bedside table and read for hours into the night. As she has a treasure trove of literary works at her fingertips and enjoys various genres of books, including historical accounts and biographies, she becomes intrigued at times by rather obscure figures in history and takes it upon herself to write small biographies on these men and women, which she occasionally has published.

Her work becomes noticed by a Miss Vida Winter, England's best-known author of her time. Out of the blue, Margaret receives a letter from Miss Winter, requesting Margaret's services to write her life's story. Margaret accepts the position, moves to Miss Winter's estate, and later learns that Miss Winter has given twelve earlier accounts of her life to various biographers, which she confesses have all been untrue. As Miss Winter relates the true account of her life to Margaret, what unfolds is a fascinating tale involving generations of a wealthy, recluse family with a truly dysfunctional lifestyle. There are whisperings of ghosts and ages-old family secrets, which are dark and disturbing.

What transpires is that Margaret grows and learns much about herself, as she first listens and then begins to investigate the truthfulness of Miss Winter's tale. Some pleasant resolutions occur regarding Margaret's and Miss Winter's lives toward the end of the book, which give a nice wrap-up to the many threads of plot woven throughout the story. Along the way, however, there are several cringe-worthy moments and mysterious occurrences that keep the reader riveted.

I will say that the story began a bit slowly for me, but I appreciate how Setterfield takes her time to include elegant descriptions of scenes and feelings and situations. The writing is superb. Also, I appreciate that this work does not include the vulgarity, profanity, violence, and sexual inappropriateness so prevalent in so many of today's novels.

Diane Setterfield is a gem, a writer with an elevated and praiseworthy style. Her tale is a moral one, with honorable characters who display acts of kindness and service, despite some genuinely troubling circumstances. This is definitely a novel worth reading.

All Creatures Great and Small
All Creatures Great and Small
by James Herriot
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
124 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Likely the most delightful novel I've ever read, April 22, 2008
Mr. James Herriot is an uncommon writer, possessed of extraordinary skill and a mastery of the English language. When speaking of works of fiction, he is my favorite writer. His ability to choose perfectly appropriate and descriptive words, phrases, and metaphors to verbally illustrate unique characteristics, landscapes, feelings, and situations still has me mesmerized.

"All Creatures Great and Small" is autobiographical in that Mr. Herriot is the central character of the book, though James Herriot is the pen name of the real author, Jim Wight. However, since the work is defined as a novel, then one may assume that Mr. Herriot took certain liberties in relating many of the tales he unfolds. Mr. Herriot is a veterinary surgeon, and much of his novel specifically involves dealing with particular cases of sick livestock and ailing house pets. One should not quickly conclude, however, that this story is merely about the ramblings of a country animal doctor who at times finds himself in interesting situations, as some reviewers would suggest.

Instead, my feeling is that Mr. Herriot utilized his visits to multiple and varied farms and residences in the British countryside to highlight the individual conditions, attitudes, and distinctive persons he discovered at each location. The book becomes absolutely delightful and poignant, for instance, when Mr. Herriot kindly sits at an aging woman's bedside and tenderly comforts her with his voiced belief that her devoted, loving dogs and cats are indeed possessed of souls and that she need not fear that they will again be her companions in the afterlife.

And I do not believe I have laughed out loud so frequently while reading one book. Some of my personal favorites are when his brakes go out on his car and he must navigate a steep and winding descent to the bottom of a low valley, where his next veterinary visit is scheduled, and when he finds himself on his first date with the woman he is destined to marry and the only respectable dress suit he owns is several years out of fashion and far too tight-fitting, which is partly why he becomes far too nervous and a bout of awkward conversation and actions follow. Additionally, much might be said here about the quirky relationship Mr. Herriot has with his unpredictable and explosive yet perfectly harmless and generous employer, a Mr. Siegfried Farnon, and Siegfried's younger brother, Tristan. Farnon's demanding attitude regarding his veterinary business affairs, especially in the face of Tristan's irresponsibility in mishandling assignments and responsibilities, is often the basis for much of the hilarity in the book.

In speaking of his relationships with those to whom he is closest on a personal level and the frequently visited owners of his animal patients, Mr. Herriot has an especially profound gift when it comes to praising the best characteristics that are found in the human race. He speaks with eloquent fondness when describing the beautiful traits he sees in his lovely Helen, his soon-to-be wife. And when he stumbles upon a man or woman who he feels is in ownership of certain admirable exceptionality, such as industry or thrift or honesty or discipline or gentleness, his written accolades of such persons is heartwarming and deeply inspiring.

Thus I would say that this book has everything. It touches upon the topics of death, faith, humor, love, devotion, stewardship, human strengths and frailties, prosperity and poverty, work and idleness, occupation, and the list goes on. Given that these interesting topics are handled so capably by Mr. Herriot's writing talent, I doubt that any sensitive reader would find this book to be anything but delightful and praiseworthy.

A Painted House
A Painted House
by John Grisham
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.52
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great story by a very capable story teller, March 1, 2008
This review is from: A Painted House (Paperback)
John Grisham's "A Painted House" tells the story of a particular seven-year-old farm boy growing up in rural Arkansas in 1952. He and his close-knit family farm cotton, and Grisham effectively paints a tale that conveys all of the backbreaking toil and financial uncertainty that growing such a crop at that particular time under certain precarious circumstances entails.

The genuinely heartwarming aspects of this story center around the young boy's family and how they pull together to ensure every measure is taken to harvest their crop, while they each support one another in resolute and resourceful ways through life's difficulties.

Grisham weaves interesting and colorful dramatic threads into the story as he develops the characters from the Arkansas hills and from Mexico who arrive at the boy's farm to assist them with their cotton harvest. Grisham explores the ideologies of class distinction, debt and financial hardship, tensions between certain races, the impact of violence and criminality on society, and the joys and frustrations of budding love between a number of the main characters. The boy also has an uncle at war in Korea, and many lines are devoted in the novel to the worry and anticipation that a family must wade through when one of its members faces potential peril.

This story, however, is not all about hardship and toil. Grisham never lets the mood become bogged down with trouble and uncertainty. The young boy dreams of one day playing professional baseball, and his family not only supports him in this lofty goal, but they lavish love and attention on him in a surplus of other ways. It is clear that the boy is genuinely happy due to the resourcefulness and closeness of his family. They grow their own food, work side by side daily, eat every meal together, counsel together, worship religiously and pray together, play and celebrate together, and generally rely upon each other for every emotional, spiritual, and physical need.

But regardless of the plot of this particular tale, I found myself mesmerized once again by Grisham's ability to choose just the correct adjectives and verbs to craft a delightfully absorbing story. One might argue that Grisham isn't the greatest literary talent the world has ever seen, his stories often resulting from very simple phrases and words strung together, yet I would classify his word choices as uncommonly effective in conveying just the right message and situation to the reader. That being said, his story is as rich and emotionally moving and genuine as anything I've read recently--including "To Kill a Mockingbird," and I often found myself comparing generally similar themes between these two books as I read.

It goes without saying that I highly recommend this book to anyone. If American families worked as hard, supported each other as faithfully, held to as strict moral codes and spiritual virtues, were as self-reliant and disciplined to maintain their health and nutrition, and spent as much wholesome and constructive time together as the family portrayed in this work, then America would be a better place. I believe it's wonderfully good to step away frequently from all of the explosive and immoral garbage that Hollywood churns out continually and immerse yourself in a simple and noble and moral tale like this one to remember the virtues of life. This book isn't a perfectly virtuous book, as there is a measure of immorality discussed and even a particularly violent episode, but for the most part, the book is commendable on a moral scale.

Dracula (Signet Classics)
Dracula (Signet Classics)
by Bram Stoker
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
121 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An old fashioned tale that doesn't offend, January 22, 2008
Bram Stoker's "Dracula" was first published in 1897, and as one reads this work, it is overwhelmingly apparent that it was written during a time when morals and virtues were held in a much higher regard than they are today.

The book is comprised primarily of various journal entries from six main characters. Two of these main characters are remarkable women, possessed of lofty talent and high moral character. It is when both of these women encounter Count Dracula himself and fall under his poisonous and deathly spell that the remaining main characters in the book--all courageous and gifted and accomplished men--spring to the aid of these women.

I, for one, loved the old fashioned language, the rigid formality and courtesy, and the unyielding respect that the main characters demonstrated in their interactions with one another. Chivalry was certainly not dead in 1897, if one were to use this book as evidence. The graciousness and loyalty that the men in this book showed the women is inspiring, and the moral refinement and sensibilities of the women characters caused me to yearn for an older time, away from the immorality and crudeness apparent in today's society.

I had to smile at one point when reading the book when the two main women characters found themselves out late at night after a frightening experience. They were both in their full-length bedclothes, which apparently covered every part of their bodies but their bare feet. One of the women, not wanting to appear immodest dabbed mud on their bare feet so as not to offend anyone who might see those exposed parts.

This book is filled with suspense and plausibly thrilling episodes. It stands as a wonderful classic of good-natured fright, which proves that tension and drama and expectation may be created in a work of fiction without all of the offending elements of bloody violence, gore, vulgarity, sex, and devilishness thrown into the mix. Its ending is noble, with at least one of the main characters revealing remarkable compassion when she sees the look on Count Dracula's face during the final decisive scene in the book. This book was a pleasant surprise, as I wasn't suspecting a work of such high literary value from a "horror" novel. Thus, I highly recommend it.

To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $5.44
629 used & new from $0.21

5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy of all its acclaim, December 2, 2007
I believe the greatest elements in this book are its good, decent, praiseworthy characters. Harper Lee creates a time and place where each character is flawed and fallible, yet her work lifts the reader to a more noble and lovely view of our world. Atticus Finch is a believably moral man with lofty principles, yet we see his hesitations and stumblings as a father and public defender. Scout, Atticus' daughter, and Jem, his son, act out in youthful fits of rage and misunderstanding, yet the deep love and unbounded admiration they feel for their father is heartwarming.

The fact that Lee weaves threads of race and human rights and class distinction so skillfully into this tale is partly why I believe this book is such a beloved classic. Atticus is a single white father raising his two children with the help of a black housekeeper in Alabama during the 1930s. As Lee unfolds the family's story, we as readers are allowed to step back in time and possibly begin to understand what life may have been like from the perspective of young and old, black and white, and the poor and privileged. In the latter half of the book, Atticus is called upon to legally defend a black man for allegedly raping a white woman, and the trials he and his family suffer as a result make this book sing with conflict and weighty moral decisions.

Furthermore, I very much liked Lee's folksy and funny and frequently beautiful language and her skill in penning creative and insightful sentences of high literary value.

Recently I read or heard somewhere that Atticus Finch was determined from the results of a vast survey to be one of the most revered fictional characters in literature. In my opinion, Lee's Atticus deserves that distinction. I give this book my highest recommendation.

The Testament
The Testament
by John Grisham
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.99
675 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying on many levels, July 6, 2007
On the surface, this book is about an eccentric billionaire who leaves nearly all of his fortune to his only illegitimate child, a daughter, who happens to be a Christian missionary and doctor working with primitive Indian tribes in a remote Brazilian rainforest. Of all his children, he knows her least of all, having distanced himself from her decades earlier when she was ending her teenage years. To those of his remaining children whom he knows far more intimately, he bestows comparatively little. He detests them and has spurned them for multiple reasons: each has squandered millions of dollars already, each is heavily in debt, and each is leading a selfish and contemptible life.

Since John Grisham typically writes books about lawyers, we as readers get to learn much about wills and testaments (hence the name of the book) and trusts, and it's all rather interesting. As a reader you will be privy to intimate details as to how big law firms handle contests of wills and how certain trusts may be established. These elements give the novel a certain legal flair that is evocative of Grisham's works.

But beyond the surface story line, we as readers get drawn into the thoughts and attitudes and behaviors of the main characters, who range in profession and lifestyle from ultra-rich professionals to petulant trust-fund kids to high-stress white-collar types to third-world missionaries and tribes people living in the simplest of conditions.

Few would argue that the main character in this novel is not the billionaire himself, nor any of his children, but the troubled lawyer who is hired to track down the heiress in one of the most remote and uncivilized places on earth. His thrilling adventure to locate her encapsulates much of the heart of the book and provides vivid insight into what it must be like to trek deep into an inhospitable and wild jungle.

The lawyer's name is Nate, and what a wonderful character he is. Full of doubt and deeply flawed, I came to appreciate his humility and sincerity as I witnessed his transformation from a troubled alcoholic and drug addict to a dependable and resolute father and law professional. Fraught with the pressures and long hours that come with being a high-dollar attorney, Nate let his profession get in the way of his family and health. We learn that often he turned to liquor and drugs and infidelity to cope with his high-anxiety life.

Upon being sent into the Brazilian wilderness and upon meeting the lovely Rachel, the multiple-billion-dollar heiress, something changes in him. We watch as his Christian faith and associations with deeply good and helpful people change him into a truly loveable character. This is a wonderful book.

I especially appreciate John Grisham for his high moral standard. One need not worry about reading profane and vulgar language on every page with Grisham. In my opinion, many modern writers appear to have some misguided profanity and vulgarity agenda, mistakenly believing that tense situations and dramatic effect can't be created without extremely offensive language thrown into the mix.

Grisham writes a masterful work, with beautiful characterizations and moving situations, without offending his readers with the use of base and distasteful dialogue. I truly appreciate that. I highly recommend this book.

The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ (Official Edition)
The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ (Official Edition)
by Joseph Smith
Edition: Paperback
115 used & new from $0.01

10 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I believe this book of scripture to be the word of God, March 20, 2007
First of all, let me state that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), or Mormon Church, as it is sometimes called. As such, I believe the Bible to be the word of God. I study the Bible faithfully and regularly, but I also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. I believe that just as Jesus taught the people who lived in and near the city of Jerusalem during his life, he also visited and instructed others around the world after his death and resurrection. I believe the Book of Mormon to be an account written by men who were called by God. Most of these men were prophets, just like Noah, Abraham, and Moses.

The Book of Mormon begins with the writings of a prophet named Nephi, who lived in the city of Jerusalem with his family, around 600 years before the birth of Christ. Being led by the Lord, he and his family were directed to leave Jerusalem and travel through the wilderness until they reached the sea. Once there, Nephi was instructed to build a ship and sail to what would later become America. These people, who were called "Nephites," believed devoutly in Jesus Christ. In fact, Nephi wrote of a detailed vision he had of Christ's birth several hundred years before the event. The Nephite civilization continued for hundreds of years until Christ visited them in the Western Hemisphere, after his crucifixion and resurrection in Jerusalem. Their society persisted for another 400 years after Christ's appearance, until warfare destroyed their entire population. We do believe, however, that a remnant of the initial group, called "Lamanites," whose leader, Laman, first sailed with Nephi from Jerusalem continued to thrive and are the ancestors of some Native American peoples.

The metal records kept by Nephite prophets and other important men of the time were buried in the earth around 400 A.D. and were later discovered by Joseph Smith in the early 1800s, after Joseph was directed to their location by an angel. By the grace and power of God, Joseph was able to translate the ancient language contained on the metal plates into English, and subsequently the first copies of the Book of Mormon were printed in 1830.

At this point I could choose to offer my rebuttals regarding what I believe has falsely been reported by several nay-saying reviewers, who have suggested that the Book of Mormon may be proven false based on some loosely defined historical and geological "facts." I doubt anything I might say could change the opinions of those who believe their convictions are rooted in their subjective evidence, when even a cursory Internet search or a modest understanding of ancient North American history might allow an individual to consider the veracity of the Book of Mormon's premise.

Instead, let me simply say that I believe the Book of Mormon to be true in its teachings and declarations. I believe it to be scripture, inspired by our Father in Heaven, and is indeed another witness and testament of Jesus Christ's divinity as our Savior and Redeemer. Though I appreciate how difficult it may be for anyone who has not had personal experience with the book to believe such claims, I still do not hesitate to say that I believe my family and I are blessed with greater peace and happiness and added direction and strength when we study it earnestly together. I honestly feel that these blessings are tangible and realized each time we seriously read, ponder, and apply its teachings to our lives.

Much like a person who eats adequate daily servings of fruits, vegetables, and grains and partakes in regular exercise experiences greater health and vitality, I earnestly feel a lifting and strengthening and a genuine sensation of peace and serenity when I read the Book of Mormon. I can't state my feelings about this book more plainly, or more honestly, than that.

My one hope is that if you are considering reading the Book of Mormon that you will do so with an honest, sincere, humble, and open mind. If you combine your reading with prayer, I believe your experience with this book will be as grand as mine.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 1, 2008 1:56 PM PST

His Excellency: George Washington
His Excellency: George Washington
by Joseph J. Ellis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.55
598 used & new from $0.01

27 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A misleading, negatively toned portrayal, February 13, 2007
It was very evident to me while reading this book that Ellis had done his homework as a Washington biographer. Apparently, Ellis has studied nearly all of Washington's available writings, and his broad knowledge is obvious in this work.

While I did appreciate the impartial facts he presents, I do feel Ellis' conclusions regarding Washington's motives for many of his decisions and actions throughout his life are skewed considerably.

For instance, for the first approximately 50 pages of this book, Ellis suggests that nearly every decision Washington made was based on some selfish desire to further his economic standing among his fellow comparatively wealthy Virginia plantation owners. Everything Washington does, Ellis claims, from him serving as a leader of several Virginia militia men in the French and Indian War to his marriage to Martha, a wealthy widow, was based on an overwhelming greed and lust for recognition and wealth. Based on my prior readings and study of Washington, I believe this is certainly not the case.

Of course, each of us as individuals and parents wants to secure for ourselves and families a prosperous livelihood, but Ellis seldom if ever suggests that Washington's motives are altruistic. Instead, Ellis paints the portrait of a pouting, bitter, violent, selfish, and greedy Washington when he doesn't receive the recognition or monies he feels he is due for his service in the military or as an affluent landowner. For instance, after Horatio Gates, one of Washington's generals, scores a major victory for the American cause during the Battle of Saratoga by defeating and capturing all of British General John Burgoyne's forces, Ellis suggests that Washington felt little more than bitter jealousy and resentment that he wasn't present during the decisive victory. Rarely does Ellis give Washington any credit for having any pure and noble motives.

Ellis also makes it a point to spotlight how severe and even abusive he believes Washington was to the men who served under his command. Ellis would have us believe that Washington's men lived in mortal fear of their commander, as he states that Washington's men were frequently beaten and occasionally executed when Washington's stern standards weren't met. Though elements of Ellis' accusations may be proven fact, it seemed to me that Ellis tended to linger over and highlight the exceedingly infrequent dark and questionable aspects of Washington's life, when certainly there are far more praiseworthy and noble characteristics to discuss regarding this great man.

Ellis even breaches the issue that it can't be proven that Washington didn't have sexual relations with a close friend's wife, Sally Fairfax, when there was no overwhelming evidence that their relationship even approached adulterous. Ellis' shallow reasoning for suggesting this inappropriate relationship is based on a letter Washington wrote to Sally, expressing that the times he spent with her were the happiest in his life. What Ellis failed to divulge is that Washington wrote this letter with the full knowledge and support of his wife, and that the letter was meant to convey that the associations he and Martha shared with Sally and her husband as married couples were treasured moments. (If you don't believe this, do some research of your own.)

Toward the middle and end of 'His Excellency,' Ellis repeatedly, even redudantly, states that Washington was obsessed with what the history books might later record of him, to the point that it controlled his every political and moral decision. In other words, whenever Ellis offers his personal opinion regarding Washington's motives, Ellis always suggests that Washington considered his own vain ambitions and the selfish regard for history's approval first, before he ever looked for the right and wrong implications involved in a decision.

The misconstrued and subjective opinions that Ellis has woven throughout his work have left a very sour taste in my mouth indeed. Washington's strength and steadiness in the face of enormous opposition deserves a much more favorable account, instead of the severe negativity attributed to him in Ellis' biography. If you would like to read a much truer and factual and well-written account, read the 900-plus page "The Real George Washington" by Jay Parry.

One last thing I'll say is that I found Ellis' writing style to be very difficult to plod through. There are times when his writing is brilliant and flows with some very beautiful prose, but those moments are far too infrequent to warrant a recommendation from me. For the most part, his writing doesn't flow well at all and isn't nearly as cohesive as other biographies I've read.

In short, I definitely DO NOT recommend this work to anyone.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 21, 2013 7:51 AM PDT

Indian Creek Chronicles: A Winter Alone in the Wilderness
Indian Creek Chronicles: A Winter Alone in the Wilderness
by Pete Fromm
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.66
105 used & new from $2.42

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my personal favorites of this genre, January 22, 2007
I truly loved this book on many levels, from the hunting and fishing experiences the author shared to his personal reflections on several moral issues, which I felt were very poignant and truthful.

The majority of this book covers the author's seven-month stay in a canvas tent, deep in the Idaho wilderness during the months of October through May. His job was to watch over and protect millions of salmon eggs that had been cached in the gravel of a nearby river.

His love of mountain man books and the thrill of experiencing nature in all of its variety are ideals that initially lead him to volunteer for the long winter assignment. Later, his enthusiasm changes to loneliness and regret as he faces his separation from his friends and family.

On the surface, his tale recounts his meetings with hunters, guides, outfitters, forest rangers, wardens, and outdoors enthusiasts as they pass by his lonely tent in his remote meadow. He speaks of the extreme winter weather he faced, the wildlife he encountered, and the steps he took to survive in an isolated and severe environment.

The real beauty of this book, however, comes when the author shares how painful moments of loneliness affected him and ultimately how these experiences changed him into a person who became very secure with his own creative abilities and very comfortable with his own company.

He records some very personal reflections regarding what it meant to him to shoot various animals for meat during his long winter stay. As he accompanies various guides and hunters on their hunting trips, he recounts how he felt when others did not view their kills as the resources he believed they were.

The author writes of loss, of waste, of fully utilizing one's resources, of missing one's family and friends and how dear trusted loved ones are to a soul, and of the gloriousness of wildlife and wilderness. He revels in the beauties that surround him and comes to truly appreciate his experience alone for several months in the mountains.

My words cannot do justice to the lessons I watched him learn and to the maturing and self-discovery he experienced. I also cannot do honor to the beautiful way he describes nature, its wildlife, and the incredible beauty to be found in truly wild places. Thus, you should experience this book for yourself if you love these types of things.

Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes
Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes
by Gordon Bitner Hinckley
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.71
219 used & new from $0.01

9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vastly important work that each person should read at least once, October 10, 2006
If you are reading this review, you should know that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I believe Gordon B. Hinckley to be God's chosen prophet on the earth. I sustain him as a prophet, seer, and revelator, and I believe he is a mouthpiece through which our Heavenly Father gives us, his children, direction and instruction.

That being said, I do not believe that one needs to be a Mormon to find great treasures of knowledge in this extraordinary book. President Hinckley shares with us his insight regarding some of the vital virtures that our world sorely lacks. He speaks of love, honesty, morality, patriotism, the value of industry and hard work, of learning and education, and of many more values that will inspire you to live your life with a higher standard.

Take these next few sentences as my subjective opinion, but I believe this is one of the most important books that a person could read. It should be read often and throughout one's life, at least as a yearly event, if not more frequently.

If any of you who are not Mormon are hesitant about reading this book out of fear that President Hinckley will attempt to convert you, please lay your fears aside. This book is actually quite non-denominational. Throughout his 95-plus years on this earth, President Hinckley has learned much about our world throughout his extensive travels. He has met with countless world leaders and has seen firsthand many of the significant events that have occurred during the last century.

His vast experience allows him to share with us how our individual lives and the world in general might improve if we would adhere to certain ennobling and enriching standards and values.

I don't feel as though I could write any more to do this book any further justice, so I will include one of my favorite passages from the book, in hopes that it will inspire you to read it.

Here it is:

"It is not enough to be good. You must be good for something. You must contribute good to the world. The world must be a better place for your presence. And the good that is in you must be spread to others. In this world so filled with problems, so constantly threatened by dark and evil challenges, you can and must rise above mediocrity, above indifference. You can become involved and speak with a strong voice for that which is right."

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