Friday, December 2, 2011

The Assassination of Governor Boggs

From the Back Cover:
Twenty-five years ago Governor Lilburn Boggs was shot at in his home, but the gunman was never found. Now Detective Calvin Pogue has been hired by the Boggs family to open the cold case. From one end of the country to the other Detective Pogue follows clues that lead him relentlessly to the legendary Mormon gunman Porter Rockwell - who still isn't making things easy for anyone! Join Detective Pogue as he steps into this hair raising mystery and tracks down Gov. Boggs’s enemies and friends to a finale you won’t believe.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s hard not to like a book about a character described on Wikipedia as “The Destroying Angel of Mormondom.”

Most of the book is written from the point of view Detective Pogue. Since this is LDS Historical Fiction, I expected it to have a fairly strong LDS bias. I was pleasantly surprised that most of the book didn’t. Detective Pogue is trying to decipher who attempted to assassinate Gov. Boggs. The anti-Mormon people he interviews, like John Bennett, speak quite ill about Mormons and their religion. At the same time, the LDS members that are interviewed in connection with the case describe the persecution they experienced at the hands of Gov. Boggs and the Missouri mobs.

Every now and then we get to read snippets from Porter Rockwell:
If ever I had inclinations toward the Christian ways of turnin’ the other cheek, they left me that day. I determined to find the means to get me some guns and learn how to use them. Them mobbin’ pukes would never get away with attackin’ my family. Never Again.

I was discussing this book with a friend at work. Once he heard that Porter Rockwell was a main character he became quite animated telling me what he knew about him. Ironically, that evening as I continued reading the book, I read in it, the exact things my friend told me about Porter. I appreciate when an author does their research and includes fact in their historical fiction.

The author, Rod Miller, does an excellent job of “changing voice” for each character. It is a difficult thing to do, i.e. create several different ways of speaking and thinking for each character when they’re coming out of one person’s (the author’s) head. Rod did it very skillfully. I highly recommend this book to anyone that likes either historical fiction or just a good mystery. You can buy the book HERE. This book will make a great Christmas gift. You might want to buy two copies though, because you’re going to want to read it too, and no one likes unwrapping a used book for Christmas.

FTC note: I did receive a free copy of the book so I could review it. However, that didn’t influence my write up.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


I'm in the middle of a business trip in Boston. Well, technically I'm in Danvers, which is about 19 miles north of Boston. Danvers used to be Salem Village which is where the witch trials all started. This is the view out of my hotel window.

Today's Saturday, i.e. I'm not working, so I decided to take the train to Boston. The train station dropped me off at North Station and I started walking towards Faneuil Hall. While walking, I came across a street called something like Robert "RIP" Valenti Way. It made me wonder, if we don't include "RIP" for all streets named after deceased persons are we being insensitive...?

I finally got there. Here's a few pics.

There were several street performers there including a human statue and a guy riding a unicycle while flinging out two yoyos.

I kept walking along the Freedom trail and came across this:

This is a picture inside the Old South Meeting House. Benjamin Franklin was baptized here and the seeds of the rebellion that led to the Tea Party in Boston Harbor started inside these walls. Here's a picture of the pulpit.

I figured I'd just keep walking to Boston Commons. It was on the Freedom Trail. When I get there I see two live bands at different spots in the park. There are food vendors and concession stands selling souvenirs, etc. There was a sea of humanity milling about and I was curious what kind of festival was going on. I get to the middle of the festival, passing through the middle of very interesting people, to see these booths:

Yes, unknown to me, I walked smack dab into a "Legalize Marijuana," festival. It was at this point that I truly realized I was no longer in Utah...
I wondered what that distinctive odor was that wafted through the crowds. I might still be buzzed. Thank you Boston for making me have to go confess to my bishop about indirectly breaking the Word of Wisdom...

Anyway, once I realized what the festival was celebrating I decided it was time to leave.

As I was on the outskirts of Faneuil Hall I came across an epic group of street dancers. Still images do not do them justice. They contorted their bodies into positions that I don't think humans were meant to twist into. I loved the guy that did a back handspring flip over four people.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Key of Kilenya

The Key of Kilenya is the debut novel of Andrea Pearson. From the back cover of the book:
When two vicious wolves chase fourteen-year-old Jacob Clark down a path from our world into another, his life is forever changed. He has no idea they have been sent by the Lorkon--evil, immortal beings who are jealous of powers he doesn't know he possesses--powers they desire to control.

The inhabitants of the new world desperately need Jacob's help in recovering a magical key that was stolen by the Lorkon and is somehow linked to him. If he helps them, his life will be at risk. But if he chooses not to help them, both our world and theirs will be in danger. The Lorkon will stop at nothing to unleash the power of the key--and Jacob's special abilities.

I love fantasy novels and found this to be a worthy first effort into the genre. Andrea's writing improved as the book went along.

The protagonist, Jacob, is assisted by a race of people called the Makalos. Someone else described this race in their mind as being a cross between Native Americans and Ewoks. That's about how I pictured them too. The pacing in the book is good, I would've liked more descriptions of what the primary characters looked like, i.e. Jacob, but the action of the book helped me overlook some of the lack of descriptions.

One minor nit, sometimes the characters all spoke with the same voice. They all used the word, "wow" way more than they should have.

The beginning of each chapter had a journal entry from another person in the tale. I really enjoyed that. While following the primary line of the story, I was allowed to see briefly another character line. That gave two very different and distinct views of what was happening, and why it was happening.

I look forward to the sequel and reading the continuing saga of Jacob and his friends as they try to save damsels in distress and two worlds from annihilation.

You can purchase a copy of the book here.

You can learn more about the author here.

Friday, July 29, 2011

All That Was Promised

Vickie Hall is a new and promising author. Her debut novel All That Was Promised was a very enjoyable read.

From the author's website:
In 1847 Wales young Methodist Minister Richard Kenyon converts to Mormonism. Richard's newfound faith is put to the test as he faces down the anger of his former congregation, his wife's indecisiveness, the betrayal of his brother, and the murderous intentions of misinformed villagers.

I've read a few blog posts about the book that suggest to really appreciate the story I should be either a woman or a teenager. I am neither. So either I'm awfully confused about my gender and/or age, or this book has a larger target audience than previously stated. My wife and I did read the book together. In fact we enjoyed it so much that we took turns reading it out loud to each other and didn't stop until the story was completed.

Anyone, male, female, teenager, whatever, that enjoys LDS historical fiction will be drawn into this riveting tale that follows the life of early Welsh saints. All That Was Promised paints a compelling portrait of what it was like to convert to Mormonism in its fledgling years. Richard Kenyon is the protagonist, but the book follows the lives of several characters. Some that join the church in spite of difficult challenges, some that are extremely antagonistic towards the church through out the tale. Some start off well, but like a seed planted amongst thorns, they struggle with their faith as overwhelming trials and hardships test their faith.

The story and character development is very believable. I yearned to reach out and help those facing tribulations and rejoiced with those that remained true to the faith and were blessed beyond measure in the end.

The story ends with the invitation for the faithful saints to emigrate to Utah. I am hoping that a follow up book will be in the works that continues the characters' stories of what transpired when they arrived, if they arrived, in the Salt Lake Valley.

As a matter of full disclosure, I need to say that the book has several mid-scene POV shifts that did confuse me from time to time as to whose head I was supposed to be in. As this is Vickie Hall's debut novel, I will cut her some slack and place the blame where it belongs with the publisher.

I look forward to watching Vickie hone her craft as a writer, and hope to read more of her books as she writes them.

You can purchase a copy of All That Was Promised here.

Another note for full disclosure. I did receive a free copy of the book so I could blog about it. However, my opinion of the book was not swayed by getting a free copy.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


The state of today’s economy is insecure, causing concern in many people and fear in many others. It used to be that we relied on our retirement income to see us through our golden years, but we now have to face the reality that we must take action to ensure our well-being in the future. How do we go about this? What steps do we take, where do we go, how do we know we’re doing it right?

Financial advisor John Hauserman, CFP®, has created a no-cost website as a tool for you to use on your financial journey. This site features the amazing Planning Map, designed to help you think like a financial planner. You can begin by setting up an account at no charge, complete with your zip code which will enable you to save your progress, but your information will never be sold or given away to any outside party. Or, if you prefer, simply skip registration with a single click. As you chart out your financial situation, you will never be asked for account numbers or personal information.

As you go through and create your personal profile, you’ll feel in control of your future—a sense of freedom and independence that perhaps has been missing since the economy went downhill. You will get the tools you need to help:

1. View the financial planning process from the eyes of a CFP® professional in a user-friendly format that most find easy to understand

2. Get the whole story on various investment products, not just “the good stuff” that financial (snake oil?) sales folks talk about

3. Find useful links to government and other helpful websites

4. Identify if a financial advisor has been thorough in their duties

5. Identify and avoid fraudulent advisors

6. Make better financial decisions

You’re invited to stop by the RetirementQuest® website and see for yourself if this is a tool you can use. Again, it’s no cost, and all you have to lose is your financial stress. Those who take action now will find themselves in a much better place later—why delay your future security? Plan ahead and be prepared.

Securities and advisory services are offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, member FINRA/SIPC. A Registered Investment Advisor.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Star Scout Rising--First Trail Volume One

From the last frontier, Space. A must-have, out of this world adventure! Star Scout Rising, First Trail by Gary Darby is a thoughtful, awe-inspiring, and spine-tingling Sci-Fi mystery that follows a young man named Del Baldura during his quest for knowledge, truth, and discovery in the distant future of human and alien kind. This story has it all superb background, surprises, mystery, love, futuristic technological possibilities, bizarre life forms, and a hero trying to make sense of his duty and loyalty, his current leadership responsibilities, and his search for truth about part of his and his family's history. Volume One of a three-volume set, Darby hits a grand-slam with this first novel. Smart and thought provoking. Volume Two due out in 2011.

I thoroughly enjoyed Star Scout Rising, First Trail Volume One. Sci-Fi fans will thoroughly enjoy the “technical” descriptions that explain deep space exploration so believably. I really liked the writing. Each character of a story should have his or her own unique voice. Since typically a story is told by one person—the author, that can be a challenge.

I’m always pleased and very impressed when I can read dialogue and know exactly who is speaking even if the author didn’t spell it out. Of course, writers do spell out who’s talking, but if the character really has their own voice, the reader will come to recognize it. My favorite character in the story is Sami. He is not the main character, that would be Del Baldura. However, he is Del’s close friend and fellow Star Scout Cadet. He’s quirky, fun, and when he was in a scene a smile automatically came to my face.

The content of the story is clean and appropriate for all ages. The plot is compelling and will have you turning pages until you reach the final one. There are several story lines that don’t have closure. This is the first book of a trilogy and so you’ll have to read the next two books to get everything. I for one am eagerly awaiting volume two which should hit the shelves in 2011.

You can purchase the book by going here. If Kindle is your thing, try this link.

Legal disclaimer: I did receive a free copy of this book to review. My opinions of the book are in no way influenced by receiving a free copy.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Christian case for Mormon values

I read an interesting article today from the Washington Post. The author is a professor of philosophy for Biola. He is not LDS, but sees a lot of good things about LDS people and their values.

Mormonism is old enough by American standards to feel "ancient," but young enough to make the founding stories easy for Americans to understand. Joseph Smith received his revelations closer than four score years after the American founding. Any literate English speaker can read founding Mormon documents without the need for much translation or scholarly explanation, but knowledge of American history is vital. Most Americans look abroad for "holy land," but Mormons look here.