Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Gathering (End's Beginning) - by Randy Lindsay

About the book: 
Robert Williams didn't expect an early honorable release from his mission, but upon his return home, he sees the reason for the surprise decision. Unemployment, rampant violence, and frequent food shortages have put the United States on the brink of another civil war. As the threads of society unravel, the Williams family must adapt to drastic changes as the long-foretold gathering begins to take place.

My Review: 
The premise of this book - the "End of Times" - is a subject that greatly fascinates me and often drives the direction of my own creative diversions. One of my favorite research topics is the second coming of the Savior and the signs that will lead up to it. I am a preparation nut (not quite a fanatic, but with each year, each calamity, and each sign that comes to light, I'm edging closer!)  For this reason, I was drawn to it, and couldn't wait to read it. And, I'm happy to report, I wasn't disappointed!

Political, social, and religious tension, all wrapped up in an easy-to-read, enjoyable, and quite thought-provoking novel. Lindsay cover's the perspectives of a few members of the Williams family (dad: John, mother: Becky, and their adult son Robert) as well as a Washington insider, Secretary of State Calvin McCord. I enjoyed all the different perspectives and the plot angles they presented.

This is a well-written, thought provoking, page-turner. I'd highly recommend it. Don't worry, you don't have to know much about the prophecies regarding the end of times to enjoy the story. (I do warn, however, that by the time you finish, you may find yourself wanting to know more.)

My only complaint is that it ended a bit abruptly. I kept looking for an extra page or two. Yes, I understand that it is the first in a series, but I still feel like it could've ended a little smoother.

The Gathering (End's Beginning) is available today for preorder on Amazon. Official release date is January 14, at which time it will be available at B&N, Deseret Book, Seagull, and other awesome book retailers.

* If you'd like to know more about the signs of the Second Coming, I highly recommend The End of Times by Connie Joslin.  

About the Author: 
RANDY LINDSAY is a native of Arizona. From an early age, his mind traveled in new and unusual directions. His preoccupation with "what if" eventually led him to write speculative fiction. According to his wife, "everything is a story to Randy." And it is. The Gathering is his first novel, but he has been published in a variety of science-fiction and fantasy anthologies. He lives in Mesa with his wife and five of his nine children. If you want to find out more you can check out his website at

Monday, January 6, 2014

Reflect. Resolve. Move Forward. - Setting Goals for the New Year

Like most of you, I've spent a lot of time over the last several days and even weeks resolving to make some resolutions. And, as I suppose you've likely done, I've made a list. If you've been a follower of my blog for a while, you will know that I am a list-maker. And, if I'm being honest here, I probably should preface list-maker with something like "obsessive" or "master,"... or if you ask my husband, "ridiculous."  For the sake of this post - and for no other reason than I'm really into all things British right now - I'd like to use the adjective "brilliant." Are you good with that? Lovely.

I've been on a quest for the last handful of years to try to simplify my life. Two years ago I made a "little" (haha!) list about my resolution to do just that. (I've Never Attained a Goal I Didn't First Write Down). 2013 was the year I actually followed through and cleared my plate of many projects, activities, and service opportunities that I dearly love. Ironically enough, the more I try to simplify, the more complex things seem to get... So, here I am, simplifying yet again!

I've decided to preface my goal list with this thought from Thomas S. Monson:

"Our task is to become our best selves. One of God's greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need to be final." 

So now the big question: Where to start?

  1. Reflect - How do I become my best self? What are my weak spots? 
  2. Resolve - Commit to make a change... Here's an idea: I'll make a plan. 
  3. Move forward  - Take ACTION! Make it happen! 

And on that note, here it is, my SHORT list for the year (just 5 things, believe it or not!). Keepin' it simple and shooting for awesome. I'm going to call it:
Reflect. Resolve. Move Forward. 

1. Physical - Yeah, this is where you'll find the "I need to lose x amount of pounds" jibber-jabber. But, it's more than that. This is not a goal to find the skinny girl I must've eaten, (though that'd be a nice side-benefit) but to find the healthy, strong, energetic girl I know I can be.  - My plan: going sugar-free and eating clean again. Also getting back in to the habit of daily exercise. And this time I'm dragging the husband along with me. Why? Because its a lot easier to make healthy choices when you've got a partner in crime.

2. Spiritual - LDS Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley once mentioned that, even after 90+ years on this earth, he still learned something new every day. Like him, I want to be a seeker of knowledge of all types. This year, I particularly want to strengthen my spiritual knowledge.  - My plan: to finish reading the New Testament by early spring, then to do some indepth study on a few subjects such as the Second Coming of our Savior, the Three Nephites, and the apostle John.

3. Professional - Not so much, where do I want to go with my writing this year? But more like, where am I going to take my writing this year?  - My plan: I'm ready to assert a more aggressive approach to all things writing/publishing related. More specifically: I plan to complete 4 books by years end, including at least 2 that will be released before Christmas.

4. Financial - I like money. I like things. But more importantly, I like security. Which means, I think it's time to tighten up the budget, cut the slack, and do some better planning for my future. - My plan: Be more responsible. Cut the frivolous spending. Rethink my budget and stick to it. Easy enough, right?

5. Personal/Family - This really should be at the top of my list. My kids are growing up so fast and with one 5,000 miles from home and another who will be leaving the nest before I know it, I've realized how quickly my time with them is speeding by. By the end of the year I may be the shortest person in our house (I already have the smallest feet!) and I just can't afford to miss out on my children's lives.  - My plan: Be a more involved mother. Laugh more. Play more. Live in the moment.

And that's it. No big projects. No unattainable milestones. No ridiculous expectations. Just me, simply trying to be the best me that I can be.

Best wishes in your journeys this year. I hope you attain the goals you've set, but more so, I hope that you appreciate the moments that make up each day. Cherish the people who love you, be thankful for the opportunities you have to grow, and always... always... strive to be the best you that you can be - not just to fulfill a New Year's resolution, but as a life goal. Remember, you don't have to wait for the new year to hit reset.
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