Thursday, August 29, 2013

Try it Thursday & Review {Come to Zion-Volumes 1 & 2}

It is an exciting day because today on
 "Try it Thursday & Review,"
 I have two awesome books to share with ALL of you.
One of my favorite LDS authors is Dean Hughes so I was lucky to review a few of his new books. They are titled,

Come to Zion
The Winds and the Waves 
Come to Zion
Through Cloud and Sunshine

First, I'll start with The Winds and the Waves

The Winds and the Waves by Dean Hughes, the nationally acclaimed writer, is the first in a new series and the 99th book he has published during his 33-year career.

Will Lewis is stuck. the class system in England in the 1840s seems destined to keep him in his place as a poor tenant farmer who cannot improve his lot and will never be able to marry the woman he loves. But the "new religion" that is sweeping through congregations of the United Brethren, Will's church, may hold the key to the better life he longs for. As he listens to the preaching of Wilford Woodruff, he almost dares to hope for the Zion the young Apostle describes.

Will's struggles to believe and to face the rigors of immigrating to an unknown land are paralleled by the modern-day story of Jeff and Abby, a young married couple facing challenges of their own. When Jeff begins digging into his family history, he finds himself particularly drawn to "Grandpa Lewis," an ancestor whose life was more like his than he would have imagined.

The skillful interweaving of these two stories brings Church history to life while demonstrating how much we can learn from those who went before us. Anyone who has ever faced the winds and the waves, in some form, will love this novel.

In my opinion:

 Since I'm a huge fan of Dean Hughes, I wasn't surprised that I enjoyed The Winds and the Waves. It was enjoyable and interesting. I loved the characters and story line. I definitely was looking forward to reading the second book so I was glad I had a copy. Although it is fiction, it was still fun imagining I was in England in the 1800s. I also loved that Hughes wrote about two different families. I loved reading about church history. I believed Hughes wanted to write a story that was similar to the truth. I definitely recommend reading the Come to Zion series. Dean Hughes is brilliant as an author.

 The second book is Through Cloud and Sunshine.

Nauvoo was supposed to be the kingdom of God on earth, but Will and Liz Lewis are learning that it takes more than dreaming of Zion to make it a reality. Sickness, poverty, and just plain human nature add to the struggles for the Lord's people, but every now and then a glimpse of heaven shines through. Just when things are starting to get settled, though, the old problems start rearing their heads, leaving Will and others wondering if they will be there to reap the harvest they have so carefully sown.

Meanwhile, Jeff and Abby—in modern-day Nauvoo—are dealing with challenges of their own. As their newborn baby fights for his life, they must come to grips with their personal faith. Can they, like their ancestors, continue to trust in God when there seems to be no trace o Him in their trials?
Beloved novelist Dean Hughes skillfully interweaves the stories of two couples separated by five generations and 150 years, providing a unique perspective on Church history and showing how much we can learn from those who went before us.
In my opinion:
This book was amazing and probably better than the first book to be honest. This time, Hughes characters were living in Nauvoo during two different periods of time.  
There were many times I became emotional when reading Through Cloud and Sunshine. I became so involved in Hughes writing that I became the character he was writing about. When that happened, I knew it was a beautifully written story. It was also neat to read a fictional story about Joseph Smith's last days. I could just imagine how hard it would be in those days. However, we can compare the 1800's to modern day trials and tribulations. We all have cloudy times but when there is darkness, there is always sunshine around the corner. I loved Hughes perspective and story line. He really is a genius and one of the best writers.

About the Author:

Dean Hughes has published books for readers of all ages, including the bestselling historical fiction series Children of the Promise. Through Cloud and Sunshine is his one-hundredth published book. Dean holds a bachelor’s degree from Weber State University and master’s and PhD degrees from the University of Washington. He has taught English at Central Missouri State University and Brigham Young University. Dean and his wife, Kathleen Hurst Hughes, served a mission to Nauvoo, Illinois. The parents of three children and grandparents of nine, they live in Midway, Utah.

Interview with Dean Hughes:
What books (if any) do you read for inspiration?
Other than the scriptures, I’m not sure that I read any particular book for inspiration. I read all kinds of things, always trying to understand what writing is all about. I read more history than anything else, and that’s partly because I’ve been writing historical novels in recent years, but it’s also because history fascinates me. I always have a list of books I want to get to, and lately I’ve been going back to read things I read fifty years ago and want to try again. I read reviews of books that have won awards or are being widely read, and I download them to my Kindle. I spot books in bookstores, or my wife tells me about something she’s reading—all sorts of things get me started. What inspires me is a really fine insight, stated well, and I find those in many places.

Do you have certain tools you go to for the history part of your books?
Research has become much easier in recent years. There was a time when I sat in a library or archive for many hours, and I still do that at times, but I can find much of what I’m looking for at home now. When I’m starting a new project, I like to go to Curt Bench’s store, Benchmark Books, in Salt Lake City. I try to find the seminal works on a subject: especially the general books that give me an overview of the period I want to understand. The bibliographies in those books guide me to others sources, and the nice thing is, I can sit at home and order most of what I want to find, including many works that are out of print.

As I figure out my plot and know more exactly what I need to know, I look for books on nineteenth-century farming techniques or log cabin construction. What’s great, though, is that the Internet is replete with sites that zero in on specific information. There was a time when I had to go to LDS Church archives to find materials that are now published online. (The Joseph Smith Papers, both online, and in published form) have been a big help for me, for example. I write on an iMac with a twenty-seven inch screen, and I type my notes instead of taking them by hand. I can juxtapose my notes and the page I’m writing on the same screen, and then check details without much trouble, simply using keywords to find what I’m looking for.

I also find that I Google all sorts of things. If I’m writing a scene that involves an actual person, for instance, such as Eliza R. Smith, I wonder exactly how old she is and instead of looking through books or notes, I Google her name, and spot a bio, which always provides her birthdate. In a few seconds I know exactly how old she was in 1843 (thirty-nine, as a matter of fact). I have to be careful, because web sites are not all of equal quality, and there are mistakes all over the place, but I love to hit a couple of buttons and get instant information. My biggest challenge is that there is more information available than I can possibly read; sooner or later, I have to write the book.

What inspires the ideas for your fiction?
People often ask me where I get my ideas, but I hardly know what to say. For some reason that’s what my brain does pretty much all day. It grabs on to some little clue and says, “Hey, Dean, you could write about that some time.” I guess it’s a habit of mind from writing for thirty-five years (actually, that’s publishing for thirty-five years; I’ve been writing much longer.) And yet, it seems as though my brain has always been that way. Music, books, movies, the evening news, a conversation overheard, a certain scene or mood or desire: all sorts of things kick off ideas, and then my mind starts turning the idea into a story. In fact, when I’m driving, I fairly often forget where I’m going. My mind is too busy to waste time on such minor things.

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Disclaimer: I received one or more of the products or services for free in the hope that I would mention them on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.


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