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Books about moms and for mothers

Published: Tuesday, April 26 2011 5:30 a.m. MDT

Looking for a Mother's Day gift? Here are some of the several recently released books and one CD that are either for mothers or about moms.

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"WOMEN OF CHARACTER: Profiles of 100 Prominent LDS Women," edited by Susan Easton Black and Mary Jane Woodger, Covenant Communications, $24.99, 370 pages (nf)

The new book "Women of Character: Profiles of 100 Prominent LDS Women," published by Covenant Communications, offers readers a personal look into the lives of 100 LDS women who have accomplished something extraordinary. 

"Women of Character" profiles pioneer women such as Emma Hale Smith and Eliza R. Snow as well as contemporary women such as Jane Clayson Johnson and Gladys Knight. Each woman has her own unique life story, fascinating in its own right. Each woman experiences different challenges, defeats and victories. And as a result of her talent and contribution to society, each woman achieves her own degree of prominence.

Woven through these very unique stories, however, are important common threads.

One common thread is that each of these women shows unusual determination to succeed. Readers will appreciate and relate to the many stories of finally making progress after much hard work, seeing success only after multiple failures and finding happiness after experiencing heartbreak.

Another common thread is that the women in this book demonstrate strength of character no matter the circumstance. Notoriety often leads to situations where integrity could be compromised. The women in this book are truly women of character and choose not to make such compromises. Their lives demonstrate that true happiness and excellence can be found in remaining true to one's beliefs and in reaching outward rather than inward.

"Women of Character" is an inspiring book that can help LDS women find perspective and understand that their own lives are significant and meaningful. Readers will feel encouraged to develop their individual talents and serve more, ultimately making an important difference in their families and the world around them.

Susie Boyce

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"CONVERSATIONS WITH A MOONFLOWER," by Christine T. Hall, Cedar Fort, $12.99, 120 pages (nf)

In “Conversations with a Moonflower,” author Christine T. Hall tells a simple yet profound story, which is likely to send many readers in search of a moonflower.

She begins with a journey to the family farm in Cattaraugus County, N.Y., following the death of her grandmother. The trip is a practical one: to sort a lifetime of memories and get the house ready to sell. However, the sorting, divvying up and discarding of Grandma’s belongings is just a prelude to the heart of the book — the moonflower.

It is Grandma’s Amish neighbor, Marissa, who invites Hall and the others to come over their last night at the farm and watch the Ipomoea alba, or moonflower, which blooms at dusk. On the way to the Amish farmhouse, Hall and her sister joke that the reason the Amish get excited about a blooming moonflower is because they don’t have TV.

After watching the beautiful yellow blossoms open, Hall admits, “I don’t recall ever seeing a TV show that produced such a profound and immediate effect on me.”

She compares her own comfortable lifestyle with that of the Amish who go through life without modern conveniences and wonders “which of us really possessed the truest comforts of life?”

Returning to Utah with the gift of a moonflower in the back of her car, Hall begins another journey, one of self-discovery. The moonflower is given a place of honor in her yard and becomes the impromptu gathering place for neighbors, friends and family on summer evenings. As time passes, Hall recognizes the moonflower gives much more than beauty to her life — it gives her long-sought answers and changes her.

Readers who are absorbed in TV, modern conveniences and life’s busyness may question the reality of Hall’s conversations with a night-blooming flower. Most will find a deeper meaning and satisfaction in “Conversations With a Moonflower,” and, yes, will want their own.

— Norma King

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"THE MOTHER'S MITE: Why Even Our Smallest Efforts Matter," by DeAnne Flynn, Deseret Book, $18.99, 145 pages (nf)

Like the New Testament story of the widow's mite in Mark 12, many times the quiet  and unselfish offerings of mothers may seem small or insignificant.

"I have come to realize that it's very often the little things that make the biggest difference in our lives and the lives of our family members," writes DeAnne Flynn in "The Mother's Mite." Hence, the "mother's mite" are offerings of seemingly insignificant things that can help those in our homes feel loved. She shares more than two dozen stories of women and mothers, both recent and from her family history, that show offerings from optimism to zeal and memories to self-sufficiency.

The stories all share how a woman, using her own talents or ingenuity, made a joyful difference in the life of at least one of her family members, whether it was through shiny pennies or watching a child walk down the street to the bus stop.

Flynn also provides a handful of recipes.

"... Even out poorest, most pathetic little offerings can have a profoundly powerful effect upon the lives of those we love," concludes Flynn.

— Christine Rappleye

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"WOMEN OF HOPE: Giving Voice to Your Heart," various artists, Shadow Mountain Records

LDS musicians, including Hilary Weeks, Cheri Call and Mercy River, share their talents on a new CD for women — "Women of Hope." The dozen original songs include "By Our Love" by Katherine Nelson, "Light of Hope" by Mercy River, "My Favorite Dream" by Cherie Call.

"Women of Hope," which was produced by Tyler Castleton with Kurt Bestor, comes from part of the same team that produced the "Women of Destiny" albums 10 years ago.

"Women of Hope" includes soothing songs that can help lift and help on any day of the week.

— Christine Rappleye

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"ABISH: Mother of Faith," by K.C. Grant, Covenant Communications, $16.99, 273 pages (f)

Those who enjoy fiction based on the Book of Mormon and the development of characters from the Book of Mormon will thoroughly enjoy K.C. Grant’s newest novel, "Abish: Mother of Faith."

The story line surrounds the actual Lamanite woman, Abish, who is mentioned in Alma 19, and is a continuation of the author’s first novel in the series, “Abish, Daughter of God.”

While, “Abish, Daughter of God," centers around the beginning of her life, “Abish: Mother of Faith”, explores the time later on, particularly focusing on her role as wife and mother.

The book is driven by rich character development. The writing encourages the reader to become invested in the direction of the characters lives throughout the narrative.

One great feature of the story is its promotion of the conversion to and faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is mostly shown through the eyes of Abish, who faces her own trials of faith such as loneliness and loss. The plot carries the story of Abish well, with the long-awaited birth of her twins, the death of her husband and ultimately to her best role as mother of a stripling warrior.

Abish is characterized as a great example of womanhood and motherhood. The commentary regarding these two aspects are very much a driving force of the book.

Younger readers may not identify as well with the story as the author explores more mature relationship themes.

This book would be best for lovers of religious and historical fiction. Those who have a basic understanding of the ideas in the Book of Mormon are most likely to be drawn to this story. However, its universal Christian ideas and engaging plot make this piece intriguing to most book lovers.

— Livi Whitaker

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"THE UPSIDE OF DOWN," by Rebecca Cornish Talley, Bonneville Books, $15.99, 244 pages (f)

Natalie is a busy LDS mother of six. She can't keep up with the daily disasters or demands, and now the bishop wants her to serve as Relief Society president.

And to make matters more complicated: (Surprise!) She's pregnant.

Since the book is titled "The Upside of Down," and Natalie already has a brood that includes children in high school, it isn't much of a stretch to figure out what the book is going to be about and where it's going.

Plus, Natalie and her children witness a testy father being curt with his Down Syndrome child.

The issues are common: One of the daughters wants to date a non-Mormon; one doesn't really want to go to BYU even after she's accepted; Natalie doesn't feel spiritual enough to serve in her calling; etc.

There's also an overabundance of common children incidents. Some of the incidents are amusing and, while familiar, usually not all of the above happen in a single day.

Again, this is a book with good intentions.

The author wants to make the point that having a child with mental or physical problems isn't so much a burden as a blessing once one gets over the initial shock.

But it's told kind of simplistically.

— Sharon Haddock

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"MOTHER HAD A SECRET," by Tiffany Fletcher, Covenant Communications, $14.99, 208 pages (nf)

"Mother Had a Secret" shares author Tiffany Fletcher's difficult, and sometimes painful, journey in dealing with the mental illness of a parent, but it also teaches that love can rise above even the most challenging situations. Through love she was able to find healing and peace.

The book is about a mother's love for her children she is striving to protect, the love of a husband who is trying to care for his ailing wife, and the love of a daughter for her mother and all 15 of her mother's personalities.

Fletcher is also very candid about sharing personal accounts which are equal parts loving and heart-rending. Much of the focus is on a daughter's journey to understand and love her mother, despite mental illness.

"Mother Had a Secret," published by Covenant Communications, is the true story of a girl growing up with family struggles most people never dream of. Fletcher's mother was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, which was previously called multiple personality disorder.

Fletcher didn't have an ordinary childhood. While other children were playing dress up and having tea parties, she was caring for her mother, Vickie.

Despite the struggles and trials, Fletcher was able to learn the beauty inside her mother as well. Through her faith, she began to understand that although her mother was far from perfect, Vickie protected her daughter from a greater evil, one that Vickie hadn't been able to escape. She acted as a savior for her children by stopping the cycle of abuse.

The account is all the more agonizing because of the stigma attached to mental illness. This family was left to suffer alone.

"Just like those who suffer from more accepted illnesses like cancer or diabetes, what those with mental illness need most is understanding, kindness, and support," Fletcher said.

— Melissa DeMoux

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