Thursday, November 6, 2008

Review of "The Essential Latter-day Saint Guide to Finding Your Family"

Reviewed by Jaymie Reynolds
On 10/9/2008

Leatherwood Press, 2007 Paperback:
293 pages
ISBN 10: 1-59992-057-3
ISBN 13: 978-1-59992-057-3 Price: $19.95

The world of family history is growing bigger and more well known every day. Many people are driven to seek out and connect to their own past. Some people though, myself included, are fairly new to this world. I grew up hearing stories of long dead family members and enjoyed feeling a common bond with them. Now that I am ready to begin seeking out these lost loved ones on my own, I am overwhelmed by the process.

In researching family history, there are so many resources and tools available that I have never been sure which are most user-friendly and appropriate. Michael Otterson has recognized this need in many people and has, through his book, The Essential Latter-day Saint Guide to Finding Your Family On The Internet, attempted to simplify this process for overwhelmed and under-motivated beginners.

Mr. Otterson begins his book with a background of why family history is so important and what tools are available on the internet. He shared a quote by Alex Haley, the author of Roots, that accurately sums up the feelings of many who are seeking to locate their ancestors.

"In all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage--to know who we are and where we came from. Without this enriching knowledge, ther is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness." (p.18)

In addition to this background, the author cautions, "family history calls for some common sense, good judgment and reasoning skills, and a little imagination." (p.19)

This book is very thorough and covers the bases of how to choose the right software for you and how to add names, notes, and other sources. Mr. Otterson also includes information on how and where to look on the internet. There is a chapter that explains how to network and use teamwork in your research as well.

The Essential Latter-day Saint Guide to Finding Your Family on the Internet has several chapters that focus on finding ancestors who hailed from the British Isles. It is estimated that about 70% of Americans will find there ancestors in this area. There is, however, sufficient data included to help those who need to search other areas to find their progenitors.

One of the things that I found most exciting about this book is the author's inclusion of how one can find family stories on the internet. The author appropriately titles this chapter, "Meat on the Bones". For me, one of the most exciting parts of doing family history is finding the opportunity to get to know my family members as people rather than just as a name on the page.

Overall, this book appears to be a fabulous resource for those beginners who are ready to find their own roots. It is geared toward those who belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but has tips that are useful for anyone who is looking to build their own family tree. Although there is a great deal of information presented in this book, it is presented in a very clear and concise manner. If the reader truly desires to find lost family members, they can easily sit down with this book and take one chapter at a time. If the reader applies each step in the chapter as they finish it, their family tree will be well underway by the time they reach the last page.

The Essential Latter-day Saint Guide to Finding Your Family on the Internet takes an overwhelming and oft-times confusing subject and brings a clarity and simplicity to it that will encourage many people to seek out and document their own family beginnings.

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Review of "Finding Peace"

Title: Finding Peace: Steps to Overcoming Guilt for Latter-day Saints
Author: Betsy Chatlin, LCSW
Publisher: Leatherwood Press
Genre: Non fiction/ Motivational
Year Published: 2008
Number of Pages: 189
Binding: Paperback
ISBN13: 978-1-59992-087-0
Price: $16.95

Reviewed by Karen Hamilton

Betsy Chatlin has a way of writing that is soothing, peaceful and
motivational. She is a clinical social worker and is able to connect
with those who are seeking peace and relief from guilt. With all that
she has experienced and learned in her years of service, it is amazing
that the spirit of compassion is still alive and strong in her.

The chapters are designed to cover one aspect of guilt and what it does
to individuals. The first chapter is one of hope and is encouraging.
This is the perfect way to start a book about guilt. Chatlin encourages
everyone to find “glimmers of hope” to start to overcome guilt and to
understand that life is made of “pieces of joy."

“Guilt is a pebble with the potential of a pearl. Unfortunately,
sometimes guilt is a boulder. But even a boulder has the potential of a
pearl. …….. I think of a pearl as beautiful, choice- a treasure. Guilt
is something to be taken care of, and the result is a decrease in the
pain, but it is not something to cherish that is beautiful. ….. Guilt is
not beautiful. …. But the eternal truth is that we must learn the
lessons from our guilt, then keep the instruction and the
transformation. We must leave the acute pain of the guilt behind and
stop defining ourselves by the sin, transgression or mistake that led to
the guilt.” (pgs. 20-21)

Chatlin expresses the reality of guilt in simple terms that are easy to
grasp. She shows that guilt is different for everyone, even when there
are similar circumstances. “As pain is to the body, so conscience is to
the soul. While physical pain has dozens of balms in bottles, tubes or
jars, there is only one remedy for a pain stricken conscience: that
remedy is repentance.” (pg. 29)

The questions that Chatlin poses are thought provoking, and cause one to
seek the answers for themselves. One such question is, What does
happiness look like? I am fairly sure that it is different for everyone.
My happiness involves a clean home and a happy husband and children;
maybe with the bills paid. I’m not asking for much. Happiness can also
change, depending on circumstances and age.

This is a book that is written with gentle guidance and loving concern
for those who are struggling with guilt. With the easy to grasp writing
I recommend this book for Church leaders, parents, and anyone who is
looking for soothing balm for the soul. There are many who will benefit
from Betsy Catlin’s words of hope. This book is now a permanent fixture
on my shelves.

Review of "It Wasn't Raining When Noah Built the Ark"

Title: It Wasn’t Raining When Noah Built the Ark
Author: Tami Girsberger
Publisher: Leatherwood Press
Genre: Nonfiction
Year Published: 2008
Number of Pages: 168
Binding: Paperback
ISBN13: 978-1-59992-085-6
Price: $12.95

Reviewed by Karen Hamilton

“…Why is it such a challenge to follow the Boy Scout motto to Be
Prepared? I think we simply don’t know how to prepare, or at least how
to prepare efficiently and STAY prepared……How do you decide which
information is valid? How do you collect the very best ideas for
preparing yourself and your family?” (p7) Tami Girsberger has put many
ideas into simple formats that are easy to understand and not
overwhelming to read.

There are twenty-four chapters that deal with separate issues of
preparedness., from the simple and most basic to the more advanced and
long term preparedness issues. There is no being overwhelmed by the
information that is presented. The information is presented in such a
way that it is easy and simple to use. The book is organized so that if
there is a specific topic that is more urgent to work on, it is at your

This book covers Preparing your Family, Preparing your Home, Emergency
Packs, Preparing your Vehicle, Your workplace, Family first-aid kits,
Water storage, Sanitation, a Three-month supply, One-year supply,
Important Documents, Family Finances, In the event of an Evacuation,
Preparing for a Pandemic, Sheltering in Place, Staying warm without
electricity, Cooking without electricity, Becoming a CERT Volunteer,
Establishing a Neighborhood Plan, Basic Block plan, Candle Can,
Generators, Neighborhood survey, and last but not least State Offices
and Agencies of Emergency Management.

In the chapters Preparing your Family and Preparing your Home, you will
find information that most children learn in school at one point or the
other. Tami Girsberger gives step by step instruction and explains the
steps in a way that makes sense. Some of the suggestions are ones that
should be second nature to all of us: if you have an emergency plan,
practice it until it is habit, use friends and family as a resource in
an emergency, secure the water tank as this can become a water source in
case of a disaster, etc.

There are similar suggestions and lists in each of the chapters. Some of
the needed items Tami Grisberger suggested I had not thought of and some
I had not thought of needing. This is a book that I will be giving as
gifts to my family for Christmas so that they to can benefit from the
information provided. I strongly and highly recommend this book to all
who want to be prepared for what life may throw at them. After all, one
does not rise above a disaster, but rather sinks to the lowest level of