Friday, February 29, 2008

First Impressions

First Impressions
When the Bough Breaks By Kay Lynn Magnum

Rachel’s father dies in an accident that she believes is her fault. Her mother spirals into depression, and her brother turns to alcohol for comfort. Rachel tries her best to hold the family together and take care of both her mom and brother. Things just keep on getting stranger when Rachel’s mom meets a nice man and decides to marry him. Rachel has to adjust to having a new family under her roof while trying to keep her brother’s alcoholism a secret.

I really liked this book. I only picked it up a few times because it was often gone and checked out. I really enjoy Magnum’s writing. I love how honest and real her characters are. I love how her family isn’t perfect and that when her mom finds a new love it only gets worse and not better. In fact, I like how you have to watch the main character struggle to take care of her older brother and adjust to all the change in her life. It isn’t the perfect little love story, but a story about facing challenges and most importantly change. I can’t wait until I can finish this one.

Friday, February 22, 2008

First Impressions: Mummy's the Word by Kerry Blair

Mummy’s the Word By Kerry Blair

Samantha Shade has a opportunity to prove to herself, her uncle, and her coworkers that she can be a successful private eye. Her uncle is ready to close down his private detective business unless she can show that she is ready to turn it over. She continues the business with the normal calls to spy on cheating husbands, and missing persons. Then an eccentric aristocrat asks her to guard a special artifact at a dinner party. The artifact is stolen right under Samantha’s and her team’s nose. This case may mean her dreams for Nightshade detective agency are at an end. Samantha is determined to find the artifact and return it to its original owner, so that she can keep the agency running.

I adored this book! I finished it, and liked to pick it up each day. It is so quirky and funny. I love the main character, and all the side characters for that matter. They are all unique, eccentric, intriguing. Sometimes, I felt the main character Samantha was too weak, or that she did unrealistic things, but the story is still charming and delightful to read. As a fellow student of Latin I loved all the classical myth allusions and the Latin phrases that popped up, which only made me like the book more

Author Website:

My favorite essay of hers over at Six LDS Writers and a Frog Blog:

You have to scroll down to find it. I couldn't figure out how to just get an individual post, though I know that it is possible somehow. It's called "Do Drop in For a Spell." If only I could as biwitching as Ardena Leer.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Book Review

Fairest By Gail Carson Levine

Gail Carson Levine wrote this book in the setting of her Ella Enchanted world in the land of Ayortha, as fans of the Ella will appreciate. The main character Aza, an inn-keepers daughter, feels that she is so ugly that people visiting the inn refuse to look at her. Her only redeeming quality is her incredible singing voice. She has discovered that she can illuse with her singing voice, or make her voice sound like it is coming from the other side of the room. Aza becomes friends with a Lady, who stays at their inn often. When the Lady’s companion gets sick Aza is invited to go with her to the King’s wedding to be her attendant. When Aza gets to the castle she meets the prince and the King’s new bride. Princess Ivi takes a liking to Aza and she becomes her Lady-in-Waiting. Aza is horrified when Princess Ivi manipulates Aza into illusing her singing voice for the Princess at singing events. One afternoon the King gets hit in the head during a centaur match and he lies in a coma for weeks. Inexperienced Princess Ivi takes over the ruling of the kingdom and starts messing things up. Aza soon discovers the source of Princess Ivi’s ill-conceived ideas and exquisite beauty, but the discovery may cost her life.

This book was a retelling of the Snow White story. It was interesting to see Levine go back to her Ella Enchanted world. Though I must say I didn’t like this story as much as Ella Enchanted. Aza learns that even though she is ugly she is just as vain as Princess Ivi for wanting to be beautiful. Vanity is a theme pertinent to the Snow White story and the story is entertaining and fun to read. Although sometimes I thought Princess Ivi has too much power in convincing people when they distrust and dislike her. As a result some plot threads were just a little too contrived to make sense with what the other characters knew about the queen’s character. I do admire the fact that Levine wrote so many song lyrics for the book because the whole kingdom sings them all the time. A few of them were beautiful and well written, others were plain and ordinary, but they were enjoyable.

I would recommend this book to girls who liked retold fairy-tales or just the Ella Enchanted book. It is fun to read even if some of the plot points, in my opinion, are weak.

I chose to post this review today because I got to hear Gail Carson Levine speak this weekend at a BYU symposium for Sci-fi and Fantasy writers, readers, and fans. It was wonderful to hear her speak. Here is her website:

Friday, February 15, 2008

An Award!

My good friend Andy over at Life of a Story Engineergave me a blogger award. Thanks Andy!

I've had a lot of fun with this blog. I really like how it has turned out. I had tons of awesome ideas for it and during the summer, after I have finished student teaching, I'll probably do some more fun stuff and update more often. Currently though, life is pretty busy so sorry if I am not regular at updating. The First Impression series will probably end in a month or so, and I'll start a new Friday spotlight article theme. Just so you know. Keep reading my friends!

I give this award to:
A fellow writer and writing group member. He likes to blog about writing and writes review of sci-fi novels.
My old friend writes about her experiences in Japan. I miss her so whenever she updates I'm happy to hear how she is doing.

I know I'm supposed to have ten, but I'm not sure if all the blog people I read haven't been tagged yet or not. So Prehaps this will have to be updated later.

First Impressions

80 Miles to Nowhere by Melissa Aylstock.

I probably picked up this book three times, but I didn’t put it down because I didn’t like it. I could never find it on the library shelf again because it was always checked out. Alas. The story is about a young man, whose car breaks down in the middle of the Salt Flats in Utah. He calls a towing company, and decides to bunk in with the tow truck driver and his friends until he can fix his car in the podunk town of Mona. While on the flats he discovers some dog tags buried in the sand. Little does he know that someone else is looking for these dog tags and starts to track him down.
Something that I really loved about his book was the fact that the voice was so unique and different from most LDS fiction. After you read a lot of LDS books they all start to sound the same. The voices all start to blend together and there is very little stylistic difference. This was more true in the past then now. I remember a time when Chris Heimerdinger was the only one that had an incredibly unique and strong individual voice among LDS fiction. Even now, I think he is the most distinctive. Anyway, this author made me feel like I was hanging out with my younger brother again when he was in his obsessed with cars stage. She really showed the characters by adding careful details instead of skipping over them in order to get to the “real” story. I loved that about this book. For that reason alone I would pick it up again. Not only that, but the hook of the story really interested me. Who is this guy who is trying to find these dog tags? And what is going to happen when he does?
80 Miles to nowhere is Melissa Aylstock's second book check out her website for the inspiration for the book, and a radio interview.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Book Review

The Believer by Stephanie Black

Ian Roshek, a history professor, is taken in for police questioning because he helps a university student accused of having “treasonous” literature. Alisa Kent his interrogator finds out that he is a believer of a religious faith—the Mormon faith. Ian is sure that he will be punished as a traitor to the state, but he is surprised when Kent lets him go. Ian lives his life quietly, until he and his friends are offered by the Liberty Cadre to help them overthrow the government. Ian doesn’t believe in the method that the cadre uses, but his friends are drawn in. Ian never could have guessed what chain of events would happen next. This book tells the story of a futuristic U.S. split in two. President Tremont started his own country in order to run things the way that he thought would be best for everyone, but those that have inherited his legacy must decide if he has given them a government worth saving or destroying.

I thought that this was a well-written book. The initial conflict draws the reader right in. The characterization is good, and believable. The book has a lot of dramatic conflict and suspense. I couldn’t wait to read the ending. I was very sad that the ending disappointed me on account of the fact that I enjoyed the book so much before that. The main thing that annoyed me was the author started holding back information from the reader in order to keep them in suspense. Alas, it only backfired and made me feel bored and cheated. I guessed pretty quickly what then ending was going to be and I was right. Then there was the whole chapter of info dumps that went back and explained how everything happened. I would have preferred that the author told us the plan that the character had, so that we were actually invested in whether the plan would go through or not, especially since someone figured out the plot on their own. It would have been a lot more suspenseful to have rooting interest in the plot, then being kept in the dark until this confrontation happened and the character decided to help the plotting character instead of trash them. So, that was my main criticism. Other than that the book is very well-written and very thought provoking too. Even if I didn’t love the ending I’d still recommend this one to other readers, especially if they love suspense. There are other twists in the plot that I never suspected and really the book holds an engaging story.

The Author Website:

Black also blogs at Six LDS writer's and a Frog blog. She has a book called Fool Me Twice coming out in April. It has a spectacular cover, go check it out at her website.

Friday, February 8, 2008

First Impressions

First Impressions

On Second Thought Robinson Wells

This book starts out with Walt Stewart being dumped by his girlfriend who decided to marry his roommate instead of him. Walt runs far and fast away from his past and automatically takes a job offer to go to a small town named Alamitos in New Mexico. Here he discovers the charm and frustrations of small town life. A romance develops between him and a woman named Clara. Clara is an astronomy student working at the observatory outside of town. The observatory is strongly disliked in the town because the land was once used for cattle ranging, small town politics and prejudice make work hard for Clara and baffle Walt. Mysterious events, and mishaps are regularly occurring on the observatory premises. Some of them may even threaten the Astronomy workers. Walt sets out to keep Clara safe and discovers a secret that leads to a murder attempt on his life.

This book is hilarious. I picked it up more than once when I was looking for something good to read. This wasn’t a book that I absolutely had to finish because I had to find out what happened. Yet, I liked the characters, the setting, and the quirky humor of the small town environment. The book is a little random at times, but still the story telling is charming. A fun romantic comedy with a little bit of suspense on the side.

Wells also blogs on the Six LDS Writer's and a Frog blog.