Monday, March 31, 2008

Book Review: Saboteur by Dean Hughes

Dean Hughes

Andy Gledhill is called into a top secret meeting, and is offered a job as a spy in France. His interviewer doesn’t feel like he is up to the job, that he is too soft, but Andy is determined to serve his country. His family lives in the little town in rural Utah, in which he always wants to stay. He realizes that he cares deeply for Whisper, his childhood friend. She wants him to commit to her before he leaves to work with the French Resistance behind German lines, but Andy feels hesitant with his future so uncertain. He asks his brother Flip to take care of her while he is gone, and watch out for her. Andy’s family must face the changes that come to them during the war, and worry about lack of contact they receive, because of the nature of his duties.
First off, I love Dean Hughes! He is an able and awesome writer, but this wasn’t my favorite book of his. As always, his characterization is top-notch, but his pacing was off. It took me a while to get into this book, because it moved so slowly at the beginning. I thought the book would be mainly about Andy’s experiences, but Flip and Whisper take up an equal, if not more, amount of the book. I loved the middle of the book when Andy started getting more involved with the resistance movement instead of just going through training and hiding out in attics. I also loved the spontaneous car trip that Flip, Whisper, and their Japanese friend take. So, I don’t know if I would recommend it or not. I thought the writing and characterization was good, but the plot could use a little tightening up.
I got to take a writing class for children from Dean Hughes and he really is an awesome person. Go read his books! He’s written over 90 now, most of them are written for children. Since most LDS people know him for his excellent Children of the Promise series they don’t realize they he wrote in the YA/Children’s market long before he ever wrote the series.

Friday, March 14, 2008

First Impressions: Sheep's Clothing by Josi S. Kilpack

First Impressions
This is a little series that details my experiences reading books for an hour a day in the library. I read the book either until I became disinterested in it or until I finished it.

By Josi Kilpack

Kate is a good mother, who has a lot of work on her plate with six children. She is determined to be a wonderful mother, who nurtures and takes care of her family. Yet, she can’t seem to figure out how to relate to her teenage daughter Jessie. They struggle to communicate and show one another how much they care. Jessie pours out her negative feelings to a friend she met on the Internet, and finds sympathy and support. Her friend introduces Jessie to her cousin Colton, and they begin to chat as often as they can. Jessie sneaks into her family office at odd times, isolates herself from her old friends, and progressively falls deeper into the trap set by an experienced Internet predator. When Jessie’s parents find her missing with a note on her pillow they don’t know where she has gone, or if they will see her again.

I loved this book! I finished it as soon as I could because I had to find out what happened. I was so creeped out by how realistically this guy manipulated Jessie. I also love how the characterizations in this book are so real. I love how the author makes Jessie’s problems real, and that she isn’t just a cardboard cut out teenager. You can sympathize with her viewpoint. It doesn’t have the clichĂ© teen rebellion feel to it that gets rehashed over and over. I also love that you get to see the trials that Kate is going through. The reader understands her motivations and realizes that she is not a perfect mother, but loves her family so much. Over all, the book was really well written and touched on an important and pertinent topic. I highly recommend it.
This book has also been nominated for a Whitney Award.

Author Website: http://www.josiskilpack.comAuthor Blog:

Sunday, March 9, 2008

First Impressions: Desire of our Hearts by Sariah S. Wilson

First Impressions
This is a little series that details my experiences reading books for an hour a day in the library. I read the book either until I became disinterested in it or until I finished it.
The Desire of our Hearts by Sariah Wilson
This story is a fictional account of Alma’s experience in the court of King Noah. He falls in love with a girl named Sam, who refuses to like him, but he decides he will win her over anyway.
This is really terrible, but I have to be honest about how I felt about his book. I read it for 15 min. and hated it. I enjoy romance novels, but some romance novels are just…over the top. This was over the top in a bad way. How do I begin? My cynicism kicked in when the line, "then he saw her" appeared. He is in love already and we don’t even know what this person looks like! That annoyed me because I don’t believe in love at first sight. The love was too magical and too instant. He hadn’t even said one word to her. Later Alma has to confront Amulon because he tries to carry the girl Alma loves to his chambers and rape her. In this confrontation Alma totally comes off looking weak. He makes a threat that is empty, and then uses the “you’ll regret it later” speech to get him to cooperate. Alma doesn’t convincingly show that he has power over Amulon in my opinion, which makes his character incredibly weak. Yet he’s supposed to be the most favored in King Noah court? Then to add to that annoyance the girl cries in Alma’s arms after he rescues her, and then she agrees to let him walk her home! So, I’m not convinced that Alma’s rescue equals total trust on the part of a girl who almost got dragged off by another evil priest of Noah so recently. It was so fake and contrived just for the romance of it that I couldn’t read another instant and put it down.
The author’s prose is fine and she tried hard to set up a nice setting with lost of nice description, but she just couldn’t sell me on Alma’s character or the romance. In spite of my bad first impression it has been nominated for a Whitney finalist for 2007 in the Romance/Woman’s Fiction.

Author’s website:
Author’s blog:
Here is a link to several favorable reviews on Desert Book:

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Book Review: Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

Book of a Thousand Days
By Shannon Hale

Dashti is a mountain maid, who is forced to travel to the city to survive after her mother dies. She is a common mucker, but one that is gifted with healing songs. She trains to be the Princess’s maid-in-waiting as a result. She arrives in the princesse's room and discovers that she is banished to live in a tower for 7 years. Dashti, just as loyal servant should, vows to go with her and be her friend. At first Dashti is thrilled to have so much food in the cellar, and to have time to write. She delights in the surroundings, which provide her with more than she ever has had before. Then the rats come and start to eat the food that is to last for seven years. To add to this the princess’s suitors start to come visit. One proves to be a boon and the other may just be the source of their destruction.
This was another wonderful book from Shannon Hale. I love her writing. Though I still think Goose Girl and Princess Academy are my favorites. I love the strength and courage of Dashti in this book, her optimism, and her simple plain goodness. I like how Hale’s characters show a love for nature that replenishes their spirits and courage. I too feel the same connection with the nature and beautiful things around me, and so I relate to them well. The story differs from her other books slightly, as it is written in a first person diary format. There are even illustrations, for Dashti (the author of the diary) has artistic talents. I would recommend this book to all.
Once again Shannon has an awesome website and lots of details on all of her books there: