Friday, May 30, 2008

Book Reivew: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selzinck
Hugo lives in the old upper apartments of a Paris train station, and helps his uncle keep all the station’s clocks running on time. Then his uncle disappears and never comes back. Hugo steals what food he can and scavenges for dropped change to survive, all the while still keeping the clocks of the station running on time. Then one day the toy shopkeeper catches him stealing and takes away his father’s notebook. The notebook holds the drawings to fix the elaborate toy up in his apartment bedroom. The mechanical machine fixed up with gears and wheels is in the shape of a man sitting at a desk with a ink pen in his hand, which when wound up Hugo believes will write to him a message that his dead father left for him. He must get the notebook back from the toy keeper before the man decides to burn it.
First off, this book is weird. It’s not a comic book, but has tons of pictures. It’s not a pictures book because it’s 500 pages long and has a huge amount of text. In fact sometimes the book reads like one of those little books you made in first grade with pictures on each page in different places so when you flipped them over with your thumb it made a mini movie of a rock bouncing or a rabbit hopping. At first I really didn’t like it because it was so strange and the plot was slow in coming, but then I really got into the story and enjoyed the pictures. Then I found out that the story was semi-historical and thought it was super cool! I think this is a wonderful read just for the pure novelty of the storytelling form. Seriously, if you are looking for something new on a boring, hot, summer day try picking up the book and giving it a try. You can read it in a few hours, and it is definitely a fun and new reading experience. There were a few plot devices that seemed awkward or strange to me, the introduction and the book being split into two parts interrupted the flow of the story in an artificial way that I thought was unnecessary. Yet, it really didn’t detract from the overall awesomeness of the reading experience. Go read this book that has 284 original drawings and more.
This book has won prestigious awards and contains a cool historical background. Go read about it at the books website:

Monday, May 26, 2008

Book Review:Flying Home by Rachel Ann Nunes

Flying Home by Rachel Ann Nunes

Liana Winn, adopted into her aunts family as a young child after her own parents died in a tragic plane accident, feels that she does not truly belong with them. She looks on unable to allow herself to love them. Vague memories and nightmares surrounding the plane crash continually cause her to question her past, and hold herself back from close relationships. Austin Walker then comes into her life unexpectedly and she finds that she must come to peace with her past before she can accept a relationship with him. For the first time in years she is able to relax and be herself around his older sister, Mercedes, on her farm in Wyoming. Mercedes encourages her to fly to India where her parents died, and discover what is haunting her about her past. What she finds in India is another surprise that makes her question who she really is.
Still reeling with the information she discovers she must return to America because of a tragedy in her family that makes her realize how much she really does belong and love them.
I enjoyed this book, and thought that it had an interesting plot. I thought had the ending pegged down from the beginning, but alas I was surprised as the author took the story on a different turn than I expected. I like how the ending wasn’t tidied up too nicely, and there were still a few loose ends. Not everything worked out perfectly, but the ending still offered hope and comfort. I love how the author reconnects the character with her past, and thought she did a really great job with Liana’s confusing and confliction emotions concerning her adoption. I’ve been looking forward to getting around to this book for a while now and I’m glad that I finally read it.

Rachel Nunes had tons of cool features on her website so go check it out!
Rachel Ann Nunes website:

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Book Review:Upon the Mountains by Gale Sears

Upon the Moutains by Gale Sears

Nephi decides to leave his wife and child to fight in the war in Europe. He feels a duty to take care of his wife and child, and is unable to find work sufficient to support them, and so signs up for the Marines. So, he leaves Utah, Salt Lake, and his family to fight in WWI. The sights of war damage his sensitive soul and he may never return home, and if he does he’ll never be the same man. In Salt Lake his sister-in-law Elanor is discovering her war ground as she studies and finds out about a new flu epidemic. As the only woman in medical school she faces stiff opposition to her place at the medical school except from a few treasured souls. She must face influenza head on as it threatens the life of her family and dear friends.
I picked up this book wondering if it was part of a series, but some basic research didn’t really give me any answers about that. So, I went off and just picked it up. Low and behold it was the third book in a series and the annoying info dumps let me know of this fact as I read through the beginning. Yet, I still read on intrigued by the characters and it was well worth it. This is a very well written war novel that showed many different aspects of the war on the front and on the home front. I especially loved the characterization, which was nicely done especially for the children. They were so cute! The novel is able to stand alone, but I’m pretty sure the ending wasn’t as rewarding for me because I didn’t understand all the back story behind things, and the death of some characters didn’t really affect me all that much, and to add to that a lot of the changes that characters made were kind of meaningless on account of the fact that I didn’t experience the way they were before. Though, most of these instances were in minor plot threads of the book. In spite of this I still enjoyed the characters and the story. I would reccomend because it has been one of the most fresh and high quality historicals I have read for a while.
Author Website:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Contest Winner!

Contest Winner!

So the winner of our spring fantasy celebration is Story Engineer. Thanks for entering the contest Andy. Email me and I shall mail it to your house.

In other news I went to the Children's Book Festival in Provo last Saturday, and I got to meet Shannon Hale, Jessica Day George and a lot of other cool author people. So if you want to see my pictures and read my blog entry about it you can goHere.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday's Funky List

LDS Historical Fiction series on war.

Revolutionary War:
Prelude to Glory Series By Ron Carter
The Buchanan Saga By Anita Stansfield

War of 1812:
Freemen and Dreamers Series by L.C. Lewis

Civil War:
Faith of Our Father's by Nancy Campbell Allen
Heroes of Glorieta Pass and Revenge and Redemption by Brad E. Hainsworth

Autumn Sky, Until the Dawn, Upon the Mountains by Gale Sears
'Til the Boys Come Home Jerry Borrowman

Children of the Promise Dean Hughes
I’ll Be Seeing You, As Time Goes By, Home Again At Last By Jerry Borrowman

Vietnam War:
Hearts of the Children Series by Dean Hughes

It seems that we have all the wars covered! I was pretty surprised to see the War of 1812 up there, book two of that series was just recently released. There is a book by Robert Moss on the Utah War, but I kept the list to series or at least books that had sequels. Anyone written series on the Mexican American, Spanish -American war, Philippine-American wars yet? Not to mention the numberous undeclared wars. Looks like there is room for growth! Go read and write that historical fiction people.

Please comment to reccommend other books to readers! I'm sure there is more great war fiction out there.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Book Review: The 13th Reality by James Dashner

The 13th Reality by James Dashner
Dear Master Atticus,
I am writing to you in hopes that you will have the courage of heart and the strength of mind to help me in a most dreadful time of need. Things are literally splitting apart at the seams, as it were, and I must find those who can assist me in some very serious matters.
Beginning today (the fifteenth of November), I am sending out a sequence of special messages and clues that will lead you to an important, albeit dangerous, destiny if you so choose. No, dangerous may not be a strong enough word. Indubitably and despicably deadly—yes, that’s better.

Atticus (aka Tick) Higginsbottom opens this letter one day that presents him a challenge. If he does not burn the letter he will receive future letters, which will present him with a riddle to solve, a puzzle, which if solved will cause him to save the lives of many people. Tick is excited about the challenge until strange creatures start appearing to frighten him. Tick must make a decision to accept the challenge presented before him or to discover the mystery behind the letter and its sender.
I enjoyed reading this book. I love the name Atticus! I really liked the humor and the characters, and the quirkiness of the story. I love Sofia, the bossy, rich Italian girl. She is hilarious, and reminded me several times of incidents I had while in Italy. Her strong personality is balanced by Sato, a mysterious and embittered Asian boy, who has a dark mystery in his past. I’m excited to find out more about him. This was an all around good read. The only negative is that you have to wait for a sequel. I was slightly worried while reading through that the climax would be just getting to the place the letters guided the children too, and that would have been lame! Rest assured that there are cool action scenes with scary unnamed creatures of death, and a pretty cool climax.
I would recommend this story to all. James Dashner is a great guy, and a good writer. I look forward to what he has in store for us in the future.
Here is his website:
Here is his blog:

Friday, May 9, 2008

Friday's Funky List

Note: This post is for Joe. :)

I hear it all the time: LDS publishers don’t publish Science Fiction. Guess What? That’s not true. I’ll prove it to you. Here is Friday’s List.

The Alliance by Gerald Lund (The Freedom Factor and Leverage Point are similar in nature.) Deseret Book
Eddie Fantastic by Chris Heimerdinger Covenant Communications
Ben Franklin and the Chamber of Time by Chris Heimerdinger Deseret Book
The Prodigal Journey By Linda Adams (sequel published by LDSstorymakers Refiner’s Fire)
Time Riders by Sierra St. James Cedar Fort
The Believer by Stephanie Black. Covenant Communications
Hunting Gideon by Jessica Draper (Cyber Punk) Zarahemla books

That’s right, there they are. Count them. 10 Sci-fi books(including those in parenthesis) that I know of and I’m sure that there are more. I’ll concede that the first two authors are big names that the publishers probably would sell just because of who wrote them. Linda Adams got a bad break on the publisher route and who knows what will happen with her trilogy. Then there is Sierra St. James who isn’t hugely known in the LDS market but is a reputable and talented writer in the national market. Then there is the new Stephanie Black, and I don’t know all that much about Jessica Draper on account of the fact that I read the back of her book on the bookstore shelf and knew that cyberpunk is Sci-fi.
So, the lesson is if you want to write Sci-fi in the LDS market….get really famous! No, just kidding though it isn’t a bad idea. I think a lot if LDS sci-fi is “Zion” fiction also. Many have a connection to Zion being founded in Missouri, and have dysfunctional U.S. governments, and etc. That’s fine and entertaining, but it gets old after a while. Eddie Fantastic and Ben Franklin and the Chamber of Time have no Zion element. I think Time Riders could have a non Zion element and still be a good book.
There are people who say that Sci-Fi doesn’t work in LDS fiction, at least not traditional space Sci-Fi. I don’t know why that would be true because well, we are the only people that definitely believe there are other planets with life on them out there. It is part of our theology. So, why would that be conflicting with our religious views? In fact it is generally known that the LDS population has an irregular amount of speculative fiction authors among them. I think we just haven’t done it well enough yet. I think it will happen one day. Someone will stumble upon the right character, the right balance, the right mix and it will happen. There will probably be a genre opener book that others will try to imitate, and there will be LDS market Sci-fi.

*Disclaimer: I don’t read a bunch of Sci-fi I’m more of a Fantasy girl. So, I’m not an expert by any means on the whole genre, which gets pretty complicated when you get down to it. So, if you have additional insights, comment!

Feel welcome to add to the list! If you know of any Sci-Fi books that have been published by LDS outlets comment. Make readers aware of what is out there. By all means support your own book if need be.

P.S. I just found this awesome website:

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Book Review: Time Riders By Sierra St. James

Time Riders by Sierra St. James
Sheridan and Taylor are on their way to study at the university library when a light suddenly appears in their dorm room, and they awake to find themselves pulled 300 years into the future. They have mistakenly been pulled into the future by 24th century scientists, who are looking for an influential scientist named Sheridan Taylor. They are sent off to live with historians called wordsmiths, who can speak 21st century dialect. The 24th century language has taken on a new accent, adopted a lot of Spanish words, and forgotten a lot of the idioms used in the 21st Century. Taylor and Sheridan stay with Echo and Jeth and teach one another about their cultures, but this arrangement is only temporary until they can find the real Taylor Sheridan. Taylor knows that she is the Taylor they are looking for and tires to keep every think quite before their captors find out and use her to change the past and future. In the meantime the two girls have to avoid having their memory swiped by the scientist that have brought them to the 24th century.
I really enjoyed this book. I really like the characters and how they react to the situation they are in. They are both so different and realistic. I also like how the futuristic world is described, and the dialogue reflects that world in a humorous and engaging way. The plot is creative and well paced, with an interesting twist ending. One of the unique things about this book is that it has a futuristic society with a corrupt government, but doesn’t really get into the politics of everything. The whole book stays closer to the characters. I think the author did wonderful job at finding a balance between showing the effects of the government on the world, while keeping the characters central to the storyline. Very well written over all even if they are a few typos. I would recommend this to all readers. This is one that my husband saw me reading and then picked up and devoured as fast as he could.
Sierra St. James is the pen name for Jannette Rallison, who writes YA novels in the national market. I asked her once at a conference if she was going to write a sequel to this book. She said that she was concentrating on writing her national YA novels and spending time with her children. So, maybe she’ll get around to writing a sequel or maybe not.
Here is her website:

Friday, May 2, 2008

Spring Fantasy Celebration Contest!

Alright, I said I would host a contest to give away a free book. So, here is my awesome cool contest. You have to work hard to win this contest my friends. It will not be easy. You have one requirement and one requirement alone. Well, maybe two.....

1. Go read Friday's Funky List! (see below)

2. In the comments section list a book that you would consider a "Underworld" fiction book as I defined on the funky list post.


1.Must have title of the book and the author

2. Can be from Medieval, Classical, or Modern Fantasy time period. (I guess if it is classical then you really don't have to have a title and author necessarily because so many myths don't have specific authors...but if you can name a myth I'll go for that.)

3. You cannot use the works that I have listed on Friday's Funky list.

4. You cannot list the same work that a person before you has, so post fast!

(the point of this whole contest is for me to find more cool fiction to read! Have fun! and Good Luck!)

The Prize:
Just Ella By Margaret Peterson Haddix
Info Link:

The winner will be picked randomly when I put names in a hat and draw one out. Leave some way in your comment for me to contact you and I'll get shipping info. Probably should mention that the contest is restricted to the U.S. because of shipping.

Friday's Funky List!

So, I am a strange soul and decided that on Fridays I’m going to post interesting lists. Hopefully, they will be useful to people wanting to find books that they like to read. So Friday’s first funky list is about Underworld Fiction. That’s right I said underworld and fiction. Basically, I’m sort of obsessed about the Underworld—as in dead people realms. I’ve written two papers on the topic for my Latin classes and hence this Friday’s funky (or in the case perhaps freaky) list. The list has to start with classical examples to illustrate how the fascination with the underworld has continued for centuries. This certainly is not meant to be a comprehensive list, and good thing too, because then you would all fail to win a book! In fact, I’m leaving some out….and a few are preeettty obvious.

In this case, I’m going to define underworld fiction as a work which has a character that descends into Hell/an Underworld/Realm where dead are kept, and while there gathers information, or meets people, or learns a lesson that the character then takes back to the living world to accomplish his goals or significantly changes his outlook.

Classical Examples:
1. Odysseus in the Odyssey by Homer
2. Aeneas in the Aenied by Virgil
3. Claudius in the Apocolocyntosis by Seneca ( I guess Claudius never does return to the living world, but he sure has “fun” being there!)

Medieval Examples:*
1. St. Paul Apocalypse
2. Gregory the Greats Dialogues
3. Vision of Drythemlm by Bede
4. The Visio Wettini by Walahfrid Strabo
5. The Inferno by Dante

* Contrary to intuitive connections a lot of Medieval Visionary literature did not heavily rely on Virgil’s and Homer’s influence, though some obviously were (Dante in particular). Much Medieval visonary literature was based off of St. Paul’s Apocalypse, and similar works. Though, I’m sure some scholar could argue otherwise and probably make a good argument doing such.

Modern Examples:
1.The Old Kingdom Trilogy by Garth Nix
2. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
3. The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. Le Guin

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Book Review: Keys to the Kingdom Series by Garth Nix

Keys to the Kingdom Series by Garth Nix.

The main character of this series Authur Penhaligon starts his first Monday at a new School. While in the middle of a Asthma attack a strange man approaches him named Mister Monday. He give him a Key, assuming that he will die, and it will be returned to him. Fortunately, for Authur, he lives, but unfortunately Authur is still in possession of the Key and strange things begin happening. He begins to notice that the key, shaped like an old clock hand has interesting powers, and that there is a house in the middle of his neighborhood. A house in which Mister Monday lives, he learned that The Arichtect that built the house left behind a Will to be fulfilled by seven trustees. The seven trustees ignore the request of the Will and split it up into 7 pieces, and hide them. The Will doesn’t take that lying down and begins to use Authur so it can put itself back together. Authur has to enter the house, defeat Mister Monday to keep his key and protect Monday’s part of the Will. On Tuesday (the next book) he must do the same. Confront Mr. Tuesday's part of the house get his key, and get his part of the will, and so the series continues….all days of the week.

I loves these series because it is so clever. I love all the new creatures and the quirky house that Authur has to travel through. Also, the time motif is brilliant. The book has so many cool details that I could go into, but won’t. Just go read the series because it is awesome cool! The book is a little bit random, more random that I would normally like, but still Garth Nix is an awesome world builder, and this series doesn’t disappoint. Doesn’t hurt that it has Latin phrases in it…and well, I’m obsessed with Latin.