Saturday, April 25, 2009

And the Whitney Award Winners are.....

I just spent a fun two days at the LDS Storymakers writing conference in Provo. Every year the conference grows! I think there were 250 of us this year. Anyway, I just finished watching the live chat/twitter stream on the Whitney Award website, and here are the winners:

Best Novel of the Year
Traitor by Sandra Grey

Best Novel by New Author
Bound on Earth By Angela Hallstrom

Best Romance
Spare Change by Aubrey Mace

Best Mystery/Suspense
Fool Me Twice by Stephanie Black

Best Youth Fiction
The 13th Reality by James Dashner

Best Speculative Fiction
Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

Best Historical
Abinadi by H.B. Moore

Best General Fiction
Waiting for the Light to Change by Annette Haws

Congrats to all those authors out there! Most of these books I've read and enjoyed immensely! Shout out to all those authors, writers, and bloggers I met this weekend. It was wonderful to meet you all.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Waiting for the Light to Change by Annette Haws

Waiting for the Light to Change by Annette Haws

Sarah has taught high school in her hometown for years, and while she has faced challenges in her teaching career before, this year looks like it is going to take the cake. Her ex-husband, who left her with three small children for an medical internship in Switzerland, and cheated on her with another woman is returning to take a job in town. This circumstance brings up many difficult feelings for Sarah, as she tries to shepherd her youngest daughter Jenny through her first year of high school. Jenny is painfully shy, and desperate to find friends and acceptance. In addition, one of her students is determined to dominate her debate team and classroom. Their little power struggle turns into a dangerous game of revenge.

In Annette Haws bio she identifies herself as an experienced teacher and that experience come out in her writing about the classroom. Having teaching experience myself I related to the realistic portrayal of classroom politics, and conflict. In several parts of the novel I disapproved of the main characters actions, but always understood them. She isn’t perfect, and makes huge mistakes that she ultimately has to pay for, but she also is a determined, intelligent woman with a quirky sense of humor. The conflict in this story makes it hard put the book down, and I read through it quickly. I felt like a few chapters in the end were confusing and unclear, and some of the scenes could have used a little bit of clarifying, but over all this was a really enjoyable book, with consistent characterization, an engaging plot, and a meaningful read.

Author Website:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Freefall by Traci Hunter Abramson

Free Fall by Traci Hunter Abramson

“Lieutenant Brent Miller arrived in the Middle East with one objective — get seven hostages out of a hostile country. The plan almost worked. But now he has been left behind — with one of the hostages. It's up to Brent to get Amy Whitmore, an LDS Senator's daughter, across miles of desert to safety. What he doesn't know is that to survive, he needs her as much as she needs him.”*

So, I had mixed feelings about this book. Loads of people really love Traci’s suspense novels so I expected the quality to be a little better. The big peeve with the book came with the romance. It was so predictable, and therefore a little boring to me, and also clichĂ©. I did like other aspects of the book. I really liked how the author showed Amy Whitmore becoming an excellent intelligent officer, and found that part of the book really interesting. While Brent and Amy run around in the desert they find out that a terrorist organization is most likely planning attacks in the D.C. area, and they have to work together to find out when, and where. So, they the instant they get safely out of the desert they set up an intel crew to save the lives of thousands of Americans.

This is the first novel that I read of Traci’s and apparently it is a spin off of books she has written before, because characters kept appearing that obviously had a huge back story that I was supposed to relate to. I got the gist of the backstory and so wasn’t confused, but they were a bit annoying at the beginning. So, when the chips all fall, this book was interesting, and an entertaining read, but not one of my favorites.

*Summary from DB website

Saturday, April 4, 2009

First Day by Allyson Braithwaite Condie

First Day by Allyson Braithwaite Condie

“In the sequel to Yearbook, the characters are in the middle of it all. Two and a half years after we left off, Andrea Beckett is a junior at Cornell University in New York. She's caught up in the whirlwind of finals, decisions about jobs . . . and decisions about love, too. Dave Sherman has returned home from his mission, and they will have to decide where their romance is going. In addition to everything else, Andrea just received the assignment to teach early-morning seminary to a group of eight high school students, who all have their own decisions to make and challenges to overcome. Meanwhile, Andrea's brother Ethan is serving a mission in Brazil. The language is new, the culture is different, and sometimes being Elder Beckett is harder than he expected.”*

Alright, so I read Yearbook a while back, and enjoyed some parts of it, but wasn’t really sold on how many point-of-view characters there were. I kept getting confused, and so I decided not to read First Day. Fast forward to visiting my in-laws house in December. I noticed vaguely that my sister-in-law was reading Yearbook, commented that I had read it. It was good, but not extremely great for me. Then later in the day, I see the book lying on her bedside table, and the condition it’s in. It’s practically falling apart because she’s read it so much. I also see First Day on her bookshelf in similar condition. So, I think about it and realize, you know I can see why she likes it.

My husband ran track through high school, she plays soccer like a crazy demon, and does track. They all have this loyalty to their high school that is annoying, but understandable. They all went to the same place, and all their friends went to the same high school. I moved so it wasn’t the same for me. So, I figured I gotta try this series out one more time, cause my sister-in-law likes it. So, I get First Day from the library. At first I was bored, but the more I read the more the characters really grew on me. I loved the setting of Ithaca, New York. There weren’t as many point-of-views, and so I was never confused, and really got to know the characters well, and got a full plot line. I felt like the first book had a disjoined plot feel to it, because there were so many point of view characters that you couldn’t do an entire plot arch with them all. This fact made me feel sort of dissatisfied with the book.

First Day was all around good writing, and a really good book. This time I could relate more to the characters making decisions in their lives, and falling in love, and worrying about the future. I related to it all in bunch of ways. I kept nodding my head and saying yeah, I remember being there, or yeah, I’m feeling that way right now. Yet, there aren’t easy answers for every character, though a few do get easy answers, and so I appreciated that. The balance and acknowledgement that some people have easy answers to decisions, others agonize for weeks until finally they just go with a direction they feel is right. I also really loved the subtle, gentle humor that I noticed in this book. I found myself smiling at a line of dialogue, or a humorous scene.

So, go forth and read my pretties. This is a series that I recommend.
Ally Condie’s Website:

*excerpt from back of book