Friday, July 30, 2010

Spells by Aprilynne Pike

Spells by Aprilynne Pike

"Six months have passed since Laurel saved the gateway to the faerie realm of Avalon. Now she must spend her summer there, honing her skills as a Fall ...more Six months have passed since Laurel saved the gateway to the faerie realm of Avalon. Now she must spend her summer there, honing her skills as a Fall faerie. But her human family and friends are still in mortal danger--and the gateway to Avalon is more compromised than ever.

When it comes time to protect those she loves, will she depend on David, her human boyfriend, for help? Or will she turn to Tamani, the electrifying faerie with whom her connection is undeniable?" (summary from Author's Website)

So, surprisingly I really liked Tamani in this book. I remember not really liking him in the first book, but he is growing on me. Alas, David still hasn’t won me over much. I thought that Laurel’s summer in Avalon was fun to read about because we got to learn more about the mythology and culture of fairies in her world. I had wished there was more of this in the first book, and hope for more of it in the sequels. The details of the Avalon world made the this book have just a bit more of that magical feel that I was wanting from the first book. I thought it was interesting to see how Laurel’s mom reacted to her being a fairy in this book, and thought it was cool that Pike would include Laurel’s parents as pretty major minor characters in the book. I ‘m glad they are not completely forgotten like the majority of fantasy fiction.

I’ve noticed that a common complaint about the first book was that the fairy’s enemies—trolls— aren’t very well developed and kind of show up randomly. I’m afraid this book is pretty much the same. There are still a bunch of evil trolls wandering around trying to get into Avalon, and randomly attacking Laurel and her friends. There are some more interesting developments in the conflict with the trolls in that we get the feeling that they have an larger evil plan going on, and that there are professional troll hunters out there, but other than that they show up, make life hard for Laurel, get beat up and disappear. Hopefully, we get to learn exactly what these troll villains are up to in future books. Also, Tamani gets a super- secret mission for the next book. I have to admit I’m curious to find out what he is planning to do.

Something that bugged me about this book was the amount of making out done by David and Laurel. Laurel’s mom is always reminding them to stop. It was really annoying and I wish the author hadn’t included so much of that in the book. It got old really fast. So, really this book is not squeaky clean in that regard.

So, when it comes down to it I guess my feelings regarding this book are kind of mixed. There were a few things that I didn’t like about the narrative, but I still had an enjoyable time reading it for the most part. I had a hard time putting the book down once I started.

Aprilynne Pike's website

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Signed Books: Online Contests

Below are three books that I won in random online contests over the few years that I have been blogging. One was a Valentine's Day giveaway. The other two I don't remember how or exactly where I got them, but all the authors sent the books signed. Julie Bellon sent hers with a nice handwritten note. It was a very nice touch. My Reviews for All's Fair and Don't you Marry the Mormon Boys. I still haven't finished reading Dawn's Early Light. I did like the characters in Dawn Early Light, even if they were a bit stereotypical, especially in the beginning. Later on in the book the characters take unique and surprising paths that I wasn't expecting, but the plot didn't grab me a whole lot. I really can't put a finger on why I haven't finished the book yet. Maybe I'll try to pick it up again.

Monday, July 26, 2010

How to Find Clean Books: Book Reviews

How to find clean books: Book Reviews
Another method of finding clean books is to read book reviews. There are a number of blogs and websites dedicated to finding clean reads. I’ll guess this post will be an annotated link list.

Clean Read Blogs/websites
The most recent website I’ve found that helps readers find clean books is Squeaky Clean Reads.

I really like the lay out, it is clean, simple and easy to navigate. It has books lists in a format similar to good reads, and looks like the site will host giveaways, which is always nice. My favorite feature is that it has a list of clean reads for book clubs. I’ve found some of the most offensive books I’ve read have been book club books. Why do book clubs always read such nasty and depressing books most of the time? So, I think it is really helpful for that at the very least. I guess the only weakness to this site is that the ratings are based on reader’s votes. So unless a lot of people go over and participate in rating books some books won’t have any information on them. So, this site is only good as its participants. So go and explore the site and rate away.

The Literate Mother

Focuses on children’s and Young Adult Literature. Started by a mom, who was concerned with what her kids were reading, and so she started a website. Has a lot a recent releases.

Good Clean Reads
Book Review blog. Hasn’t updated for a while, but it has lots of archives.

Library of Clean reads
Book Review blog. Still very active. I never really followed this one because I never found book reviews on books I was interested in.

Rated Reads
This site was started by an experienced newspaper book reviewer. Has a lot of variety and also contains reviews of recent releases.

Homespun Light
Originally, “Deliciously Clean Reads”, the author moved the blog over to a new blog “Homespun Light.” The site doesn’t focus exclusively on book reviews anymore and focuses a lot of homeschooling, creative kid projects, and occasionally has a book review of a new clean read. I read His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik because of a review on this blog, and now I have read the entire series. Yea! For the discovery of new series. Links to the archive are on the upper left corner.

Blogs with rating guides:

Also, many more blogs than those listed above will have content ratings on the bottom, so many that they are too numerous to list, but they are nice to have around. Some of them have random numbers right in a row at the bottom of the post. (example: 2.1.3.) I don’t tend to like these very well because usually the numbers mean different things on different blogs and so I get confused and have to read a million ‘guide to ratings’ posts and it annoys me. I much prefer for content to be rated in words lists (example: violence:1 Swearing:2 sexual content: 2 etc.). Susan at Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books gives her books movie ratings, which is nice and understandable.

So, I don’t do ratings. Why don’t I do ratings you ask? Mostly, because I’m lazy. I try to warn people about content that could be offensive in the post itself, but really I don’t want to label books. I like it when other people label books, but I don’t like to do it myself. Also, part of me feels weird putting a content label on a book. I feel like I’m judging it, and while I have the right to judge books for myself. I feel uncomfortable putting such obvious labels on books for others. There is some content that I feel is wrong to put in a book, but in some cases it comes down to style and taste. So, I always feel that my ratings wouldn’t really add anything really useful to my reviews. I worry in fact that they would be harmful. This is why I avoid labels, and take other peoples labels with a grain of salt. Sometimes they can be too conservative and other times too liberal for my tastes. So while ratings are a good guide stick they aren’t 100% reliable.

What do you guys think? Do you like ratings or no? How much do you rely on them when you are thinking about reading a book?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt

Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt

Desi Bascomb knows that she had the lamest job ever—standing in front of a pet store dressed as a groundhog—but at least she has her anonymity. That is until her ex-best friend reveals her identity in front of Hayden, the boy she likes, in the most humiliating way possible. It has been a bad day, but her boss assures her that the fish is in the backroom is magical and if she makes a wish everything will get better. Yeah right.

Several days later Desi is contacted by Meredith, a princess agent, and discovers the sweet life. Apparently, Desi has enough MP (magical power) that when she applies special Egyptian Makeup “royal rouge” she takes on the appearance of any princess who needs her services. Desi thinks that living life as a princess substitute (hey even princesses need vacations!) will be great, but the job is full of unexpected difficulties. She hadn’t expected rude older sisters, preforming African tribal rituals, and trying to deal with old love interests. Doing all this without betraying that she really isn’t the princess is one hard deal, but Desi knows she can be good at this business and make a difference to the girls that she is helping. That is if the agency will give her a chance to prove that the choices she has made are right.

I don’t think I would have picked this book up if I hadn’t read Susan’s review at Bloggin' 'bout Books. She said she really enjoyed it, but I was thinking that cover is really pink and girly. So when I saw this book at the library I decided to pick it up and give it a try. I was really surprised because I was immediately drawn in by Desi’s charming and funny voice. Perhaps, the magic is a little bit unbelievable, a critical reader will probably have to suspend their belief a bit, but the idea is fun, magical, and enjoyable to read about. My favorite scene is when Desi takes her first practice assignment and substitutes for an actress who is a princess on a sci-fi show in which the main characters are bugs. So Desi is signing photos dressed as an inelegant caterpillar and gets proposed to by a crazy guy dressed as a wood louse. It was so hilarious! Each substitute job has its own fiasco to deal with as Desi learns the ropes. I think this really does have the potential to be a charming and popular series among young teen girls. So, if you are looking for a bit of magic and a laugh this would be a good one to pick up.

Also, Check out this awesome post at Cynsations. There is video of Lindsey Leavitt reading from Princess for Hire and an author interview.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Full Sail by Beverly Pierce Strobel

Full Sail: A 21st Century Spiritual Cruise on Board the Mayflower by Bev erly Pierce Stroebel

So, I must admit that I didn’t really like Full Sail, though I did find some parts of it interesting. My first impression was that it was a social history of Puritan religion and how it affected U.S. institutions, law, and traditions today. In short I was expecting a more academic approach to the topic. Full Sail truly is more of a daily spiritual devotional guide than history.

The author has spilt up the chapters into logbook entries that correspond to major historical landmarks made by the Puritans, who sailed over on the Mayflower. Each chapter starts with a scripture, a wake-up call and briefing. The “wake-up call” usually involved famous, interesting, and on-topic quotes by historical leaders, writers, and figures. The “briefing” would introduce the topic the author wanted address through the lens of the puritan experiences and then turned into a social commentary on how the nation incorporated these values or ideas, and how the issues apply to the present day. Some of these briefing topics included: education, law enforcement and court systems, liberty, land, language, and literacy.

Many of the topics were treated rather superficially without much detail. The author quoted other people more often than I would have liked. I would have liked to hear more of her thoughts and opinions expressed.

I found a few of her "briefing" essays really interesting. I enjoyed reading the author’s essay on marriage. The essay focused a lot on how Christ has a marriage like relationship with those who are believers. It was an interesting comparison and fascinating to read.

After opening this way the author would list “Free Time” options where she encouraged readers to do service, ponder a certain theme, or some other activity that would incorporate the topic into devotional participants lives.

After free time was a “last briefing” in which the author includes hymn that applied to the topic and prayers. I’m really not a fan of written prayers, and so didn’t really like this section. I most especially didn’t like this section when it included a “cruise bonus” which 90% of the time was a scene from a screenplay, which was obviously the author’s pet project. These things were occasionally really difficult to read through. The dialogue was so fake, and writing often hit the reader over the head with an obvious theme. Really, it just wasn't something I was excited to be reading. A few scenes weren’t that bad, but most of them were pretty hard to get through, and there were a few that I gave up reading at all in order to move on to the next topic. There is a decent short story about teddy bears that was a nice break from screen plays, though.

Other points along the daily devotional could include a “cruise library visit,” which was a list of recommended books on the topic the author was addressing. Each chapter also included the introduction of each generation of the author’s ancestors. So, the book has a very strong Family History bent to it, and includes basic information on doing genealogical research. The author also repeats about four different times that her ancestor Mary Chilton was the first woman to set foot on Plymouth Rock, according to family oral traditions. I think she does a very good job at introducing the history and background of her ancestors and I found this to be rather interesting. Perhaps, because it was personal to the author and it becomes obvious how much research she had done to recreate the history and lives of these people in her mind. In fact, the main character in her screenplay excerpts is none other than Mary Chilton.

Each devotional ends with “covenant and dedications” which includes positive affirmations about the topic discussed, and a “night watch,” which included a list of scriptures to read.

I don’t think I would really recommend Full Sail to anyone I know, but it is a book that contains a lot of information. There is a large bibliography on Mayflower topics, including a reading list of books for children and young adults on the topic. A section on Genealogy resources, marriage resources, a list of information and organizations devoted to messianic Jews, a list of ministries, volunteer organizations, and humanitarian aid services are also included in the appendix.

The book has a lot of resources and talking points for those that are interested in presenting American themed spiritual discussions/lectures/sermons. It could also be a useful resource for those that are specifically interested Mayflower Pilgrims’ Family History. I don’t think I quite fit in the author’s target audience, but I hope I gave enough information about the style and format of the book so that those interested can make better decisions on purchasing it.

Bring it on communications send this book for me to review.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Finding Clean Books: Authors Part 3

Part 3: A special note about column three authors, and assigning groups.

The other thing about discernment is that those icky, yucky, column three authors that are proud of writing things distasteful (to me! Remember it’s all about me here! ) can sometimes write good stuff. Not all of Orson Scott Card’s books are bad. I really like his Women of Genesis Trilogy, nay love. So, sometimes you can take a chance even on those blokes, but only rarely and for me only after careful consideration of the genre, reviews, and recommendations.

One last topic to mention is that I do read authors that are not in any of these three groups. Some of them don’t fit in the columns. For example, I recently read Spells by Aprilynne Pike. I’ve only read two of her books. I don’t know which of the groups she fits into yet. She is a strong column two contender, but I’m not sure yet. She may be column three, not necessarily because of horrible content, but she just likes to explore morals in a way that I dislike. Her fairy mythology is very um, favorable toward casual romantic encounters, we’ll say. Then there were the numerous make out scenes in Spells. Every little detail that I can gather is used to form an impression of that author.

For example, I know that Pike used to be a Doula/Midwife. So, I can look at that and say she is probably comfortable addressing those types of topics. This may come out in her fiction in different ways. Is not Wings essentially a maturation story? Much of the focus behind fairy mythology and culture in book one and two is centered around the reproduction and upbringing practices among fairies. What would make me squirm might not phase this author in the least because of her experiences in that regard, and because of this I started out with the impression that she would be more liberal in addressing these topics. This actually made me judge her stories less harshly rather than more harshly I might add. (I must point out that I am not prudish enough to think that including these themes in her books makes the author evil or wicked. Repeat I am not saying Pike is evil or writes evil books!!!). Yet, from now on I will view her other books with a skeptical eye, because I will be familiar with how her authorial style fits with my reading tastes, and sometimes they don't always match.

So, with Pike’s work I am still trying to figure out where I put her on my author list, and whether I will keep reading her work. It might take me a while to figure that out. Maybe the Wings series will just be so-so for me and I might love work she produces later, or I may just decide that her style doesn’t jive with my reading tastes. That is okay. Remember I can choose my own tastes and so can you. You can praise her to high heaven, and I can decide to pass by on her next best thing, and we can both still be right.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


So, the hubby and I are on a self-imposed book buying budget. So, on the budget for this month was to buy The Last Olympian in Paperback, and Naomi Novik’ s newest novel Tongue of Serpents. So, we went to our lovely Barnes and Noble, and searched around.

First, off the store was quite confusing as the staff was reorganizing book shelves for back to school displays. So, I finally found where I wanted to be, and there were no Last Olympians in paperback. There should be a huge stack of them, but no, they were not there.
I meet up with the hubby. No luck finding Tongue of Serpents. So I ask the customer service desk if they had these two books. The results of the interrogation were not very heartening.

The Last Olympian is not slated to come out in paperback until Jan 2011. Seriously?! This book was published in May 2009. That is like two years people, two years that I’ve been waiting to buy and read this book in paperback. I swear it was another Barnes and Noble worker THIS MAY that told me this book was going to come out MID JULY. What happened? Was the printing delayed for some reason?

So yeah, I should just get over myself and buy the hardback, but that would ruin our collection! I have to buy a series all in hardback or all in paperback or else it looks stupid on your book shelf. This is a nerdy obsession I realize and not entirely rational, but the hubby agrees and so we will persist in waiting for it to come out in paperback before we shell out the cash. I can wait 6 more months! Arggg!

So, this experience leads up to Tongue of Serpents. The customer service guy was really nice and a good sport, and showed us that is was on a special display table of new releases. (note: I was very nice and polite to him. I did not rant at him as I am ranting in this post.) Guess what? To our horror it was in HARDBACK! WHAT?!

Every single other book in the series (five books, people, five books!) came out in paperback, and now on the sixth book the publisher decides to publish in hardback? What? NOOOO! We are thwarted again. We can’t just buy a hardback when all the other books in the series we own are in paperback. That just won’t do. So, I basically just laughed about our bad luck and told the customer service guy thanks. He went his merry way, and we searched for some other books to buy, but we are a picky lot and get pickier as each year goes by, and so we did not buy any books.

Hear that? We went to Barnes and Noble to buy books and didn’t buy anything! It was a very sad day for us book nerds. Alas, we will wait a year to read and buy Novik’s book. We are still loyal fans, but we must have our lovely Temeraire books in paperback.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Calamity Jack by Shannon Hale

Calamity Jack by Shannon Hale

Calamity Jack is the sequel to Rapunzel’s Revenge, a retelling of the Rapunzel story with a western twist. Calamity Jack takes place in the big city, and recounts how Jack ended up out west, and what happens when he come back home with Rapunzel. This retelling of Jack and the beanstalk opens with a humorous narration of Jack’s wayward youth, and how he plotted to steal from the one of the town’s most influential businessman, Blunderbore the Giant. Having angered one of the most powerful individuals in the city Jack made a break for the west.

Now that he has returned with Rapunzel he finds large portions of the city in ruins, and that everyone is afraid. Apparently, a large ant army has been terrorizing the citizens and destroying the city. Jack discovers that his mother’s house is destroyed and that his mother is forced to work for Blunderbore himself. Jack is angry and determined to get his mother out of the clutches of the evil giant, but Jack must also contend with the mysterious ant creatures, which are still terrorizing the town. Jack and Rapunzel do some sleuth work and determine that the ant army and Blunderbore are somehow connected. Jack and Rapunzel have to put together a rag-tag team clever enough to rescue Jack’s mom and save the town from the terrorizing ant army.

From the very first page this book had me laughing. I read this little book in one afternoon, and felt like I had just watched a very clever and satisfying movie after I finished. Usually, I have a hard time getting into graphic novels, but I was sucked right in from the beginning with this one. I don’t know if that had anything to do with the fact that I had read Rapunzel’s Revenge and so was already familiar with the characters, but I really enjoyed the story-line. The new characters— a fairy with a hat fetish, and a newspaper man obsessed with inventions— were funny and interesting. I had so much fun reading about their adventures as they plotted to take down Blunderbore together. I also really loved the city setting and the fun steam-punky inventions that showed up every once in a while. Rapunzel is a strong, spunky, female character that defies all conventions to come to the rescue of those in need. Jack is a lovable renegade with a soft heart. To all those in need of a quick, entertaining, and hilarious adventure story I’d recommend this book.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Signed Books: Shannon Hale

I think I got both of these signed at the Provo Children's books Festival. It is a bit hard to read them. Book of a Thousand Days says " May you Find your own way out of the tower."

I love Shannon Hale because she seemes like such a fun and cool lady. I have enjoyed all her Bayern Books, and Goose Girl is one of my all time favorites.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Finding Clean Books: Authors Part 2

Authors Part 2: Don’t take things for granted:

One of the reasons I think it is so hard for people to find good books is that they are lazy. They don’t want to do the work. They want to pick up any book off the shelf and have it meet their standards perfectly. This is a bit unrealistic. Am I guilty of this? Probably have been in the past.

But the number one thing is that you need to be discerning and use your own judgment. Only you can decide what you like to read. Only you can decide how much detail is too much detail. I know what is good for me (and this post is all about me, remember?) and not for you. Your tastes are your job, not mine. Got that? Good.

This discernment part is where it gets tricky. The thing is that the authors in group one are pretty much a safe bet, but they are really rare. I read so much that I would run out of things to read if I only read in column one. Plus, reading only certain authors all the time would be really boring. Column one writers are good writers, but sometimes you need to read something written in a different style. Not to mention the fact that the column one authors can be hard to find (read: not at the library). I can’t buy all the books I read or I would be broke. So, I have to rely a lot on column two.

Authors in group two are a pretty safe bet, but they are unpredictable. They have never advertised themselves as “clean only” authors. They have no contract with me saying that they will always follow my preferences. In fact, they may write a completely clean trilogy or series of books that I love and cherish and recommend to everyone. Then they may write a really dark, depressing book that I will hate. So, really you have to be smart, but taking a few steps can reduce your chance of getting a stinker.

*analyze the book cover (there are often important clues there!)

*Read the back liner

* Read what the author has written about writing the book

* Read reviews written by the author’s fans

*Read reviews of those who are not fans

*Talk to someone in your neighborhood/library/school, etc.

Do your research then take an educated risk. Occasionally you will get burned, but usually you will run into a red flag if you do at least three of these things.
Do I do all of these things? All of the time? If I do all these things how do I even have time to read? Am I insane? Lately, I’ve been following recommendations of book bloggers, and even of column one and two authors. Sometimes these experiments work and sometimes they don’t. I think I get lucky a lot. Some genres are easier to navigate than others.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Everyone thinks that the Incarceron created Finn, but he has memories of before. Memories of some place outside the prison. The only one who really believes him is an old sapient wise-man named Gildas, who believes in the lore about Sapphique, the only prisoner to ever escape. Gildas believes that between his knowledge of Sapphique lore and Finn’s visions of the outside that following Finn is the way to escape. Finn thinks that they both must be crazy until he finds a woman that recognizes the tattoo on his arm. The tattoo looks exactly like a key that she found, and once Finn gets his hands on the key he finds out that there really is an outside, because he can talk to a girl named Claudia through it.

When Claudia’s father, the warden of Incarceron, comes home and announces that her wedding date to Prince Casper has been moved up, Claudia panics. She hasn’t wanted to marry him since she learned of the engagement, and now she can no longer ignore the fact that the day of reckoning has come. As the maids flurry around the house making preparations she knows that her time at the house is short, and so is her time to find out exactly what her father is planning. So she and her tutor Jared make bold plans to break into his study, but she doesn’t find what she expected. All she finds is a key—a key to Incarceron. This key brings her into communication with Finn, a prisoner who is trying to find the way out. As the two communicate they discover a web of secrets that will change both of their worlds forever.

So I took a risk when I bought Incarceron because I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it or not. I had read several reviews of it online. Some people loved it and others didn’t. One of the kids in the High School library raved that it was ranked among one of the best books he had ever read. I knew enough about the book to know that it was sort of fit into the steampunk sub-genre. So, I decided to risk it and ordered it off of Barnes and Noble the weekend that they sent a 15% off coupon to me. Incarceron doesn’t rank among one of the best books I have ever read, but I can recommend it as a good book. I was intrigued by the premise of the story from the very beginning, and became interested in both Claudia and Finn. It wasn’t until the last half of the book that I got hooked into plot and couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. I really liked all the Sapphique lore and thought that it gave the book a nice mythical feel to it.

The book is set in a future in which the king has declared that the kingdom must go back to old values in order to avoid war and social collapse. So the government has mandated that everything must be in era, specifically the Victorian Era. I had a debate with my husband about whether or not it was really steampunk because it was set in the future, and the technology wasn’t based off of the industrial revolution, but was far more advanced. I think my husband had a point when he said that most of the charm of steampunk is the alternate history aspect of it, but I feel that those who love steampunk stories will find enough Victorian era inspiration in the book to enjoy it as a steampunkish novel. I think the biggest complaint I had about this novel was that some of the descriptions were hard to follow on multiple occasions, but I don’t think this ruins the overall enjoyment of the characters and plot line. I am intrigued enough to want to check out the sequel Sapphique in December.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Finding Clean Reads: Authors Part 1

How to find clean books: Author’s Part 1
Sometimes it is hard to find clean books, and so I thought I would give few clues on how I find clean books.

1. Look by author:
Anyone, who is really up to snuff on LDS authors will probably recognize that I read a lot books written by LDS authors. A lot of them are publishing really good stuff in the national market right now. Part of the reason why I read this way is because if the author has the same belief system as I do I have a higher chance of getting a book that will meet my standards. This is not 100% reliable, because there is a wide variety, even among people of the same religion, of opinions on what is appropriate to include in fiction and what is not. Some Mormons think it is perfectly fine to go see rated R movies. I don’t happen to agree with them, even if it is a patriotic historical war movie. This is a history major talking! Alas! I guess I get to miss out. I’m good with that. It is really easy to judge and say people are going to go to @#!*% for such things, but really this post isn’t about what they do. It is all about me and what I like! :)

Author Group 1:

Some author’s like to cultivate the “clean romance/ya/ insert genre” image, and it becomes a part of their brand. It becomes a part of their mission and their goal as an author. I like this brand. It is a good brand. I follow it. Some examples of author’s who do this are Jannette Rallison, Rachel Ann Nunes, Chris Heimerdinger, Jason Wright.

Author Group 2:
Then there are some authors who for whatever reasons be they moral, or stylistic just aren’t interested in including certain types of details in their books. Some are respectful of their audience, some get bored by such content, some just don’t like to write those types stories. Whatever the reason these are also nice people to flock around. People like Shannon Hale, Mette Ivie Harrison, Scott Westerfeld, Jessica Day George, etc.

Author Group 3:
Then there are some authors who like to flaunt the fact that they are brave enough to include lurid details in their books. The content doesn’t matter as long as it is realistic and true to the story. The content doesn’t matter as long as they sale millions of books. The content doesn’t matter because they are an “artist.” The content doesn’t matter because they have an important message. From these types, I like to run like the plague. We just don’t get along. If I read something they write it is most likely that I’m going to get burned. So, I rarely try to pick up one of their books. Orson Scott Card often has this effect on me.

I would love if readers left comments of authors they recommend from groups 1 and 2!

This essay ended up being too long to publish in one post. Part 2: "Don't take things for granted" will be posted on Monday July 12.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Oh, how I love the library in the summer time!

Books I just returned to the library recently:
Calamity Jack by Dean and Shannon Hale (husband approved)
Airman by Eoin Colfer (husband approved)
Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt
Just One Wish by Janette Rallison
This world we live in by Susan Beth Pfeffer (husband approved)
Spells by Aprilynne Pike

Books I recently checked out:
Boneshaker by Cheri Priest (husband excited to read. Score! )
The Softwire Series: A Virus on Orbis (husband interested)
The Risen Empire by Scott Westerfeld (husband eager to read. Score again! )
Ice by Sarah Durst
I’d tell you I’d love but then I’d have to Kill You by Ally Carter
Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland.

Books I have on Hold:
The Princess and the Snowbird by Mette Ivie Harrison ( bah! I can’t wait. I’m sooo excited for this one! )
The 13th Reality: Blade of Shattered Hope by James Dashner

Friday, July 2, 2010

Alma the Younger by H.B. Moore

Alma the Younger by H. B. Moore

"As night falls, a scarlet-robed man emerges from the temple and a hush falls over the waiting crowd. Studying the hooded figure with enmity, Alma recognizes that this is the man who incites rebellion among the people of Zarahemla. This is the man who dares preach from the very place where King Benjamin uttered his final blessings upon the people of the church. Defiling the tower with his very presence, the man who embodies evil raises a hand to silence the drums, then calls to his followers through the eerie quiet. And that’s when Alma realizes the terrible truth: this man is his son.

Alma the Younger, son of the aging high priest, once was taught by the wisdom of prophets. Now the young man is a thief — ensnared by the wiles of strong drink and harlots; a bitter dissenter determined to overthrow the church, to lead the people into new “freedoms.“ He has gathered a strong army to create a revolution, which only begins with the desecration of the temple and will escalate to calamity once he captures King Mosiah’s daughter. But en route to his malicious mission with his royal henchmen, Alma is halted by an unexpected opponent: an angel of the Lord, a messenger of the very God he has sought to defame. And what unfolds is a story of miraculous redemption, a story building on the poignant Book of Mormon account to show how even the vilest of sinners can be transformed by the Savior’s amazing grace."

H.B. Moore has created another detailed scriptural retelling of the life of Alma the Younger. Using historical research based on Mayan cultural traditions she makes her characters setting and daily life seem very relatable and life like. I think she does a really good job at this and I enjoy the little details about food, hunting, and other traditions that give her stories a rich background. Alma’s bad decisions are the main basis for the plot and Moore has obviously put a lot of thought into the reasons and motivations behind Alma’s apostasy. The main bulk of the writing focuses on this part of Alma’s life, and I sort of wished she had spent a bit more text focusing on the conversion of Alma and the sons of Mosiah after they had seen the angel. In specific I wish she could have added more detail for their motivations to go on missions to the Lamanites. That part of the story seemed a bit rushed to me. Yet, I think she did a good job of showing that Alma’s and the sons of Mosiah’s actions had consequences, some of which they could never fix.

Moore said that a major challenge to portraying Alma’s character was the fact that it was hard to create a character the reader could care about as he went around doing bad stuff, and I think she did a good job of making him likable despite his faults, but around the middle-end of the plot I kind of got impatient for his conversion to come, and was ready for the focus of the plot to change. As a result this wasn’t my favorite scriptural retelling story, but I found that I did gain some new insights into motivations behind apostasy and the historical details of the scriptures. Moore ultimately delivers a thoughtful and useful scriptural retelling that matches up to the quality of her previous novels. This novel includes a map, author preface, character chart, historical chapter notes, and a selected biography.

Visit H.B. Moore's Website
H.B. Moore's Blog