Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wildwing by Emily Whitman


Wildwing by Emily Whitman
When Addy is swept back in time, she couldn't be happier to leave her miserable life behind. Now she's mistaken for Lady Matilda, the pampered ward of the king. If Addy can play her part, she'll have glorious gowns, jewels, and something she's always longed for—the respect and admiration of others. But then she meets Will, the falconer's son with sky blue eyes, who unsettles all her plans.
From shipwrecks to castle dungeons, from betrothals to hidden conspiracies, Addy finds herself in a world where she's not the only one with a dangerous secret. When she discovers the truth, Addy must take matters into her own hands. The stakes? Her chance at true love….and the life she's meant to live. (summary from Author's website)

I do not know if I like the fact that the author wrote a time-travel novel that basically ignored the fact that going back in time changes the future. Fun to enjoy her historical medieval world without worrying about complications of a distorted time-line, but on the other hand how can you not logically assess the implications of telling people about agricultural innovations that happen 50 to 100 years later? Eh, I’m sure opinions will vary widely on the treatment of time travel stories. Just know that this time travel novel is very light handed with the science involved and gauge whether you are a reader that will enjoy it anyway.

The romance was kind of so-so for me. It was little bit sappy and I was really annoyed with how unprincipled the main character was when she discovered she loved William, thehawking boy. She basically asked him to get involved with her when she was betrothed to marry someone else, and wanted to turn the relationship into an affair after she got married, which was just an stupid idea all around. Not to mention how that is a horrible way to treat the guy she truly loves. He totally deserved better.

Still I was caught up in the story enough to wonder how exactly she was going to get out of her betrothal to Sir Hugh so she could be with William without getting half the cast of characters tortured, maimed, or killed in battle. Those are some pretty severe consequences for your choices and so made for good reading. It was interesting to learn more about hawking, as it seems it was sort of a medieval sport.

I think Whitman has beautiful prose and I loved reading many of her descriptions in the book. Despite, my few little nitpicks I found the book to be entertaining and enjoyable.

Visit the author's website

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh

The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh

"Jack Perdue, a ninth grade classics prodigy, lives with his father on the Yale University campus. Smart and introverted, Jack spends most of his time alone, his nose buried in a book. But one winter evening, a near-fatal accident changes Jack’s life forever.

His father sends him to see a mysterious doctor in New York City—a place Jack hasn’t been since his mother died there eight years ago. In Grand Central Terminal, he meets Euri, a girl who offers to show him the train station’s hidden places, the ones only true urban explorers know about. Eight floors below the station, however, Jack discovers more than just hidden tracks and mysterious staircases..." (summary from author's website)

I don’t remember just how I came upon the summary for this title, but once I did I knew I wanted to read it. I put it on my to-read list and found it while browsing at the library two weeks ago.  Essentially, this could be cast as a retelling of the classic Greek myth about Orpheus and Euridice. This tragic tale about Orpheus tells of his quest into the underworld. While there he is permitted find his love Euridice and bring her back to the world of the living on the condition that he not look back while he leads her out. As in all tragedies Orpheus fails in his quest and looks back before they exit the underworld. Euridice is lost to him and Orpheus mourns greatly and is never the same again.

This novel put a new spin on the tale by changing the setting of the underworld  to the streets of New York City. Those who are familiar with the city’s many landmarks will be amused and delighted to experience them anew from a ghosts perspective—flying and swooping through the air and disappearing through walls. This version of the story becomes less a tragedy and more a mystery novel of sorts as Jack has to discover exactly why he was allowed to enter the Underworld in the first place while avoiding the three-headed dog Cerebus and other underworld guards. Jack finds companionship and love with Euri as they search the underworld for his mother. Each of the characters must face the conflict of finding closure with the finality of death.  I really enjoyed this read.  While not action-packed as most myth retellings these days, it gives a strong sense of place, complex conflicts, and characters that are worth rooting for. 

Also, the Latin didn’t hurt. There are lots of fun Latin phrases scattered throughout, and as a former Latin teacher I had lots of fun reading and enjoying familiar and new phrases. Also, I think I have mentioned before that I have an obsession with underworld fiction, as I find it fascinating. So, this also increased my enjoyment of this book.
Please check out Katherine Marsh's website.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Notes on books read in 2011

So, this list doesn’t have everything I read in 2011 as there are about a dozen more picture books that I didn’t bother to write down.

Overall, I was disappointed that I was unable to read many novels but I did have a lot of fun exploring the new medium of picture books. I also read a lot of short stories on daily science fiction.

I am also slightly disappointed that I only read three LDS Fiction novels. . (Paint Me True, Cross My Heart, Bumpy Landings)This depresses me, as that was the main purpose of this blog when I started out.  I will have to try and change that in 2011. I miss getting my LDS fiction from the basement of the HBLL. In fact, looking at those numbers makes me feel LDS fiction starved.  Sigh.

But perhaps I shouldn’t be too hard on myself as I read seven other novels by LDS authors. 

One thing that has brought me excitment this year is the announcement of the Mormonlitblitz short story contest. ( I submitted my story yesterday. Why don't you submit too? All the cool people are doing it.)  I have loved reading so many blogs discussing how we should renew our efforts to create a more authentic and rich Mormon culture through our writings. I also love how many have rejected the polarity between the sugary sweet fiction and the edgy fiction that just leaves everyone feeling uncomfortable.  I am really happy that we are asking ourselves and others to step up to the plate and create more options for readers and writers alike. We have been moving in this direction for a while now and I am glad to see it continue.   

I also read about hundred picture books and curiosity lead me to an interesting reading path. I feel as if there is a lot of information about LDS novelist out there, but I could not find one list or blog post about LDS picture book authors. I found this not only unacceptable but annoying and started out on a quest to find and read picture books written by LDS authors. Those savvy enough to know something about LDS picture book authors can see that I spent a lot of time this year reading (and writing reviews) of picture books by LDS authors.

So this year I will launch the LDS picture book project. Frankly, I am busy and don’t know how much I can devote to this project, but by the end of the year I will feature at least 12 LDS Picture Book authors and their books on this blog. See, now I am accountable and committed. I have hedged and hedged on this project probably because I don’t know how long I can sustain it. But at least there will be more out there on the internet about this topic.

So, if you want to help me out I’d love for you to tell me about your random aunt who is LDS and just happens to publish picture books. That’d save me hours of searching the internet. Also, I’d love to hear about your college roommate that now publishes picture books, and your Relief Society president, or anybody really. Seriously, I’m at the bottom of the barrel. Send more names fast.  

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Books Read in 2011

List of Books read in 2011
183 Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst
184 Bumpy Landings by Don Carey
 185 The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
186 Cross My Heart by Julie Wright
187 The Gurensey literary and Potato Peel Pie  Society by Annie Shaffer and Annie Barrows
188 Prisoners in the Palace by Michaela MacColl
189 The Aenied by Virgil 
190 Sean Griswold’s Head by Lindsey Leavitt
191 Sapphique by Catherine Fisher
192 The True Adventures  of Hector Kingsley By Kindal Debenham
193 Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet b y Jamie Ford
194 The Wretched of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler
195 Tounges Of Serpents by Naomi  Novik
196 Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming
197 Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury
198 Witch Song by Amber Argyle
199 Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George
200 The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke
201 Goliath by Scott Westerfeld
202 Wolves, Boys and Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler
203 Paint me True by E.M. Tippetts
204 Badger by Kindal Debenham
Picture Books:
Eric Carle
1 A Very Hungry Catapilar
2 The Very quiet cricket
3 Will you be my friend
4 The grouchy ladybug
5 Papa, please get the moon for me
Ian Falconer
6 Olivia by Ian Falconer
7 Olivia form a band
8 Olivia goes to venice
9 Olivia helps with Christmas
Mem Fox
10 Where is the Green Sheep
11 Hattie and the Fox
12 Hunwick’s Egg
 Candace Fleming
13 Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! By Candace Fleming
14 Tippy Tippy Hide
15 Sonny Boy the Life and Times of a Tortise
16 The Hatmaker’s sign
17 This is the baby
18 Clever Jack Takes the Cake
19 Imogene’s Last Stand
20 Seven Hungry Babies
Lois Elhert
21 Waiting for Wings by Lois Elhert
22 Nuts to you by Lois Elhert
Rick Walton
23 Baby’s first year
24 6000 rats a tale of conjunctions
25 The Fox Chased the Mouse a prepositional tale
26 So many bunnies
27 How can you dance
Caralyn Buehner
28 Snowmen all year
29 Snowmen at night
30 Fanny’s Dream
31 The Queen of Fashion
Emma Dodd
32 I don’t want a cool cat
33 What pet to get
34 Just like you
35 No matter what
Trudy Harris
36 The clock struck one
37 Tally cat keeps track
38 Splitting the herd
39 20 hungry piggies
40 Jenny Found A Penny
Cambria Evans
41 Bone Soup
42 Martha Moth Makes socks
Lezlie Evans
43 The bunnies Trip
44 The Bunnies Picnic
45 Can you count Ten Toes? Count to ten in 10 different languages
46 Who loves the little lamb
 Tana Hoban
47 A children’s Zoo
48 Cubes, Cones Cylinder and Spheres
49 Shadows and reflections
50 Let’s count
51 More Fewer Less
52 Let’s Count
53 Shapes, Shapes, Shapes
54 Is it red? Is it yellow? Is it blue?
Neil Gaiman
55 Blueberry Girl
56 Crazy Hair
Mo Willems
57 Knuffle Bunny
58 Knuffle Bunny Too
59 Knuffle Bunny Free
60 Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the bus
61 Don’t let the pigeon stay up late
62 The Pigeon finds a hot dog
63 The Pigeon wants a Puppy
64 Hooray for Amanda and her Alligator
65 Time to say Please
Brandon Doorman
66 Pirates of the Sea
67 Santa’s Stowaway
Kristyn Crow
68 Middles Child Blues
69 Bedtime in the Swamp
70 Cool Daddy Rat
71 The Really Groovy Story of the Tortoise and the Hare
Sharlee Glenn
72 Just What Mama Needs
73 Keeping up with Roo
 Misc authors
74 The Night Pirates by Peter Harris
75 Mail Harry to the Moon by Robie H. Harris
 76 The Duchess of Whimsy by Randall De Seve
77 Scapegoat by Dean Hale
78 Waiting for Mama by Lee Tae-Jun
79 The Wizard by Jack Prelutsky
80 Halloween night by Majorie Dennis Murray
81 The legend of the bluebonnet by Tomie De Patola
82 Bedtime for Bear by Brent Helquist
83 Heckedy Peg by Audrey Wood
84 Itsy-bitsy-babies by Margaret Wild
85 Baby Knows Best by Kathy Henderson
86 Baby Talk: a book of first words and phrases by Judy Hindley
87 City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems
89 Edwina: The dinosaur who didn’t know she was extinct
90 Absolutely Positively Alexander by Judith Viorst
91 Wild Witches Ball by Jack Prelutsky
92. Piggies by Audrey Wood