This Week in Mormon Literature, Feb. 18

I’m back from a week off. We had several busy days in Tokyo, including a trip to Tokyo Disneyland, which was loads of fun, and resulted in relatively few lost child incidents.  In the general book world, the big news is that Boarders bookstore has declared bankruptcy, and has announced it will close a third of its stores.


Angela Hallstrom, “It’s Better to Speak”. Hallstrom talks about Mormon literature, exploring truth and beauty, and exposing oneself, at the C.Jane blog.

Rick Walton, “Literacy, Solutions, and More” Rick Walton on literacy at the Throwing Up Words blog.

Jennie Hansen column on LDS book covers

Jeff Savage’s new Friday column on LDS Publisher

New Books

Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck (Splinter). YA fantasy-romance, nationally published, first of a trilogy. Yep, it is another paranormal romance, featuring a teenage girl and a boy with a paranormal twist.  This time the romantic lead is a tiger who turns out to be a cursed Indian prince. It is the debut novel of Splinter, a new teen fiction imprint from Sterling Children’s Books.  They are trying a new approach of releasing all three books in the trilogy in the same year. The second and third volumes will be released in June and November, respectively.  The first two books were self-published starting in 2009, and reached the #1 spot on Kindle’s children’s best-seller list for seven weeks. So it is a real self-publishing success story. Tiger’s Curse has been on the New York Times Children’s Chapter Books list for the last two weeks.  Here is a feature at The Oregonian about Houck, who lives in Salem, Oregon. See the section below for reviews.

The Colossal Fossil Freakout, by Julie Gardner Berry (Grosset & Dunlap).  Middle Grade graphic novel, nationally published.  The third in Berry’s “Splurch Academy for Disruptive Boys” series, illustrated by Berry’s sister, Sally Faye Gardner.

Gifted by Karey White (Cedar Fort). Family novel, with fantasy elements. First novel. For years the Wellers have yearned for a baby. But as Anna grows, they discover her unique gifts and wonder if they will be able to save her from choices that could change their lives forever.

Honeymoon Heist by Anna Jones Buttimore (Cedar Fort). Romance. This is British author Buttimore’s fourth novel, and her first with Cedar Fort. It tells the story of a newly married couple (a rarity in romance novels) who discover a small cash fortune in their luggage, which results in deadly danger.

Independence Rock by Debra Terry Hulet (Cedar Fort). Young Adult. First novel. When juvenile delinquent Katie is sentenced to a mandatory handcart trek, she discovers a mysterious journal from her pioneer ancestor that holds the key to her survival.

Borrowed Light by Carla Kelly (Cedar Fort). Western romance, set in the early 1900s.  Carla Kelly is a well established nationally published author of Regency and western romance novels.  She has had over 30 books published since the 1970s. This is her first with a Mormon publisher, and her first about Mormon characters. Cedar Fort has signed her to a three book contract, which is a bit of a coup. Here is a Cedar Fort interview with Kelly.

Short Story

“Movement” by Nancy Fulda. Asimov’s Science Fiction, March 2011

Locus Review: “Hannah has a condition called temporal autism, which refers to time and not the part of the brain; she experiences time differently and is fascinated by the slow changes in objects, in evolution. Her distressed parents are considering an experimental treatment to change her . . . Highly Recommended”


The Rouge Shop, by Michael Knudsen (Jennie Hansen at Meridian, very favorable)

The Pharaoh’s Daughter, by N. C. Allen (Jennie Hansen at Meridian, very favorable)

Meg’s Melody, by Kaylee Baldwin (Jennie Hansen at Meridian, favorable)

Bound on Earth, by Angela Hallstrom (Scott Hales, very favorable)

Rift, by Todd Robert Petersen (Scott Hales, very favorable)

Paranormalcy, by Kiersten White (Shelah Miner, favorable)

The Book of Malchus, by Neil K. Newell and William J. Hamblin (Mormon Times, favorable)

The Kiss of a Stranger, by Sarah Eden (Deseret News, favorable)

Cross My Heart, by Julie Wright (Mormon Times, favorable)

Bumpy Landings, by Donald J. Carey (Gamila, favorable)

Luck of the Draw, by Rachael Renee Anderson (Mindy at LDSWBR, very favorable)

Queen in Exile, by Donna Hatch (Mindy at LDSWBR, very favorable)

Lucky Change, by Susan Law Corpany (Sheila at LDSWBR, favorable)

The Peasant Queen, by Cheri Chesley (Sheila at LDSWBR, favorable)

Matched by Ally Condie, at Locus Magazine: ‘‘Part of what makes Matched work so well is Cassia’s voice, which is strong and endearing . . . Where Matched differs is its fully realized science fictional future, one where something catastrophic has happened to the planet and the Society is how this pocket of humanity has coped. In terms of world building, Condie’s Society works. She doles out the backstory in small, never obtrusive sentences that sneak in when she’s also advancing the plot. Are there some holes that would leap out at a hard-core adult SF reader? Sure. But they don’t glare when the book is taken as a whole because Cassia’s story feel complete even without every last detail filigreed and burnished.

Reviews of Tiger’s Curse:

Los Angeles Times: Tiger’s Curse is an alluring premise that opens with a bang and occasionally bogs down with extraneous detail. Though Houck’s affection for Indian lore is apparent, and she has an excellent sense of story and paints a vivid picture, her writing is extraordinarily plainspoken. Still, it isn’t Houck’s lack of linguistic artistry that is the problem so much as her lack of editing.  It simply isn’t necessary to include passage after passage detailing the granola bars Kelsey ate or other minutiae of daily life that neither enlightens readers about her characters nor propels the story forward. It is mind-numbing to read that her “swimsuit, hung overnight, was dry now. I tossed it in my bag, included a towel for good measure, piled the rest of my things on top of that, and made my way downstairs.”

Publisher’s Weekly: “(It) is richly imagined, but pacing and technique lag behind her inventiveness . . . The attractive premise is let down by wooden dialogue, excessive detail, and wobbly mechanics; Kelsey’s plainspoken narration more often befits a preteen than a high school graduate (‘Poor thing. All alone with no girl tiger and no tiger cubs’). Houck doesn’t quite realize her potential in this outing.”

Booklist:  “Although her book—the first in a proposed series—is sometimes derivative, she tells a good story filled with chaste romance that will keep readers turning pages to the inconclusive ending.”

Kirkus Reviews: “Twilight fans ready for a not-too-radical change of pace are the natural audience for this steamy opener.”

RT Times:  “An ultimate thrill ride. A roller-coaster ride from beginning to end, this book has action, history, poetry, romance, magic — everything you could ever want.”


New York Times Bestseller lists, February 13th and 20th

The New York Times Bestseller list system was revamped on February 13th. They added a new e-book list and a combined list that includes all formats, including e-book, hardcover, and paperback.

Hardcover Fiction

#22 and #20.  TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (14th week). ↔   Feb. 20: #16 on the Combined Print & E-Book Fiction list.  Also #2 on the Locus speculative fiction hardcover list, and #74 on the USA Today combined list.

THE LOST GATE, by Orson Scott Card, fell off the list on Feb. 13th after two weeks.

Trade Paperback

#17 and #18. HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, by Jamie Ford (37th week). ↔  Basically unchanged for several weeks. #33 and then #35 on the new Combined Print & E-book Fiction list.  #27 and #32 on the new E- book Fiction list.

Mass-market paperback

RUTHLESS GAME, by Christine Feehan and THE OVERTON WINDOW, by Glenn Beck both fell off the list on Feb. 13th after 4 weeks.

Children’s Chapter Books, Hardback:

#6 and #7 TIGER’S CURSE by Colleen Houck (2nd week). ↑ Paranormal romance makes a strong debut on the list.

#10 and #6 MATCHED, by Ally Condie (10th week). ↔

Children’s Paperback:

#10 and #5 HUSH, HUSH, by Becca Fitzpatrick (19th week).  ↑

THE MAZE RUNNER, by James Dashner fell off the list on Feb 13th after 14 weeks.

Children’s Series:

#8 and #7 THE TWILIGHT SAGA, by Stephanie Meyer ( 183nd week). ↔

Deseret Book LDS Fiction Bestsellers this week

1 Midway to Heaven by Dean Hughes

2 The Kingdom and the Crown 3-Volume Set by Gerald N. Lund

3 The Silence of God by Gale Sears

4 The Great and Terrible Six-Volume Set by Chris Stewart

5 Smokescreen by Traci Hunter Abramson

6 The Undaunted: The Miracle of the Hole-in-the-Rock Pioneers by Gerald N. Lund

7 Dickens Inn 5-Volume Set by Anita Stansfield

8 The Kiss of a Stranger by Sarah M. Eden

9 Shadows of Brierley, Vol. 1: The Wanderer by Anita Stansfield NEW

10 Isabelle Webb: The Pharaoh’s Daughter by Nancy Campbell Allen


Midway to Heaven opened in 10 Utah theaters in its first week, and is now down to just two theaters in its third week.

LDS Cinema review of Midway to Heaven.  B+. An in-depth review by Kevin B. at LDS Cinema.

Davis county Clipper review of Midway to Heaven.  By Jenniffer Wardell, very negative.

Jonah and the Great Fish review at The Mormon Times, mildly favorable.

Excel Entertainment claims that it will release two more films in theatres in 2011.  One certainly will be T. C. Christensen’s handcart company drama 17 Miracles, which is to be released in the Summer. I am not sure what the other will be, perhaps the Joseph Smith film by Christian Vuissa.  Another film that might be released in 2011 is Ryan Little’s Age of the Dragons, a fantasy story based on Moby Dick, with no LDS elements. It is set for a March 28th release in Britain, but does not have a date yet for the United States. It has a $5 million budget, and stars Vinnie Jones and Danny Glover. Mormon movie veterans McKay Daines and Stephen A. Lee are producers.


You might not like it, but The Book of Mormon, the musical created by South Park creators Matt Parker and Trey Stone, together with Avenue Q creator Robert Lopez, will begin previews at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre on Broadway on February 24, and open on March 24.  The Church put out a very brief statement about the show last week.

New York Times: A Sweet Show, with Blasphamy and Cursing

LDS Church Weighs in on Broadway’s “Book of Mormon” (Salt Lake Tribune)

LDS Church statement

Take the High Road with Parker and Stone’s musical (Chris Hicks column at The Deseret News)

He and She Fighting,by Eric Samuelsen, produced by the New Play Project at the Provo Theater, enters its last weekend, with performances on the 18th, 19th, and 21st.  Next up for Samuelsen is The Plan, which will open at the Covey Center Black Box in Provo on March 18.  Here is a favorable review by Zach Kempf at the Utah Theater Bloggers Association.

Also, remember the Life, the Universe, and Everything symposium is ongoing at BYU this weekend.  See  Some upcoming panels with specifically LDS topics:
Writing for the LDS Market (Friday, 9 am)
Characters’ Morals/Theology vs. Authors’ (Friday, 2 pm)
Bella as Mother-Savior: The Powerful Feminine Journey of Transformation and Choice in The Twilight Saga (Friday, 5 pm)
Can a YA Protagonist Have Adventures and a Family (Saturday, noon)
How the Internet Is Shaping Our Kids (Saturday, 1 pm)
Tohu Wabohu; or, There is no room in which there is no void, and no void in which there is no room: An essay on Michael Collings’s Into the Void (Saturday, 2 pm; by Harlow Clark)
Regional Publishers (Saturday 5 pm)

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5 Responses to This Week in Mormon Literature, Feb. 18

  1. Thanks, Andrew. I always look forward to your reviews of Mormon literature.

  2. Katya says:

    Zach Kempf posted a review of He and She Fighting at the Utah Theater Bloggers Association.

  3. Katya says:

    (And if you’re not following the UTBA website already, it’s a good place to find out about Mormon drama in Utah.)

  4. Th. says:


    I forgot to tell Andrew about this, but this weekend in Oakland, California, the Genesis Group is putting on a play, A Special Destiny.

  5. Andrew H. says:

    Just saw this, and could not wait until Friday to spread it around.
    Eric James Stone’s story, “Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” (Analog, Sept. 2010) has been nominated for the 2010 Nebula Award for Best Novelette. This is cool not only for its own sake, but because the story is as “Mormon” a story as you could ever see published in a national journal. Stone said, “It’s the most Mormon (Mormonest?) story I’ve sold anywhere. The main character is a Mormon branch president who must deal with the consequences of having alien members of his congregation—specifically gigantic plasma beings living inside the sun—who are part of a culture with different laws and traditions. I’ve occasionally heard people say that Analog won’t buy stories with religious themes (unless they’re anti-religious), but that has not been my experience.”
    You can read the whole story here:
    Or buy an ebook version of the issue at:
    I read the story when it first came out, and loved it. Congratulations Eric!

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