This Week in Mormon Literature, June 24, 2010

Brandon Sanderson wins a presitigious award for Best Fantasy novel, and is discussed at A Motley Vision. Angela Morrison and James A. Owen try their hands at self-publishing. 17 Miracles continues to find audiences and open on new screens in the West, but gets some poor reviews. Please send any suggestions or announcements to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.

News and columns

Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings won the David Gemmell Legend Award for Best Fantasy Novel.  Sanderson had been nominated three times before in the past, and this year he won despite having two novels nominated. The Battle Axe trophy must be one of the coolest in the universe of book award trophies.

Wm Morris, at A Motley Vision, starts a conversation on Brandon Sanderson’s preoccupation with deification.

Tweet of the Week: Adam K. K. Figuera: “I think Mormons are natural fantasy readers because we identify with entire societies using made-up swear words.”

I think we are all a bit tired of commentary on the Book of Mormon musical, but here is one of my favorites so far.  The Book of Mormon, Redux, by Rosalyde Welch, at Patheos. Welch compares the musical’s message of skepticism towards religion with the message of the actual Book of Mormon itself, which also contains skepticism towards the nature of the great majority of religious traditions.

Also, Blackness, The Book of Mormon, and Broadway: Part 2, where Christopher at The Juvenile Instructor talks about John Mark Reynolds article Amos and Andy and the Book of Mormon, where the professor at the Biola University (an often rabidly anti-Mormon Evangelical college near my home town) professor compares the musical unfavorably to a minstrel show (not unlike Mahonri Stewart’s position).  Reynolds himself participates in the comments at The Juvenile Instructor.

Daily Herald short feature story on Elana Johnson and her new novel Possession.

Heidi Tighe on Michael R. Collins horror novel The Slab.


Writing Excuses 6.3: Professional Organizations. The hosts talks about professional organizations like the SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America).

The Appendix: Ep 21: Organization, and Advice About Advice. The hosts, joined by Writing Excuses member Dan Wells, talk about organizing a novel, and how to wade through all of the writing advice given by other authors.  

I just was made aware of another writing podcast.   It is called Writing Snippets, and the six LDS writers working toward national market publication have been producing segments since January. They frequently post podcast interviews with LDS writers–both those writing for the LDS market, and those writing for the national market. The most recent podcast, #25, is an interview with J. Scott Savage.

Magazines and a poem

Leading Edge, #61, is now available.  It includes short stories by Dan Wells and Dave Farland, an essay by Brandon Sanderson on magic systems, and an interview with Howard Tayler.

Steven L. Peck. “The Complete Text of the First Ten Volumes of Dr. Fleckwain’s Very, Very Short Steampunk Novels.” The Pedestal Magazine, #64, June-Aug, 2011.  A new poem.

New Books

Mythworld: The Festival of Bones, by James A Owen. Coppervale Press. Urban fantasy/adventure. Coppervale is Owen’s own ebook publishing company. Mythworld is a fifteen-book series, which Owen will release at roughly monthly intervals over the next year and a half. Owen is also continuing with the last two volumes of his YA fantasy series Imaginarium Geographica, with Simon & Schuster, although the final two volumes have been delayed by a bout of pneumonia that Owen suffered last year.

Blank Slate, by Heather Justesen.  Jelly Bean Press, May.  Romance.


Going In and Out in a Novel of Ideas: A Review of Jonathan Langford’s “No Going Back”  Scott Hales, The Low-Tech World.  Hales warmly praises No Going Back, calling it a didactic novel in the best sense of the word.  “No Going Back is very different [from other books in the gay Mormon genre].  For one, while it remains aware of how the fundamental teachings and policies of the LDS Church concerning homosexuality can be misconstrued as justification for hate, it refuses to vilify them.  Instead, it asks readers to take them seriously.  Paul, after all, has no desire to leave the church or compromise on its strict moral code. Indeed, the title No Going Back refers not only to Paul’s inability to go back into the proverbial closet, but also to his unwillingness to go back on his testimony and faith in Mormonism . . . Langford tries to approach every idea in the novel evenly and sympathetically, although some points-of-view and organizations come out less scathed than others.  This seems to fit with his larger agenda for the book.  Langford’s after conversation, not conversion.”

Unbroken Connection, by Anglea Morrison. Bloggin’ ‘bout Books. B-. Second book in a series about teenaged couple in love, and the girl is a Mormon who is trying to keep her standards. The first book was noted for mixing frank discussion of Mormon standards with some steamy romance. “She tells it like it is without getting too graphic. Through Leesie, she describes the plight of “good girls” everywhere who struggle to remain pure when temptation looks so darn good . . . As much as we want to believe that LDS kids don’t wrestle with these issues, they so totally do. I’m glad at least one author out there isn’t afraid to admit it. She does it well, too, with polished prose and an edginess that always surprises – and delights – me.  That being said, I have to confess that Leesie and Michael started to really nauseate me in Unbroken Connection. Some of their chat sessions made me want to gag . . . Despite some ooey-gooey moments, Morrison’s descriptions of BYU life made me laugh, and the story had enough conflict to keep me interested. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did Taken By Storm, but still, I appreciate Morrison’s candor, her sense of humor, and her ability to write meaningful, realistic fiction.”

Cayman Summer, by Angela Morrison. Bloggin’ ‘bout Books. B. Third book in the series. “Despite an ending that’s a little too tidy for my tastes, I found Cayman Summer to be a satisfying conclusion to the Taken By Storm trilogy. It gets cheesy in places, true, and Leesie’s selfish moping gets old pretty quick, but, all in all, I think the novel provides an honest look at what it takes to keep a relationship together against all odds. Like the previous two books, it makes a case for morality, for abstinence, and for the kind of deep, abiding mutual respect that’s necessary in a healthy relationship. Leesie’s crisis of faith adds an interesting dimension to the story, even if it’s solved in a pretty predictable way. Still, I appreciate this series because it deals with Mormonism in a realistic, but faith-affirming way. It depicts LDS teens as the confused, conflicted, yet committed kids they are.”  BBB also does an in-depth interview with Morrison, including discussing Morrison’s break from her national publisher, and her decision to self-publish these two novels.

Captive Heart, by Michele Paige Holmes. Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine. Very favorable. “As I continued to read I found the novel to be a serious historical romance, riddled with funny scenes and many clichés that actually work.  Some of the humor borders on black humor, but overall the book is fun, entertaining, and thought provoking.  I have to admit that, though I’ve read Holmes’s previous award-winning contemporary romance novels, I found this one to be her most delightful story yet.”

The Evolution of Thomas Hall, by Kieth Merrill.  Reviewed by Steve Eccles for the AML. Favorable. “The book will cause you to think, to like and dislike Thomas at various times, and grow attached to the cast of characters in the book. The ending seems a bit like Alcoholics Anonymous Steps 4, 8 and 9 as Thomas tries to make up for past mistakes and offenses he has made involving some of the characters in the book. The evolution of Thomas is interesting to watch and the ending does not wrap up into a neat conclusion . . . This is a book that would probably do very well in the non-LDS fiction market. I think it has a very broad appeal for those who enjoy involved novels with several plot lines and that involve a diverse group of characters, from religious to non-religious . . . I would really recommend this to people who enjoy involved novels with a complicated story.”

The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter, by Frank Cole.  Reviewed by Russell Y. Anderson for AML.  Fairly favorable.


17 Miracles continues to be shown on several screens in Utah and Nevada, and open this weekend in five theaters in Arizona and Idaho.

Ardis E. Parshall at Keepapitchinin evaluates both the historical accuracy and the aesthetics of 17 Miracles, and finds the film is mediocre in both cases. “The movie didn’t live up to the potential of its story, despite its dramatic material, despite its reliance on Mormon emotional responses to the suggestion that God and his angels were blessing the handcart pioneers every step of their journey. 17 Miracles just didn’t live up to its premise . . . 17 Miracles is not a bad movie; you might justifiably enjoy it as much as the senior missionaries sharing the theater with us did last night (their laughter was obviously from delight, in stark contrast to our laughter).  But neither is 17 Miracles a great movie.”

Arizona Republic on 17 Miracles (2 out of 5 stars). “Falls victim to uneven pacing and odd structure . . . These (miracle) scenes take us away from Savage, who is good to his word and seemingly almost singlehandedly wills the survivors through. Although Christensen obviously strives for a heroic story meant to inspire followers, “17 Miracles” would have been a stronger film if he’d concentrated more fully on the hero he had in front of him.”

Phoenix Examiner on 17 Miracles (2 out of 5 stars).

Review: Saturday’s Warrior (Millennium Edition). KevinB, LDS Cinema Online. B+ for the music, C+ for the story, D for the false and theologically dangerous doctrinal lessons.  A long, thought out review of the film, focusing on its expressed or implied doctrine.

Summit to finally, really, truly try to make Ender’s Game movie


New York Times Bestseller lists, June 26th    

Trade Fiction Paperback

#18 HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, by Jamie Ford (55th  week) ↑. Up from #20. 

Children’s Chapter Books

#5 TIGER’S QUEST, by Colleen Houck (NEW). Second in the series. The first, TIGER’S CURSE, spent four weeks on the list in February/March of this year.

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: THE OFFICIAL ILLUSTRATED GUIDE, by Stephanie Meyer fell off the list after 8 weeks.

Children’s Paperback

#9 THE MAZE RUNNER, by James Dashner (16th week). ↑ Up a space, as the paperback that fell off the list back in February is enjoying a resurgence. 

Deseret Book LDS Fiction Bestsellers this week

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

2 The Evolution of Thomas Hall by Kieth Merrill  ↑

3 Shadows of Brierley, Vol. 2: A Far Horizon, by Anita Stansfield  ↓

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

5 Shades of Gray by Rachel Ann Nunes   ↓

6 Band of Sisters by Annette Lyon  ↑

7 Foggy with a Chance of Murder by G. G. Vandagriff  ↓

8 The Butterfly Box, Vol. 3: The Perfect Fit by Michele Ashman Bell  ↓

9 Attack the Lusitania! by Jerry Borrowman  ↔

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

11 Messiah: A Novel by Toni Sorenson

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9 Responses to This Week in Mormon Literature, June 24, 2010

  1. Don’t forget James Rollins’s new thriller Devil Colony. Rollins isn’t Mormon himself, but the plotline of Devil Colony centers on Mormons, American Indians, and ancient golden plates.

  2. Andrew Hall says:

    I just added a couple of reviews I had left out, and the Welch post on the Book of Mormon musical. Thanks for the tip, Christopher, I will look for the Rollins book.

  3. Scott Hales says:

    Funny…but I’ve actually been debating whether or not I should change my last name to Hatch. It would make a heck of a pseudonym.

    • Scott Hales says:

      And may I append an emoticon to my last comment–for good measure…


      • Andrew Hall says:

        Ackk! I think I knew a Scott Hatch when I was young, that is why I keep doing that. Fixed it.

        • Scott Hales says:

          That’s okay. He must have been a swell kid.


        • Part of the problem may be that there really is a Scott Hatch (who at one time edited AML’s journal, Irreantum).

          I don’t think he would enjoy being confused with Scott Hales any more than vice versa.

          And I can certainly relate, because there is a Katherine “Kate” Woodbury (sister to Eugene Woodbury) involved with Mormon literature as well.

          It’s no fun being confused with someone else.

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