This Month in Mormon Literature, August 2011

Tons of new books in August, and I am trying out merging reviews in with the announcements of their publications. Perhaps the most prominent was Richard Paul Evans’ first juvenile novel, which rocketed to the top of the New York Times Children’s Chapter (hardback) bestseller list. The six Mormon authors who were nominated for Hugo Awards were shut out for the big prizes. A new Joseph Smith movie has its Utah premire next week, and there are upcoming plays by Melani Larson and Mahonri Stewart.

This is my first column this month, so it has to cover four weeks.  I have been traveling around the Western United States visiting friends and family, and having a great time. I return to Japan today. While traveling, I have thoroughly enjoyed Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and my wife felt the same about Shannon Hale’s The Actor and the Housewife.

New books and reviews

Jennifer Adams, illustrated by Alison Oliver. Pride & Prejudice. Gibbs Smith. Children’s illustrated book.

Review: Publisher’s Weekly. Launching the BabyLit series, this counting book delivers a (very) simplified version of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Adams opens with “1 english village” and “2 rich gentlemen,” the pale, dapperly dressed Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy. Later follows “4 marriage proposals” and “5 sisters,” and the book closes with 10, as in “10,000 pounds a year.” While many entries feel like filler (“6 horses, 7 soldiers in uniform”), Oliver’s Edward Gorey–meets–Etsy sensibility should make this a hit with English lit students. Available simultaneously: Romeo & Juliet. Up to age 3. (Aug.)

Rachael Renee Anderson. Minor Adjustments. Cedar Fort, August 8. Mystery. Her third novel, switching to mystery after two chic lit novels.

Review: Kathy at Bookworm Nation. 5 out of 5. 

Orson Scott Card and Emily Janice Card. Firefall. Udon Entertainment, Une. An online manga, written by father and daughter Cards, based on a video game. 

Larry Correia. Monster Hunter Alpha. Baen, July 26.  Mass-market paperback. Third in the series. Correia’s second novel published this year, out of a schedule of four. Made it on the NYT Mass Market Paperback Bestseller list for one week, at #23.

Heather Dixon. Entwined. Harper Collins/Greenwillow, Apirl. A Twelve Dancing Princesses YA novel. Dixon’s first novel. [This novel is not new, but I had not noticed it before this month.]  

Reviews:   Booklist: *Starred Review* “With several unexpected twists, the story, based on the original Grimms` tale `The Worn-Out Dancing Shoes,` plunges toward a harrowing conclusion. This first novel is richly imagined with a gothic feel, and Dixon` descriptions of the many dances are thrilling. Although the general story line will be familiar to readers of Jessica Day George`s Princess of the Midnight Ball (2009), this romantic fantasy is darker in tone, and the villain resembles the faeries in Nancy Werlin`s Impossible (2008) and O. R. Melling’s The Hunter`s Moon (2005). The story gracefully explores significant themes of grief and loss, mercy and love. Full of mystery, lush settings, and fully orbed characters, Dixon`s debut is both suspenseful and rewarding. Grades 7-10. –Melissa Moore 

Kirkus: This retelling of “The 12 Dancing Princesses” includes all the familiar elements of the Grimms’ fairy tale while adding detail and exciting events—with consummate panache . . . All 11 sisters are very real characters, adding considerable dimension to the story. The unfortunately gauche and clumsy king slowly shows his truly loving heart, especially as he arranges for the older girls to meet appropriate young men as suitors, also well-developed and rewarding characters. The plot zips along, becoming more and more suspenseful as the story progresses until it becomes almost too tense. Dixon balances the suspense with generous helpings of humor and sparkling dialogue. This charming, romantic story, told with a light touch, will appeal to older preteens on up. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

Jessica George: (2 stars). “I was excited to find a new adaptation of The Twelve Dancing Princesses and the cover absolutely made me salivate, but I’m afraid I just couldn’t love this as much as I wanted to. Some of her writing is very lush, and the magic system and history of their country is fascinating, but it took me a long time to get into, and I never cared as much for the sisters as I did for some of the menfolk in the story. I know people are loving this book, but it just didn’t click for me. “

Gamila’s Book Review: “I enjoyed reading this story very much and loved the flawed character of the girl’s father, the King. He leaves for war on directly after their mother’s funeral, leaving the girls to believe he does not love them. So, when he returns and discovers his girls are ensnared in some kind of sorcery he does not get a warm welcome. In fact, it is charming to read about how this family learns to trust and love one another again . . . Then there are the dear sisters themselves. It is hard to write a cast of 12 sisters, but this author manages to make many of the girls distinct and likable. This band of sisters is practically its own small army and you can’t help but root for their success by the end of the book. The icing on the cake to this wonderful tale is the fact that you get not one, but three unique love stories by story’s end.”

Richard Paul Evans. Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25. Mercury Ink, Aug. 9. YA Speculative. The first novel published by Glenn Beck’s new imprint. A 14-year old discovers he has special power over electricity.

Publishers Weekly review: Evans enters the YA market with this fast-paced, if predictable tale of a teenager with superpowers and the conspiracy that created him . . . Evans delivers a pair of believable lead characters-Taylor has wits and personal integrity, while Michael’s Tourette’s syndrome, coupled with an emotional jolt from his past, adds dimension-but generic dialogue and lackluster villains result in a by-the-numbers thriller.

Daris Howard. Super Cowboy Rides. WiDo Publishing, August 23. Family/YA. Howard, who is from St. Anthony, Idaho, is a cowboy poet, playwright, newspaper columnist, math professor at BYU-Idaho. 

Andy Hueller. Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth. Cedar Fort, Aug. 1. Middle Grade fantasy. Second novel. 

Betsy Love. Identity. Walnut Springs, July 14. Romantic suspense.  Mormon characters. First novel.

Gregg Luke. Bloodborne. Covenant, August. Medical drama.

Review: Jennie Hansen (Meridian Magazine): 5 stars. “Luke does a masterful job of explaining biological and medical terms and reactions.  Being a pharmacist, he knows the correct terms and how to make them understandable to non-medical readers.  He’s also a master at building suspense and creating believable characters, inserting realistic dialog, and keeping readers turning one page after another without a break until the story is finished. He makes even an unbeliever question whether there might be some validity to the conspiracy rumors and theories that have abounded for centuries . . . Mystery/Suspense readers will love Bloodborne.  Already an acclaimed writer of medical suspense, this novel places Luke among the top writers in this field.”

Kristen McKendry. Garden Plot. Covenant, August. Mystery.

Review: Jennie Hansen (Meridian Magazine) 5 stars. Garden Plot is a fun mixture of serious mystery and humor. The characters are enjoyable and McKendry paints them in a way that makes them feel real, sometimes a little too much like people the reader knows in real life.  For a story that appears light and easy, the mystery is surprisingly complicated and not easily solved.  The romance elements are so low key, they’re as easy to miss as the murder solution.  The book is enjoyable and will appeal to any woman who feels torn in a dozen directions as she tries to juggle just one more thing on top of family, career, and church responsibilities. 

Jennifer A Nielsen. Elliot and the Pixie Plot. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, August. The Underworld Chronicles, book 2. Middle grade fantasy novel.  Sourcebooks is an independent national publisher based in Naperville, Illinois.

Review: Kirkus Reviews: “Nielsen cleverly keeps the action and humor flowing from one silly obstacle to the next as Elliot tries to meet the demands of the angry Pixies. This quickly addictive page-turner also entices readers with many sensory details, such as tenacious Gripping Mud, surprisingly tasty turnip juice and a tingly invisibility potion gone wrong. Along the journey to broker peace among the Pixies, Fairies and Brownies of the underworld, Elliot learns how to navigate some difficult relationships and appreciate the better qualities in unlikely allies. Definitely a series to invest in for those who prefer their fantasy a bit light.”

Ann Perry. Acceptable Loss. Ballantine, August. The 17th William Monk novel. Victorian mystery.

Reviews: Pendle Today (British Newspaper): “Perry brings a wealth of historical detail and accuracy to her best-selling novels which often take readers through uncomfortable moral mazes and age-old ethical dilemmas. A murder mystery made to make you think.”

Huntington News, West Virginia: “Acceptable Loss” is a strongly character driven novel, as are all of Perry’s novels. We care about Monk, Scruff and Hester . . . It’s vintage Anne Perry. 

New Jersey Star-Ledger: “Best in the series to date, Perry’s masterful storytelling and moving dialogue ascend to even greater heights in a dramatic denouement played out in court.”

Book Reporter: by far the bleakest and darkest entry in the series yet, and readers will not be prepared for twists and turns that lay in wait for Monk in this extremely tense novel . . . ACCEPTABLE LOSS is a difficult book to describe. There is far less mystery and much more political play involved in the Mickey Parfitt murder case, and all of the principal characters are put in positions where none of them can escape untarnished by whatever outcome is decided. The tone is quite dark, and the ethical and moral quandaries created by the murder of one of society’s worst elements make it difficult to find a side to root for. 

Tristi Pinkston. Hang ‘em High. Walnut Springs, August. Mystery. Secret Sisters, vol. 3.

Clair M. Poulson. Hunted. Covenant, August.  Mystery/Adventure.  Poulson’s 18th novel.

Review: Jennie Hansen (Meridian Magazine). “Poulson is well known for complex mysteries with a strong role played by law enforcement.  A former law enforcement officer himself in a rural area, Poulson has a keen understanding of police procedures, community impact, the part weather plays in an investigation, and the relationship between rural and federal law enforcement.  All of these are brought into play in this novel as he expands what seems on the surface to be a small town crime into one that has national ramifications. There is a romance element to the story that is not as strong as the mystery and is realistic, but won’t be as satisfying to romance fans as they may wish.  The characters could be a little better developed, especially Zach, but they are likable and readers will identify with them.  The villains aren’t exactly politically correct in today’s climate and show a brand of extremism that is real, even if it isn’t PC to say so.”

Elodia Strain. My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend. Cedar Fort, August. Novelization of the 2010 independent romantic comedy film by Daryn Tufts.  

Review: Fire and Ice, 4 stars.

Keith Terry. Sophia: Sons of the Covenant. Self-published, 2010.  First in a series. Blurb: “Segments of this work of historical fiction are based upon the private, unpublished journals of President Joseph F. Smith. Little-known facts about the prophet’s early life emerge: he chewed tobacco, drank alcohol, struggled with a violent temper, battered his schoolteacher, and was divorced from his first wife. Shocking, poignant, and ultimately sublime, the sixth prophet’s colorful life provides rich material for an exciting read as Sophia, Jared, and the man who became the sixth president of the church each face their greatest challenges.”

Review: Jennie Hansen (Meredian Magazine), 3 stars. “The transitions from one story to another are annoying and poorly spaced.  I got the feeling that the most compelling stories, those of Sophia and Jared, were merely a framework or vehicle for telling President Smith’s story.  I was disappointed in the telling of President Smith’s story because it began near the end of his life and seemed to be a series of flashbacks.  The tone isn’t sympathetic and left me feeling like President Smith was first an aggressive bully, then an inconsiderate husband, and finally a self-centered, though kind tyrant. Taken as individual chapters or series of chapters, Terry is a compelling writer who can hold his audience.  He is particularly good telling Sophia’s story.  Unfortunately he sometimes indulges in author intrusion, telling the reader things the point of view character couldn’t possibly know or see . . . Overall, the novel is an interesting glimpse into a time nearly a hundred years in the past.”

Kristen Tracy.  Sharks & Boys.  Hyperion, June. Young Adult.  Tracy was raised Mormon in Idaho, and attended BYU for a time, where she studied under Brian Evenson.  She no longer identifies herself as Mormon, but her books have included Mormon characters. She has published 6 novels, and co-edited a poetry collection, A Chorus for Peace: A Global Anthology of Poetry by Women, with BYU professors Marilyn Arnold and Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill.   

Reviews: Bloggin’ ‘bout Books reviews the “Mormon Mentions” in the novel. This is an occasional series by BBB, where she discusses how non-Mormon (or in this case, former Mormon) authors treat Mormonism or Mormon characters in YA novels.  The novel includes two Mormon boys, who talk about their heritage and going on a mission, but also experiment with drinking alcohol.     

Bloggin’ ‘bout Books review: C. “Sharks & Boys tells a straight-up survival story. Its mainstreamed plot leaves little room for subtlety or real depth, but the life-or-death nature of it all does keep the story moving. Our heroine comes off as whiny and clingy, a double whammy that makes her both authentic and annoying (albeit in a funny way). I didn’t feel a lot of connection to her or to any of the other characters, really – probably because there are way too many to keep track of (even on the raft, there were eight). What I really wanted from this book was complexity, good character development, and a little bit of psychological drama since, believe it or not, the story actually grew a little boring at times. Since it didn’t have much of any of those things, I found myself more disappointed by Sharks & Boys than intrigued.”

Kirkus (Starred Review)  “Thoughtless teen behavior leads four sets of twins on a deadly adventure in a horribly realistic but often very funny survival tale . . . When the boat goes down and they are left with only a plastic raft, the reality turns increasingly deadly as the often-fortunate coincidences of survival tales don’t help these kids out. As Enid names a few of the circling sharks, their increasingly dire situation reveals more about all eight twins, with twins Munny and Sov, who’ve seemed vulnerable, exhibiting unsuspected strength. William Golding updated with humor. (Adventure. 12-17)”

Booklist: ” A page-turning thriller that will please Gary Paulsen fans, this emotionally complex novel makes everyone’s worst beach nightmare palpable and provides a fascinating character study that explores what happens when instincts are pitted against relationships.” – Frances Bradburn

Tyler Whitesides. Janitors. Shadow Mountain, August 3. Middle grade fantasy/humor, first in a series.  Shadow Mountain has high hopes for the series to succeed nationally, replacing Fablehaven, whose author Brandon Mull moved on to a major publisher. 

Reviews:  Kirkus Reviews: “With both cleanliness and educational function at stake, a government agency and a rebel faction duke it out in the halls, restrooms and classrooms of an Idaho elementary school . . . Whitesides, himself a former school custodian, commits rookie mistakes by suddenly dropping a major character (the obligatory bully) and sets up sequels by leaving too many basic questions unanswered. Still, his debut spins plenty of action, authentic janitorial detail and foul substances around an audience-pleasing premise. An implausible but entertaining ruckus: Squeamish readers may never touch a school water fountain again.”

LDSWBR group review.  All three reviewers gave it 4 stars out of 5.

Shanda: “While older readers might find certain aspects of Janitors too silly, the humor and adventure is just right for 8-12 year olds . . . One thing I love to find in middle grade novels is accountability and consequence. While it’s great to suspend belief to a degree, kids in this age group are learning a lot about consequences to their actions and they notice if the consequences are missing . . . I give Janitors 4 stars out of 5 because my daughter and I had such a good time reading it together.”

Sheila: “This book is a perfect read for Middle-Grade readers. . . . There are so many things that kids are going to love about Janitors. There is plenty of action and many funny moments, including what happens at the school-wide, PTA-sponsored Ice Cream Social. Of course, don’t forget about the magical elements that are found in this story. There is a great surprise at the end of the book for main character Spencer! This leads perfectly into the second book. I can’t wait to have my nine-year-old son read this book. I know that he is going to love it!”

Mindy: “I really liked this book. What I liked most were the lessons learned by the characters. Some examples: telling the whole truth (even it’s about monsters), stand up for what you believe, stand up for yourself, and if something doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t. I also enjoyed the very inventive ways of using common household items as powerful weapons.”

Other reviews:

Larry Correia. Hard Magic.  Reviewed by Jessica George.  “Larry Correia sure can write the hell out of a book . . . This book has everything: X-Men-like powers, noir-esque writing, action, romance, mid-air zeppelin battles, and lots and lots of guns. What always pleases me about Larry’s books is that he creates not only great male characters, but his female characters are wonderful. There’s not a single dumb bimbo to be found, but instead we’ve got complex and realistic women, the perfect matches for the equally well-written men. Also, deapite the many alterations to history (big and small), the threads of political intrigue, history and working of this particular magic, rival secret societies, social commentary, and smaller relationships, Correia manages to keep track of it all, and weave it deftly into a marvelous story that just WORKS, y’know?  It just . . . it’s just a hell of a read.” (Baen, May 2011).

Larry Correia. Hard Magic.  Reviewed by William Morris. “Quite the rollicking ride. Characterization that goes beyond what you’d expect from the pulp noir (plus steampunk, plus superhero) setting. Fantastic action scenes and a coherent overarching series plot. Warning: it’s an incredibly violent novel.” (Baen, May 2011).

Jennie Hansen. If I Should Die. Reviewed by Mindy at LDSWBR. 3.5 stars (out of 5). (Covenant, May 2011).

Eric W. Jepson (editor). The Fob Bible. Reviewed by Laura Craner, 4 stars (out of 5). “This was such a weird reading experience for me. I started this book a little warily and ended up really liking it–but it took me a long time to get there. Like any multi-author anthology there are going to be parts you like and parts you don’t like. For me a lot of the poetry ended up feeling like filler–with a few exceptions (I really liked “Weary”)–but I think that’s more a reflection of my own personal aesthetic than the quality of the poetry. What really won me over though were a few of the short stories. “Blood-Red Fruit” and “The Book of Job’s Wife” really blew me away. Amazing stuff. I actually read those stories more than once because I found them so moving and interesting. The Jonah story was also very well done. The story about Alphalad lost me. But again, this is probably due to my own aesthetic preferences and not because the story wasn’t well done. The thing I wanted most with this book was a reader’s group or class. I just wanted to stop and examine it and talk about it because it was dense reading. In a good way.” (Peculiar Pages, June 2009).

Abel Keogh. The Third. Reviewed by Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books, C. “Tense Pro-Life Dystopian Novel Shows Serious Potential . . . While the plotting and character development leave something to be desired, it’s not a bad debut novel. Not at all, really. The idea of population control makes Keogh’s dystopian world unique . . . since most end-of-the-world societies have the opposite problem. It’s also an issue rife with tension, making the story both intense and relevant. I actually loved the whole idea of it. Keogh makes some rookie mistakes, though – characters that don’t exactly leap off the page, info-dumpy dialogue, and plot devices that hinge entirely on coincidence – all of which distract from the story. Still, the novel commanded my attention, propelling me through its pages in a matter of hours. Did I love every word? No, but I think Keogh’s got some serious potential and, just for the record, if he happened to write a sequel to The Third, I would totally read it.” (Cedar Fort, April 2011).

Josi Kilpack. Blackberry Crumble. Reviewed by Shanda at LDSWBR. 4 stars (out of 5). “Blackberry Crumble was well-written, descriptive and full of red herrings. I honestly didn’t know who would end up being the bad guy and I was surprised by the end. The overall pace felt a little slower than the others but there was still plenty of suspense and action . . . I feel that Blackberry Crumble is where action and consequence come full circle for Sadie and I’m very interested to see where Josi takes the series from here.” (Deseret Book, March 2011).

Sheralyn Pratt. City Limits. Reviewed by Cindy at LDSWBR. 5 stars. (Cedar Fort, 2010).

Emily Wing Smith, Back When You Were Easier to Love.  Reviewed by I Am A Reader, Not a Writer, 4 stars (out of 5). (Dutton, April 2011).

Science Fiction and Short Stories

The Hugo Awards and Campbell Award were announced on Saturday at the World Science Fiction Convention.  Eight of the nominations went to six Mormon authors (Eric James Stone, Howard Tayler (twice), Dan Wells (twice), Larry Correia, Brandon Sanderson, and Jordan Sanderson, but all six were shut out.  There were two victories by Mormon authors in lesser known awards given at the convention. Eric G. Swedin won a Sidewise Award for Alternate History (Long Form) for When Angels Wept, and the cover of Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings, illustrated by Michael Whelan, won the Chesley Award for Best Cover Illustration-Hardback Book. 

Emily Mah’s story “Across the Sea” received an honourable mention in The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Eighth Annual Collection , edited by Gardner Dozois.  

Brad Torgersen’s short story“The Bullfrog Radio Astronomy Project” was published in the October 2011 issue of Analog, which is now on sale.

Top 100 science fiction and fantasy books from NPR: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card is #3, The Mistborn Series by Brandon Sanderson is #43, and The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson is #71.

Other News and Columns

Jessica George’s novel Princess of the Midnight Ball won the Beehive Award, a People’s Choice-type award for Utah library goers.

Finalists for the Utah Book Award, Young Adults’ Book, are Jessica George’s Princess of Glass, Kiersten White’s Paranormalacy, and Sheila A. Nielsen’s Forbidden Sea

UVU Book Academy Conference, Oct. 6, 2011. Dan Wells will be the keynote speaker.  Several other Mormon authors will be giving writing and marketing workshops.

Stephanie Meyer, Twilight, and the Visionary Culture of Early LDS Women”, by Susana Morrill, assistant professor of religious studies at Lewis and Clark College, posted at Juvenile Instructor.  Morrill compares Meyer’s dream which led to her writing Twilight as part of “a long lineage of Mormon women writers who saw visions, dreamed dreams, and felt that they wrote their poems and stories under God’s inspiration.”

The Appendix Podcast. Episode #29. J. Scott (Jeff) Savage visits the group, and they talk about the state of the publishing industry, including the latest developments in lawsuits, ebooks, self-publishing, and other business trends.

The Albermare School District in Virginia removed Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novel A Study in Scarlet from a sixth-grade reading list because of its negative depiction of Mormons (LA Times).

A Motley Vision blog posts:

William Morris writes on “Defending Genre Fiction” for his personal blog, and does a Mormon-themed version of it for AMV as well. Vigorous comments followed.

Patricia Karamesines on “Poetry, asters to zeppelins

William Morris on “Return Missionary goes back stories

The Low-Tech World blog posts by Scott Hales, always detailed and interesting.

A Hot Two Days in Old Nauvoo: A Review of Sorts”. Scott reviews the tourist experience and the Nauvoo Pagent.

Douglas Thayer and the Adolescent Adam: A Review of “Summer Fire”” Scott raves about the novel, “When the day comes that I teach an Introduction to Mormon Literature class to a room full of Latter-day Saints, I’m going to assign Summer Fire.  Not only has Thayer written the novel in an incredibly teachable way—it employs traditional plot structure, a clear theme, and plenty of accessible symbolism—but he has also used it to address many of the basic doctrines (i.e. atonement, eternal progression, etc.) that young Latter-day Saints learn about and discuss in the Seminary program.  What is more, the novel has a kind of ageless quality about it, despite being set sometime in the mid-1960s, possibly due to its remote setting, timeless themes, or even Thayer’s own distinctive, unadorned prose style.  Whatever the case may be, readers are unlikely to be distracted by any details that would betray the fact that it was published nearly thirty years ago.” (Andrew says-My Mom had me read the novel when I was a kid, and I did not finish it because I thought the main character was a prig. I should give it another chance.)

Flooding the Bloggernacle with Mormon Literature…?” Scott talks about different strategies for gaining mainstream literary respectability for Mormon literature. He notes that the only Mormon themed novels that have gained mainstream attention are those that “either depict non-traditional sexualities (at least in the mainstream Mormon community) or cast Mormonism, with its magical Kolobian underwear, as a big joke.” While worthy works that depicts real Mormons are ignored. “Possibly, one way to remedy the barrier between national audiences and more authentic Mormon literatures (i.e. gain literary respectability) would be through education.  Teach a national audience, or the literary establishment, about the issues that are important, say, to contemporary Mormon novelists, and the audience will be more likely to be interested in and understand the novelist’s work.  If minority literatures show us anything, they show us that we can connect with lives and cultures different from our own as long as they make us care enough to connect . . . Currently, the Bloggernacle has many popular, well-travelled blogs that address Mormonism culturally rather than doctrinally or institutionally.  I wonder if flooding these sites with energetic guest posts about Mormon literature might be the way the get the word out among the Mormons.”

Teaching Dispensation: An Update” Scott reports on his plans to use Dispensation: Latter-day Fiction as a text in his upcoming “American Religious Landscapes” literature class, as well as other stories from other religious traditions.   

Angela Hallstrom at Segullah leads a discussion of Kathryn Lynard Soper’s memoir The Year My Son and I Were Born.

Keepapitchinin: “On the Trails of the Old Kaibab,” by Elsie C. Carroll.  Ardis serializes a story from the Relief Society Magazine, 1936-37.

Theater

David R. Markham’s Faith the Musical was performed at the LDS Conference Center Theater in Salt Lake City, Aug. 5-13.   It was based on Markham’s 1987 musical Truth Will Prevail, about LDS converts in 1840 England, and their journey to Utah. Markham is from the Cheltenham Stake in England.  There was a version produced in England in 2007, based on a fictional family, but the Church insisted that he change it to a real family for the SLC performance. The production included actors from England and the US. Deseret News article.

Mel Leilani Larson’s Little Happy Secrets was selected to receive a staged reading as part of the Fearless Fringe Festival at Salt Lake Acting Company. Performances are on Friday, August 26 at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday, August 27 at 8:30 p.m at the SLAC Chapel theatre. Tickets are $12.

Mahonri Stewart’s The Opposing Wheel, produced by Stewart’s Zion’s Theatre Company, will be performed September 2, 3, 5, 9, and 10 at the Castle Outdoor Theater in Provo. Heather Jones is the director. The ZTC blurb says, “The Opposing Wheel is a play where the modern meets the medieval, as 21st century adventurers encounter a woman named Magdalena Devonshire trapped in a castle by an ancient enchantment. As the story progresses, they encounter devils, enchantresses, and figures of legend. The play is a funny, romantic, and redemptive fantasy—a romp through myth, miracle and magic. Playwright Stewart said that the influences that inspired the play were numerous, “There’s the obvious classical influences in a play dealing with these kinds of legends—Arthurian mythology, Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poetry, pre-Raphaelite art. But then there are other inspirations I’ve incorporated, like C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, and even really modern things like the recent run of Doctor Who on BBC. And like nearly all my plays, there’s a strong spiritual subtext.” (See the link for more comments by the director and actors).

Film

Joseph Smith and the Golden Plates, written and directed by Christian Vuissa, will open in Utah on September 2nd. Mirror Films. Vuissa appears to be distributing the bio-pic of Joseph Smith in the 1820s period on his own. Here is a recent KSL article about the movie.  

Review of Take, a 2007 independent film written and directed by Mormon Charles Oliver and starring Minnie Driver and Jeremy Renner, reviewed by KevinB at LDS Cinema Online. A-.  A very strong review.

Bestsellers

New York Times Bestseller lists, Aug 7, Aug 14, Aug 21, Aug 28

Hardcover

x, x, x, #22 ACCEPTABLE LOSS, by Anne Perry

Trade Fiction Paperback

#12, #17, #13, #11 HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, by Jamie Ford (62nd week) Up from #22 in July. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was a question on the July 29th episode of Jeopardy.

Mass Market Paperback

#22, #33, #30, #20 ENDER’S GAME, by Orson Scott Card (2nd week being on the main list [#20 or above]).

x, #23, x, x MONSTER HUNTER ALPHA, by Larry Correia

x, x, #26, #25 THE HOST, by Stephenie Meyer

Children’s Chapter Books

x, x, x, #1 MICHAEL VEY: THE PRISONER OF CELL 25, by Richard Paul Evans (1st week). Evans tries out juvenile fiction for the first time, on Glenn Beck’s new imprint, and shoots right to #1. Reached #7 in the USA Today list, which lumps all books, fiction and non-fiction, hardback and paperback, together.

x, #9, x, x SUPERNATURALLY, by Kiersten White (1st week).  The sequel

Children’s Paperback

#9, #10, #8, #9 THE MAZE RUNNER, by James Dashner (21st week).

 

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2 Responses to This Month in Mormon Literature, August 2011

  1. Interesting about the school district in Virginia and Doyle’s A STUDY IN SCARLET. That was Doyle’s first Sherlock Holmes story, and it was serialized in a magazine. I have always wondered if its lurid portrayal of Mormons wasn’t a major part of what made the story so successful (as in sold so many copies of the magazine), and in that way, Mormons got Sherlock Holmes off to a powerful start.

  2. Th. says:

    .

    Just bought the Pride and Prejudice board book for my AP class. (And her R&J for the freshmen. And her Hamlet one.)

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