This Week in Mormon Literature, Oct. 27, 2012

The “Four Centuries of Mormon Stories” are now up and ready for your comments and votes.  Also lots of new Christmas fiction, and a new collection of Lovecraftian novellas and novelettes. Please send any additions or corrections to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.

Blog Posts and news

The “Four Centuries of Mormon Stories” contest is in full swing. The last story went up on Saturday.  Everyday Mormon Writer has asked several literary-loving blogs to host discussions of each story. Readers will be able to cast votes for their four favorite stories from 27 Oct-6 Nov, with the winner taking the $400 Grand Prize. Read them all and vote!

Mon. Oct. 15: “Little Karl” by Melissa Leilani Larson at Dawning of a Brighter Day
Tues. Oct. 16: “Ruby’s Gift” by Emily Debenham at Real Intent
Wed. Oct. 17: “Numbers” by Melody Burris at BeingLDS
Thu. Oct. 18: “Maurine Whipple, Age 16, Takes a Train North” by Theric Jepson at The Low-Tech World
Fri. Oct. 19: “When the Bishop Started Killing Dogs” by Steven Peck at Thmazing’s Thutopia
Sat. Oct. 20: “Something Practical” by Melody Burris on the Everyday Mormon Writer Facebook page

Mon. Oct. 22: “The ReActivator” by Wm Morris at Modern Mormon Men
Tues. Oct. 23: “Oaxaca” by Anneke Garcia at A Latter-day Voice
Wed. Oct. 24: “The Defection of Baby Mixo” by Mark Penny at Mormon Midrashim
Thu. Oct. 25: “Release” by Wm Morris at EricJamesStone.com
Fri. Oct. 26: “Avek, Who Is Distributed” by Steven Peck at A Motley Vision
Sat. Oct. 27: “Waiting” by Kathy Cowley at Segullah

Theric reviews nearly all of the contents of Irreantum 14:1, which came out in September. Part 1, Part 2, and  Part 3 (a discussion of LDS-Eros, including sex in the poetry of Elizabeth Cranford Garcia and the sex in an essay by Shelah Mastny Miner.

Dialogue, Fall 2012 (#45.3) is now available. It is a special issue on Mormon scholarly conferences. It includes two articles from the most recent AML Conference. Jacob Bender’s “’For All Things Must Fail’: A Post-Structural Approach to the Book of Mormon”, and Scott Hales’ “Beyond Missionary Stories: Voicing the Transnational Mormon Experience.”  It also includes a review by Brent Corcoran of Fire in the Pasture: 21st-Century Poems.

Rachel Whipple “Book of Mormon Comics”, at Times and Seasons.  A review of two recent comics, Michael Mercer’s From the Dust, and Stephen Carter and Jett Atwood’s iPlates. After reviewing each, she concludes, “None of these comic representations of the Book of Mormon is as radical and as faithful to the text as is The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb. But they all good steps in making the Book of Mormon our own, of telling it and retelling it in creative ways so that narratives are freed from the dryness of untouchable texts, and the stories come alive to us. Through the stunning desertscapes of From the Dust and the bold, dynamic strokes of iPlates we have been given new eyes to see the Book of Mormon. And who doesn’t love pikachu-style sheep?”

At A Motley Vision, Theric introduces a performance art piece by Casey Jax Smith which includes a D&D fight between Obama and Romney, reviews Jared Farmer’s Mormons in the Media, 1830-2012, and writes An open letter to the Whitney Awards Committee with suggestions for rule changes. Scott Hales finds in “Scriptus” a possible pseudonym for Nephi Anderson. Patricia Karamesines announces changes at Wilderness Interface Zone, Kent Larsen asks about The Three Nephites and Mormon Literature and asks for crowd-sourced suggestions. Kent’s Sunday Lit Crit Sermon featured Thomas S. Monson explaining the newly revamped Church magazines in 1970, including the issue of fiction in the magazines, Edna L. Smith on Reading in 1888, and Heber J. Grant on Sing Only What we Believe in 1912.

At The Low-Tech World, Scott Hales ponders Mormon Literature and the Drop in Missionary Age, and looks for hidden Mormon literature scholars.

At Ships of Hagoth, Jacob Bender compares Boyd K. Packer’s talk “The Mantle is Far, Far Greater than the Intellect” to Edward Said’s Orientalism.

3 Things Authors Should Know about Publicity by Josh Johnson from Cedar Fort.  One of many articles on writing that have been published lately at LDS Publisher.

Sweet and Sophisticated”, by John Sherman Walker. Short story from the Improvement Era, January 1941, care of Keepapitchinin.  People in the comments section liked it.

The Day Before the Wedding”, by Dorothy Boys Kilian. Short story from the Relief Society Magazine, April 1956. A woman finds the man she is going to marry is a bit of a pack rat.

Jeffrey R. Holland poem, “Upon Entering a Room” was published in Impact: Weekday Religious Education Quarterly (a magazine for the Seminaries and Institutes of Religion), Fall 1968, #2.1.  Elder Holland was the Seattle Institute Director at the time.

Steven Peck continues his series on the fictional Mormon novelist “Gilda Trillim” with Gilda Trillim Paints an Apple Seed in the Urals at BCC.

New Books and their reviews

B. K. Bostick. Huber Hill and the Brotherhood of Coronado. Sweetwater/Cedar Fort, Oct. 9. Middle grade mystery. Second in the Huber Hill series. A search for Spanish treasure.

Cathy, Fire and Ice: 4 stars. “I enjoyed this book. I actually liked the first book in this series best, but this one was a close second. I thought that there was plenty of action and adventure in the story. I liked the characters, and was genuinely surprised with who ended up being the traitors. I was also surprised at the twists and turns the story took, there’s no way I would have ever imagined that it would end the way it did! This book is a fun read, both for older elementary school kids and adults.”

Sarah M. Eden. An Unlikely Match. Covenant, Oct. 1. Historical romance/fantasy. Regency romance, but this time the woman is a ghost. Set in Wales.

Christine Feehan. Dark Storm. Berkley, Oct. 2.  Paranormal romance. 23rd in the “Dark” series.

Becca Fitzpatrick. Finale. Simon & Schuster, Oct. 23. YA paranormal romance.  Hush, Hush #4. A human girl and a fallen angel battle enemies in the series finale.

Nathan Hale. Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy. Harry N. Abrams, August 1. Graphic historical fiction/humor. The story of the revolutionary era hero, who happens to share the same name as the author.

Kirkus Reviews: “An innovative approach to history that will have young people reading with pleasure.”

Jessica George (GoodReads): 5 stars. “A masterful artist. With a few dialogue bubbles and some meticulous yet deceptively simple pictures he brings the whole story to life. It’s a perfect blend of real facts and quotes, maps, charts, and portraits, plus more amusing pictures, jokes, and even a bonus story about Crispus Attucks. Also, his research is done by a team of sarcastic babies! Adorable, sarcastic babies!”

Nathan Hale. Big Bad Ironclad!  Harry N. Abrams, August 1. Graphic historical fiction/humor. Second in the “Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales” series.

Kirkus Reviews: “This volume, completed prior to One Dead Spy, is a wild ride of a graphic novel, featuring not only Nathan Hale, but his hangman, a fox representing Gustavus Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and the various participants in the battle. Sketched, inked and colored in Photoshop, the two-color, frenetic volume succeeds in presenting the chaos of war. The backmatter is notable for its informative biographies of key players, a timeline, and a small but well-selected bibliography. Livelier than the typical history textbook but sillier than the many outstanding works on the Civil War available for young readers, this will appeal to both history buffs and graphic-novel enthusiasts.”

Cindy Hogan. Created.  Self-published, Oct. 25. YA adventure. Third and final volume in the “Watched” series. Teens on the run from terrorists fight back by training to be spies.

Mike Whitmer, Deseret News:   “Hogan has developed an interesting character in Ari/Christy/Michelle and provides opportunities for her to grow and experience new things. In many ways, Ari is a typical teen, but her special talents open doors for her that lend endless possibilities to life. If there is a weakness to Hogan’s work, it is in the focus of the main character. Sometimes the story seems to miss the long-term consequences to Ari’s decisions. For instance, though she was raised as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ari doesn’t seem to make any great effort to maintain contact with her religion. There are a few token moments when she resists temptations (relationships and alcohol) because of her beliefs, but for the most part, her religious devotion seems to have disappeared from her life. For young people who like adventure mixed with a little romance, this novel will be a nice addition to the library. Adults may find the story somewhat whimsical and light, but it can be an entertaining read for a few quiet hours.”

Christy, Fire and Ice: 5 stars. “This has been such a fun series! I really enjoyed this book, it sucked me in from the first page. I enjoyed all the spy gadgets, I enjoyed the spy school.”

Margot Hovley. The End Begins: Sudden Darkness. Covenant, Oct. 3. YA last days/dystopia. The world falls into terrorist chaos, and a girl and her family struggle with other Mormons to gather to Utah. Debut novel, first of a series.

Jennie Hansen (GoodReads): 5 stars. “I don’t usually care for dystopia and I don’t read many YA novels, but I loved this one . . . It appealed to me so it is likely to appeal to other adults.”

Melanie Jacobson. Smart Move. Covenant, Oct. 1. Chic-lit romance. 27-year old career woman enters a battle of wits, and eventually romance, with a lawyer from her past. A companion novel (not a sequel) to Twitterpated.

Bloggin’ ‘bout Books: B. “Because I’ve read and reviewed all four of Melanie Jacobson’s novels this year, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on her work. Which is why I can say with complete, unabashed confidence that Smart Move is the best thing she’s written to date. Yes, the novel’s predictable. Yes, it gets cheesy. And yes, once again, Jacobson’s leading man lacks a discernible personality. BUT, this time around, Jacobson gives us a likable heroine who’s complex, interesting and just a whole lot of fun (her mother’s even more so). The sparring between Sandy and Jake keeps things interesting, while the plot of Smart Move moves at a pace that feels perfect. Overall, this is a light, funny (“scripture Twister”—I’m still laughing at that one!) romance with a contemporary feel that will appeal to both older teens and “new adults.” Because it’s not at all preachy, Smart Move would also be a good novel to hand to non-Mormon fans of sweet, clean romances. Even though I’m kind of a hater when it comes to LDS fiction, I can say this for sure: If Melanie Jacobson writes it, I’ll read it.”

Sheila, LDSWBR: 4 stars. “Melanie Jacobson has written a strong character in Sandy Burke who is confident in life, but not necessarily in love . . . I always love the humor that is infused in Melanie’s books. Even with serious issues, her characters seem to find funny things happening to them . . . There is so much more for you to read, enjoy and laugh about. There are some serious moments as she tries to heal her relationship with her new-age mother, Magdalena. Smart Move is different from Melanie’s other books in that the characters seemed more mature, but this didn’t take away any of the appeal that is always there in a Melanie Jacobson book. I liked this novel and every fan of Melanie’s will love this new book too!”

Kathy, GoodReads: 3 stars. “I’ve read and enjoyed Ms Jacobson’s other books and was excited when I saw she had a new one coming out. I was a little surprised when I had a hard time getting into this one though. From the start, I didn’t really like our heroine Sandy. Which is never a good sign when you’re starting a book and already don’t care for the lead character. I was really hoping she would grow on me, but she never did . . . I didn’t really feel the chemistry between them. I guess we’re supposed to assume that once this case was over things would go all happily ever after, but I have some doubts. Sandy never really proved herself. Sandy never really showed any growth. IMO. I get that she had a messed up childhood, crazy mom and nonexistent dad. But, I would have liked to see her show a little faith. Speaking of faith, I would have liked to see her faith play a bigger role in the story. It seemed pretty non-existent and I wasn’t sure why it was even brought up if it wasn’t going to be a part of the character or growth. It just seemed like a plot devise that would occasionally bring them together . . . Overall, it was okay, others will probably like it more than I did. I’ll still look for and read anything Ms. Jacobson writes, this one just didn’t click with me.”  Heather, Fire and Ice: 5 stars.

Jennie Hanson, GoodReads: 3 stars. “Jacobson is a very talented writer. Her dialog is cute and clever, but I didn’t like her characters or their ethics in this one.”

Kelly Hoose Johnson. The Window Builder. Cedar Fort, Oct. 9. YA Christmas. Short (80 pages). Debut novel. After his father’s death, a 16-year old boy wants to make a special Christmas for his mother.

Scott A. Johnson. Jeremy’s Christmas Journey. Cedar Fort, Oct. 9. Christmas. Also a CD. First novel, includes sheet music by Lyle Hadlock, Julie Hawkins, and Jonah Hadlock. A handicapped boy gets a Christmas vision of Christ, and attends a trial of Christ’s ministry, with testimony given in song.

Robert Marcum. A Nation Divided: Storms Gather. Covenant, Oct. 1. Historical. First volume in the “Storms Gather” series, another series about Mormon families during wartime, this time the Civil War. Marcum has written 10 or so historical fiction and thriller novels.

Brandon Mull. The Candy Shop War: Arcade Catastrophe. Shadow Mountain, Oct. 23. Middle grade fantasy. The Candy Shop War #2. The boys fight an evil amusement center owner with the help of magical candy.   The first volume came out way back in 2007, Mull said he had not planned for it to be a series, but now intends to write a third one as well.   Mull’s picture book Pingo and the Playground Bully, with Brandon Dorman (Shadow Mountain) also came out October 3.

Deseret News feature article on Mull.

Kirkus Reviews: “The arrival of another nefarious magician prompts further world-saving, fruit-flavored magic and bonding by a squad of small-town preteens in this laidback sequel . . . Readers unfamiliar with the previous episode may have trouble weathering both the author’s sketchy efforts to recap events and the slew of new characters, but like the tasty Moon Rocks that give Nate and friends the ability to leap buildings (short ones, at least) in a single bound, the tale floats along airily. Action aplenty, with tongue (and candy) firmly in cheek.”

Jolene Perry. Insight. Next Door Publishing, Sept. 3. YA paranormal.  17 year old Micah is able to see visions when she touches people but is not sure if they are future prophecies or past memories.

The Book Runner: “A somewhat creepy, suspenseful, and very romantic adventure that involves a death, haunted forests, creepy stories, and high school drama. This book is so different from any other Jolene Perry book I have read, but a very welcome addition. It is the first in a series which I am looking forward to reading!”

Mindy, LDSWBR: 4 stars. “As with all of Jolene’s book, the characters are well written and the plot is page turning. There is a cool legend mentioned with voodoo and shadows.”

Jolene Perry. Falling. Next Door Publishing, Oct. 19.  Romance.

Clair M. Poulson. Accidental Private Eye. Covenant, Oct. 1. Suspense.  An army veteran is mistaken for a private eye, takes the opportunity to get a job, but finds himself in jeopardy.

Diane Stringam Tolley. Kris Kringle’s Magic. Cedar Fort, Oct. 9. Christmas fantasy. Santa Claus origin story. Kringle wants to free the enslaved elves and help the poor.  Her second Christmas novel.

Tamra Torero and Preston Norton. The Lost Son. Sweetwater/Cedar Fort, Oct. 9. General/inspirational. A 16-year old boy drives drunk and kills a young man. The bereaved father requests that the boy work with him on his Christmas tree farm rather than go to jail. Norton is Torero’s son. She has published several novels, this is Norton’s first.

Jason F. Wright. The 13th Day of Christmas. Shadow Mountain, Oct. 9. Christmas.  People being kind to each other in December.

Short Stories

Various authors, Space Eldrich. Cold Fusion Media, Oct. 29. A collection of seven novelettes and novellas of Loftcraftian space opera. Cold Fusion Media appears to be run by Nathan Shumate. The collection includes a Foreword by Larry Correia, “Arise Thou Niarlat From Thy Rest” by D.J. Butler, “Space Opera” by Michael R. Collings, “The Fury in the Void” by Robert J. Defendi, “The Shadows of Titan” by Carter Reid and Brad R. Torgersen, “The Menace Under Mars” by Nathan Shumate, “Flight of the Runewright” by Howard Tayler, and “Gods in Darkness” by David J. West.

Nancy Fulda. “A Song of Blackness”. Beneath Ceaseless Skies #106, October 2012. New short story in a journal of “Literary Adventure Fantasy”. You can read the full story.

Review of Brad Torgersen’s “Strobe Light”, in SF Revu. “There is a lot of science talk here and it’s easy to get lost in it. But when it comes down to it, this is a classic Analog problem-solving story and a very good example of one. Yes, there is some human interest stuff added in that might be considered a little pat, but it’s a very enjoyable story.”

Cedar Fort’s Christmas booklets: 16 pages each, all released in early October. Janice A. Perry, The Candy Cane Queen, Patricia Hanrion, The Jingle Bell Bum, Bevan Olson, Mary’s Christmas Child, Sara Fitzgerald, Saving Savannah Also, from Covenant, Michele Ashman Bell’s Christmas in Bliss (22 pages).

Reviews of Older Books

Amber Argyle. Witch Born (Gamila). “I found that I really got caught up in this book. I remember having a few nitpicks about the first book in this series, but I found that I enjoyed Witch Born a lot more. The plot felt more original, the characters more natural, and there was some really cool world building in this installment. So I really enjoyed this read and felt like the author had really hit her stride in presenting the characters and the world set up around them. I would enjoy reading a sequel, but I am not quite sure where the author would take the characters.”

Julie Coultor Bellon. All Fall Down (Jennie Hanson, Meridian Magazine). 5 stars. “Kidnappings, terrorist threats, confusion over who to trust, explosions, and the added element of personal and family dynamics keep the plot rolling at breakneck speed. The fiction arc is well developed and though the whole book is suspenseful Bellon skilfully advances the action with scenes that move the story forward, resolves some questions along the way, and ends with a combination of high drama and personal impact choices. The characters are sketchy in some areas, but are well-developed in areas pertaining to the story. We don’t see them as completely whole people and know little of their backgrounds. Even though All Fall Down is not a character driven novel, there are several scenes where characters must make decisions that reveal a great deal about the character and their inner values. These scenes highlight major steps in these characters’ growth.”

Stephanie Black. Shadowed (James Holt, Deseret News). “The book is immensely readable and flows from one event to the next flawlessly, but sometimes the development of the mirrored relationships seem a little bit convenient and contrived. This does not detract from the readability, but does make the reader able to anticipate where some of the story lines are going . . . Having said that some elements of the development of the storylines were predictable isn’t saying that the book and its conclusion are predictable. It keeps the reader gripped until the very end and is well worth a read.”

James Dashner. Infinity Ring: A Mutiny in Time (Bloggin’ ‘bout Books). C+. “Although there’s nothing especially original about A Mutiny in Time, it’s still a fun, fast-moving adventure that’s going to keep young readers entertained while teaching them a little history at the same time. I would have liked better developed characters, snappier dialogue and some surprising twists and turns, but, yeah, I guess I’ll have to wait for the next few books in the series to get that. Overall, I’m not blown away by the series start. It’s got potential, though, so we’ll see where it goes …”

Mandi Ellsworth. Uneasy Fortunes (Provo Library Staff). “Somewhat predictable and with some passages that do much more summarizing than I enjoy, this book was tolerable but didn’t distinguish itself from the many other similar books on the market. For die-hard fans of historical romance, this could still be a satisfactory choice.”

Marcie Gallacher and Kerri Robinson. No Greater Love (Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine). 4 stars. “Because this series has been strung out over such a lengthy period of time, it is difficult at times to keep all of the characters and various story lines straight. I would recommend, if possible, for readers to go back and skim through the earlier volumes before beginning this one. Perhaps because the characters in this series were real people, ancestors of the authors, and in many cases familiar as well to any who have studied the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is easy to become emotionally attached to them. Their feelings and reactions are real. The persecutions they suffered hurt even today. And perhaps most importantly, their testimonies still shine through after almost two centuries. In my estimation this is one of the major and best written fictional series dealing with the real events of this tumultuous period of Church history. Another strong factor stressed in this final volume is the power of love; love within a family, between husband and wife, between parents and children, and also the love members of the Church have for their prophet and the deep abiding love of the Savior for those who follow him at great sacrifice.”

Melanie Jacobson. Twitterpated (Melissa DeMoux, Deseret News). “A frothy book perfect for any starry-eyed romantic in search of a clean love story . . . This book is full of fun. While the story itself is relatively predictable, the characters are delightful. The banter between Jessie and Sandy bubbles and fizzes in a dynamic sister-like chatter with constantly contrary but supportive prattle. Ben is endearing and entertaining, the perfect complement to Jessie’s powerful but vulnerable tone.”

Gregg Luke. Deadly Undertakings (Mindy, LDSWBR). 5 stars. “I loved the mystery, the science, and Rebekah and Josh most of all. I loved them as a couple and their playful banter, even under extreme stress. I also enjoyed the point of view changes. It was interesting to see how characters in the story saw their situation . . . Each character was written exceptionally well with care and detail. Gregg has definitely out done himself with this book. I can tell by reading his books that he has a brilliant mind, and have greatly enjoyed the books I have read from this great author.”

H. B. Moore. Daughters of Jared (FoxyJ). “I have liked most of Moore’s other Book of Mormon novels, but this one just didn’t really work for me. I really liked the main character, Naiva, but her motivations weren’t always clear to me. I also felt that the world-building in this novel was incomplete; her other novels based on the Book of Mormon had a fair amount of background taken from the scriptures and it felt like she included a lot more details about the characters and their world. In this book I felt like there were gaps and inconsistencies in the setting and elements of the story, which was made even more frustrating by the fact that the scriptural story the action is based on was fairly flimsy as well. I’m curious to see if Moore continues with the Jaredite-era stories or she will go back to her original series and continue from there.”

Kate Palmer. The Guy Next Door (Jennie Hanson, Meridian Magazine). 4 stars. “Primarily a love story, but it also contains some strong suspense elements. The love story moves at a fairly slow, realistic pace with the obstacles in Eva’s relationships with each of the two men thought provoking and not easily dismissed. The overall pace of the story, especially the first half, is a little slow, but I didn’t find it tedious as is often the case with slower paced novels. The suspense element only comes to life in the second half of the book. The characters are believable and interesting with Eva particularly showing a strengthening of personality and personal growth at the story progresses. Both Sean and Peter are easy to like, yet have flaws they attempt to overcome, making them stronger characters.”

Kate Palmer. The Guy Next Door (Gamila’s Review). “I really liked the way the author wrote the two love interests in The Guy Next Door. Sean was a decent smart guy that Eva could have built a life with. I like that he and Eva disagreed, but that he never really turns evil. He kind of is a jerk when Eva adopts her baby niece Melody, as he had a different opinion about children than she does, but he doesn’t ever turn into evil guy. I like how the author shows the layers of their relationship to the reader so you can see the strengths as well as the weaknesses of it so the reader finds it believable that they break up without being cliche or too melodramatic. I found it refreshing that Peter wasn’t the typical cookie cutter Mormon love interest. He’s got long hair, a goatee, and a suspicious job. I liked how the author showed how comfortable Eva felt around him and found their love story to be super sweet. Though, I found it a bit unbelievable that Eva wasn’t more suspicious about his job, and thought that should have been less of a big reveal, as I felt it was obvious . . . Other than that I was sad that the novel was over. I wanted to read more about Peter and Eva and the special relationship that was blooming between them.”

Kenneth Pike. Jacob’s Journal of Doom (Tristi Pinkston, AML). “This book is very much like “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” and yet, as my son said, “It’s a lot better.” We see Jacob go through trials that are pretty typical of all kids—teasing at school, fear of rejection—and we see him grow through those experiences. We also see him go through trials that are unique to the LDS culture—wanting to invite someone to church, but not having quite enough courage. I really liked this seamless blending of kid culture and LDS culture to create a story that reaches out to our children and addresses their circumstances as kids who live the gospel every day while facing peer pressure in the outside world. I asked my kids what they thought about the book, and every one of them enjoyed it. My children range in ages from 16–7, and there was something in there for everyone.”

Courtney Miller Santo. The Roots of the Olive Tree (Shelah Books It). 4 stars. “The story spans eleven years and we hear the voices of every generation, down to the sixth. Santo’s prose is beautiful and evocative– I felt like I could have imagined Anna among the olive groves even if I hadn’t been to Northern California a few months ago. The stories tie together well, but not too neatly. I always battle within myself because as a reader I want to know exactly what happened and why, and Santo doesn’t always tell us that, but I feel that she’s holding back on some details so the readers have a chance to pick at them and either work them out for ourselves or become comfortable with not knowing. I also felt like the book was incredibly readable– I read it in just a few days of intense bursts.”

Adam Sidwell. Evertaster (LDSWBR). Sheila: 4.5 stars. Mindy: 4 stars.

Michael O. Tunnel.  His picture book oeuvre is reviewed by Gamila.

G. G. Vandagriff. The Taming of Lady Kate (Danica Baird, Deseret News). “Vandagriff creates a world full of intrigue, suspense and romance that fans of the Regency Period will adore. Vandagriff writes in a style reminiscent of Georgette Heyer. Like Heyer, she centers her novel on witty characters that readers will love. These brilliant characters combine with an unexpected witty and humorous tone to create a must-read. Vandagriff manages to combine a gripping yet clean romance that seems destined to fail, intriguing characters, a witty tone, and a suspenseful plot and still maintain a family friendly novel.”

Various authors. A Timeless Romance Anthology (LDSWBR). Mindy: 4.5 stars. “I was very excited to review these wonderful short stories by such talented authors. As I read them, I appreciated the individual style of each talented lady. All six stories are well-written and I was immediately taken into each story. The benefit of a short story is how quick the plot moves along. I also enjoyed the way each author introduced the plot and characters quickly, but I never felt they were rushed. It was so nice reading six fantastic romance stories that were clean, romantic, and heart pounding. At the end of each, I was wishing for more. I reveled in each story, but I must say I did have a favorite. Donna Hatch’s A Winter’s Knight. It reminded me a bit of Beauty and the Beast. With a mysterious earl, ancient curses, and one curious red head, I was instantly hooked.” Sheila: 5 stars. “All of the stories had unique, and fun characters set in various eras. I liked the spunk of the women in the anthology. I loved the romance and the awakening that takes place when you realize that love is there.”

Rick Walton and Nathan Hale. Frankenstein: A Monstrous Parody (Kirkus Reviews). “A droll parody of Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeline . . . The illustrations have traded sunny yellow for pumpkin orange backgrounds and make comically sly allusions to the original title. Whether young readers recognize the relationship to the Parisian version or not, adults will appreciate the clever yet silly send-up. Most children, however, will see this as just another funny monster book.”  (Washington Post). “Anyone who loves Ludwig Bemelman’s classic, will be howling at the moon over this witty mash-up. It’s the latest in a growing crypt of hilariously wicked kids books that includes Michael Rex’s “Goodnight Goon” and Judy Sierra’s “The House That Drac Built.”” (Ann Cannon, Salt Lake Tribune). “My favorite new Halloween book this year (hands down!) is Frankenstein: a Monstrous Parody by Ludworst Bemonster, the pen name for Utah writer Rick Walton and Utah illustrator Nathan Hale. The story begins with a send-up of the famous Madeline stories: “In a creepy old castle/ all covered with spines,/ lived twelve ugly monsters/ in two crooked lines.” Walton’s text is at once smart and silly, while Hale’s amusing illustrations pay playful homage to Bemelmans’ iconic images.”

Robison Wells. Feedback (Provo Library Staff). “I really enjoyed Variant, but Feedback just wasn’t as appealing to me. There was a lot of worrying, fighting against bad robots, and not a whole lot more. The plot felt very cyclical to me, and once the twist at the end was finally revealed, it pretty much lost my interest entirely. It will still appeal to fans of sci-fi and teen guys, but I didn’t like it nearly as much as the first book.”

Robison Wells. Feedback (Theric’s Thutopia). “The night this novel arrived from Amazon, I pulled my copy of Variant off the shelf to reread the last three pages. Heck, that’s not enough. How ’bout the last thirty pages. You know what? Those were great. Let’s read the twenty pages before those. Now the twenty pages before those! . . . The cliffhanger at the end of Variant is one of the most wrenching I have ever experienced. Then we go to Feedback, whose first page is essentially Variant‘s last page. But the sequel loses the first’s intense and unrelenting sense of paranoia. Why? I’m not entirely sure. It’s not like the threats suddenly ended. I realized at the end of chapter twenty-four, when Benson breaks back in to Maxfield Academy, what Feedback is missing. A sufficiently threatening setting . . . [skipping to avoid spoilers] So in short, I’m disappointed. I still recommend reading both books just to experience the propulsive explosion of paranoia Variant has to offer, but when you start book two, tell yourself the best parts are already past. Then maybe you won’t be as disappointed by Feedback as I was.”

Tyler Whitesides. Janitors 2: Secrets of New Forest Academy (Megan Gladwell, Deseret News). “Whitesides creates a terrific story packed with action to enthrall his readers. Some of the dialogue is silly. Daisy’s character is sometimes gullible to the point of ridiculous, and bully Dez says some really dumb things.”

Carol Lynch Williams. Waiting (Melissa DeMoux, Deseret News) “Like Williams’ previous books, this story does not revolve around intense action or dynamic scenes. The bulk of the tale takes place in the writhing mind of the main character. But the lack of personal encounters and spectacle does not make the book any less compelling. Bubbling turmoil oozes from the pages and pulls readers to ache for this young heroine. Williams has an unusual style and the cadence of her story fits the topic perfectly. The sentences and paragraphs feel abrupt and choppy, like half-finished thoughts or angry, clipped sermons. This story has a pulse. Its high-pitch keening can be felt in every word.”

Theater

Zion Theater Company’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe played October 5-15 at the Castle Theater in Provo.

Zion Theater Company’s Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe is Magical. Kara Henry, Front Row Reviewers. “The script seemed like it was more of an obstacle to the actors than a guide, and often put them into awkward situations or gave them monologues that were more about exposition than any type of emotion or meaning. I think the actors did an admirable job of pushing through those moments as best they could, and took advantage of the better parts of the script to make the show entertaining . . . This is one of my favorite stories and this production does a good job of bringing it to life. I believe that my children would enjoy seeing this one—it has some amazing things to say about redemption, forgiveness and atonement (although be warned that there are some onstage deaths, although they aren’t done in a gory or too frightening way).”

Mahonri Stewart’s A Roof Overhead played Oct. 12 through Oct. 21at the Arizona State University Binary Theater Company’s Binary Theater, a student-run theater.

Y-Light, by Patrick Gibbs and Eric Jensen, plays at the Off-Broadway Theatre in Salt Lake City through October 29. It is a light-hearted, family-friendly parody of the Twilight series and the Utah-BYU rivalry.

Y-Light at Off Broadway is a Hilarious Production (Rebecca Gunyan, Front Row Reviewers). “If you are going to watch a perfectly tight performance, this is definitely not the show for you.  There were sound issues, actors missing cues, and long scene changes. However, if you are going to watch a play that will make you laugh so hard your stomach hurts, this is by far the best one to see. I cannot say enough how much I loved this play! . . . The only part of the play that brought it out of the professional level to me was the ad-libbing that the actors did. There were a couple of scenes that seemed to last forever, like the spider monkey scene, but they were also the scenes the audience loved the best. I asked Reynolds about it after the play. He said that if the audience is engaged, they will keep playing along. During this particular showing, Dracula just refused to die. He kept coming off and on the stage, with new lines. By the time he was done, the actors looked at each other and said, “Now, where were we?” In most venues, this would be a problem. At the OBT, I thought the playfulness fit perfectly. I left the show with the hugest smile on my face. The costumes were perfect, the script well-written, and the actors delightful. My husband enjoyed the play as well, and he’s never read the books. He didn’t understand as many of the quips as I did, but he laughed his way through most of the scenes. I would recommend this play for all audiences. I’m planning on going back for sure.”

Film

The documentary/reality show Duck Beach to Eternity, directed by Stephen Frandsen, Laura Naylor, and Hadleigh Arnst, premired in New York City last week. It will be available October 30th on cable video on demand, and on iTunes.

John C. reviewed the people in the film (more than reviewing the film) at By Common Consent. “As a film, this fails the Bechdel test. There is never a time when the interviewed women aren’t talking about men. For that matter, it is rare for the interviewed men to not talk about men. The power dynamic in LDS dating is on full display. Women succeed insofar as they please a man at Duck Beach. Men succeed insofar as they can convince women to spend time with them. Everything, absolutely everything, is about appealing to the male libido, in a Mormon culture appropriate manner . . . Several participants comment on how shallow they are, how shallow the festivities are, how ridiculous their behavior is, and yet there they all are, continuing to be shallow and ridiculous . . . Something has combined in how we teach our youth and how the surrounding media culture has adopted the cult of youth to create these sorts of people. A thousand pre-made reality stars, certain that the world exists to cater to their dreams. Certainly there is plenty of that in wider American culture, just as there are plenty of Mormons (young and old) who don’t have this sense of entitlement. But to take the example of the most down-to-earth protagonist provided in the film, we all think God cares about whether or not we get a parking spot. Combine the LDS sense of a personal, loving God with the modern American sense of entitled privilege, and you get these people.”

Jana Reiss briefly reviewed the film and interviewed the directors at her blog at Religion News Service.

Bestsellers

New York Times Bestseller Lists, Oct. 21st, Oct.  28th, and Nov. 4th.  I also note where the books are on the USA Today bestseller list, which lumps all books, hardcover, paperback, fiction, non-fiction, into one 150 book list.

Hardcover Fiction

#7, #17, #32 DARK STORM, by Christine Feehan (3rd week).  23rd book in the Dark series.  Reached #11 on the USA Today list, 3 weeks.

Mass Market Paperback

#32, #32, x DARK PREDATOR (3rd week), by Christine Feehan. Was #15 in its first week.

Children’s hardback

#10, #10, x. MICHAEL VEY: RISE OF THE ELGEN, by Richard Paul Evans (7th week). Back for two weeks after falling off the list for two weeks.

Children’s Paperback

#10, #10, #9 MATCHED, by Ally Condie (54th week). Holding on.

Children’s Series

THE MAZE RUNNER TRILOGY, by James Dashner fell off the list after 42 weeks.

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3 Responses to This Week in Mormon Literature, Oct. 27, 2012

  1. Th. says:

    .

    I’m a little stunned because it’s just occurred to me that these updates now include as much as we used to see in the yearly roundups. What happens when we reach critical mass?

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