This Summer in Mormon Literature, June-July 2013

Amy Harmon’s A Different Blue marks the start of a new era. It is the first self-published LDS-authored novel to reach the NYT and USA Today bestseller lists. [Later edit: Actually not the first, Victorian Lieske's Not What She Seems was reached #16 on the NYT Ebooks Bestseller list in 2011, and was on the list for 6 weeks. ] Comic-con gives a new opportunity for Ender’s Game foes and friends to weigh in on boycotting the film. Debut YA author Kasie West has two novels out this year, which have received some strong buzz. Lots of plays going on this summer, especially at Provo’s Echo Theatre, as well as two works at the upcoming Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. Sorry to go 6 weeks without a Week in Review, it has been a busy summer. Please send any news or corrections to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.

News and Blog Posts

Some groups are calling for a boycott of the upcoming Ender’s Game movie. “Geeks Out, an LGBT voice within comics and gaming communities, created the boycott called “Skip Ender’s Game” with a website bearing the same name. The site says Card is an anti-gay activist and quotes from an article he wrote about homosexuality in 1990.

Card released a response statement to Entertainment Weekly regarding the boycott. “‘Ender’s Game’ is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984. With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state. Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.”

Participants in the movie promoting it at Comic-con, distanced themselves from Card’s past comments, while saying they should not lead to a boycott. Harrison Ford at Comic-Con, promoting the movie, commented, “”I don’t think that issue rears its head in the work. No part of the story concerns Mr. Card’s theories about society in terms of gay issues or homosexual issues,” Ford said. “So I hold it completely separate. I think it’s an imaginative and complex story. And I’m glad he told it. And I’m glad I had a chance to be a part of it. I think he has a right to his opinions and I think he has also made it clear that it was a battle that he fought and lost and would like to get on with the rest of life.” Director Gavin Hood likewise said he was separating Card’s perspective on gay rights from his book about children who are called upon to help humanity battle alien threats. “My view is I’ve been a member of the Courage Campaign for many years and I’m a little distressed by his point of view on gay marriage,” Hood said. “However, the book is not about that issue, so I hope people can still appreciate the book because I think he wrote a great book, and the themes and ideas in the book, I think, are universal and timeless and applicable, and I hope the book will still be appreciated as a great work of art, even though I don’t agree with the author. I optioned the book, not an author, and I love what the author said in that book.” . . . Lionsgate Entertainment also issued a statement rebuking Card’s position and said it would hold a benefit premiere to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender causes.

A recent Entertainment Weekly blog by Mark Harris: “It’s hard to know where to begin to dismantle the smugness and intellectual dishonesty in Card’s words. His assertion that gay rights are now “moot” in a country in which 37 states still consider my marriage unworthy of recognition is weak enough, but I’d rather move on to his self-serving appropriation of “tolerance.” No group of people is required to tolerate those who would oppress them, but beyond that, Card is using calm and temperate language to disguise the extremity of his position. He’s not simply against marriage equality; as recently as 2008, he publicly called for straight married Americans to unite in an effort to “destroy” their “mortal enemy,” by which he meant a revolutionary overthrow of any U.S. government led by “dictator-judges” who support same-sex marriage. He’s an off-the-spectrum hatemonger cloaking himself as a voice of principled opposition, and he richly deserves to be shunned. But should Card’s extremism lead moviegoers to boycott Ender’s Game, which, after all, has nothing to do with gay rights? As gay screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk), who opposes a boycott, has noted, the film was made by a gay-friendly filmmaking team working for a company, Lionsgate, that has now publicly rejected his views. I can answer only for myself: I won’t pay to see the movie. I can’t get past the idea that my purchase of a ticket might put even an extra penny in the pocket of a man who thinks I should be treated as less than human; a hit film will increase sales of his books, and I want no part of it.”

Jana Reiss, at Flunking Sainthood, opines “Why the “Ender’s Game” Boycott Is Stupid”.

At A Motley Vision, Kent Larson’s Sunday Lit Crit Sermon: Preface to Pratt’s Mormon Reader describes and quotes from Kent’s remarkable find, an article from the November 1844 issue of the Nauvoo Neighbor, in which Parley P. Pratt discussed and provided an introduction to a planned anthology of Mormon literature, which never came to fruition. Kjerste Christensen joins the AMV ranks, and starts with “A Bibliography of Mormon Missionary Literature”. AMV had lots of interesting pieces this month, go check it out.

The Mormonism in Brandon Sanderson Novels, by Jettboy, Millennial Star. “Almost every critic who read the wildly popular Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer seemed to pick up on Mormon themes, even when they weren’t there . . . [But] what Brandon Sanderson writes has Mormonism in it with some of it blatant. There are a few motifs shared by other Mormon writers, including Meyer’s vampire series. Examples here will include the Mistborn Trilogy and the currently stand alone Rithmatist novel.” Jettboy then goes over five Mormon-related themes he sees in Sanderson’s work: Gifts of the Spirit, The Chosen Ones, Hidden Sacred, Religion and Scripture, and Opposition in All Things. “More examples of Mormon themes could be found in Brandon Sanderson’s works given time. He does not write from a vacuum. So far no critical examination has been written on the subject of his religious “hidden agenda” to proselytize readers. Perhaps, despite the extent of his writing, none will be done because there isn’t millions of swooning fans breathlessly hanging on every sentence; even if the Mistborn books would make a great Game of Thrones type mini-series. Still, it would be nice to point to him as an example of the great creative potential to be found in Mormon teachings.”

The 26th annual BYU Symposium on Books for Young Readers was this weekend. An article on the event by Ann Cannon, Salt Lake Tribune.

15 Bytes is the print and web magazine of Artists of Utah. Cracking the Mo-Lit Nut: Interview with Publisher Christopher Bigelow, Zarahemla Books. By David G. Pace, the Literary Editor of 15 Bytes. Also a first chapter excerpt of Christopher Bigelow’s memoir Mormon Punk: From LSD to LDS.

“Satire and the Sacred: From Muhammad to Mormon Underwear” at the 2013 convention of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists. The panelists were Dan Peterson (BYU), Pat Bagley (Salt Lake Tribune editorial cartoonist) and Victor Navasky (former long-time editor of The Nation). An audio recording is available here.

Shannon Hale. “Writing and mother: How I (sort of) do both

Mahonri Stewart. “Desperate Prayers: Keeping the Faith as Mormon Artists”. Mahonri on spiritual crisis. He discusses Susan Elizabeth Howe’s play called Burdens of Earth, Richard Dutcher’s movies, Robert Elliott’s play Fires of the Mind, Terryl and Fiona Givens’ The God Who Weeps, and his own The Fading Flower.

Meet Eliza R. Snow”. Feminist Mormon Housewives Podcast. “Join Lindsay and Kaimi as they chat with author and LDS Hymn writer Karen Lynn Davidson as she talks about the life and personality of Eliza R. Snow and all about the new book titled, Eliza, The Life and Faith of Eliza R. Snow.”

Magazines and Short Stories

Dialogue 46:2, Summer 2013. Contains one short story, “What it Means”, by Reed Richards. Richards is a Vanderbilt University employee, and he has had poetry published in Dialogue in the past.

2012 Dialogue Best of the Year Awards. FICTION: Angela Hallstrom, “Field Walking” Summer issue, $300 award.

A playscript, a short story, and a fictional conversation appeared in the last two issues of Sunstone. Theric reviewed each.

Sunstone #170.  April 2013. Jenifer Nii. Suffrage: A Play.

Theric: “Sometimes it’s difficult to read a play and see how successful it will be onstage. (Which may explain why I never made an attempt to do theater professionally.) So let’s start my noting the volume of positive reviews this play has received: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. . . . The reason I started with the links to the reviews is because I found the structure of the play a bit boring. Starting with much interaction between the two character and moving to them engaging with invisible character while a spotlight dancing back and forth between them. Although the characters felt honest enough, the artificiality of the staging struck me as, potentially, horrendously boring. So I’m glad to hear that wasn’t the case. Get the right director and dramaturg and actors and just about anything can make for riveting theater, though. A good actor is a powerful force. And a good reason not to judge a play based on what you see on paper. Without the alchemy of the stage, it’s not a play. Without a view through a proscenium, it’s just a rough draft.”

James Goldberg. “Singer and Saint: An Interview with Jeevan Sidhu.”A fictional conversation with an Indian-Mormon poet and singer.

Theric: “I think what I liked most about this piece is how James uses the character of an artist coming from a tradition quite alien to my own and exploring how Mormonism can fit into his milieu. This workshopping of both religion and art strikes me as a useful exercise. Both religion and art should have the capacity to reach beyond a single culture. Sure, they’ll be transformed as they enter that new cultural space, but the human/spiritual essence will remain if the—let’s stick with religion—has truth and value. Since Mormons are constantly arguing that the faith is greater than just Utah culture, it’s useful to see how someone in other culture sees and feels and understands and lives and creates within its doctrines and principles. Jeevan offers that sort of window. That he’s a smart and articulate poet certainly helps. That he quotes poetry certainly doesn’t hurt. In the end, I suppose you could say that Jeevan exists solely for James to explore these questions important to him as a modern, cosmopolitan Mormon. But like all great characters, Jeevan has much more depth than can be expressed through a simple high-school essay on theme. When he laughs, it’s the laugh of a real person.”

Sunstone #171. July 2013.

Richard Dutcher.“Expiation”: Fiction.

“In many ways this story is an utter cliche. It’s a found document. It’s the gay Mormon artist who can’t find happiness. It’s blood atonement. In other words, given the public image Dutcher has been working very hard to develop, it’s exactly the sort of story you would expect him to write. But all that said, it’s pretty good. It didn’t really read as a cliche. Largely that’s because it’s quite well written on the sentence level (never mind, for a moment, that such lovely writing is rather out of character for this found document)—beautiful sentences can cover a variety of ills. But it’s also because even with the inclusion of blood atonement, the pov’s journey of ignorance to having a gay friend reflects a pretty common journey over the last decade as many (most?) American Mormons have learned that it’s not that they don’t know any gay Mormons, it’s that they did not know they knew any gay Mormons.”

Aprilynne Pike. “Nature”. Short story, in the anthology Defy the Dark, June 18. Dystopian. A girl living in a dictatorship is chosen to be a “Nature” child birther.

Brad R. Torgersen. “The Chaplain’s Legacy”. In Analog Science Fiction and Fact, July/August 2013. A sequel to “The Chaplain’s Assistant” from the September 2011 issue of Analog. Torgersen reports that Baen has given him a contract to turn the two stories into a novel.

Tangent review “A very well done novella about diplomacy and war.  Harrison Barlow is a soldier who, due to the inspiration of an army chaplain, managed to broker a truce with the mantes, a warrior race that Earth couldn’t stop:  they would cease their attacks so that they could study Earth’s religion, a concept they can’t fathom.  Years later and Barlow is called back into service:  the truce is unraveling and Barlow is the one tasked with keeping it going by meeting with the Queen Mother.  Things go wrong, of course, and Barlow is forced onto a barren planet with her, the professor who Barlow negotiated the truce with, and a human officer.  The story is old fashioned SF at its best, with good characterization, serious issues, and a plot that has a few surprises.  Definitely a winner.” SF Revu: “Good solidly built story with well-drawn characters.”

New Books and their Reviews

Lynne T. Adams. Lair of the Serpent. Cedar Fort/Sweetwater, June 11. YA suspense.  Jonathon Bradford Series #3. Cambodia, human trafficking, and human sacrifice.

Rachael Anderson. Working it Out. HEA Publishing, July 15. Contemporary romance.

Heidi Ashworth. Lord Haversham Takes Command. Dunhaven Place Publishing (self), June 21. Victorian romance (“clean”). A romance between characters who are children of characters in her previous “Miss Delacourt” novels. Amazon bought out Avalon, her previous publisher, and she is now self-publishing.

Marlene Bateman. Motive For Murder. Covenant, June 3. Culinary mystery. “An Erica Coleman Mystery”. A Mormon private investigator investigates homicides, eats cake. Second novel. She has done several non-fiction Mormon books.

Sharon Haddock, Deseret News. “The heroine of “Motive for Murder” is a combination of private eye characters with touches of Mormonism . . . Unlike similar stories, there’s a lot of Mormonism in this book, references to attending a baptism, reading scriptures, preparing Sunday dinners, blessings on the food, references which tend to collide with the story more than enhance it. It’s fine to have a character who is clearly an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but there are less clunky ways to point it out and there’s no explanation or foundation laid about why the LDS religion matters, at least not in the first half of the book. When Coleman misses drinking a cup of poisoned coffee because she doesn’t drink coffee, it’s a little hit-in-the-head obvious. When she worries that her friend who may be charged with a murder is upset because her fiancé isn’t interested in the LDS Church, it seems kind of silly. The LDS references tend to interfere with the telling of the story rather than add, which is a shame because there’s a way to tell this kind of tale without the bludgeoning . . . There’s also a lot of clutter in this story, which is a shame because there are passages that are quite readable. It just bogs down in Mormon and trivial detail, way too many potential suspects and clumsy writing. In addition, the story swings from inconsequential passages about buying hamsters to recollections of serious child and spouse abuse without much in-between. The result is an uneven, problematical mix.”

Glenn Beck with Jack Henderson. The Eye of Moloch. Threshold Editions/Mercury Radio Arts, June 11. Political thriller. Sequel to The Overton Window. The rebels against the freedom-killers in the US government fight against advanced surveillance technologies and an evil aging trillionaire. Like all of his fiction, Beck did not write the book himself. Besides Henderson, Beck ghostwriter Kevin Balfe also appears to have helped.

A very negative review from Media Matters, a liberal website hostile to Beck.

Braden Bell. Penumbras. Cedar Fort/Sweetwater, July 9. Middle School Magic #2. MG Speculative.

Mindy, LDSWBR. 4 stars. “A fun, adventurous book with heart, humor, and action.  I love this Magi world that Braden has created.  The Darkhands are evil, evil, evil.  But one has a secret, and I really enjoyed the twist to that.  I loved how the plot twists and the action scenes come about.  Braden has created characters that you will care about instantly and worry about.  The action starts right away and doesn’t let you go until the end.”

Michaelbrent Collings. Strangers. Self, June 5. Horror. A madman seals a normal-seeming family into their house, toys with them, and family secrets come out. Lots of death and blood result. A reinvention of an earlier novella, The Stranger Within.

Susan Dayley. Cold Pursuit. Walnut Springs, July 10. Romantic suspense. Unlikely couple investigate the sabotage of a secret alternative-energy project. Choose your own ending, with four possible choices.

L. T. (Lisa Torcasso) Downing. Island of the Stone Boy. Leicester Bay Books, June 14. YA ghost mystery. A shaken family goes to a resort haunted by a drowned boy. First novel, but on July 15 Lisa reported that she asked the publisher to recall the book because she accidentally submitted an early draft, rather than her completed draft. The correct version will be published in the near future.

M. L. Durbin. Swords of Joseph. Covenant, June 13. Historical. First novel. Moses assigns Joshua and Caleb to find the tomb of Joseph of Egypt, so they can take him with them. “Their adventure begins as they follow a trail of clues that leads them through the shadowy stillness of Egyptian temples and across the barren desert. Threatened on every side by deadly plagues and the ever present soldiers of Pharaoh, the young Hebrews are plunged into a perilous quest that has the potential to save a nation if they survive Conspiracy and cryptic secrets, ancient prophecy, and action-packed adventure come together in this heart stopping novel.”

Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine. 5 stars. “My initial reaction was “Oh no, not another fictionalized account of a scriptural story.” It turns out this is one of the most memorable books I’ve read. Yes, it is a fictionalized story featuring Joshua of Old Testament fame, but it’s much more than that. It chronicles Joshua’s conversion and commitment to God and explains the reasons and symbolism behind the plagues Moses called down on the Egyptians. It also draws attention to the part descendants of Abraham other than the Israelites played in this era. It delves into the politics, religions, and secret societies of the Egyptian culture and does it through an action packed mystery . . . The plot is fast and follows a dramatic action arc. Both historical background and place background are fed into the plot so subtly they never feel intrusive and leave the reader with a great deal to think about. The repercussions experienced by various people as the plagues play out go far to explain the reason for each and how it defeats a particular fallacy of the Egyptian idolatry practiced at that time.”

Rosemarie Howard, Deseret News. “Joshua not only finds Joseph’s body, he discovers a lot about himself and God. As an added bonus, he finds the strong, faithful woman he’s been looking for as a wife. The novel is a well-written, historically well-researched, fast-paced adventure that brings the story of the Exodus to life. It’s a book that is hard to put down. Told from a unique perspective, the novel can inspire re-reading the biblical account of the Exodus with renewed interest.”

Heather Frost. Guardians. Cedar Fort/Sweetwater, July 9.  Seers #3. YA Paranormal.

Mindy, LDSWBR. “5 out of 5 stars.  I got to a point where I could not stop reading, and I’ll say it again.  The ending of this book is one of the best I’ve ever read.”

Sheila, LDSWBR. 4 stars. “I have loved the Seers trilogy so far. It has been one surprise after another. The 2nd book in the series left you hanging, screaming, and dying to know what happens in the 3rd book . . . The action is good again in this novel. The first part of the book moves a little slower as the book goes into what happened previously. Things pick up half way through and doesn’t stop. Once Kate starts teaching the other Seers about time travel the story speeds along. Of course I loved this aspect the most about this book. It was also fun to meet all of the new Seers introduced in the third book. I have to say that I really loved how this series ended. There were SO many surprises! I truly could not have guessed on the outcome. I also loved the epilogue. Some epilogues are better than others, and this one ranks right up there with my favorites. I will miss this series and the characters. I can’t wait to see what else Heather Frost writes. She is an amazing writer that knows how to produce a great story. If you haven’t read this series yet I highly recommend that you do.”

Phyllis Gunderson. The Mounds Anomaly. Cedar Fort/Sweetwater, June 11. Mystery. Matt Howard series #3.  Mystery set around the Native American mounds of Illinois and Michigan.

Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine. 5 stars. “Anyone with the slightest curiosity about North American archeology will find The Mounds Anomaly by Phyllis Gunderson fascinating reading. It’s based on the real contradictions found in archeological discoveries in North America, discoveries that aren’t widely known. Why are these discoveries quickly labeled frauds and the discoverers harassed and dismissed as credible?   Did North American history begin in 1492? . . . This book features a real mystery, real discoveries and the controversies surrounding them, and relates a number of theories concerning people who may have once visited or lived in North America. It’s an amalgamation of archeology and science blended into an unusual, but fun novel. There is some mention of Mormons, but nothing specifically linking any of the discoveries to Book of Mormon civilizations, though I suspect most members of the Church will see possible connections . . . Any reader, male or female, young or old, looking for a change of pace read as well as those interested in archeology will find this novel fascinating.”

Teri Harmon, Blood Moon. Jolly Fish Press, June 22. YA paranormal. Moonlight #1. First of a trilogy about contemporary witches and magic. First novel..

Teri Harman. Blood Moon (Deseret News). “A whirlwind plot with a magical, flying fireball war zone . . . Harman, who is a regular book contributor for KSL, successfully cements a timeless love between Willa and Simon that becomes the foundation of “Blood Moon.” Harman gives Willa and Simon, though often locked in passionate kissing, a relatively chaste romance in the middle of a series of dark battles . . . Willa and Simon’s noble and magical love is a firm foundation for a compelling, suspenseful and action-packed novel. Though “Blood Moon” is a satisfying self-contained volume, shifting narrative between Twelve Acres’ magical founders and the modern covens leaves plenty of intrigue for future books.”

Amy Harmon. A Different Blue. Self, March 29. YA contemporary.  This is the first self-published LDS-authored novel to reach the NYT and USA Today bestseller lists.  Reached #6 on the NYT Bestseller Ebook fiction list on June 16, and #21 on the USA Today list on June 6. A 19-year old girl grew up without parents, did not attend school until age 10. Now a senior in high school. “With no mother, no father, no faith, and no future, Blue Echohawk is a difficult student, to say the least. Tough, hard and overtly sexy, she is the complete opposite of the young British teacher who decides he is up for the challenge, and takes the troublemaker under his wing.” She tries to piece together who she is, and the friendship leads to healing, and then (after graduation) love.

Harmon has written and self-published three previous novels including Running Barefoot, which some Mormon content, and is set in Levan, UT, Harmon’s home town. She released a Christian Blues CD in 2007 called “What I Know””

Shelah Books It: 3 stars. “Despite the ick factor of the teacher/student relationship, I enjoyed this book. There were quite a few typos in the digital edition, which surprised and distracted me, but overall, I found the Blue/Watson story interesting and compelling. As an adoptive mom, it’s a particularly important read.”

An Equivalent Center of Self: 4.5 stars. “Very heart-felt, lovely, clean prose, great tension between Blue and Wilson, the two main characters . . . I was initially a little concerned about what looked like an inappropriate teacher-student romance. But none of that happened. For much of the book, Blue and Wilson were just friends. Harmon spent a lot of time developing Blue, so that by the end I liked her, I admired her, and I cheered for her. Also, the book made me cry, which I hadn’t expected (not in a sad this-is-so-horrible way, but simply because I was moved). The book isn’t perfect: the opener read like some sort of crime procedural, which threw me a little; the book is very much not like that. It also starts off slowly with a lot of classroom/history instruction–although Harmon does eventually tie this back in. Overall, a great read.”

Tracy and Laura Hickman. Swept Up By the Sea. Shadow Mountain, July 2. YA fantasy. “A Romantic Fairy Tale”. A young man tries to become a pirate, finds himself captain of a motley crew. Light hearted, even silly tale, reminiscent of Pirates of the Caribbean.  Originally published as a collector’s edition titled Blackshore, vol 2 of the Dragon’s Bard series. Rewritten to fit the YA market and to be a stand-alone.

Julie Bellon: 5 stars. “This is billed as a romantic fairy tale and it really was fun. There was a magical world that still felt familiar, great characters that had me cheering them on in their quest for love and adventure. It was the kind of book that I would read to my kids under the stars in a tent.”

Jennie Hansen: 2 stars. “I never finished this one. By page 92 I gave up ever getting interested in it.”

Dean Hughes. Through Cloud and Sunshine. Deseret Book, June 13. LDS Historical/Contemporary. Come to Zion #2. Converts come to Nauvoo in 1840s, and their descendents struggle with challenges and faith in contemporary Nauvoo.  Jennie Hansen: 5 stars. “Clearly one of his best.” Gamila: “I really enjoyed this continuation of this series by Dean Hughes . . . I love some of the themes that Hughes pulls out in this narrative. I love how honestly he acknowledges that death hurts us terribly even with the light of the gospel. I also love how his characters when faced with crises in faith don’t automatically question God, but also consider adjusting their expectations. Will chooses charity over prosperity even though he desperately wants to give his wife a nicer home. He’s reminded that people are more important than nice houses. I also love how Hughes made Jeff struggle with his intellectual tendencies to question everything in the church. I love how he realizes how useless his intellect is but at the same time still struggles with the fact that he doesn’t feel whole without asking his questions and trying to discover answers. He tries to find meaning in service and finds joy in his callings, but one still gets the sense that he has more to discover about himself and the gospel.

Jennie James. The Frog Prince. June 5, Stonehouse. YA fantasy. Faerie Tale Collection #8. 87-page ebook.

Wendy Knight. Feudlings. Astraea Press, March 18. YA paranormal. Fate on Fire #1. A high school girl and boy have secret paranormal identities. They fall for each other, then discover they are fated nemeses who are supposed to fight to the death. Astrea Press is: “An Epublisher that offers clean fiction in all genres based on high morals appealing to audiences of ages 15 and up. Specializes in sweet romances.” Astraea was formed in 2010 when Stephanie Taylor saw the need for a non-erotic e-publisher that offers wholesome reads but still maintains the quality of mainstream romance.

An Equivalent Center of Self: 3 stars. “The author does tension and action scenes quite well, so the plot moves quickly. Unfortunately, I kept comparing it to Cinda Williams Chima’s excellent Warrior Heir, a contemporary fantasy that similarly pits two would-be lovers against each other as pawns in a bitter war, and I think Chima’s book has tighter plotting and less obvious plot turns. I enjoyed reading this book, and I think a lot of fantasy fans would enjoy it as well–I just didn’t love it.”

Dene Low. The Wildest Waste. Self, June 10. Historical romance. Two young women join the Church in Scotland in the 19th century, emigrate by ship and handcart to Utah, and are called to settle the Bear Lake Valley.

Kelly Oram. Chameleon. Bluefields, June 25. YA paranormal/urban fantasy/romance. Girls discovers she has supernatural powers, is drawn into a world of supernaturals, burns with cravings.

Heather Ostler. The Siren’s Secret. Cedar Fort/Sweetwater, June 11. YA paranormal. Sequel to The Shapeshifter’s Secret. Girl continues to discover her identity, fights her scheming mother.

Anola Pickett. Whisper Island. Cedar Fort/Sweetwater, July 9. Middle grade historical. 1913 on the North Carolina banks.  A girl wants to join the US Life Savers Service. Second novel.

Bernard Poduska. Hitchhikers. Covenant, March. Memoir, about the author’s experiences starting in 1948 as an 8-year old in a homeless, impoverished family, with an alcoholic father. “For the next eighteen years, the semi-literate young man finds refuge in his anger – and atheism. How could there be a God, with such suffering? Yet unbeknownst to Bernard, even in those darkest of days, the Lord walked by his side. And without realizing the path he was on, the unconquerable Bernard Poduska began a miraculous journey toward the peace of the gospel.” Poduska is a professor in the BYU Department of Family Sciences and serve3s on the Saratoga Springs City Council.

Deseret News review (Elizabeth Reid). ““Hitchhikers” recounts the hardships of a little boy sleeping under cover of newspapers, running from Social Services and having his Christmas presents stolen from his father. It’s told mostly as flashbacks as an older Buddy and Carolyn reminisce outside of their mother’s hospital room. However, it also focuses on kindness from strangers and how those acts of mercy brought hope into the lives of Buddy and his family. Random acts of service abounded from a baker serving an impromptu doughnut breakfast, to an Army convoy trekking the family across the desert, to a stranger paying for a hospital visit. While the book can take awhile to connect with, “Hitchhikers” can reaffirm readers’ hopes in humanity with these and many other instances of compassion shown to Buddy’s family.”

Jenny Proctor. The House at Rose Creek. Covenant, July 1. Romance. A successful businesswoman is called back to her hometown in North Carolina, is drawn back into that world. Finds God and man. First novel.

Shanda, LDSWBR. 4.5 stars. “The House at Rose Creek is a well-written debut novel with a deeper, more layered story than I expected. While it was definitely a love story, the romance was not always front and center. There was a rediscovering of love of home and family as well as a developing love and respect for those who came before. In a way, there was also a retelling of romance past as the main character reads about Ian and Jennie in his journal . . . Readers who like a story with history and a nice romance will enjoy The House at Rose Creek. The writing is clean and easy to read, effectively evoking the emotion of the scene.”

Heather B. Moore. One Chance (The Aliso Creek Novella Series #3) . June 1, Mirror Press.

Misty Dawn Pulsipher. Pride’s Prejudice. Self, May 22. Contemporary romance.

Raeanne Thayne. Willowleaf Lane. Harlequin HQN, June 25. Romance. Hope’s Crossing #5.

Kasie West. Pivot Point. HarperTeen, Feb. 12. YA paranormal. A girl who can see the future lives with her family on a special compound for paranormal people, lots of different kinds of people. Her parents’ divorce forces a choice on her, and the story follows two time lines, based on the two possible choices she could make, and the lines come together in the end. Fun, light feel, with a very positive, light-hearted protagonist. A romance in each timeline. First in a series. First novel.

Kirkus: “The worldbuilding isn’t as on point—the Compound raises logistical questions that are glossed over for the sake of the plot’s strong pace. Minor missteps are easy to forgive given the underlying suspense of multiple mysteries. West’s debut showcases riveting storytelling.”

Publishers Weekly: “West’s premise is a winner, and Addie is the kind of heroine readers would want as a best friend—loyal, unpretentious, and thoughtful. Two love interests in Addie’s divergent futures make things even more interesting, as does a murder subplot. What truly makes West’s story memorable, however, is Addie’s wry humor (“I’ve been thinking about books where the main character’s parents are going through a divorce. A big theme is rebellion. I think I should give it a try”) and the book’s fascinating exploration of how life can change with one simple choice.”

SLJ: “This debut novel, while not breaking new ground in the popular field of paranormal teen fiction, will appeal to those who enjoy the genre, and it is a welcome change from vampires and zombies. It will appeal to readers who enjoyed Libba Bray’s The Diviners (Little, Brown, 2012) and Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall (HarperCollins, 2010).”

Mindy, LDSWBR: 4 stars. “I thought the world the author created was unique and clever, and those living at the Compound had very cool abilities.  I was surprised throughout and the ending had me reading hungrily until I was finished.  I was very pleased that this was a clean read that I could pass to my daughters without hesitation and recommend to anyone looking for a fun read that will leave you satisfied at the end, while also leaving you wanting more.  That is what a good book does.”

Kasie West. The Distance Between Us. HarperTeen, July 2. YA contemporary romance. High School senior’s mother warns her to stay away from rich boys, but she falls for one. A fairly serious “new adult” YA novel. Second novel. Not to be confused with Jessica Martinez’s 2012 novel, The Space Between Us.

Kirkus: “An antidote to dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction, this Cinderella story is sweet and hopeful.”

Bloggin’ ‘bout Books: C+. “It has been getting lots of buzz around the book blogosphere.  With its soft, pretty cover; sparkly seaside setting; and easy-breezy premise, it’s being lauded as a perfect summer read.  A sentiment with which I agree.  Mostly.  The best thing about the novel is, without a doubt, the sweet, slow-growing relationship between Caymen and Xander.  It’s fun and innocent, if not very realistic.  The big problem with the couple’s story lies in the novel’s almost non-existent plot.  Because, really, not much happens in this book.  The central conflict exists mostly in Caymen’s head and the big, dramatic moments are all pretty contrived.  Overall, then, I found The Distance Between Us cute, but lacking.  Even for a “beach read,” it’s pretty substance-less.  Bummer, that.”

Cait Olson, Deseret News: “A fresh adaptation of a classic tale — a love that defies riches and class, but not without suffering for society’s entertainment . . . West’s story is compelling and unique. Her depiction of Caymen’s inner dialogue of whether the boy of her dreams reciprocates her feelings is a universal truth any teen can relate to. The chemistry between Xander and Caymen is easy and unreserved; the relationship between Caymen and her mother is painfully honest and selfless.”

Karey White. My Own Mr. Darcy. Self, July 15. Romance. A young woman loves Austen, which makes her unwilling to settle for boys not up to the Darcy standard. Then, she finds she has a choice between two men. Third novel, the first two were published by Cedar Fort.

Bookworm Nation: 3.5 stars. “I thought the premise for the book was cute . . . Overall, a fun read. If you’re a fan of Pride and Prejudice you’ll enjoy this story. I liked that it wasn’t a retelling of the classic, but its own story. I thought the cover was pretty as well.”

Reviews of Older Books

Emily Gray Clawson. A Way Back to You (Angela Carter, Deseret News). “”A Way Back to You ” is a lighthearted read, but also has deeper thought-provoking themes. It covers some difficult topics like death and heartbreak, but it’s a powerful reminder that small efforts, small changes can have a huge effect on someone’s life.”

Sarah Eden. Drops of Gold (Gamila). “As long as I’m on a regency roll I might as well make a full confession. I enjoyed this one too. This one plays on mistaken identity tropes . . . Something I also really liked about this book was that much of the plot hinged on nuances of old English law. That made this book feel unique and stand out for a regency era novel. I found the moral quandaries that Layton faced very compelling and interesting to read about. I’d recommend this one highly.”

Betsy Bannon Green. Proceed With Caution (Eleanor Hunt, Deseret News).

Mette Ivie Harrison. The Rose Thorne (Deseret News). “Each princess is intriguing and has a unique presence in the novel. Unfortunately, the wonderful juxtaposition of two young women of equal, yet varied talents and personalities creates a duality that somewhat slows the main thrust of the plot. The girls are not enemies with one another, but they are not a team either. Unlike most fiction, there is no clear protagonist in “The Rose Throne,” and by the climax one is left wondering who will be the hero instead of anxiously cheering for the hero to win . . . With little objectionable content and plenty of magic, “The Rose Throne” will please many young adult readers looking for a fun summer read.”

Jenni James. Emmalee (Cait Orton, Deseret News). “Jenni James has done it again — her newest installment in the Jane Austen Diaries is a cute, funny and beautifully crafted addition to the teen literature genre . . . Overall, “Emmalee” flows more freely and easily than many of James’ past novels. The story itself is believable and mimics the attitude and experiences of an 18-year-old girl perfectly.”

Terron James. Insight  (Deseret News). “There are some books that force readers to trudge through a muddy bog of detail, hiding an altogether exciting plot behind giant oaks and dense boulders of lengthy exposition and descriptive prose. But on the opposite end of the world of fiction, readers are allowed no time for mud or trudging — there is only enough time for speeding cars, cruising spaceships or flying dragons, getting readers from plot point to plot point at full speed. Terron James clearly favors the latter. In the mystical and exciting world of Appernysia, James’ young adult fantasy novel “Insight” pulls readers through a story full of fantasy, magic, war, revenge, love and intrigue . . . “Insight” throws readers into the horse’s saddle and carries them along at a dangerous pace. For most, this means no time to slow down to ask questions like, “How did they get to be such good friends?” or “When did he learn to do that?” or “Who is this new guy?” At times, the storyline feels choppy. But with wind blowing through the hair, arrows whizzing by, swords clanging all around and the promise of magical potential flooding through the veins, it’s difficult not to give in to the spirit of adventure and just enjoy th

Elena Johnson. Abandon (Tara Creel, Deseret News). “The “Possession” trilogy is so intricately formed as a real world, with characters that are known so deeply, that the pages ran out too quickly . . . The pace of “Abandon” is fast-moving and has action or a surprise every few pages. Things don’t happen so quickly, however, that the reader can’t follow the story. Johnson effortlessly pulls the reader through the twists and turns, keeping up with who the characters are and where they are going.”

Robert Kirby. Dark Angel  (Julie J. Nichols, AML). “Old West + Disneyland ride + Brady Bunch + polygamy + melodrama worthy of the Desert Star parody theater in Murray Utah—the sum of all this adds up to the new (?) unabridged version of Robert Kirby’s 1990 novel “Dark Angel.” Read it, laugh, get a little tear in your eye, groan in disbelief, nod in agreement: this isn’t literature, but it’s good entertainment with a strong positive outcome, and if you go in knowing what you’re getting, you’ll be more pleased than you might have expected to be . . . Plot is the driver here. Don’t look for characters with complex motives and psychological nuance. You won’t have any trouble keeping straight the full supporting cast of rollicking, gun-toting, revenge-seeking Old American West archetypes . . . Kirby is the humorist whose column in the Salt Lake Tribune has helped thousands of Utah Mormons survive their frustrations in an all-too-Mormon world. Even if you’re not acquainted with that side of Kirby, this novel will make you laugh. It’ll keep you turning pages on a lazy summer afternoon, and you’ll toss a Kleenex or two into the trash with a satisfied countenance when the last one is finished. Some might object to Rose’s language at the beginning, but the worst is over before you’re halfway through, and frankly, the language is worth it. It belongs there. Take this novel for what it is and be gratified that such a story has made its way down the pike. No complaints from this reader whatsoever.”

Jessica Martinez. Virtuosity (Shelah Books It). 4 stars. “In many ways, Virtuosity is a fairly predictable romance. Carmen falls for the only boy who is wholly unavailable to her. And while Martinez does a nice job with the romance side of the novel, I think that Carmen’s perfectionism and her dysfunctional relationship with her mother/manager are far more interesting aspects of the novel. While this book was probably only a 3-star read for me, I have a feeling that my daughter would consider it a 5-star read, so I settled on a happy medium.”

Jessica Martinez. Virtuosity (An Equivalent Center of Self). 4 Stars. “Martinez has a lovely, clean writing style, evident in both of her books. This book is perhaps a little more high concept than The Space Between Us . . . What I liked: I loved the relationship between Carmen and Jeremy–and I wished I could have seen more of it. I thought the glimpse into Carmen’s regimented lifestyle and her passion was fascinated (even if it made me feel like a slacker). And I liked how flawed Carmen was. I also liked that the plot went in an unexpected direction, with a twist I honestly did not see coming. Things I didn’t like as well: as others have pointed out, Carmen does have a lot of things in her favor. So her mom is controlling and her dad is absent: she has a step-dad who adores her, she’s incredibly talented, and she knows how to work hard. Her life isn’t quite as desperate as Carmen seems to think it is. Also, Martinez seems to be one of those authors who likes to leave the endings a bit more open-ended. Some people like this; and admittedly it’s more realistic. I am not one of those readers, and with this book–as with The Space Between Us–I found myself wanting a little more closure in the end.

Ryan McIlvain. Elders. (Jesse Christiansen, Dawning of a Brighter Day).

H. B. Moore. Esther The Queen (Deseret News). “One of the main pleasures of the novel is the romance between King Xerxes and Esther. In Moore’s hands, Xerxes is idealized into a regular Prince Charming and, realistic or not, readers can enjoy discovering Esther’s “happily ever after” as she falls in love with a wealthy, handsome king.”

Steven L. Peck. A Short Stay in Hell (Geeks of Doom). “How many books really make you think? And not just in the basic ponderous way, but in a way that makes your brain bend and crack and splinter under the pressures of your attempts to grasp the numerous ideas presented to you within those pages. That kind of thinking is what A Short Stay In Hell is all about . . . I’ve never read a book quite like A Short Stay In Hell. Almost every page has something fascinating and mind boggling on it, which means Peck doesn’t waste your time with filler while telling his story; he gets right to it and there’s nothing wrong with that. I often found my mouth wide open while reading without actually remembering my opening it, because it’s just that remarkable to imagine yourself in this fictional situation and think about what it would be like—both the pros (yes, there are some pros) and the cons. The unbelievable, unbearable cons. When I say “fictional,” I mean it too. This isn’t a book to spark some kind of heated religious debate as to whether or not there’s actually a kiosk in Hell that would give you an order of McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets just as you remember them if you ordered it, so let’s not even get into that. It’s not written as some kind of alternative perspective to try and woo you away from your beliefs; it’s simply a story set in a familiar place that’s presented in a wholly unfamiliar way. There’s plenty of religious themes running through it, of course, but it’s a whole lot more than that. Within these short 100 or so pages is a great adventure to end all other adventures, an underdog story, love stories, and an examination of human nature when given a clean slate and a new set of rules to live by.”

Luisa Perkins and Jared Adair. The Book of Jer3miah: Premonition (Shelah Books It). 4 stars. “The Book of Jer3miah takes on all of the weird things about our culture, the things we’re often reluctant to talk about when talking to an audience that includes non-Mormons (angels, being led by the Spirit, Porter Rockwell, translated beings, murder to benefit the many), and presents it without apology. I love this approach because it feels so much more real– this is who we are– take it or leave it. It appears that many people have taken us, weirdness and all, in the web series, and now, people like me who tend to access culture through literature may become new fans of the show. ”

Kathi Oram Peterson. Wanted (Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine). “The plot is well crafted with lots of action. It’s a different change of pace story with a modern mystery set in a western style background. The knowledgeable use of a river, a cave, trees, and a steep mountainside reveal the author’s intimate knowledge of a rugged real area in Idaho.”

Kathi Oram Peterson. Wanted (Elizabeth Reid, Deseret News). “A clean, uplifting book with a page-turning murder mystery.”

Brandon Sanderson. The Way of Kings (An Equivalent Center of Self). 4.5 stars. “This was easily the best epic fantasy I’ve read in a long time–which may not be saying much, as I haven’t tackled epic fantasy in some time. Suffice it to say, despite the length, I found myself devouring the book . . . I loved that the book challenged me to think about philosophical issues as the characters wrestled with moral and ethical dilemmas. And I like that even at the end of the book Sanderson has left me with mysteries about the world (what exactly are the Voidbringers? What do the Parshendi really want?) that will (probably) entice me into reading further in the series.”

Donald Smurthwaite. Road to Bountiful (Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine). 4 stars. “I’ve heard a lot of names for this kind of book, feel good, philosophy, sermonettes, stop and smell the roses, emotionals, etc. Often this genre falls into the tear jerker or lay-on-the-guilt trip category and frequently are impractical, unrealistic, preachy, and leave me feeling I’m being manipulated. Yet there’s something about many of them that invites introspection and they certainly sell well. I like this one. I never felt my emotions were being manipulated, nor is it preachy, and it doesn’t solve all of life’s problems. It’s simply the story of two people whose lives intersect at opposite ends and they learn they each have something of value to offer the other.”

Donald Smurthwaite. Road to Bountiful (Cecily Markland, Deseret News). “This instructive and interesting novel is free from vulgar language or situations. It’s understood that both Levi and Loyal are member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and there are some subtle references to Mormon teachings, the messages are far from preachy. They come instead in candid discussions between Levi and Loyal about love, friendship and life itself and in shared experiences with being stuck, learning to fish and staying in seedy places along the way.”

Caleb Warnock and Betsy Schow. Trouble’s On The Menu (Sharron Haddock, Deseret News). “If you like a simple, clean mystery this book may be for you . . . It’s a typical first novel with recipes at the end. For those who have lived in Utah County, particularly in American Fork and/or Alpine, it’s just plain fun to try and figure out who’s who in this mystery. Althought “Trouble’s on the Menu” is not specifically set in Utah County, there are several landmarks that will seem familiar . . . Read it with low expectations and all will be fine.”

Carole Thayne Warburton. Poaching Daisies (Rosemarie Howard, Deseret News).

Margaret Blair Young. Bound for Canaan (Standing on the Promises #2). Ivan Wolfe, Millennial Star. “As with the first volume, there’s no true overarching plot (except perhaps the overarching plot of the church’s own history), merely a series of anecdotes, of events that happen in roughly chronological order (as different characters receive focus, the narrative does occasionally move around in time).  However, in every case, these tales are powerful – the kinds of tales that reveal the rich and diverse nature of our own history.  Many of these tales will sound like the tales of the pioneers and early saints that we hear in church often: there are tales of healings, of death and the acceptance of the Lord’s will, of persecution, of trials overcome, of people who leave the church due to worldly concerns, and more . . . In addition to the expansion and clarification and revelation of relatively unknown parts of our history, these tales are also remarkable for the amount of charity they contain, despite the often difficult subject matter. These tales are clearly and consistently infused with charity.”


Steven L. Peck. Incorrect Astronomy. Aldrich Press, July 6. Lance Larsen, Utah Poet Laureate: “If you’re expecting Steven Peck to choose a theme and stick with it, think again. Incorrect Astronomy serves up nothing if not variety: kingfishers and antlions, dark matter and white dwarfs, aliens and angels and robots that soak in soup. These poems, both comic and cosmic, encourage us to look afresh at our darkling world and sing about what we see.”


The Echo Theatre will be moving In October 2013 from its current home at 145 N. University, Provo, to the old Carnegie Building/Provo Library, at 15 North 100 East in Provo. “It is a beautiful and graceful building filled with history, and we feel it will be a warm and inviting new home to our loyal patrons, and new visitors to the Echo. We want to give our customers the highest quality experience and we feel that this goal is much more easily accomplished in this powerful new venue.  Because of this exciting new development, several of the events that were planned for the rest of the year are being put temporarily on hold or being re-imagined to better suit our new location.”

Dennis Agle. The Fork. The Echo Theatre (Provo). June 29 staged reading. Agle is trying to turn the former 10 minute play into a full-length piece.

James Arrington. The Farley Family Reunion. Covey Center for the Arts, Brinton Theater (Provo), Aug. 1-24. Arrington’s one-man play premiered at BYU in 1980, and has had over 900 performances.

Melissa Leilani Larson. Martyrs Crossing will be staged at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Scotland) by UVU theater students, August 6-9. The students had a preview performance in Utah on July 11.

Rob Lauer (book and lyrics) and Sam Cardon (music). First Freedom. BYU-Idaho Snow Drama Theatre, Rexburg, ID, July 5-12.  Set in Virginia during the Revolutionary War. James Madison, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Jefferson fight for religious freedom, then Madison and Henry fall out over state support of religion. Premiered at Western Wyoming College in November 2006.

Mahonri Stewart. Promethus Unbound. The Echo Theatre (Provo), July 17-27. Zion Theatre Company. The play premiered in 2008, done by the BYU Experimental Theatre Club.

Daily Herald preview. “A band of mythical Greek gods join forces to free the bound and tortured titan, Prometheus — who was punished by Zeus for being a champion of mankind. The play’s theme, in keeping with Stewart’s past works, draws subtle parallels to traditional Christian beliefs . . . “The central metaphor in this story is Prometheus’ character, who is a type and shadow of Christ,” said “Prometheus Unbound” director Sarah-lucy Hill. “Prometheus is different than the rest of the Grecian gods in that he sacrifices and suffers for mankind.”

Ben Christensen, Front Row Reviewers: “What do you get when you take ancient Greek mythology and retell it with Christian themes filtered through the lens of twenty-first century Mormonism? You get the Zion Theatre Company’s production of Mahonri Stewart’s Prometheus Unbound. Using the story of Prometheus as a vehicle, director Sarah-lucy Hill and her cast and crew examine concepts such as atonement, faith, and agency, shedding new light on these age-old Sunday school topics. First, a disclaimer: As a non-believer, I am not the intended audience for this show. When the performance was preceded by an opening prayer—which I’ve never seen at any other Echo Theatre show—I felt just a little uncomfortable. My favorite character by far was Erysichton, the atheist who feels out of place in a society of theists, but although many times I identified with his arguments, at other times he came across as the straw man being set up to be proven wrong at the end of the play. I found the metaphor of Zeus as Lucifer and Prometheus as Christ to be a fascinating twist on archetypes, but I enjoyed the metaphor more when it was subtle; at times the symbolism was a little heavy-handed . . . If you are a believing Christian, and especially if you are a believing Christian of the Mormon variety, and especially if you are a believing Christian of the Mormon variety with an interest in Greek mythology, you will find the Zion Theatre Company’s production of Mahonri Stewart’s Prometheus Unbound to be a uniquely interesting way of looking at your own ideas about belief and salvation. You have three chances left to see it, this Thursday through Saturday. Don’t miss out!”

Mahonri Stewart. The Emperor Wolf will be performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, August, by The DaVinci Academy for the Arts and Sciences (Ogden, UT), in the festival’s high school division.  Teachers Adam Slee and K. K. Figueira are leading the group. It is the play’s premiere.

Mahonri Stewart, editor. Saints on Stage (Thom Duncan AML review). “Perhaps it’s a bit pretentious to use the words “seminal” or “groundbreaking” in referring to an anthology of LDS plays. But what words would you use to describe a book which brings together eleven plays written by and produced for LDS audiences into one nicely designed and hefty volume, which includes a series of insightful essays about each play and interesting biographies of the individual playwrights? . . . His informative introductory essays to each play add detailed information on each play, how it came to be and its production history, as well as needed insight into the minds of the playwrights themselves. For the foreseeable future, this book will stand alone as the ultimate source of the best LDS plays available . . . “Saints on Stage” should be in the library of everyone who is interested in what’s been happening in the LDS theater world from 1974 to the present.”

Christian Swenson. The Box. Echo Theatre, Provo, July 11-13. Warboy Theate Projects. Warboy is a new Utah company that focuses on producing new works.

Deseret News preview: “It’s not so unusual for a play to be heralded before first being produced. “The Box” is award-winning, and the playwright is diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. “It was the unique style of writing and highly intelligent symbolism that sparked my curiosity and love of the message in ‘The Box,’” says director Chase Ramsey of Warboy Theatre Projects. “Christian Swenson wrote this piece as a way to reach out to others with Asperger’s and autism, but also truly anyone. “Christian makes an attempt to tell people that he has a hard time communicating emotionally and socially with people. He calls this phenomenon ‘the box,’ and that became the title of the play.” . . . Swenson’s early version of “The Box” script received a Utah Theatre Association playwright award in January 2011. “When I first read this play I fell in love with it,” Ramsey says. “I then handed it off to my Warboy Theatre Projects colleagues, Brian Grob and Jake Suazo, so that they could start to refine it with the writer and create a complete piece of theater.”The goal of projects produced by Warboy Theatre “is to pose questions or make challenges that audiences can then take and answer for themselves,” he says. “This is a piece asking audiences what the boxes are in their lives, and it challenges them to look outside … and even step outside of these boxes in order to burst through boundaries. This is why theater is important.” Swenson is part of the Hale family, that runs the Hale Center Theaters. He is a student at Westminster College (SLC), and describes himself as a “Mormon Mystic”, combining his belief in the LDS church with the kind of respect for Eastern religions and philosophies taught by Alan Watts.

UTBA review of the Manti Mormon Miracle Pageant.By Callie Oppedisano. “Ever since I attended the LDS Church pageant at Hill Cumorah in Palmyra, New York, I have wanted to see how the pageant at Manti compared. I was not disappointed. While the pageant at Hill Cumorah is larger in scale with more visual sensation, the Mormon Miracle Pageant seems more impressive in the performance experience. It is, in some ways, the ultimate expression of community theatre: a community united by locale, religion, and culture coming together for an epic, melodramatic expression of faith affirmation . . . The narration, too, is sweeping and exaggerated in a theatrical, melodramatic way. Because the pageant tells the story of the Mormon Church, beginning with Joseph Smith, and looking back to the main events of the Book of Mormon before continuing with stories from the LDS migration, it really is epic in its scope. The narrators, male and female, use great emotion in the telling of the inspired story by the original writer Grace Johnson. (To be sure, the current pageant surely must be a mixture of old and new, with many parts rewritten or removed to suit the Church theologians.) The script is simple enough that non-Mormons would easily follow then narrative. It drags a bit in the middle when the various battles between the Nephites and Lamanites are told, but following the Christ’s visit to America—the obvious highlight of the show—it moves quickly through the migration story. Perhaps, the pacing becomes a little too fast to do justice to a saga worthy of a pageant in its own right, only hastily hitting on such topics as the Mormon Battalion and the hardship on the plains. Despite this, however, the importance of those events is communicated, and the final scenes have potential to be emotionally moving . . . The Mormon Miracle Pageant certainly isn’t for everyone. It does not have the spectacle of a Broadway show or some of the other large outdoor pageants in this country, and the script is geared to those who profess faith in the LDS Church or those who might be interested. However, it is a worthy pilgrimage for Mormons and for those like me that are interested in the performance experience and how theatre can influence a culture and community in a very real way. Whether readers are Mormon or not, the Mormon Miracle Pageant is part of our Utah theatre heritage, involving more people in its short run that many community theatres do in an entire year. If nothing else, there’s the pretty drive and the turkey dinner.” Be sure and read Callie Oppedisano’s series on Mormon theatre on this blog.


The Saratov Approach. Garrett Batty, writer/director. Starring Corbin Allred (Saints and Soldiers) and Maclain Nelson (One Good Man). Two missionaries kidnapped in Russia in 1998. The Deseret News had an article about the kidnapping and the planned film, and a link to the movie trailer. In post-production, no release date yet. Batty previously wrote and directed the 2009 Kirby Heyborne comedy Scout Camp.

Latter-day Saint screenwriters Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio talk about their movie careers and their newest film, ‘Despicable Me 2′. Deseret News.“Their resume includes such films as “Bubble Boy” (2001), “The Santa Clause 2” (2002), “Where is Fred?” (2006), “Horton Hears a Who!” (2008), “College Road Trip” (2008), “Hop” (2011) and “The Lorax” (2012). Most notably, the duo wrote “Despicable Me” (2010) and its forthcoming sequel, “Despicable Me 2,” which hits theaters July 3 . . . “Our beliefs have definitely had an impact on our careers, most obviously in the types of projects we’ve chosen to work on,” Paul and Daurio agreed. “We want to write movies that are uplifting, optimistic and for everybody.””

A new Austenland trailer is out. It will be released August 16.


New York Times Bestseller List, June 23, June 30, July 7, July 14, July 21, July 28. Also the USA Today (one list that merges all the lists) and the Publishers Weekly lists.

Hardcover Fiction

x, #5, #10, x, x, x. THE EYE OF MOLOCH, by Glenn Beck with Jack Henderson (2 weeks). NYT Combined Print and Ebook: #16 (1 week).  USA Today: #16, #35, then off the list (2 weeks). PW: #4 for Hardcover, #10 Overall in its first week, when it sold 26,882 units. By its 5th week, it was down to #20 on the PW Hardcover list, selling 4232 units, for a total of 57,514 units.

x, #21, x, x, x, x. EARTH AFIRE, by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston (1 week).

A STEP OF FAITH, by Richard Paul Evans fell off the NYT list after 4 weeks.

Mass Market Paperback

#7, #6, #5, #9, #10, #3 ENDER’S GAME, by Orson Scott Card (39th week).

NYT Combined Print & Ebook. #19, #24, x, x, x, #17.  USA Today: #31, #37, #44, #42, #23 (33rd week).

#8, #19, #23, x, x, x LEOPARD’S PREY, by Christine Feehan (4 weeks). PW:

#7, #13, x, x, x (3rd week). 7,984 copies, for a total of 47,025.

WILLOWLEAF LANE, by RaeAnne Thayne.  USA Today #140, one week.

E-book Fiction

#6, #21, x, x, x, x A DIFFERENT BLUE, by Amy Harmon (2 weeks). NYT Combined Print and Ebook #13 (1 week). USA Today #22 (1 week). .99 cent book sale helped create the surge in sales. The first time a Mormon-authored self-published novel has made the NYT list.

Middle Grade

x, #13, x, #14, x, x THE FALSE PRINCE, by Jennifer A. Nielsen. Occasionally popping back up to the end of the list.

Children’s Series

#9, #8, #7, #8, #7, #6 THE MAZE RUNNER, by James Dashner (54th week).  USA Today x, x, x, x, #142, #116 (10 weeks).

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8 Responses to This Summer in Mormon Literature, June-July 2013

  1. Jonathan Langford says:

    Wow! Thanks again Andrew, many times over, for your yeoman work in documenting all this activity! If I had a million dollars to fund Mormon letters, some of it would come your way…

  2. Braden Bell says:

    Thank you, Andrew!

  3. Th. says:


    Stellar reporting, Andrew. Always love a sudden flood.

  4. Lisa Torcasso Downing says:

    A recalled book? That’s a first. Here’s hoping I make the next version of Mormon Lit Trivial Pursuit. (Or rather, the first version.) Now what to do with the thousands upon thousands upon thousands of flubbed books that have flooded back to me? ;) Sigh.

    But the good news is that _Island of the Stone Boy_ is available again. If you’d like a review copy, let me know. I’ll have a few in this week. You can find me on FB and msg me. Or just go ahead and buy one. Support the community bonehead. I’ll appreciate it.

    At least I’m laughing (a little) over it now.

    • Jonathan Langford says:

      Ouch! That sounds like one of those things writers have nightmares over…

      That said, the description at Amazon sounds pretty cool.

      • Jonathan Langford says:

        I should also add (having now read your blog post about this): it’s remarkably easy to make this kind of error. I haven’t had it happen to me in published fiction (yet), but it’s happened several times in writing for my professional clients. And it’s mortifying each time. We who have been there can only wince in sympathy. I also appreciate and praise your guts in going ahead and trying to resolve it (and your publisher in their support), rather than slinking away and pretending it never happened.

        With best wishes that everything else in your book launch will go smoothly and well…

        • Lisa Torcasso Downing says:

          Thank you, Jonathan. Michael Perry at Leiceister Bay Books has been a real champ. I can’t tell you how glad I am (in an ironic sort of way) that I did this to my own work and not to someone else’s. Gotta write a follow up blog, but I’m still licking my wounds in recovery. And yeah, its sad that the most hits I’ve ever had on my silly little blog had to do with me confessing I’m a numb skull. Now all of y’all, go buy Island of the Stone Boy and give me a reason to feel better about myself.

        • Wm says:

          I want to echo Jonathan’s best wishes.

          And I’m now thinking that I should have a dedicated folder for final final drafts.

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