This Week in Mormon Literature, December 28, 2013

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Covenant release 2013 Best Seller lists. I caught up on a few books that had slipped through the cracks this year. I should have the National Year in Review out next week, and the Mormon Market Review after that. Thanks to all of those who have sent their comments to me. Please send any news or corrections to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.

News and new stories

Brandon Sanderson’s THE RITHMATIST was named the Best Teen Novel in the iBooks #Bestof2013 list.

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party by Nathan Hale was named one of Buzzfeed’s “20 Of The Best Children’s Books Of 2013

Covenant 2013 Best sellers.

#1 – Glimmer of Hope By Sarah M. Eden

#2 – Framed By Clair M. Poulson

#3 – Checking Out By Clair Poulson

#4 – Deep Cover By Traci Hunter Abramson

#5 – Drops of Gold By Sarah M. Eden

#6 – Proceed with Caution By Betsy Brannon Green

#7 – Where the River Once Flowed By Jennie Hansen

#8 – The Garden Path By Anita Stansfield

#9 – Lock & Key By Traci Hunter Abramson

#10 – Ephraim Hanks: Fearless Mormon Scout By Ivan J. Barrett


Amazon Top 100 Customer Favorite in Adult Print Books

#22. Jordan and Sanderson. A Memory of Light.


Amazon Top 100 Customer Favorite in Kids & Teens Print Books

#11. Evans, Michal Vey v. 3.

#44. Mull, Wild Born.

#59. Sanderson. Steelheart.

#72 Mull, Chasing the Prophecy.

#96. Condie, Crossed.


Amazon Top 100 Customer Favorite in Kids & Teens Kindle Books

#28. Sanderson. Steelheart.

#49. Sanderson. The Rithmatist.

#58. Evans. Michael Vey v. 3.

#75. Mull, Chasing the Prophecy.

#94. Nielsen. The Runaway King.

#95. Wendy Knight. Feudlings.


Barnes and Noble Bestselling Books of 2013

#30 Jordan and Sanderson. A Memory of Light.

#43. Dashner. The Maze Runner.

#83. Condie. Matched.

“The late novelist John D. Fitzgerald is Utah’s Mark Twain” (Doug Gibson, Standard-Examiner Blogs). “Utah historian Audrey M. Godfrey, in a 1989 essay, “The Promise is Fulfilled: Literary Aspects of John D. Fitzgerald’s Novels,” correctly pegs Fitzgerald as a regional writer, a sort of Utah Mark Twain, who stresses authenticity through characterization and very detailed settings. This is particularly evident in Fitzgerald’s creation of Adenville . . . Despite his literary achievement, much of Fitzgerald’s life remains a mystery. Besides Godfrey’s essay, there is little independent research on Fitzgerald. In fact, his death in 1988 was barely mentioned by Utah media.”

The Leading Edge: Winners of the Flash Fiction Contest: Top prize goes to Amelia Hollingsworth for “Soulless,” a haunting snapshot of a future world. Two honorable mentions are Ed Eschler’s “Relative Crime” and Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan’s “Jane D.O.E.” You’ll see them all in Issue 65, coming January 2014.

Eric W. Jepsen. “The Great Mormon Novel of the 21st Century”. Antemoff Ebookery, Dec. 16. Short story.

Eric W. Jepsen. “A Hymn for Mother’s Day in Long Meter.” Poem in the anthology. A Mantle of Stars: A Devotional Anthology in Honor of the Queen of Heaven. (You can read the poem in the Amazon preview).

“The Restoration as an Adventure: L. T. Downing Talks about Get That Gold! and Her Adventures of the Restoration Book Series.” By Scott Hales, Modern Mormon Men.

New books and their reviews

S. M. Anderson. Copied. Curiosity Quills Press, Nov. 11. YA dystopian. Cloned boy in a dystopian future.

Teyla Branton (Rachel Anne Nunes). The Escape (Unbound #3). Self, Oct. Urban Paranormal. Woman with paranormal abilities.

John Brown. Bad Penny. Blacksword Books (self), Dec. 22. Thriller. Brown says, “Frank’s an ex-con, trying to go straight. Then an old cell mate shows up and . . . let’s just say things go downhill from there. Throw in a Mormon, some drug lords, and a good helping of guns, and, man, was this book a blast to write!” Based loosely on the life of an older friend from Brown’s ward who was a bank robber earlier in his life.

John Brown, Servant. Blacksword Books, Nov. 24. Republication of Servant of a Dark God, originally published by Tor in 2010. Brown received the rights for the book back from Tor after deciding to self-publish the second volume through his own imprint, Blacksword Books. The second volume, Curse of a Dark God, should be released soon.

Kristin Bryant. The Others. Gibbs Smith/Sourced Media Books, Sept. 1. YA science fiction. Human-like alien from another planet comes to Earth to find the mythic Savior. Falls in love. Bad alien guys try to take over earth. Jennie Hansen: 5 stars.

Orson Scott Card and Emily Janice Card. Laddertop Books 1-2. Tor/Seven Seas, Nov. 5. Science fiction manga. 384-page omnibus edition containing the first two books of an all-ages manga series by the father and daughter team. A mysterious alien race gave Earth ladder technology which allowed them to create space stations and harness the power of the sun. “Twenty-five years later, back on Earth, competition is fierce to enter Laddertop Academy. Robbi and Azure, two eleven-year-old girls who are best friends, are among those vying for a spot at the prestigious academy. While one is rejected, the other takes off into space for the adventure of a lifetime. Yet soon, their destinies will collide, as they must decipher an alien message and solve an ancient mystery that could either save the Earth from invasion…or trigger its imminent destruction.”

Michaelbrent Collings. Killing Time. StoneGate Ink, Dec. 23. YA horror. “One at a time, those involved in the mystery are receiving the gift of a clock that counts backward to the witching hour. And when it rings at midnight, a ghostly power—and a fate truly worse than death—is unleashed.”

Amy Harmon. Making Faces. Self, Oct. 12. YA romance. Beautiful boy goes to war, comes back disfigured. Girl loves him. Next book after surprise NYT/USA bestselling book. USA Today #148.

Jaclyn M. Hawkes. The Sage After Rain. Spirit Dance Books, Dec. 5. Contemporary Romantic Suspense. Washington DC socialite flees corruption to the high deserts of Colorado.

C. J. Hill (Janette Rallison). Echo in Time. Harper Teen, Dec. 23. YA dystopian. Sequel to Erasing Time. Twin girls woke up 400 years in the future, where they fight an oppressive government.

Jenni James. Mansfield Ranch. (Jane Austen Diaries #5). Trifecta, Dec. 25. YA contemporary romance, based on a Jane Austen novel.

Lana Krumwiede. Archon. Candlewick, Oct. 8. Dystopian. Psi Chronicles #2. Sequel to Freakling.

Gerald Lund. To run with the swift. Deseret Book, Dec. 4. Thriller/speculative. The Guardian, book 2. “After Danni McAllister and her family escaped from El Cobra and his kidnapping ring, they thought life would basically return to normal. Little did they know that their peril had just begun.”

Elizabeth D. Michaels (Anita Stansfield). Behind the Mask. White Star Press, Dec. 18. Romance. Hostberg Saga V. 1. Rachel Ann Nunes is taking the lead in publishing this novel the currently ailing Stansfield wrote a few years ago, but never published.

Kelly Nelson. The Keeper’s Defiance. Walnut Springs, Dec. 4. YA science fiction (time travel). The Keeper’s Saga #3.

Brenda Novak. Be Mine at Christmas. Harlequin MIRA, Dec. 17. Romance stories. Three Christmas stories.

Boyd Petersen. Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture and Family. Greg Kofford Books, Oct. 22. Personal essays. “For over a decade, Boyd Petersen has been an active voice in Mormon studies and thought. In essays that steer a course between apologetics and criticism, striving for the balance of what Eugene England once called the “radical middle,” he explores various aspects of Mormon life and culture—from the Dream Mine near Salem, Utah, to the challenges that Latter-day Saints of the millennial generation face today.”

Theresa Sneed. Destiny. Self, Dec. 14. YA paranormal romance. No Angel series #3. The first two volumes were published with Walnut Springs. Angels from the first two are now on Earth as humans, where they don’t remember their past. Will they find each other?

Paul Swenson. Slapped!: A Novel Based On a True Story. AuthorHouse, July 24. The author passed away in 2012. Two headstrong conservative Mormon housewives, bent on preserving open space near Utah’s Jordan River for their children and coming generations, speak out publicly against a multimillion-dollar commercial project that would encroach on the river and destroy wildlife habitat. They are promptly sued by the wealthy, influential, and powerful developers for $1.7 million.

Reviews of older books

Shanda Cottam (LDSBR)’s favorite reads of 2013. No particular order: The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen, Longing For Home by Sarah M. Eden, Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson, The Witnesses by Stephanie Black, The Rent Collector by Camron Wright, Fairy Godmothers, Inc. by Jenniffer Wardell.

Jenn Ashworth. The Friday Gospels. (Birmingham Literary Festival). “Setting aside that this is a story specificaly about Latter Day Saints (Mormons), Ashworth offers us an interlinking narrative at just the point when a family unit is about to collapse. Each individual narrative is compellingly written – the mother, Pauline, particularly. The backstory of a group of people working against the gravitation pull of religion feels painfully accurate. And the cramped terraced houses and unkempt parks of urban England are all too familiar. There’s nothing aspirational here, but it all rings so true . . . Clearly there are aspects of this religion that are difficult but Ashworth’s portrait is even tempered and compassionate. Most of her characters are not either of these things. They are dangerously, passionately, understandably daft. Ashworth brilliant illustrates, I think, that everyone’s life is so very close to falling apart and that perhaps the miracle isn’t the Second Coming but that most people somehow muddle on . . . It is a terrific book, reflective of our times, full of the bloody motley of day to day life, uncomfortably compelling to read. I would happily have given this book five stars if that were not clearly vulgar, so assume my four stars is nearly five. And the prose is not at all taxing, although there is nothing wrong with tax.”

Sian Ann Bessey. You Came for Me (Jennie Hansen, Meridian). “The story begins as a light, fun romance with social overtones, then the bombing occurs and the story is suddenly an intense mystery/suspense novel. Bessey, having lived in Wales and England, fills in the small background details that make the setting come alive. This novel will appeal to a wide range of ages and interests and the suspense aspects will keep the reader staying up late turning pages.”

Melissa Dalton-Bradford. Global Mom (Shelah Books It). 5 stars. “What I was unprepared for was just how much this book would knock my socks off . . . I read Global Mom in two sittings, and I cried big, ugly heaving tears at the end. And not because the book is emotionally manipulative (because it’s not) but because I was both grieving along with Melissa (who writes about the death of her oldest son, Parker, as part of the narrative) and so sad that the book was done. If you’re someone who would love to pack it in and move to Shanghai with your kids, this book will give you the confidence that you can do it. If you want a story about living and grieving, this is that story. If you just want a well-written memoir, read this. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year, and that was a delightful surprise for me as a reader.”

Jack Harrell. A Sense of Order. (Blair Hodges) 3 stars. “It’s tough to review a collection because some stories would receive 5′s and others would receive 2s. There are certainly some 5-star stories here, but for me personally, there were enough 2′s and three’s to bring the average down to a 3. I confess that a few of the 5-star stories have stuck with me over the past few months since reading them, which is a mark of a good story for me. Gives me something to think about. A different way of looking at the world. Harrell is a Mormon author, but not all of the stories include distinctly Mormon elements. A few of the ones that do tilt too far in didactic directions for my taste, although usually in a way that complicates rather than reinforces typical Latter-day Saint perspectives. The element I appreciated most about Harrell’s writing is his ability to distill haunting ruminations into one-liners that echo in my mind long after I put the book back on the shelf. Simple things, like this: “Dear God, blind me to the pain of others.” Think on that.”

C. J. Hill. Slayers: Friends and Traitors (Rosalyn). 4 stars. “I’m a long-time fan of C.J. Hill (aka Janette Rallison). While her Slayers books are very different from her (very funny) YA novels, there’s still a lot of humor and relationship drama in these books. And while this book is the second in a series, it doesn’t seem to suffer from the second book syndrome–partly, I think, because the characters still have some compelling arcs . . . Still, it’s hard not to love a book that has the heroine zooming across the sky in a Wonder Woman costume (and fully aware of the ironic humor in her appearance). And the dragons are beautiful and dangerous and heartbreaking all at once.”

Kristen McKendry. Desperate Measures (Jennie Hansen, Meridian). “Canadian readers are likely to pick up some of the clues faster than other readers since some of them hinge on Canadian geography and legends. The Canadian countryside, school system, law enforcement, and historical highlights give depth and color to the story as well. The plot begins at a moderate, but humorous pace and gradually builds to an exciting conclusion.  McKendry writes with a kind of dry humor that draws the reader in from the first page. She makes it easy to visualize a large family interacting with both their home chores and the business of tracking down clues without getting confused by the large cast of characters. She tosses off one-liners at the most appropriate times. I recommend this book for every harried parent and anyone else who enjoys mysteries and a good laugh.”

Pamela Reid. Small Grain of Sand (Jennie Hansen). 3 stars. “A little slow and predictable, but fascinating detail about Tahiti and members of the Church outside of the USA.”

Pamela Reid. Small Grain of Sand (Deseret News). “Although it is quite predictable, the story is well-written and very family focused . . . It is a tender love story of faith, hope and redemption.”

Regina Sirois. On Little Wings (Cindy). “This is just the kind of book I love – well-paced (neither too slow, nor too fast), centered mostly around the complexity of human relationships and interactions, a love story without being a gagfest . . . Recommended to people who love a good, mellow read about relationships and families; I think if you like Madeleine L’Engle’s Austin family books, you’ll enjoy this one.”

G. G. Vandagriff. The Baron & The Bluestocking (Jennie Hansen, Meridian). “It’s a delightful romance, a bit of a mystery, and a social commentary rolled into one. The characters are likable, if a little cliché, but that’s usually the case with the Regency genre. The background is recognizable as the usual country manor and posting inn along with the balls and extravagances of that era’s London social scene. More emphasis is placed on class distinctions than is usual and that gives the story more depth than is common for this genre. I was a little bothered by the abruptness of some of the scene changes and would have liked smoother transitions of time, place, and character points of view. However, I don’t think Regency fans will be disappointed with this one.”


James Arrington. The Farley Family Christmas (Zach Archuleta, UTBA). “Like all family functions there are many things to love and a few that would be easier to endure if they were happening in another room. There are moments when I wondered if the characters can really be that extreme, even though I knew they were supposed to be caricatures. There are jokes or gags some audience members may not understand if they don’t have enough experience in Utah/Idaho/Mormon quirks. There’s also the chance that some jokes may not seem funny because they hit too close to home. The jokes spread across a broad spectrum of humor, from outright physical comedy to the little personal quirks that can drive a person crazy . . . So if you need a little holiday spirit and want to see some sensational characters, you’ll find the chestnuts are roasting and nutty—and a few will set off the security system to self-destruct the house—at the Farley Family Christmas this season.”

Tim Slover, Joyful Noise. (Julia Shumway, UTBA). “Bronson played an endearing Handel whose awakening and transformation were both believable and compelling. Bronson’s Handel was a man in the midst of a somewhat blustery late-career crisi, who felt betrayed and abandoned by the public who had once admired him. I was most impressed at how easily Bronson’s integrity and humor made it for me to relate to the tempestuous and often self-centered Handel. Travis Hyer played a similarly raw and relatable King George II. Because he was sometimes used for comic relief, it would have been easy for an actor to play the king as a buffoon. Instead, I was impressed with how organically Hyer blended the king’s occasionally linguistic gaffes (being a native German) with his good intentions, political wisdom, and deep sense of loss for his wife . . . My only complaint for the play was that it seemed to drag. Rennaker played Susannah Cibber in a manner that kept me constantly aware of her tragic past, which may have been historically accurate, but often clashed with the less serious and action of the play. While her eagerness to reclaim her place on the stage and her relationship with her estranged daughter were compelling thematic elements, Rennaker’s penchant for tears made me sympathize with Kitty Clive . . . While the musical performances occurred less frequently than one might expect from the subject matter, all of the vocalists were talented. Good accents don’t necessarily have the ability to make a play, but with individuals from several regions and classes, bad accents can easily ruin it. Luckily, each performer’s accent was executed perfectly . . . Overall, the play was enjoyable if slow. The characters of Handel, Kitty Clive, Mary Pendarves, and King George II carried the play and offset the parts that dragged. Director David Hanson used some interesting staging devices which made the most of the small thrust stage with minimal set.”

The winners of ‘The Echo10 Play Festival’:
Best Actress: Amber Dodge
Best Actor: Tyler Harris
Best Writer: Davey Morrison Dillard
Best Director: Georgia Buchert
Best Overall: All The Answers – By Mark Cornell


Christmas for a Dollar. Nov. 12, 2013 DVD. Mainstay Productions, Covenant Communications. John Lyde, director. Based on a Gale Sears novel. Depression-era family and Christmas. First televised showing on the UP television station, Dec. 15.

Studio C Seasons 1 & 2 (DVD) (Bloggin’ ‘bout Books). “Finding clean, quality family entertainment is not easy these days.  In fact, it’s pretty much impossible.  Which is why Studio C, a sketch comedy series produced by BYUtv, feels so refreshing. When I popped in the DVD of the show’s first two seasons, which I received for review the other day, my kids (ages 15, 11, 9 and 5) came running.  Literally.  Even though they had already seen most of the episodes on the DVD, they gathered around and watched them again, laughing uproariously.  For hours.  When bedtime rolled around, they kept begging for just one more episode.  That’s how entertaining Studio C can be.”


December 22, 29, Jan. 5 lists

Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

USA Today #53, #51 (56th week)

PW Children’s: #22, #22, #19 (10th week). 5217, 6465, 8911 units. 74,201 total.

NYT MM Paperback: #1, #2, #2 (62nd week)

NYT Trade: #21, #21, #20 (14th week)

NYT Ebook. #20, x, x (19th week)

NYT Combined Print and Ebook #14, #20, #15 (22nd week)

Speaker for the Dead, by Orson Scott Card

NYT MM Paperback: x, x, #20 (5th week)

Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends, by Shannon Hale

USA Today #122, #129 (4th week)

PW Children’s: #10, #11, #12 (11th week). 8287, 10,089, 13,541 units. 75,710 total.

NYT Middle: #11, #12, #14

Spirit Animals #1: Wild Born, by Brandon Mull

PW Children’s: #11, #17, #17 (15th week). 7130, 8194, 9736 units. 85,461 total.

NYT Middle: #9, #10, #12 (14th week)

Steelheart, by Brandon Sanderson

NYT YA: #7, #8, #9 (12th week)

The Eye of Minds, by James Dashner

NYT YA  #12, #15, #15

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