This Month in Mormon Literature, May 2014

This month saw the passing of Utah critic Jeff Vice, lots of Scott Hales scuttlebutt, and several new national YA novels. Please send any news or corrections to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.

Announcements, awards, and blogs

The Third Annual Mormon Lit Blitz Writing Contest submissions are due by the end of the day today. This is your last chance! Finalists will be posted on the Mormon Artist magazine website starting 16 June.

Utah movie and cultural critic Jeff Vice passed away on Monday, May 26 at the age of 48, from heart failure after a massive asthma attack. Vice worked at the Deseret News from around 1990, and in 1996 he became the paper’s film critic. He was laid off, along with most of the other full-time entertainment critics, in 2010. Since leaving the Deseret News he has been heard on X96′s “Radio From Hell,” and the “Geek Show Podcast”. Although not a Mormon (I think), he reviewed most of the “Mollywood” movies that came out since God’s Army. See a Fox13 News report, and tributes from colleagues Sean Means, Eric D. Snider, and Dan Metcalf.

The “A Mother Here” art and poetry contest announced the winners. First place for poetry went to “Eloher”, by Dayna Patterson. All of the poems and visual works, as well as a collection of other artistic and literary pieces that celebrate Heavenly Mother, are available at the “A Mother Here” collection and gallery.

The Canadian Library Association’s 2013 Young Adult Canadian Book Award goes to Martine Leavitt for her 2012 novel My Book of Life by Angel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

Disney’s biggest Star Wars mistake,” by Alyssa Rosenberg (Washington Post). Rosenberg talks about Disney’s decision not to incorporate the Expanded Universe series of novels and comics into the upcoming movies. She includes this discussion of Dave Wolverton’s work. “Take “The Courtship of Princess Leia,” by Dave Wolverton, published in 1994. The book is full of Force-sensitive witches who have monstrous pets. But it also uses the conventions of science fiction and fantasy to think about marriage and relationships. Turns out that after you say “I love you,” he says “I know,” you rescue him from carbonite and explain that no, you are not secretly into your twin brother, it is not all fireworks and dancing Ewoks going forward. As Han Solo and Leia Organa get pulled apart by the pressures of helping run a new, democratic government, Leia considers accepting a marriage proposal driven by strategic considerations rather than love. Han, who has never exactly been good about being a responsible grown-up, freaks out and basically kidnaps Leia for what is supposed to be a romantic getaway. A scene in which he tries to cook her dinner is worth the purchase price alone. There is a spaceship crash and a lot of the aforementioned nonsense. But, substantially, “The Courtship of Princess Leia” is about what it takes for two adults with incredibly high-pressure careers to make it work in the middle of a war. “The Courtship of Princess Leia,” as well as a later novel in which Luke Skywalker deals with his post-traumatic stress disorder by having an affair with a ghost, are a nice break from what seems to be the usual blockbuster topic of late: figuring out how much property damage our heroes can get away with.”

Local author Shannon Hale discusses the need for diversity in books for young people in Salt Lake City Weekly.

Orson Scott Card, Emily Card Rankin, and Skyboat Media have created an unabridged audiobook version of the 1778 novel Evelina, by Frances Burney. “It was published anonymously in 1778, but Burney enjoyed great fame when her authorship was finally revealed.  This was her first and certainly most popular novel—a vivid, satirical, and seductive account of the pleasures and dangers of fashionable life and love in late eighteenth-century London, hence why The London Times later called it “the chic-lit novel of 1778.””

“Don’t Judge a Book of Mormon By Its Cover: How Mormons Are Discovering the Musical as a Conversion Tool” (Danielle Tomminio, Huffington Post). About missionary opportunities opened up because of The Book of Mormon Broadway musical.

Ben Christensen wrapped up his Mormon X: Confessions of a Latter-day Mutant fictional blog, which has run since November, with the character fully out as a mutant and out of the Church, happy with his choices. Theric’s review: “This roman à clef slash allegory about a young BYU student has been interesting to watch unfold. I think I knew where it would end up before the author did (or at least before the author admitted he knew where it would end up. And it’s been interested to watch the MoHo community come out and support the book . . . At any rate, I imagine this book will be more successful at proselytizing young Mormons to atheism than to the mutant lifestyle. It is certainly a tremendous piece of propaganda though, largely because of its honesty and “real”ness from the very beginning. Real characters undergoing real change will always inspire readers to feel as they feel.”

Scott Hales’ empire

Scott announces a new blog, Artistic Preaching: Exploring Mormon Literature.

Chronicles of a New Age: Early Mormon Literature, 1830–1890. By Scott Hales (Mormon Artist). Hymns, poems, and a discussion of 19th century Mormon attitudes towards the novel take center stage in this fascinating critical history.

Best. Mormon. Comic. Jana Reiss of Religion News Service interviews Scott about The Garden of Enid.

Theric on Scott’s dissertation, Of Many Hearts and Many Minds: The Mormon Novel and the Post-Utopian Challenge of Assimilation. “I find Scott’s tools for analyzing the Mormon novel compelling. Ignoring the introduction and the conclusion, it consists of five chapters. The first gets into what he means by post-utopianism and Mormon fiction, etc. Chapter two is the best treatment of Nephi Anderson to date. Admitting his flaws and his strengths in appropriate measure, Hales of course is focused on this concept of post-utopianism (which, no, I’m not going to define—you’ll have to wait for the published version) but even with that narrow focus, this chapter’s a great introduction to Anderson and his work. Chapter three gets into faithful realism, eg, The Backslider and its generation of “disaffected” fiction. Again, with his lens, Hales isn’t focused on the novels’ relative merits as fiction (this is not a list of reading-list recommendations, alas) but his analysis is insightful and useful when considering the evolution of the form. Chapter four I started out by skimming (I’ve no great interest in Mountain Meadows fiction), but it eventually drew me in. Chapter five attacks a topic I’m greatly concerned with, what Scott calls going transnational. I feel woefully unprepared for this issue of Mormon artistic output serving a global community, but it is something I’m trying to grapple with in my own work. The most highlighted section of my reading though was the conclusion that explicitly articulated many of my own nonfully expressed personal artistic goals. In fact, to me, it read much like a manifesto. (I suppose having Byuck cited didn’t hurt, but really: although couched in the stolid impartiality of the observing academic, to me it tasted of revolution. As a manifesto, we could do worse.) New Mormon Fiction! A delightful little work. I hope he finds a publisher. With the explosion in Mormon-studies publishers and the singularity of this work, I’m hopeful that he will.”

Magazines and Short Stories

Sunstone Magazine. March 2014, Issue #174. Includes Steven L. Peck’s short story “The Runners”, Carol Lynn Pearson’s essay “Why I Stay”, Lia Hadley’s story “Patience and Punishments”, and poems by Gaylord Brewer, M. Shayne Bell, Teju Cole, and Lorraine Jeffery. Also a tribute to Cherie Woodworth, the former Sunstone assistant editor, book review editor, satirist, and Yale-trained historian Cherie Woodworth passed away on July 23, 2013 from cancer.

Dialogue. Spring 2014. Vol. 47:1. Short stories: Steven L. Peck. “Two Dose Dog” and Karen Rosenbaum, “Acute Distress, Intensive Care”. Poetry by Will Reger and Dixie Partridge.

Brad Torgersen’s novella “The Chaplain’s Legacy” has won the Analog Analytical Laboratory (AnLab) readers’ choice award for novella in 2013. This novella and the short story “The Chaplain’s Legacy” form the backbone for his forthcoming Baen book, The Chaplin’s War.

M. K. Huitchins. “Water Lilies“. Short story published at Daily Science Fiction on April 21, it is now available for free.


Makers of ‘The Saratov Approach’ Announce Next Film, “Freetown”. Producers Garrett Batty and Jonathan Turner of Three Coin Productions have announced a follow-up film to Saratov, set in Africa. Melissa Leilani Larsen is authoring the screenplay. Batty said he came across the idea for the film in the church archives. The film is based on a true story of eight LDS missionaries caught in the midst of civil war in Liberia in the early 1990s. “When rebels were invading Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia, productive missionary work was shut down. A group of eight native Liberian missionaries, however, felt it was important for them to continue serving, and began a plan to flee the country. With rebels killing members of one tribe, and one of the missionaries belonging to the threatened tribe, Batty explains that “it’s essentially a ‘Saving Private Ryan’ kind of story where seven missionaries rally around to get the one missionary out of the country. It’s an amazing and complex story that ultimately just promotes faith and the goodness of God even in these harrowing circumstances.””  The film will be shot entirely in Africa, and will use mostly a native film crew.  Production is expected to begin late this summer.

The 30 minute film Women of Faith, based on a play by the same name, is now available to watch at the website. The play was written by a group of BYU students, led by Jennifer Chandler, Anna Hagadon, and Amber Richardson. The film was directed by Derek Dunn. It features a modern woman interacting with the historical characters Martha Hughes Cannon (a frontier era physician and politician), Elaine Cannon (20th century author), first black sister missionary Mary Frances Sturlaugson (the first black sister missionary), Minerva Teichert (an early 20th century artist), Irene Corbett (a physician and Titanic victim), and Eve.

Eric Samuelsen writes about it. “Women of Faith is a short film made on a shoestring by some former students of mine . . . A young woman, Julianne, clearly distraught, perhaps in despair, wanders into an art gallery, featuring paintings of women.  The artist talks to her about the paintings, and as she peers into each one, it comes to life.  She sees a short vignette about an inspiring LDS woman from the past.  That’s the premise of the film. It feels a bit like a Church film, and its intent is obviously inspirational and at least somewhat didactic.  But didactic about what, with what intent? . . . The film’s vignettes are interestingly tangential.  Like, one of them is about the painter Minerva Teichert.  But it’s not really about her work as a painter, particularly.  It’s about whether she should marry Herman Teichert, who was not LDS.  This is what I mean by tangential; an Idaho woman, from a time and place sort of hostile to art, and definitely unsupportive of an artist’s life, nonetheless wants to (and intends to) paint, but  the conflict of the film has more to do with her marriage than what we might expect.  So the message isn’t really about feminism v. patriarchy, or even cultural expectations v. My Dream’.  It’s about something more down-to-earth.”

BYU’s Final Cut Awards. Best of Fest: “Weeping” Written and Directed by Jacob Lees Johnson, Produced by Lauren Laws.

New books and their reviews

Carla Kelly, Sarah M. Eden, Liz Adair,  Heather B. Moore, Annette Lyon, Marsha Ward. A Timeless Romance: Old West Collection (#7). Mirror Press, May 2. Historical romance novellas.

Rachael Anderson. Prejudice Meets Pride. HEA Books, April 28. Contemporary romance. A young woman gets temporary custody of her two nieces. Her handsome neighbor thinks she is incapable of the job. “The story of a guy who thinks he has it all figured out and a girl who isn’t afraid to show him that he doesn’t. It’s about learning what it means to trust, figuring out how to give and to take, and realizing that not everyone gets to pick the person they fall in love with.”

Gamilia Review: “So, I was sort of thrown for a loop with this one. I thought it was a pride and prejudice retelling, but after having read it I don’t think it really was supposed to be. Sure the characters did do the whole pride vs prejudice character conflict thing, but it didn’t really have any Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen vibes. The author is just doing her own thing and not channeling Elizabeth and Darcy. So, I was a bit confused there for a bit, but the read ended up being enjoyable. Has all the beats of a sweet romance, and had a fulfilling ending.”

Michelle D. Argyle. If I Forget You. MDA Books, May 1. New adult contemporary romance. Girl with a faulty memory mixes up the boys she dates.

Heidi Ashworth. Miss Armistead Makes Her Choice. Dunhaven Place Publishing, April 24. Regency romance. Set in the world of Miss Delacourt.

Shannen Crane Camp. Rose Tinted.Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing, May 16. YA Dystopian. Sugar Coated #2.

Hannah L. Clark. Uncovering Cobbogoth. Sweetwater/Cedar Fort, May 13. YA romantic fantasy. Originally published in 2011 by KinStone Publishing.

Sharron Haddock (Deseret News). “An Icelandic tale that will appeal to many Harry Potter series fans in that it has magic, demons, secrets and surprises that involve a crystal city built beneath a volcano . . . The story is rich and it moves along at a good pace — and requires that the reader pays strict attention . . . For those who’ve missed the Harry Potter world, here’s a pretty good alternative.”

Jaleta Clegg. Chain of Secrets. Self, May 9. Science fiction. Fall of the Altairan Empire #8.

Michael R. Collings. Orson Scott Card: Penetrating to the Gentle Heart. Self, April 11. Blurb: “Professor Collings’ absorbing study, IN THE IMAGE OF GOD (1990), the first full-length treatment of Orson Scott Card, did not circulate widely following its initial publication. Now it has been republished—along with several key essays exploring directions in Card’s fiction—in trade paperback. Taken as a whole, the augmented study examines Card’s unique vision and literary achievements, a consummate storyteller who blends science fiction and fantasy with his deepest religious beliefs and moral convictions. Included in ORSON SCOTT CARD: PENETRATING TO THE GENTLE HEART are not only the earlier book in its entirety but also significant essays on ENDER’S GAME as modern epic; on Card as an established writer of mythopoeic prose; on THE FOLK OF THE FRINGE as defining a mode of community and belief. The expanded volume includes a full index and bibliography.”

Ann Dee Ellis. The End or Something Like That. Dial, May 1. Middle grade/YA contemporary realistic/fantasy. Ages 12-15.

Blurb: “Emmy’s best friend Kim had promised to visit from the afterlife after she died. But so far Kim hasn’t shown up even once. Emmy blames herself for not believing hard enough. Finally, as the one-year anniversary of Kim’s death approaches, Emmy is visited by a ghost—but it’s not Kim. It’s Emmy’s awful dead science teacher. Emmy can’t help but think that she’s failed at being a true friend. But as more ghosts appear, she starts to realize that she’s not alone in her pain. Kim would have wanted her to move forward—and to do that, Emmy needs to start letting go.”

Kirkus: “Chapters with different typefaces alternate between Emmy’s current, grief-stricken state and events leading up to Kim’s death, most notably Kim’s interest in a supposed medium touring their Las Vegas–area community. Although the quiet novel is a traditional prose narrative told from Emmy’s perspective, ample white space occasionally gives the story the look and feel of a verse novel. As she reconciles her feelings for the once popular and beautiful Kim, overweight Emmy also confronts such issues as self-image, bullying, the growing pains of adolescent friendships and first kisses. A slow start may deter some, but sophisticated readers who stick with the story will find a thoughtful search for closure and acceptance.”

PW (Starred review): ““When your best friend dies, things happen. You lie under your bed. You plan spiritual visitations. You watch a lot of TV. You eat turkey burgers.” Writing in clipped, emotionally deadened prose that carries the weight of grief, Ellis catalogues 15-year-old Emmy’s struggle with her friend’s sudden death. Alternating chapters take readers between the present, with the one-year anniversary of Kim’s death approaching, and flashbacks to the preceding months. Following Kim’s collapse in the cafeteria, Emmy is mired in her pain, but when she starts seeing and interacting with her newly deceased earth science teacher, Emmy dares to hope a “visitation” from Kim might be possible. A consult with Ted Farnsworth, a dubious medium whose seminar Emmy and Kim had attended, builds confidence in the likelihood of it happening. The Las Vegas setting powerfully contrasts the absurdity of life against the separation of death, and several truly uncomfortable scenes involving Emmy’s classmates lays bare just how ill-equipped many people are to handle death. A hard-hitting story about remembering the dead while not forgetting the living.”

SLJ: “For a significant portion of the story, Emmy is not an easy character to love; she’s prickly, self-centered, and emotionally closed-off from those around her. As the story progresses, though, she opens herself up to others: her mother, her brother, and Skeeter, the sweet boy who has adored her all along. Just as she did in This Is What I Did, Ellis skillfully captures what it’s like to be a kid who flies beneath the radar and is afraid to speak up. The story’s ending, though too-quickly resolved, is still lovely; readers will realize that it’s not about trying to find a ghost. It’s about trying to find oneself.”

LuAnn Staheli. “I love a book that absolutely sucks me in and won’t let go until I finish. Ann Dee Ellis has brought readers such a book . . . Hysterical book read at a breathless pace. One of the best YA I’ve read in awhile, and the ending was so sweet.”

Richard Paul Evans. Walking on Water.Simon & Schuster, May 6. General. The Walk #5. Conclusion of the series, as Alan comes to the end of his cross-country walk to Key West.

Kirkus: “The fifth volume in the Walk series brings it to a pedestrian close . . . This last leg of his journey is about 500 miles of straight line, which pretty much describes the plot. Every day he walks 20 miles, give or take a few, and every day he says what he eats and whom he meets. Fine. This is a journal, after all. But there are no surprises, mysteries, twists, setbacks or disasters except for the one beginning the tale. He deeply misses his wife, of course, and is now in love with a woman he’s never kissed and who’s engaged to marry another man. Meanwhile, he claims to be “not wired for celibacy,” yet he calmly rebuffs the advances of two lusty sirens in a bar without even reporting a tingle below the belt. From his journal entries, Christoffersen appears to be a man without fault. No, he doesn’t compare himself to Jesus, but the metaphor is clear. After a rain, he realizes he’s “walking on water,” but it’s no Sea of Galilee. Anyone can walk on water this shallow. Readers of the first four volumes will enjoy this conclusion. Others who are interested should read these feel-good books in sequence, starting with The Walk.”

Carolyn Twede Frank. The Hitler Dilemma. Covenant, May 5. Historical. 1938, a Mormon German boy is being forced into the Hitler Youth, and eventually the Army. How can he survive fighting for a cause he does not believe in, and which killed his handicapped brother?

Nicole Giles. Birthright. Jelly Bean Press, April 15. YA Paranormal, Descendant #2. Volume 1 was published with Rhemalda, which went out of business.

Jennifer Griffith. Immersion. HEA Publishing, May 9. Contemporary romance novella. Ripple Effect Romance #6 (a multi-author series).

L. K. Hill. Citadels of Fire. Jolly Fish Press, May 27. Historical. Kremlin, Book 1. Set in 16th century Russia under Ivan the Terrible. A young man returns from England looking for justice, and a young woman saved from slavery. Won first place in the 2011 League of Utah Writer Writing Contest. The author also publishes speculative fiction under the name “Liesel K. Hill”.

Deseret News: “Though the narrative starts out a little slow, the plot builds as the characters grow . . . Hill does a decent job of taking the historical perspective of 16th-century Russia and bringing it to life. The characters are compelling, each one struggling with inner demons while also fighting to survive the weapons of war and the politics of Russian palace life. The story pulls the reader in with a few great characters — which makes the incredibly abrupt ending that much more of a disappointment.”

Pene Beavan Horton. Devil’s Cataract. Self, April 22. Romantic suspense.

Jennie Hansen, Meridian. “Jill finds herself sitting in the tearoom of a hotel frequented by tourists in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), feeling dizzy and disoriented. She has no idea how she got there or what is wrong with her. In fact she doesn’t even know who she is . . . This book touches on several forms of mental illness, making it a fascinating look at the reasoning and functionality of people with mental problems that are not openly obvious. Set in the 1950s the racial bigotry is appalling and highlights the injustice directed toward the Rhodesian natives and the indifference of the white population to their plight. It also portrays white landowners who are kind and caring, but somewhat patronizing as they treat their black employees almost as children. The background and setting for this story shows a rich, lush land with steep mountains and deep gullies that feels authentic and inviting. The characters are a little stylized, but not annoyingly so as is often the case with African/European stories. Jill has a strong sense of survival, but occasionally suffers from the dumb heroine complex and Jon is a little naive. The story is plotted well and keeps the reader turning pages.”

Jessie Humphries. Killing Ruby Rose. Skyscape (Amazon imprint), May 1. YA suspense. Ruby Rose series #1. “In sunny Southern California, seventeen-year-old Ruby Rose is known for her killer looks and her killer SAT scores. But ever since her dad, an LAPD SWAT sergeant, died, she’s also got a few killer secrets.”

Rosalyn. “I enjoyed the book. Ruby Rose has a lot of personality: a 4.0 student with a closet full of designer shoes and a troubled home life . . . The plot is fast-paced: after her father’s death, Ruby fuels her grief into researching and observing her Filthy Five–rapists and murderers who were let free on technicalities (sometimes in her mother’s court). I initially thought the book would be about Ruby’s pursuit of vigilante justice. I was wrong. Much as Ruby wants to see justice done, she doesn’t want that justice to come at her own hands. But someone finds out about Ruby’s list and her desire for vigilante justice and manipulates her into situations where she has to choose between the life of an innocent or the life of someone who, Ruby believes, deserves to die. The mystery of who is behind these set-ups drives the book–and was, for me, one of the most compelling parts of the book. The book does require a certain suspension of disbelief: Ruby’s life (and her designer shoes) is beyond that of most teenagers, and most teens wouldn’t have access to the information or firearms that Ruby has. But for me, that was part of the fun of the book. The romance between Ruby and Liam wasn’t quite as developed as I would have liked, and most of the adults in the story behaved in baffling ways. But the story itself is strong and a fun summer read.”

Mindy, LDSWBR. 4 stars. “Wow, what a ride!  This is a very fast-paced, engaging book that doesn’t stop until the last page.  I was sure I knew what was going to happen next, but then I would turn the page, and I was pleasantly surprised with what I thought might happen, didn’t happen, and I would just have to keep on guessing what was going to happen next.  Ruby is a complicated, but enjoyable character with a great inner voice.  Liam was a fun addition that Ruby needed in her life.  With a dead dad and an absent mom, Ruby needed to try to let others in her life (other than her obsession with finding bad guys).  Huge twist at the end, but when I looked back at a few pages when I was finished, the twist made sense, but was still very shocking, and awesome!”

Sally Johnson. The Skeleton in My Closet Wears a Wedding Dress. Covenant, May 8. Contemporary romance. A 19-year old wife is shattered by her husband’s sudden filing for divorce. She returns to BYU, and tries to keep her past hidden.

Wendy Knight. Warrior Everlasting.Astrea Press, May 5. Riders of Paradesos, #2. YA fantasy.

Lynn Kurland. Dreams of Lilacs. Jove, April 29. Paranormal romance.  De Piaget series #15. Medieval France.

Lindsey Leavitt. The Chapel Wars. Bloomsbury USA Childrens, May 6. YA general. 16-year old Holly receives a debt-ridden Las Vegas wedding chapel as an inheritance from her grandfather. A rival boy’s family runs the chapel next door.

PW: “Leavitt is a Vegas native, and Holly is an effective tour guide not only for newcomer Dax, but also for readers who wonder what it’s like growing up in a place associated more with lost weekends than with proms. Dax is charming and a little lost, Holly’s a logical type who’s suspicious of emotion, and it’s fun to watch them fight their attraction and struggle with the feud between their families. While Grandpa Jim’s eccentricities are laid on a little thick, secondary characters like Holly’s brother James are well drawn, and Leavitt’s sense of place and ability to balance grief with hope make for an entertaining read.”

Kirkus: “Although the threads of the various stories come together, there’s just too much going on in this novel. Most characters come off as tropes instead of people, and nothing is explored deeply enough to offer new or interesting perspectives for readers to ponder. Leavitt’s latest doesn’t rise above the pack.”

Brian McClellan. The Crimson Campaign. Orbit, May 6. Epic flintlock fantasy. Powder Mage #2.

PW: “This swirling sequel to Promise of Blood draws the reader deep into political intrigue and military matters in a gunpowder-sprinkled fantasy world . . . The novel rushes headlong from battlefields to barroom brawls as McClellan bedevils his protagonists with betrayals, in-fighting, and reversals of fortune. When a laundress can become a mage of unprecedented potential, readers will not wonder whether characters can succeed, but will fear the price they must pay for that success.”

Kirkus: “Second entry in the Powder Mage trilogy, something like a fantasy French Revolution with seriously weird wizards . . . This book is less relentlessly inventive than the inaugural volume but still impressively distinctive and pungent, with solid plotting and exceptional action sequences. A reliably rewarding installment that will keep appetites whetted for the conclusion.”

SFF World. “The second installment of Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage Trilogy and as excellent a debut as was A Promise in Blood, he elevated his game with this second novel . . . Where A Promise of Blood gave a broad stroke of the military, The Crimson Campaign delves much more into the importance of stability in the military. McClellan also shows how short-sighted leadership can cost a great deal in the long run. Although the gods are a part of the story, these gods are backdrop and merely a part of the story rather than the complete focus.  People in the story don’t universally believe the gods have returned, despite a few of them (Taniel, Tamas, Ka-Poel) conversing with the Gods. Rather, they are just one more complication in the larger global conflict; the gods are not the be-all end-all of the story. As such, one can consider The Crimson Campaign a slide from Epic Fantasy along lines of his mentor Brandon Sanderson and into a story more grounded as a Military Fantasy, with a stronger resonance to Glen Cook’s landmark Black Company novels as the story has progressed through two volumes and there’s still a vibe of Abercrombie in the feel of the story at times.  These are all good things. One of the things I appreciate most about what Brian is doing in these novels, in their Epic Fantasy trappings, is focusing the story on characters with life experience . . . I would still like to see more of the ladies at the forefront of the story, to have perhaps Nila take a more active role rather than a reactionary role . . . In the end, what McClellan does so well in this novel is utilize harness great storytelling and makes The Crimson Campaign really difficult to put down. It was fun, his pacing was even better in The Crimson Campaign than it was in Promise of Blood. Each chapter break or section-in-a-chapter came to a close at what felt an appropriate and often perfect time which helped to propel a strong, magnetic narrative.”

Heather Ostler. The Secret of Darkwood Castle. Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing, May 18. YA paranormal. The Shapeshifter’s Secret #3. Ostler switched to this independent publisher after publishing the first two books in the series with Cedar Fort.

Clair M. Poulson. In Plain Sight. Covenant, April 1. Mystery/suspense. “Accused of a crime he didn’t commit, Donte Noble takes to the road to avoid a cop convinced of his guilt and the former fiancée who accused him of murdering her brother. Traveling the highways on a bicycle, pulling a small cart holding his dog, Donte hides In Plain Sight.”

Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine: 4 stars. “Poulson adds the small town dynamics of interrelated families, political, and business relationships in this suspense novel. The action is fast and he shows a personal knowledge of the vast distances in the West and the cooperation between law enforcement agencies. He doesn’t reveal a lot of detail about his characters’ background and the events that have formed their character, but gives more of a snapshot view of them in their current situation. Still many of his characters seem like the ordinary people we meet every day who are good people, doing their best, that become caught up in serious situations by deceptive, dishonest people.”

Lauren Skidmore. What is Hidden. Sweetwater/Cedar Fort, May 13. YA romantic fantasy. First novel. A Cinderella tale of deception and mystery. Everyone in Venesia wears a mask that indicates his or her station in life.

Angela Carter (Deseret News). “An enchanting story of friendship, romance and loyalty, complete with royal balls and a prince in disguise. While there are several nods to the classic fairy tale “Cinderella” throughout, “What is Hidden” is a strong story all on its own. Rather than spending the whole book checking off the parallels between this story and the original “Cinderella,” readers can enjoy the story in its own right, recognizing a few “Cinderella” tidbits as they go.”

G. G. Vandagriff. Lord Grenville’s Choice. Orson Whitney Press (self), May 7. Regency romance.

Jennie Hansen, Meridian: “Vandagriff delivers a polished romance that will satisfy any Regency fan and though her writing is squeaky clean, she manages to convey a philosophy much like D.H. Lawrence with the importance she places on physical attraction. Her leading characters are both products of their culture (rich, titled, upper class, early nineteenth century English) and individuals who claim personal standards that go above those demanded by society. Both Alex and Felicity have flaws that make them appear foolish and naive at times, yet both grow and mature as they each make a sincere effort to face reality, do the right thing, and to find truth. The setting for this story reveals the shallowness of a society devoid of real moral character. As long as people have money, dress well, and belong to the “upper crust” of society, lies, conniving, cheating on their spouses, gambling, are all condoned as normal. Wives are only expected to be physically faithful to their husbands until they have provided the requisite heir. Servants and common laborers are interchangeable with no real identity of their own. The author conveys this well without preaching and while keeping to the lighthearted nature of the Regency novel.”

Donna K. Weaver. Second Chances 101. HEA Publishing, May 5. Contemporary romance novella. Ripple Effect Romance #5 (multi-author series).

David J. West. Nephite Blood, Spartan Heart: Bless the Child. Lost Realms Press (self), May 3. Historical. “Bless The Child is a romance of redemption and glory. Numerous historical personages cross paths with The Spartan, including Solon, Nebuchadnezzar, the prophets Lehi, Jeremiah and Daniel, King Zedekiah and the poetess Sappho. Come back to 586 B.C. when Jerusalem burned and the life of a prince rested in the hands of the exiled Spartan. Can a mercenary trained only for war become an instrument of peace?”

Kiersten White and Jim Di Bartolo. In the Shadows. Scholastic Press, April 29. YA paranormal mystery/graphic novel hybrid. Five young people in a boarding house, where mysterious things are happening. Told in an alternating narrative of words and pictures.

PW: “Di Bartolo follows his acclaimed Lips Touch: Three Times with a project that gives him more scope for story. The creators are, in the main, handling separate narratives, with the possibility that some readers won’t recognize any connection until the end. Di Bartolo provides a horror-tinged adventure and White a horror-tinged romance centering on Arthur, a mysterious young man who, in 1899, fetches up at the Johnson Boarding House with a heavy suitcase and heavier heart. He stays longer than planned, charmed by sisters Minnie and Cora Johnson. The arrival of two summer visitors precipitates a crisis that sends Arthur on a quest to lift the curse haunting him. Di Bartolo’s images are silent stills, occasionally suffering from a lack of pacing that dialogue would have provided. Likewise, the finely detailed, single-scene development of White’s text can be overshadowed by the instant impact of the pictures. For readers who can find their own balance between the two, it’s an intriguing, many-faceted tale.”

Kirkus: “Teens square off against sinister immortals in an overstuffed muddle presented, Hugo Cabret–style, through an alternating mix of prose and wordless visuals. White’s prose, created in collaboration with Di Bartolo, puts generic elements and character types together for a slow-moving tale featuring a set of bored undying . . . Readers are likely to find themselves more confused than enthralled. The graphic panels are interspersed in short, episodic sections from the very beginning so that readers will have no idea how they are connected to the text until links are supplied many pages later. Moreover, the art is drawn and colored in a loose, blurry way that makes recurring figures hard to recognize (Arthur has a facial scar, but that’s no help since he doesn’t acquire it until late in the prose story), and many discrete incidents are often so compressed that the graphic portion frequently feels more like a sketchy storyboard than a story. Ambitious but a failure both as a whole and in its parts.”

Jessica Day George. 5 stars. “Simply breathtaking. In chapters that alternate between beautifully written text and vivid pictures, DiBartolo and White tell a fascinating story of misused power, love, and revenge. I could not put this down!”

School Library Journal: “In an inspired collaboration, White, author of urban fantasies and all things paranormal, pairs up with artist Di Bartolo to create a dark, moody, and mysterious hybrid novel. The story consists of alternating narratives, one in prose and one in vividly colored, sometimes horrific wordless graphic novel panels. It isn’t immediately apparent if or how the two narrative threads are related. That fact alone might keep readers turning pages . . . Di Bartolo’s stunning artwork takes readers across the globe and spans from the turn of the 20th century to the present. While not for strictly linear thinkers, this absorbing tale will reward patient readers with a thrill of an adventure. Upon completion, teens will find themselves thumbing through it all over again, if only to put together the pieces of the puzzle that Di Bartolo keeps in the shadows throughout this eerie volume.”

Carol Lynch Williams. Signed, Skye Harper. Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, May 13. Middle Grade/YA general. Set in 1972.

Kirkus: “A teen takes a road trip with her longtime crush, her grandmother, their dog and their one-legged rooster in a stolen RV to retrieve her mother, whom she hasn’t seen in 11 years. It’s 1972, and 15-year-old Winston (she’s named after the cigarette) is a mean swimmer—she hopes to make it into the Olympics and has a Mark Spitz poster in her bedroom that she regularly drools over. She’s lived with her Nanny since she was 4, ever since her mother, Skye Harper, packed up and went to Vegas. Winston has gotten postcards from her, fewer as the years rolled by, and one day, she receives one asking if she and Nanny can come get Skye. They don’t have a chance of making it in their intermittently reliable jalopy, so Nanny “borrows” a luxury motor home from their neighbor. What makes her theft particularly interesting is that the neighbor’s son is none other than Steve, the boy of Winston’s dreams. Hours into the trip, Winston draws back a curtain in the cabin only to discover a stowaway—Steve himself. Williams creates beautifully distinctive characters and gives them a terrifically original plot with moments of humor and quiet poignancy. The conclusion is as lovely as it is true to life, with an adroit balance between the happily-ever-after of fairy tales and the numbing pain of futile hope. A fine story of a mother-and-child reunion, packed with quirky characters and lessons about love.”

PW: “Williams’s warm, humorous, and poignant story unfolds against the backdrop of the 1972 Munich Olympics and Mark Spitz’s seven gold medals; Winston herself is a funny, strong and sensitive heroine with dreams of becoming an Olympic swimmer. As the story progresses, the short chapters (sometimes as short as a single line of text) become a powerful plot device that strengthens Winston’s voice, provides moments of laugh-out-loud humor, and builds intense emotion across all the characters, especially as romance grows between Steve and Winston.”

Reviews of older books

Amber Argyle. Winter Queen (Jessie). “This was a Whitney finalist that didn’t get a lot of love from many of my fellow readers. I didn’t think it was that bad–I really liked the world building and loved the characterization of the main character. The plot was also mostly well-constructed, at least as far as the main conflict between different kingdoms and such. However, the book was also about how this girl became a fairy queen (I think) and that aspect of the plot was confusing and didn’t make a lot of sense. It made this feel like two different books trying to be put together, and that just didn’t work out so well in my opinion.”

Brandon Bell. Middle School Magic trilogy (Sarah Dunster, A Motley Vision). “This series is AWESOME. It has everything—magic, kids learning how to use magic, kids doing things that adults wouldn’t want them to and then winning. Teachers being silly, nerdy, frumpy, and completely amazing. Parents being too strict in some moments, but grounding and comforting at other moments.  The magic is pretty cool—kids streaming places like comets, shadow-creatures, sigils, Otherwhere, sigil traps, shadowboxes, the extremely scary stalker (isn’t that the subject of any middle-school-girl nightmare?). I am glad (spoilers, sorry) Connor and Melanie got together. I’m glad Lexa didn’t lose her powers in the end. I’m glad Mr. Timberi stayed alive. And I’m glad Lady Nightwing (pretty awesome name, by the way) died herself dead . . . I really appreciated how this series focused on family relationships, and on teacher-student relationships. Far from the lonely, dystopian, “you’re-on-your-own” message that a lot of YA and middle-grade fiction seems to portray these days, this book was about extraordinary adolescents growing and learning with the support (sometimes frustrating, curbing support) of teachers and parents. And as a parent, that is something that I would love for my children to soak in. A rare message these days: adults are smart. So are you. But listen to adults, because they love you. I loved, in particular, the last half of the last book. I found myself becoming emotional with the ending chapters. This series does start off somewhat rough. The story flow is a little abrupt in places. There are “new writer” mistakes like word echoes, too many tags, and descriptions that don’t quite work. The rules and description for the use of “light and dark”, the magical element of the stories, are a bit confusing. The characters start off feeling somewhat less-believable. But it gets better with each book. By the end, I was very glad I’d put in the time to read it. I will be passing it on to my middle-school age daughter because I know she will enjoy it.”

D. J. Butler. City of the Saints (Emily Harris Adams, A Motley Vision). “When [Butler] asked me what I thought of his book, I said, “It’s history cake, isn’t it?” And it is. There’s an unabashed reveling in the historical yumminess. This book isn’t history candy. If you are looking for something enjoyable but without density, a fun read that happens to take place in a historical setting, turn your handcart around because this is not the right place. This story is rich and indulgent but still substantive. In other words: cake . . . With the unusual pacing and the need to look up historical facts, characters, and even archaic scientific theories, my reading speed suffered. I admit that I was frustrated at first, but every time I came across a fact I already knew, met a character I recognized, or caught how this alternate history tweaked the past, I felt a zing of excitement and pleasure. What really made me enjoy the book, though, was the dialogue. It’s clever and fun and keeps you reading, even during its slower parts. Kind of like frosting. Reading City of the Saints is an investment of time and effort. I can’t lie. However, I would say that the book is more than worth the investment. The rich history, the descriptive prose, and the witty banter make this a great romp in an imaginative alternate past. Enjoy your cake.”

Kristen Chandler. Wolves, Boys, and Other Things that Might Kill Me (Jessie). “This book has been on my list for quite a while and I had heard quite a lot about it from a number of people, so my expectations for it might have been a bit high. I also think I just wasn’t in the mood for a book about an angsty teenage girl with a scary dad–I sometimes think I want to read a bunch of YA fiction and then I get overloaded. Despite that, I still really enjoyed this book. The author does a great job bringing together a variety of complex problems and making the book really work. Maybe I’d like it even better if I read it again some day.”

Plate F. Clark. Bad Unicorn (Children’s Book and Play Review). “The reader must pay close attention in order to keep confusion at bay. Clark’s novel is exceptionally modern and relevant to those readers, who like Max and his friends, are apt to play magically themed card games. By taking three middle schoolers who are unnoticed by most and terrorized by bullies and transforming them into heroes, Clark is able to instill gumption and capability into the reader. Because of this, Bad Unicorn has the potential to be embraced by middle school teachers as a means of helping their students, especially their male students, develop confidence in their own abilities.”

Bree Despain. The Shadow Prince (April Spisak, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, May 2014). “Destinies, mysteries, and real and mythological difficulties all arise, but at the core this story is best when it is pure romance, even if it is a slightly unsettling one. The novel almost pulls off the elaborate plot, but ultimately, neither Daphne nor Haden feel like realistic individuals: Haden adapts almost instantly to contemporary life after spending his childhood as a disgraced prince in the Underworld, and Daphne is simply too perfect as an innately talented musical genius who never truly struggles for anything. In addition, their love story, while passionate, is rushed, and it’s more than a little creepy given the fact that he knows she is doomed in the underworld (like his own mother was) and she knows that he has her full name tattooed on his arm before he ever meets her. Even so, a smoking-hot romance and plenty of unresolved plot threads should be enough to keep readers looking out for the next installment.”

Bree Despain. The Shadow Prince (Sharon Haddock, Deseret News). “Has depth and color although the main character Haden Lord feels a little bit like another popular teen boy sans the sparkling skin . . . There’s Greek mythology that plays into the story. The stories of Oracles and gods including Hades, Zeus and Apollo, among others, play a role. There are ever-present threats from the Underworld, a lot of lightning bolts thrown and some mild drug and alcohol use. Because two more books are to come, not many key questions are answered in “The Shadow Prince.” But the story so far certainly gets the reader swept up and wanting to know more.”

Sarah Dunster. Mile 21 (Reading for Sanity) 3.75 stars. “I really enjoyed this book!  I can completely understand Abish’s frustrations and fears of moving forward with her life.  She’s not a very tactful gal to start with, but then to deal with the heartache (which is so much greater than just losing her husband) and the isolation that came with it on top of it, I totally understood her behavior.  Does she make good decisions?  Ha! No.  Not really one bit.  That’s part of the fun.  Does she grow?  Slowly, painfully, and rewardingly, yes.  There were times I thought that the descriptions of the Singles’ Ward activities and drama were a little too — well, I couldn’t decide.  They were either too painfully accurate or too stereotypical.  (It’s been a while since I’ve been in that situation.)  Either way, I completely and fully understood where Abish was coming from.  The phrase “humiliations galore” ran through my head more than once.  However, I laughed out loud definitely more often than I cringed for her.”

Shannon Hale. Dangerous (April Spisak, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, April 2014). “There are few truly good or evil folks in this novel, as everyone seems driven by multiple, intricately layered motives. Not much is made of the fact that Maisie only has one arm, other than through descriptions of the alien-supercharged robotic arm she makes for herself, and the absence of earnest efforts at proving Maisie is like the others is refreshing. Hale fans will easily find much to appreciate in the well-developed setting and sturdy girl characters in this new genre for the author.”

Shannon Hale. Palace of Stone (Orson Scott Card, Uncle Orson Reviews Everything). “If there’s ever been a book series title that told boys they were not wanted as readers, it has to be Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy. Imagine being a sixth grade boy when your friends discover that you’ve got a book titled Princess Academy in your backpack. “I’m bringing it home to my sister,” sez you, in self-defense, hoping they won’t remember that you don’t have a sister, or that she’s two years old. Or, if you really want to lose all hope of having friends, you say, “The Princess Academy books are about girls, yes, but they’re also primers on economics and civics, and anyone who reads them will come away with a real understanding of how even monarchies and dictatorships depend on the will of the people, while the laws of economics apply regardless of edicts from above.” The first book by Shannon Hale that I ever read was the original Princess Academy, and while I have since enjoyed many other books of hers — and also found her to be one of the funniest, most insightful of authors when she speaks ad lib to school-age audiences — I will confess that I was particularly delighted to realize that she came out with a Princess Academy sequel, called Palace of Stone, a couple of years ago . . . I only realized Princess Academy: Palace of Stone existed because the large-cast audiobook popped up as a you-may-like suggestion from Normally, I don’t like audiobooks in which the dialogue of each character is read by a different reader. It’s usually a feeble attempt at simulated dramatization, and casting is usually uneven, so I end up wishing the narrator would just read all the dialogue, suggesting the different voices. So I am a bit chagrined to report that this half-dramatized production is actually rather good. The editing is exceptionally smooth, so that you don’t have little delays between the narrator’s “said” and the actor’s delivery of the speech. The process is enormously expensive, especially when you do it well; I hope they’ve sold enough copies of the audiobook to justify the cost. It’s certainly a pleasure to listen to . . . in her ethics class, a hypothetical situation has been posed: Suppose there is a fire in a building that houses both an irreplaceable painting of great beauty and a prisoner, guilty of murdering a child. You only have time to save one of them. Which will it be? The inanimate but irreplaceable painting? Or the human but unworthy criminal? This becomes Miri’s dilemma as she seems to be forced to choose between saving the oppressed people of the kingdom and saving her friend the princess. Readers of Shannon Hale’s fiction will not be surprised to learn that there is no easy answer, and that the resolution of the problem is not easy or convenient . . . I’m not exaggerating when I say that this series of books has already achieved the status that can only be called “beloved.” I know a young couple who admire the character of Miri so much that they gave that name to daughter. I think it will be a name she can bear proudly; she will grow up to love the character she was named for. I read Young Adult and Middle Grade books, not because I have children or even grandchildren the “right” age for them, but because this is where some of the best writing is being published today. I buy and read these books for myself, for the pleasure of good stories well told. Shannon Hale is one of the best writers working in this area, and Princess Academy: Palace of Stone is a serious book that will make its readers, young and old, consider serious questions about public and private responsibility. Children raised on the Princess Academy books will grow up to be wiser — and better educated about civics, ethics, and economics — than their peers, without ever knowing they have taken a good introductory course in all three subjects. All the children will realize is that they’ve read a terrific story . . . I urge parents of precocious boy readers to have books like these lying about the house so that they might tempt boys to read stories that will give them insights into the hearts of the opposite sex. It will help them grow up to be better men — and it will teach them that reading “out of category” is a rewarding experience.”

Jaclyn M. Hawkes. Once Enchanted (Reading for Sanity). 3.5 stars. “There are some aspects to the book that hit me a little funny, but as a romance novel you have to remember that you’re not reading reality.  Not everyone is perfectly built, not everyone has their dream job and makes oodles of money all before the age of 40, and not everyone has the luxury of changing schedules to spend endless hours together.  Hawkes did a good job of trying to make some of this believable, but on the whole it’s just not.  Go into it with this mindset (just let go) and you’ll enjoy the ride. There was one section that is blatant proselyting for the LDS faith–in some ways it felt like a ‘here’s what you might experience if you went to church with us!’ plug.  If that kind of thing bothers you, don’t pick this up.  A major component to this book is the LDS faith and how it changes the decisions of the people who are devout members.  As a member of this faith already, I blew through the section mostly skimming because I already knew what was going to be shared.  In some ways, I felt it detracted from the story.  But I’m guessing the purpose of the author sharing that is for missionary reasons.  One piece I really liked was how women’s role in the church is explained–empowering and supportive of women and not belittling or demeaning.  It shows how women should be treated: with respect, kindness, and as equals. If you want a fun, quick, romantic book where you see a strong man who can take care of a woman without it emasculating him, this is a great read.”

Aubrey Mace. Before the Clock Strikes Thirty (Jennie Hansen, Meridian) 4 stars. “Once in awhile a book comes along that provides a much needed laugh. [This] is that kind of book . . . The plot, as in most romances, is predictable, but the journey is filled with laughter, ridiculous situations, warm cozies, and exasperating realities. The author does an excellent job of building scenes then choosing just the right moment for the punch line. The story is set against the singles dating scene at BYU, Provo, and Salt Lake City. Her charming style invites readers to laugh with her as at an insider joke that is both tender and humorous.”

Aubrey Mace. Before the Clock Strikes Thirty (Mindy, LDSWBR) 4 stars. “From the first page, I knew this was going to be a fun read. Aubrey’s humor brightly shined through in writing these fun characters and enjoyable story. I laughed a lot, smiled a lot and at times, I wanted to smack Shannon. As fun of a character as she was, she was stubborn and clueless.  But that turned out to be my favorite thing about her. Her inner voice and the back-and-forth way about her made for a great read . . . I loved how this story was told.  Very clever and entertaining.  Shannon, of course, stole the show for me.  Darling character who is trying to figure out her life, while trying to figure out who she loves.”

Kimberley Montpetit. Paris Cravings (Rosalyn) 4 stars. “Paris Cravings, by Kimberley Montpetit (aka award-winning children’s author Kimberley Griffiths Little), is the perfect kind of summer reading. It reminded me  of Anna and the French Kiss, without all the relationship drama . . . The story was charming: Chloe herself is adorable and if Jean-Paul seems a teeny bit too good to be true, I’m not complaining. I was on occasion frustrated with Chloe’s inability to see the problems with her boyfriend that seemed only too clear to an adult reader, but I think this is true to life for Chloe’s age. I liked, too, that the book didn’t end quite as I expected. A great read for those who like their romances fun, frothy, and clean.”

Heather Moore. Heart of the Ocean (Jessie). “The last Whitney finalist I read this year; this book was in the Speculative category, but those elements were fairly light (it has some supernatural/ghost aspects to it). Generally I liked it, but the plot was a bit cliche and I thought a lot of the historical details didn’t feel right for the time period it was supposed to be set in (it’s set in the 1830s, but the action and dialogue and some of the setting details felt much later, like 1870s, to me–I could be wrong though).”

Brandon Mull. Sky Raiders (April Spisak, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, May 2014). “There’s a significant amount of plot to absorb in this action-packed novel, but the gripping narrative is well worth the effort. Cole is amiable and determined, and the kids with whom he allies himself, all natives of the Outskirts, are carefully developed and intriguing, offering further glimpses into the politics, cultural expectations, and social dynamics of this complex other world. Readers will be eagerly anticipating the next installment, and while they wait they’ll have much to imagine about the fate of the Outskirts and how good might possibly triumph over the well-established evil that currently reigns.”

Tristi Pinkston. Tulips and Treason (Mindy, LDSWBR). “I loved this book.  Tristi’s books are full of fun, humor, heart, and good ole-fashion mystery.  I loved having my favorite ladies from the Secret Sisters series make an appearance in this book.  I have missed them.  Having said that, the new characters held my attention and Tristi’s writing, as always, was solid.”

Tristi Pinkston. Tulips and Treason (Marilyn Brown, AML). “A clever, humorous, well-written novel that packs a punch, especially in the LDS mystery genre. Right away an LDS reader has a big laugh when two FBI agents, married, but on the edge of divorce, are thrown together to stake out a drug operation in a primitive Utah town. They are not only to manage the only floral shop, but to pretend they are Mormons. Three old ladies begin to educate the two undercover agents with the important items of Mormon culture, such as green jello and funeral potatoes, etc. And Molly, the “hot-shot with her gun,” has to give up her coffee, which drives her crazy for a while. These quirky situations, and others, give us all the laughs we need for one read . . . Tristi has a clever, accessible style that looks easy, but I can attest that it is not that easy to achieve. Her sentences are clear, and she adds colorful notes that clarify Mormon complexities: “. . . we don’t have assigned seating, but everyone tends to gravitate to the same spots week after week. And ignore the flying cheerios (75).” But it is not only in “Mormon education” that jokes prevail. At one point Molly’s frustrations are described in this sentence: “The suspense might not kill her, but it was definitely committing attempted murder (148 ).””

A. L. Sowards. Deadly Alliance (Jennie Hansen, Meridian) 5 stars. “The major characters in this story are not so much heroic as simply real, people who do heroic things because they must. They have weaknesses and faults, but they are committed to life and their various countries. They’re self-sacrificing because of their total trust in each other. They’ve done hard things, but they continue to grow, trust in God, and give total love to each other. Even the minor characters are drawn well and elicit understanding of their motivations. This tightly written, realistic novel will be enjoyed by men and women alike of all ages. The intense action will appeal to action oriented readers, while those who enjoy tender stories will be moved by the strong emotions and sacrifices these characters vividly portray.”

Carol Lynch Williams. The Haven (Deseret News). “Williams writes brilliantly with texture and prose, and it is both endearing and humorous to see things through Shiloh’s eyes. Addressing the difficult and current topic of science and medicine coexisting with ethics and morality, Williams opens up the debate and leaves room for the readers to form their own opinions on the subject matter. Although the book is set in the future, it isn’t hard to believe that this fictional tale could someday be in the daily news.”


The Weaver of Raveloe. By Erika Glenn and Melissa Leilani Larson. American Reparatory Theatre, Oberon, Cambridge, MA, May 29-30. Musical. BYU workshop in 2011, developed at New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2012. A musical retelling of George Eliot’s novel, Silas Marner.

BYU Mayhew Playwriting Awards were announced.

Mayhew Playwriting Award: 10-minute play, Comedy: Amberly Plourde

Mayhew Playwriting Award: 10 minute play, Dramatic: Amanda Nelson

Mayhew Playwriting Award for One-act Play:  Taylor Peck, Project X (about the Manhattan Project during World War II.

Mayhew Playwriting Award for Full-length Play:  Ted Bushman, Kingdoms.

Taylor Peck further received the Outstanding Directing Student award from the BYU Department of Theatre and Media Arts for her film project, The Last Train to Neboc. Peck also received a full-ride scholarship for the MFA program for Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts at the University of California at Riverside.

More details on recent BYU theater and film awards can be found here.

The Ark. Michael McLean and Kevin Kelly. Musical, based on the Bible story of Noah. February 7-22. Draper Historic Theatre.


Richard Paul Evans. Walking on Water

PW Hardcover: x, x, #4, #11, #15 (3 weeks) 20,564, 6078, 4569 units. 31,211 total.

USA Today: x, x, #17, #85, #120 (3weeks)

NYT Hardcover: x, x, #3, #9, #14 (3 weeks)

NYT Ebook: x, x, #12, x, x, x (1 week)

NYT Combined Print & Ebook: x, x, #5, x, x (1 week)

Shannon Hale. Ever After High: The Unfairest of them All

PW Children’s: #11, #11, #15, #15, #15 (9 weeks). 5568, 5305, 4478, 4169, 3978 units. 60,344 total.

USA Today: #135, x, x, x, x (5 weeks)

NYT Middle: #10, #8, #12, x, #15 (6 weeks on the main list, 8 on extended).

Shannon Hale. Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends

PW Children’s: #18, #17, #22, #23, x (32 weeks). 3692, 3438, 3018, 2832 units. 72,614 total.

James Dashner. The Kill Order.

PW Children’s: x, #24, x, #25, #21 (5 weeks). x, 2935, x, 2816, 2980 units. 46,229 total.

James Dashner. The Maze Runner.

USA Today: #26, #26, #35, #35, #29 (26 weeks)

James Dashner. The Scorch Trials

USA Today: #63, #71. #88, #90, #74 (11 weeks)

James Dashner. The Death Cure

USA Today: #86, #91, #111, #117, #103 (13 weeks)

James Dashner. The Maze Runner series

NYT Children’s Series: #2, #2, #3, #3, #3 (85 weeks).

Brandon Mull. Sky Raiders

NYT Middle: #12, x, x, x, x.

Orson Scott Card. Ender’s Game

PW Sci-Fi: #2

Brandon Sanderson. Words of Radiance

PW Fantasy: #7

Brenda Novak, RaeAnne Thayne, others. A Sweet Life Boxed Set

USA Today: x, #24, #86, #107, #133 (4 weeks)

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5 Responses to This Month in Mormon Literature, May 2014

  1. Th. says:


    There was a great write-up of the same story “Freetown” will be based on in the new Ensign. These outside-the-US pioneer stories the History Department keeps releasing (mostly online) are some of the best things going.

  2. Thanks, Theric, for the shout-out to Church History. Working now for has been a cool way for me to contribute to Mormon culture.

    Update on the Mormon Lit Blitz. We’ve now posted a longlist of twenty-four semi-finalists on the Mormon Artist blog:

    We’ll work to get that list down to twelve finalists for the online contest, though Scott Hales has suggested publishing all 24 as an e-Book if possible. We shall see.

  3. Jonathon says:

    Andrew, I’ve got an entry for your June edition: how do I reach you offsite?

  4. Braden says:

    Thanks for including Sarah’s review of my trilogy!

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