Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Quilter's Apprentice

This is the first in a series of novels built around quilting by Jennifer Chiaverini. You can browse through descriptions and even see pictures of the quilts described in the books at this website.

Sarah, a woman with a good career, is married to Matt. He moves her to a small town where she is unable to find a job. He is a landscape architect assigned to Elm Creek Manor and the reclusive owner, Sylvia Compson, hires Sarah to prepare her family estate for sale. Sylvia is also a master quilter and as part of Sarah's wages, she gives her lessons.

During the work the women do together, stories from Sylvia's past emerge. Sarah help Sylvia make amends with the house and also with her life.

Personally, I found the book to be extremely predictable and while I'm usually a fan of books that are part of a series--I don't care enough about these characters to seek out the next books to read.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Trial of the Heart by Sierra St. James

This was a very fun, easy to read.


"You wouldn't last fifteen minutes pretending to be a Mormon." "All right," he admitted. "I don't know all of your terminology, but how often does that sort of thing come up in conversation, really? I bet I could blend in for the morning." "I bet you couldn't." "How much do you want to wager?" She shrugged. "A hundred thousand dollars."

When Jamie Young inherits the valuable vineyards of her wealthy late employer, she also inherits the animosity of the whole family, and a nasty court battle. Throw in a relationship with the grandson, Clay, who thinks he's got Jamie and her Mormonism figured out in a few minutes, and things just get more complicated. In this light, romantic novel, up-and-coming writer Sierra St. James juxtaposes a naive LDS college student and a handsome, wealthy, nonreligious bachelor, proving that opposites do attract.

See what others have said about the book at:

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Last Town on Earth

From Publishers Weekly
It is the autumn of 1918 and a world war and an influenza epidemic rage outside the isolated utopian logging community of Commonwealth, Wash. In an eerily familiar climate of fear, rumor and patriotic hysteria, the town enacts a strict quarantine, posting guards at the only road into town. A weary soldier approaches the gate on foot and refuses to stop. Shots ring out, setting into motion a sequence of events that will bring the town face-to-face with some of the 20th-century's worst horrors. Mullen's ambitious debut is set against a plausibly sketched background, including events such the Everett Massacre (between vigilantes and the IWW), the political repression that accompanied the U.S. entry into WWI and the rise of the Wobblies. But what Mullen supplies in terms of historical context, he lacks in storytelling; though the novel is set in 1918, it was written in a post 9/11 world where fear of bird flu regularly makes headlines, and the allegory is heavy-handed (the protagonist townie, after all, is named Philip Worthy). The grim fascination of the narrative, however, will keep readers turning the pages. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

This was an interesting book to read and I can really imagine a good book club debate on the topics Mullen writes about.
  • Can murder be justified for the "greater good"?
  • Who determines what is best for the most people?
  • Does anyone have that right?
  • Does keeping yourself blocked off from the world save you from it?
I was a little disappointed at the way the book was a little too open-ended for my taste. However, thinking about it more has made me realize that there probably was no better way to tie up the loose ends.

There are some descriptions of violence that were a little tough for me to take (but I'm a wimp for blood and beatings) but they weren't gratuitous at all. They served its purpose in the plot and were necessary for the story to be believable and compelling.

The Confession by Beverly Lewis

This is book two in the Heritage of Lancaster County series. I had trouble putting this book down, it kept me hooked from start to end.

The Dramatic Sequel to the Bestseller The Shunning!

Katie Lapp, a young Amish woman who questioned the strict rules of her upbringing and even her own identity, has been shunned from her Amish community. Katie--now known as Katherine Mayfield--sets out to find her birth mother--and a life--she has never known.

Her birth mother is seriously ill and Katie must struggle to find her--and prove her own identity--before it's too late. But in the world of electric lights, telephones, and "fancy" things, Katie stumbles into a web of greed and betrayal where the garb of the Amish is misused to disguise an evil conspiracy. Meanwhile, unknown to Katherine, her long-lost love, Daniel, has returned to the Amish community to find her. Can they ever be together again? Find out in The Confession.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Six Writers and a Frog

This is a blog page for six LDS writers. It is fun to read and learn a bit more about the authors.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Shunning by Beverly Lewis

I greatly enjoyed this novel about the Amish community. It is the first the "The Heritage of Lancaster County" series. The end of the novel left me hanging and now I must get to the library for the second one. No language, sex or violence.

Description from the book:
All Her Life She Has Longed For The Forbidden Things, But Will Her Dreams Come At A Price Too Dear To Pay?

In the quiet Amish community of Hickory Hollow, Pennsylvania, time has stood still while cherished traditions and heartfelt beliefs have flourished. But a secret lies buried that could shatter the tranquility its inhabitants have grown to love.

When Katie Lapp stumbles upon a satin infant gown in the dusty leather trunk of her parents' attic, she knows it holds a story she must discover. Why else would her Amish mother, a plain and simple woman who embraces the Old Order laws, hide the beautiful baby dress in the attic?

On the eve of Katie's wedding to widower Bishop John, startling news staggers out of her anguished parents, and nothing prepares Katie for the devastation their confession brings. Feeling betrayed, Katie watches as the only life she has ever known begins to unravel, leaving in its wake a furrow of pain?and a future of hope.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Worst Hard Time

Author Timothy Egan
This is a book of true stories about the lives of several families during the dust bowl years in the Texas panhandle, Oklahoma panhandle, Colorado, Kansas and a little bit of southwestern Nebraska. It tells why and how the dust bowl years developed, as well as how it affected those in the "thick" of it. Walter Cronkite described this book as, "This is can't-put-it-down history."
I learned a lot about that part of our history. Reads quickly.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Dee Henderson, Author

I just loved reading Dee Henderson's books. She has two series that I have read and both of them I couldn't put down. They are adventure / romances centering around the main characters career. You can read the first chapter of each book on her web site but I warn you make sure it is available at the library because once you get started you won't want to stop.

The first series I read is the Uncommon Hereos. The heroes are a Navy Seal, Navy Pilot, CIA agent and FBI agent. These books can be read individually but are better read in order:
  • True Devotion
  • True Valor
  • True Honor
  • True Courage
The next series is the "O'Malley Family Series" These books follow the lives of seven adults who became their own family after growing up together in an "orphanage". I waited until all seven books were available at the libary then checked them all out at once. I took me about ten days to read them. These books are best read in order.
  1. Danger in the Shadows (prequel)
  2. The Negotiator (O'Malley #1)
  3. The Guardian (O'Malley #2)
  4. The Truth Seeker (O'Malley #3)
  5. The Protector (O'Malley #4)
  6. The Healer (O'Malley #5)
  7. The Rescuer (O'Malley #6)

There is nothing offensive in these books. Dee Henderson is a Christian writer so there is some conversion stuff in the books but nothing that would be offensive to LDS readers. Her web site is:

The Tea House on Mulberry Street

Muldoon's Tea Room is the backdrop for this debut novel by Sharon Owens. They are famous for their cherry cheescake (recipe included in the book) but the owners and their patrons are what bring this book alive. Penny Stanley inherited the tea room from her parents and her husband, Daniel is a chef. Penny hopes to revamp the place and start a family. Daniel hopes to save money and is trying to avoid any talk of babies. The book revolves around this couple and Muldoon's but there are so many other interesting characters in the book.

One of my favorite story lines revolves around Brenda Brown. She's a starving artist that is obsessed with Nicolas Cage and writes him letters often.

This would be a good book for discussion in a group. The book is pretty "safe". There is adultery (no graphic descriptions--very PG) but no cussing or violence.

The book has a sugary finish to match the tasty pastries from Muldoon's. It is a nice change of pace from a lot of contemporary fiction where the endings leave much to be desired and/or resolved.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

The Historian by Elizabeth Kolostova

The Historian is yet another tome dedicated to the subject of the infamous Transylvanian count Vlad Tepes that becomes a vampire known as Dracula. This book takes an interesting approach by focusing on one historian's quest to find Dracula to save the life of another historian. They find that Dracula is alive and well (not a spoiler---you find this out in the first couple of pages) and then you go on a fantastic journey throughout Europe to find him.

This book kept me captivated from the very beginning and even after I was done reading. It's a long book but it doesn't waste any of its type. Every description, action, and piece of information is an asset to the flow of the story.

This book is rated PG for a lot of death and vampire attacks (although they are not described in gruesome detail). There is very little cussing (if any) and sex (come to think of it...I don't think there is any).

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The Christmas Train by David Baldacci

This book was a very enjoyable read. Reading this book made me want to hop on a train and go for a ride.
Tom Langdon, a weary and cash-strapped journalist, is banned from flying when a particularly thorough airport security search causes him to lose his cool. Now, he must take the train if he has any chance of arriving in Los Angeles in time for Christmas with his girlfriend. To finance the trip, he sells a story about a train ride taken during the Christmas season.
NOTE: I started another book, Hour Game, by this author and there was some inappropropriate material in it, so glance through his books before checking them out or buying them.

LDS Women's Book Review

LDS Women's Book Review is a podcast that reviews books each month. A podcast is like listening to a talk radio show and in this case it is three woman and sometimes an author. You can listen to the podcasts on your computer through their site or through I-Tunes. Their last podcast featured Jeffrey Savage. By listening to the podcast I have a list of 4 or 5 books that I want to read.