Friday, June 29, 2007

A String in the Harp by Nancy Bond

I found this great deal (brand new for $2.99) in the Salt Lake City Barnes & Noble the other week, so am guessing it might be a summer reading special in all their stores. Perfect for stocking up on good youth books--if they are avid readers.

The display in Salt Lake carried several similar books--all award winning in previous years. A String in the Harp, by Nancy Bond, won a Newbery Honor, and several other awards in its time. It was first published in 1976. This latest edition was published by Aladdin Paperbacks in May 2007. It was written for ages 9 - 13.

I suggest the need for avid readers because the book tends to be a little long winded in places when compared with today's material. Having said that, I have to admit I’m engrossed. Mind you, it is set in Wales, UK--a hop and a skip up the road from Caernarvon, the town where I was born, so I guess I am a little biased.

When I was young, my family often traveled the long coastal road from Aberystwyth alongside Cardigan Bay on our way to a Welsh holiday destination. I can see in vivid detail every description Nancy writes.

The story tells what happens to three American children, unwillingly transplanted to Wales for one year, when one of them finds an ancient harp-tuning key that takes him back to the time of the great sixth-century bard, Taliesin.

To quote from the book blurb, “When fifteen-year-old Jen Morgan flies to Wales to spend Christmas with her family, she’s not expecting much from the holiday. A year after her mother’s sudden death, her father is preoccupied by the teaching job that has brought him and Jen’s younger siblings to Wales for the year. Her brother, Peter, is alternately hostile and sullen, and her sister Becky, misses Jen terribly.

"Then Peter tells Jan he’s found a strange artifact, a harp key that shows him pictures from the life of Taliesin, the great bard whose life in six century Wales has been immortalized in legend. At first Jen doesn’t believe him, but when the keys existence – and it strange properties – become known to the wider world, the Morgans must act together against a threat to the key and to their family."

I recommend this book because it not only transports the reader to another country and brings the place to life, but it also dives back in time and turns an adventure into a fascinating history lesson in disguise. And it's clean, to boot.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sheep's Clothing by Josi Kilpack

Recently I read Sheep's Clothing by Josi Kilpack. The main character, Kate, was someone I could relate to and that's probably why it made the story a little eerie. When her daughter, Jesse, starts to chat online with a child predator, things start escalate.

What parents wouldn't be horrified if they found out their child was being solicited by a 40+ man posing as a 13-year old girl?

The book takes you through 16-year old Jesse's journey of insecurity and how she turns to a friend "Emily" who she meets online. We also catch a glimpse of Kate, Jesse's mother, who is trying to be the "all" for her six children, her husband . . . but essentially falls short when she doesn't pay close enough attention to the changes in her daughter's life.

Of course it can happen to anyone. And it does. So that's why I really appreciated the Author Notes that Kilpack added at the end of her book. They detail resources that parents can use to help prevent internet predators from infiltrating their homes.

I definately think Sheep's Clothing is an excellent book for parents and teenagers to read together. It will open up the line of communication of becoming educated about internet predators.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Chaos by Jeff Downs

I recently read and enjoyed Chaos, by Jeff Downs. Chaos is the story of Jason Harrington, a junior high school teacher whose peaceful life gets ripped to shreds in the course of a few hours when a mysterious antagonist frames him for the murder of four police officers. Innocent of all charges but helpless to prove it in the face of the evidence mounting against him, Jason doesn't dare turn to the police for help. He flees. A former girlfriend, Kelly Nicholls, assists him in what seems like an impossible quest to elude an assassin out to kill Jason for reasons he can't understand and find evidence to prove Jason's innocence to the police.

Chaos is a fast and exciting read. Downs plunges you straight into the action and keeps up a brisk pace throughout the novel. The characters are sympathetic and Jason's dilemma will set your mind spinning as you wonder why anyone would target this nice-guy junior high teacher and how Jason is going to get out of this alive.

I'm a fan of Jeff Down's work and am always intrigued when he releases a new novel. Chaos is an excellent book--in fact, my favorite of Down's books so far. I'm looking forward to his next novel.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Mummy's the Word by Kerry Blair

Very funny and intriguing at the same time. Kerry Blair has a way of keeping you twisting and turning and wondering what is going to happen next. Book includes a crossword puzzle with clues at the end of each chapter.
When Samantha Shade is offered the opportunity to run Nightshade Investigation, her uncle's private detective agency, she literally jumps at the chance. It has always been her dream to work at the famously quirky firm. But when a wealthy, eccentric client hires Nightshade to protect a priceless artifact, and the relic is almost immediately stolen from right under Samantha's nose-her dream turns into a terrible nightmare.

With a long list of suspects, and a short supply of experience, Samantha must accept the help of an antagonistic and reluctant policeman and the eclectic staff at Nightshade to solve the case and keep her uncle's beloved firm from disaster.

Filled with the twists, turns, and thrills of classic detective novels, along with a generous helping of humor, readers will enjoy sleuthing the crossword clues in this exciting, frothy mystery.

Peter and the Starcatchers

Scrolling through the Children's Literature section, I saw several other Peter Pan stories. I haven't read those, but I enjoyed reading Peter and the Starcatchers this past weekend.

It's by two authors, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. I haven't read anything by Pearson, but I've enjoyed Barry's humor columns over the years. At the beginning of the book, Pearson thanks his daughter who asked the question: How did Peter Pan meet Captain Hook?

And of course everyone's question: How did Captain Hook lose his hand? You'll have to wait until the end of the book to find out, but in the meantime Peter and the Starcatchers is a fun adventure. It opens with an orphan boy names Peter, who is sent away from England on a ship. He meets a girl, Molly, and they become friends. But Peter soon learns that Molly is no ordinary girl and she holds a fantastic secret. And it all has to do with a mysterious trunk that was loaded onto the same ship.

Unbeknownst to Peter, some pirates have learned about the treasure inside the mysterious trunk, and the chase begins.

If you or your children enjoy pirate adventures, this is a great summer book. It's a fun read and as I read it, I thought it would be a great book to read aloud to my children. The descriptions and setting is vivid--definite material for a movie.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Nominate Your Favorite Books!

As both an author and a reader, I’m excited about a new awards program for novels written by Latter-day Saint authors. The Whitney Awards are named for a quote from early apostle Orson F. Whitney: “We shall yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own.” Sponsored by LDStorymakers, the Whitney Awards program is designed to honor excellence in fiction.

Whitney Awards will be given in the following genre categories:

Romance/Women’s Fiction
Speculative Fiction
Young Adult/Children’s Literature

And the following overall categories:

Novel of the Year
Best Novel by a New Author

Any novel written by an LDS author and released between January 1 and December 31, 2007, is eligible for the 2007 Whitney Awards. A nomination form is available on the Whitney website, and we invite all readers to pay a visit to the website and nominate their favorite new releases.

Official rules and FAQ can also be found at the Whitney website. Click here to read a press release posted on Meridian Magazine. We've also been discussing the Whitneys this week at Six LDS Writers and a Frog (scroll down a couple of entries to find the Whitney blogs from the beginning of the week.)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich

If you feel like your days and long and hard read this book and life will seem a breeze. I read this book for my reading group and really enjoyed it. I takes place in Nebraska at the turn of the century and tells what it was like for those first homesteaders. It was particularly significant to me since I am currently living in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Abbie Mackenzie dreamed of becoming a fine lady like her aristocratic grandmother, devoting herself to music and art. But at eighteen Abbie found a different dream, turning away from the promise of a comfortable life as a doctor's wife to marry handsome, quiet Will Deal. Together, they eagerly accepted the challenge of homesteading in Nebraska territory, where the prairies stretched as far as they could see, and only the strongest survived for long.

Uglies by Scott Westerfield

I'm new to contributing to this blog, so I hope this book hasn't been done before. I just read Uglies for my book group. Lately we've been reading a lot of YA and I've found it to be quite fun.

Uglies is a futuristic novel that takes place centuries after our civilization (we're referred to as the Rusties). It took me a few chapters to really get into the language of this new world, but once I clued in, it became a great read. The main character is Tally, and she is nearing her 16th birthday. In her world, when someone turns 16, he/she undergoes a series of operations to be made pretty. Then the teenager goes and lives in Pretty Town, doing nothing but having fun and going to parties.

Tally meets another girl about to turn 16 who doesn't want to turn pretty. This girl, Shay, introduces Tally to a whole new way of thinking. Tally begins to second-guess her desire to become pretty.

Uglies is the first book in a trilogy. This book will be enjoyable for grades 6 and up.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What the Doctor Ordered by Sierra St. James

This was an enjoyable read. It is fun to see how Aunt Bertie manipulates things to get John and Ellie together.

Deseret book description:
They've never been out on a date. They can barely speak a civil word to each other when they find themselves in the same room. But Aunt Bertie, who is not crazy, just — eccentric — knows that John and Ellie belong together, and she's doing all she can to further their cause. When Ellie comes to Colton Idaho, to spend the summer with Aunt Bertie and prove to her parents that her aunt doesn't belong in an assisted-care facility, the confusion begins. Bertie's determination to marry Ellie off to Dr. John Flynn leads to a hilarious string of miscommunications in this delightful romantic comedy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Above Suspicion by Betsy Brannon Green

I believe this is book three in Betsy Brannon Green's Haggerty series and it was great. The little old ladies from Haggerty, Georgia are back and Miss Eugenia is suspicious of anything out of the ordinary.

Deseret Book description:

It's been five years since Mary Grace O'Malley has seen John Wright. And right at this moment, Mary Grace wishes she wasn't seeing him standing in the dining room of her Bed and Breakfast Inn. Now the rising star reporter has returned to the small Florida town of Bethany Beach to investigate an unsolved murder--and to see Mary Grace.

As John persuades Mary Grace to help him explore the tragic secrets of twenty-five years ago, Miss Eugenia Atkins and her friends arrive at the Arms for a pleasant vacation. But when a guest ends up dead, they all become embroiled in investigating this new mysterious crime.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


This book is by a BYU grad, Stephenie Meyer. It isn't what would be considered LDS fiction, but it is a chaste young adult book that adults will love as well.

One of my best friends sent me this book to help me get out of my reading "funk". It worked. I finshed the hefty volume in a day and now I'm waiting to get the sequel. This same friend is a writer and she has a blog called Book Club President where she reviews books and adds discussion questions. Her review was exactly what I would have written (had I her talent with words) so I'm just going to link to it here.

My new favorite book!

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

This is a children's novel that many adults will enjoy. It was enchanting and sometimes scary. Great for teaching children that there are consequences to their actions. I will probably end up paying full price for book two since it was just released May 1st (and made the NYTBSL at #8 for children's novels).

I read about Fablehaven on the Six LDS Writers and a Frog website (you will neet to scroll down to May 15th) and wanted to read it. I ordered it and when the book arrived David asked what it was and I told him it was a youth novel I planned to read and that he and I could read together. He took it and was looking at it when I suggested he read the back. He did so without a problem. I then asked him if he wanted to try and read it by himself letting him know that most 7 year olds would not be able to read it. He took the book and is now on chapter seven and seems to be really enjoying it. I was only able to read a few pages now and then when he sets it down or forgets to take it to school.

For centuries, mystical creatures of all description were gathered to a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic in a cynical world. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite...

Kendra and her brother Seth have no idea their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws give relative order among greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken, an arcane evil is unleashed, forcing Kendra and Seth to face the greatest challenge of their lives. To save her family, Fablehaven, and perhaps the world, Kendra must find the courage to do what she fears most.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Dead on Arrival by Jeffrey S. Savage

Great book. Couldn't put it down. Jeffrey S. Savage has a great way of twisting the plot around and around. Leaves you hanging wanting more. When is the next book coming out?

Curiosity can be a curse, and just like the proverbial cat, feisy Shandra Covington could soon end up dead.

As a newspaper reporter, Shandra meets unusual people every day. But Pinky Templeton is the first one who has claimed, quite vocally to be dead! She would just ignore him as another nut case, exept life-threatening events are happening to those close to her. And Pinky seems to be involved -- althought official records show he died in 1957.

Now that he's gone and died again, Shandra feels she must find out the truth--even if her police officer friend Bobby Richter doesn't want to help. After all, how many times can one man die? With Pinky, it's hard to tell.