Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry

The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry.

Lucinda Chapdelaine's parents died in a carriage accident years ago, leaving her to live with a distant uncle. They toil in a jewelry shop under the direction of her demanding step-aunt.

One day, a mysterious lady comes into the shop with an even more unique jewel. This sets a chain of events into motion that will change Lucinda's life. She'll befriend a goat, find her childhood home, meet a prince, and be sent to her death.

I thoroughly enjoyed this debut novel by LDS author, Julie Berry, so I contacted her for an interview, which I posted at my blog. You can view it here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Hourglass Door

The Hourglass Door
By Lisa Mangum

Shadow Mountain, May 2009

Review by Heather Moore

Abby has always had a plan, and everything is running smoothly her senior year. She and her friends have applied to the state college together, her boyfriend takes her out every weekend like clock-work, and she even agrees to go bowling for her birthday—again—though she’s been doing it since she was four years old. Each day is predictable and Abby thinks that’s what she wants. Normal.

Until Dante, an exchange student from Italy, arrives at her school. Things start to change and Abby realizes it’s because of Dante. She’s ready to take risks, ready to dream, and she realizes that things aren’t what they seem—especially Dante. He keeps a fascinating, yet deadly secret, and in order for Abby to survive, she’ll have to trust her heart, and Dante.

From the first page, I was absorbed by this story. Abby is a witty character who hates her full name—Abigail Beatrice—until she discovers the role it might play. As she works at the assistant director on the play Much Ado About Nothing, then meets new student Dante, she begins to understand that classical literature transcends the parameters of time. Dante comes into the story as a mysterious character who seems only to pay attention to Abby—much to the dismay of the other girls in the school. But he has more reason than just a case of attraction—his dark secret will change Abby’s perception of life forever. A fascinating and highly creative story developed on connections between literature and time travel, I was impressed with Mangum’s debut novel. Just enough suspense, just enough intrigue, and of course romance, roll into one engaging read.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Forgotten Warrior

The Forgotten Warrior
By Kathi Oram Peterson
Covenant Communications, 2009

Review by Heather Moore

Sixteen-year-old Sydney Morgan—a black belt in Karate—is unexpectedly transported to the land of Zarahemla. Dressed in her “strange” karate clothing, she is mistaken for a boy and thought to be a spy. Sydney has landed in the middle of Captain Helaman’s camp—where they are preparing for battle with the Lamanites. When Sydney finally earns Helaman’s trust, she is asked to help train the warriors to fight. As she tries to remember exactly what the result of the upcoming battle will be, Sydney finds herself liking chief warrior Tarik. But it seems doomed from the start as Sydney is caught between two worlds—with no answers in sight.

A fast-paced YA novel, this book relives the account of the stripling warriors in a unique way. Sydney and Tarik are strong and lively characters, set in one of the most volatile eras of the Book of Mormon. Adults and young adults alike will enjoy The Forgotten Warrior. A fun and engaging read, this book will especially appeal to fans of Chris Heimerdinger and Sariah Wilson.

The story seemed to end abruptly with several loose ends to be tied up, setting up the book for an obvious sequel. According to the author’s website, the next installment will be released Fall 2009.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Hunt for Dark Infinity by James Dashner

The 13th Reality: The Hunt for Dark Infinity
By James Dashner
2009, Shadow Mountain

Review by Heather Moore

“The boy stared at his world gone mad.”—begins the second book of the bestselling 13th Reality series: The Hunt for Dark Infinity. The malicious Reginald Chu has devised a way to infiltrate the minds of people and creatures alike—controlling their thoughts, speech and actions.

New Realitants, Tick, Sophia, and Paul, must find a way to penetrate Chu’s destructive creation before he gains control over all the Realities. But they are at the mercy of Chu’s test—as they are winked from one reality to another—forced to decode strange messages and battle deadly creatures in order to save their own lives.

From a distance, Master George can provide aid when it’s most needed—but even he can’t stop the events from unfolding. For he knows that Tick needs to make whatever sacrifice necessary to stop Chu from succeeding.

From the first sentence to the last, Dark Infinity will propel you through fantastic Realities, spin you against another adventure just as you’re ready to take a breath, then deposit you in the middle of one of the most clever twists I’ve read in years.
This author also has another book coming out this year: The Maze Runner trilogy (Random House, 2009)

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (reviewed by Laura Craner)

If you are like me (which you must be since you read this blog! *wink*), then you have probably heard of A Thousand Splendid Suns and wondered if it was a book you would like. After all, it's critically acclaimed and most readers are so passionate about it they have a hard time keeping their enthusiasm in check. But, it's about Afghanistan and, well, has some pretty intense thematic issues. How's a reader to know? I finally read it and decided to review it here so you all can make a more informed decision.

Let's get my bias out of the way first: I LOVED this book. Even though I had spent the day with all three my kids fighting the crowds at the zoo free day I stayed up all night reading it. I cried at the end because I had no words to describe how much it moved me. It's that good. The style is spare and elegant and straightforward--Hosseini puts on no airs; every word is artfully chosen and necessary--making it easy to read. The characters are complicated and human, which means they are full of hopes and dreams as well as frustrations and foibles.

The story follows two women, Mariam and Laila, and their husband, Rasheed (yes, Islam allows polygamy, although I don't think that is the technical name for them), as they struggle through the last thirty years of Afghanistan's history. It follows them through the Soviet period, the Taliban, 9/11 and the subsequent invasion, and ends with the current rebuilding period. Mariam and Laila run into a lot of trouble--multiple miscarriages, bombings, deaths of loved ones, and terrible abuse--but the two women have such strength of character that the book never descends into the depressing muck that is so common in modern literary fiction. Oh, and there is sex. But none of it is nasty or gratuitous or pornographic. What is included is necessary to the story. As a reader you will undoubtedly disagree with some of the choices the women make, most likely the one that lands Mariam in jail. There are parts where you will feel sad and parts where you will feel angry, but the overall feel of the book is not sad and angry. It is hopeful and compassionate and beautiful.

This book may not be for everyone because of its challenging nature, but I think most people will be glad they read it. I certainly was.