Sunday, April 11, 2010


By Jack Weyland

Nineteen-year-old Emily Latrell has always been infatuated with her brother’s best friend, Austin Brunswick. But Austin is two years older than Emily and just home from his mission. He’s always had other girlfriends, and though Emily has grown up dramatically during his absence, she can’t imagine the handsome returned missionary having any romantic interest in her. Especially not after her tragic experience. Clearly, the attention that he pays her is the result of a promise he made to her brother, Jeremy, and she decides to give Austin the brush-off.
But it’s not that easy to change your heart.
Jack Weyland’s book about young love and overcoming adversity is filled with spiritual insight, fun, and romance. You’ll fall in love with Emily and wonder what it’s going to take for Austin to see the light. Theirs is a story you won’t soon forget.

Jack Weyland is my favorite LDS fiction writer. He spins a good yarn. This is one of my all-time favorites of his. I just read it again after not having read it since high school. I still like it and actually got a few very good ideas from it (spiritually speaking). I enjoy Emily’s transformation from young girl to young woman.
I’ve talked to others that enjoy reading Jack Weyland’s books, and they really don’t like this one. It’s mostly to do with Austin and his hesitance to date Emily because he’s worried about the way she looks. I found that it was truthful and I liked it. That’s something you worry about. You want to by physically attracted as well as emotionally. It’s just a factor. Again, great story, great characters, and wonderful message. You can pick up any of his books and fall in love with them. This is one of his better ones, and as time goes by he just gets better and better.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Just Listen

By Sara Dessen

Annabel Greene seemingly had everything: cool friends, close family, good grades, and a part-time modeling career in town. But it all came crashing down, and Annabel has spent the summer in shaky, self-imposed exile. She finds herself dreading the new school term and facing, well, everyone again. The last thing she wants to do is revisit old friendships while the losses are painful, the secrets behind the rifts are almost unbearable. Her solid family seems fragile, too. What happened to cause the stiff silences and palpable resentments between her two older sisters? Why is no one in her loving but determinedly cheerful family talking about her middle sister's eating disorder? Annabel's devastating secret is revealed in bits and snatches, as readers see her go to amazing lengths to avoid confrontation. Caught between wanting to protect her family and her own struggles to face a devastating experience, Annabel finds comfort in an unlikely friendship with the school's most notorious loner. Owen has his own issues with anger, but has learned to control it and helps her realize the dangers of holding in her emotions. Dessen explores the interior and exterior lives of her characters and shows their flaws, humanity, struggles, and incremental successes.

Soooo....ahem. This book was, well, how do I put this? I felt yucky after I read it. Beware of too much detail (yes there is such a thing). The main character, Annabel, gets raped. I don't think an author has to go into much detail when that happens, and I admit I skipped a page or two. While being powerfully told, I just couldn't relate. I have never been to beer parties, never been part of a clique, and the list goes on. If this is what the average teen goes through...holy cow. That's all I'm saying. There was lots of profanity, and lots of evilness going on. I know Sara Dessen is really popular and has a huge following, but I for one can almost with certainty say I will never read another of her books again. I wanted to go take a long shower after I read it just to get the goosebumps to go away. (And these were not good goosebumps.) I however, will state once again, that I am highly sensitive to profanity and sex-related material; so read at your own discretion.

The Actor and the Housewife

By Shannon Hale

Mormon housewife Becky Jack is seven months pregnant with her fourth child when she meets celebrity heartthrob Felix Callahan. A few hours, one elevator ride, and one alcohol-free dinner later something has happened, though nothing has happened…It isn’t sexual. It isn’t even quite love. But soon Felix shows up in Salt Lake City to visit and before they know what’s hit them, Felix and Becky are best friends-talk-on-the-phone, drop-everything-in-an-emergency, laugh-out-loud-at-stupid-jokes best friends.
Becky’s loving and devoted husband, Mike, is mostly unconcerned. Her children roll their eyes. Her large extended family and neighbors gossip endlessly. But Felix and Becky have something special, something unusual, something that seems from the outside-and sometimes the inside too-completely impossible to sustain.
On the surface, Becky’s story of a steadfast housewife and the handsome star is the ultimate romantic fantasy. But the depth of emotion that Shannon Hale shows us in Becky is the strength that underpins only the strongest relationships. It is what makes this story resonate beyond the glitter of Felix’s movie-stardom to the deeper understanding of the kinds of true love we all dream of having.
Shannon Hale has created a magical and often hilarious story that explores what might happen when your not-so-secret celebrity crush walks right into real life, and changes everything.

Okay, I just want to say to Shannon Hale: You rock like a cradle. I was laughing so hard that I actually snorted, then laughed even harder. I can honestly say I have never laughed so hard in my whole life while reading a work of fiction. The witty banter was just too hilarious. And what made it better- this isn’t a book about adultery. In fact, quite the opposite. It’s about staying true and what being a friend is all about. And I will also admit to the astonishing fact that I can add this to the half-dozen books that I really cried at. But by the end I was laughing again. To get that range of emotion, you’ve got something magic. My only interesting comment is this: I’ve read all of Shannon’s books now and this is the only one that swears. I was a little let down by that fact, but I can see why she did it. She’s talking about real life, but she does it tactfully. I heartily enjoyed this book, just like all of Shannon’s previous works.
One of my favorite parts is when Felix tags along to a Mormon potluck and the people in the ward recognize him and think he’s Mormon. They all start saying, “I didn’t know you were LDS! Come over her Brother Callahan and we’ll get you some food.” It was then that, in a confused and slightly panicked voice Felix whispers to Becky, “Did I just get accused of using drugs?”
Yeah, and that’s one of the lesser funny moments. I just remembered it offhand because I didn’t get it and when I finally did I laughed my head off. (Yes, I’m pitifully slow sometimes).

Beautiful Creatures

By Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

There were no surprises in Gatlin County. At least, that’s what I thought. Turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end,
There was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them. In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

I have no idea why this book is called Beautiful Creatures. None. It has nothing to do with anything that happens. I found that highly irritating. And that was only the beginning of my discontent. I practically devoured this book; it’s a page-turner, no doubt about that. But instead of that warm full feeling I get when I’ve finished a really good book, I just felt prickly and sarcastic. It’s supposed to be a gothic book, I get it. But I just no-likey voodoo magicky zombie witchcraft. Cree-py. I also gotta say, not impressed with the characters. There was too much of the sort of Twilight I’m obsessed with you stuff going on. Also, the supporting characters were so over-the-top out there, I would never believe someone like that existed. I had loads of problems with this story, but there have been lots of people who have raved about it’s originality and beautifully written story. I will concur that there are passages that are indeed very well written and the characters very likeable. It just wasn’t my cuppa tea. You like gothic romances with a bit of witchcraft and voodoo, this is right down your alley and I’ll leave you to it and find somewhere more brightly lit.
P.S. If anybody is interested in this book enough to read it, I will give it to you. I bought it and have no interest in keeping it. Let me know, or it will probably go to a used book store.

Stories From My Life

By Elder James E. Faust

There isn’t really a synopsis for this particular book since it’s a compilation of stories and little snippets of talks given by Elder Faust. I’ve had this book for about 5 years, my grandmother having given it to me. She used it for her own Family home evening lessons. The stories are at average just 2 pages each, being on all kinds of topics ranging from honesty, to nurturing faith, to poise under pressure. I really enjoyed it as a little refresher thought book with short but poignant messages. A great book of insights from a truly wonderful apostle.

P.S. I couldn't find a picture of the book, so I just got a picture of Elder Faust. :)

Ranger's Apprentice 6: The Siege of Macindaw

By John Flanagan

In Book 6 of the popular Ranger’s Apprentice series, Will, his friend Horace, and a sorcerer/healer join forces with a fierce but loyal troop of Skandians to recapture Castle Macindaw, rescue Alyss from its tower, and restore the castle to its rightful owner. Series fans will relish the familiar details of warfare and comradeship as well as the surprising fireworks in both war and love. While this satisfying novel could be enjoyed as a separate volume, it is best read in series order, as it concludes the story of Will’s first mission as a Ranger, an adventure begun in Book 5.

The climax has approached. Keren is all set for the Scoti to invade Araluen via Castle Macindaw. Will has to think on his feet to figure out an immediate solution to a potentially disasterous situation. Holy crap. I was even wondering how he would pull this one off. This was the first time he didn’t have Halt or one of the other Ranger’s to bounce ideas off of, everyone was looking to him for guidance. Talk about pressure! I liked it because it showed how Will is really growing up, and heck yes, it has some pretty awesome battles and some intenseness at the end between Will and Alyss. I was left feeling very content and with an overall full feeling. I am looking forward to book 8 coming out this year. I love finding new stories that are fantastically told!

Ranger's Apprentice 5: The Sorcerer of the North

By John Flanagan

Will is finally a full-fledged Ranger with his own fief to look after. The fief seems sleepy-boring even-until Lord Syron, master of a castle far in the north, is struck down by a mysterious illness. Joined by his friend Alyss, Will is suddenly thrown headfirst into an extraordinary adventure, investigating fears of sorcery and trying to determine who is loyal to Lord Syron. As Will battles growing hysteria, traitors, and most of all, time, Alyss is taken hostage, and Will is forced to make a desperate choice between his mission and his friend.

This story was pretty fun because it’s the first time that Halt is not a humungous feature in the novel. Will is a Ranger now and has to figure things out for himself. I really enjoyed how Flanagan pointed out that Will, while being very young, is in all reality, a true Ranger and not to be messed with. It’s fun to see Will with Alyss, whom we haven’t really seen since the first Ranger’s Apprentice book. It’s really fast-paced and lots of fun. I didn’t laugh quite so much as the last book, but it was still highly enjoyable. This is also another of his books where you can’t just stop because it just hangs in the middle of the story. It made me immediately search out the next book. So, for future reference, make sure book 6 is handy when you start this one.

Ranger's Apprentice 7: Erak's Ransom

By John Flanagan

What does it mean to earn the Silver Oakleaf of a Ranger? So few men have done so. For Will, a mere boy and apprentice to the most difficult Ranger to please, that symbol of honor has long seemed out of reach. If he is to ever earn it, he must prove himself in ways he never imagined.
Now, in the wake of Araluen's uneasy truce with the raiding Skandians comes word that the Skandian leader, Erak, has been captured by a desert tribe. The Rangers, along with a small party of warriors, are sent to free him. But the desert is like nothing these warriors have seen before. Strangers in a strange land, they are brutalized by sandstorms, beaten by the unrelenting heat, tricked by on tribe that plays by its own rules, and surprisingly befriended by another. Like a mirage, nothing is as it seems.
Yet one thing is constant: the bravery of the Rangers.

First things first: Yes, I read book 7 before book 5. There is a reason. Before the book starts, Mr. Flanagan explains that Erak's Ransom in fact takes place at a time before the contents of books 5 and 6 take place. He was filling in the gap that he felt he had left. That being said, it is my humble opinion that you should just go ahead and read the books in the order that appears on their covers. I was constantly irked when reading 5 and 6 because there was no mention of events that had supposedly taken place already. And there were some pretty significant events. So, I say read them in order. It took a huge leap of faith for me to read out of order, because that totally goes against my mild case of OCD, but I can see why I was recommended to do so, for the sake of having the story go sequentially, but you can tell the order it was written. Keep the course is what I say.
As for the book itself, it was, as usual delightful. I enjoyed the desert theme, as it was different than all previous books. The characters are very rich, and I just love the Skandians can I say that? I don't know why, there is just this almost innocent Neanderthal-like quality that greatly amuses me and makes me laugh. And of course, we get plenty of Halt, Evanlyn, Horace, and Will. Yay! Gotta love these books. I'll say it again, if you haven't started you need to!