Monday, June 30, 2008

Flying Home by Rachel Ann Nunes

"What if everything you ever thought was true about your past, wasn't true at all?

Liana Winn has always felt like an outsider in her family. As a child she was adopted by relatives after her parents' plane accident in India, but now that she is as an adult, her disjointed memories--and nightmares--of the past continue to make it impossible for her to bridge the wide gulf she still feels with her adoptive family. She is plagued by questions about her parents' deaths and wonders if that event is the reason for her inability to form deep personal relationships. Although her adoptive brother Christian has become her greatest friend and supporter, she even has difficulty bonding to him. Needing someone means love, and losing those you love hurts too much.

When Liana meets the successful businessman, Austin Walker, who has risen above his own difficult childhood on a Wyoming farm, she is certain their business will not extend to friendship. Yet she cannot deny their powerful connection and the feeling of hope he offers.

But the ghosts of the past will not rest for Liana, and when she travels to India in search of answers, she makes a shocking discovery at her parents' gravesite that just might mean the end of everything she's ever believed."

I enjoyed this book by Rachel Ann Nunes. She builds the characters well and really makes the reader care about what happens to them. The mystery in the story kept me guessing until the end and I found the solution satisfying. Throughout the story I wondered why Liana found it so difficult to fit in, but her slowly revealed background explains the reasons. The author weaves a beautiful story and when I didn't want to reach the end. Lucky for the reader, the second book, Fields of Home is available.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

"Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind. Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves--Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she's never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love."

I wasn't sure I wanted to read this book at all. I've read all three of the books from Meyer's Twilight series and enjoyed them for the most part. The Host is a science fiction novel. I'm not crazy about science fiction to begin with, so I almost didn't pick this book up.

The characters of Wanderer and Melanie are strong and much of the book deals with conflict and learning to live together in one body. Wanderer learns to cope with human emotions and the humans learn to trust the alien "soul". The story gave me lots to think about and I hated to see it end. In the final analysis, I think I liked this book better than the Twilight books.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull

What would it be like to have magical candy? Nate and his friends find out in this fun book. Nate moves to town and is befriended by Summer, Trevor, and Pigeon. As the school year begins, the four friends begin working for Mrs. White at the new candy store in town. But she has more in mind for them than an after school job. Soon she is sending them on missions, armed with magic candy. But Mrs. White isn't the only magician in town and soon the kids are drawn into an adventure far more dangerous than they could have imagined.

I enjoyed reading this book as did my teenage son. It was full of action and surprising turns in the plot that kept me guessing what might happen next. My only complaint was with the characters. There were many times were I felt jolted out of the story when the kids would say something that didn't seem to fit. They were written as ten-year-old kids in grade five. Often, their conversation didn't seem to fit their age. The vocabulary they used and some of the things they talked about seemed to fit a teenager more than a child. Other than that, I really liked the book.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ripple Effect by Traci Hunter Abramson

This is the second book in a series that I am reading backwards since that is how I've been able to get a hold of the books.

Kylie Ramsey is a world-class swimmer who wants to train for the olympics. The biggest hurdle she has is the struggle to keep her identity hidden. The FBI put her in the Witness Protection Program to protect her from Judge Rush, but somehow her location keeps being discovered. She also runs into Matt again. He is the one person she can see herself spending eternity with, but his involvement with her puts them both in danger.

I enjoyed the story line and there was enough suspense wondering how Kylie and Matt would resolve things. The characters were well developed. I liked seeing how many of the characters changed through the story. And since I'm going this series backwards, I'm looking forward to reading the first book, Undercurrents.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Heaven Scent by Rebecca Cornish Talley

Heaven Scent is the first novel by Rebecca Cornish Talley. The book is about Liza, a high school basketball star who is getting noticed by everyone except the one who's attention she want the most. Her father is busy with his law practice and rarely has time for the family. When her he misses her championship game, she decides things have to change. She never imagined the kind of change she would be faced with. As she faces a life much different than the one she planned, her friend Kyle introduces her to a new religion that might just help her troubled family in ways she never imagined.

This is a well written book that I enjoyed reading. The end left me hanging a little and I'm still wondering how Liza is going to handle her future. The book should have come with a box of kleenex or at least a warning, as there are parts that are real tear-jerkers.

Rebecca is joining me to answer a few questions about her book and her writing.

How did you get the idea of using the scent of perfume to help Liza?
My mother used to wear a distinctive perfume. She passed away when I was a young girl and during different times in my life, especially during trials, I've smelled her perfume. Sometimes, I've felt like she was so close to me, I could almost reach out and touch her. I wanted to write a story about the connection between heaven and earth and how our loved ones are never far from us.

I like how the story isn't totally resolved at the end. Are you planning on writing a second book about Liza?
I would love to write a sequel, but that probably depends on how well "Heaven Scent" is received.

You have a large family to keep you busy. How do you find time to write?
I just squish it in here and there. I try to write every day, but that doesn't always work. I've also discovered that trying to type with my 2 year old on my lap really doesn't work (he's deleted far too much of my writing). During the summer, it's much more difficult because all the kids are home and want to talk to me. I just do the best I can and accept I can't write as fast, or as much, as I would like at this season of my life.

Now that you have gone through the publishing process, is there anything you wish you had known before you started?
I wish I had known how important marketing/promotion is to the writing process. I didn't realize how much time an author has to spend on promotion. I love promoting my book, but I'd rather spend that time writing :)

What are you working on next?
I'm revising an LDS romance. It's a fun story about college life and the ups and downs of finding that one true love. I'm also working on an LDS women's novel about raising a large family. Thank you so much, Stephanie, for hosting my book on your blog. I really appreciate it.

Thanks, Rebecca. I'll be looking forward to your next book. Look for Rebecca's picture book, Grasshopper Pie as well.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Dealing with Dragons is a delightful book. In it we read the story of Cimorene, the youngest daughter of a proper king and queen and the sister of six proper princesses. But Cimorene is anything but proper. She is too tall, her hair is black instead of blonde, and she is stubborn. When her parents forbid her from taking lessons in the things that interest her - fencing, cooking, magic, economics, and Latin - Cimorene runs away to become a dragon's princess.

She becomes the princess of the dragon Kazul. She enjoys her days cooking and cleaning for the dragon and finally feels like she has found someone who lets her do the things she loves to do. But she still has to convince knights and princes she doesn't want to be rescued and voluntarily stays with the dragon. She also must deal with a witch, other captured princesses, a stone prince, a jinn, some conniving wizards, and of course, more dragons.

The character of Cimorene is strong and smart. She is the kind of heroine young girls will love. When she has a problem, she uses common sense to solve it and doesn't let anyone convince her it isn't the way a proper princess would act.

I loved the way the author wrote a book about dragons and princesses, but threw all the standard fairy tale conventions out the window. It was amusing to come across references to other fairy tales, and after I found a couple I started watching for them.

This book is the first in a series and is a fun book for young people. I'll be looking for the next books in the series, Searching for Dragons, to find out what happens to Cimorene next.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Blog Tours Coming Here

A blog tour is a great tool for authors to promote their books. The author will arrange for bloggers to read and review the book on a specific day. The author will then direct traffic to the bloggers site. I've participated in blog tours in the past and love doing them. Here is a list a blog tours on my schedule right now...

June 11 - Heaven Scent by Rebecca Cornish Talley

June - Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys by Janet Kay Jensen

July - All's Fair by Julie Coulter Bellon

August - Surprise Packages by Lael Littke, Carroll Morris, Nancy Anderson

August - Farworld: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage

Why am I here?

My other blog - Write Bravely - is dedicated to my journey as a writer. It holds a little of everything, slice of life, observations and my struggle to become published. It also has book reviews. But they tend to get lost amid all the other posts, so I am starting this blog as a way to review and keep track of all the books read in our household. Hopefully some of the reviews will lead you to new favorites and remind you of old ones.