Thursday, September 11, 2008

Angel Falling Softly by Eugene Woodbury

"Over the past six months, Rachel Forsythe's perfect life has descended from the ideal to the tragic. The younger of her two daughters is dying of cancer. Despite her standing as the wife of a respected Mormon bishop, neither God nor medical science has blessed her with a cure. Or has He?

"Milada Daranyi, chief investment officer at Daranyi Enterprises International, has come to Utah to finalize the takeover of a Salt Lake City-based medical technology company. Bored with her downtown hotel accommodations, she rents a house in the Salt Lake City suburbs.

"And then the welcome wagon shows up. Her neighbors perceive her to be a beautiful, intelligent, and daunting young woman. But Rachel senses something about Milada that leads her in a completely different-and very dangerous-direction.

"Rachel's suspicions are right: Milada is homo lamia. A vampire. Fallen. And possibly the only person in the world who can save Rachel's daughter. Uncovering Milada's secrets, Rachel becomes convinced that, as Milton writes, "all this good of evil shall produce."

"As the two women push against every moral boundary in order to protect their families, the price of redemption will prove higher than either of them could have possibly imagined."

Angel Falling Softly examines human nature at its most basic level. What lengths would you got to to save the ones you love? How strong is your faith when faced with the death of a beloved child? Rachel has to answer all these questions for herself when her daughter lies at death's door. She knows death is not the tragic event the world may make it out to be, but it doesn't change her desire to have her daughter around longer. She knows what she is doing is wrong and won't even talk to her husband about it. Milada also has to take a look at the direction her own life is going and how she got there.

The author didn't provide enough background for Milada and her sisters and it would have been nice if the virus that caused them to become vampires was a little more fully explained. It was a little confusing at times. I also found the sex scenes a little graphic for my taste. Compared to the national market, they were very tame, but still not something I enjoyed reading - especially the two scenes with lesbian overtones. In a book written by an LDS writer about LDS people, the scenes seemed horribly out of place.

As for the story, it was interesting and I thought the characters did change and develop over time. We all make decisions and have to live with the consequences. In the end, Rachel gets her wish, but at what price?

This book has good storyline and fascinating characters. It's just a story but it raises interesting questions about our behavior in extreme situations.

Unfortunately, even though I thought the plot line was interesting and the story brought up some good questions, because of the sexual content and some bad language, I won't recommend this book to my readers.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Santa Letters by Stacy Gooch-Anderson

"One year ago on Christmas Eve, William died. For Emma, the hit-and-run driver killed more than her husband; he killed her joy in life itself. Now, as Christmas approaches again, Emma Jensen finds herself sinking into a depression that nothing can breach; not her job, not her love for her children, and certainly not the season. Money is tight, and emotions are taut, and this year Christmas will be a meager, empty, and painful experience. Only six-year-old McKenna believes in miracles and the magic of Christmas. The rest of the family knows that Christmas can never be the same. But when a mysterious package and an ornate letter arrive on the doorstep, things begin to change. Each day, a package and a letter signed Santa arrive for the family, and together they come to understand that the joy of Christmas does not have to be lost forever, and that God s love can heal any wound, no matter how deep. The Santa Letters will take the Jensens on a journey through a Christmas experience that will have the power to heal them all."

Every year I find a new Christmas book to add to my collection, so when I was asked to review this, I knew what the book would be for 2008. This story tugs at the heartstrings and gives the reader reason to look inside at their own feelings toward the holidays. The principles in the letters are timeless and something every family should take the time to review and remember.

As for the story, I was a little disappointed in the lack of anything other than the letters to drive the story forward. Everything goes along smoothly once the letters start arriving. The kids came across as a little too perfect, especially after suffering the loss of their father. I expected to see more conflict that had to be resolved. The letters seemed to take up a good portion of the book. It would have been nice to see more real conversation between the characters and more description of what the family did when the letters came. Much of the story seemed to take place in the letters and in Emma's thoughts rather than in the characters interactions with each other.

Despite this, the book is pleasant and is a good reminder of all the things we take for granted in our lives and would be a nice addition to any Christmas library.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Farworld: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage


"Magic is not just spells. The magic you see on the outside is but a tiny fraction of the power of true magic. The real power of magic lies within you. Who you are, what you do, and most importantly of all, what you may become."

Master Therapass, Farworld Book 1 Water

"Other people may see thirteen-year-old Marcus Kanenas as an outcast and a nobody, but he sees himself as a survivor and a dreamer. In fact, his favorite dream is of a world far away, a world where magic is as common as air, where animals tell jokes and trees beg people to pick their fruit. He even has a name for this place- Farworld.

"When Marcus magically travels to Farworld, he meets Kyja, a girl without magic in a world where spells, charms, and potions are everywhere, and Master Therapass, a master wizard who has kept a secret hidden for thirteen years, a secret that could change the fate of two worlds.

"But the Dark Circle has learned of Master Therapass's secret and their evil influence and power are growing. Farworld's only hope is for Marcus and Kyja to find the mythical Elementals- water, land, air and fire- and convince them to open a drift between the worlds.

"As Kyja and Marcus travel to Water Keep, they must face the worst the evil Dark Circle can throw at them- Summoners, who can command the living and the dead; Unmakers, invisible creatures that can destroy both body and soul; and dark mages known as Thrathkin S'Bae.

"Along the way, Marcus and Kyja will discover the truth about their own heritage, the strength of their friendship, and the depths of their unique powers."

I've been looking forward to reading this book for some time and I wasn't disappointed. The characters of Marcus and Kyja are well developed and unlike some other books written for children, they seem to act their age. They both struggle with feeling inadequate in their world and have to learn to find the magic within themselves. This would make a great Christmas gift or a great bookto keep on your own bookshelf.