Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Great Book YA Read & a Fun Book Signing!

I always like to pass along a heads up when good books come out—especially if they're YA. It is so hard to find good Young Adult (ages 14+) fiction because so much of what's out there today either pushes the moral limits, or it's too preachy and sappy. So when I find a good one, I announce it to the world.

Life in the Pit by Kristen Landon is a good one!

Kristen is in my writers group, so I read the book a few years ago—and loved it! I wanted to publish it but my company was too small to do the book justice. Fortunately, it was snapped up by Bloomingtree Press and it was released just before Christmas.

Here's the backliner:

Brittany sees her life reflected in her high school’s musical production. Her best friend, Amanda, shines on stage as the star of the play, while Brittany is an invisible member of the pit orchestra.

Amanda has a new boyfriend every week, while Brittany doesn’t date much at all. Brittany believes the only time guys talk to her is when they are using her to get closer to Amanda. When the male star of the play starts to pay attention to Brittany, she has difficulty accepting that he is sincere.

Meanwhile, an anonymous note-writer threatens to destroy the play, Amanda and Brittany. Brittany is determined to save the production, her friend and her love life.

What I like about this book is that there's a mystery to solve—it's not just a story about a love-struck teenager. The story line is great and you'll be hard-pressed to figure out who's behind the threatening notes. The characterizations are wonderful. The teenagers sound and act like teenagers, but "good" teenagers—no swearing, no inappropriate intimacy. Parents won't mind their tweens and teens using the main character as a role model—she is no goody two-shoes, but she's also not depressed, suicidal or self-destructive. This is a fun story that will be enjoyed by girls, ages 12 to 16, and us more mature girls who like to read YA.

For this genre, it gets a 5 out of 5 from me. Loved it.

So have I convinced you that you want a copy of this book yet? Yes? Well, more good news if you live in the Utah County area. We have it at my store!

And (this just keeps getting better and better), we're hosting a book signing THIS SATURDAY! Come. Bring your teenage daughter. We'll have door prizes for two lucky visitors, a Humdinger Club Discount card for everyone who comes, and lots and lots of fun.

Meet Kristen Landon
Saturday, January 31, 2009
2:00 to 3:00 p.m.
Provident Book (map)

Be there or be square.

If you don't live in the area, you can order the book from our website.

Friday, January 23, 2009

First Book Club Meeting at Provident Book!

It was a dark and stormy night. . . But we still had a great time!

Sandra, Candace and Nancy Allen

The Provident Ladies spent an hour getting to know N.C. Allen, author of Isabelle Webb: Legend of the Jewel. This is her ninth book and a great read. There are two more Isabelle Webb books in the works.

Nancy told us all about how she started her writing career and some of the fun she's had doing research for her historical fiction. It was very fascinating. We spent the hour asking questions, talking about the book, laughing and sharing stories. It really was great fun.

E, Nancy Allen, and Tristi

Sandra and Tristi, two of our book club members, received a copy of The Highwayman of Tanglewood by Marcia Lynn McClure as door prizes (generously donated by Granite Publishing).

All book club members received a Book Club Card giving them 10% off all books purchased between now and next month's book club meeting.

Karlene (me) & Nancy Allen

Now aren't you wishing you had come?

(P.S. Although the 20% off price on Isabelle Webb expired last night after the book club meeting, we still have a few copies left. If you come in before closing on Saturday, Jan 24th, and mention this post, I'll give you the 20% off. But shhh. Don't tell my boss.)

It may be fatal

I've got a seriously bad case of "I don't wanna."

Don't wanna clean my house.

Don't wanna cook dinner.

Don't wanna go to work.

Don't wanna pay my bills or do the month end/year end for my businesses or do my taxes or. . .

So I decided to procrastinate everything and blog.

But the trouble is, I don't wanna do that either.

Anybody know a cure?

(Besides the swift kick in the pants. Don't wanna do that one.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Don't Read this Book!


Do NOT read Glass Houses, Book 1 of the Morganville Vampires, series by Rachel Caine.

Unless you're prepared to buy all five books currently available in the series and lock yourself away, neglect your house, your kids, your husband--and just read, read, read until you're done.

Because it was that good. And if you're thinking you can read just one book at a time, think again. This is the Lays of vampire stories--and each book ends with a killer cliff-hanger.

But to back up a bit. . . My sister has been bugging me to find her a "book like Twilight" for ages now. And there isn't one. Not really. But I've been reading vampire books off and on for months now and while some of them are good, most of them have way to much swearing, violence and sex. Bluh.

But this series is pretty good. Oh wait. I said that already, didn't I?

Okay, this is how good it was--I started reading Glass Houses (book 1) on Friday after work. Finished at about 11:00 p.m.

Do you want to know how Glass Houses ends? Yes, you do. It ends with one of the main characters two seconds away from having a knife plunged into his heart! Not fair at all. (Unless, of course, you have a Kindle and you can immediately order book two and start reading it in less than a minute!) (Message to DH: Thank you, thank you, thank you--I love my Kindle!)

Okay. So. Main character is Claire, who is sixteen, extra smart and ready to go off to college. Her parents won't let her go to MIT or Yale because they are too far away and she is too young. They send her to a small college nearby, thinking it will be better for her. What they don't know, but Claire soon discovers, is the town is ruled by vampires. And the college is ruled by a snotty girl named Monica, who pushes Claire down the stairs and threatens to kill her. Claire moves out of the dorm and into a house with two guys and another girl--and the vampire fun begins.

While Twilight is a romance with some suspense and adventure thrown in, the Morganville Vampires series is suspense and adventure with some romance thrown in. I actually like that better. There is some slight swearing. Some violence (it is a vampire story, after all) but it's not too explicit. There's no sex, but there is very descriptive kissing (I just skip a paragraph or two).

I read all five books between Friday and Monday. Book #6 comes out in June. Rachel Caine also writes the Weather Warden series but I'm not even going to go there until I have a full weekend with nothing to do.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

What I Read Over the Holidays

The best thing about the holidays (other than family time, of course) is that I make time to read. No matter how hectic it is or how filled with Christmas spirit my family is, I always find a little time to go off by myself and just read. Since December 14th, when my DH gave me a Kindle for our 12th anniversary, I've read 13 books--well, okay, 11 books. Two of them I didn't finish. Here's a quick review--favorite to least favorite.

Freefall by Traci Hunter Abramson--Loved this one! I bought it when it first came out and it has been waiting patiently for its turn to be read. Daughter of a senator gets kidnapped by terrorists in the Middle East. Trapped there with her rescuer, they have to depend on each other to escape--and of course, they fall in love while they're at it. Back in the U.S., relationships are complicated. Then the terrorist shows up again. Fast-paced and full of suspense, this one kept me up late reading. Didn't want to put it down. Now I have to find the time to read Royal Target. (4.5)

This Just In by Kerry Blair--I'm embarassed to admit how long this one has been sitting on my dresser. This book is wonderful! Jill, former beauty queen turned fluff TV newscaster, teams up with Clay, a handsome tracker with a secret, to find a missing child. Talk about opposites! Told from Jill's POV, this story is hilariously funny one minute, then grippingly suspenseful the next. This is an older book (published 2004) so you might have trouble finding it, but if you ever see it at your local LDS bookstore, BUY IT!! It's that good. I've got to read another of her books soon. (4.5)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak--This is the story of Liesel Meminger, a girl caught up in Germany's WWII, as told from Death's perspective. Death first meets Liesel when he comes to take her brother, and sees her steal her first book, The Gravediggers Handbook. Liesel goes to live with a foster family and makes friends with the neighbors, helps hide a Jewish refugee, and grows into a young woman who loves books and reading. This is a thoughtful book, and like many of its kind it does not have a happy ending, but I loved it. It is poetic, captivating, inspiring. (4.25)

Flashback by J. Michael Hunter--Laura has had nightmares her entire life. When her aunt dies, she inherits a family estate, under the condition that she live there for three years. When she moves in, she realizes that her nightmares are flashbacks from a murder she witnessed as a child. As she tries to discover the truth, she sets herself up as the next victim. Oh, and she also falls in love. Didn't expect to like this one as much as I did but it kept me reading until way too late at night. (4)

Odd Hours by Dean Koontz--As a general rule, I like Dean Koontz. He writes "light" horror (not like Stephen King who gives me the heebie-jeebies). The Odd Thomas series is one of my favorites. Odd Thomas can see dead people and is once again called upon to prevent something horrible from happening. He helps Sinatra move on to the next life, meets a new girl, and acquires a living dog as a pet. This book is #4 in the series and it was pretty good but not quite as captivating as the previous ones. (4)

Isabelle Webb: Legend of the Jewel by N.C. Allen--Set at the end of the Civil War, Isabelle Webb (a retired Pinkerton spy) and her "adopted" daughter head overseas for a much needed vacation. They end up in India, caught up in the hunt for handsome James Ashby's younger brother, who has been conned into searching for a mythic jewel that leaves dead bodies in it's wake. A little reminiscent of Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series. This was a pretty good read. In fact, I liked it so well that I chose it to kick off the Provident Ladies Fiction Book Club. (4)

The Christmas Sweater by Glen Beck--This was a sweet Christmas story that teaches you to be grateful for what you have. I liked it up until the very end--then I wanted to throw it across the room. I don't like it when things are resolved so "easily". (If you've read it, you know what I mean.) But it had a nice message and helped get me in the Christmas spirit. (3.5)

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher--#2 of the Dresden Files. Harry Dresden, practicing wizard in modern-day Chicago, meets a variety of werewolves. I like this modern-day fantasy type story--and I loved the TV series which, unfortunately, only had one season. As for the books, this is the second one I've read. Butcher tends to cross my line when it comes to describing the blood and guts. I keep thinking I won't read any more of them, but I probably will--just because I like the main character so much. Good story line. Too much swearing and graphic violence. (3.5)

Lightning by Dean Koontz--Laura Shane has a guardian angel who shows up in the nick of time to save her, most of the time. She also has someone trying to kill her and the people she loves. Koontz is known for light horror. I thought that was all he wrote. Apparently not. I loved the first part of the book but I was a little dissappointed that it wasn't horror after all, but rather . . . well, I don't want to give it away because that's part of the tension and conflict of the story. However, I thought it just missed the mark. It was okay but not one of my favs. (3)

Lamana Rose by Donna Pedler Taylor--A historical fiction about an Indian girl adopted by some LDS settlers in 1880s Utah. It's the story of her growing up and adjusting, and there's some romance thrown in too. The author has a very sweet writing style that captures your attention and makes you want to know more about this girl. (3)

Don't Cry Wolf by Clair Poulson--didn't finish. While I like the general plot lines, the characterizations are flat. To be fair, if I'd had more free time I probably would have finished it. I know lots of people love Poulson's books, and he has a lot of them. I've read others and if I set aside the characterization, I'm usually eventually won over by the plot. But I had too many books to read and way too little time, so I quit this one about a third of the way through.

These last two, I can't really recommend to anyone due to the graphic violence and other content.

Blood Dreams by Kay Hooper--A psychological thriller with a group of psychics who work in tandem with the FBI. Recommended by a friend. Usually I like this type of stuff but this one had extremely gross scenes of violence. After reading the first two sections written from the killer's POV, I skipped all the others. I'm thinking this is a series because it wasn't all neatly tied up at the end but I have no desire to read any more of them.

The Apprentice by Tess Gerritson--couldn't finish. Too gross. (0)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

17" . . .

. . .and counting!

We are having some freakishly freaky snow here in Pleasant Grove. (So bad that this is my fourth weather-related post this season; see here and here and here.) It started on Monday around 1:30 p.m. (I know because I was at work and could see it through the ginormous windows of the store.) By 10:00 p.m. the newscast said Pleasant Grove was officially at 7"—that was on top of the 2 or 3" still there from the last storm.

It continued to snow through bedtime on Tuesday. I took that picture at 6:00 p.m.

Here's how bad it is: Megan tried to get to a dentist appointment Tuesday morning and slid into a snowbank in front of the house. It took her quite awhile to dig out. (She missed the appointment.) Then when she came home, we had to dig out the driveway so she could get in.

When Melanie came to pick up Baby Burrito, she slid into the same snowbank as she was leaving. It took four people and 30 minutes to get her out. (McKenna did fine when she picked up Baby Shrek, but she has one of those super-duper-I-can-drive-through-anything-neener-neener cars.)

There was so much snow, my dog couldn't do his business. I had to go out there and dig him a little tunnel so he could find grass.

DH couldn't get up the road to our house. He had to park down the street a ways. But he's determined. It took a couple of hours of intermittent attempts, but he finally made it to the driveway. He was quite proud of himself—especially when he noticed there were four cars who never made it up, and one of them was a police car. (All night long we had to listen to him brag about his Saturn and how it was better than a police cruiser.)

This morning doesn't look so bad. At least it's stopped snowing. Hopefully I can get out to work. But on the news? They said to expect 8 to 13" on Friday.

Remind me again why I live in Utah?

If you want to read something seriously funny about snow, GO HERE. (Really. Go check it out.) I just about died laughing.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Books Read in 2009 Index

Click on the title to read the review.
  1. The 13th Reality: The Hunt for Dark Infinity by James Dashner (4.5)
  2. Abinadi by H.B. Moore (4)
  3. Above and Beyond by Betsy Brannon Green (3)
  4. Agent in Old Lace by Tristi Pinkston (4)
  5. Alcatraz vs the Scrivener's Bones by Brandon Sanderson (4.5)
  6. Altered State by Gregg Luke (4.5)
  7. All the Stars in Heaven by Michelle Paige Holmes (4)
  8. Am I Not a Man by Mark L. Shurtleff (3.75)
  9. Bone Warriors by Bron Bahlmann (4)
  10. Bound on Earth by Angela Hallstrom (4)
  11. Do No Harm by Gregg Luke (4)
  12. Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card (4)
  13. English Trifle by Josi Kilpack (4)
  14. Eyes Like Mine by Julie Wright (4)
  15. Freefall by Traci Hunter Abramson (4.5)
  16. From the End of Heaven by Chris Stewart (4)
  17. The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum (4.5)
  18. Illuminations of the Heart by Joyce DiPastena (4)
  19. Isabelle Webb: Legend of the Jewel by N.C. Allen (4)
  20. Just One Wish by Janette Rallison (4)
  21. Lemon Tart by Josie Kilpack (4.5)
  22. Life in the Pit by Kristen Landon (5)
  23. Life is Tough by Stacy Gooch-Anderson (4)
  24. Lockdown by Traci Hunter Abramson (3)
  25. Master by Toni Sorenson (4)
  26. Methods of Madness by Stephanie Black (4.5)
  27. Mormon Mishaps and Mischief by D.N. Giles & C.L. Beck (4)
  28. Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George (4.5)
  29. Reckoning, The by Tanya Parker Mills (4)
  30. Royal Target by Traci Hunter Abramson (3.75)
  31. Seeking Persephone by Sarah Eden (4)
  32. Servant to a King by Sariah Wilson (3.75)
  33. Spare Change by Aubrey Mace (3)
  34. Taking Chances by Shannon Guymon (3.5)
  35. This Just In by Kerry Blair (4.5)
  36. Tower of Strength by Annette Lyon (4)
  37. Trail of Storms by Marsha Ward (4)
  38. Wings by Aprilynne Pike (4)
  39. Moon Called (v 1) by Patricia Briggs (4)
  40. Blood Bound (v 2) by Patricia Briggs (4)
  41. Iron Kissed (v3) by Patricia Briggs (3.5)
  42. Bone Crossed (v4) by Patricia Briggs (3.5)
  43. Glass Houses (v 1) by Rachel Caine (4.5)
  44. Dead Girls' Dance (v 2) by Rachel Caine (4)
  45. Midnight Alley (v3) by Rachel Caine (4)
  46. Feast of Fools (v 4) by Rachel Caine (4)
  47. Lord of Misrule (v 5) (4)
  48. 1st to Die by James Patterson (3)
  49. Burn by Linda Howard (1)
  50. City of Ember, The by Jeanne Duprau (3.75)
  51. Fool Moon by Jim Butcher (3.5)
  52. Frostbite by Richelle Mead (3.5)
  53. Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris (3.5)
  54. Ice by Linda Howard (1)
  55. Lightning by Dean Koontz (3)
  56. Murder Takes the Cake by Gayle Trent (4)
  57. Odd Hours by Dean Koontz (4)
  58. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (4.25)
  59. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (3.5)

Sometimes it takes me a bit to get around to writing a review. In the meantime, here's a quick rating system:

0 = HATED. Could not even finish it. (These books I don't bother to put on the list here.)
1 = Didn't like. Cannot recommend to others.
2 = Didn't like—but other people might.
3 = Ambivalent. Liked some things about it; not others. Probably won't read again.
4 = Liked. May read again sometime.
5 = Loved! Own or want to own; will read again and again.