Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Thorn by Daron D. Fraley

Valor Publishing Group, the new kids on the LDS publishing block, sent me a copy of The Thorn by Daron D. Fraley for review.

I like Daron. He's a good guy and a debut author. I'm happy to help spread the word about his new book.

Here's the promo from the publisher website:

Three tribes are at war on the planet Gan, unaware that the sign of Christ’s birth on an unknown world – Earth – is about to appear in the heavens.

During a bloody skirmish with Gideonite troops, Jonathan of Daniel spares Pekah, a young enemy soldier, gaining his trust forever. These two distant brothers from estranged tribes covenant with each other to end the war being waged by a self-proclaimed emperor, and soon discover the intentions of a far more dangerous foe named Rezon – a sinister general bent on ruling those he can bring into subjection and destroying all others.

In the end, Pekah’s selfless bravery is the means by which all the tribes are united. But there are dissenters, and Rezon escapes a well-deserved fate. When the promised heavenly signs appear, will there be peace at last, or will the malefactors once again threaten the safety of them all?

Now, before I get to my personal opinion, I need to state that although I love fantasy (it's my genre of choice), with very few exceptions, epic fantasy is not my favorite sub-genre. Generally, an epic fantasy is heavy on setting, historical details, lots of wars, lots of characters, and by the time they're done winning their never-ending battle, I'm to the point that I don't really care. I like my fantasy to be character-driven, with a few plot twists, a few short battles, and then the good guy wins.

That said, fans of epic fantasy will most likely LOVE this book. The Thorn is set in a pre-industrial society, and the future of the world is at stake. The people live in tribes and when the king is murdered, a war ensues with some groups vying for power while other groups want to protect their freedoms. Daron includes rich historical details about the tribes and their religious system, which will be easily recognized by Christians.

Daron does a wonderful job describing his world, with three moons and two blue suns. The details of the sword (it glows), the thorn (he who owns the thorn, rules the world), and the everyday life in this world are amazing. And true to epic status, there is a lot of fighting in the book. It's the classic tale of good vs evil, power vs freedom, and loyalty vs betrayal.

The one downside, which is personal preference, is there are a lot of characters in this story. I like character-driven stories and with this one, with so many points of view, it was hard for me to really attach to one of them.

My recommendation: If you like the current character-driven paranormal trend, this book is not for you. However, if you're an epic fantasy fan, give The Thorn a try.

The Thorn by Daron D. Fraley. Released March 16, 2010, Valor Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-935546-11-5. 300 pages, trade papaerback.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Seriously Ticked at Amazon

Due to my line of work, I own various eReaders—Kindle, Sony, Nook, iPod, SmartPhone.

But my favorite by far has always been the Kindle.

My sister and I have this ongoing disagreement over which is best—Kindle or Sony. She cannot convince me that the Sony is better because I am in loooove with my Kindle. I carry it with me everywhere I go. Sometimes I sleep with it at night. I love my Kindle so much that lately I find myself getting annoyed when I have to read a paper book.


I've been reading the Morganville Vampire series—all as Kindle books. (I think I mentioned that somewhere.) In fact, Glass Houses, book #1 in this series, was the book that truly cemented my love affair with my Kindle. I finished it at 11:00 p.m. and it has a cliff-hanger ending. Because I had a Kindle, I was able to get book 2 in under a minute, instead of having to wait for the bookstore to open the next morning.

What does this have to do with me being ticked at Amazon?

Morganville Vampires #8, Kiss of Death, was released today. I pre-ordered it a month ago on Amazon. For my Kindle.

Last week, I got an email from Amazon canceling my order and stating there was a delay in eBook availability. I'm thinking the publisher is behind schedule in the conversions.

Imagine my TOTAL DISMAY when I get a gloating message from my sister this morning saying SONY has the eBook. (And it's only $5.99, which I can guarantee is less than Amazon would have it priced, if they had it.)

I did a little research and found this on Rachel Caine's blog:

HOWEVER .... please note that due to a dispute between Amazon and my publisher over ebook rights, KISS OF DEATH is not currently available in Kindle format. Hopefully, this will be resolved before the release date. As far as I know, it will be available for iPad, Nook, and other forms of ereaders!


I am so sick and tired of Amazon fighting with publishers! I don't care who's right (even though I do come down on the side of the publishers; they should be able to set their own prices). I want my book! And I want it now!

So guess what Amazon? I'm giving you 24 hours to remedy the situation. If Kiss of Death is not available for Kindle by midnight tomorrow, I'm getting it from Sony. You and your stupid power trip will lose you a sale. And if it keeps up, it's going to continue losing you sales.

Now, I know I'm only one person and the sale of one book isn't even measurable as a drop in the bucket to you. But I can't be the only one who feels this way. Right, folks?

(Since I could find no way to contact Amazon from their site, I'm posting this open message in the hope that they will eventually GET IT!)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Secret Sisters by Tristi Pinkston

If you're looking for light-hearted fun reading, Secret Sisters by Tristi Pinkston is for you.

The first novel in a new series, Secret Sisters is hands down the funnest book I've read in a long time!

Here's a teaser:
Ida Mae Babbitt, president of the Omni 2nd ward Relief Society, didn't mean to become a spy. But when visiting teaching stats are low and she learns that one family under her care is in financial trouble, she'll do whatever it takes to make sure they have what they need. If that includes planting surveillance cameras in their home and watching them from a parked car in the woods, well, isn't that what any caring Relief Society president would do?

With the help of her counselors Arlette and Tansy, Ida Mae soon learns that there's more to the situation than meets the eye. It's all in a day's work for the Relief Society.

This book has all the elements I love in a story: mystery, suspense, murder, mayhem, a huge dose of humor, a hint of romance, snappy dialog, well-rounded characters, and a plot that keeps the pages turning. I was frustrated when I had to stop reading for any reason.

Ida Mae, the Relief Society President and the ring-leader of the Secret Sisters is a hoot—especially when she is trying not to judge others. She's got a great heart and wants to do the right thing, but somehow she only seems to get herself deeper into trouble. I totally fell in love with her. Ida Mae is now my role model.

I also loved Arlette, another member of the group. She is so grumpy—we all know grumpy old women like her. But she's not a stereotype. She has several endearing qualities and I was quite impressed with her when I discovered the reason behind her fanatical knitting.

And Ida Mae's nephew, Ren? Well, I loved him too—and not just because he shares a name with my newest grandson. This guy is like a total science nerd, but cute and funny. Without his help building electronic spying devices, the Secret Sisters would not have solved the mystery.

This book is thoroughly entertaining. I was reading Secret Sisters at a doctor's office and found myself laughing out loud (that would be LOL in ALL CAPS and BOLDED) multiple times at some of her comments and behaviors—to the annoyance of all the other people in the room. (Sorry.) (Not really.)

I recommend Secret Sisters to everyone as fun, entertaining summer reading. I've already nominated it for a 2010 Whitney award. (Yes, I liked it that much!) But it will have some tough competition. I understand that book two in the series is also coming out this year. Can't wait!

Learn more about Tristi Pinkston and find links to more reviews of Secret Sisters at Tristi's blog.

You can also read Ida Mae's blog and become her Facebook friend.

Secret Sisters by Tristi Pinkston. Released March 16, 2010, Valor Publishing Group. ISBN: 978-1-935546-09-2. 260 pages, hardcover.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Go Comment for Me (Please)

My interview just went up on INFF.

I need at least five comments on that post to give me extra entries in April's Giveaway.

Please, please, please—go comment.

(Your comments give you entries in the giveaway, as well.)

(And if I win, I'll let you touch the prize.)

Women of the Book of Mormon by Heather B. Moore

Heather Moore (aka H.B. Moore) has a new book out and it's a bit different from her previous historical fiction.

Women of the Book of Mormon: Insights and Inspirations is a beautiful book that features twelve women mentioned in the Book of Mormon—Sariah, Mary, Abish and others. Heather imagines what their lives might have been like—from the physical conditions of their surroundings to family life to cultural expectations and more. She also delves into the issues they faced, the choices they made, and the consequences of those choices. Based on clues from the Book of Mormon and extensive research into the time periods in which they lived, we get an accurate peek into their lives.

Heather's insights into these women are amazing and brought up issues I'd never thought about before.

All of the information on these women is presented clearly; it's fascinating and easy to read and understand. Each chapter starts with a gorgeous piece of art, representing the woman (or group of women) being discussed. The cover image is of Mary, the mother of Christ. Isn't that just breath-taking?

I think my favorite chapter was about Sariah, wife of Lehi. Reading about what she gave up and what she had to deal with during the journey to the Promised Land overwhelmed me with gratitude for the conveniences (read: modern appliances) I've been blessed with and the ease of my life.

What I especially liked about this book is the way Heather focuses in on a particular challenge each woman meets, and then likens it to our own lives. Over and over again as I read this book, I found myself going back to a quote from the Foreword written by Kate Terry Hansen, PhD, "In so many ways we are different. In so many ways we are the same." That is the message of this book. While our lives are very different from the lives of these women, they are also very much the same—and we can gain strength and comfort from their examples.

I recommend this book to LDS women, especially those who might be feeling alone, abandoned or just need a little reminder of sisterhood. (It would make a great Mothers Day gift—hint, hint.)

*Review copy provided by Heather B. Moore.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

I'm on INFF This Friday!

I just had the most fun interview with Sarah M. Eden, author of Courting Miss Lancaster. (Just started reading it and I'm loving it!)

She interviewed me for her I Need Friends Friday post. I will appear there this Friday, April 9th.

Sarah's inteviews are hilariously funny. In addition to authors, nurses and family members, she also interviews celebrities, like Edward and Jacob. (I hope I don't tarnish her reputation.)