Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Bishop's Wife: Review

The Bishop's Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison
The Bishop's Wife
by: Mette Ivie Harrison

Linda Wallheim is the bishop's wife. A mother of five boys and the surrogate mother of her ward in Draper, Utah. She's used to late-night phone calls, visits, and responds to the call for help. When her friend, Carrie, disappears, leaving behind her young daughter and husband, Linda fears for the worst. Carrie's husband, Jared, is acting strangely, and Linda is determined to get to the bottom of where Carrie has gone.

I read this book on the plane ride back from BEA (Book Expo America) this year, and I was riveted.

This book is about a Mormon woman, but it's unlike any other book about a Mormon woman that I've ever read before. Long ago I gave up on LDS fiction, and part of me is convinced that it's impossible to write a compelling narrative about a person with intense, pure faith. At least, I haven't found it yet.

What sparkles in this novel is the fact that Linda is unabashedly questioning. This causes tension with her husband, children, and members of her ward. And it's so completely real that I found myself really wanting to be friends with Linda. Mette has moved us past the illusion of a perfect woman and a perfect family to a study on how to be "faithful" and questioning. Linda confronts questions about the LDS church that aren't comfortable. And they don't have easy answers. At times, Linda is judgmental and wrong. But, she's also kind and strong.

I'm not sure how other Mormons will react. It may be difficult to see the culture from an outsider's view. Mette is a practicing Mormon, but this narrative reads more like someone on the outside looking in. However, there will be some translating involved for readers not familiar with the vocabulary of Mormons. It's a difficult balance to work out how much explanation to give non-Mormons while also not bogging down the story with too much detail.

The book isn't perfect. It suffers at times from a cohesive narrative, and it's just not quite as tight in the plot as it could be.

However, on a more personal note, it resonated with me. It was a book that was at once entertaining and thought-provoking. It gave me a little glimmer that perhaps there are some other Mormon women out there like me.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Atlantia by Ally Condie: Review + Giveaway

by: Ally Condie

Rio dreams of living in the Above, the unknown above her watery home of Atlantia. Her promise to her sister, Bay, to remain below when Bay decides to leave Atlantia and live Above. Because of the death of her mother, the powerful former minister, she is left alone and begins to search out the reasons she was left behind. Oh, also, she's a siren, which can be a dangerous prospect in Atlantia, which has a bit of a conflicted relationship with the humans that can control with their voice.

I was a big fan of Condie's first series, Matched, because I appreciated her poetic tone. I feel similarly about this book. The pacing in this book is not for everyone, but it worked for me.

The story and mythology that is woven into the characters and put into a more modern setting is beautiful. Sirens and underwater creatures can be tough to pull off. I liked the humanistic approach to these myths. The sirens aren't mermaids or supernatural. They are people with special abilities that can seem scary.

Here is one of my favorite quotes (from my uncorrected ARC):
I remember the day when we were five and I made Bay cry so hard she could barely breathe. I did it on purpose. I liked it when I was doing it—I felt hot and cruel and clever and powerful—but afterward, I broke down in remorse. My mother held me tight. She was crying, too. "You are a good girl, Rio," she said. She sounded relieved.

"I hurt Bay," I said. "And I wanted to."

"But you were sorry after," my mother said, "and you don't want to do it again."

I nodded. She was right.

"That is the difference," my mother said, almost as if she were no longer speaking to me. "That is the difference."
Here's where the novel breaks down a bit for me. There just isn't enough. Rio's penchant for mechanics is discarded partway through the novel, among other things. The construction and elements of the setting needed an extra push. With more development and more information to keep me invested in Atlantia, this would have been phenomenal.


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Friday, May 16, 2014

Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan: Review

By: Sarah Rees Brennan
Reviewed by: Kylie Comfoltey

Kami Glass and the beautiful Lynburn boys are back with a vengeance in this second installment of the Lynburn Legacy series by Sarah Rees Brennan. 

Having read and loved Unspoken last year, I had high expectations for book two. I love a book that makes me laugh out loud. I love a book with a strong, tangible atmosphere. And I love a book that makes me angry because I'm just so invested in the characters' lives I simply can't help but pine for happy endings.

As hoped, Untold met all of my expectations and more. I laughed out loud FAR too many times as is acceptable in a public setting. I became even more of an anglophile than I already was. And I was mad as all get-out at the cliffhanger ending. Because, the feels. Brennan is all about the feels.

Untold was quite a bit darker than Unspoken. Still plenty of humor, clever quips, and witty banter thrown about, but the plot and characters were more Half-Blood Prince than Sorcerer's Stone. More evil sorcerers, sinister acts, and an epic battle between good and evil take this story to a whole new level. Brennan boosts the magic, mystery, and Gothic atmosphere, and the once-sleepy town of Sorry-in-the-Vale turns darker and creepier by the page.

My one gripe is that there was more teen romance drama in Untold than was needed. I am looking forward to the growth the characters will experience in book three. Kami is such a fun heroine. I'd love to see more focus on her quirks and strengths than her angst. I wouldn't mind more focus on Rusty, either. Wink wink.

Absolutely nobody twists humor into Gothic romance like Brennan and I can't recommend this series enough. Be forewarned: Brennan is the cliffhanger queen. She'll leave you angst-ridden and full of curses. More magic and mystery await us this September, however, so get to pre-ordering Unmade and stock up on good chocolate. Only chocolate can carry us through this stretch.


Sexuality: Fairly mild.

Drugs/Alcohol: Mild.
Profanity: Mild.
Violence: Some violence for sure, but no gory descriptions.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith: Review

The Geography of You and Me
by: Jennifer E. Smith

It's a sweltering summer day in New York City. The perfect setting for a stuck elevator and chance encounter that throw Lucy and Oliver into each other's paths. After their rescue from the elevator, they spend the evening in the magical place that is NYC during a blackout. But, the stars don't seem to align for the couple. They run in different circles, and circumstances leave them across the globe. But, for some reason, in spite of other relationships, stuttered communication, and geographical barriers, they can't seem to let that one night go.

I've become a huge fan of Smith's work since The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. And, I loved This is What Happy Looks Like. As soon as the semester ended, I took the opportunity to dive into this one. Of course, it helped that the book came in a very lovely box.

Honestly, who could resist?

This book has all the trademarks of the things I love about Smith's work:

  • Romances between two people that seem so unlikely but they are thrown together by fate.
  • Sweet dialogue
  • Characters with a past
  • A major theme that takes the book from pure fluff to a serious issue
But one of the things that I thought Smith really brought home with this book was the travel. Oh, the travel. If you like books with a wanderlust theme, you're going to die of happiness. As I read this on the train during my travels to and from work, I closed my eyes and imagined that the train was taking me to Paris instead of the office. And I had a burning desire to send someone a postcard. The descriptions of Lucy's and Oliver's "homes" were rich and tantalizing.

However, The Geography of You and Me was not without faults. I may be nitpicking here, but I really wanted a little more depth from this story. With This is What Happy Looks Like especially, I felt like I needed to read a book with a highlighter to mark all the passages that spoke to me. This book didn't quite reach that level. I enjoyed it, but I wouldn't say it's my favorite of her novels.

Fans of Smith's other novels will be very satisfied with this newest title. I'd also recommend that fans of Sarah Dessen's work, 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, and Just One Day by Gayle Forman pick this one up. It's a sweet, contemporary romance that I'd recommend for ages 12 and up.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Flash Fiction with S. E. Green


I am so excited to be on S. E. Green's blog tour for Killer Instinct. I've been excited about this book ever since I got this totally rad package in the mail. Complete with evidence bag.

What's exciting about this tour, is that you will have the opportunity to help write S. E. Green's next short fiction in the Killer Instinct world. Here's how it works and the prizes you could win:

Every day you'll visit these blogs: 

Monday the 5th- Novel Novice

Tuesday the 6th- EllizieBooks

Wednesday the 7th-  Emily's Reading Room

Thursday the 8th- Reading Teen

Friday the 9th - Good Choice Reading

The first EIGHT chapters are available on KILLER INSTINCT's Wattpad. Get to know Lane and her predicament if you dare.
  • Shannon will post some opening lines to a short story involving Lane, KILLER INSTINCT’S main character and her adventures. If that's what you want to call them. 
  • Readers and aspiring writers will be invited to add the next few lines in the comments section of the blog, which will close at 9 pm EST every night on the blogs participating.
  • Shannon and her editor, Patrick at Simon Pulse will pick their favorite and add it to the original opening lines.
  • This will then get passed to the next blog and the steps repeated. 
  • By the end of the blog tour, an entire short story will have been created by Shannon and the fan base.
  • This story will be published on Wattpad and Shannon’s website.
  • Winners will receive surprise giveaways, ebook of KILLER INSTINCT and a KILLER INSTINCT t-shirt.

Lane has secrets and uses her mother's connections to keep tabs on the bad guys. She seeks justice. She seeks truth. Lane's distance and the ability to observe what others can't is both her blessing and a curse.

Check out the book trailer for a sneak peek into who Lane is.

Our story begins . . .

S. E. Green: I crouch in the darkness, eyeing the alley. Two people climb from a car—one guy and one girl. They each already wear dark jeans and black hoodies.
The guy says something I can’t make out, and the girl nods. Then they both slip on black ski masks and gloves. They’re now dressed similar to me.
The girl slides a knife into a holder strapped to her thigh. The guy wedges a gun into the waist band of his pants. Together they take off down the alley. They get to the end, the girl goes right, and the guy goes left.
I step from the shadows. Which one do I follow?

Winner Christina: I decide on the girl, because they’ll most likely meet up again soon. And besides, if the guy does fire his gun, I should be able to keep track of him without too much trouble. Ahead of me, the girl’s clumsy footfalls are fading, and I remind myself not to fall too far behind. Before I’ve taken more than a few long strides in her direction, a guy’s voice, teasing, cuts through the dark.
“So, Slim, is this what you do every night?"

Winner Sera: Zach steps out from an alcove, stopping me in my tracks. My eyes dart past him, but the girl’s already out of my sight. I take in a few deep breaths like I’m trying to catch my breath when really I just need a good excuse. The way the shadows of the night dance across his face he looks more like his brother, and I can’t help but blush. My breathing evens enough for me to whisper, “The real question is, why are you stalking me?”

How do you think it continues?
Add your thoughts in the comments (no more than five sentences) and we'll pick a winner tonight at 9 pm EST!

Good Luck!