Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Vampires, Princesses and Wizards

by Sariah S. Wilson

I just joined a new Yahoo group, LDS Book Club, and the first thing they asked me is what I'd read last week. Well, truth be told, I tend to read really fast and get through books quickly. And since I am completely procrastinating writing my next book, I've been reading a lot these days - writerly-type advice magazines, writing craft books, and lots and lots of fiction.

I'm not going to mention the books I didn't like. I prescribe to Jennie Hansen's philosophy here and if I can't say anything nice, I'm not going to say anything at all.

I've also decided to make an attempt to read more LDS writers. I'm very interested in those that have published nationally. So my selections this week will reflect that.

Once Upon StilettosHowever, the first book is by a non-LDS writer. It's called "Once Upon Stilettos" by Shanna Swendson. This a second book in a series, and I definitely think that if you want to read it you should pick up the first book, "Enchanted, Inc." and then go on to "Stilettos." When the author pitched this book to her agent, she described it as "Bridget Jones meets Harry Potter." So it's a chick lit (although, thankfully, the heroine is not particularly obsessed with shoes, men or her weight) set in an urban fantasy. The premise is that the heroine is from Texas and moved to New York, so you have the fish-out-of-water element. She knows that New Yorkers are supposed to be weird, but she keeps wondering why she sees people with wings who look like they're flying, and why the stone gargoyles move. Before she can doubt her sanity too much, she discovers that a magical world does exist, but it shields itself from the regular world. The heroine is able to see through the illusions because she doesn’t have a single spark of magic in her, which makes her immensely valuable to a spell producing Microsoft-type corporation (because those magic guys are always trying to put one over on each other in their contracts and such, so someone who is immune to magic is vital to their business). Of course there’s a bad guy and a very hunky all-powerful wizard who, to the heroine’s frustration, is extraordinarily shy. “Enchanted, Inc.” was one of the first books I experienced serious author envy over. The heroine’s superpower is that she has no powers? Brilliant!

Princess AcademyNow for LDS authors (and both books are considered YA, but I found them very readable for adults) - I read Shannon Hale’s “Princess Academy.” For those who haven’t read it, it takes place in a far off kingdom without any known magic but those possessed by the heroine’s people. (They call it “quarry speak” and they don’t even consider it magic.) The heroine, Miri, lives in a mountain top village where her people mine a stone called linder (like marble, but much more valuable). Miri has a growing crush on her childhood friend, Peder, and wants to feel accepted and loved by her father and her people. But in this kingdom, whenever a new prince is born, the priests predict where his princess will be born. The current prince’s future bride will be from Miri’s village, and a princess academy is arranged to teach these illiterate, backwoods girls to be like princesses. Miri is torn - she would like to be a princess and help her family, but she loves her mountain and there's Peder to think about... This book didn’t hold any real surprises or twists (I knew who the prince was going to pick once the narrator had introduced all the girls) but the language is powerful and the author, with only a few well-chosen words, was able to evoke very strong emotions. I loved the ingenuity and originality of this book.

TwilightI also read another LDS author, and I have to admit that I’ve become a bit obsessed with this book. It’s “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer. Now, I know some LDS readers might be offended by the content. I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to reveal that the hero is a vampire, and I know some people might have a problem with that (I do not, which you knew already since you know that I own the special edition complete seven seasons of Buffy). But he’s a moral vampire who doesn’t want to be a monster, which is part of what I loved. The author admits to not being very up on current vampire lore, so she’s created a vampire realm that turns all the old myths on their heads, which results in her totally unique take. The author’s ability to withhold information (so that when you’re reading you’re thinking, “Why is he doing that? What’s wrong with him?”) keeps you turning pages to find out why the characters do what they do and just what the heroine’s reaction will be when she discovers that the boy she’s falling in love with is a vampire. I love their conflicts and motivations, and the conundrum that the vampire finds himself in - loving a girl he really wants to bite. This is how much I liked this book - I’ve already read it once and I’m in the process of reading it again because I rushed through it to get to the end and now I’d like to enjoy it. I almost never do that with books, once is usually enough for me.

If you’ve read or get a chance to read any of these books, please post about them in the comments section. I’d love to hear other people’s perspectives. Or please post about something you’ve read recently that you’ve really enjoyed. I’m always on the lookout for a great read.


17 Comments:

At 7/22/2006 10:54 PM, Blogger The Frog said...

Personally, I'm a huge fan of Shannon Hale; have been since The Goose Girl. I too liked Princess Academy and thought it was her best yet as she seems to really be coming into her voice. I'm looking forward to River Secrets, which comes out September 5. (I already put a copy on hold while at the bookstore today.) I just need to figure out how to become one of those reviewers who gets ARCs.

 
At 7/22/2006 11:01 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

I'm probably not conveying this strongly enough in my post (which is why I am not a reviewer for a living) but I really did love "Princess Academy." I couldn't put it down and stayed up late to finish it. I've been recommending it to everyone (hence, today's post). Rush out and get this book - I bet you won't be disappointed.

And can I just mention again how much I love "Twilight" and how I can hardly wait for the sequel to come out in August? I read that one in a single sitting as well. I think it's like 500 pages or something.

 
At 7/23/2006 12:43 AM, Anonymous Tristi Pinkston said...

Who published "Twilight," Sariah? And is it really possible for a frog to put a book on hold? Aren't frogs too short to see over the counter at the bookstore?

 
At 7/23/2006 1:40 AM, Blogger The Frog said...

Twilight was published by the Megan Tingley imprint of Little, Brown. There were rumors last year that it had been shortlisted for the Newbery, but I don't know how true said rumors were.

I didn't have to see over the counter; I just hopped onto it. The sales clerk thought it was cute. That's the perk of being a literate amphibian.

 
At 7/23/2006 12:35 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

The frog already answered the question, but I wanted to add that Little, Brown and Company are part of the Time Warner conglomerate. So fairly impressive.

 
At 7/24/2006 11:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can anyone recommend other authors who are LDS that are published nationally? I've read Shannon Hale and I'm going to get the other two that Sariah recommended. Thanks.

 
At 7/24/2006 12:06 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

I should probably reiterate that Shanna Swendson is NOT LDS. So please don't send me angry hate mail when you discover that she is not Mormon, because you have been forewarned. :) Same with some of the content in "Twilight" - I didn't have a problem with things in there, but I know that some Church members might.

I am totally out of the loop when it comes to LDS authors who have been published nationally, but some I know of are Orson Scott Card, Anne Perry, Christine Feehan, and Brenda Novak.

 
At 7/24/2006 1:55 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Another LDS author who is publishing very successfully in the national market is Janette Rallison. (You may already know her work for Deseret Book under the pen name Sierra St. James.) Her national market books are young young adult, but they have all Janette's trademark humor and insight. Her latest is "It's a Mall World After All." I love all her books!

I don't know how to insert links, but Janette's website is:

www.janetterallison.com

 
At 7/24/2006 4:43 PM, Blogger FHL said...

I'm sorry for the tangent off of your post, Sariah, but would you mind listing a couple of the "writerly advice magazines" that you've been reading? I'm very curious about this sort of thing.

 
At 7/24/2006 6:17 PM, Blogger Amy said...

Sariah,
I read "Twilight," and LOVED it!! The sequel can't get here fast enough!!

Amy

 
At 7/24/2006 6:33 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

I read The Writer:

http://www.writermag.com/wrt/

and Writer's Digest:

http://www.writersdigest.com/

Why? Because they're both available for free at my library. My library lets you check out old periodicals - so when I first started writing I checked out every back issue they had of both and all the nearly current ones.

When I started out I would devour the entire magazine cover to cover, but now I'm finding that I skip just about everything and read just a few articles that interest me.

 
At 7/24/2006 6:34 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

Amy, I'm with you on the sequel thing. I am so glad it's coming out in August instead of October. I'm not sure I could handle the wait.

Stephenie is coming out here in September at a bookseller not to far from my house, and I'm thinking I'll have to brave the much younger crowds to tell her how much I like her books.

 
At 7/24/2006 7:12 PM, Blogger The Frog said...

In terms of nationally published LDS authors, I'm going to recommend (again) Kristen D. Randle. She publishes with HarperTempest. Louise Plummer is also good. Many of my friends adore Carol Lynch Williams, she's not my personal cup of bug juice, though I did enjoy My Angelica. Chris Crowe has two excellent books, one fiction and one nonfiction, about Emmett Till.

If you're into Sci Fi/Fantasy, there's Dave Farland/Wolverton.

Really, when it comes down to it, there are LDS authors published nationally up the wazoo. Here I've just listed some of those who write for younger persons because they're authors who I know.

 
At 7/25/2006 12:24 PM, Anonymous Jonathan said...

I have no confirmation that Rebecca Tingle is LDS, but she did attend BYU, so that makes it, like, a 95% chance, right? She's written a couple of superb historical fiction novels for young adults in the mold of Rosemary Sutcliffe. Check them out. They are EDGE OF THE SWORD and FAR TRAVELER.

Tell us more about the TWILIGHT Newbery rumor.

 
At 8/19/2006 1:02 AM, Blogger Pancho said...

I apologize for adding a comment to this entry so late after the original post. I am Stephenie Meyer's husband. The rumors you refer to are just those, rumors. Twilight was selected as one of the ALA's "Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults" and "Top Ten Best Books for Reluctant Readers." The Newbery lists are usually taken from one of those lists but Twilight was not one chosen. Stephenie and I are very glad you enjoyed the book. It is great to see so many LDS people who enjoy the book and come out to the appearances.

 
At 2/24/2007 7:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Twilight and New Moon are the best book i have read so far i totally love them i can't wait for the movie to come out..... or Eclipse and Midnight Sun... Stephanie is a great writer.....

 
At 9/02/2007 1:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another LDS writer is being published. Launa Sorensen is an 18 year old with two books newly on the market (Areane Journals, books one and two, The Kings First Journey and the Paladin's Choice), one about to be published (The Dark Sorcerer's Return) and four more in the works (written but not yet fully edited). The books are young adult fantasy, and do not have the vulger language or situations found in other fantasy series. Very good reading! Her website is www.launasorensen.com.

 

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