Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Counting Stars While On Hazardous Duty

By Julie Coulter Bellon

For my birthday a week and a half ago, I received books and gift certificates for more books. So I went to Seagull Book and walked around with my gift certificates, trying to decide which books I was most anxious to read. There were so many good ones to choose from, and it was a very difficult decision, but I cut it down to the final four: Hazardous Duty by Betsy Brannon Green, Counting Stars by Michele Holmes, The Deep End by Traci Abramson, and Midnight Whispers by Carol Warburton.

I brought them home and I started reading my new books beginning with Counting Stars by Michele Holmes. I picked up this one because the premise looked so interesting. A dying man whose wife has died in a car accident is looking for a woman to take care of his children. Jane has never been able to find love, but doesn’t really know if she should take a chance on falling in love with a dying man and his two infants.

The book is divided up into three sections, with a prologue. The prologue drew me right in, the author’s descriptions making me feel as if I was right there. Part One, however, really slowed down the pace and it seemed to take forever to establish the characters (thirty-one chapters, albeit short chapters). For me, the story picked back up with Part Two and I was riveted with the turn it had taken. The author really seemed to warm up in Part Two and showcased her ability to write tension between characters that made me not want to put the book down. It was dramatic and nerve-wracking, yet still funny and relatable. The character of Pete was complex and dynamic and I really like how the author took heartbreaking events and tied them directly to the development and strength of her main characters. The romance was exceptionally well done and I could hardly finish it fast enough—I just had to know what happened! I thought the ending was a little rushed and really, the book could have been broken up into two books with all the drama and action packed into it, but the author does a great job with the material. The book is very dramatic and heartbreaking, yet still funny with several memorable characters. It’s not your typical LDS romance and doesn’t have the neat happy ending that is somewhat expected, but it feels like a fresh new style for the genre and I would recommend it.

The next birthday book I read was Betsy Brannon Green’s, Hazardous Duty. I was a little nervous to read what was in store because she’s going in a whole new direction, but as a fan of Ms. Green’s I couldn’t wait to see what she would do with a new set of characters.

Hazardous Duty is the story of Savannah McLaughlin whose daughter is snatched from her elementary school and neither the police, FBI, nor private investigators can find her. But Savannah thinks that a man from her past, Major Christopher Dane, who is specially trained for difficult military extractions, could possibly help her. The only problem is, their history is such that she's betrayed him before and he currently hates her. She uses everything she has to convince him to take her case, telling herself she would do anything to find her daughter--even if that means begging and groveling to him. Major Dane isn't anxious to take her case and lets her know it. The situation becomes more dangerous and complicated with every chapter as Ms. Green lays down the clues. With her trademark twists and turns that keep even the most experienced mystery reader guessing, the story barrels toward an exciting ending that is very unexpected. I am anxiously looking forward to the next book and to finding out more about her new characters! I can't wait to see where Ms. Green takes this new series. I really recommend this book as well.

The third book is The Deep End by Traci Abramson and I just started it yesterday so I can’t really give it a review quite yet. The first five chapters are wonderful and it seems balanced with action and some romantic angst. I’m hoping to finish this one today and start on Midnight Whispers. My mother-in-law actually read Midnight Whispers first and recommended it to me, so I’m excited to get started on it.

It feels good to be reading again as I have felt so busy in the past little while. There are so many good books out there. If you’ve read something good lately, let me know what you thought was good. Christmas is coming and I want to have my wish list ready!


At 11/29/2007 2:56 PM, Blogger Jon said...

Well, I'll recommend a book that Robison suggested: The Gunseller by Hugh Laurie. It is an absolute pleasure to read! The story is a bit confusing, considering you can't really rely on anything the protagonist (1st person) says. The best part, though, is all of the literary techniques that he makes fun of. I can't really explain it, but it's quite a joy. (Warning: some swearing and a fair amount of British terminology.)

I'm currently reading Lisey's Story by Stephen King (substantial amount of swearing and icky stuff) and I'm just in awe of how he works his craft. He makes use of phrases that a family makes up that no one else understands, and eventually, they almost become a part of your own vocabulary. I know the author reads voraciously, so that must be where he came up with all the sayings. Still... it's something else.

BTW, the coined phrase that my wife and I use is "ostenficious" which is something my aunt said once when she meant cost-effective.

At 11/29/2007 5:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I've read Hazardous Duty. And Loved it!
I've read The Deep End. And thought it was rather boring compared to the first two.
But I haven't read Counting Stars or Midnight Whispers. Well I bought Midnight Whispers but I haven't read it yet.
But if you recommend them then I'll read them. Thanks!

At 11/29/2007 6:14 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

Just to clarify on that book recommendation from Jon: The Gunseller is a FANTASTIC book that has greatly influenced my writing. But fair warning: the language is really bad in places, and there's a short sex scene. So, if you can tolerate that, read it. If not, then don't.


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