Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Book Review: Trapped, by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen

Emi is a victim of a break-in. The intruder didn’t steal anything of value but left a shrine of Emi’s belongings and clues that her dad was not really dead as she had believed for the past twenty years. She flies to Austria in search of her father and there is caught in a web of mystery and deceit. As she discovers her family’s shaded history, and her crucial role in its redemption, she is in peril of her life, and also of falling in love with the wrong guy.

The book started out a bit slow and didn’t come up to speed until Emi was in Austria. The author’s writing lacked the polished of a more seasoned author, and perhaps this was part of the reason that I couldn’t settle into the book until a chapter or two in. But over all, Trapped, by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen was an enjoyable story. I could easily recommend it to those who love to read romantic suspense, and/or those who just want a good read.

The cover, however, didn’t quite work for me. It left me clueless to what the story was about. The publisher mentioned they didn’t want to give away too much about the story. Well, that worked. Unfortunately, when my 14 year old daughter first looked at the cover, she said, “I don’t want to read it. It looks like a chick novel, like the Uglies, or something.” (She doesn’t like chick-lit). I had to admit, the book cover gave me the same kind of impression before I read it. But let me state, it is not a chick-lit novel.

The old saying goes: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” That applies here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wow, whole wheat waffles when you wake.

This month, for mid-month make something madness, I've decided to share something that I eat practically everyday for breakfast. (No kidding, ask my family). Because I make them so much, I have burnt my family out on waffles. They are sick of them. I would be too, if I ate the waffles like they do, with butter and syrup. But I eat them with fresh fruit and vanilla yogart. Strawberries and bananas are my favorite. Come September when I get fresh peaches off my tree, I cut them up, sprinkle them with sugar and cinnamon, and they become another favorite. They are so easy to make, there is no excuse for you not to try them. Not only does this make a tasty, filling breakfast, but a healthy one too.


3/4 cup milk
1 TBS yogart
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg

Mix the above ingredients together in a small mixing bowl.
Then add:
1 cup whole wheat flour (freshly ground is best)
1 teas. baking powder
1/2 teas. baking soda
1/2 teas. salt

Mix together with wire whisk, pour into waffle iron and cook.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Luncheon with writing friends

I just returned from a delightful lunch at Mimi's resturant in Sandy. There were several other members of A.I. (Author's Incognito, an LDS writers' group). It was fun discussing each other's work, chatting about books, writing, publishing, and the size of desert portions. A topic that seemed to linger, at least longer than desert protion size, was the quality, or the lack there of, of small press publications. Of the recent books I've read, I've noticed a stark contrast in my ability to set down the red pen and enjoy the story between nationally published books and locally published books. I feared maybe I was being too critical, or perhaps I just read the few exceptions to the rule. But when this topic was discussed today, I found I was not alone. A question was brought up: why would these small presses allow such editing faux pas to occur? Things like multiple POV's in the same scene--or even paragraph, exessive use of adverbs, improper or excessive use of gerunds, or inconsistent descriptions, etc. We thought these small presses would want to work even harder to scrutenize and edit their manuscripts because they already have a disadvantage (size) when it comes to competing with the big guys in New York. But it doesn't seem to be the case. Then a voice or two spoke up. "If they can get that kind of stuff published, why can't I get my book even considered?" We didn't have an answer. Does anyone out there? Is it because we don't know someone, or we weren't in the right place at the right time, or maybe out stuff stinks and we just can't see it?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Book Review: Story of a Girl

The other day, fellow writer, Ali Cross mentioned local author, Sara Zarr's first book on her blog, and it prompted me to read it. Story of a Girl is a realistic, emotional charged teen book that really brings the 16 year old MC, Deanna to life. You can't help ache for her, cheer for her, and want to reach in and hug her as she struggles to rise above the horrible reputation she has obtained in her small community. She realizes that she had made a big mistake when she was 13, but no one seems to want to forgive her, especially her father.

The author has an amazing ability of drawing you into a teen's life and making you feel like you are there on the page with the rest of the story. Her writing is invisible, flowing effortlessly, it appears, from her pen.

The subject matter in the story was not for younger teens and the F-word was used often. I wouldn't recommend it to my 14 year old daughter, even though I gave her Sara's most recent novel, Once Was Lost, to read a few months ago and she loved it. (There was nothing PG-13 or worse in it, like in Story of a Girl). I don't normally read books that use the F-word in it, but Sara's writing style warrants mimicing, and I was able to look past the language and enjoy her book and learn from it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Book Review: Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord

Last week I was in D.C. attending the ALA conference (American Library Association) as an exhibitor for my business, PrestoStage, (my day job). While I was there I picked up a free book from the Scholastic booth. It was an ARC, as the book is not scheduled for release until August. I read most of the book on the plane trip home. It is an easy read, but I enjoyed it.

This is a delightful short book, perfect for young readers. It would probably appeal more to a girl than a boy. It is about a young girl who lives on an island off the coast of Maine. When the school board threatens to close their small island school because the number of students had dropped below the minimum, the town came up with the idea to bring in 5 foster kids to up their numbers and hopefully keep the school. Tess's family fosters a 13 year old boy, who comes loaded with an attitude and problems. It is a charming story of how Tess starts out trying to help the boy adjust because she wants the school to stay open. But eventually she grows to really care about her foster brother.

The writing was clean, almost invisible. I easily fell into the story, and I think children of all ages could do the same.

If I were to rate this book on Amazon, I would give it 4 1/2 stars.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Book Review: The Baseball Box Prophecy

I didn't round up June with a rhyme, (I've been in D.C. for over a week and didn't have the time to write one). Instead I'll start out the month with a book review. My readers seem to like that better anyway.

My husband was the one who encouraged me to buy The Baseball Box Prophecy. It is a middle grade fantasy written by a local author, Bruce Newbold.  My husband had heard a spot on KSL radio where Amanda Dixon highly recommended it, claiming she thought it was better written than Harry Potter. With that recommendation I couldn't resist.
During my trip to D.C. I was able to finish the book. I don't say "able to finish the book" lightly. If I hadn't had the extra time that travel brings, I daresay I would have put the book down and moved on to something else. Reading it bordered on being a chore.

The novel did have a creative and interesting story line. As part of an initation to get on a neighborhood baseball team, eleven year old Cletis has to venture onto the porch of a strange old woman, deemed a witch by the other boys. He ends up befriending the old woman and discovers that she has lived thousand years as part of a punishment, and she is in hope of being freed from her curse by the fulfilment of a prophecy. Cletis finds that he is the one she has been waiting for to fulfill the prophecy. I liked this part of the book--the story.

There is a lot of baseball worked into the story. I am not a big fan of baseball, but that is not why I found the majority of the book a difficult read. By difficult, I don't mean reading level. The author went into so much detail at times, it bored me. I got the point long before he finished presenting it. As a reader, I don't like to be insulted by having everything laid out for me and explained in unneccessary detail, or over and over again. The story could have been told in half the amount of pages. Had the author done this, I feel it would have been a much better book. The fact that it was a middle grade book and had a page count of 550 speaks for its self. Okay, so the later Harry Potter books had similar page counts. But by that time J.K. Rowling had established her credibility and shown that she could handle that many words and still keep the story fresh.

This is Bruce Newbold's first novel. He has written several screne plays, however. I feel his editor did him an injustice by not insisting he tighten, tighten, tighten. Had she done that, perhaps Bruce's debut novel could have shone much better.

I'm not saying you shouldn't read this novel. For some readers it might be a fit: baseball fans and/or readers who don't get weighed down by the superfluous. I admit, I have a hard time setting down the red pen when I read, unless the writing is invisable. By invisible, I mean that I don't get distracted by it. If writing follows the time-tested rules learned by seasoned authors, the reader doesn't see the writing, only lives the story in their mind. I didn't do that with this book. I noticed the writing.

I would give this novel a 2 star rating if I were to put this review on Amazon.