Friday, February 17, 2012

Column No. 12 February 16, 2012

When I was young, I would devour romance novels. Nothing too lurid or inappropriate—just the sweet teeny bopper books that every thirteen-year-old girl loves. The story where girl meets boy, they fall in love, then there is a misunderstanding and they break up. But by the end of the novel, everything is resolved and the sixteen-year-old sweethearts end up living happily ever after.            

This was the plot of most Sweet Valley High books, and I am pretty sure I read just about every single one out there.

Now that I am older, and my taste in books has changed, I am pretty much over romance novels unless there is some kind of supernatural twist or mystery involved. I don’t have time to waste on just plain old romance anymore. I have my own love story that is happily ever after.

After twenty years together and fifteen years of marriage, my relationship with my husband is not exactly the stuff romance novels are made of, but it is perfect. It is comfortable. I am happy with our romance and find most romance novels trivial and quite ridiculous.

That is why, when I started reading this week’s book, I groaned a little inside.
“Pic Jump,” by local author Michelle Erickson, started out as your typical romance. Girl meets boy. They fall in love. They get married. I was thinking that the story was a little weak and that the love story was awfully short. Then the excitement started!

Minutes after the wedding there is a car crash which leaves the heroine, Pic, in a coma and unable to communicate to anyone through her own body. But she is able to communicate through the head of a Barbie doll to a little girl. Pic finds that there is a reason that she is in her situation. She has to help solve a mystery and save people that are in danger.

Yes, the premise is a little far fetched. But, I tell you what, I was hooked! Michelle’s writing style was fast-paced. Once I started, I could not put it down. I read the entire book in one afternoon!

I satisfied my need for a romance novel for this week’s Valentine’s column, and my own need for adventure and mystery.

This is the second book that I have read of Erickson’s. You may recall my review of “Klaus” in December. I suggest you take a look at her clean, fun books and support a local author. Her books are available on in e-book form or paperback. Or you can get “Pic Jump” at the BYU-I bookstore.

If you have not read a romance in a while because you are tired of the inappropriate content, this is the book for you. Or, if you have not tried a romance because you think they are all sappy and silly, take a look at “Pic Jump.” It was definitely my kind of romance!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Darkening Dream by Andy Gavin

If you like horror, this is a great book for you! It is intelligent, well-written, very well edited and gripping. Sarah is a young Jewish girl in turn of the century Salem who is friends with a group of other teenagers. They stumble upon more than they bargain for when they find a newly turned vampire in their small town. Befriending a young Greek boy named Alex, they are determined to find the maker of this vampire and put a stop to all of the nefarious deeds that seem to be happening all around Salem.

This is not your average tale of vampires. There are no sparkles and the vampires are definitely not "vegetarians." They are dark, evil beings who seek to bring about the end of the earth. There are warlocks, demons, and shape shifters. Mythology, biblical references and folklore fill the story with depth and creativity.

I have mixed feelings about this book. It was dark, and scary. There was a little bit of bad language in it. There was some sexual content. I would not recommend it to young readers or to those who are easily offended or frightened. It is very violent, which did not bother me. The violence was so well-written that it did not seem gratuitous. Much like "Godfather."

I was intrigued. I was frightened. And the end left me wanting more. I want to know what happens to the dear families and characters that I have come to know. I hope there is a sequel!

If you would like a free copy of this book from the author, Andy Gavin, follow this link today or tomorrow and get your free ebook!!!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Column No 11 February 1, 2012


   Somewhere on a remote Italian island there is a castle covered in wisteria and freesia, with a blossoming Judas tree standing watch over the courtyard like a trusted footman.
            For Lotty and Rose, this castle beckons as an escape from their unhappy lives as unappreciated wives. 
            One dreary day in London at the women’s club, Lotty and Rose see an advertisement for a castle to let for the month of April in sunny, enchanting Italy. The women jump at the chance for a vacation from their husbands and find two other women to join them in this magical paradise.
            “The Enchanted April” by Elizabeth von Arnim is the perfect book to read in this dreary February weather. The descriptive prose invites the reader into the gardens of San Salvatore, a fictional medieval castle in the Mediterranean. All of the foliage surrounding the castle is a glorious metaphor for the development of lives and how people change.
            I was hooked from the first page when I read about Lotty, the shy and flighty wife of an ambitious solicitor, Mellersh.  Mellersh does not appreciate Lotty’s optimism and has forgotten why he married her in the first place.
            Rose is described as the “disappointed Madonna,” unhappy in her marriage because her husband has chosen a profession of which she doesn’t approve. These women become unlikely friends in the planning of their trip to Italy.
            Through advertisement, Lotty and Rose find two other women to share the expense of the trip: Caroline Dester, a young socialite, and Mrs. Fisher, a woman of advanced years who is shocked by the other three young ladies’ lack of propriety.
            This is a story about love, companionship, and having someone to appreciate you. Rose, in particular, “passionately longed to be important to someone again . . . privately important just to one other person.”
            Each of the four women is rejuvenated by the beauty of her surroundings, and each finds hope in her own way. As Mrs. Fisher decides, “As long as one was alive, one was not dead—obviously . . . and development, change, ripening, were life.”
            The reason I chose to write about this book now is because I recommend it for a great book group selection for this month or next.
            In March, the Department of Theatre and Dance at BYU–Idaho will be presenting the play version of “The Enchanted April.” What a wonderful opportunity to read the book and compare it to the play.
 Wednesday, March 28 there will be a special talk-back after the performance, in which the actors, designers, and director will discuss the play and the book as well. All book groups are welcome and encouraged to attend that night. If your book group would like to attend and have a talk-back on a different evening, you may contact The Department of Theatre and Dance at 496-4820 to request a special session.
            The play will run from March 22–24, and from March 27–30, with 7:30 p.m.  performances. Be sure to arrive thirty minutes early. Tickets go on sale two weeks prior to the performances.
            I encourage you to read this enchanting romantic comedy. It made me laugh out loud, and it gave me hope in the healing power of love. What better way to spend a Rexburg winter than to visit the Mediterranean and enter the world of “The Enchanted April.”