Mormon Literature Month in Review, October 17, 2015

This month has seen the release of some best-selling authors’ new books, including Stephanie Meyer’s surprise gender-switch Twilight novel, Brandon Sanderson’s latest Mistborn fantasy, and works by Orson Scott Card, Shannon and Dean Hale, Brandon Mull, Obert Skye, and RaeAnne Thayne. The bestseller list is as busy as it has been in a long time. Shadow Mountain also had a busy month, with a new historical novel by Dean Hughes, a regency by Josi Kilpack, a steampunk by J. Scott Savage, and an illustrated early reader by new author and artist Bryan Beus. Also a couple of appealing YA fantasies by Jennifer Jenkins and Robison Wells, and a romance by Melanie Jacobson. Just Let Go is the fourth feature film released by Deseret’s Excel Entertainment this year, but the reviews have not been particularly strong. The documentary Peace Officer is garnering fairly strong reviews. October is bringing a series of spooky plays, led by Eric Samuelsen’s The Krueutzer Sonata at Plan-B. Finally, we lost two friends, Candadai Seschachari and Pamela Williams. Please send news and corrections to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.


News and blog posts

The call for papers for the AML 2016 Conference – “Narrative Art and Mormons in a Global Age”, has gone out. The Association for Mormon Letters will hold its annual conference in Laie, Hawaii, on the Brigham Young University – Hawaii campus, on Friday, March 4th and Saturday, March 5th, 2016. The theme for the 2016 conference is “Narrative Art and Mormons in a Global Age.” Keynote speakers will include Terryl and Fiona Givens.

Candadai Seshachari, a popular and respected professor of English at Weber State University, and a friend to Mormon literature, passed away on October 6. Although not Mormons, Sesh and his wife Neila, who passed away suddenly in 2002, were active participants in the Association for Mormon Literature in the 1970s and 1980s. They both gave papers at AML conferences. Sesh served a term as president of the Association of Mormon Letters, probably sometime in the 1980s. Neila was also named president-elect of AML in 2002, but then died a week after her appointment. Neila, who was the editor of the literary journal Weber Studies, has been given two AML Awards, one in 1993 for “Service to Mormon Letters”, after she produced a special issue of her journal on Mormon literature, and a memorial award in 2002, after her death.

Author Pamela Stott Williams passed away on September 29. She was 72. Uer novels Living it Down and What Took You So Long were published by Walnut Springs Press in 2014 and 2015. She wrote, directed, and produced her play “Common Bonds,” and her trilogy of Book of Mormon plays. She directed community plays: “Because of Elizabeth,” “A Day, Night, and a Day,” and “Brother Brigham.” Her guest post “LDS Fiction: A View From the Fringe” was published by our blog in February 2015.

Sunstone has announced the 2015 Sunstone Graphic Short Story contest, the first ever Mormon comic-style contest. Entries are due November 15.

Stephen Carter will give a talk, “The Plan of Saw-vation: What Saw Can Teach Us about Writing Uniquely Mormon Horror.” October 28, 4 p.m., at Utah Valley University.

The Mormon fiction writer and self-censorship, by Wm Morris (A Motley Vision). “Back in July I made the claim that most Mormon writers shouldn’t worry about the spectre of excommunication (and then complicated that with several caveats). Not everyone agrees with that assertion. And, to be sure, the climate for Mormon fiction writers is unevenly distributed and could change (and please note again: I’m talking about fiction writers — nonfiction is a different thing entirely). But assuming I’m right about that, does that mean the Mormon fiction writer is completely free to write what they want to write? Or will be they be tempted (or perhaps even coerced) into self-censorship? And is self-censorship always a very bad thing to do? What follows may be obvious, but I hope that by structuring my thought this way, it’ll be of some use in teasing out notions of self-censorship and Mormon fiction writing.”

Brandon Sanderson is the Hardest Working Man in Fantasy. Barnes and Noble ( Goes over Sanderson’s career, including his writing habits. “Sanderson wrote over a dozen novels before selling Elantris (his eighth) to Tor Books. It was released in May 2005, and in the decade since, Sanderson, now 39, has published over 20 books, along with several novellas and short stories, totaling nearly 3,700,000 words. A simple bit of math tells us that he’s publishing, on average, 370,000 words per year. To put that into perspective, J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendary Lord of the Rings is 480,000 words—which took the British linguist over a decade to complete. A user on Reddit’s r/fantasy created this impressive chart of his published works between 2005 and 2014. That’s quite a trajectory.”

Ilima Todd interview, The Good Word Podcast. The author of the YA novel Remake.

Feature article on the career of Doug Stewert, who wrote the book for Saturday’s Warrior and founded the Mormon Arts Foundation.

The Mormon Arts Foundation held its annual retreat earlier this month. Participants included Carol Lynch Williams, Brook White, Cheri Pray Earl, Julie Hansen Olson, John Benin, Karla Bennion, Steve Peck, Jen White, SHarlee Mullins Glenn, Erica Glenn, Rick Walton, Brittany Scott, Ryan Innes, Dustin Christensen, Robert Loud (Fictionist), Shari Lunt Lyon, Scott and Brenda Franson, and Shelley Graham.

Shannon and Dean Hale have been announced as authors of an upcoming YA novel about Marvel comics character Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers). The upcoming Marvel Studios movie about Captain Marvel has been pushed back to 2019.

37 YA Books You Need To Add To Your Reading List (Buzzfeed). Includes 17. The False Prince, by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Female writers share what makes them strong” (Deseret News). Connie Sokol, Margot Hovley, Jennifer Moore, and Josi Kilpack share their stories.

Short Works

Spencer Hyde. “Remember”. Bellevue Literary Review. Fall 2015. Hyde is or was a BYU MFA student, studing under Stephen Tutttle and Lance Larsen.

Spencer Hyde. “The Hummingbird Wives.” The Pinch. May.

Hyde has won First Place in the Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Award. First place: Spencer Hyde of Franktown, CO, wins $1500 for “Light as Wings.” His story will be published in Issue 97 of Glimmer Train Stories. (June 2015).

Elsewhere Magazine. On-line short fiction, edited by Spencer Hyde, Sam Thayn, and Lindsey Webb. Recent issues include works by Stephen Tuttle and Jacob Culter,

Theric Jepsen. “The Naked WomanPulp Literature, Spring 2015, Issue 6.

Eric Freeze Asks: “Why Stop Reading?” (The Town Crier).

New Books and their reviews

Various authors. Timelesss Regency: Autumn Masquerade. Mirror Press, Oct. 1 Timless Regency collection #1. Romance anthology, with novellas by Josi S. Kilpack, Donna Hatch, and Nancy Campbell Allen.

Katie’s Clean Books: Detailed reviews of each novella.

Traci Hunter Abramson. Spotlight. Covenant, Oct. 5. Suspense/thriller. Saint Squad #9. A new Navy SEAL and an actress run into trouble.

Teyla Benton (Rachael Ann Nunes). The Takeover. Self, Sept. 30. Paranormal Contemporary. Unbound #5.

Bryan Beus. Westly: A Spider’s Tale. Shadow Mountain, Sept. 29. Middle grade. Written and Illustrated by Bryan Beus. Fantasy fable. Westly is a caterpillar who emerges from his cocoon and is not what he expected – he’s a spider! He must learn to navigate in a world where the butterflies are at the top of the social strata, the insects at the bottom, and spiders are somewhere in-between. But Westly is still determined to make a difference. He is determined to belong, to be loved, and most importantly, to become who he was born to be. Beus is the winner of the Kirchoff/Wohlberg Award from the New York Society of Illustrators, this is his debut novel.

Steve Larson, Deseret News: “This simple story of a misfit spider is surprisingly sophisticated and shares a message of accepting oneself that should appeal to children of all ages. Beus does a masterful job developing characters that teach lessons through their words as well as through their actions.”

Booklist: “Rich language paints lush images of life under the glass, and the author’s illustrations capture the characters’ cartoonish charm.”

Bloggin’ ‘bout Books: B-. “An exciting story about one spider’s quest to find himself.  There’s plenty of action to engage young readers.  Beus’ drawings as well as his menagerie setting, with its intriguing hierarchy, add depth to the narrative.  Most important, though, are the lessons Westly learns about loyalty, forgiveness, teamwork, and embracing one’s uniqueness.  Any child who’s ever felt different from his peers will empathize with Westly’s plight.  While Westly: A Spider’s Tale doesn’t bring anything really new or original to the table, it’s a quick, enjoyable tale that teaches life lessons valuable not just to children, but to us all.”

Sheila, LDSWBR: “I was very excited to read Westly: A Spider’s Tale to my 2nd grade class. I have to say, they were enchanted from the first chapter. They really loved the characters and they also liked the different voices I used as I read the novel to them. This book is perfect for the age group I teach, 7-8 year olds. They couldn’t wait each day until after lunch when it was time for Read-Aloud. They all groaned when I ended a chapter and put the book away to do something else. They learned the main message from the book, {which impressed me} without me telling them.”

Alicia Buck. Out of the Ashes. Sweetwater/Cedar Fort, Sept. 8. YA fairy tale. Retelling of Cinderella, with more magic. Second novel.

Shannen Crane Camp. Parrish. Sugar Coated Press, Sept. 25. Horror/speculative romance. Ghost story, with a mystery that goes back to the 1800s.

Orson Scott Card. Gatefather. Tor, Oct. 20. Fantasy. Mithermages #3. Continues the tale of the Mages of Westil who live in exile on modern Earth. Excerpt.

Chirstina Dymock. North for Christmas. Sweetwater/Cedar Fort, Oct. 13. Contemporary romance. “Ruby knows her CEO mother really could afford to send her to Europe for Christmas. But instead Ruby’s stuck in Tennessee working as a Christmas elf so she can pay for the trip herself. Wrangling whiny kids at the mall certainly isn’t the holiday she had in mind. But things start to get interesting when Ruby meets North—a lawyer-turned-elf, who might be able to grant Ruby’s real Christmas wish.”

Shannon Hale, Dean Hale. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party. Candlewick, Oct. 15. Early reader fantasy. The Princess in Black #2.

Kirkus: “Princess Magnolia’s perfect birthday party’s threatened by constant monster alarms, summoning her secret identity again and again. Prim, proper Princess Magnolia is all decked out in her pink finery, awaiting the arrival of a dozen ethnically diverse fellow-princess party guests for her birthday when her monster-alarm ring goes off. She changes attire and personas, becoming the heroic Princess in Black. Working swiftly, she saves a goat from a hungry monster and gets back to her palace in time to welcome her guests. But just when she thinks she’s in the clear and ready to open her presents, off goes her monster-alarm ring again! This pattern—Magnolia is just about to open presents when her alarm goes off, she comes up with a distraction for the princesses, defeats a monster, and returns just in time—continues through the book. It’s enhanced by visual gags, such as Magnolia’s increasingly flustered appearance, and hilarious depictions of the various ways monsters try to eat goats, from between giant pieces of bread to in a giant ice cream cone. A side character, the fittingly named Princess Sneezewort, frequently comes close to discovering Magnolia’s secret. In the end, Magnolia can’t take the constant interruptions anymore, yelling at a monster that it’s her birthday—the monster, abashed, ends up helping her in one last distraction for the other princesses. A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black.”

Dean Hughes. Home and Away: A World War II Christmas Story. Shadow Mountain, Sept. 29. WWII historical fiction. “Told from the perspective of a son fighting on the battlefields of Europe during World War II and his mother, struggling with worry and uncertainty about her soldier son while she tries to keep a semblance of a normal, happy Christmas holiday back on the homefront.”

PW: “In Hughes’s tense, emotional novel, members of a Utah family try to summon Christmas joy as they worry about their son and brother, Glen, who is on the front lines in 1944 Europe, and face financial pressures at home. Sixteen-year-old Dennis knows how hard his mother works to make the holidays bright, even if his gruff father doesn’t appreciate her efforts, so he works extra shifts at his part-time job in order to buy her something special. Hughes’s portrait of a family on edge and exploration of Glen’s brutal experiences in the trenches make for some dark reading, though he frequently cites characters’ sustaining faith and reliance on prayer and highlights some tender moments, too. A hopeful ending and a father’s emerging change of heart signal a brighter future for the entire clan.”

Cindy M. Hogan. Fatal Exchange. O’Neal Publishing, Sept. 10. YA Mystery/suspense. Christy Spy #3. 19-year old spy is in Paris, needs to retrieve the flash drive and save the boy.

Melanie Jacobson. Always Will. Covenant, Oct. 5. Contemporary romance. “Will Hallerman has finally had enough of the dating world—he’s ready to find a wife and settle down. This announcement is catastrophic in Hannah Becker’s world. After adoring him from afar since junior high school, she realizes her chance at love with him is in grave danger. But to Will, she will never be more than his best friend’s little sister. Determined to open his eyes to her charms, Hannah sets out to sabotage Will’s wife hunt by placing nightmare dates in his path and taking his search on a wild goose chase.”

Rosalyn Eves: 4 stars. “Melanie Jacobson is quickly becoming one of my auto-buy authors. Her romances are inevitably fun, smart, swoony (and clean, if that’s your thing) . . . I love the idea of a best-friends romance, and though I didn’t always agree with Hannah’s decisions, I spent the second half of this book with that pleasant kind of pain that the best romance books always bring out in me.”

Bloggin’ ‘bout Books: B. “Some authors love to keep readers guessing by experimenting with different genres, characters, and themes.  That’s great.  But, there’s something to be said for a writer who sticks with what works.  That’s one of the things I love about Melanie Jacobson.  I can always count on her for a fun, upbeat romance that will make me laugh and swoon in equal measure.  Always Will, the author’s newest, is no exception.  Like all of Jacobson’s heroines, Hannah is no shrinking violet.  She’s a smart, successful professional who’s proud of both her brains and her beauty.  Not to mention her physique, which she maintains with a rigorous running schedule.  While Hannah’s confidence and good humor make her both likable and admirable, her self-absorption gets annoying.  Will’s constant thoughtfulness toward Hannah shines a harsh, contrasting light on how little she does for him (or anyone else for that matter).  Still, I enjoyed the duo’s warm friendship, with its realistic irritants and slow-burning tension.  If felt real.  The banter between the two is especially engaging.  Plot-wise, the story isn’t very original, but it does take a turn I didn’t see coming.  I appreciated that little twist because it made the whole story more authentic, more mature, more true-to-life.  All in all, then, I found Always Will to be an easy, fun romance that sparkles with the typical wit and warmth I have come to expect (and always find) in a Jacobson novel.  This is what keeps me coming back to her books.  I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again:  If Melanie Jacobson writes it, I’ll read it.”

Jennifer Jenkins. Nameless. Month9Books, Oct. 6. YA epic fantasy. Debut novel. It is getting very strong reader reviews for its action-filled plot and world building.

Jessica Day George: “I got to read an advance copy of this, and thoroughly, THOROUGHLY enjoyed it! At first I was a bit wary, thinking, If this turns out to be another Hunger Games thing, Imma throw something! But Jenkins has made her own world, and has created a cast of great characters to stick in it. Really loved (or loved to hate) the characters, and really loved her writing. I don’t want to ruin anything by saying more, so all I’ll add is that society depicted is based on ancient Sparta, which is cool and different, and Zo (the main character) is a healer, which is an interesting job to have in a world full of guys who constantly have to prove how tough they are.”

Josi Kilpack. Lord Fenton’s Folly. Shadow Mountain, Oct. 6. Regency Romance. Proper Romance #5.

Kirkus: “When Lord Fenton is forced to marry or face disinheritance, he follows his mother’s advice and weds Alice Stanbridge, a family friend, but their match is full of conflict. Charles Theler, Lord Fenton, has developed foppish ways, gambling heavily and acting the flirt, but when he crosses a line and makes a particularly embarrassing spectacle of himself, his father, the Earl of Chariton, takes initial steps to disinherit him. When his mother steps in on his behalf and convinces the earl to give him one more chance to redeem himself, he is given a number of conditions, one of which is that he must marry. Charles is willing to do anything to maintain his title and position, especially since his ridiculous manner has always been a way to goad his father and possibly earn a speck of his attention, even if it is negative. His father is all about appearances, even if his actions are less than honorable. However, now that Charles has come so close to losing everything, he knows he must buckle down and show some respect to his title and responsibilities. He is guided by his mother in choosing a wife, Miss Alice Stanbridge, the daughter of her childhood friend. At first Alice is thrilled by the engagement—she’s held a tendre for Charles since she was a girl—but as she comes to realize he was forced into marriage and did not actually choose her, she is hurt and bewildered, especially since he shows her the same vapid mask he shows the rest of society, and she worries he is as shallow as he appears. When Charles’ mother falls ill, the uncomfortable newlyweds follow her from London to a country estate that shelters many lingering family secrets. Occasionally slow-moving, but an interesting take on respect and respectability and the choices a noble family must make when things go awry. Watching Alice and Charles grow into themselves and love for each other is nuanced and rewarding. A poignant Regency romance with subtle inspirational messages about the power of forgiveness and authenticity.”

Publishers Weekly: “There’s something tawdry about putting “I believe romances are for silly girls or homely ones” in the mouth of a romantic heroine. A book would have to be a comic gem or a profound character exploration to recover from that slap to the reader’s face, and Kilpack’s second Regency is merely a solid piece of genre writing, with no particular feel for its period but some nice imaginative touches . . . The pace and banter pick up once Charles admits his motivation for the hat incident, elevating the pedestrian opening to an entertaining verbal battle of the sexes. There’s good stuff here, but it takes 100 pages to find it.”

Mindy, LDSWBR (5 stars). “A beautifully written book by an amazing author. Josi has taken the regency romance genre and ran with it! There were so many scenes in this book that either had me laughing or crying. The last few chapters were so incredible, I went back and re-read them. There is one scene in particular that was so tender, heartbreaking, and wonderful all at once, I had a hard time seeing through my tears. Alice is a character I won’t forget in a long time, as well as Lady Chariton.”

Kristen McKendry. Heart’s Journey. Covenant, Sept. 1. Historical fiction. Pioneers travel from Toronto to British Columbia in the 19th century.

Bloggin’ ‘bout Books: C+. “As with most road trip novels, Heart’s Journey is less about the character’s destination and more about what she learns along the way.  Rachel, who’s lived a privileged, but confined life, discovers just how big the world really is and how very little she understands it.  Her hike across Canada also shows her the many things she can do without—and the one thing (person) she can’t. Heart’s Journey tells the typical pioneer story, complete with all the usual trappings—inclement weather, threatening wildlife, Indian trouble, mind-numbing exhaustion, desperate hunger/thirst, and blooming romance (in spite of everything else). While both Rachel and Peter are likable, neither really stand out as unique. Their adventures keep the story plodding along, but the novel feels overly long. Rachel’s plight seems too easy, as she gets rescued almost every time she’s in trouble, instead of finding her own way out of difficult situations. Although the story gets dull at times (there was rarely a point when I couldn’t put it down), overall, I enjoyed this clean, hopeful tale. I wouldn’t call it memorable, but it’s a decent read.”

Jennie Hansen: 5 stars. “Excellent! I enjoyed the Canadian setting.”

Melissa McShane (Melissa Proffitt). Rider of the Crown. Night Harbor Publishing, Oct. 22. New adult epic fantasy. The Crown of Tremontane #2. Melissa is a former AML president.

Stephenie Meyer. Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined. Little, Brown, Oct. 6. YA paranormal fantasy. As part of a 10-year anniversary repackaging of the original Twilight novel, Meyer has produced an alternative version, with the gender of the two leads reversed. Bella Swan is now a boy named Beau and the brooding Edward Cullen is now Edythe. It was a surprise announcement, so there have not been many serious reviews so far, but reader reviews have been pretty harsh, many responding that with little changed but the pronouns, that it feels like a cash grab. Entertainment Weekly feature story.

Brandon Mull. The Caretaker’s Guide to Fablehaven. Shadow Mountain, Oct. 13. Illustrated by Brandon Dorman. A visual encyclopedia of the creatures and artifacts that populate the Fablehaven world and the upcoming sequel series, Dragonwatch (starting October 2016).

Reading for Sanity (3.5 stars): “If you’re not a chronic rereader of awesome series, this book isn’t going to be for you.  If you don’t love delving into the worlds authors create, if you don’t like knowing the backstories before you reread your favorite series, if you don’t want to know any nuances you may have missed, books like this aren’t going to interest you. But.  If you are one of those chronic rereaders who loves supplemental material, who loves to fill in backstories, flesh out characters, refine your own theories, and immerse yourself into the world you’re currently experiencing, AND if you know that a second series will be coming out soon (squee!), AND if you want to brush up … you need to get to a bookstore. This is such a fun series.  I really enjoyed the series the first few times around, but revisiting the series, the baddies and the golden characters, the places, the spells, the magical items, brought it all back.  There are new snippets scattered throughout, there are wonderful illustrations of the characters, this really is well done. I received an electronic copy.  I don’t recommend it.  It didn’t translate to an ebook version well — I nearly quit trying to read it, to be honest!”

Mindy, LDSWBR (5 stars): “This book is so much fun. I enjoyed the trip down Fablehaven memory lane. Brandon Dorman’s illustrations were perfect and Brandon’s writings were fun and creative, just like this amazing series. I loved the “handwritten” notes from Seth and Kendra, and other characters, even Newell contributed his advice. Reading the pages I was taken back to when I first discovered this series, and was reminded how much I loved it. I need to read the books again, and very soon. Fablehaven is a long-time favorite series of mine and always will be.”

Julie Rowse. Lies Jane Austen Told Me. EAB Publishing, Sept. 25. Memoir. “Rowse offers readers a glimpse of the tension that a single LDS woman tries to manage, as she chooses to continue living her faith despite being outside the norm of LDS culture. Relying on the works of Jane Austen, John Hughes, and Cameron Crowe, she draws parallels between the pantheon of romantic comedy writers and her own relationships.”

88 Mile Press: “In truth, this is not a work I would have sought out—the dating life of a Mormon woman? No offense, but what do I care? Yet after blazing through the first 90 pages or so, I found myself enjoying the book and eager to read on . . . Around the midway point, Rowse began to write of her fiancé. He had been mentioned, briefly, earlier in the text. At the time, I wondered why the mention had been so scant. Clearly, this was an important part of her story. Here was a woman who was dying to be married, born in a culture that apparently believed the ultimate goal of a female was to become a wife and a mother, and yet she only wrote briefly of a full-fledged fiancé without going into further detail?  But as I read more about this man, it all became clear.  Why did Julie Rowse decide to tell her story? I could be wrong, but I don’t believe that she wanted to write this book. I am not certain she was bursting to showcase her personal insecurities and difficulties. No, I believe Rowse felt she had to write it, if not for herself, than as a potential warning for others. People who are willing to sacrifice their own personal integrity to live up to what we—all of us—believe society demands of us. Set in the context of this world, one that Rowse has respectfully brought us into (she is quite clear in stating the many benefits she has derived from her faith), this Mormon culture that seems to value one role for woman above all others, we are given a stark example of the many outside pressures people allow to measure themselves.”

Interview with Jana Reiss, Religion News Service. “There are very few places in the Church to escape that romantic ideal. That’s part of why I wrote the memoir. There wasn’t that voice saying that it was OK to be single, especially single and LDS. I read Kristen Oaks’s book, who had married Elder Oaks in her fifties. It’s a very Deseret Book-approved approach to singleness, and it’s very spiritually grounded. And on the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got Elna Baker or Nicole Hardy, who decided to leave the church. But that voice in the middle, the one that speaks to me, is the one I couldn’t find anywhere. No one else was writing it.”

Brandon Sanderson. Shadows of Self. Tor, Oct. 6 Mistborn #5, Second in the “Wax and Wayne” series, sequel to The Alloy of Law. Corresponds to late 19th-century America. “The heroes of the Mistborn trilogy are now figures of myth and legend, even objects of religious veneration. Mistborn’s society has evolved as technology and magic mix, the economy grows, democracy contends with corruption, and religion becomes a growing cultural force, with four faiths competing for converts. Waxillium Ladrian, known as Wax, is the hereditary Lord of House Ladrian but also, until recently, a lawman in the ungoverned frontier region known as the Roughs. There he worked with his eccentric but effective buddy, Wayne. They are “twinborn,” meaning they are able to use both Allomantic and Feruchemical magic.”

Library Journal (starred review): “An immense amount of backstory is hinted at from both the original Mistborn trilogy and the previous volume of this time-jumped new series, but Sanderson does a great job of bringing new readers up to speed. Fast, smart dialog and an abundance of exciting action keep the pages turning. VERDICT Although there are too many descriptions of Wax’s metal-wielding powers, the magic system that Sanderson has developed shows why this is one of his great strengths in the fantasy field. Picking out a favorite character might be hard—honorable but haunted Wax has merits, as does the lovely Marasi, struggling to succeed in the Elendel Constabulary—but Wayne remains one of the most charmingly irrepressible thieves in fantasy.”

Kirkus: “A fantasy thriller about a supernatural assassin and a city on the brink of collapse. Waxillium Ladrian, nobleman and former bounty hunter, has a very proper fiancee and a very above-board position as a kind of consultant to the city’s constabulary that allows him to continue his pursuit of justice while living his mostly very civilized life. But even with all his experience, and with the help of his friend and partner from the uncivilized Roughs, Wayne, and his fiancee’s beautiful sister, Marasi, who’s now a bona fide constable, he may not be ready for the next challenge facing the city of Elendel. There’s a killer stalking the streets, a killer who can move too fast to be seen—and with the city already teetering on the edge of unrest, a single spark could set this civilization ablaze . . . This follow-up wrestles with questions of law and justice in a world that, like our own 19th century, is experiencing rapid change. In this volume, the questions get bigger as our heroes struggle to figure out their places in the system of divine justice. This book deals far more than its predecessor with its world’s complicated mythology, but the action never lets up, and the characters never lose their endearing humanity. A fast-paced fantasy adventure set in a fascinating world and populated with lovable, memorable characters.”

PW: “Excellent fifth Mistborn industrial revolution fantasy . . . Sanderson’s fantasy world partakes equally of steampunk, early industry, and the Wild West, and he cleverly incorporates the metal-shaping magic of feruchemists and allomancers. Fantasy fans will savor this exciting escapade.”

J. Scott Savage. Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention. Shadow Mountain, Sept. 29. Middle Grade speculative. The first in a new series, with steampunk and dragons. Set in an underground community which left the world above when it felt threatened by pollution and technology, and became committed to stop innovation and creativity.

Publishers Weekly (starred review): “Mysteries of Cove series starts with a bang, as 13-year-old Trenton Coleman’s illegal invention is accused of causing a massive power outage in the sealed, steam-powered city of Cove. His discovery of the true cause, another unapproved device, leads him to Kallista Babbage, the creative daughter of a deceased (and disgraced) inventor, and a set of clues that her father left behind. As Trenton and Kallista evade the city government in search of her father’s legacy, Trenton balances school, friends, and his parents’ expectations with his need to discover the truth. Savage has created an ingenious steampunk world; features like coal chutes and hydroponics bays prove essential at key moments, but it’s the characters that make the world stand out, including Trenton’s anti-technology mother, whose legs were crushed in a mining accident, and his friend Clyde, an artist punished for his creativity. Trenton will be a firm friend to any readers who long to use their talents to make their world better.”

Booklist: “First in a series and includes likable characters, themes of friendship and self-discovery, and enough mechanical parts to thrill the nerdiest science readers…Readers who like their dystopias flavored with steam engines will like what they find.”

Obert Skye. The Lord of the Hat. Henry Holt and Co., Oct. 5. Middle grade illustrated fantasy. Creature From My Closet series #5. The creature this time is part Gollum, part Cat in the Hat. He’s an intense creature with mad rhyming skills.

ReaAnne Thayne. Evergreen Springs. Harlequin, Sept. 29. Romance. Haven Point #3.

Library Journal (starred review): “Entertaining, heart-wrenching, and totally involving, this multithreaded story overflows with characters readers will adore. A sure winner for fans of sweet, family-themed community tales.”

PW: “Second chances abound in Thayne’s third contemporary set in small Haven Point, Id. Former rodeo rider and ex-con Cole Barrett is reviving the family ranch, and his two kids are learning to live with him after their mother’s death. Cole also has to take care of his pregnant sister, Tricia. In the background is his resentment that his own father didn’t stick around during his childhood. Family physician Devin Shaw steps into the middle of all the anger, disappointment, and tension, spreading joy and warmth everywhere she goes. Unfortunately she’s just too perfect: she moonlights at the ER, teaches yoga to senior citizens, and volunteers with a charity. Even her substantial past medical troubles don’t do much to humanize her. Cole is human enough for both of them, though: standoffish, slow to trust, and quick to hold a grudge. Watching him learn about forgiveness is much more satisfying than the tepid romance story line.”

Paige Timothy (Tristi Pinkston). In the Stars. Trifecta Books, Sept. 28. Contemporary romance. Main Street Merchants #6.

Robison Wells. Airships of Camelot. Franklin Shepherd (self), Oct. 15. YA steampunk fantasy. “After much of the population was wiped out after th1918 Spanish Flu, U.S. Navy officers took to their airships in search of isolated places to hide their families and make a new life. But now, three generations later, all of the Admirals must pay fealty to Sir Ironside, the man controlling the national helium reserve, paying him with plunder they’ve stolen from the savage tribes of survivors left on the ground.” Includes a King Arthur.

Jessica Day George: 5 stars. “I like my King Arthur adaptations like I like my hot chocolate: rich and weird. This book certainly fits the bill! I was lucky enough to read the manuscript, and think that Rob does a brilliant job of transferring the classic Arthurian saga to an alternate Wild West, complicated by epidemic and full of steampunky goodness! I reminded me of Cherie Priest’s BONESHAKER, and you know I love BONESHAKER.”

David J. West. Whispers Out Of The Dust: A Haunted Journey Through The Lost American West. Lost Realms Press (self), Oct. 3. Antiquarian ghost story. Written as found documentation about a lost Mormon ghost town, couches as real, with authentic historical footnotes. “A supernatural treasure hunt. Documents spanning centuries relate the story of a forgotten valley brimming with magic, ghosts and evil. Published here for the first time these newly discovered papers grant a rare glimpse of the awful truth about this very real American Nightmare. From the era of wayward conquistadors and pioneers of indomitable spirit on to the weird wild west of gunfighters, gamblers, and medicine men these authentic accounts stalk through the forbidden desert leading you to an oasis of eerie horror and occult terror.”

Reviews of older books

Stephanie Black. Played for a Fool (Jennie Hansen, Meridian) 5 stars. “Played for a Fool is everything a Suspense novel should be and will keep readers glued to its pages, mouths open, and ignoring everything else around them from start to finish . . . The title of this novel is very apt. Black does a superior job of leading the reader to share each character’s emotions, and with those feelings, the hurt, doubts, and fears the characters experience. Characterization is strong with distinct characters, who are realistic, driven by convincing emotions, and who react in ways with which the reader can relate. The twins’ ditzy mother goes a long way to explain Kristin’s ruthless nature and Megan’s gullibility. The story is told from multiple points of view which strengthens the various characters and enhances the emotional impact . . . Black is a master of careful plotting. Sometimes a convoluted story can become confusing, but that doesn’t happen in Played for a Fool. Anyone who has ever been played for a fool, tricked, or blamed for something he/she didn’t do will share moments of anger or hurt. Anyone who knows the assurance of absolute trust will be touched. Those who enjoy first rate suspense stories will love this one. Stephanie Black is a premier suspense writer and Played for a Fool just may be her best work yet.”

James Goldberg. Let Me Drown with Moses (Jeff Lindsay, Mormanity). “Goldberg’s poetry explores many issues, including some of the difficult aspects of Mormon history with local Indian tribes. Sensitive, broad in vision, painfully aware of the pain in human failings and of the joyful potential of the Gospel, Goldberg is a complex and interesting poet that deserves more attention, in my opinion. Nicely done!”

Kimberly Johnson. Uncommon Prayer (The Hudson Review, Summer 2015). Discussed in “What Happened to the New Formalism”, by Mark Jarman.

David G. Pace. Dream House on Golan Drive (Catherine C. Peterson, AML). “The book follows Riley Hartley, who belongs to an “ideal” Mormon family and lives on the Provo bench, the stratified neighborhood above Brigham Young University where the vistas include tidy neighborhoods, orchards, the lake below and mountains beyond . . . Riley watches as the family survives a false accusation of adultery against his father and the bitter consequences . . . The author has employed three props to frame the story: The narrator, Zed [one of the 3 Nephites]
, The bird metaphor, and 
The chapter titles and headings . . . 
Parts of it felt edgy and irreverent, others exhilarating and vindicating. Don’t expect to read this book unscathed or untouched. The story is rife with the universal struggles between good and evil, sin and righteousness, culture and truth, strength and weakness, and dissonance between what we gain through experiential learning and rote imprinting. Thought provoking, and at times humorous and heart wrenching, “Dream House on Golan Drive” is a multi-layered and artfully presented story.”

Carol Lynn Pearson. Daughters of Light (Emily Geddes, Build Enough Bookshelves). “In this slim but important volume, first published in 1973, the inestimable Carol Lynn Pearson gathers dozens of accounts of women in the early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints using their spiritual gifts. What a powerful spiritual heritage we have! . . . The specific accounts of women healing are numerous and powerful. I loved the stories of Emma Smith and the great midwife Patty Sessions. The eighth General Relief Society President Amy Brown Lyman recalls Eliza R. Snow and Zina D.H. Young administering to her “semi-invalid mother” and her subsequent return to health. Mothers called on the powers of heaven to heal their children, fellow Saints, and others under their charge frequently.”

Clair Poulson. Portrait of Lies (Jennie Hansen, Meridian) 4 stars. “Poulson places more emphasis on plotting than characterization as many mystery writers do, since the point of a mystery is to create a convoluted path to discovering the perpetrator of the crime. Poulson is generous with both clues and “red herrings” or false clues. The setting for Portrait of Lies is unusual for Poulson as it takes place partly on a cruise ship and partly in Australia and gives some interesting data on solving a crime at sea and some of the technology available to both criminals and law enforcement. Readers who have enjoyed Clair M. Poulson’s mysteries for nearly twenty years will not be disappointed in this one.”

Josh Walker. Luke Coles And The Flower of Chiloe (Jonathan Decker, Meridian). “Aside from passing mentions of the Book of Mormon and Utah pioneers, you won’t find many overt references to Latter-day Saint doctrine, but thematically the Gospel is everywhere. Within the pages of this romantic monster-slaying fantasy, evil forces are, at heart, miserable and seek to make others miserable. God answers prayers. Light casts out darkness. Violence is not relished, but protecting the innocent is a noble virtue. Author Josh Walker served a mission to Chile, and his knowledge of local customs, mythology, and culture gives this novel a unique flavor. His hero, Luke Coles, is a Civil War vet who falls for a pretty waitress. After some nasty encounters with monstrous creatures, he takes up the mantle of warrior against vampires, zombies, werewolves, and beasties most Americans have never heard of. This was definitely a fun read. I enjoy when fiction delves into the dark in order to contrast it with the light. The fantasy is exciting, the romance is chaste and sweet, and the story has a strong moral center. There’s no sex, no language, and the violence serves the story without much graphic imagery. In my opinion it’s good for teens and adults (as well as kids with a higher reading level). The prose is a tad clunky early on, but it finds its footing as the mythology develops, and the confrontation scenes are marvelously cinematic. The book has a unique nonlinear narrative structure which, to me, made it more interesting. I highly recommend it for fans of fantasy.”


Just Let Go, a new feature film directed By: C.S. Clark and Patrick H. Parker, and distributed by Excel Entertainment, had its full Utah release on Oct. 9, playing at 24 theaters. It premiered on Sept. 28 as a single screening on 430 theaters all over the country. The film tells the true story of Chris Williams, a Mormon Bishop (although his specific religion is not emphasized in the film), who overcome his own grief to forgive the drunk driver who killed his wife and three of his children. It is written and directed by Christopher S. Clark (not the same person as the UVU theater professor) and Patrick H. Parker, both of whom have been making short films for the Church, and is being distributed by Excel Entertainment. It stars Henry Ian Cusick (Lost, Scandal).

The Cultural Hall interview and Jana Reiss interview with Chis Williams. Doug Wright (KSL) interview with the directors.

Sean Means, SL Tribune. 2 stars. “The inspirational “Just Let Go” makes a better sermon than it does an engaging drama . . . The directing team of C.S. Clark and Patrick H. Parker (co-writing with Vance Mellen) find plenty of lofty sentiment in Williams’ story, but there’s a strain to create dramatic tension in his decision — which is only in doubt because of the script’s frustrating habit of withholding relevant information. Cusick gives a solid performance within a brooding framework that’s more weighty than uplifting.”

Scott Renshaw, Salt Lake City Weekly. 2 stars. “Sometimes a movie just gets too structurally cutesy for its own good—and that’s part of what hamstrings this faith-based-on-a-true-story drama. It’s the story of Chris Williams (Thomas Ian Cusick), an LDS bishop whose life is shattered when his pregnant wife and two of his children are killed in a car accident with a drunk 17-year-old driver, and has to figure out how he can forgive and move on. The narrative moves back and forth between the near aftermath of the accident and legal proceedings six months later, and there’s a general plodding lugubriousness to the film as Chris mourns while getting advice from pretty much everyone he encounters, including a convenience store clerk. But the larger problem is that Just Let Go builds to a revelation that feels designed merely as a big “surprise!” while never helping inform the first hour, except for resulting in the character of Chris’ mother (Brenda Vaccaro) making no sense whatsoever. The well-intentioned lessons about forgiveness and redemption can provide their own emotional impact; a script has a responsibility for creating characters who behave like actual people.”

Chris Hicks, Deseret News. “Why does ‘Just Let Go’ seem to be hiding its Mormon roots?” “As a film, “Just Let Go” has a lot of problems, not the least of which is the decision by directors/co-screenwriters Christopher S. Clark and Patrick Henry Parker to rely on technical tricks they’ve apparently seen in too many other movies — shuffling the timeline, using home movies as a sort of found-footage/memory device, and falling back too often on slow-motion, jump cuts, blurry shots, etc., all of which undermines any intimacy they were hoping to achieve. As a result, “Just Let Go” is aloof and sometimes annoying. Which is too bad because Williams’ message of forgiveness is an important one. This is a movie I fully expected to embrace. But what really puzzles me is the decision to make Williams’ character a faithful member of some other unnamed church — one that is obviously, even aggressively, not LDS . . . There’s a brief scene of Williams in a suit and tie, sitting at a desk with a Bible, offering counsel to someone. And there is also a moment when he refers to himself as a “preacher.” Eventually, the real giveaway arrives: We hear the ringing of bells as the front of Williams’ church is shown with a large cross on the building . . . Williams’ faith and the decision he made to forgive the young man who brought him such extreme trauma and grief is so intertwined with his membership in the LDS Church and his role as a congregant leader that it seems weird to leave all that out. But to then show a church that is obviously not LDS is just misleading, and perhaps an indication that the filmmakers are indeed embarrassed by the Mormon connection. One might argue that they simply wanted to reach a wide audience with the important gospel message that to forgive isn’t just divine but is in fact a commandment for followers of Jesus Christ, and that they felt the Bible Belt crowd might avoid the film if it was revealed to be Mormon-centric. If that’s the case, there are ways to be subtle without switching faiths. T.C. Christensen’s “The Cokeville Miracle,” to name one example, never identifies any of the characters as LDS, although the events depicted in the film happened in a largely Mormon community. And late in the film when people are shown attending church, the meeting and the building are clearly LDS. Clearly, that is, to LDS Church members. Others might take it to be any Christian church. But at least in “Cokeville,” there is no deliberate misdirection to make the audience think it’s a different faith. If “Just Let Go” had decided to go in that direction, I’d have chosen another subject for this column. But to say that a faith film is true (which it does at the beginning) and then switch out one religion for another, that’s something else.”

Silver Petticoat Review: 4.5 stars. “Just Let Go is one of those movies that stays with you, partially because it’s an amazing true story and partially because the film is incredibly made. And with a memorable performance from Henry Ian Cusick (Lost), this indie film is worth checking out . . . the film never feels manipulative or lacking in sincerity with over the top preachy speeches and cheesy music. This was a real person presented in a very real, very raw way. Every tear from the audience feels genuine as it’s easy to picture yourself in his shoes. You experience his grief with him, anger, doubt and ultimately hope and forgiveness (which is in part thanks to Cusick’s performance). The Directors allow us to spend time with each family member he lost – mostly through the use of flashbacks and home videos Williams watches. We understand his loss and ultimately we understand his forgiveness – especially when we learn something about his own past that unfolds throughout the film. All of the performances in Just Let Go are fantastic as well. Henry Ian Cusick shines as the grieving husband and father, making it easier to understand Williams’ point of view. He carries the film and gives one of his best performances.”

The Independent Critic: B. “The film benefits greatly from the presence of Henry Ian Cusick (Lost, Hitman) as Williams, embodying the suddenly widowed father of two with an aching vulnerability yet a quiet, steely resolve . . . If there is a place where Just Let Go falls short, it’s in the film’s far too often gimmicky lensing that distracts from the film’s heartfelt story and for the most part effective casting. The film features multiple slo-mo shots that are bathed in an angelic light that feels like a Hallmark greeting card has come to life and smacked you upside your head. It’s an oddly inauthentic approach to a film that otherwise radiates authenticity. Despite some disappointing technical choices, Just Let Go contains such a compelling story and rich performances that it’s easy to let go of its minor transgressions in favor of embracing its belief in the power of love, forgiveness and hope to improve our lives and shine light into the deepest darkness . . . Directors Christopher S. Clark and Patrick Henry Parker do a nice job in the film’s earliest moments of creating a sense of the warmth and closeness of the Williams family, a warmth that is reflected back onto in flashback scenes, some more successful than others, throughout the film.”

Peace Officer, a documentary by Scott Christopherson and Brad Barber about the militarization of police forces, has been playing in screenings all over the country, and getting strong reviews.

Sean Means, Salt Lake Tribune. 3.5 stars (out of four). “One of the most effective ways a documentarian can illuminate a major national issue is to show where one community, and sometimes just one person, is confronted with that issue. The compelling documentary “Peace Officer” does that with the question of whether local police departments are overmilitarized. Filmmakers Scott Christopherson and Brad Barber personalize, and humanize, that issue by making a profile of one lawman who has been on both sides of the issue in his life. What makes “Peace Officer” even more immediate for a Utah audience — to the point of being difficult to watch — is that the case chronicled happened right here, with one of our neighbors . . . The filmmakers, who shared duties as directors and cinematographers, know Utah well. Christopherson (who teaches film at a Texas university) once taught youth workshops for the Sundance Institute and Salt Lake City’s Spy Hop Productions, while Barber is a professor at Brigham Young University. They make mention of the wide impact of police militarization — a mention of the riots in Ferguson, Mo., floats by briefly — but they keep tight focus on the Utah cases, which serve as a microcosm of the larger issue. Through the discussions of policy, though, what drives home the urgency of “Peace Officer” is Lawrence himself, a tough ex-lawman determined to get to the truth and hold police accountable. His quest propels this moving, and necessary, documentary.”

Austin Chronicle. 3.5 stars (out of five). “The film, which won both Audience and Jury awards at SXSW 2015, doesn’t get bogged down in the wonkish stuff. Its most lasting impression is a haunted, human one: of Lawrence in the long hallways of the airplane hangar he converted, walls plastered with his obsessive work, this one-man CSI unit on a mission to expose the cracks in a foundation he himself laid. He’s an extraordinary subject.”

New York Times. ““Peace Officer” does little to examine the impact of race on the deployment of force, and by emphasizing drug enforcement it skirts the role of the Sept. 11 attacks in augmenting police militarization. There is also little sense of how police officers are trained to use these weapons. The film’s most shocking moment is a shooting in a drug raid captured by an officer’s helmet camera. Some of the most quietly powerful footage shows Mr. Lawrence hanging lines to reconstruct bullet trajectories, and lying on a driveway to show the position of his son-in-law when he died. While “Peace Officer” could offer more information, what is here is disturbing and sometimes eye-opening.”

Village Voice review. “The film suffers from some rookie problems: Its cameras linger as people meander, and overlapping some of that with voiceover could have slimmed down the talking-heads interviews. But through it we can see the history and ramp-up of the military-esque police methods that have become our current crisis.”

Los Angeles Times reviewNew York Times article about Peace Officer and other recent films about relations between police and the African American community.

Dragon Warriors, a comic fantasy film written and directed by Maclain Nelson (Once I was a Beehive) and Stephen Shimek, and starring James Marsters (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Luke Perry (90210), and Adam Johnson, had an October 10 preview at the Megaplex Theaters Gateway, SLC. The movie won “Best Film” at Dragon Con in Atlanta in September.

Once I Was A Beehive continues its rolling openings, this week in Southern California. It has consistently been in between 20 to 30 theaters each week for the last 9 weeks, and has earned $558,890. Looking at the other wide release LDS films from this year, The Cokeville Miracle has made $1,347,840 after 18 weeks in the theaters, and Freetown which made $487,130 in 9 weeks.

Here is a summary of part of a Mormon Matters Podcast discussion with Sterling and Arthur Van Wagenen about three LDS film entities, the Church Publishing Services Department, BYU Broadcasting, and Excel Entertainment.

Also a Jana Reiss interview with Arthur Van Wagenen about the revival of LDS film.


Eric Samuelsen. The Kreutzer Sonata. Plan-B, Rose Wagner, SLC, Oct. 18-Nov. 9. Adapted from a short story by Leo Tolstoy. Directed by Jerry Rapier, and featuring the NOVA Chamber Music Series. “A harrowing exploration of the mind of a murderer (Robert Scott Smith), a man driven mad by unfulfilled passions – and Beethoven’s music.”

Eric Samuelsen on creating the play. Eric Samuelsen on the difference between translation and adaptions at Catalyst Magazine.

UTBA interview with Samuelsen, including his comments on being a Mormon and a writer. “Mormon culture today does, to some extent, reflect the best, most inspired parts of Mormon theology. But it also reflects the worst elements of modern mainstream conservative American middle-class culture, as well, of course, the best elements of that culture. So as a Mormon, as a liberal, and as an artist, I feel that my task is to reflect the best expressions of my own culture, and either ignore or- very occasionally and carefully- even attack the most retrograde aspects of that culture. Homophobia is clearly the new racism-it’s the thing we have to overcome. And sexism- it just has no place in the exalted doctrines of salvation.And some of my work has challenged mainstream culture. Certainly, I would never think ‘should my characters use that kind of language, as a Mormon, should I write that kind of dialogue?’ Those kinds of cultural considerations aren’t any part of my process. There was a time when I did self-censor; it held me back artistically, and with great personal difficulty, I discarded it. And feel great about doing so. And felt absolutely comfortable in my relationship with my Heavenly Father afterwards.”

Les Roka (The Utah Review): “What emerges in Plan-B’s newest play, directed by Jerry Rapier, is an audaciously experimental, unquestionably unique treatment – a script of less than 3,500 words — that synthesizes the spirit of Tolstoy’s story and the relentlessly visceral energy of Beethoven’s music in a work that only a few producing directors might consider feasible enough to pull off convincingly. In a couple of other adaptations, a separate companion performance of the sonata is offered but here the music and its performance are deeply woven into the textual fabric. Samuelsen narrows the focus down to the man of Tolstoy’s narrative (played by Robert Scott Smith), now imprisoned for the crime. He allows the audience to witness the man chronicle his own descent into madness — driven, haunted and ultimately imprisoned by the force of Beethoven’s music. And, that’s where the daunting unique wrinkle comes in this production: Not only does Beethoven’s music serve as the mise en scène but the musicians performing live on stage – Kathryn Eberle, violin, and Jason Hardink, piano – become integral characters in the action. The uncompromising fierceness and ugliness of the murderer’s mind are revealed in what surely will be an unforgettable collaboration.”

Carol Lynn Pearson. Caravan: A Happy Journey Through The Wisdom Tales of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Script-In-Hand Series world premiere reading on Friday, October 16, 2015 at 3:45pm in room 250B at the Salt Palace. Directed by Christy Summerhays.

Stephen Gashler. Bums! The Musical. Echo Theatre (Provo), Sept. 17-Oct. 3. Premiere. “The full-length musical comedy follows Edward, a businessman drained by the corporate shuffle and daily 9-5 grind. He flees his rigid workplace and joins a kindly gang of bums led by Dirty Dan. Edward finds peace in escaping the cares of the world (along with his engagement to his fiancé, Barbara).”

Front Row Reviewers: “The strengths of this show were the mostly believable New Yahk accents, the energy and movement and the fun story. The music, too, by Gashler, was fresh and fun. What I noticed that still needed to be tweaked was the electricity going off and the few little opening night glitches. Good voices (music director Teresa Gashler) abound in this cast. Many of the cast kept singing when the lights went out unexpectedly. The show was technically sound with a few mishaps. Something is always bound to happen on the first night of any production. The cast recovered brilliantly. You won’t be disappointed when you go see this production. Because this is a world premiere of a brand new show, I can’t stress enough my suggestion that you see this family-friendly fun show.” Provo Herald feature story.

Jeffery Lee Blake. Night of the Monster. Echo Theatre, Provo. Oct. 5-17. “It’s “Noises Off” meets “And Then There Were None” with the worst parts of “Twilight” thrown in for laughs.  In “Night of the Monster” Hollywood descends on the small town of Maiden Hills, California to create the next great werewolf movie. Meanwhile screenwriter Henry Rhodes Wilson may be suffering a mental breakdown as he keeps getting visits from famed Gothic writer Lazlo Reinhardt, despite the fact that he’s been dead for 100 years.  Henry will try to keep it together, even as the cast and crew of the film get bumped off one by one. ” Provo Herald feature story.

Teresa Dayley Love. Water Sings Blue. BYU, September. Darby Turnbow, UTBA. “Water Sings Blue was a different experience from my typical theatrical outings. Water Sings Blue tells the story of the characters’ day at the oceans. Characters include a family, a scientist, a teen boy, a pair of elderly beach-combing sisters, and a life guard. It was not fast paced or overly vocal, but instead was seeped in pantomime, poetry, and the calm of the ocean. Geared towards a youth audience, the show wisely uses visual comedy instead of verbal swordplay . . . It was nice to watch a show where I didn’t have to focus as much on what was being said verbally, but what was being communicated through facial expressions and body language. Often with pantomime based performances it is easy to become lost while looking away, but this was not the case in Water Sings Blue. There were multiple scenes going on at once and I wanted to watch all of them as they were equally well done. I had to keep bouncing from scene to scene. It was exactly like people watching at the beach. There is something delightful about well done pantomime . . . There is no plot to this show, but it is delightful artistic showcase for all ages. For those who are fans of visual comedy like Shaun The Sheep or Mr. Bean this would be an enjoyable production to go see. To any educators who would like to bring theatre into the lives of their young students Water Sings Blue is a great opportunity to do so. This would also be an appropriate production to facilitate discussions on poetry. Truly, Water Sings Blue is a unique experience for audiences old and young.”


Oct. 4, 11, 18, 25

Stephenie Meyer. Twilight: The Life and Death Dual Edition

USA Today: x, x, x, #5 (1 week)

PW Children’s: x, x, x, #2 (1 week). 66,358 units.

NYT YA Series: x, x, x, #2 (220 weeks)

Richard Paul Evans. Michael Vey 5: Storm of Lightening

USA Today: #14, #42, #144, x (3 weeks)

PW Children’s: #1, #2, #6, #12 (4 weeks). 19,496, 9116, 5096, 4308 units. 45,189 total.

NYT Times Children’s Series: #2, #3, x, x (2 weeks) (6 weeks total, from earlier years)

James Dashner. The Scorch Trials

USA Today: #47, #33, #56, #81 (81 weeks)

PW Children’s : #14 , #13, #19, #24 (10 weeks). 4528, 4272, 3462, 2935 units. 38,451 total

James Dashner. The Maze Runner

USA Today: #62, #53, #76, #101 (97 weeks)

James Dashner. The Maze Runner Series

USA Today: #101, #77, #77, #136 (19 weeks)

NYT Children’s Series: #1, #2, #3, #4 (157 weeks)

James Dashner. The Death Cure

USA Today: #80, #47, #68, #94 (75 weeks)

RaeAnne Thayne. Evergreen Springs

USA Today: x, #25, #25 (2 weeks)

PW Mass Market: x, x, #6, #9 (2 weeks). 14,873, 12,899 units. 27,772 total

NYT Mass Market: x, x, #11, #9 (1 week on main list)

Debbie Macomber and RaeAnne Thayne. A Little Bit Country

USA Today: ?, #66, #93, #105 (5 weeks)

PW Mass Market: ?, ?, #24, x (6 weeks). 5525 units. 63,508 total

PW Romance: #3

Brandon Sanderson. Shadows of Self

USA Today: x, x, x, #42 (1 week)

PW Hardcover: x, x, x, #10 (1 week). 8963 units

NYT Hardcover: x, x, x, #8

NYT E-book: x, x, x, #5

NYT Print/E-book: x, x, x, #5

Anne Perry. Corridors of the Night

USA Today: #55, x, x, x (1 week).

Shannon Hale and Dean Hale. The Princess in Black

NYT Middle Grade Paperback: #8, #9, #6, #6 (9 weeks)

Christine Feehan. Dark Blood

PW Mass Market: x, x, #17, #21 (2 weeks). 8477, 6084 units. 14,561 total

Christine Feehan. Dark Ghost

PW Romance: #10

Orson Scott Card. Ender’s Game

PW SF: #8, x

4 Thoughts on “Mormon Literature Month in Review, October 17, 2015

  1. Jacob Proffitt on October 16, 2015 at 11:35 pm said:

    Melissa’s Rider of the Crown will release Oct. 22nd. It’s the second book in the Crown of Tremontane series. The first, Servant of the Crown released Jul 15th and has been in the top ten of Amazon’s Kindle Romance Fantasy list for almost two months, now.

  2. .

    I should point out that “The Naked Woman” has neither missionaries nor Korea in it, though I would love to know how this rumor got started.

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