Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Two Reviews and Two Contests! Oh My!

Today I am so excited to tell you about two books I’ve been reading—Ammon by H.B. Moore and Just Shy of Paradise by Carole Thayne Warburton. I’m even having my first contest and you could win an autographed copy of Ammon, and a choice of books or a handmade frog by Ms. Warburton!

It’s so easy! All you have to do for an autographed copy of Ammon is, after reading the review post a comment for one entry, either Facebook or Twitter about it for another, or follow my blog for a third. Make sure you let me know what you are doing so that you can have a good chance at winning. The winner will be chosen at random and I'll announce the winner next Tuesday.

Ms. Warburton is offering her own contest with the release of her book. You’ve got to enter just for a chance at one of her pottery frogs! So, if you post a comment and mention her review on my blog that's one entry, share it on Facebook or Twitter, that's another entry, and then you can go to her link here, and become a follower of her blog, and that's another entry! But be sure to let her know what you've done. Easy, peasy. (Of course you don't have to do all three, but your chances increase if you do, and you might get one of those one-of-a-kind frogs!)

The Reviews

Ammon by H.B Moore

First I want to tell you about Ammon. Most of you know I’m a big fan of H.B. Moore’s work. Her book Abinadi really made me think in a different way about this prophet, especially the fact that I had always imagined him as an old man, when in fact we are never told how old he was. What if he had been a young man with a family? In Alma and Alma the Younger, those men were also rounded out in my imagination through Ms. Moore’s meticulous research and plausible characterization.

Because of this, I had no doubt that Ammon would be good, but I was surprised at how absorbed I became in Ammon. After all, I know this story well! But Ms. Moore’s writing of this prophet seems so effortless, it’s like we’ve really slipped back into that time period and are reading about his missionary efforts and the struggles that could have occurred as he tried to love his enemies. One thing that really struck me was, even though intellectually I knew that Ammon had given up a kingdom, for some reason this book brought it home more forcefully for me, and what sacrifices Ammon had made for the work. I just can't say enough about the quality of writing and the interwoven history and characters that come to life throughout this story.

This is a book I could not put down. I was completely pulled into the story and the people in it. There is just something so wonderful about a story that really strengthens the reality of Book of Mormon times and brings home to the reader the fact that these really were ordinary people who did extraordinary things, and they relied on the Lord to carry them through the struggles of life.

So, although my summer reading has just started, I don’t know that I will find a book to top this one on my 2011 favorites list. Ammon is incredible and is definitely a book for your must-have list!

Here is the backliner:

With the fire of newfound testimony, Ammon and his brethren leave Zarahemla to preach the gospel in Lamanite lands, carrying nothing but hunting weapons and the promises of God. Spotted by an enemy scout, they part ways in the dense jungle with hopes of reuniting at the close of their harvest. Ammon follows the Spirit to the borders of Ishmael, where he’s ambushed just seconds after spotting Elena, a fair-skinned woman who captures his interest.

As Ammon gains reknown in the kingdom, he defends Elena from the advances of Gad, the loathsome widower she’ll soon be required to marry. Then swearing allegiance to the Lamanite king and trusting in the Lord, Ammon further proves his strength and devotion by sparing King Lamoni’s flocks from plunderers. The amazed king and his court are converted to the gospel through Ammon’s powerful teachings and the miraculous events that follow, but each action Ammon takes causes more and more disruption throughout the kingdom. And when Elena is abducted by her own brother and hidden away in an unspeakable place, Ammon faces his greatest struggle yet: not just the outward challenge of lethal combat but also the inward challenge of loving one’s enemy.

Just Shy of Paradise by Carole Thayne Warburton

The other book I finished is Just Shy of Paradise. This book is about Lily a woman with anxiety disorder who is feeling unhappy about her life, and Sky, a Native American man who struggles with his identity and the things that have happened to his people.

Sky has dreams of the Bear River Massacre and the unspeakable things that happened to the Native Americans there, and he feels the emotion of his ancestor, Chief Sagwitch. The emotion of these scenes is really well done and it is easy to feel the depth of Sky’s anguish. Sky is such a three-dimensional character who really grows in the book and comes to find the path for himself by the end.

Lily is trying to work through her anxiety disorder and the fact that she feels she wasn’t worthy of having her life saved by an angel when she was little. She feels like everyone looks at her because of this and that certainly doesn’t help her anxieties. She finds an old fishing pole among her family’s things and that starts her down a path of self-discovery that leads her in directions she never thought she’d take.

Ms. Warburton kindly allowed me to interview her about her newest release.

Sky struggles with his ancestry and identity, but knows the stories from his Native American ancestors well. Did you have to do much research into those stories? How did you come to the decision to make Sky a Native American?

I've always wanted to do a story about a minority, but being white I didn't want to assume too much. However, I live in an area where the history of the North Western band of the Shoshone are talked about all the time. Sagwitch Basin where Chief Sagwitch took the tribe after the massacre is right out window. I read Scott Christensen's book "Sagwitch: Shoshone Chieftain, Mormon Elder" and became fascinated with the chief. But since I enjoy contemporary stories more than historical, I found a way to weave the two together, bringing out some of the stories from Christensen's book in Sky's life. So yes, I did research those stories, but it was so much fun. I purposely made Sky half Swedish, so that any mistakes I made in what it felt like to be Shoshone I could blame on the fact that he had a white mother.

Lily struggles with anxiety disorder. Did you know someone who struggles with that?

I've known people who have struggled with anxiety disorder and/or panic attacks. I researched about the disorder, causes, treatments, and symptoms. I also interviewed someone who suffered from anxiety and developed a drinking problem because of it.

There is a lot of fishing in this book. Do you like to fish? Are you good at it?

I used to fish some, mostly in Yellowstone but was not very good at it. I live close to some great streams and keep thinking I'll take it up again. My nephew is a master fly-fisher and has even participated in contests and done some guiding. I asked him a few questions and read up on it. I'm sure experts might find some details wrong. As a writer I'm aware that research is fallible, but so far no one has corrected my fishing stories.

What is your favorite time of day to write?

Morning after a brisk walk.

Is there anything that inspires you as a writer?

Almost everything inspires me as a writer. Definitely the places I live inspire since my first three books were set in the small town of Grouse Creek where my husband I lived for five years. "Just Shy of Paradise" is set in my current location in the town of Paradise/Avon. I think reading is essential to writing. I would never trust a writer who says they don't have time to read. Reading and studying how it's done is one way to hone your craft.

What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

If you aren't having fun then it isn't worth it. It's hard not to get discouraged. There is so much rejection in the process of getting published. If there was a way to not take it personally, that would be my best advice. Also to be easy to work with. I think I was a little bit difficult in the editing and publishing of my first book. The next time around I realized everyone involved just wanted me to have the most successful book possible. They may not have been right on everything, but at the end of the day the publisher had a lot more knowledge about the book business than I did.

If you had a million dollars what would you do with it?

If I had a million dollars I would pay off our house and property and buy my husband what he needs to make a first class horse ranch. Then I'd buy a new kiln and do some upgrades in my pottery studio. I would give each of my kids something they need, my son a house, my daughter a down-payment on a business. Now they'll both be rooting for me to get that million.

Where is the best place to buy your book?

The best place would be anywhere that has it. Deseret Book is supposed to be carrying it, and some independent bookstores. Amazon is always easy and their price is very good.

My thanks to both of these authors. And don’t forget to enter the contest so you can win!


Heather Moore said...

Thanks for the review, Julie! I really enjoyed Just Shy of Paradise as well.

Stephanie Black said...

Sounds like two great books! Thanks for the reviews, Julie, and congrats to Heather and Carole.

Jenny P. said...

I've read Alma, and enjoyed it, but haven't read any of Heather's other books. I'd love to read this one.

Jenny P. said...

And I follow your blog. :)

Mindy Holt said...

We reviewed Ammon today as well. Such a great book! Great contest! I've posted on facebook and twitter and follow your blog.

battraws said...

I can't wait to read Ammon, I love all of Heater's books! Carole's as well! I need more money! :-) I also follow your blog. Thanks, Julie!

L.T. Elliot said...

Ammon is one of my favorite people in the BOM. There's something about his strength and faith that just reaches down into my heart and gives me hope. I'll definitely have to read this!

Jon Spell said...

I followed your blog today, but mostly it was to see if that would let me post. (Wasn't working for some reason, but now it is.) Also, you don't need to enter me in the contest. ;)

I guess I don't have much to say about either book, except that my wife's visiting teacher is a huge fan of Heather's.

Anonymous said...

Jon, does that mean you didn't follow my blog because of its awesomeness? You just wanted to see if you could post? *clutches heart* I'm crushed! ;)

Sorry you were having posting problems earlier. Hopefully that is fixed now.

Julie (because blogger won't even let ME post!)

Anonymous said...

Hence, since blogger won't let me post either, I guess it isn't fixed! *sigh* Maybe I should sacrifice something to the blogger gods . . . Any ideas?


Unknown said...

Great blog, Julie! Great reviews. I'd love to win either of these books. Both super authors. I am following you :-)

K.Griffiths said...

Both books sound wonderful. I can't wait to read them. Thanks for reviewing them.

Janet said...

What a great interview of Carole, I have enjoyed her other books and am sure I will like this one, too. Thanks.