Thursday, January 22, 2009

Overlooked or Underrated

I just finished an amazing novel "Bound on Earth" by Angela Hallstrom. This book has a literary flair without bogging the reader down. Angela follows a cast of characters throughout their lives with interconnected stories. A few years ago I read the "The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint" by Brady Udall. I love Brady's writing, but you kind of have to go through the mind of a man whose obsessed with sex, which let's face it--might be all of them, but it gets a little old. Angela's book doesn't do that. It has Mormon characters, but again isn't bogged down by trying to attach messages. In this way the book reminds me of Chaim Potok. I expect great things from Angela in the future. She's won some well-deserved awards.

Another book that I read a few years ago which is excellent and which hasn't received the attention it deserves is Arianne Cope's "The Coming of Elijah" which won the Marilyn Brown award a few years back. Arianne is young and has so much talent everything she puts to paper sings. Her writing makes me think of Barbara Kingsolver, one of my favorite writers. I can't wait to see what Arianne will come up with next.

One more book that came out in 2007, won some awards, but has been overlooked is Logan writer Janet Kay Jensen's "Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys" named after a Mormon folksong. This book brings together two clashing cultures mainstream Mormonism with Fundamentalist polygamists. I would say this book also is somewhat literary. It asks more from the reader than many of the fast-paced LDS suspense novels, but is well worth the effort. Janet is an excellent emerging novelist.

Two movies worth shouting about are: "Lars and the Real Girl." Honestly I think this might be one of my all-time favorite movies. I've seen it twice now and then went out and bought it. It's an independent film. Some indies are too artsy and you end up watching the whole thing and saying, what the heck? Not this show. It's the sweetest movie I've ever seen without being sappy.

One that came out some time back is Saint Ralph--another gem. This one is PG13 for some masturbation scenes, which since the main character is 14 is probably apropos, but still for those sensitive be fore-warmed. This movie is charming, sweet, well-done, and has a great message. Ralph's father is dead, his mother is in the hospital in a coma and he is going to a strict Catholic school. He needs a miracle and is convinced that if he wins the Boston marathon his mother will wake up.

A television series we've enjoyed which I heard will be canceled is Eli Stone. If it isn't too late check it out. It's about an attorney with a conscience because he has visions due to a brain aneurysm. It has a lot of guest stars, like Sting and Natlie Portman. My husband and I also love Chuck and Pushing Daisies.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

"Her Good Name"

One of the side benefits of writing books is that I've become friends with some really cool people. One of those very cool people is Josi S. Kilpack who lives in a nearby small town. Small town people already have a connection. There's an unspoken understanding of what it's like to be able to mail a package without standing in line, to have people wave because they recognize your car--when I got a new car it took me a while to figure out that people weren't suddenly snubbing me, they were snubbing the car. And to know that most people are related, so it's best to keep your mouth shut if you're thinking about passing along some gossip. But with Josi, it's more than that conncection. She's just one of those people. You know, the kind of people you want to hang with--for the rest of your life if possible.

Josi is really a busy though. So hanging out with her for a day is difficult, let alone for the rest of your life. But there's a really easy way that everyone gets to spend time with her. And that's through her books. Picking up a book of Josi's is seriously like having her be your best friend for the afternoon. The kind of books I like to read are the ones where I feel like I could go shopping with the character and know what they would pick out to buy--take Chrissy, the main character in Her Good Name. She buys bright clothing that accentuates her cute figure, loves high heels--all different kinds--even knows the names of the types of heel, which right there says we wouldn't be friends, but she is frugal and hardworking and knows how to get a good deal. She is tough, says what she thinks, but is compassionate when it comes to the people she loves. Chrissy is proud of her Mexican-American heritage, but refuses to let people see her as a stereotype. I like Chrissy. That's why I got involved with the story when her identity is stolen and the other person gets into all sorts of trouble that messes up the real Chressaidia's life and she has to take action in a big way.

I was lucky enough to read "Her Good Name" before it actually came out in print. I highly recommend Josi's books. They really do capture your interest from the first page, gives you a bunch of new friends to hang with for a few days and even think about for long afterward. Josi is good at having each book be about something more than suspense or romance. This book brings identity theft to the forefront and includes information at the end on how to avoid becoming a victim, but the information doesn't intrude on the story.

Josi has a new book coming out in the spring. The next book proves to be a lot of fun. I've only read a chapter or two of the next one, so it will hold more surprises for me than this one did. It is a culinary mystery!