Posts Categorized: Shadow Mountain

Book Review- The Winds and the Waves by Dean Hughes

30 Jul, 2013 by in Shadow Mountain, The Winds and the Waves Leave a comment

The Winds and the Waves (Come to Zion #1)

by Dean Hughes

Hardcover, 444 pages

Published May 2012

by Deseret Book

ISBN: 7816090705
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age: Adult

Book source: publisher

4 1/2 stars

Book Summary from Goodreads: Will Lewis is stuck. the class system in England in the 1840s seems destined to keep him in his place as a poor tenant farmer who cannot improve his lot and will never be able to marry the woman he loves. But the “new religion” that is sweeping through congregations of the United Brethren, Will’s church, may hold the key to the better life he longs for. As he listens to the preaching of Wilford Woodruff, he almost dares to hope for the Zion the young Apostle describes.

Will’s struggles to believe and to face the rigors of immigrating to an unknown land are paralleled by the modern-day story of Jeff and Abby, a young married couple facing challenges of their own. When Jeff begins digging into his family history, he finds himself particularly drawn to “Grandpa Lewis,” an ancestor whose life was more like his than he would have imagined.

The skillful interweaving of these two stories brings Church history to life while demonstrating how much we can learn from those who went before us. Anyone who has ever faced the winds and the waves, in some form, will love this novel.

Review: This is the first Dean Hughes novel I have ever picked up and what drew me in were the historical elements and rich authentic detail of his writing. Mr. Hughes has researched out the setting, speech, and every day way of life of his characters.  In this case, story of Will, an Englishman living with his family as a tenant under the rule of a squire. He is wary of the religious fervor of the United Brethren and feels stuck in his place, without opportunity to improve on his circumstances to win the heart of Liz, the solicitor’s daughter. Willis cast out from his town and farm after choosing to try to trap his own meat on the squires land. Thrust into the real world and a harsh work camp, starving, and at times homeless he beings to rely on first his own strength, and later on the small whisperings of his heart.

Eventually the reader also experiences what life was for immigrants coming by ship from England to America. I had no idea how long and treacherous the journey was, nor how sick the passengers would become from indigent conditions. Infants were lost, grown men and women grew ill and died. Most make it to America and then take a steam boat up the Mississippi to find Zion. Here again we get a clear picture of what the trip would have been like, the sights, sounds and trails those who traveled would have seen. I was carried there by the rich world building and character development that occurs in the old world.

What set it back for me a bit was the present day parallel plot of Will’s descendants trying to make it as a young married couple in Nauvoo. I feel like I just could not connect with either the husband or wife, so at times the storyline dragged for me because I wanted to get back to Will and Liz’s story instead of Jeff and Abby’s.

I have already started book 2 in the series, so the answer is, yes, I enjoyed it enough that I’m excited for the next book. It was amazing to see how the timing of this read corresponded to my own family history research of my pioneer ancestors that traveled form England to Zion. The experiences were the same and historically correct! I even found one of my ancestors as an author of a book listed in Mr. Hughe’s references in the back.

Overall- fascinating, well crafted historical fiction that gives us a good taste of tenant farms in England, immigration to the United Sates, life along the Mississippi and Nauvoo, Illinois.


Content: Some intense violence, lots of fist fights and one involving a knife.

About the Author: Dean Hughes is the author of more than eighty books for young readers, including the popular sports series Angel Park All-Stars, the Scrappers series, the Nutty series, the widely acclaimed companion novels Family Pose and Team Picture, and Search and Destroy. Soldier Boys was selected for the 2001 New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age list. Dean Hughes and his wife, Kathleen, have three children and six grandchildren. They live in Midway, Utah.

Find out more about author Dean Hughes: Goodreads

Early Book Review- Longing For Home by Sarah M. Eden

11 Jun, 2013 by in book review, sarah m eden, Shadow Mountain 2 comments

Longing for Home
by Sarah M. Eden
Paperback
Expected publication: August 6th 2013 
by Shadow Mountain 
ISBN 1609074610
Book Source: BEA
5 stars


Book Summary From Goodreads: Twenty-six-year-old Katie Macauley has placed all her hope in Hope Springs, a small town in the 1870 Wyoming Territory. But if she wants to return home to Ireland to make amends with her estranged family, she’ll need to convince the influential Joseph Archer to hold true to his word and keep her on his payroll as his housekeeper despite her Irish roots. The town is caught in an ongoing feud between the Irish and the “Reds” the frontiersmen who would rather see all the Irish run out of town and the Irish immigrants who are fighting to make a home for themselves in the New World. When Joseph agrees to keep Katie on as his housekeeper, the feud erupts anew, and Katie becomes the reluctant figurehead for the Irish townsfolk. As the violence escalates throughout the town, Katie must choose between the two men who have been vying for her love though only one might be able to restore hope to her heart.

Review:  Sarah M. Eden is one of my go to authors for clean, historic romance. So, of course, when I saw stack including Longing for Home at the Shadow Mountain booth at BEA I may have squeed a little. This is my first choice from the books I picked up at Book Expo America. Within days of arriving home from NYC, I had already read and wanted to hug it just as Katie MacAuley hugs her violin on the front cover. 

Katie MacCauley is exiled from her childhood home after famine and harsh landlords cause her father to lose their land and a tragic death claims the life of her sister.  She is far from home in Baltimore when word of opportunity anew reaches the East. But going far away can’t keep the ghosts at bay that keep haunting Katie’s memory. Literally crippled both emotionally and physically she begins to heal form the neglect and guilt harbored deep inside. Ultimately, her dream is to make things right by returning to Ireland, but two men vying for her affection have different plans.

Sarah Eden paints a clear picture of Irish life with historic elements of their homeland, Ireland…the soda bread, the music, the neighborhood gatherings or ceili, and the accent. All of these gave me a glance into what life may have been like for the green settlers who were trying to make their way in a “red” frontiersman’s world, as well as the opposition my ancestors likely faced trying to make their way and earn a living here. The separation and prejudice against the Paddys, or “green” Irish side runs strong and heated fueled by” the red road” where Katie finds herself literally living in the middle. Joseph Archer, a widow with two children, is also torn between the town and the Irish. Enter Tavish, the very confident berry vendor , who is determined to tip the scales in his favor and win the heart of Ms. MacCauley.

As a descendant of the Irish who immigrated to the United States, I absolutely loved Longing for Home. Sarah’s writing keeps getting better and better.  I would highly recommend all of her books.

Excerpt: Katie pulled open the back door only to have it pushed closed once more. For a moment she couldn’t account for such an odd thing. Her mind, however, quickly pieced the mystery together. Mr. Archer stood behind her, his arm reaching out past her shoulder, hand flat against the door. She’d been so lost in her thoughts shed’s never even heard him catch up to her.

Katie kept her back to him and folded her arms in front of her. “Have you come to order me about some more?”

“Order you about?” Though Katie knew Mr. Archer had to be standing almost touching her to have reached the door from behind her, the nearness of his voice still startled her. “If I’ve learned anything about you over the last week, it’s that you do not respond well to being told what to do.” p.151

Content: clean, mild violence

About the author:  Sarah M. Eden is the author of multiple historical romances, including Whitney Award finalists Seeking Persephone (2008, Covenant Communications) and Courting Miss Lancaster(2010, Covenant Communications). Combining her obsession with history and affinity for tender love stories, Sarah loves crafting witty characters and heartfelt romances. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in research and happily spends hours perusing the reference shelves of her local library. Sarah has twice served as the Master of Ceremonies for the LDStorymakers Writers Conference, acted as the Writer in Residence at the Northwest Writers Retreat and is one-third of the team at the AppendixPodcast.com. Sarah is represented by Pam van Hylckama Vlieg at Foreword Literary Agency.

Find Sarah on Goodreads/ Facebook/ Twitter/ Website


My Top 15 YA, Middle Grade and Adult Book Picks from BEA 2013 + Giveaway

07 Jun, 2013 by in giveaway, middle grade, sarah m eden, Shadow Mountain, ya 11 comments

Okay all, I will readily admit vlogging is not my forte. However, I today to offer Fire and Ice readers a peek at my top 15 YA, MG and Adult titles from Book Expo America 2013.
There is a giveaway of BEA books and swag at the end of today’s video as well as yesterday’s Part I posted on out sister site Little Red Reads.
Open to US only, giveaways end June 21, 2013.

Blog Tour and Review Cragbridge Hall: The Inventor’s Secret

26 Mar, 2013 by in Shadow Mountain 2 comments

By Chad Morris
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 5th 2013
by Shadow Mountain
ISBN 1609073266
Book source: Publisher
4.5 stars
Book Summary from Amazon: Abby and Derick have been accepted to the most prestigious secondary school in the world Cragbridge Hall. Due to the inventions of their grandfather, Oscar Cragbridge, they will be able to experience history in 3D, use their minds to literally project visual interpretations of classic literature, and become animal avatars for zoology. But when their grandfather and parents go missing, Abby and Derick must follow clues Oscar left for them that will reveal a dangerous secret. Along the way, they discover there is much more to one of their grandfather s inventions than anyone has ever dreamed. Saving their family will take all of Derick s mind and Abby s heart as they come face to face with a crazed scientist who desperately seeks to change the past. If they fail, the world past and future will never be the same. This book is a page-turning, time-travel adventure that teaches powerful lessons about choice and consequence, believing you can do hard things, and valuing your history.
I’m so excited to be a part of Deseret Book’s blog tour for Cragbridge Hall, Book One: Inventor’s Secret. I heard of this book the week I recived it from my elementary aged children who had a visit from the author, Chad Morris at their school. They were so entertained and excited about his presentation that they tried to wrangle the book away from me and I’ve been in a hurry to finish it ever since so they can have their turn! It’s always  a good sign when they get book envy.

Chad spends a lot of time weaving obscure and not so obscure elements of history into his storyline which takes place at a prestigious school for brilliant students of the future. The two main heroes are brother and sister team Abby and Derick who are on a mission to find out what happened to their grandfather, the schools founder as well as their parents….before it is too late.  There is plenty of adventure packed into the quest to find clues. The team and their peers are allowed to use “the Bridge” which takes allows them to see history come to life and feel it as it is happening. Readers get sucked right along with them into scenes as horrifying as a bear attack and as thrilling as a slave escape.

I really loved the characters and my ability to relate to them. It is truly middle grade perfect. Everyone knows the annoying best girl friend who is vying for the attention of your brother, the mean girl who is trying to turn her clique of friends against you, and the teachers who you can’t tell are on your side or not. The main voice, Abby is good just the way she is and is not perfect or fatally flawed. 

My children are going to eat this one up and I am pleased to pass it on to them as it is clean and not overly violent. Well done Chad Morris for keeping me and my family fascinated with the past and the future!

About the author: Chad Morris grew up wanting to become a professional basketball player or a rock star. (Inspired by Animal from the Muppets, he’s been banging on drums since he was eight years old.) After high school, he wrote and performed sketch comedy while going to college, and eventually he became a teacher and a curriculum writer. He lives in Utah with his wife and five kids. Chad would love to teach at Cragbridge Hall.Unlike Oscar Cragbridge, however, he hasn’t really invented anything, though his son once sketched out blueprints for a machine that would turn celery into cookies

Goodreads/ Twitter/ Author Website/ Deseret Book/ Facebook

YA book Review- After Hello by Lisa Mangum

26 Sep, 2012 by in Shadow Mountain, YA book reviews Leave a comment

After Hello
by Lisa Mangum
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published, September 4, 2012
by Shadow Mountain
ISBN: 1609070100
Book source: Publisher
4 Stars
Summary from Goodreads: What if the first day of your relationship was the only day you had? 

Seventeen-year-old Sara is a seeker. She’s always on the lookout for the perfect moment to capture with her ever-present, point-and-shoot camera, especially on her first trip to New York City. 

Sam is a finder. He has a knack for finding what other people can’t—a first-edition book or the last two tickets to a sold-out Broadway show. In New York, there is always something interesting to find. 

When Sam and Sara’s paths cross, neither one of them is prepared for what they will find out about each other—and about themselves when they form an unlikely partnership in search of a seemingly elusive work of art. They have one day to find the impossible. Fate brought their talents together, but what happens when time runs out? Will love be able to overcome fate? This new novel from award-winning author Lisa Mangum explores what happens after hello.

Cathy’s Review: Sara is not sure what she’s going to do in New York City all by herself for a whole day. Her dad was supposed to join her and they were going to do all the touristy things together, but as always, his company has come first. She’s pondering what to do, when she spots a boy, wearing a shirt that has the name of her favorite band, Zebra Stripes, on it. Not many people know about Zebra Stripes, so that kind of draws her to him, and she realizes just how good looking he is. She snaps a picture of him with the bookstore he’s standing by, as he turns to walk away. She knows she wants to get to know him, she knows that he could help her fill her lonely day, so she makes a split decision and goes after him. Sam is just doing his job, finding things for people when he notices Sara taking his picture. He also notices her following him, but does he want her to catch up, or does he want to move on and just do his job? He makes a split decision to at least talk to her and that changes the day for both of them. They end up being challenged to find a work of art so bold, original and fresh that movie star Piper Kinkade will love it. And what’s on the line? Only Sam’s brother’s job. This promises to be Sara and Sam’s biggest adventure yet, an adventure of discovery, not only learning about each other, but learning about themselves too!

I thought that this book was cute. I’m not sure that I was completely a fan of how the story switched points of view between Sara and Sam with every chapter. It felt a bit disjointed that way, like you were always missing just a little bit of the story and you needed that little bit to be able to understand exactly what was happening. I did like the way you found out little bits of information at a time, it made it so you could kind of imagine what the character was like, or what their life was like, and then later on in the story you could see whether or not you had been right with your imaginings. I did like the characters in this book, and the sights and sounds of New York, it was almost like you were really there. 

Content: clean

About the author: Lisa Mangum has loved and worked with books ever since elementary school, when she volunteered at the school library during recess. Her first paying job was shelving books at the Sandy Library. She worked for five years at Waldenbooks while she attended the University of Utah, graduating with honors with a degree in English. An avid reader of all genres, she has worked in the publishing department for Deseret Book since 1997. Besides books, Lisa loves movies, sunsets, spending time with her family, trips to Disneyland, and vanilla ice cream topped with fresh raspberries. She lives in Taylorsville with her husband, Tracy.
Find out more about Lisa Mangum: Website/ Goodreads

Book Review- Let It Go by Chris Williams

16 Sep, 2012 by in Shadow Mountain 1 comment

Let It Go
by Chris Williams
Hardcover, 151 pages
Published August 2012
by Shadow Mountain
ISBN1609071271
Book source: publisher
4 stars
 
Summary From Goodreads: On a cold February night in 2007, a devoted father of four and a seventeen-year-old drunk driver both received life sentences. In one violent, devastating instant, both faced a drastically different – and uncertain – future. But as Chris Williams sat in his demolished vehicle, staring at the car that had just caused the death of his wife, his unborn baby, his eleven-year-old son, and his nine-year-old daughter, he committed to do something extraordinary: he would forgive.

That decision launched Chris on a journey toward healing that impacted his family and friends, the young man who had caused the accident, and an entire community – a community that would face another deadly tragedy just a few days later.

Chris’s message of empowering forgiveness is an invitation to all who have suffered, however unjustly, to lay down their burdens and let it go.

Heather’s Review: I first heard this story five years ago when Chris Williams lost four members of his family in a drunk driving accident. It hit me very strongly because I could not imagine having the immediate response he did–that of forgiveness toward the driver. Chris issued a statement to the press of knowing right after impact that he had to forgive the person who killed his wife and children. He showed absolute kindness and selflessness in the way he handled the days following the crash. Chris Williams is an amazing example of being Christlike and integrating what he believes in the midst of his tragedy. When put through the agonizing press of personal loss, he lived what he knew to be true, and followed the footsteps of the Savior. Reading his memoir was heart wrenching. I think Mr. Williams is incredibly brave to write this down to share it with the world.  The image on the front cover is so powerful- as victim and driver sit down on a park bench to talk. ( a real shot from the video above titled “Forgiveness, My Burden Was Made Light.”)
Grab a box of Kleenex while reading this book. I had to take it in small segments because of the descriptions and the anguish felt. Yet, on the flip side, any reader can see how Chris has a very personal relationship with Christ. He got answers to his prayers in overcoming a tremendous burden and trial. This book and videos would be an excellent victim impact lesson. One that I wish I would have had when teaching DUI classes to drug and alcohol clients. It is true to life about how drunk driving has life-altering consequences. Let It Go left a lasting impression on me to drive– even as a sober drive– more alert and attentive–to not be distracted in any way while on the road. It also made me want to align my life with the teachings of the Savior and His atonement. One never knows at what point they will be faced with the reality of losing a loved one or passing through heir own ultimate trial. As Williams described this was a “bitter cup” he had to drink. I would like to have seen more in the book about the process of how he worked through it all, the scriptures or lessons he leaned on, as well as his current relationship with the young man who hit his family. After finsihing the memoir, I went online and read and watched all I could to fill in those blanks. There is a lot of additional content out there that paints the miracle of victim and driver becoming friends. Overall what a powerful and moving read. What an amazing story of “letting it go.”
Content:  detailed descriptions of the accident scene/ physical trauma, recommended for mature teens or adults.

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About The Author: Chris Williams was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah.
After graduating from the University of Utah, he went to work as an IT architect and systems engineer. He is now an executive with IBM.
He and his family currently reside in Salt Lake City.

Interview and ARC Giveaway with Author Camron Wright

12 Sep, 2012 by in rent collector, Shadow Mountain 2 comments

Photo copyright Heather Zahn Gardner
An uplifting book about the human condition and happiness, “The Rent Collector” was just released by Camron Wright and Shadow Mountain earlier this month. I met with Camron and heard him tell the story of how it all came together..
Wright’s son, Trevor, served both a church mission in Cambodia, as well as later teaching at the Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF), a charity that rescues children from poverty. Neither he nor his father knew that the experiences he had there would eventually become the basis for the book “The Rent Collector”. When Trevor returned to Cambodia as a film major, to shoot a documentary in the city’s dump, he happened upon Sang Ly, a woman who made her living collecting and recycling garbage. Her story was so compelling that they shifted the focus of their film, “River of Victory.” After Camron viewed the footage, he was so moved by Sang Ly’s story that he wanted to use it as the basis for a new book. “The dump as a setting is so full of metaphors. While it is fictionalized, certain elements actually happened. I wanted to be able to move the characters around.”
Camron studied the culture and wrote about his son’s stories. He then went back to Cambodia with him to help shoot another film called “Finding Sang Ly.”
“After going to Cambodia in April, I worried I’d need to change elements of my story. However, I changed almost nothing. I think that’s because it’s a story about the human condition, and that doesn’t change. It was very surreal to meet Sang Ly in real life. When we presented her with a copy of the book, she laughed. She still can’t imagine why anybody would want to read a story about her. While the dumps closed in 2009, her husband goes into Phnom Pen at night, to look for recyclables in the garbage cans there, in order to provide. Even though conditions at the dump are deplorable, most of the people there are happy. Their circumstance aren’t good, but they have smiles on their faces. There’s a realization that we are all the same; we all have the same aspirations.”
Q &A with Camron Wright
What do you want people to take away from this book?
I hope it keeps their attention, that it keeps them up late reading. I also hope it will influence people for good
The most rewarding part?
I hope people enjoy the story, but it’s also a book with a purpose. A portion of royalties will go to the Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF) and to the people who still live at the dump.
What has it taught you?
We all have a purpose and a path. It’s a matter of figuring our own journey out. I also love the book’s epigraph. It’s a quote from Buddha. “When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.”
Any advice for aspiring authors?
I love the advice Amanda Dickson from KSL offered when I wrote my first book. She said, “Passion Finds A Way.” You can quit or say “okay, now what can I do to keep at it.”
Concerning agents and publicists, I love the words of a Martina McBride song. “Don’t give ’em what they think they want because they don’t got a clue.” Writers tend to chase what is popular. Instead, write what’s in your head and heart. Write what’s in your gut. Be true to the story that’s in you.”
Anything in the works for the future?
I have a few characters in my head, trying to get their story out. However, my focus right now is on launching this book. After the marketing slows down, I’ll see where the characters take me. Then again, I’ve also come to appreciate the Yiddish proverb “Men plan and God laughs.”
Learn more about Camron on his website/ goodreads/ twitter
Book Description: Survival for Ki Lim and Sang Ly is a daily battle at Stung Meanchey, the largest municipal waste dump in all of Cambodia. They make their living scavenging recyclables from the trash. Life would be hard enough without the worry for their chronically ill child, Nisay, and the added expense of medicines that are not working. Just when things seem worst, Sang Ly learns a secret about the ill-tempered rent collector who comes demanding money–a secret that sets in motion a tide that will change the life of everyone it sweeps past. The Rent Collector is a story of hope, of one woman’s journey to save her son and another woman’s chance at redemption. It demonstrates that even in a dump in Cambodia–perhaps especially in a dump in Cambodia–everyone deserves a second chance.
The Rent Collector is the story of a young mother, Sang Ly, struggling to survive by picking through garbage in Cambodia’s largest municipal dump. Under threat of eviction by an embittered old drunk who is charged with collecting rents from the poor of Stung Meanchey, Sang Ly embarks on a desperate journey to save her ailing son from a life of ignorance and poverty. It’s a tale of discovery and redemption in which she learns that literature, like hope, is found in the most unexpected places.
Though the book is a work of fiction, it was inspired by real people living at Stung Meanchey.

Upcoming Costco signings:  
Saturday, 9/29
12:00 – 1:30 p.m.
11100 S. Auto Mall Drive
Sandy, Utah
84070
2:30 – 4:00 p.m.
198 North 1200 East
Lehi, Utah
About the Author: Camron Wright holds a masters degree in writing and public relations. He says he began writing to get out of attending MBA school, and it proved the better decision. His first book, Letters for Emily, was a Readers Choice award winner, as well as a selection of the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild. In addition to North America, Letters for Emily was published in several foreign countries. Camron lives with his wife, Alicyn, in Utah. They are the parents of four children.
Purchase The Rent Collector: Ten percent of royalties collected from The Rent Collector help disadvantaged children. The author donates to the Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF), a terrific non-profit that assists disadvantaged Cambodian children.

The Giveaway: Here at Fire and Ice we have an ARC of The Rent Collector to give away to our readers, Choose your entries in the form below. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review- The Rent Collector by Camron Wright

12 Sep, 2012 by in Shadow Mountain 2 comments

The Rent Collector
By Camron Wright
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 2012
by Shadow Mountain
ISBN: 1609071220
Book Source: Publisher
5 Stars

Book Summary from Goodreads: Survival for Ki Lim and Sang Ly is a daily battle at Stung Meanchey, the largest municipal waste dump in all of Cambodia. They make their living scavenging recyclables from the trash. Life would be hard enough without the worry for their chronically ill child, Nisay, and the added expense of medicines that are not working. Just when things seem worst, Sang Ly learns a secret about the bad-tempered rent collector who comes demanding money–a secret that sets in motion a tide that will change the life of everyone it sweeps past. The Rent Collector is a story of hope, of one woman’s journey to save her son and another woman’s chance at redemption. 

Cathy’s review: Sang Ly lives with her husband Ki Lim and their son Nisay in the most unimaginable place for them to live, Stung Meanchey, a huge dump located in Cambodia. They are lucky to have a nice house to live in. Their house has 3 walls and they use a canvas tarp for the 4th. In order to get money, Sang Ly and Ki Lim must pick through the trash in the dump looking for recyclables to sell. This is a hard life, made harder by the fact that Nisay is a very sick little boy. He has almost constant diarrhea, that Sang Ly must scrub off of him and off of their home every day. To her, it’s not inconvenient, it’s just life. They have no running water, no electricity. And to add to the injustice of this, they must pay rent every month, to a woman that those living in the dump call a “Cow”, known in the beginning of the story as simply, The Rent Collector. This woman is perpetually drunk and she’s not known for being nice, in fact, she threatens at the very beginning of this book to kick out Sang Ly and her family for not paying all of their rent at the same time, even though their money had gone to buy more medicine for Nisay. When The Rent Collector, Sopeap Sin comes back for the money, Sang Ly knows they are going to be kicked out, they can’t pay now, because Ki Lim had been attacked by a gang and had to go to the doctor to be fixed up, but the oddest thing happens. Sopeap sees a book in Sang Ly’s house and asks to take it, Sang Ly can tell that she can read it by the way her eyes move and Sang Ly knows that if she can get Sopeap Sin to teach her, she can make a better life for Nisay. Thus begins a very unlikely friendship between two very different women, that will change both of their lives.

This book really touched me. I had no idea that people actually lived in deplorable places like a dump before reading this. This book is a novel, but it’s based on the life of the true Sang Ly. I love Sang Ly and the others that inhabit the dump. I love how they are thrilled to have a place to live, even though it’s filled with garbage and infested with disease. I love how they keep trying to do all they need to do, for me I think it would get so overwhelming to try to get enough garbage to pay the rent every month. I love Sang Ly’s attitude, she really has nothing, but she’s so willing to help others. I want to be more like her, to be grateful for what I do have and not concerned with what I don’t. 

I was really touched by something that Sang Ly’s Auntie said, so I’ll share it with you. Sang Ly has returned to the place where she grew up where her aunt and uncle live. She loves the change of scenery from the dump and says she would love to stay in the city where she grew up because the dump is ugly. Her Auntie replies, “…Remember, the province, though beautiful, has it’s own pockets of ugliness. While the dump is ugly, it also has pockets of beauty. I think finding beauty in either place simply depends on where you decide to stand.” That’s what I hope I can take from this book, if I can’t find beauty where I’m standing, maybe I simply need to change my vantage point until I can.

Content: A few mild swear words, violence in the dump

About the author: Camron Wright was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a master’s degree in Writing and Public Relations from Westminster College. He has owned several successful retail stores, in addition to working with his wife in the fashion industry, designing for the McCall Pattern Company in New York. He currently works in public relations, marketing and design. Camron began writing to get out of attending MBA School at the time and it proved the better decision. Letters for Emily was a “Readers Choice” award winner, as well as a selection of the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild. In addition to North America, Letters for Emily was published in several foreign countries. Camron lives with his wife, Alicyn, in Utah, just south of Salt Lake City, at the base of the Wasatch mountains. He is the proud father of four children.
Learn more about Camron Wright: Goodreads/ Twitter/ Website

Book Review- Albrek’s Tomb

22 Aug, 2012 by in M L Forman, middle grade books, Shadow Mountain 2 comments

Albrek’s Tomb (Adventurers Wanted #3)

by M L Forman
Hardcover, 504 pages
Published January 24, 2012
by Shadow Mountain
ISBN: 1609088921
Book Source: Publisher
5 stars
Book Summary from Goodreads: Two thousand years ago, the dwarf Albrek went looking for new mines in the land of Thraxon in the hopes of becoming rich. No one knows if he ever succeeded, though, as all trace of Albrek and his followers simply vanished from history. Now, however, the dwarves must find the magical talisman that Albrek carried with him before their mines run dry, which would threaten the livelihood of the entire dwarf realm. And so the newly named wizard Alexander Taylor joins a familiar company of adventurers on a quest to discover what happened to Albrek, find his mythical tomb, and locate the lost talisman. Discovering Albrek s fate, however, may be the least of the adventurers problems when they cross paths with an ancient, wandering paladin who has a taste for confrontation and a paranoid belief that some great evil is working in all of the known lands. Alex and his friends must travel through the shadow of an empty oracle s tower, where a whispered legend is about to come true, and strike out for the distant parts of Thraxon that are only spoken of in old tales and half-forgotten myths. Join Alex and his brave companions on an adventure that will test their courage beyond their limits.

Cathy’s review: Alex has a lot of new choices to make in this book, choices about adventures to go on, and most importantly where he will make his home. He knows that he is welcome to stay with his step-father Mr. Roberts for as long as he would like, but he also knows that he would like to stay with his friends, maybe in the land of Alusia. He knows that the choices will need to be made, but first things first, is he ready for a new adventure? His friend and mentor Whalen has recommended him for a new adventure as a wizard, but first Alex must go meet the leader at Mr. Clutter’s adventure shop. He’s very surprised to see that the leader of the adventure is none other than his friend Trang. Trang has been asked by the king of Thraxon to find the tomb of a dwarf adventurer named Albrek. Albrek and the dwarves he took with him simply vanished and nothing was ever heard from them again. The king of Thraxon needs a special ring that Albrek carried that was most likely put in his tomb when he died. Several things don’t really add up for Alex though, the first thing being that Mr. Clutter had mentioned a second secret expedition in Thraxon at the same time. Alex decides to join the company and is happy about going on the adventure with several of his old friends and several new ones to, but this mission will tax Alex in ways that he could never even imagine.

This is such a fun series! I started reading this series just a few days ago, it really sucks you into the story and makes you want to read more and more. Alex is such a fun character, he is so strong in his beliefs of right and wrong. There is one part of the story where they find a great evil and Alex knows that no matter how close they are to finishing their adventure, he must fight this great evil and destroy it if he can, even if it means his own death. I love how Alex learns more about himself and his family history in this book. The other adventurers that he journeys with are true people of character as well. I love how this series shows that you can be a person of character and still have many great and wonderful adventures! This book is full of adventure and tons of creatures that I’ve never heard of, let alone thought of. It’s definitely a fun series for boys or girls, young or old!
Content: Clean

About the author: M L Forman was born and raised in Utah and now resides in the foothills of the western Rockies. He tries to write as much as possible when he’s not working as a systems administrator and attending to his many other hobbies, such as fishing, camping, hiking and almost anything that will allow him to enjoy the magic of nature.

Find out more about M L Foreman: Goodreads/ Website/ Facebook

Clean Read Book Review- Eventide

09 Jul, 2012 by in Shadow Mountain, Tracy and Laura Hickman 1 comment

Eventide (Tales of the Dragon’s Bard #1)
by Tracy and Laura Hickman
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 5, 2012
by Shadow Mountain
ISBN: 1609088972
Book Source: Publisher
4 Stars
Summary from Goodreads: Jarod Klum was trapped in his small life in the small village of Eventide and saw no means of escape. He would never be worthy of the woman of his dreams, never achieve great deeds of valor and never be remembered in song or story. He would spend every day very much the same as the days of his apprenticeship in the village counting house tallying other people’s coins acquired from other people’s wealth garnered from other people’s deeds until his never-exceptional life came to a never-exceptional end.

It wasn’t that he was without dreams. He dreamed them every night; of rescuing the imperiled Caprice Morgan from some terrible rampaging monster or of protecting the virtuous Caprice Morgan from marauding pirates who had somehow come up the river or of returning from a great Quest beyond the village boundaries laden with treasure that he could lay at the feet of the appreciative Caprice Morgan.

But each morning he awoke in his straw bed and knew he was just Jarod Klum

Until, that is, the coming of the Dragon’s Bard.

Edvard the Just … Dragon’s Bard to the Dragonking Khrag … blew into Eventide on a late winter wind that some said he created out of his own seemingly inexhaustible supply of words. He swept up Jason with his words and turned the apprentice’s world upside down.

The Dragon’s Bard convinced Jarod to win his fair Caprice through ‘heroic deeds of a more manageable scale’ – setting Jarod on a course of misadventures that turns the town on its head. Jarod’s single-minded pursuit of his greatest wish – even if it is a broken one – escalates until the only thing left for him to do is to become a dragonslayer and save the town from a ferocious, legendary monster that everyone fears but no one has ever seen.

‘Eventide’ is brought to life through the stories of the interweaving lives of its citizen characters, their follies, joys, tragedies and triumphs on a scale of life to which we can all relate. In the end, it is a visit to a place where we ourselves would like to settle down and live out our lives as we should.
‘Eventide’ centers around Jarod Klum – a young apprentice to his father’s counting house – and his heart-sore pursuit of his beloved Caprice Morgan, one of three down-on-their-luck sisters who are struggling to keep a broken wishing well supplied with wishes. His attempts at heroics more often result in calamity and raise the ire of nearly the entire town, but with the help of the DragonBard, the kind friendship of the dwarven smithy and the guidance of a farmer with a mysterious past, Jarod will be victorious – even if it means luring a dragon into the town.

Cathy’s Review: Edvard the Just is a humble Dragon’s Bard, one day he was captured by a Dragon King, Khrag, and taken to his lair. Just as the dragon was about to eat him, Edvard mentioned that he could tell the dragon stories. Khrag just happens to love to hear stories and was more than willing to allow Edvard to live to hear those stories. But, Edvard runs out of stories to tell eventually, as we all would, and Khrag can’t eat him, because he’s very skinny from telling the dragon stories for such a long time. Edvard convinces Khrag that he can go and find him some stories from the countryside and Khrag, desperate for more stories agrees to allow Edvard to go. Edvard starts his journey in Eventide a small town where everyone knows everyone else’s business, it’s a town plagued with pixies and full of crazy characters. Jarod Klum is a young man with a dream, a dream of winning his love…Caprice Morgan. Caprice is a wish-woman, one of three sisters in charge of the town’s broken wishing well, worried about her widowed and heartbroken father. There are also gnomes, a centaur farmer with a secret, and a Gossip Fairy and a Priest with no idea which of the Gods the townspeople want him to help them worship. This crazy cast of characters will keep you laughing!

I had kind of a hard time getting into this book. I’m not really sure why, maybe part of it is just that it’s kind of hard to tell whose point of view you are hearing the story from. You would kind of think it would mostly be from Edvard the Just, but he’s a pretty zany character by himself, and it’s pretty funny what the other characters think about him. But there are a lot of characters in this book and sometimes the point of view is from one and sometimes it’s from another one. Anyway, by the time I had gotten halfway into the book, I was really enjoying it. The characters are hilarious and they are very good at getting themselves into really funny sticky situations. I gave this book 4 stars because I did end up liking the plot and I can’t wait to see what Edvard does next!
Content: Clean

About the author: Tracy and Laura Hickman have been writing science fiction and fantasy professionally for over a quarter of a century. Tracy is the New York Times Best-selling author of ‘Dragonlance’, ‘The Death Gate Cycle’ and ‘Dragonships’ (with Margaret Weis) as well as the upcoming ‘Drakis’ trilogy and ‘The Immortals.’ Laura is the author of ‘The Bronze Canticles Trilogy’ and the original ‘Ravenloft’ adventure game (with Tracy).

Learn more about authors Tracy and Laura Hickman: Goodreads/ Website/ facebook/ Blog