Book Review: The Bishop’s Wife – by Mette Ivie Harrison

By Kellie Purcill

What does a knock at your front door early in the morning mean to you: curiosity or alarm? What if you knew a couple from church and one day the wife was reported missing, or her husband said she had deliberately left her husband and daughter the night before? What have you already decided?

So begin’s Mette Ivie Harrison’s contemporary exploration of the world of ward politics, judgements, snap assumptions and above all everyday people trying to make sense of the mess and joy of life, and each other.

I’m usually hesitant to read contemporary LDS fiction novels, as I have read too many which have been formulaic, stilted, in desperate search of a plot, or just painful or boring to read. Thankfully, The Bishop’s Wife suffers from none of these struggles; it’s an engaging read, with a compelling mystery that had me puzzling about the plot as I went about my day, and sneaking a couple of pages in at every opportunity.

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Book Review: The Reluctant Blogger

By Jessie Christensen

http://blog.cedarfort.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Reluctant-Blogger-The_2x3.jpgTodd Landry is not coping well with the sudden death of his wife and reluctantly seeks counseling. However, just getting himself to a therapist’s office is not enough, and after spending a number of unproductive weeks together, the counselor urges him to start blogging about his life. Todd begins opening up about his feelings online, and in turn begins coping with his life again. He learns that life is messy and choices aren’t always black-and-white like we think they are, but also that people can grow and change in surprising ways.

I will admit that I was a bit reluctant to read this book, mainly because the protagonist and the author were male (I know, I am admitting my total bias towards female-related topics. I’m sorry!) After reading several positive reviews, my interest was piqued and I decided to dive in when I had a free day over Thanksgiving break. I was pleasantly surprised and can now recommend this book as one of the best I’ve read this year. Author Ryan Rapier covers a wide variety of sensitive issues with both candor and grace, and the resolution finds a sweet spot of faith-affirming realism that manages to avoid both vapid sentimentality and cynicism.

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Looking for a Book Club Pick? Try Sarah Dunster’s Lightning Tree

By Angela Hallstrom

I was introduced to Sarah Dunster’s fiction when she won Segullah’s fiction contest in early 2011. “Back North,” Sarah’s contest entry (which you can read here) was lively, smart, and compelling. Its main drawback? It was a novel excerpt, not a short story, and I wanted more. Soon after notifying Sarah about her win, she sent me an email with an exciting announcement: the novel from which “Back North” had been excerpted had been accepted by Cedar Fort. This was good news for Sarah, of course, but I also knew it was good news for me. It meant I’d be able to finally know how things would turn out for Magdalena Chabert, the unforgettable heroine of Lightning Tree.

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Thoughts on Jack Harrell’s A Sense of Order

By Kathyrn Lynard

A Sense of Order and Other Stories
Jack Harrell
Signature Books, 2010
Hardcover, 220 pages

This isn’t a formal book review—more like a brief and somewhat elusive personal response. Writing a thorough review right now would be tricky, given my shortage of minutes and brain cells in the face of looming holiday chaos. More importantly, I’m not much inclined to intellectually analyze books that mean so much to me. Not everyone will appreciate Harrell’s writing style and philosophical approach, and even those who do might find the collection satisfying yet unremarkable, but for me, this book is special.

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Segullah’s 2009 Whitney Favorites

By Emily Milner

This year I have had the great pleasure of reading the Whitney finalists with Shelah. We agree about enough of the books to have fun discussing them, and disagree enough to make it interesting. After much emailing and talking, these are the Official Segullah Whitney Award Choices. Ballots are due April 3, and the winners will be announced April 24 at the Whitney Awards Gala.

Space constraints prevent me from saying more than a line or two about each book. For more detailed and insightful reviews, check out Shelah’s blog.

So, without further ado, our favorites:

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Whitney 2010 Nominees and Almost-Nominees

By Emily Milner

The finalists for the 2010 Whitney Awards were announced ten days ago. Congratulations to everyone! The Whitney Awards celebrate excellent writing by LDS authors, published both locally and nationally. Shelah and I will be reading and deciding on Segullah’s picks together–we will keep you posted. I have tried to read more fiction by LDS authors this year, and I think I’m coming into this year’s Whitneys with a better sense for what has been published nationally. Still working on keeping up with the local publishing, although I did better there than I have before.

You can click on the above link to see this year’s finalists. But, having read more fiction by LDS authors this year than I ever have before, I read the list and thought “That one’s great. So is this one. But what about… and what about…” I have a list of books that I think deserve to be Whitney finalists. As William Morris says here, in any awards process some titles are going to be left out. That doesn’t stop me from mentioning a few that I feel deserve some attention.

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