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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Chocolae Roses by Joan Sowards

Mmmmmm, Chocolate Roses by Joan Sowards. Doesn’t the name alone just tempt you to pick it up? It did for me. The sad thing is I’d read the title and drooled over the box of chocolates on the cover several times before I realized this was a modern, LDS version of Jane Eyre. Yes, this little tidbit is printed right there on the cover. Okay, so I never claimed to be the brightest crayon in the box. . .

Anyway, loved this story. Probably more than I loved the original Jane Eyre, just because there was a little more hope and sweetness to the story than the original version. Janie Whitaker is a chocolate artisan. (I’m going to have to try being one of those in the next life. Maybe I missed my calling, it just sounds like fun!) She owns a chocolate shop with her sister. Enter tall, dark, brooding and mysterious stranger, Roger Wentworth. He makes Janie’s day every Tuesday morning by coming in to the shop to make a chocolate purchase. She’s head-over-heels for him and he doesn’t even know she’s alive. The beginning kind of reminded me of the movie “While You Were Sleeping”.

I enjoyed the diversity of characters in the background of the story, they added a fun depth. And, I was serious about the whole chocolate artisan thing. Giving the heroine a job that caught my interest and peppering the story with a few tantalizing details was a sweet surprise for me. Yes, pun intended.

So, what about my famous sniveling complaints? Meh, there were a few places where I thought the writing could have been a little tighter, but it was never enough to distract me from the story. There was also one little back-story loose end that didn’t get tied up as neatly as my idealistic, romantic side would have liked, but it was all good anyway.

Then, there was the totally weird reaction that I had to the font used for the internal headings. I loved it on the cover, but every time I caught that print out of the corner of my eye while I was reading, I’d be unconsciously reaching to try and brush whatever I’d dropped on the page off again. It was a little distracting, so be forewarned: your OCD tendencies just might peek out in the middle of a great read. Either that or I’m just weird. Yep, we all know I’m weird. What can I say?

On the whole it was a very enjoyable story. Are you a fan of Jane Eyre? You’ll like Ms. Soward’s treatment of the story. Had a hard time getting in to Jane Eyre when you were forced to read it in English class? Give Chocolate Roses a try, you just might find it a little more relatable.

Now, to get my greedy little hands on Joan Soward’s first book, Haunt’s Haven. . . .
Here's the news on the book tour!

Love chocolate? Love Jane Eyre?
Then you're going to love the blog tour (July26-August 6) for Chocolate RosesWin either a copy of the book (2 winners) or this fabulous apron created by Joan!
All you have to do is leave a comment (along with your email address if it isn't on your blog profile) and answer the following question. What's your favorite type of chocolate: white, dark, or milk?
The more blogs you comment on themore entries you'll receive. All comments must be left by midnight MST on August 8 to be eligible.
July 26Nichole Giles--Random-ish byNicholeJoyce DiPastena--JDP News
July 27Deanne Blackhurst--Annie SpeaksHer MindTristi Pinkston--*TristiPinkston
July 28Taffy Lovell--Taffy's CandyAlison Palmer--Tangled Wordsand Dreams
July 29Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen--TheWrite BlocksC.S. Bezas--For the Love of theWritten Word July 30Sheila Stayley--Why Not?Because I Said So!LDSWomen's Book Review
August 2Kerry Blair--Now &HereMarsha Ward--Writer in thePines
August 3Kaylee Baldwin--KayleeBaldwinAmy Orton--Amesbury Reads
August 4Anna del C.--Anna del C. Dye's BlogLaurie Lewis--A View fromthe Other Side
August 5Valerie Ipson--Of WriterlyThingsAnna Arnett--Insights and Ramblingsfrom Anna Arnett
August 6Lynn ParsonsDanyelle Ferguson--Queen of the Clan

Chocolate Roses can be purchased from Deseret Book, Amazon, and of course your local LDS bookstore.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Road Show by Braden Bell

Yes, as a youth I was traumatized by many a road show, but somewhere along the way the road shows in my stake stopped. I heard rumors of budget cuts and reducing competition and probably a few other things. I guess I just assumed it was a Church-wide mandate not to do road shows anymore and personally I didn’t think I’d miss them. As far as I know none of the wards I’ve lived in since high school have participated in said activity, so imagine my surprise to find out road shows are alive and well in Utah. (You people just have to be strange, don’t you?) ;)

With visions of my own childhood road show nightmares dancing through my head, I honestly had no idea what to expect from a book by the same name. The cover was beautiful, but I suppose I still assumed it was stupid humor because that was my own experience with those events. But within reading the first few paragraphs I could tell this book wasn’t meant to be light and humorous. Do you remember the old Jack Weyland book The Understudy? The Road Show by Braden Bell had the same sort of feel for me.

Instead of stupid jokes and bad acting I found sincere intents in both the story line and the characters portrayed. With a theme such as “Our Savior’s Love” I came away from my reading experience just as filled as the characters were for their participation experiences. That had a down side though- there was a strong embarrassment factor. I finished, publicly bawling my eyes out, at the kid’s swimming lessons and was completely appalled with my display, but totally in love with this story. That’s a road show I really would have loved to see.

Anything I didn’t like? Well, when I first began reading The Road Show, I wasn’t sure that I was going to like it. The story begins with multiple snippets of the character’s lives, pointing out their difficulties and the areas where their testimony seems to be lacking. Even though the situations were real and poignant, the book itself didn’t really catch my interest until the call to direct the road show was extended. I think I would have preferred to have the character vignettes woven into the actual storyline a little more and have everything set up for me at the beginning a little less.

Still, this is a very powerful story and an even more valuable message. If you’re one who shudders at the mere mention of a road show don’t let the subject matter keep you from reading. This is one road show you’ll not regret spending your time with. You might even learn a few things about yourself along the way. I dare you to read The Road Show without being able to find a portion of yourself in one of the characters.

Need a good read to boost your spirits before buckling down for the dreaded Primary program practices or a renewal of energy for a Young Women’s or other church event? The Road Show just might be what the doctor ordered. This one goes on my “will re-read” and “will recommend” shelf. I’m so glad I picked it up, fears of stupid humor and bad musical numbers notwithstanding.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Advice on Writing

I was introduced to this one today by Christine Bryant. Thanks for a beautiful sentiment.