tHe crooKed WorD

As of April 30, 2014 we will no longer be posting reviews on tHe crooKed WorD. Reading is like breathing for us - and discovering new books and authors has been a wonderful adventure - but the time has come for us to move on. Thank you for your support, for allowing us into your lives, and for letting us influence in some small way the contents of your bookshelves.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Feature Friday: The Goose Girl

Friday Feature is where we share books we love that have been out for several years. We don't want these treasures to get lost just because they aren't babies anymore!

The Goose Girl (Books of Bayern #1)
Shannon Hale

383 pages
published November 2003

Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt's guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani's journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to assist her. Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny. Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can become queen of the people she has made her own.


I realize that this is a very popular book and there are probably few people that haven't read it; however, it is one of my favorite and I wouldn't feel right not featuring it. Shannon Hale has created such realistic characters in a fairytale world that I couldn't help but get emotionally vested. Ani is amazing! I love her and love how as the story progresses that she slowly starts to stand up for herself and realize the depth of who she is and what she is capable of accomplishing. This is the first book in a series of four but it is by far my favorite.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Name of this Book Is Secret

The Name of this Book Is Secret
by Pseudonymous Bosch

364 pages
Published October 1, 2007

This is the story about a secret. but it also contains a secret story.

When adventurous detectives, Cass, an ever-vigilant survivalist, and Max-Ernest, a boy driven by logic, discover the Symphony of Smells, a box filled with smelly vials of colorful ingredients, they accidentally stumble upon a mystery surrounding a dead magician's diary and the hunt for immortality.

Filled with word games, anagrams, and featuring a mysterious narrator, this is a book that won't stay secret for long.

* * *

I was excited to read this; I thought it sounded exciting and humorous. When I started it, my initial thought was "Wow, this is funny. I'm gonna be seriously laughing." I did laugh, but the farther into the book I got, the less laughter there was. It just got a bit annoying.

A huge part of the book was spent on talking about how things are secret so we can't know any of it, and we should really stop reading this book. I kind of wish I had.

The author tried way too hard to put the book in the same group as A Series of Unfortunate Events and Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians. Don't get me wrong, there were some fun, entertaining and imaginative aspects to The Name of this Book Is Secret. They just couldn't make up for the political (sometimes blatant and sometimes subtle) brainwashing that was trying to take place.

Okay, I realize that probably wasn't the author's intent, but there were times it felt like it was. Things like Cass's openly-gay grandfather substitutes, and an in-your-face anti-McDonald's (because of how the cattle are treated) theme come to mind off-hand. Sure, I can handle those, not a big deal. But this book is aimed for 9-year-olds. Some would probably be okay with it. Others would not be, and the parents would have every right to be upset that the "cute story" the blurb promises becomes a bit of a soap box.

My favorite part of this book? I got it free on my Nook.

2/5 stars

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays (6)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read

  • Open to a random page

  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page

  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!(make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here's mine:

"Heat raced back to the exit, to beat the passengers getting off the train, and ran up the stairs and across Varick to the northbound station, almost getting creamed by a taxi. The blood drops at the head of the stairs told her she was too late."

p 111, Naked Heat, Richard Castle

Leave a post with a link to your TT, or, if you don't have a blog, post your teaser right in the comments!

After you leave your comment don't forget to enter our Giveaway.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Q&A with a fantastic new author and a giveaway!!!

A Piece of Time

Published September 2011
367 pages

This is everyone’s story, not just Lilly Hunt’s.

Like Lilly, who hasn’t endured peer pressure and fought low self-esteem?
Who hasn’t been angry for their losses and heartbroken at losing a loved one?

Whose life hasn’t been impacted with the scourge of an addiction?
Who hasn’t stumbled under the weight of forgiving someone?
Or, harder yet, forgiving oneself?

It isn’t only Lilly who questions why life is so hard, and what IS the point, anyway?

Like Lilly, we wonder—when we set this world down—what will be behind death’s door?
Lilly discovers what lies far beyond that door. And now, you just may too.

This story is for everyone.

* * *

I was recently able to ask Victoria some questions about her thought-provoking debut novel and would like to share her responses with you! Make sure to read all the way to the end to know how you can enter to win a free copy!

1. What inspired you to write Lilly's story?

My own life experiences inspired me to write Lilly's story. As mentioned on the back cover of the book, Lilly's story is everyone's story. I have found that it almost does not matter the age of the reader; once past twelve years of age, up through sixty-five years of age, there is something in the book that each reader can relate to. And that 'something' is often the end-product of a bittersweet learning experience that the reader had in his or her own life. There are several parallels between Lilly's life and my own.

2. Is Lilly's story based on one person's true story? Or are bits and pieces based on
different stories? Or is it completely ficionalized?

Lilly's story is based on my life experience, your life experience. I tried to put Lilly in situations that every single reader could relate to. Who doesn't remember a 'nemesis' from junior high or high school? Who didn't get their heart broken by a 'dream' guy or girl? Who hasn't had difficult times with a parent while growing up? When haven't we all realized that our parents are human beings first, and parents second? Who doesn't, in darker moments, wish they could just cease to be, or at least truly wonder what awaits them when they set this world down? Some scenes are based on personal experiences; others are totally fiction.

3. Do you have a favorite character? And/or event?

My favorite scene in A Piece of Time is when Lilly decides to take matters into her own hands and prevent a rape by desperate means. That scene seems to be many readers' favorite, but mine particularly because it teaches us that we have power; we can solve our own problems, that the strength is in the struggle.

4. At your "day job," you work with troubled teens - are you hoping this book can help troubled teens in general?

I wrote A Piece of Time for teenagers in general, but particularly for troubled teens who struggle to see their self-worth, who question why they are on this earth, and what contribution they can possibly make. These kids are not broken; they just need to be healed. We all need to be healed. That is one of the main messages of the book. No matter our age, we can healed. 

5. How did you come up with your version of Heaven?

I came up with my version of heaven by reading innumerable books written by authors who had had near-death experiences of their own. I found many similarities and used those similarities in A Piece of Time. The Life Review was strictly a product of my imagination.

6. It seems like Lilly and her mother both share a propensity for being deceived about
the guys they date - did you do this on purpose? Why?

Both Lilly and her mother have struggles with the men in their lives; Jen, Lilly's mother, loved Lilly's father dearly, but his alcoholism destroyed their family. Lilly, being raised in that dysfunction, did not have the modeling to choose relationships with guys wisely. She was looking through a warped lens at guys, and dysfunctional guys 'felt' familiar, normal, to her. That is another lesson within the story. Our family of origin and the manner in which we are raised needs to be challenged by each of us; some things from our family may be good to take with us into another relationship; other patterns, definitely not. 

7. What do you hope A Piece of Time  accomplishes?

 My wish for A Piece of Time is that it is read by those who need its many messages; that it will leave the reader with hope and an eternal perspective that they have always lived, and have always been loved by their Creator. 

Thanks for helping me to get the word out about this story I care so deeply about!

Thanks, Victoria, for letting The Crooked Word get the first peek at what went into providing such a powerful reading experience! To learn more about A Piece of Time or what Victoria plans to write in the future, visit

* * *

We would like to give our readers an opportunity to win a free copy of A Piece of Time! We have 2 copies available to win! To enter, just leave a comment on this post by midnight of October 1st. We'll announce the 2 lucky winners the following Monday (Oct 3rd).

Good Luck!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Linger (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #2)

Linger (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #2)

The Princess Curse

The Princess Curse
by Merrie Haskell

328 pages
Published September 6, 2011

Twelve princesses suffer from a puzzling (if silly) curse, and anyone who ends it will win a reward. Reveka, a sharp-witted and irreverent apprentice herbalist, wants that reward. But her investigations lead to deeper mysteries and a daunting choice—will she break the curse at the peril of her own soul?


My husband saw this book and suggested I might like it. He was right, of course! I enjoy fairytale adaptations. This is a mix of Twelve Dancing Princesses and Beauty and the Beast, with some mythology mixed in.

The heroine of our story is not one of the cursed princesses. In fact, she thinks the curse is silly: every morning, the princesses have worn holes in their slippers. Anyone who tries to discover the cause of this either disappears completely, or falls into a sleep from which they never wake. Ever.

Does this deter Reveka from her dream of winning the dowry promised to any girl who can discover the root of the curse? Of course not! The apprentice herbalist has plans for that money.

The Princess Curse is a quick read, and thoroughly enjoyable.

4/5 stars

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Feature: A Girl of the Limberlost

Friday Feature is where we share books we love that have been out for several years. We don't want these treasures to get lost just because they aren't babies anymore!

A Girl of the Limberlost

A Girl of the Limberlost (1909) by Gene Stratton Porter is the story of a poor Indiana girl Elnora Comstock who lives with her emotionally abusive mother, a stern heartless widow, at the edge of the Limberlost Swamp.
Elnora attends school against her mother's wishes, fighting every inch of the way for her dream of an education, and collects and sells moths and other rare biological specimens from the swamp to pay for her schooling, books, and bare necessities. At first a laughingstock of her fellow students, Elnora persists against unfair odds, and asserts her true self.
A wonderful turn-of-the-century novel of discovery of identity, wonders of nature, friendship, family trust, love, and the process of growing up in the magical shadow of the Limberlost.


I knew I loved this book but I'd forgotten how much I love it! The characters are so real to me and I love how they change. People aren't just good or bad, they are evolving and growing- just as we all do. I also like the way the characters interact and how relationships change as the characters do. A definite favorite!

5/5 stars

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Gray Wolf Throne

The Gray Wolf Throne (Seven Realms #3)
by Cinda Williams Chima

528 pages
Published August 30, 2011

Han Alister thought he had already lost everyone he loved. But when he finds his friend Rebecca Morley near death in the Spirit Mountains, Han knows that nothing matters more than saving her. The costs of his efforts are steep, but nothing can prepare him for what he soon discovers: the beautiful, mysterious girl he knew as Rebecca is none other than Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells. Han is hurt and betrayed. He knows he has no future with a blueblood. And, as far as he’s concerned, the princess’s family killed his own mother and sister. But if Han is to fulfill his end of an old bargain, he must do everything in his power to see Raisa crowned queen.

Meanwhile, some people will stop at nothing to prevent Raisa from ascending. With each attempt on her life, she wonders how long it will be before her enemies succeed. Her heart tells her that the thief-turned-wizard Han Alister can be trusted. She wants to believe it—he’s saved her life more than once. But with danger coming at her from every direction, Raisa can only rely on her wits and her iron-hard will to survive—and even that might not be enough.

The Gray Wolf Throne is an epic tale of fierce loyalty, unbearable sacrifice, and the heartless hand of fate.


I waited for this book. Then, when it finally arrived on my doorstep, I was in the middle of reading a trilogy. Wanting to do this justice, I set it on the bookshelf to wait. I wish I hadn't. Of course, once I picked it up, I didn't want to set it back down.

The characters already had my heart from the previous two books, I'll say that right off. Han and Raisa, Dancer and Cat, had all become my friends.

I don't want to say too much about this book, because I really want you all to read it for yourselves and find things out as they happen. Just read it. If you like fantasy, or political intrigue, or adventure, you'll love this!

However, there is one thing I have to say. There are books that I read that make me think I have a shot at making it as an author--at having my books ring true with a group of readers. There are others, like this one, that are so beautiful and intricate that I feel I have no business putting pen to paper. Is that a bad thing? NO.

5/5 stars



Hardcover, 361 pages
Published March 17th 2011 by Dial

Before Briony's stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family's hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it's become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.

Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He's as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she's extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn't know.


This book had me hooked from the first page! The writing style was unique and almost odd while telling the story of Briony, a young girl struggling with herself. The story twists and turns with beautiful descriptions and doesn't always go the direction one would expect. Briony isn't intending to change anything in her life- she's made up of secrets, pain, and subsequent responsibilities- but things do change, so she does too. After I finished this book, I just had to let it settle for awhile before I could switch gears to something else- I didn't want to rush it! Chime feels like a mix of historical fiction (set in the time of witchcraft and superstition) and paranormal fantasy. It deals with love, hate, guilt and mercy, and who of us haven't had to deal with those? The writing and story are so different from much of what I've read and I totally loved it!

4/5 stars

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Guest Blogging

Good morning! I just wanted to let you all know that I'm guest blogging today over at the wonderful Reader Girls. They have a fantastic blog that you should really check out!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays (5)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!(make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here's mine:

"Out of the swirling white, they loped toward her, their faces and ruffs crusted with snow, eyes blazing out a warning. Wolves, what seemed like dozens of wolves, the forest boiling with gray-and-white bodies that poured into the clearing, led by the familiar gray she-wolf with gray eyes."

p 50, The Gray Wolf Throne, by Cinda Williams Chima

Leave a post with a link to your TT, or, if you don't have a blog, post your teaser right in the comments!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Feature: The Dark Is Rising

Friday Feature is where we share books we love that have been out for several years. We don't want these treasures to get lost just because they aren't babies anymore!

The Dark Is Rising (The Dark Is Rising Sequence, #2)
by Susan Cooper

244 pages
First published April 1, 1973

"When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back, Three from the circle, three from the track; Wood, bronze, iron; water, fire, stone; Five will return, and one go alone." With these mysterious words, Will Stanton discovers on his 11th birthday that he is no mere boy. He is the Sign-Seeker, last of the immortal Old Ones, destined to battle the powers of evil that trouble the land. His task is monumental: he must find and guard the six great Signs of the Light, which, when joined, will create a force strong enough to match and perhaps overcome that of the Dark. Embarking on this endeavor is dangerous as well as deeply rewarding; Will must work within a continuum of time and space much broader than he ever imagined.


The entire Dark Is Rising sequence deserves the highest praise I can give. I've read them more times than I can count. This is the first series I fell head-over-heels in love with, and I can't pick up any of the books unless I have time to read them all.

This, the second book of the series, is the winner of a Newbery Honor in 1974, as well as the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction in 1973, and is a Carnegie Medal Honor Book.

The fight between good and evil rages through the entire adventure, sucking you in and rivaling The Lord of the Rings and the Narnia books. If you haven't read them before, go get them. You won't be sorry.

This is the bar to which I hold and compare all other fantasy/adventure stories.

5+/5 stars

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Mephisto Covenant

The Mephisto Covenant (The Mephisto Covenant, #1)
by Trinity Faegen

439 pages
Published September 27, 2011

This is a pre-release review. Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher, Egmont USA, for allowing me to read it early in exchange for an honest review.

Sasha is desperate to find out who murdered her father. When getting the answer means pledging her soul to Eryx, she unlocks a secret that puts her in grave danger—Sasha is Anabo, a daughter of Eve, and Eryx’s biggest threat.

A son of Hell, immortal, and bound to Earth forever, Jax looks for redemption in the Mephisto Covenant—God’s promise he will find peace in the love of an Anabo. After a thousand years, he’s finally found the girl he’s been searching for: Sasha.

With the threat of Eryx looming, Jax has to keep Sasha safe and win her over. But can he? Will Sasha love him and give up her mortal life?


I loved this twist on the angel theme. Jax and his brothers are interesting characters: born without God's knowledge, they're doomed to Hell at the end. They each have one chance. At some point in time, there will be an Anabo for each of them. If they can find her, win her over, and truly love her, they will have to chance to earn heaven.

I really enjoyed this book. I didn't want it to end--and I kept thinking about it after it did. I was very happy when I realized there would be sequels. Yay!

5/5 stars

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays (4)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!(make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here's mine:

"Going camping?"
"Sort of. A friend has come to visit and wants to spend a night in the cottage."
He raised his eyebrows. "Don't let the ghosts bite."

p 426, The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton

Leave a post with a link to your TT, or, if you don't have a blog, post your teaser right in the comments!


Firelight (Firelight, #1)
by Sophie Jordan

323 pages
Published September 7, 2010

A hidden truth.
Mortal enemies.
Doomed love.

Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.

Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.

Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide.


I've always loved dragons. I can't help myself. The idea of them is breathtaking, isn't it?

In Firelight, there is a twist to the legacy of the dragon: the descendants of dragons can appear in human form. They're shifters. If they're scared or angry, it's very hard to maintain their shift--the dragon wants to take over.

Jacinda, our main character and a draki, is dragged from the only home she's known by her mother and sister. They're trying to protect her, but they purposely take her to a desert where her draki will wither die.

Will comes from a family of dragon hunters. That should be enough to keep Jacinda away from him, but she's inexplicably drawn to him. Around him, her draki side thrives.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It twisted all over the place. I'm anxious to read the next book in the series! (I just hope the ebook version isn't $10 or I'll be waiting for it to go on sale. What can I say? I'm cheap.)

5/5 stars

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Friday's Classic (a day and a half late!)

So, our hardrive crashed this week and we just barely got it running again. Excuses! Excuses, right? :)
Anyhow, so I tried to think which of the many oldies-but-goodies I wanted to review first. Since my only other review on here is a fantasy, I thought to go a little more mainstream. This novel is one of my all-time favorites and I place it in the same league as Gone With the Wind, House of Mirth, and Anna Karennina. Maybe someday I'll do a review of those as well, but here's my review and a Q&A with the author, Orson Scott Card, that I was truly lucky he took the time to answer for my neighborhood book club recently.

Saints  by Orson Scott Card
Published 1984
720 pages

"When ten-year-old Dinah Kirkham saw her father leave their Manchester home in the middle of the night, she basked when he would be back. "Soon," he replied. But he never came back. On that night in 1829, John Kirkham laid the foundation of his daughter's certainty that the only person Dinah could ever really trust was herself.

From that day forward, Dinah worked to support her family, remaining devoted to their welfare even in the face of despair and grinding poverty. Then one day she heard a new message, a new purpose ignited in her heart, and new life opened up before her.

My copy  has a quote saying "An epic of independece and devotion, of hardship and fulfillment . . . of a woman so strong that knowing her could change your life." How true, how true! There is a religion in this book that is portrayed that some may be very familiar with. But, be assured, this is NOT religious fiction, it was actually written for people who are not in the religion. Not to excuse or justify the behaviors of these people who belonged to it, but as a slice of experience of what some may have gone through. It is heart-achingly beautiful! The characters are well-written, diverse, interesting, sometimes noble and sometimes not. Let me put it this way - there are few books that move me, that make me look at life and what I believe about life in a new light or at least make me re-examine those things - and this is one of them! I love love love this book!

5/5 stars, obviously!

The Q&A has many many spoilers and was intended as a discussion starter for those who had already read the novel. So, unless you don't mind being spoiled, go read the book and  then come back and read the Q&A.

1. What inspired you to write this story? Do you have ancestors that came from England or that lived in early Nauvoo ?

None of these characters is based on my own ancestors — I’m a great great grandson of Brigham Young and Zina Diantha Huntington, but they appear in the book as themselves.  Instead, I wanted to do a story very loosely based on the life of William Clayton — my father-in-law, noted LDS historian James B. Allen, wrote a biography of Clayton (writer of “Come, Come Ye Saints” and the scribe who recorded Section 132 and followed JS into plural marriage), and I have used many incidents from his life to provide the core of the story.  Dinah is my own invention, but everything that happened to her happened to somebody.  In a way, though, EVERY Mormon gets adopted into the great pioneer heritage, and what so many Mormons don’t remember is that a large portion of the Mormon pioneers weren’t Americans!  They began their lives as urban English people in the heart of the industrial revolution, so crossing the plains and founding Salt Lake was far more radical to them than to the American converts.  We all are their heirs, whether our genealogy traces to them or not.

2. I’m interested to know if Dinah giving up her children was based on a true story — did that come from a journal for example?

I read several journal accounts like this — several women were faced with that wretched choice.  But remember that in that era, children legally belonged to the father.  If women left their husbands for any reason, there was no chance of their taking their children with them.  What a wrenching choice!

3. Why did you have Porter Rockwell say to Dinah that she was Joseph’s Rachel? I wanted Dinah to be truly happy but this didn’t sit well with me when Joseph chose Emma. What was the character/or you thinking at this point?

Joseph Smith, from all accounts, loved his plural wives and regarded them as real marriages.  But his relationship with Emma always came first, if only because they had been through so much together.  Just because he believed that the Lord required him to set the example in plural marriage did not change the fact that it was terribly painful to do something that he knew would hurt Emma so badly.  So from one day to the next, I imagine that different feelings dominated in JS’s heart.  We get this idea sometimes that people in the past must have had only one attitude or one set of feelings, but human beings have many feelings and attitudes, often contradictory ones, and we are rarely able to sort them out in any rational way.

4. In your mind did Mary, Hyrum’s wife, know about plural marriage or was she strictly thinking she was helping convince Dinah to teach when she suggested that John Kirkham walk her to the neighbors so that Hyrum and Dinah could talk?

I just don’t remember what I had in mind.  If it isn’t clear in the text, I can’t help you.  I wrote this more than 25 years ago!

5. I’ve heard the story of Heber being willing to give Vilate to Joseph and I’m wondering if there is any account of this in a journal that you’ve read or if it’s just Mormon myth (as far as you know). Likewise, the story of Emma getting angry with one of Joseph’s wives and her falling down the stairs. Is there any truth to this?

I read the account in a fairly authoritative source based on Heber’s own account.  If you want, I’ll try to find the original source on that.  (I got all the research material from my father-in-law who was, at the time, Assistant Church Historian.)  Remember, though, that just because something has a source doesn’t mean it’s accurate.  Memory changes, people notice different things, and stories bend to fit present needs.

The falling-down-the-stairs story is more mythic than the Heber/Vilate account, which is definitely accepted by the family as true.  The fall down the stairs is part of the folklore attached to Eliza R. Snow, but she herself never said any such thing to anyone.  Doesn’t mean it wasn’t true.  And Eliza was considerably older than Dinah — she may simply have had a miscarriage and other people came up with a story that blamed Emma.

6. What was the concept behind John Kirkham coming back and claiming he wanted redemption just to sin with a prostitue? When it seemed that toward the end of the novel he had given up that life for good. What do you feel the turning point was for him? Was it when Dr. Bennett hurt Dinah? Did he truly turn his life around?

Everything I had to say about that is in the book.  I created these characters as believably as I could, making them behave in ways that real people behave.  But in general terms, I don’t think people have many “turning points” in their lives.  We are who we are, and while we might deceive ourselves sometimes about our motives or intentions, your core nature will come out.  If you’re a deeply good person, you’ll eventually overcome your pride and selfishness; if you’re truly strong, you’ll overcome temptations.  And if you’re not so good, or not so strong, then that, too, will surface, because your commitments fade in the face of attractive opportunities to sin.

7. When you are doing research for this kind of novel, how do you know what sources are trustworthy?

You don’t.  You make your own measured judgment based on what you know about human nature and the other behavior of both the source and the people the source is talking about.  Fortunately, in fiction I have a lot more wiggle room than a historian would have.  Readers aren’t supposed to take my speculations about motive as “the truth” — merely as one author’s best guesses.

8. You have said people are bothered most by things that actually occurred — can you give a few examples of those?

The idea has been around for years that Joseph’s plural marriages were all spiritual — he never actually consummated them physically.  But it was regarded as very important in the early days of polygamy to affirm that JS did in fact have real marriages with these women.  Emma’s supporters who did not embrace polygamy liked to put it about that JS was never really married to anyone but her, so there are conference talks and many testimonies by early brethren that polygamy wasn’t just preached by JS, but also practiced.  Many people want to deify JS and put him on some lofty plane where he doesn’t touch real life — but that’s simply wrong.  JS was a real person, with foibles and quirks, and he had a physical life as well as, and along with, his spiritual one.  Deifying our prophets is actually the opposite of what we should do — it puts them out of reach, as if they were not participants in human life.  It gives people the idea that we ordinary people can never attain their spiritual level.  The truth is the other way: They are real people and prone to mistakes like the rest of us.  They face all the same temptations and have all the same pleasures and pains.  So if we don’t match their spirituality, it’s not because we CAN’T, but because we haven’t chosen to do so — spirituality, like repentance, is equally within the reach of all of us.

9. Do you think Dinah’s children grow up hating her? Did they ever forgive her?

I always wanted to write their story, too.  I think their reactions would have been different, and vary over time.  When young, they would have been angry and severely hurt; older, having experienced life, some of them would have come to understand her, while others never would.

I think if you get a chance, you should look at Kim Catrall’s experience on the tv show Who Do You Think You Are.  Her great grandfather abandoned the family when her grandmother was little, and she tracks him down.  What he was thinking simply can’t be known — but the responses of the children are fascinatingly diverse.

10. Do you feel Robert was a bad brother because he tried to control others’ lives? Or, was he just misguided, though well intentioned?

Some people think they know best.  They truly believe they’re helping.  And sometimes they really are.  But often it’s also pride and the evil desire to control others.  Fortunately, it’s up to God to judge our motives.  If there’s anybody who has NEVER tried to force someone else to do “the right thing,” raise your hand!  Well, if you raised your hand, you’re just delusional, because you HAVE.  You just didn’t admit it to yourself.  When you withhold information from someone “for their own good,” you’re forcing them, deciding for them in ways they might not have decided for themselves.  And nobody’s motives for such a thing are pure.  You might think you know best; you might be right! — but you’re still keeping someone else from making their own decision.  So I don’t really think of whether Robert was good or bad.  He simply believed he had the responsibility and the right to decide for other people, and under law and custom at the time, he did!  It’s not as if he had Section 121 to guide him in exercising his stewardship.  It is the nature and disposition of almost all men ...

11. Did you have O. Kirkham say Dinah and Charlie’s hymns and poems are mediocre to show his characters critical view? Or because you didn’t want to seem to be basically touting poetry that you essentially wrote?

I don’t actually like O. Kirkham that much.  I know a lot of people like him, and it’s very important to them that people realize that they’re “superior people.”  So I’ve heard a lot of people speak with contempt of Eliza R. Snow and other early Mormon writers.  When they do, they merely reveal their ignorance of the period and of literature, and their arrogance and their hunger for the high regard of others.  It’s just sad.  The poems I wrote are of the kind that the Church’s best poets were writing at the time.  Fashions have changed — but what gets praised today by people like O. Kirkham is actually quite wretched, in my opinion.  Most people who take pride in being intellectuals are merely entrenched in their ignorance.

12. The short blurbs on the title pages of each section, are those the view of O. Kirkham of the events? Or yourself?

O. Kirkham.  Not me.

13. Is there any documentation that Joseph ever have any children by  any of his plural wives?

None whatsoever.  There were claims in the 1850s and 1860s that there was one child born to someone, but these are pious rumors and there is no believable claim.  He may have slept with his plural wives, but NOT OFTEN — his life was too confused, and he was in hiding too much of the time, plus he had to conceal polygamy from the public.  So it’s not really a surprise that JS didn’t father other children.  (The Eliza-falling-down-the-stairs story may have been invented simply to explain why he didn’t have children by his most famous plural wife.)

Come back and let me know what you thought!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Seers Blog Tour & Author Interview

We are so excited to welcome the Seers Blog Tour today! Seers is a great story about Kate Bennet. After surviving the car accident that killed her parents, Kate begins to see auras. Not really fun for her, but things get super interesting once she some very interesting auras show up.

Seers will be available next month, so be sure to check it out!

For Kate Bennet, surviving the car wreck that killed her parents means big changes and even bigger problems. As she begins to see auras and invisible people, Kate must learn to trust Patrick O'Donnell, a handsome Guardian, or risk her life being overrun with Demons. She soon realizes that both she and her heart are in big-time trouble.

Ready Becky's review of Seers here.

I recently got the chance to ask the author, the wonderful and fun Heather Frost, some questions about the book. Here's what she shared with me:

What convinced you that Kate’s story needed to be told?
Patrick did, actually. Patrick's situation—the whole immortal, Guardian thing—was what really gave Seers life in the beginning. It didn't take me long to come up with the Guardian and Demon concept, and when I realized that Seers were necessary, Kate was almost instantly born. A teenager dealing with death was something I could understand, since I was just a little older than Kate when I lost someone very special to me. That was when I knew that Kate really needed to be the focus of the story, since she is so easy to relate to. Losing a loved one is the hardest thing in the world, and I'm hoping that readers who have experienced the ultimate loss might be able to sympathize with Kate, and maybe even find some happiness, or hope, as they read her story. Kate's trials and her reaction to those hardships became the driving need to write this story.

Were your characters always the way they are, or did they evolve as the story progressed?
There was definitely some evolution going on, as far as personalities are concerned. Not as much as in some of my stories, however. Lee, Kate's best friend, stayed the most constant. Extreme people are easy to write, I guess—their personalities are just too strong to alter! Kate changed a lot, even though her motivations and basic emotions stayed the same. She was a bit harsher in the beginning; almost bitter. It just didn't fit with the hurting, yet quietly strong young woman I needed for this story. I had to go back and soften her up a bit.

Which character is your favorite? Why?
I've been asked that a lot, and since I have a hard time picking I usually say Lee. She's the best friend a person could ever have, and she's awesome to spend time with. This time, though, I think I'll go with my second favorite, and that's definitely Patrick. Not just because he's Irish, funny and undeniably attractive, but because of the choices he's brave enough to make. Becoming a Guardian isn't easy, but he chose that path all the same. And even though he's falling for Kate, he respects the fact that she has a boyfriend and so he doesn't say anything. He's always thinking about others first. I love that about him, and I wish I could be as selfless as he is.

Most of the book is from Kate's point of view, but there are a couple of chapters with a different POV. Was this for effect, or was there a deeper reason for that decision?
Definitely a deeper motivation. I love Patrick O'Donnell! I guess the real reason might be that he's just so fascinating. Even if he's not the main character, he's got an extremely interesting story of his own. Letting the reader see what he sees was a way for me to not only shed some light on a Guardian's life, but also to help the reader understand where he comes from.

If you could meet your characters in real life, what would you tell them?
I think I'd be completely speechless, actually. How cool would it be to meet the figments of your
imagination!? Too cool for words. But if I was able to find my voice, I'd probably start off by apologizing to them for the horrible things I've made them go through. After that, I'd tell them how proud I am of the things they've accomplished, and the choices they've made. And I'd be sure to give the Guardians and Seers a big thank you for all they do, on behalf of humanity.

Seers is clearly set up for sequels, which I’m excited to read. Has Cedar Fort snapped them up yet?
We're in the process of getting the contract for books 2 and 3 finalized.

Thanks for letting me stop by The Crooked Word!

Thanks, Heather, for sharing with us! It's been so fun to get an "inside" look at such a fantastic book!Come back any time. . . .

About the Author
I was born in Sandy, Utah, a few days before Halloween in 1989. I lived in Salt Lake City until I was about six, and then I moved North and settled into the place I still call home. I'm the oldest daughter and second oldest child in my family. I have six brothers, and three sisters. My parents chose to home-school all of us, and I'm surprised that they held onto their sanity after having us home so much. Still, I'm very grateful to them for all of the many sacrifices they made which enabled me to get the education that I did. My family members are my best friends, and I love them all so much. The three most important things in my life are as follows: God, my family, and writing. These things make me who I am, and I will always be grateful to my Heavenly Father for blessing me with so much.
I can't remember a time when I didn't enjoy reading, and I did a lot of it. I also dabbled in writing when I was young, though nothing serious until I entered the teenage years. I picked up one of my favorite hobbies when I started playing the flute at age eleven. I played my flute through High School, participating in both marching and concert bands, which led me to make some very good friends. I continue to play the flute, and was even a member of the Snow College Flute Choir.
I attended Snow College, and there got the best job ever as a writing tutor. I graduated in May 2011 with my Associate of Science, and am currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science as an English Major. (Yes, a BS in English. Almost ironic, huh?) I love movies, music, and books—although I do think that the dumbest question on the planet is the whole “What's your favorite book/music/movie?” The best answer I've come up with is, “Whatever I'm reading, listening to, or watching at the time.” Generally, it's an accurate answer.

Visit Heather at her website,