Saturday, September 26, 2009
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
I was the first to get my library copy of Mr. Brown's long-anticipated sequel to The Da Vinci Code. The only similarities to that blockbuster novel is that it's another thriller for Robert Langdon. This novel takes place in Washington, DC where all our nation's important buildings have Masonic symbols on them. And, yes, this absolute thriller and page-turner is all about the Masons and their secret society. Since my gg grandfather, my g grandfather and my grandfather were 32nd level, I've known a bit about this organization and my grandmother was in Eastern Star, the women's group. From reading this novel, I learned there was one higher level in the Masons and that the very elite have that honor of being a 33rd level.
This story starts out with Robert being summoned to the US Capitol for a special speaking engagement, but when he arrives, he enters into a completely empty room!!! Within minutes, Robert and a few others, including a high ranking CIA officer, are shocked to find the severed hand of Robert's best friend and mentor, Peter Solomon, who they find has been kidnapped.
There are flashbacks to earlier days in Peter's life where he has seen tragedy, along with his younger sister, Katherine, who is an esteemed Scientist working on cutting edge technology. Her offices and lab are in a secluded area of the Smithsonian Museums Special Center that houses miles upon miles of historical artifacts not seen by the public. Our villain is so cunning and brilliant, he finds a way to get into her lab while she's there doing research. When you think the coast is clear, this villain is two steps ahead. I was surprised by how cleverly Mr. Brown set that up, so that our villain Mal'akh, was able to keep that two steps ahead. Our villain so dabbled in the dark arts, it's no wonder he was so evil.
The thing I liked about this book were the interesting facts about our special buildings in Washington, like the Capitol Building, the Smithsonian Museum, The National Cathedral, Library of Congress, where looks are deceiving. Then the Washington Monument and the House of the Temple, the main Masonic Temple for the elite 33rd Masons. In this spellbinding novel, there are symbols within symbols and the race is on for Robert to solve this puzzle before it's too late. Is it also too late for Robert to save both Peter's and Katherine's lives and even his own or his Country? You better run to get this book to find out!!!! Another reason I thoroughly enjoyed this novel is the short, cliff-hanging chapters, which I so love with Mary Higgins Clark's books. And, for those who don't like Dan Brown's books because of all the fabrications in them, you've got to realize these are total fiction and he is a master story-teller!!! And, this is much better than The Da Vinci Code, at least, in my humble opinion.
Forever Friends Rating A HUGE 5 Stars by Teri
Until Next Time, See You Around The Book Nook.
Pub. Date: September 2009
Available in eBook$9.99
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009
We've got a great surprise for everyone today. It is with pleasure that we introduce our most esteemed and popular author Jack Weyland, writer of over twenty YA novels for the LDS market. Welcome Jack.
1. ..Teri .Was it the hot issue concerning illegal aliens that was the impetus in writing this The Samaritan Bueno?
Jack- My wife Sherry and I served a mission on Long Island from 2006 to 2007. For most of that time we attended a bi-lingual branch. We also taught institute at another bi-lingual branch. We grew to love these members of the church from Central and South America. It was from that love that The Samaritan Bueno was written.
2. ..Teri-.What is the catalyst for bringing humor into a story?
Jack- It's just a part of me. I remember as a boy attending family reunions and observing my uncles and aunts keeping everyone laughing. I wanted to be like them. In our own family, we celebrated humor more than we did anything else. We even had a "Joke of the Day" award for a son or daughter who made us laugh the most. (I must admit we never gave out an actual trophy, but we did tell the winners that they'd won for that day.)
3. Teri- Where do you get your ideas for each book?
Jack- Good question. Here are the sources of most of my novels:
A. Short Stories.
I started by writing stories for The New Era magazine. For instance, my novel Charly began as a short story. I liked the characters so much that it seemed natural to use them as a springboard for a novel. My other just-released novel, Brianna, My Brother, and the Blog, began as a short story. The Samaritan Bueno also began as a short story.
Of course the next question is where did the ideas for the short stories come from? Often the editor would ask me to write about a certain topic.
B. Letters from readers
Some of my novels came about after a girl who had gone through a difficult experience writing me and asking me to write about what had happened to her. Here is a partial list of these books along with the experience:
Sara, Whenever I Hear Your Name (sexual abuse)
Ashley and Jen (eating disorder)
Emily (A young woman receives third degree burns)
Brittany (date rape)
Megan (a young woman becomes pregnant outside of marriage)
C. Dialogue Surfing
When I'm out of ideas, I sit down and write dialogue between two people. Sometimes these two people interest me enough to want to write more about them. The secret to this is write fast and don't plan it out. My books which began this way are: Jake and A New Dawn
4. Teri- Do you get your ideas from dreams?
Jack- No. My dreams always involve me being in charge of something that is going very badly. I'm always glad to wake up.
5. Teri- What was your first thought in knowing you wanted to write?
Jack- My parents gave me a typewriter. I remember typing away and thinking, "This is fun."
After my mission I took a creative writing course at BYU. Since I was a physics major, my instructor asked me why I was taking his course. I told him I wanted to write fiction for LDS youth.
6. Teri- What was your first writing assignment?
I've never received any assignments in regard to my fiction writing.
I remember taking a correspondence course in creative writing. After a week or two, I wrote the teacher and told him I didn't want to do any of his assignments. I just wanted him to critique my work.
Because of expenses for the course and also because I had to rent a typewriter, I decided to send a story to The New Era to see if I could help pay for the course. I was happy and surprised when they accepted the story. Brian Kelly, the editor of that magazine, encouraged me to write more stories. And so I did for the next ten or so years. Brian Kelly was a great mentor to me.
7. Teri- You have a way of reaching into the reader's heart and soul with the issues you write about. Is this because you feel so deeply about this issue? You get people to really ponder an issue.
Jack- It's not issues that drive me. Most of the novels which have motivated me to explore difficult topics came because of someone contacting me and asking to tell their story. My conviction has always been that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can help us get through the worst of times.
8. .Teri- .Do you still teach and if not, what did you teach?
Jack- I have a Ph D in physics from BYU. I taught engineering students calculus based physics. I found that if I used creativity I could teach difficult concepts in such a way that my students could understand them. For instance, I had a song
for every chapter. I got them standing up and we'd sing the song. The lyrics were often humorous but did teach important concepts at the same time. I retired in December, 2005
At the present time my wife and I are teaching a script writing course for the Theatre Department at BYU-Idaho. We will be teaching this course for the next two semesters. I will also be teaching a physics course winter semester.
9. When I wrote Charly, ...
I was overwhelmed by the response to this book. My goal at first was only to write a book that was published.
Where did that goal come from? As a bishop I often interviewed girls about their goals. One time a girl asked, "Bishop, do you have any goals?" I had to confess I didn't. So a short time later, I took a 3 x 5 card and wrote, "I will write a novel." I put that goal where I'd see it every day. Soon after that I began to write.
10. Teri- The Understudy is a big favorite of mine. Did that affect you writing about Jesus Christ?
Jack- (about The Understudy)
The interesting thing about this book is that, after many failed attempts, I
finally decided that if I wanted to write anything about the Savior, I needed to be more prayerful. After doing that, things came more easily. In fact, I wrote the entire first draft in a week. For the most part my editor had very few suggestions for improvement.
The novel has given me an increased appreciation for the Savior and his love for all of us.
11. Jack- What do I do in my spare time?
I spend about eight hours a week doing family search indexing. Right now I am indexing from the 1930 Mexican census. In addition, my wife and I serve in the Rexburg temple once a week. I also spend several hours a week finding names of relatives for which we can do temple ordinances.
I also write a science column for our local newspaper. The column is called
"Graph That!" and can be found at my website www.jackweyland.com
Recently I have begun writing a blog which can also be found at my web site www.jackweyland.com
We have five children and 16 grandchildren. The highlight of our summer was a family reunion in Las Vegas. We had everyone there, which is not an easy task.
Thanks so very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share some of Jack Weyland with our audience and fans. If you want to know more about Jack's books, just go to his website above. We are having a contest, so please leave a comment about our interview and/or The Samaritan Bueno and you'll be entered to win a copy of Jack's book.
Monday, September 14, 2009
The Samaritan Bueno by Jack Weyland
It's been awhile since I've read a Jack Weyland novel and this is one that really packs a wallop in the heart. Dan Winchester and his two best friends Chad and Jonathan are fullfilling their Ward Youth Service Project by putting together Christmas boxes for needy families in their ward. Well, this one day, during their Senior year, they deliver a box to the wrong address. Dan, as their leader, feels badly about telling Maria Sanchez, a young illegal mother from Mexico with her two young children. Her husband Eduardo is still working to get back with his family, but in the meantime Dan and his friends help out by giving Maria the needed money for rent and an illegal Social Security card to allow her to work.
Dan goes to the bank to withdraw money from out of his mission fund, put there by his long-deceased Grandfather. Dan and his friends get help from a sister missionary to teach the discussions to Maria. Everything that could go wrong for Dan, does go wrong and he winds up in trouble with immigrant officials. When his parents find out what he's done, he loses more than he bargains for, even his new found girlfriend, DeAnna, who helps support him, is somewhat frustrated at his not being able to join her in college.
I learned some insights on how we can treat this illegal alien situation. I feel there are some illegals here that want to use our government, yet there are some that want to live here, work hard, learn our English language and work to become an American Citizen. We need to do as Dan did and that is to help someone in need just like the Good Samaritan did and to not be worried if we are treated badly for doing a good deed. The Samaritan Bueno is a quick read, but one that will stay with you for along time. Thank you, Jack, for a well-done and rewarding read.
Forever Friends Rating 5 Stars by Teri
Until Next Time, See You Around The Book Nook.
Granite Publishing & Distribution
Pujblished: June 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Saving Madeline by Rachel Ann Nunes
It's been awhile since I've read a Rachel Ann Nunes book, but this offering is a heart-wrenching story about a young Defense Attorney, Caitlyn McLaughlin, a fiery red haired, blue eyed Irish woman wanting to send the bad guys to prison that she defends. With the case she's working on, she gets to send her client to prison for a long time, but she's not sure she did it ethically or not. When she gets to defend Parker Hathaway, a decent guy who has kidnapped his daughter Madeline, she wants to help him and will risk her career to do so. Parker is sure his ex wife Dakota, who's on drugs, is causing health problems and poses a danger for Madeline and her baby brother, Reese. Sally, Caitlyn's best friend and a detective on the police force, is certain that Dakota is involved with drugs and helps Caitlyn to get the evidence to save bo9th Madeline, Reese and Parker. With having to shoulder responsibility for her mentaly disabled sister Amy, who loves both Parker and Madeline, it's a race to find the truth and rescue them all. This book would make a great Hallmark film.
Forever Friends Rating 5 Stars by Teri
Until Next Time, See You Around The Book Nook.
Publisher: Deseret Book Company
Pub. Date: September 09, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Methods of Madness by Stephanie Black
In Stephanie's new thriller, this novel takes so many twists and turns, it's very hard to tell who the murderer is. Emily Ramsey is filled with guilt over the death of her older sister Tricia that took place three years ago and on top of that, her fiance Ryan Tanner turns up missing at the same time. Aftere three years have gone by, Emily is newly engaged to Zach Sullivan, a new man in town who teaches math. Someone is attempting to frighten her and Zach's former girlfriend Monica wants him back, so is appearing to make Emily jealous. Monica is also getting harrassed and when Emily sets up a meeting to talk to Monica, what she finds is Monica dead in her candleshop workroom and her blood everywhere. Emily knows someone is trying to blame the murder on her, making her think she is insane. Even the police are doubting her story. She's even beginning to wonder if Ryan faked his own disappearance. It isn't until she starts adding pieces to the puzzle together does she start figuring who the murderer is. She has a hard time trusting anyone except her mother who wants her to talk to their friend and psychiatrist, Dr. Kincaid. This is a page-turner in the first degree, just like the previous two thrillers of Stephanie's.
Forever Friends Rating 5 Stars by Teri
Until Next Time, See You Around The Book Nook.
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Incorporated
Pub. Date: August 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
We have a very pleasant surprise today on the Book Nook with having David Farland, well-known Science Fiction and Fantasy writer, here with us. Welcome, Dave. You're well known for your Runeslord books, but you've now ventured into the LDS world to bring us a wonderfully written masterpiece about the Willie Handcart Company. There's been a lot of buzz about this book, which was just released today.
1-Teri-How did this venture come about?
My wife's foster parents, Larry and Jeannie Walker, served as missionaries up at Sixth Crossing. Jeannie suggested a couple of times that "You should really write a book about these handcart pioneers," but for a number of reasons I wasn't interested at all. First, it's well outside my genre. Second, I felt that the world had probably already heard the story of the handcart pioneers. Third, I wasn't really interested.
Yet each summer we have a family reunion, and since the Walkers were up at Sixth Crossing, we decided to have the outing up there. It wasn't until I got there and felt touched by the spirit of the place that I actually developed a strong desire to write the book.
In my writing classes, I often tell students that any two people can take the same material and come out with vastly different books. In other words, sometimes it is okay if you aren't completely original. Yet in this case I felt that as I read some of the wonderful resource material available, that there was a sort of "disconnectedness" that came with the history. We get glimpses of tales here and there, but no sense of the overall journey. So I wanted to write about that--take three characters and follow them over the course of weeks.
Once I began to research, the compulsion just became stronger. In one way, writing the book might have been a mistake. I spent a lot of time working on it that could have been spent making money. Yet I have always felt that an artist must work on the things that inspire them the most. In the longrun, you'll get stronger pieces of art that way.
2-Teri-How long have you been writing and what was your very first venture into writing?
I started writing when I was 17, and I began publishing ten years later. So I've been writing for 35 years now, publishing for 25. Gosh, I feel old.
3-Teri-What places did you go to in order to research In The Company Of Angels?
When I took my first trip to Sixth Crossing, I knew that I had to do some traveling in order to finish my research. I started by making trips to Salt Lake and Cedar City, to look at documents held by the church and by the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. Then of course there were various trips to museums and bookstores to buy research materials. After that, I wanted to follow the trail of the pioneers, but I wanted to do it at the same time of year that they had traveled so that I could take a closer look at the flora and fauna.
I recognized early on that this was going to be a big book physically. I was hoping to keep it down to 100,000 words (it came out at 176,000). So I decided not to start the story in the pioneers' home countries and take them all the way to Salt Lake. That would have doubled the length of the book. Instead I chose to take a slice of journey--the toughest part, and focus on that.
This meant that I wanted to start in Iowa and carry the tale up to Rocky Ridge in Wyoming. So I took a road trip in August and September along their trail through Iowa, Kansas, and Wyoming.. Then I took another one in September spending most of my time in Wyoming, then coming down to Salt Lake.
A third trip was spent almost entirely just in Wyoming.
4-Teri-How did researching and writing In The Company of Angels affect you personally?
To be honest, I'm not from pioneer stock. I converted to the church at the age of 15. So I've always felt that the stories about the pioneers were "not about me."
Yet as I began to do research . . . how can I say this? To be honest, it was the most intense and prolonged spiritual experience of my life. Now, when I was serving my mission, and again when I taught seminary, i often felt the spirit of the work, but this was different.
First, I saw that there were some fascinating people on that trail that I quire frankly had never heard anything about, and as I studied their stories, I saw how they were relevant to people today. Eliza Gadd's personal journey was epic--the kind of thing that I think will make a great movie. (That's next on my agenda.)
Yet there was more. Despite all of the hardships, it seemed to me that there was a theme to the stories once you looked closer. The theme is this: The power of the priesthood is real, and despite all of their tribulations, the pioneers in the Willie Company were saved by it again and again.
In short, though I joined the church when I was young, I sometimes feel that we're all in a lifelong process of conversion--we're all learning new things, struggling to become more perfect. Now, I feel much more strongly connected to those pioneers than I did before.
5-Teri-Could you share with us your mother's feelings towards this book after reading it?
My mother wasn't LDS, but she'd been a big fan of historical novels for years, so when she found out that I was writing this she asked to read it. I gave her the manuscript with a bit of trepidation, and as she read it she called nearly every day, pretty much overwhelmed by it. Now, you have to understand that the last 100 pages of the manuscript keep readers crying nonstop, so she called several times, too choked up to speak, to tell me that it was the best novel that she'd ever read in her life. I think that it changed her to some degree. She was an active Baptist, but when she passed away last spring, she asked to have her funeral in the Mormon Church. I know that she wasn't praising it just because it was my novel. I've written almost fifty books, and she'd never been affected like this before. She kept saying, "What have you done to get this book published?" Well, my own publisher was afraid that the manuscript was too long. I wasn't sure where to take it outside the church. My mainstream publisher wanted to look at it, but I somehow felt that by taking it to the national market, I'd be ignoring the LDS market too much. So when she passed away, I decided to publish the book myself, and distribute it to both markets.
6-Teri-At the end of the book, you share some very interesting and humorous insights on some of the main people in your book. Can you share a couple of them with us, just to whet our readers' appetites?
Oh, gosh, you could get me going for hours!
Let's just say that there were a lot of stories that didn't quite fit into the bounds of the book. Things happened before the novel began, and these people led fascinating lives in some cases that went well beyond the end of the book.
For example, ANGELS tells the story of Willie Handcart Company, but as most people know, there was an even larger handcart company caught on the plains a couple of weeks behind the Willie Company--the Martin Handcart Company.
Now, when Brigham Young heard that the companies were out on the plains it was in early October, and there was an unusual hot spell going on. Brigham wanted to have Ephraim Hanks, a particularly stalwart frontiersman, lead the rescue effort. Ephraim had often worked as a mail carrier, and had crossed the prairie dozens of times. He was also tougher than shoe leather, but he had a reputation for having a spiritual side to him.
So on the night that Brigham heard of the troubles with the handcart pioneers, Ephraim was fishing at a camp on Utah Lake. In the middle of the night he heard someone in his room say his name, and he woke up. After asking "Who's there?" he looked around and fell back to sleep. A few minutes later, the incident was repeated.
Feeling certain that someone was sneaking around his cabin, he got out his gun and laid it beside the bed. When the voice came the third time, he pulled the gun and aimed it at the sound. At that point, he said that a man appeared in the room and began to glow. The man told him that the handcart pioneers were in trouble out on the plains and asked, "Will you not help them?"
At that point, Ephraim saddled his horse in the dark and walked it for a bit until the moon rose, then took off and rode through the night. At dawn, on the outskirts of Salt Lake, he met a messenger that Brigham had sent, asking him to go help the handcart pioneers.
I thought that that was a wonderful tale, but it didn't quite fit--because when Ephraim traveled up to find the pioneers, he passed the Willie Handcart Company without seeing them. Presumably he was on the wrong side of the river. So I had to have some of the other rescuers tell the pioneers about Hanks's experience and being the "only man in history to draw a gun on an angel."
7-Teri-From reading In The Company of Angels, I felt so strongly that this book would be a great Missionary Tool. In what ways would you feel this would be the case?
You know, I wanted this to be a book for everyone, for Mormons and non-Mormons alike. So I tried to follow characters of both faiths. Eliza Gadd, one of my protagonists, was a nurse. She believed in science and in later years told her children that she had not been able to believe in god and the afterlife because "none of that made any sense to me." So she made an excellent viewpoint character in that way. At the same time, her husband was the Branch President in their home town in England, and all of ther children had converted to the church. She was immersed in the culture.
So a number of people who have read it have felt that it was a tremendously powerful book as a missionary tool.
Yet I think that this book from its outset is a story about mortality, something that each of us must face. I hoped in particular that it would be of comfort to those who are facing death, as my mother was when she read it. If you've got a friend who is facing death, the recent death of a loved one or a terminal illness, then I think that this book would be a great gift. At least, that is what I wrote it for.
8-Teri-How would you have handled the Handcart situation, knowing what you now know?
Well, in hindsight it all seems so clear, doesn't it?
Most of the people who died were men, particularly the elderly. I suspect that at least one of the leaders of the Willie Hancart Company, William Woodward, may have counseled his elderly people to stay behind and winter in Iowa. By doing that, it appears that the hundred saints in his charge fared better.
So the elderly and infirm could have stayed behind, along with mothers who had children under the age of four or five. That alone would have lowered the death-toll dramatically.
The saints at that time were so ignorant of their own nutritional needs. They had too little meat, too little in the way of fruits or vegetables. So more could have been done to create wayposts where the handcart pioneers got fresh supplies. This was part of the original plan, but it did not get implemented. So the handcart pioneers ended up trying to carry all of their food for more than a thousand miles, and that took too heavy a toll on them physically.
More importantly, though, this is a case where the saints were hit with one setback after another after another. I think that perhaps the lesson here is that you should excercise wisdom and know when it's time to change course.
Yet one has to wonder, if the saints had all said, "Hey, let's not go through with this," how would we as a people be different?
I'm going to be honest with you about something. We often want to avert the tragedies in our lives, and yet those tragedies can shape us for the better. Did the handcart pioneers become stronger, more faithful people because of the challenges they faced? Absolutely. Absolutely. Knowing the legacy that these pioneers would leave, the exemplary lives that they would live, one could argue that they did the right thing when they pressed on.
Yes, I would save more lives if I could, but I suspect that I would have encouraged them onward all of the way, regardless of the hardship.
9-Teri-Now, will you share with us your experience of being the Guiness World Record Holder of the longest Book Signing?
Oh, gosh, that was ten years ago. I did a big book release in Hollywood for a novel called A Very Strange Trip, based upon a screenplay by L. Ron Hubbard. It was a fun book about an Army private who transports a time machine across the country. But every time that his jeep hits a bump, he gets thrown back further and further in time. . . . In any case, we got together a launch party, brought in some movie and television stars, got a band to provide music, gave out free rootbeer floats, and invited the public. I signed abou 2800 books in four hours, but the judges for Guinness left a little early, so my award only credits me for about 2200 of those signings. It was a grueling afternoon, but like the handcart pioneers, I am a better man for having done it!
10-Teri-And, for our last question. What do you do in your spare time when you're not writing? How many children and if any grandchildren, how many?
I love to write, and I do that a lot. I have an advice column for people who wnat to write, and I send out columns every day. It's called "David Farland's Daily Kick in the Pants," and you can sign up for it at www.davidfarland.net. I sometimes teach writing workshops, too. Other than that, I like to fish, hike, go camping, and I work out every day. I have five children. My youngest is twelve and my oldes is twenty-three. No grandchildren yet, though. If anyone knows of any young men for my oldest daughters, they are available. . . .
Now, can we all give a big round of thanks for David stopping by The Book Nook. It's been a great pleasure and loads of fun. We wish you great success with In The Company Of Angels. For those who haven't ordered your book yet, you can go to: wwwinthecompanyofangels.net and you'll be glad you did. It will change your life.
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Please forward this email to your friends who might be interested in the Daily Kick and direct them to sign up at http://davidfarland.net/members. Thank you.