Sunday, February 10, 2013

Gearing Up for the Whitneys

I'm fairly new to the world of the Whitney Awards (I think I heard of them for the first time three years ago), but I'm rapidly becoming a fan--and only partly because we review some of the Whitney finalists over at Segullah, where I'm a staff editor and blog contributor. It's interesting to me to see who gets nominated and who doesn't (I'm sad to see no Ally Condie on this year's list). I also enjoy reading (most) of the finalists--it gives me a better feel for a writing community that I hope to someday enter.

So, fair warning. In the next couple of months you're going to be hearing about several of the Whitney finalists as I try to read my way through the list.

In the meantime, here's what I read this week.

17. Deborah Harkness, Shadow of Night. This book has taken me nearly three weeks to get through (and yes, I was two days late getting it back to the library because I didn't want to get on the wait list again . . .). Not because it isn't good--it is--but because it's so jam packed with stuff: historical details, characters, etc. Also, I read other books as I was going through it. I thought this continuation of Matthew and Diana's story was fascinating at parts--I loved meeting Mary Sidney, whose poetry I studied in college--and their sojourn in Prague and Elizabethan England were interesting. But it felt too long in parts, and I'm not entirely sure how the overall plot of the trilogy was advanced, other than some interesting discoveries about the Ashmole document. Still, I'm sure I'll be reading the conclusion at some point.

18. Jason Wright, 13th Day of Christmas (Whitney finalist, General). This is the kind of book I think most readers think of when they think of LDS fiction (certainly I do). It's not my cup of tea, though I know lots of readers probably love the "heart-warming" story line, about a young girl who befriends an 80 something year-old widow, and how their friendship sustains them both through hard times, including life-threatening illness. And I'm sure the expressions of faith in the book are sincere--and the sentiments expressed are good ones--but I don't like feeling like I'm being manipulated, which is how I felt reading this. Also, the plot was pretty predictable.

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