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My Progress:

12 / 30 books. 40% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
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My Progress:

29 / 51 states. 57% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

26 / 50 books. 52% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

23 / 50 books. 46% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

48 / 50 books. 96% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

41 / 52 books. 79% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

27 / 40 books. 68% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

15 / 40 books. 38% done!

2024 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

10 / 25 books. 40% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

2024 Mystery Marathon Reading Challenge

My Progress

13 / 26.2 miles. 50% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

My Progress

26 / 100 books. 26% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

68 / 104 books. 65% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

My Progress

44 / 52 books. 85% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

74 / 165 books. 45% done!
Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Mormon Mention: Kali Wallace

If you're not sure what a Mormon is, let alone a Mormon Mention, allow me to explain:  My name is Susan and I'm a Mormon (you've seen the commercials, right?).  As a member of  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (commonly known as the Mormon or LDS Church), I'm naturally concerned with how my religion is portrayed in the media.  Because this blog is about books, every time I see a reference to Mormonism in a book written by someone who is not a member of my church, I highlight it here.  Then, I offer my opinion—my insider's view—of what the author is saying.  It's my chance to correct misconceptions, expound on principles of the Gospel, and even to laugh at my (sometimes) crazy Mormon culture.

In Shallow Graves, a debut novel by Kali Wallace, the main character—recently deceased Breezy Lim—is talking to a friend.  The topic under discussion is Mr. Willow, the leader of a cult who claims he can "fix" undead people like Breezy.  This exchange between Rain and Breezy occurs at the 30% mark in the e-ARC of Shallow Graves:  

"Is he as scary as they say?  I'm picturing the mutant offspring of Charles Manson and Ted Bundy."

"He looks like a middle-aged Mormon missionary," I said, and Rain laughed.  "I didn't realize he was famous."

- You'd be surprised at how many times book/movie characters are described as looking like Mormon missionaries.  Why?  Because that's probably the easiest, most visual way of conjuring an image of someone who has a clean-cut appearance.  The connotation of the phrase goes beyond that, though, indicating that the person is also honest, honorable, even innocent.  All of which Mormon missionaries should be.  Not only do they abide by strict dress and grooming standards (read more here), but they also adhere to an exacting code of personal worthiness.  If elders and sisters are doing their best to live by these standards, then they are, in fact, clean, virtuous, and worthy of serving as the Lord's ambassadors.    

(Book image from Barnes & Noble; missionary image from

Shallow Graves An Engrossing Read But Not a Remarkable One

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Breezy Lim knows she's dead.  Waking up in a shallow grave a year after being forced into it will bring a person to that most logical of conclusions.  What the 17-year-old cannot quite remember is how she died.  She's also a little disconcerted by the new superpower she seems to have picked up—she can feel when someone has committed murder.  Even more disturbing is the fact that she wants to take her own revenge on these killers; doing so makes her un-dead heart throb with life.  Still, the last thing Breezy wants is to be some kind of zombie hitman.  All she really wants is normality, to go back to being an average teenage girl in an ordinary world.  

Instead, Breezy's living in some kind of shadowy, in-between place where monsters roam in plain sight.  She should feel powerful, but she knows she's being hunted by Mr. Willow, a cult leader who claims to be able to "fix" people like Breezy.  On the run, she's not sure where to go or whom to trust.  She only knows she wants revenge on her would-be captor.  In the meantime, she must figure out how to make a life out of her waking death.  With help from some unlikely allies, she might be able to do just that.  

Shallow Graves, a haunting debut novel by Kali Wallace, is difficult to describe.  Its premise lacks originality, but the story feels compelling nonetheless.  The plot seems a little direction-less and yet, it kept me reading.  Overall, the novel is quick and exciting, but not particularly memorable.  A weird dichotomy.  Although Shallow Graves does make some good points about choosing your own path, it didn't leave me feeling wowed or even satisfied, really.  In the end, I found it an engrossing read, just not a remarkable one.

(Readalikes: Reminded me of The Body Finder series [The Body Finder; Desires of the Dead; The Last Echo; and Dead Silence] by Kimberly Derting)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a few F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, blood/gore, and brief, non-graphic references to sex

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of Shallow Graves from the generous folks at HarperCollins via those at Edelweiss.  Thank you!

Quick, Quirky Reading Revolution Novel An Enjoyable Romp

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

For Lucy Jordan and her two BFFs, the summer that stretches between the end of their 8th grade year and the start of high school is a strange, in-between time.  The long, languid hours deserve to be filled with something different, something epic.  Still reeling from the sudden death of Fat Bob, a favorite teacher, the trio decide to honor him by promoting his favorite book, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.  They hatch a plan to "relocate" copies of the classic novel at every bookstore and library they can hit.  If there's a Mockingbird scarcity, they reason, it will drum up interest in the book.  Since the friends won't be doing anything illegal—they're encouraging people to read, after all—it seems like a no-fail plan.

Not surprisingly, Lucy, Elena, and Michael discover they've bitten off way more than they can chew.  Between their relocation hijinks and the social media campaign they've launched, they've created a literary rebellion.  Worried about being found out, Lucy also has to deal with her mother's cancer and her budding romance with Michael.  As everything comes to a head, she'll have to come to terms with all the worries that plague her, including the biggie that looms just around the corner—high school.  And then there's the reading revolution she's inadvertently caused ...

I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora is a quick, quirky ode to the power of the written word.  It's funny, uplifting, and hopefully, encouraging.  Although they act a little too mature for their age (what modern teenager throws around references to Driving Miss Daisy and Johannes Gutenberg?), the kids at the center of the novel are sympathetic and interesting.  Their plight makes for a compelling story that's refreshingly upbeat.  I loved its focus on books and reading.  Book nerds everywhere will agree: this fun, easy read should be on everyone's TBR list.  You don't need to be a Mockingbird fan (but you should be) to enjoy this entertaining novel.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything.  You?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs) and vague references to rape

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find
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