Friday, February 24, 2012


So some pretty cool stuff is going on. Did I mention that the Whitney Award finalists were recently announced and I'm one of them? Actually, I feel like an idiot saying this but someone calls me out every time I don't, so . . . I'm two of them. The List and Not My Type are both finalists. Which is mind-boggling. And exciting. And humbling. And validating. 

The Whitney is an award given to the outstanding work of fiction by an LDS author in seven different genre categories: romance, mystery, historical fiction, fantasy,sci-fi, etc. Past winners in different genres have included people like Ally Condie and Brandon Sanderson from the national market and people like Julie Wright and Annette Lyon in the LDS market. The winners will be announced in May at the LDS Storymakers conference. I'll be sure to post a picture of myself in the traditional losers photo. In the mean time, if you're looking for something new to read, you can check out the finalists here and I'm sure you'll find more than a few titles that look good to you. I've read fifteen of them so far and they're great. 

Anyway, the major point of the awards is to spread the word about the fiction that LDS writers are producing. I think that the books in the national market already get a decent amount of help with this, but I'm proud to be writing in the LDS market, and I don't think it's getting the fair shake it deserves to yet. If you're one of those who says, "LDS books aren't for me," because you picked up something cheesy in the past and went, "Yikes," then 1) I'm sorry because a lot of that is out there but 2) give LDS fiction another shot. Some of it, maybe even a lot of it, still isn't great, but there is so much that is EXCELLENT.

Every now and then, I'm going to cheerlead for some LDS titles that I think are worth your time, and you can see for yourself. And I'll do a variety of genres too so that maybe you can find something that's a good fit for you.

All right, first up is Targets in Ties by Tristi Pinkston. She asked me to review this. I'm getting to the point where I kind of hate to do that anymore. It puts me in a difficult position a lot of times and it's very stressful because if I say I think you'll like a book, I really mean it. I want my opinion to count for something. A lot of times you'll see people post about a book and say lots of nice things, and I think that's kind and wonderful, but not super helpful in dispelling the weak reputation LDS fiction often has. Especially when I've read that book and know it's kind of a stinker. And that happens less and less as LDS fiction gets better and better, but this is happening more often with self-published books, too. I see lots of nice things being said about books that I thought kind of stunk. If it happens more than a couple of times, I pretty much don't read that blogger's book reviews any more because I know at the very least our tastes are totally different. That's not to say I think books should ever be trashed publicly; my policy is to only say good things about books I enjoyed and not saying anything about books I don't. (And yeah, I get that this is ALL my opinion but MY opinion is what matters to me when I'M reading a book and if I think it stinks and you say it doesn't, I know we don't share the same outlook and I'm far less likely to follow your opinion on future book recs, get it?)

Anyway, I can't believe I went on a tangent. (HAHAHAHAHAHA) Back to Tristi's book. I'm glad I read it. It falls in the cozy mystery category, and I enjoy a good mystery. My yardstick, though, is whether I would hand it to my mother-in-law to read, because she LOVES mysteries. It's hard to find any she hasn't read, quite honestly. But every year for Christmas (or her birthday), I try. Targets and Ties is one I'll gladly hand off to her and know it will tickle her pink, as my dad used to say.

If you want the in-depth summary, you can read more about it here. The bullet point version is that the these three little old ladies from a little town in Utah head down to Mexico for a vacation before retrieving a nephew from his two-year mission. They stumble across a mystery involving the theft of antiquities and a bitter rivalry between a dashing Mexican and a charming German. 

Here's the thing. The plot relies too much on suspension of disbelief and coincidence for me. I'll allow for a little, but not for a lot, and this verges toward a lot. BUT. But I love a great character, and this book gives you three: Ida Mae, Arlett, and Tansy, who are just so stinking entertaining and amusing and often downright clever in their humor that I had to keep reading. And it's why you'll keep reading; they're pretty hard to resist. Despite a fairly unbelievable premise, the whole story is a fun romp, so it's well worth a gander. (Actually, DeNae, this might be right up your alley in terms of tone and voice and what you're working on. Maybe?)

Tristi has a contest going on in conjunction with this book, so straight from her mouth (well, keyboard), here are the details: "Leave a comment on this post that you want in, then go visit Tristi's blog at and become a follower.  You will then be entered to win this fun scrapbooking pack, including paper, tags, two decals, and metal tag frames. You have until midnight Mountain time on March 3rd to enter to win."

And here are the pictures of the book and the swag:

I was going to tell you more about a couple of other books, including the book that's going to beat me for the Whitney in my category, but I'll save that for another time because this post is already too long. And I'm still in my bathrobe because my kids are feeling a tetch icky and I'm willing to make my robe collateral damage in the vomit and snot onslaught, and not my regular threads. So I'm going to go make them cracker nachos (that's what my 4 y.o calls them) and then cuddle. And read another book.


Stephanie Black said...

Congrats on the double Whitney finalists! That is AWESOME!

And thanks for the review; Targets in Ties sounds like a fun read.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Yes, thank you for the review, Melanie! I appreciate it.

Andrea said...

I was very excited when I saw both of your books as finalists! So happy for you (and I really hope that you win because I really enjoyed them)!

Kristina P. said...

Congrats on your super cool nomination. Make sure to wear something that shows sideboob.

Barbaloot said...

I'll definitely check out the list---I'm always looking for new books:) And can I just say that having read your two books I feel very comfortable supporting you taking a non-loser picture:)

Barbaloot said...

Went to the website---guess who already owns four of the five romance books and has the fifth on a list in her mind to get?


Roberta H. said...

Thanks for the review on Tristi's book!! I want in!!! Can't wait to read the book!!

Ann T. said...

I like your honesty! I love to read Tristi's work. Her Secret Sisters series is definitely entertaining, and hard to put down. The 3 main characters are truly fun to follow through their involvement in the mysteries they get tangled up in.
Anyway, I would love a chance at getting the prize from Tristi's blog.

Tracy Jensen said...

Ooooo I am super excited for you! Both of your books were favorites of I'm not surprised at all!

I can't wait to read Trisit's book!

Susan said...

You think one of your books won't win the category? Shuh. I'll believe it when I see it.

Gear up for doing another book review soon. I'll be asking. :-)

L.T. Elliot said...

Congrats on the Whitney nominations! I'm very, very excited for you!

L.T. Elliot said...

Congrats on the Whitney nominations! I'm very, very excited for you!