Review of Alma, The Younger, By H.B. Moore

Familiar to all Book of Mormon readers as a powerful tale of redemption and grace,  the story of Alma the Younger. as told by H.B. Moore comes to life, bringing with it subtleties and realities we have never considered. As an author, I was deeply appreciative of the challenge that faced Moore in making her protagonist and antagonist the same character.  How was she going to get her readers to “root for the bad guy” to change?  The artistry behind her story gives us great insight into how the Adversary works–how he can take someone as noble as the son of the High Priest and place the cord of discontent around his neck, and then use small, even true things, to make that discontent grow until the cord becomes a chain.  This is a masterful, beautifully written novel.  To my mind, it takes its place next to The Screwtape Letters, in demonstrating the cunning of  the evil one.  It also places Moore at top of the list of great writers of the Restoration.

Review of Hometown Girl, By Michelle Ashman Bell

As a writer struggling to write her own “ensemble series,” featuring only four characters, I can definitely tell you that Michele Ashman Bell is a gifted writer!  In her Butterfly Box series (Hometown Girl is #2), Bell deals with a crowd of five women, best friends since high school.  In her opening chapters, we are introduced to each of these characters effortlessly, until we not only know them apart, but know all the angst that they let their friends see, and a lot that we can guess at.  This is a great achievement.

When the book narrows down to one member of the ensemble, Jocelyn, who has decided to move from St. George to a tiny town in Washington state, she seems to regress in the maturity and capability she demonstrated when she was home with the “girls.”  However,  do not be fooled!  Though Jocelyn seems to struggle overmuch with problems that seem small compared to conquering world hunger, balancing the budget, and redeeming the world, there is a good reason for her seeming lack of perspective.

Jocelyn is dealing with problems in her past that occurred in this very locality—her grandmother’s house–years before.  And, though it seems absurd that a beautiful girl of 31 would be so inexperienced with the male sex, take it from me, there is a very good reason for that as well.

Once the horrible tale is told, we are introduced to another of Bell’s brilliant strengths.  She can write romance like nobody’s business.  She avoids all known clichés and draws you in to her character’s heart in such a way that you feel loved down to your toes.  This is a wonderful strength, surprisingly unusual in today’s world of literature.  Since this is another weak spot for me, I appreciate her skill immensely.

Author G.G. Vandagriff is the author of ten books, including Whitney Award winner, The Last Waltz, and would love to visit you through her website or her blog