Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Book Review: "Alma" by H.B. Moore

By Nichole Giles

I first met Heather Moore at an LDS Storymakers writing conference. I remember thinking what a nice person she was, and wondering what kind of things she writes. That was several years ago (five, maybe?) and since then, Heather has released a number of books, including her Out of Jerusalem series and her Book of Mormon prophet series starting with Abinadi. She won Whitney Awards in 2008 and 2009 for Out of Jerusalem and Abinadi, and I’m positive her most recent release, Alma, will gather a nomination as well.

Here’s the blurb:

King Noah is thundering with rage. On Amulon’s watch, the former high priest Alma disappeared from the city of Nephi, and every night more believers manage to escape. The king threatens certain punishment unless Amulon recaptures Alma—a seemingly impossible task. But Amulon has a plan. An equally valuable prisoner is at his fingertips: Noah’s wife, Maia, whose newfound faith means bitter humiliation for the king and an opportunity for Amulon to seize power.

Amulon’s disavowed daughter Raquel is making plans of her own. Alma and his followers are building a colony by the waters of Mormon, and she’s determined to begin a new life there despite the deep grief she suffers daily as Abinadi’s widow. Abinadi’s watchful brother Helam deems the journey to Mormon too risky, but when Lamanites plunder and burn the settlement, Raquel has no choice but to flee with her young son.

Drama and danger escalate as Alma the Elder organizes the Lord’s church and baptizes its members, bringing an outpouring of divine grace and power. But even as they rejoice, the believers have profound and perilous trials to face, from the outward threat of Amulon’s treachery to the inward threat of pride and disobedience. With poignant emotion, gripping suspense, and rich inspiration, this new epic story from H.B. Moore vividly brings the Book of Mormon to life.

Yes, Heather and I are friends. And I’m really glad. But being the honest person that I am, I refuse to let that color my opinion of her writing. So here’s the truth. I read this book in two days. You know, because I actually did have to put it down to be the mom and stuff. Every time I put it down, I had to rush through whatever I was doing to hurry and pick it back up again. Loved the whole thing from beginning to end.

I know, I know. I should already know this story, right? (Ahem, that is, I should have read it in the scriptures—or at least a similar story.) Except this is very different from scripture in that Heather has done a smashing job of bringing the characters to life. It’s easy to read and, if you can believe it, romantic. That’s right. I said romantic. This story is loaded with romance, intrigue, and trial after trial of faith building experience for all the characters involved. Never in my life have I seen the scriptural prophets in such a human light as this. Heather has done an excellent job of portraying life as it might have been for the ancient believers.

Nitpicks:

Yeah, a while back, I committed to my readers that I’d do a nitpick section when reviewing. There are times when I find it extremely hard to keep that promise. Especially when I read a book that I love as much as this one. So…my nitpick for this book is going to be…hm. Oh, I know, how about that I have to wait another year for the next one. Yep, that’s it.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a conference where Heather taught a very informative and helpful class. We also got to hang out a little bit, which was way fun. She was even nice enough to let me interview her on the most important things every reader wants to know about excellent authors like her.

The Interview:

NG: What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? Today, my new favorite is Ben and Jerry’s Key Lime Pie.

HBM: Dreyer’s Pink Peppermint ice cream—the one they sell only around Christmas time. I’ll have to try that Key Lime Pie flavor. Yum. But those orange cream shakes at Arby’s are really good too.

NG: Okay, that just sounds way too good right now. No wonder we get along so well. Well, that and because we both love to write. Speaking of writing, who is your favorite author? (Besides you or me, since everyone already knows we’re both awesome.)

HBM: Oh, that’s hard then. Besides you . . . two of my classic favs are Mary Higgins Clark and Maeve Binchy. I think I’ve read every single one of their books.

NG: Awesome. I love Mary Higgins Clark, too. Never read Maeve Binchy, but I’ll have to check out something by her.

(Takes time out to make a note on the list of books to be read.)

NG: Other than attending awesome, fun writing conferences, what is your most favorite thing to do when you’re not writing?

HBM: Reading! I read a lot—I consider it part of my job to read the bestsellers out there. Such a hard job J

NG: Well, hm. No wonder you love your job. For that matter, I love it, too. Reading rocks. I recently read a book about people who morphed into wolves. It was awesome. So, the question begs to be asked. If you were an animal, what kind would you be and why?

HBM: Lion. I’ve loved lions since I was a kid and still have many books on them. Something about being the king of the jungle has always fascinated me.

NG: So not what I expected. But definitely cool. You’d make a beautiful lioness. Personally, I’m more of a sea creature myself. Last week I thought I’d be a dolphin, but this week I’m thinking I’d be a mermaid. That way, I could swim along the bottom of the ocean looking for treasure. Speaking of which, do you prefer diamonds or pearls?

HBM: Umm . . . I have a diamond ring and a pearl necklace, but I hardly wear either. Maybe diamonds because they are so sparkly.

NG: Sparkles really do make a difference. You should wear both more often. Jewelry makes a girl feel good.

NG: One more question then I’ll let you get back to your writing. Name one or two power snacks that keep you going as you write.

HBM: Almonds and juice. (Did I mention that there is chocolate covering the almonds—does that count as a power snack?)

NG: Um, yes, definitely. Can we say almond M&M’s? Yes, chocolate does special things to the creative mind I think. And juice is just plain old good. Much better than the Dr. Pepper sitting next to me at the moment.

Thanks, Heather, for taking the time to let us have a glimpse into the important things that make an award winning author tick.

To learn more about Heather B. Moore, click here.

To purchase your copy of Alma click here.

For information on Heather’s professional editing services (along with those of her colleagues) click here.

2 comments:

David J. West said...

I need to grab a copy of Alma-he and Maia were my favorite parts about Abinadi.

That and interesting interview too-kinda makes me hope she likes the lion refrences in my ARC I just gave her.

Kellie said...

What a fun interview! I can't wait to read the book!