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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sun Tunnels and Secrets: A Review

Sun Tunnels and Secrets
Sun Tunnels and Secrets
         Earlier in the year I won a copy of Sun Tunnels and Secrets by Carole Thayne Warburton.   I don't recall which site I won this from but it was probably during the author's virtual book tour back in December (2010).  My thanks to Walnut Springs Press and Amy Orton for the copy of this book.

          As is my custom since I began blogging, I am reviewing this book based on my actual feelings for it.  I have received no compensation for this review and the opinions expressed have not been swayed in any way by any party.



Here is the back cover blurb from the book:

On a trip to the Sun Tunnels in the Utah desert, Norma and her sisters find a body on the side of the road. But this awful discovery turns out to be the least of their problems. Norma's husband just passed on, and she learns he kept a secret from her for sixty years. LaRue is keeping a secret from Norma. The sisters' young friend Tony is keeping a secret about his famous father, and Tony's mother is keeping a secret of her own. Tony is secretly in love with his friend Kelli, who recently escaped from a polygamist cult. And who is the mysterious young car thief with whom Norma feels a special connection? Everything converges in Grouse Creek at the Fourth of July celebration. Will secrets prove everyone's undoing?

         This book caught me up from the start.  The action starts intriguingly with the naked body of a young man found beside a desolate back country road in the Utah desert.  This discovery is made by three elderly sisters who are on their way to visit a mysterious attraction called the Sun Tunnels.  Since there is little they can do about the situation they continue on to their destination.  On their return they find that not only is the body missing, but also one of the sister's car which was left parked on the highway.  This is just the beginning of the mysteries this book follows.

         In Sun Tunnels and Secrets we meet an array of fun and finely drawn characters who find themselves interconnected by the secrets of the past and the circumstances of the present.  The setting is rural Utah in a place that seems stranded in time and isolated by geography.   There is romance, humor, and even car chases as the secrets are revealed and the mysteries are unraveled.

        The characters are primarily of a generation of the elderly and young folks in their twenties.   These generations come together in a sweet way to present a story that is as all-American as apple pie.  In fact, one of the sisters is an expert pie maker.   This book is about as wholesome as it can be--after all it is a story about Mormons.

        The front cover of the book clearly states that the book is "an LDS novel".  I think that this could limit readership although it shouldn't.   Though there are some references to Mormonism, if the cover description hadn't been there one might not even notice.   This is a story of good small town folks facing the same issues that are faced by many people regardless of faith.

         My favorite parts of the book were the scenes with the sisters.  These scenes were often funny and eccentric, but also occasionally heartbreaking.  These ladies seemed so real that I felt like they were people I've known in my life.  The author captures the older characters with the greatest realism.  The younger characters seemed a bit artificial and lacking in dimension at times, but they were still likable and interesting.

        The book is an easy read and will probably be most appreciated by readers who like their stories neatly wrapped with a clear ending.   The story was perhaps too neatly packaged for my taste and the conclusion seemed a bit contrived.  It reminded me of one of those sappy made for television movies.  For others, this may be just the uplifting sort of story they are looking for to pass a few summer reading hours.

         Generally speaking though, this is a fun book that thoroughly entertains and maintains a good pace.  There is no bad language and nothing that is offensive.   If you are looking for some light fun with a well told story about characters that you will enjoy, then Sun Tunnels and Secrets might just be your cup of tea--with a slice of homemade pie.

          If you've read this book I'd love to hear your opinion.   Do you like stories where all the loose ends are tied up and the conflicts are neatly resolved?    Would you read a book that was labeled "An LDS Novel" or would that label be off putting to you?   Do you think fiction should be pigeonholed according to a particular religious audience or should it be categorized according to story genre and style so that it can be evaluated according to its merits or weaknesses?


  
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36 comments:

  1. I really wish they had this at the library. It sounds like such a good book but we don't pay for books in this house when you can get them for free LOL

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  2. Sounds like an excellent book Lee.

    Back now in a colder UK.

    Have a good day.
    Yvonne.

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  3. I've not read it, but that's a lot of secrets!

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  4. It sounds like a good read. I might be put off by the LDS label as I am by fiction labelled as 'Christian fiction'. As I think this - I don't like fiction that is tailor-made for sub-cultures of any sort - 'women's fiction' 'gay fiction' 'aboriginal fiction' etc... I'd rather the stuff be in it as it suits the novel and not threaded in on purpose. I do not mind reading about any of these folks (in fact I read a huge amount of lds non-fiction two years ago for some reason!!?) but I'd just as soon not be sold to on the basis of sub-cultures. Put it in and don't tell me - that would be my choice.

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  5. Hi Lee .. I knew nothing about LDS - so now I've learnt that! I see that the Twilight Sagas were written by Stephanie Meyer who belongs to the LDS church .. interesting - thank you .. Hilary

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  6. In life many of our yonger characters are lacking dimension. The author could have shown that on purpose.

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  7. Hey! I'm game to read anything. It's interesting to see how others handle life LDS people and even Satanists.

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  8. I would read it; sounds like a good read. Besides, I love secrets.

    I think labeling anything might put some people off.

    T

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  9. Haven't read this one. I may just have to now! :D

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  10. Sounds like a good book. I'm with Alex on this one... sounds like a lot of secrets! :)

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  11. Sounds good! Thanks for the review - I've now got this on my "to read" list!

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  12. Great review, Lee! It certainly sounds like an interesting read.

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  13. Brenda Marie --Fill out a request form at your library and perhaps they'll order it. Or if you get some extra money support an author and buy it. But I know what you're saying: economic situations can make purchasing books on a lower priority than buying necessities.

    Yvonne -- I'll bet a lot of folks in the U.S. would like to have those colder temperatures.

    Alex -- I guess without the secrets there wouldn't have been much of a story.

    Jan -- I agree that attaching labels might deter some readers. I would prefer not to know unless it is an overt attempt to convert readers or if it comes in the form of a warning about explicit content that might be offensive to some readers.

    Hilary -- That's an interesting fact about TWILIGHT which is a good example of why books shouldn't be labeled unless the labeling has something specifically to do with the book.

    Mybabyjohn -- You make a good point about young characters. In this story they came across as young in the sense you are saying.

    Shelly -- It's mostly about the story-telling and the writing craft unless the book is agenda driven in an extreme way.

    Teresa, IBD, Linda, Amy, and Talli -- thanks for commenting. The book is worth a shot if you are looking for wholesome entertainment.

    Lee

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  14. Sounds intriguing & I like that cover. Thanks for the review.

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  15. Hi Lee,
    I agree with you, normally I enjoy a book with a little beef and an ending that keeps me talking...
    However after reading your review I am interested in reading.
    I hope you have a wonderful afternoon!
    Take care,
    Lisa

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  16. Great Job! I have not read this one yet. BTW, you've been tagged... http://writinginwonderland.blogspot.com/2011/06/ive-been-tagged_08.html

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  17. Thanks for writing of a favorable review of my book.This book was really fun to write and I have to admit I fell in love with my older characters. As far as the LDS label, even though I'm LDS I find it off-putting. That was a decision my publisher made and I'm sure they have their reasons for it. It may be to jump hurdles in getting it into certain stores--not sure. I hope though that people of other faiths can look past that and give it a try. Like Arlee said, the LDS elements are very minor.

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  18. Lisa from Nadir -- I liked the cover as well. I'd like to know more about these Sun Tunnels and perhaps visit them one day.

    Lisa from FishyFace -- Over all I like deeper reading, but some sheer escapism can be fun as well, especially something such as this book.

    Sylvia -- I'll have to check out to see what this tag is all about.

    Carole -- I do think this type of labeling can limit potential readership. I think I'll do a future post about this topic since it is something I have seen addressed by others and have noted myself. Thanks for stopping by to check this review out.

    Lee

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  19. Lee-

    If I didn't know better, I'd say this is your first post in a month that didn't mention "A 2 Z"

    I may have missed the reference, though...

    Just kidding..

    (although it is good to see you "branching out" again)

    Larry

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  20. After reading the back blurb, I'd have put the book down. There just seems to be way too much going on.

    If the back didn't put me off, I might have overlooked it because of the LDS label. Whether to pigeonhole a book or not is tough because it attracts an audience while at the same time turning others off. Darned if you do; darned if you don't.

    Glad to hear that it's a good book, though! If I see it, I'll pick it up.

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  21. I haven't read it. I'll be honest, the blurb wouldn't have grabbed my attention with all the 'secrets', but after reading your post, I'd love to check it out. As far as the LDS, I honestly had never heard that term. That being said, this label would not be a turn off for me at all.

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  22. The story sounds interesting, and I am always interested in a novel with well-drawn characters. In all honesty, I would probably be put off by the label of it being "an LDS novel," but I doubt it would bother me in any way were that label not there. The label, itself, would make me think it was meant to interest only a select group of people. Hard to explain. Thanks for the review!

    Tina @ Life is Good
    and I are joining forces in another challenge. We're going to visit and comment at each of the participants, starting with the reflections post. We hope you'll join us!
    Shannon @ The Warrior Muse

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  23. Larry -- Are you saying that I was running A to Z into the ground. Well you know me--I tend to do that sometimes.

    Brianna -- There is a lot going on in this book but it is all interconnected enough to make it interesting and the action is all pretty linear where one thing leads to the next.

    Ciara -- I had never seen a book labeled as such, but I guess the publishers are primarily catering to the Mormon audience.

    Lee

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  24. Very nicely done review! I'm so far behind in my reading, I probably would have to put this one on the back burner. Thanks again for the great "save" yesterday! What perfect timing! Julie

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  25. Not a book I've read, but I do need loose ends tied up and issues resolved. Feel cheated otherwise.

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  26. scary thing is i haven't opened a book in two days due to being busy but this one sounds interesting

    Everyday Life

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  27. Arlee, I enjoyed your review of the book, so I figure I'd enjoy the story as well.

    I was surprised to find in my journeys around the net, the label 'LDS writer/blogger'. For some, labelling the book may be offputting. If I saw that, I'd probably assume the book wouldn't be as funny or enjoyable as you've described it here. I prefer to read a book based on genre rather than because of a religious affiliation. I'd probably pass on the book if I came across it in a bookstore thinking it was some sort of religious material.

    If haven't noticed books by any other writers of a particular religion tagged like this. If my books carried a description that said 'Catholic author' potential readers would probably think guilt/angst filled.

    See there now, I've written an essay in your comments. :D

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  28. Lee-

    Just being a wise guy! I'd had my PC out of commission for a couple of weeks and this was the first post I came to.

    Hope all is well with you.

    Larry

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  29. My publishing company is based in Utah and my publisher (I think) are Mormons and for some reason I have been reading books with Mormon characters (Ann Best's memoir and Karen Gowen's novel) even though I'm not a Mormon. Although I don't like novels that preach at me, I like learning about other cultures and I like a good plot. Thanks for the review.

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  30. Hi, Lee, In answer to your question about Louis' Original REstaurant, it is on Old Broadway, on the left, soon after you turn off Broadway. If you are coming from the direction of downtown K, You turn left off broadway. If you are coming from Halls Crossroads, you turn right off broadway just across from the Kmart/Food City shopping center. The spaghetti sauce is very spicy. YUM!

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  31. Julie -- I'm very behind in my reading as well. I enjoyed the story and could identify with your husband's mindset. Glad to jump in.

    L. Diane -- It depends on the story and author intent. Sometimes I do like perfect completion, but other times I like the story to be uncertain like real life can often be.

    Becca -- I try to push myself to read at least a little bit each day.

    J.L. -- Loved your essay! Labeling can lead to reader misinterpretation. There is no doubt that one's beliefs can influence the story and style, but the final interpretation should be left to the reader so long as the book is not intended as overt religious persuasion.

    Larry -- All is well. My computer seems to be healthy. Glad you are back in operation.

    Clarissa -- I'm with you on this.

    Grammy -- I'll have to tell my sister about this. She and her fiance like Italian food. Maybe they can try it and give me their report. I've never heard of Louis' before, but I agree that the sauce is what makes the difference.

    Lee

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  32. Can you send me this book to me whenever you get a chance? No rush... love you!

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  33. You have captured my interest here. I am Ms Leyla, I live in rural Utah and I enjoy this book review. I usually would not read an LDS book, although this sounds like one I would pick up.
    I have become a follower of your blog, I am new to Blogger much to learn and I will be back.
    smiles,
    Ms L

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  34. I actually like the sound of the book more from your review than I did the book blurb. The blurb just had me confused.

    The setting appeals to me and I can quite happily pick up and enjoy a nice feel good book as much as I can my usual genre of crime thrillers.

    Thanks for sharing it Arlee.

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  35. Sounds like an interesting summer read. I love memorable characters and a good mystery.

    As far as religious affiliations and the merits of a book - I never consider it.

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  36. Emilee -- I will send it to you and you can give me your review.

    Ms Leyla -- Thank you for stopping by and welcome to my blog.

    Rebecca -- There really is a lot going on in this book, but the cohesiveness of the story progression brings it all together much better than a condensed summary of a blurb can.

    Paula -- Religious affiliations of a book rarely cross my mind, except that this book had the specific label that designated it as "LDS", which I thought could potentially damper sales to some readers.

    Lee

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Lee