Monday, September 28, 2015


Blackhearts One of the biggest pleasures of being part of the Sweet Sixteen debut group is getting to participate in the ARC (advanced review copy) tours of books that aren't out yet for public consumption. So far, I've read some amazing books, and Nicole Castroman's was no exception. Nicole is also repped by Adams literary and we'd connected on social media over our shared love of BBC's Poldark, so I was particularly excited for this book. (Also, in a funny, small-world way, Nicole's sister-in-law was one of my roommates in college).

The story is essentially a Blackbeard origin story, how Edward "Teach" Drummond, after a year at sea, returns home to find his life mapped out for him by his wealthy merchant father, who wants him to marry into the nobility. But Teach yearns for the sea, and discovers that his fiancee isn't the woman he remembered. More, there's an intriguing young woman in his father's house whom he finds himself drawn to.

Anne Barrett is the illegitimate child of a merchant and a former slave--after her father's death, her half-brother establishes her in the Drummond household as a servant. But Anne also wants something better: she's determined to make a better life for herself than one of servitude. But then she meets Teach, and her plans become infinitely more complicated.

There were lots of things I loved about this story: I thought the historical setting was a lot of fun, and I loved the realistic depiction of Anne's situation and the hard choices she faced. But mostly, I loved the relationship between Anne and Teach.

Readers who go into the story expecting a swashbuckling pirate story may be disappointed, because this is not that story--but it's a frequently tense, romantic story with its own share of intrigue and danger and (yes) potential heart-break. Definitely worth a read when it comes out in January.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Sound of Life and Everything

The Sound of Life and Everything I might be prejudiced toward this lovely middle grade book because I've met the author (and my sister is one of the lucky early readers mentioned in the acknowledgments)--but I don't that matters much. The story is a powerful, heart-warming exploration of prejudice, love, and family in post WWII California.

Ella Mae Higbee's crazy aunt has found a scientist who thinks he can resurrect her cousin Robbie, killed at Iwo Jima, from some blood on his dog tags. But when Ella Mae, her mother, and aunt show up at the laboratory, it's to find a young Japanese soldier waiting for them instead of Robbie. While their aunt repulses the boy, it's up to Ella Mae and her mother to take him in, and find their lives transformed in exchange.

Although the science in the book is a little far-fetched and the premise might lead you to expect a more science-fictiony adventure story, the story is a touching look at friendship, as the boy (Takuma) becomes Ella Mae's best friend, and Ella Mae struggles to understand how his presence can unleash so much turmoil and hatred in her small town, even in her family. But I loved how fiercely Ella Mae and her mother fought for him, and for doing the right thing. A terrific look at a historical era and a great jumping point for discussions about prejudice and friendship.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Bone Gap

Bone Gap I started Laura Ruby's remarkable book on a plane a few weeks ago--and then set it aside for a little while because it was too creepy to read as my bedtime book. But it's a lovely, intricate, surprising story, fully deserving of it's National Book award nomination.

Bone Gap is a character in its own right, a midwestern town that holds its own secrets, nestling in a corner of the world where there are gaps in the bones that hold up the world, and things that come through those gaps.

Brothers Finn and Sean O'Sullivan are still reeling from the mysterious appearance of a lovely Polish girl, Roza, and from her abrupt disappearance--Finn all the more so because he knows she didn't disappear, but was kidnapped, and he can't get anyone to believe him.

Told mostly from the perspectives of Finn an Roza, the book is a wonderful, lyrical story of loss and heartbreak, about losing and finding love, about having courage in the face of the unimaginable. The book is billed as magical realism, which I can see, though I found some of the magic leaning a bit more toward outright fantasy, which didn't stop my enjoyment at all.

Monday, September 14, 2015

New website!

I have, thanks to the inimitable Tessa at Pop Color, a brand new shiny author website!

It's where I will have everything official and author related, and eventually I'll be migrating my blogging over there too. But for now, you'll mostly find me still hanging around here. :)