Future Earth has been ruined by past generations so a project to create sustainable life on Mars was begun. Adri has been selected for this next group of colonists. She lost her parents in a flood and was raised in a group home, and focused on her education with the goal in mind to be selected for Mars. She is stand-offish, not making connections with others. The story opens with Adri going to the home of Lily, a distant and elderly relative in Kansas to sort of regroup and think before signing the final commitment to Mars. She finds herself in an old house that was part of a thriving farm at one time. Now, the only animal is a tortoise, Galapagos.
Lily is quite kind and facing dementia. She has lived on the family farm all her life but is forgetting the history of the homestead. She takes Adri in and accepts her distant personality. Meanwhile Adri finds old letters and a diary. By reading the journals and letters of Cathy, who lived in the house during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s she pieces together part of the homestead’s history. But what of the tortoise? She finds letters from Lenore in England to her best friend, Beth, who journeyed to the States after WWI. Through these letters she learns how the tortoise came to be in Kansas and more about Cathy and her family who tried to stick it out through the years of drought. It is through reading these letters that Adri understands that is it the connection between people that brings purpose and value to life.
I am so glad I read this book! The blurbs made it sound like generations of women were linked by a tortoise, as if by magic. Or maybe that was just what I read into it. But not at all. We learn about and care about women across the generations and how their lives mattered. How all lives matter. It is a character study and a book about life and love. Brilliantly written. A quick, yet memorable read. Highly recommend.
eGalley review Publication date 6.13.17
Caroline has been raised by her father, a wherryman, and has lived her life on the river transporting goods from port to port on board their beloved wherry. Until pirates destroy many wherry boats searching for a special crate. Caro’s father refuses officials when they demand he transport the crate, while being pursued by pirates, so they throw him in jail. Caro strikes a deal that she will transport the crate, earning the release of her father upon successful delivery.
It doesn’t take long for Caro to defy instructions and open the crate, awakening the contents, the heir to a neighboring kingdom. Markos’s family has been murdered and the court magician enchanted crates to whisk away Markos by enchanting him into a deep sleep. Now that he is awake, he and Core struggle to escape pirates and rescue his sister who was also sent away in a crate. And then, what to do about his kingdom and the overthrow attempt?
Core is a headstrong heroine, full of spunk and boldness. She can certainly take care of herself and doesn’t think much of the pampered noble that she is stuck with. Markos is the stereotypical noble snob turned genuine person. He is brave and loyal and of course, falls for Core. Plenty of swash-buckling action, near deaths, and nasty pirates make this derring-do story a fun read.
eGalley review Publication date 6.6.17
During the wee hours of the morning, May 13, 1862, the 147-foot sidewheel steamer Planter made its way out of the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. The Confederate fortifications assumed the ship to be on its usual errands. It never occurred to them that an illiterate, enslaved man could pilot a steamer and escape with a ship full of slaves, and to cap it off, deliver the Planter to the Union forces. But Robert Smalls took the Confederates by surprise, did just that, and won freedom for himself, his crew, his wife and his children.
This little-known story is amazing. Told with great detail, it follows Smalls from his childhood through his rise to become one of the most famous African American men in America, honored and admired in the North, hated in the South. He met with Abraham Lincoln, lectured in Northern cities, learned to read and write, became a man of means and served as a U.S. Congressman. He even bought and lived in the home of his former master. His story deserves to be remembered, not only for his brave escape but for the accomplishments he made throughout his life. The book is highly recommended reading for everyone.
eGalley review Publication date 6.20.17
In a world where music enchants everyday objects with the Song, Chester is a gifted musician but not licensed to connect to the Song. Only licensed Songshapers trained at the elite Conservatorium can legally connect to the Song. Chester’s father vanished and Chester goes town to town making inquiries and playing at taverns to earn his way. When his music illegally connects to the Song, he finds himself arrested with his head on the chopping block. Saved by the Nightfall Gang, he is recruited for a special job. The Nightfall Gang can go into and out of The Hush, sort of an alternate reality, hidden in the folds of the world they know. Filled with all sorts of creepy beings that can kill with a touch, the Hush is a dangerous place to enter. The odds are stacked against their ultimate heist because they intend to break into the Conservatorium and Chester is key to their success.
Originally published in Australia, the book is finally coming to the States! The author succeeds in world building and creating rich and complex characters, each with their own backstory. Full of adventure, death-defying escapes, and a small gang intent to help those in need from a corrupt society. The Hush is fabulous! Highly recommend.
eGalley review Publication date 6.6.17
The Unquiet Grave – Sharyn McCrumb
You have to admit that Zona and Trout made a beautiful couple. She with her hazel eyes and strawberry blond hair, him with his crinkly black hair and sculptured face. But their hasty marriage was doomed from the start. Zona didn’t care a whit about cooking or house cleaning, and Trout loved to eat, and expected a neat and tidy place to live in. Sounds like not much that couldn’t be fixed, but in Greenbrier County, West Virginia in 1897, those were major problems. You wouldn’t think they’d be so major as to provoke him to kill her. But that’s just what happened. He’d of gotten away with it, too, if Zona’s ghost hadn’t interfered.
Sharyn McCrumb has once again written a compelling story, mixing historical events with fiction. This time she uses extensive genealogical research to retell the folk story of the Greenbrier Ghost, a well known mountain folk tale. I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this book. It would be fine for older teens and I highly recommend it.
eGalley review Publication date 6.20.17
“Nine on an island, orphans all, Any more, the sky might fall.”
An idyllic island is home to nine orphans, each one year apart in age. Every year, a boat delivers a small child who is about 5 years old. Then the oldest on the island is expected to hop in the boat to leave the island. This ensures there will always be nine on the island. The new oldest is the Elder and takes charge of the new arrival. Jinny’s close friend, Deen, is the recent Elder who leaves the island despite her pleas for him to stay. Jenny is now the Elder and takes small Ess under her wing to teach her the ways of the island. She has a year with her Charge to teach her how to read, swim, hunt, prepare food, and all the tasks required to survive on the peaceful island.
The children all get along quite nicely and they thrive. They don’t question why they are there or ponder life beyond the island. However, during Jinny’s Elder year, she does begin to question the meaning of it all. As her time draws close to leave the island, the boat arrives with a screaming young boy, Loo. But Jinny refuses to get in the boat and decides to stay and continue her reign as Elder depriving Ben, next in line, of the role.
A lyrical book for the thoughtful reader, Orphan Island describes an island that would be a lovely place to visit. The island cares and provides for the children – as long as all is in balance. When Jinny decides to stay, she makes the self-absorbed and head strong decision that affects all of them. We see her change and question her actions and by doing so, grow as a person. An excellent read for the gentle reader. Highly recommend.
eGalley review Publication date 5.30.17
Following the death of Sage’s peasant father, a fowler who taught Sage all he knew, Sage is taken in by her noble uncle. She is a natural teacher and tutors his children until she reaches the age for marriage. Arranged marriages are the norm for the noble class. Sage tried to play the role of the obedient, helpless, young lady. Alas, it was clear she did not meet the qualifications to be matched. Sage is too independent, too outdoorsy, too inquisitive to be matched. Instead, she apprentices with the aging matchmaker. The matchmaker for the kingdom strives to make matches that best suit the temperament of the available noble men and women while also making the political matches that best suit their families. Sage is to observe the girls the matchmaker has chosen as they all caravan across the kingdom to the big marriage ceremony.
Captain Quinn is a career military officer. His father is the General. Even his little brother is in the army. Quinn is also protective of his cousin, the Crown Prince who is in his unit. Quinn’s unit is assigned to escort the matchmaker’s brides to the ceremony, stopping along the way at the fortress of a noble suspected of rebellious activity. Quinn suspects a plot to create an alliance with a neighboring kingdom and to kidnap the Crown Prince. Quinn uses Sage as a spy when things get tricky. Plots and scheming abound as Quinn and Sage work to thwart a violent rebellion.
The author shows the differences of the social classes and how noble families use women as pawns to gain political strength. Sage is a strong protagonist: smart, inquisitive, adaptable, instigator. She is instantly likeable as is Captain Quinn. Quinn is the duty-bound career soldier, loyal to his kingdom and his family. The story moves at a brisk pace and never bogs down. Just enough character introspection to flesh out the characters and draw the reader in. A bit of romance dots the action sequences and the character plot twists are excellent. The political strategizing is well conceived and executed. For the reader who enjoys the political maneuvering in a kingdom, this is a very good read. It had my attention the entire length of the novel. The first in a planned trilogy, I hope to read more about all the characters. Even the secondary characters are interesting. Well done!
eGalley review Publication date 5.9.17