The Heart Goes Last, but Your Dignity Goes First

Imagine a world where the economy has gone to hell, your house has been foreclosed upon and you’re living in your car.  Given the state of the world economy lately, this scenario is, unfortunately, not difficult to imagine.  This is the world Charmaine and Stan are living in; huddled up in their car bracing for attack from criminals or any number of ill-meaning vagrants, when Charmaine sees an advertisement about Consilience, an experimental society where every member is given a stable job, a nice place to live, and most importantly, hope.  Hope for a better life, hope for a future, and hope for happiness.  If this all sounds too good to be true, it is. Continue reading

Baltimore Book Festival Recap

It was gray, gloomy, and threatening to rain all day. Parking was miserable (to say the least,) and let’s face it, the Baltimore Inner Harbor isn’t the most picturesque or cleanest thing to look at even on the nicest of days (as evidenced by the dead turtle that washed up and drew a lot of disgusted on-lookers).
Despite all the tick-marks against it, I had a fabulous time at the Baltimore Book Festival and it was well worth the headaches. I didn’t get to do nearly everything I wanted to do (the words with strangers board was looking pretty awesome!), but who really accomplishes their entire itinerary at these things? I did, however get to attend the two events that I absolutely HAD to go to and have been looking forward to since they were announced. The first being “Wes Moore, The Work: My Search for a Life That Matters” and the second being “Young Adult Fiction: Fantastic Tales for Teens (And Grown Ups, Too!)” Continue reading

Hemingway in Love: His Own Story

*I received this book as a digital ARC from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review*

In June, 1961, A.E. Hotchner visited Ernest Hemingway in a psychiatric ward at St. Mary’s Hospital.  A few weeks later, Hemingway would be released home and within a week of his release, would take his own life.  In this memoir, Hotchner reminisces about his 14 year friendship with Hemingway and the intimate details of his friend’s life that were entrusted to him in that time period.  Hemingway shared these details with Hotchner not in confidence, but in the hope that they would be shared with the world if he did not have the opportunity to do so himself. Continue reading

Getting Personal with The Book Of Secrets

Chloe is celebrating her 8th birthday, alone and forgotten, when she takes a bike ride and goes further than she’s ever gone before.  In the midst of basking in the glow of her freedom and almost forgetting her loneliness, she comes across her own personal fairy tale.  She finds three children, Nate, Cecelia, and Grace, playing in their yard, wearing beautiful clothes, and looking happier than she’s ever been. As they envelop her into their world, they gift her not only with a love of books that she will carry with her through the rest of her life, but with the knowledge that things are never as perfect as they seem. Continue reading

The Weight of Feathers: Water and Air, Oil and Water

5 Stars*I received this novel as a digital ARC from St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley*

The Palomas and the Corbeaus were once rival families of traveling performers until a tragedy claimed members of both families and turned them into bitter enemies, starting a war that erupted over the course of 20 years.  The Palomas with their escalas glide through the water like mermaids while the Corbeaus with their heads graced with feathers, who are traditionally tight-rope walkers, rule the sky with their death-defying act as they climb and dance through the trees.  Each family passes down legends and folk lore about the other, ensuring that they never mingle.  Every Paloma grows up knowing the poison and black magic of the Corbeaus’ feathers, and the certain death that will come with their touch.  Corbeaus are warned that any interaction with the mermaids will cause them to be excommunicated from the family.

When tragedy befalls the town where both families are performing, Cluck, a Corbeau boy, saves the life of Lace, a Paloma girl.  What results leads to an attraction that causes both of them to risk their lives, the respect of their families, and everything they’ve ever known.

giphyIf, like me, you were lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of this novel, please stop reading for a minute and commence your happy dance.  There were just so many things in this novel that I couldn’t get enough of.  The imagery, the
story, the language; it was all just absolutely breath-takingly beautiful.
One of the things that immediately attracted me to this novel was the language.  Not only was the prose lyrical and otherwise wonderful in every way, but the novel integrated a lot of French (for the Corbeaus) and Spanish (for the Palomas).  As somebody who understands a good bit of both, I enjoyed this completely on a personal level.  However, I also think it added a great authenticity to the story, even for somebody who doesn’t speak a lick of either.    The smattering of the two languages not only made for a believable story on the surface, but I found myself even reading the English dialogue among the characters in an accent matching the language of their family.  I don’t know if this happens to a lot of people, or if I’m just weird, but I really liked it.

The language and prose of this novel doesn’t mean a thing if it doesn’t have a good story to back it up.  This story, while touted as a modern adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, is really its own special brand of perfection.  I’ve read a lot of fantasy, HotSpot_Real_Life_Mermaids_001from Eragon, to Twilight (don’t judge me), to Harry Potter, but I’ve never read anything quite like this.  This novel was not
out-right fantasy like those I just mentioned, but it does have it’s own fantastical elements.  True, the Palomas aren’t
actually mermaids, nor are the Corbeaus actually human-crow hybrids, but as you read the novel, the little bits of true magic make you feel like the bigger pieces really could be true as well.

And, OHHH the characters.  I found myself falling into a bit of insta-love with both Lace and Cluck, both because of and in spite of their flaws.  As the novel progresses, the reader gets to know both families inside and out and grows to love and/or loathe the characters as though they are real people.  I felt intense anger, profound sadness, and an over-arching sense of hope as I rooted for Cluck and Lace to be together in spite of the feuding of their families and the traditions with which they had each been raised.

1168735-bigthumbnailThe Weight of Feathers is a magnificent debut novel for Anna-Marie McLemore.  I really believe it could be this generation’s West Side Story.  This will be one of those novels that I shout from the rooftops, tell everyone I know about, and one of the few I will likely reread 4543095 times.  Don’t let the “Young Adult” label throw you off.  It is worth the read…and a reread or ten.  I recommend it to absolutely anybody and everybody.  It’s got some grit for the guys, a love story for the gals, and family relationships that just about everyone can connect with in one way or another.

Seriously, this novel came out yesterday.  Fly, swim, or do whatever you have to do to get your hands on it.  You won’t regret it!