Monday, May 3, 2010

Spread the Awesome! (And a book to boot.)

Thanks for all the kind wishes I received during my blog hiatus. It was wonderful to focus on my family for awhile, though admittedly hard to stay away from blogging. I missed some dang good posts and updates about my friends!
And I’m happy to say that the surgery went well for my son and the surprise birthday party was a hit for my oldest daughter.

But that’s not why I’m posting. I’m posting because today, it’s Spread the Awesome Day! Brain Child of Elana Johnson, around 60 bloggers are linked up to broadcast their mad-passion for some amazing books and authors.

My chosen topic?
Elizabeth Bunce!

Her first (and oh so lovely) book, A Curse Dark As Gold, came out in 2008 and was/is brilliant! (It even won the William C. Morris Debut Award.)

I like what the School Library Journal had to say about it: “Too stubborn to let go of the troubled mill that has supported her community for generations, Charlotte Miller takes over after her father's death, fighting impending disaster with bargains with a mysterious Jack Spinner that eventually threaten her infant son. Set in a rural valley in the late 1700s, this reworking of the "Rumplestiltskin" story includes ghosts, witchcraft, elements of Georgian society, and much earlier folk magic in the guise of a novel of manners. The leisurely paced narrative gathers steam as it becomes clear that the family and the mill have not simply had a long run of bad luck, but are seriously cursed. Readers need not be familiar with the folktale to see where Charlotte's efforts to save her mill are headed. Though their roles in the narrative are clear, secondary characters are distinctive: foppish Uncle Wheeler is more than a stereotyped villain, and Charlotte's eventual husband is an admirable romantic lead with unsuspected talents. A rich opening to Jane Austen's world for teens.”

My own two cents: The book is lush with history and deep characterization. While it’s not a nail-biting thriller, the pace picks up when it develops a ghostly exchange between the main character and her tormentor. What I like most about this book? It’s ambitious! Bunce takes on a fairy tale that is not only weird, but hard to follow. (A short impish guy wanting babies? Come on—I can’t even get my husband to smile at any baby that’s not his own. Then again, he’s not a short, impish guy….) She takes the story, adds a highly developed setting to it, and makes it believable and meaty. She makes it her own. 

And what’s better than this well-thought out book? Another one on the way! Ms. Bunce has her second Young Adult (YA) Novel, Starcrossed, coming out October 1st. Here’s the PD on it: “16-year-old Digger thrives as a spy & sneak-thief among the feuding religious factions of Gerse. But when a routine job goes horribly wrong and her partner & lover Tegen is killed, she disguises herself in a group of young nobles & sneaks out of the city. Accepted as a lady-in-waiting at the stronghold of the powerful Nemair, she finds new peace & friendship (*and* some new targets). But when an old client from the city comes to the castle, she realizes her hosts may be planning the ultimate uprising against the king and rather than true peace, she may be at the heart of the rebellion.”

Now to spread some fun on to you: Leave me a comment! If you need a topic, I would love a YA or MG book reccomendation (preferably a Historical Fiction but it doesn't have to be) and I’ll enter you in to win your own copy of A Curse Dark as Gold. If you already have this one, I’ll preorder Starcrossed for you. How’s that for neighborly, eh? I will draw a name on Monday, May 10th (8 pm PST) and as soon as I know the winner, you’ll know.

So bring on those book recommendations—my bursting-at-the-seams shelves need more company! And then after you’re done wowing me with your favorite books, go to my link-up buddy, Rebecca @ Sometimes Nonsense for more Spread the Awesome fun. You won’t regret it (and those of you obsessed with books will thank me)!


  1. I love Laurie Halse Anderson's Fever 1793! And from when I was a kid--The Witch of Blackberry Pond. But there are so many!

    I've been wanting to read A Curse as Dark as Gold! Thanks for the reminder and the chance to win it.

  2. I'm having a hard time thinking of a YA historical fiction. I guess it's been a while since I've read one.

    I loved The Witch of Blackbird Pond when I was a kid. Does that count? :)

  3. I'm intrigued! Now I'll have to add this book to my long list! =)

  4. I loved and still love The Witch of Blackbird Pond.

    My other historical favorite is, A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly. Delightful book.

  5. The Witch of Blackbird Pond and (cheating, I know), Three Rivers Rising.

    This sounds great!

  6. This book is Excellent! LOVED it. I add my recommendation to yours. And you have great taste. :)

  7. My Antonia by Willa Cather has always been one of my favorites. I really like Eva Ibottson's books (all of them) and enjoyed the Luxe series by Anna Godberson.

  8. I'm going to second Jennifer Donnelly's A Northern Light. The writing and the story are just beautiful.

    I already own Curse Dark as Gold but I certainly wouldn't mind winning Starcrossed! :-)

  9. I love fairy tale retellings. : )

    Ella Enchanted - I have to recommend this one. : )
    Candor by Pam Bachorz was also a great read if you like dystopia. Or, for non-dystopic lovers, how about Soulless by Gail Carriger? Wonderful book!

    Thanks for the giveaway.
    ambience.of.rain {at}

  10. Yay! You're back! We missed you!

    Glad everything went well. And happy to have you back!

  11. I've heard of this book but haven't read it...yet!
    I enjoyed Yellow Star.

  12. Hmmm... The Shakespeare Stealer!

    - Rebecca


  13. I don't think I've read any YA historicals, so I have no recommendations. Sorry. If you want sci-fi/fantasy recommendations, I'm your gal. So glad your son's surgery went well. I meant to tell you before, if you're patching, which you probably are, you should ask about bangerter foil. It worked wonders for my son. We stopped patching years ago!

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  15. Both books sound amazing! I love the title of your favorite one.

    I recently read Great and Terrible Beauty...does that count as historical? (The setting was, at least...)

  16. Ahhh sounds like a wonderful book! As for YA historicals....I'm not sure if it counts as YA, but I loved Michelle Moran's The Heretic Queen and Nefertiti - there is also one I read when I was much younger, that I can't for the life of me remember the name of now Arrghhh! It's about a young girl who moves to Puritan New England from Barbados and is thought to be a witch because she can swim (among other reasons). Nuts, I'll have to go look it up now LOL

    Oh! Natalie (the second commenter) mentioned it, I believe - The Witch of Blackbird Pond! :D

  17. I'm so glad to hear your family is doing well!

    This sound like gripping stories, my favorite. Thanks for the recommendations.

  18. I'm glad everything went so well!

    Does Leviathan count as YA? I think it's a crossover MG/YA but it's steampunk, which has definite historical fiction attributes. I think. :)

  19. Okay, so this is really historical fantasy, but I loved it just the same. Wait, it's also a series. I hope that counts too. Hallowmere by Tiffany Trent. Great read, and so freaky.

    Thanks for sharing. This book sounds just, well, awesome.


  20. I love historical fiction, but have a hard time thinking of a YA. Does the Diary of Anne Frank count?
    I'd love to read this one. Sounds great!

  21. I'm so glad your son is doing well!

    As for YA historical fiction rec, I just posted for this same event The Stolen One by Suzanne Crowley. I loved it.

    So please enter me because new takes on fairy tales fascinate me.

  22. I recently read Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith which was really good. I'm not sure if it's shelved with YA, but it should be because the MC is a teenager. It's about the first women to fly in the army as Women Airforce Service Pilots. Excellent book.

  23. My YA love it long...most recently, Bray's Going Bovine...loved it!

  24. My brain just froze when I had to come up with a YA historical novel I adored. The closest I could come up with is Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy (The Great and Terrible Thing, etc.) Does that count? :D

  25. First of all--new follower! *waves*

    Thanks for drawing my attention to such a great book. I've happily added it to my TBR list. I wish I could say I read more YA historical fiction--but my focus has been mostly on MG fantasy as of recently, since my current MS is in that realm, and it's hard to stay in that style if I'm not constantly reading it. The closest I can come is at least YA Fantasy--Eyes Like Stars. It's lush, filled with Shakespearian references, and hilarious.

  26. Definitely Babylonne by Catherine Jenkins. I'm not one for historical fiction, but this blew me away. It combines adventure, religion, family and a hint of romance into one 13th century novel.

  27. I'm new to reading YA, and no historical fiction is coming to mind. I will be jotting down everyone else's responses, though!


  28. I've never heard of these, Jackee - they sound great!! :-)

    I love THE UNDERNEATH by Kathi Appelt.

  29. Oh I have this book! I was working at a book fair at my daughter's school and fell in love with the cover! I haven't read it yet, but your review makes me excited to do so. The new one looks equally amazing.

    I don't think I've read much YA historical fiction, unless you sort of count To Kill a Mockingbird.

    Great reviews!

  30. I read this book, and since the author lives nearby, I've met her...twice. She even critiqued a couple pages of my manuscript. I have the booka ss well (signed). Can't wait to read her next one.

  31. Curse is an amazing book. I haven't read her new one tho--I would love to!

    It's funny to see so many comments about 'Witch of Blackbird Pond.' It was a favorite of mine as well, and one of the few novels I've hung onto over the years. It's on my bookshelf downstairs--I should really give it a reread!

  32. Oh, I've seen this book around! The cover is gorgeous.

    And historical fiction? Um... yeah, I'm not sure I can pull one out of my brain. But it's okay. I'll go buy this book!

  33. I really loved A Golden Web by Barbara Quick and if you haven't already, you should really read it.

    Thanks for the giveaway; I've really been wanting to read this book.


  34. How about The Book Thief? You've probably already read that one, but it is terrific.

    Thanks for the awesome review - I'm intrigued. I'm wondering how her child is endangered and if she ended the danger by somehow guessing his name. Definitely caught my interest!

    I posted a picture of my basket today. It's so lovely - I don't want to use anything, just look at it for a while! :)

  35. This is not historical, but it's YA: I really like Holes by Louis Sachar. Fun!

    Please enter me in this giveaway - Thanks!


  36. Okay, I don't have a YA historical that comes to mind. They're hard to come by, which is one the reasons I want to read CURSE AS DARK AS GOLD.

  37. I usually get all of my good book ideas from you...

    I just finished The Goose Girl and absolutely loved it! I was reading it to Sarah as a bedtime book and finished it last night with out her.

    YA historical fiction????

  38. Looks like a good book...I'll have to check it out one of these days :)

    As for a book recommendation, I usually go by whatever you or my sister are reading...or what I need to preview for me kiddies. However, I did just finish The Girl Who Could Fly. It was described as Little House on the Prairie meets X-men, so it probably doesn't fall into the historical fiction category, but it was an okay book. It took me a while to get into it, but I ended up enjoying it. :)

  39. I'd love to win this one! Thanks for the recommendation.

    As far as YA historicals go, I've heard good things about "A Long Way from Chicago" but haven't read it yet, so I'm not sure if that's a recommendation or not. :o) I also quite enjoyed "The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle."

  40. These sound really great, and I haven't read them. Yay!

    My favorite historical fiction is probably Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry.

  41. I haven't read much Historical Fiction, does Magic Under Glass count? Because that book rocked! (:

  42. Ha ha ha... all the YA fiction I have read, you have reccomended so.... But my favorite of all time is the Anne of Green Gables series (is that YA? - should be!) My favorite being Anne's house of dreams!
    This book looks grea though, I want to read it, for sure!
    Oh.... was this supposed to be historical - sorry Jackee, I am tired and should have read through more carefully! ;)

  43. I love fairytale stories! My favorite has to be The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale! Awesome :)
    sena.sagani [at]gmail[dot]com

  44. I loved Curse as Dark as Gold, too! It was one of the first retellings I've ever read, but it's definitely so much more than that. I can't wait to read the next book!

    If you like period pieces, another fav of mine is Sovay by Celia Rees, set during the French Reovlution.

  45. I'm a new follower. I'd love to read this book! Thanks!

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  46. I love reading Michelle Moran's Cleopatra's Daughter. It's awesome!

  47. I'd love to win A Curse as Dark as Gold.

    I recently read the Luxe, by Anna Godbersen, set in 1899. It was a bit of a soap opera, but the historical details were well done.

  48. Hi, Jackee!

    I signed up to be a "follower" of your blog and sure would appreciate a "follow-back" on my blog, "Cynde's Got The Write Stuff".

    Also, you like to make people dig, don't you! Well, I think I'll have to go with: "My Antonia!" by Willa Cather. She is one of my all-time favorite authors, hands down!

    Until next time,

    Cynde's Got The Write Stuff

  49. I see the author of Star Crossed on the blue boards all the time! I'd love to read her first book!

  50. Jackee, thanks so much for the mention!! What an honor. (I absolutely *love* that line from that SLJ review, and my husband and I will periodically stop and just say, "Seriously cursed" to each other!)

    This probably violates some ethical, No Cheating rule, but (cough, cough) I do have some recommended reads listed up at my website, in case people are coming up short on books to name in their comments.


  51. Melina Marchetta - Saving Francesca, is my current favourite YA. Not historical though, sorry!

    Laura Ann Dunks

  52. Yay for featuring STARCROSSSED. I critique with Elizabeth and got to see some of it in manuscript form and will read the rest in the arc, so don't enter me in the contest. I would, however, be remiss if I didn't help you with rec's for MG historical fiction. There's a brand new book out called ESCAPING THE TIGER that I happened to write. Our other crit partner has a YA historical fiction coming out in July, CROSSING THE TRACKS. Some other MG/YA HF debuting in 2010: SHOOTING KABUL, THE RED UMBRELLA, ack, my brain just died. Anyway, hi from a fellow Bunce fan!! And one of my faves is A SINGLE SHARD.

  53. How did I miss this post?! First, welcome back to the blog world! Second, this book sounds fantastic! Your review is great!

    Unfortunately, I'm more of a chick lit girl, so I don't have many historical fiction recommendations... but your review and all the great recommendations above have me itching to start reading hist. fiction now. Anyhow, I'll agree with another commenter and recommend Three Rivers Rising simply because the author (Jame Richards) is wonderful!

  54. I loved The Witch of Blackbird Pond when I was a kid. Does that count? :)
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