Review: The Gracekeeper by Kirsty Logan

The Gracekeeper by Kristy Logan

The Gracekeeper by Kristy Logan

As a promiscuous reader, I declare my love for a book every new moon. But every now and again, I become so smitten with a novel that I can think of nothing else. That’s how I’ve been with The Gracekeepers  by Kirsty Logan ever since I finished it. Really though, I knew I would fall hard for the book as soon as the folks at Crown Publishing told me about it. The novel has everything I wanted in a book: beautiful writing; an original dystopian world; rich, fully developed female characters; and a bit of magic.

If you’re not into dystopian fiction, don’t let the D-word turn you off.

Set a world where most of the planet is covered in water and land is at a premium, its people are divided between the landlockers and the damplings.  The landlockers are grounded in permanence on their small islands, which makes them feel superior to the folks that float from island to island to find works. The novel alternates between the a dampling North and Callanish, who has her feet in both worlds.

Callanish lives in between the world of damp and dry in her self-imposed role as a gracekeeper, a person who administers shoreside burials. On her lonely island of purgatory, she ushers the dead into the resting place deep into the ocean, where her only companions are the birds representing the dead she buries.  Part of a traveling circus, North has grown up on the sea. Her parents, who died when she was young, were also circus performers. The sea is in her blood, but the Ring Master has chosen her to become his daughter-in-law and purchase his family’s return to landlocker status.

A big storm is brewing, both meteorologically and socially, that will change these women’s lonely lives forever. Can they wade through their sadness to open their souls to the possibilities of a better future where the world isn’t divided into wet and dry?

The Gracekeepers feels like a fairy tale, which is not surprising as Logan was inspired by Scottish myths and fairy tales. Its characters’ desolation seeps through, but Callanish and North carry on because they know hope is on the horizon. There’s no knight in shining armor coming to rescue them. They must find solace in their own way.

Logan builds a watery world that hints at a deep history and tradition. I can easily imagine Callanish’ remote island and North’s floating home. Not many authors can create a well-developed fictional world in just one book, but Logan nailed it.

Make sure you pick up Kirsty Logan’s debut novel The Gracekeepers I think it’ll stick with you for a long time, just like it will with me.

Book Club Discussion: The Mapmaker’s Children

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Mapmaker's Children FL2W Book Club Banner

Book club discussion days are my favorite days on this site. Today is even better because we’re discussing Sarah McCoy’s The Mapmaker’s ChildrenThis novel tells the alternating stories of two women–an abolitionist and one from present day- and how one doll brings past and present together.

Based on the chatter in our private forum, From Left to Write members couldn’t get enough of McCoy’s characters. Our book club members were truly inspired by The Mapmaker’s Children. Don’t believe me? Check out their personal stories inspired by the novel.

Intrigued? Grab a copy of The Mapmaker’s Children and see what the fuss is all about.

Don’t forget check out Sarah McCoy’s website or follow her on Twitter. She loves chatting with her readers and is super nice. Tell her From Left to Write sent you!

Giveaway: Deborah Harkness’ Book of Life Bundle!

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

Deborah Harkness Book of Life Giveaway at From Left to Write

Let’s kick off Monday with a BANG! We’ve got an awesome giveaway for all you Deborah Harkness fans.

To celebrate the paperback release of The Book of Lifethe final book in the All Souls trilogy–Penguin is offering one lucky reader the ultimate The Book of Life Bundle! But first, more about the book.

The All Souls Trilogy Box Set

If you’re new to Harkness’ books (like me), you’ll want to clear your schedule for the trilogy (that’s what my friends told me). The best part about being a late adopter is that don’t have to wait for the next installment to be released. In fact, you can just pick up the All Souls Box Set and dive right in. Here’s some general info about the series:

The All Souls Trilogy follows the story of Diana Bishop, a historian and reluctant witch, as she solves the mystery of Ashmole 782, falls in love with a mysterious vampire named Matthew Clairmont, and learns how powerful it can be to accept who you are.

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

Of course the conclusion of the series is The Book of Life:

Diana and Matthew time-travel back from Elizabethan London to make a dramatic return to the present—facing new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home, Sept-Tours, they reunite with the beloved cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency.

I don’t have any plans this weekend, so guess what I’ll be reading? I can even listen to Deb’s The Book of Life Spotify playlist of the music that inspired her as she was writing it.

If you’d rather read via audiobooks, you can sample the trilogy as read by Jennifer Ikeda (listen to Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night, and Book of Life).

Make sure you follow Deborah Harkness via her website, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Book of Life Bundle Giveaway

Ready for the giveaway? One lucky winner will receive The Book of Life Bundle, which includes the following:

  • a copy of The Book of Life
  • a signed copy of Diana’s commonplace book
  • a  Book of Life mirror with ouroboros design
  • 6 All Souls alchemical buttons

What a fantastic bundle for a Harkness fan! Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. (If you’re reading this via email, click through to the post.) For U.S. addresses only–sorry to our Canuck neighbors. Don’t take it personally; it’s a shipping thing.

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Book Club Feature: The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy

The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy

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I am so thrilled to feature another novel by Sarah McCoy as our second May book club feature! Our book club loved her The Baker’s Daughter and we’re excited about her new book!

The Mapmaker’s Children tells the story of two women–an abolitionist and one from present day.  Here’s more about the book:

When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril.
Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance.
Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way.

Grab your copy of The Mapmaker’s Children and join us on May 19th when we discuss Sarah’s novel.

The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy

Don’t forget check out Sarah McCoy’s website or follow her on Twitter. She loves chatting with her readers and is super nice. Tell her we sent you!

Have you read any of Sarah McCoy’s books?

Book Club Discussion: Spinster by Kate Bolick

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Spinster FL2W Book Club Banner

Spinster is a loaded word and Kate Bolick dives right in with her book  Spinster: Making a Life of One’s OwnBolick’s research about being single and her quest to dive into the lives of famous spinsters provide plenty for our book club to discuss and debate.

Head over to From Left to Write members’ blogs and read their personal stories inspired by Spinster:

Grab your copy of  Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick and let us know what you think. Crown Publishing also put together an AWESOME Spinster book club kitthat includes paper dolls of the women Bolick researched and of course, plenty of cocktail recipes. Of course there’s the reading group guide and suggested reading in the kit.

Learn more about Kate Bolick on her website or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Review: Where Women Are Kings by Christie Watson

Where Women Were Kings by Christie Watson

Where Women Were Kings by Christie Watson

One of the most memorable novels I’ve read with my fellow book club members is Christie Watson’s Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away Now Watson has returned with yet another powerful and gut wrenching novel, Where Women Are Kings (Other Press).

Nikki and Obi have waited so long to fill the child-sized whole in their hearts when seven-year-old Elijah joins their family. He was taken away from his birth mother, a Nigerian immigrant in England. His body and mind are covered with scars, and he has a history of disruptive and violent behavior. While her neighbors are shocked that Nikki, who is white, adopted Elijah, she has no doubt in her ability to raise a black son.

Elijah hesitantly settles into his new family, but believes that he is possessed by a demon. He’s finally found a small spot of happiness but fears that this demon will ruin his chance at happiness. Nikki and Obi love Elijah deeply, but what they learn about his past threatens to tear the delicate balance they’ve created.

While I loved this novel, this book was an emotional read for me. As a mother, it’s hard for me to read about children with painful, abusive pasts. Christie Watson approaches the sensitive topic with dexterity and without forcing judgement on the religious and cultural beliefs of Elijah’s birth mother.

It’s easy to categorize Elijah’s story as black versus white, but I see the novel more of a discussion of white western culture versus what we consider third-world countries.  Does being the dominant culture make ours better? How do we find a balance between the two, as Obi and his Nigerian father have found?

Where Women Are Kings by Christie Watson releases tomorrow. I highly recommend it because her words will touch you forever.