Lifting Other Authors Friday 3: Rae Carson

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Okay, I've been a fan of Rae Carson for a LONG time. (see all her books here) I absolutely loved the Fire and Thorns series, and gobbled them right up as soon as they came out.

In spite of that, I put off reading WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER, just because I'm not usually a huge fan of Westerns in any form (growing up in California and then living in Montana will do that to you sometimes...they're so often glorifying parts of the West that don't ring true to me). When I read it last year, I realized how dumb that had been. It was wonderful. Mostly a story of the pioneer trail west, but with wonderful characters and twists, and a lovely magical element that lay just under the surface (like gold!) but spoke to me.

And then I got busy with *waves hand* everything last year, and didn't follow up with the sequels. Last week I picked up LIKE A RIVER GLORIOUS.

Man, oh man, does this woman know how to tell a story. I always feel, when I'm reading one of her books, like I'm in excellent hands--like she knows just what she's doing, and won't mess it up. And she fulfills that! This book was so exciting for me because it's mostly set in Gold Country in California, which is precisely where I grew up. I recognized this! I knew the history (some), I'd seen the hills and creeks that were picked over in the gold rush, and I went into Sacramento all the time as a kid. More, my family was there--I'm a fourth-generation Californian, and much of the fun stuff was in the gold rush and after. It was RIGHT! It felt spot on! 

AND the story and characters and suspense pulled me right along.

Well done, Rae, again. You can bet I won't take as long to read the third one.

Lifting Other Authors Friday 2: THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE

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Welcome to LOAF, installment 2! It's been a bit of a rough week here--I came down with a mystery illness that gave me a high fever for two days, and now I'm just in weak-kitten recovery mode. Good news: it gave me several days to read! 

Today I'm celebrating my fellow Montana writer Janet Fox, and her latest middle-grade adventure THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE. First, let me stop a moment and talk about Janet. She's not only a good writer, but a great friend and mentor. She is one of the leaders of our Montana SCBWI chapter, and she really does her best to lift other writers. I was so happy to finally get a chance to dive into her latest.

This book is a mix of a classic middle-grade mystery, with magic, Scottish traditions, and a little touch of Narnia (it's set in the 1940s, with the children sent to the country to be out of London during the Blitz). I loved the setting, and the castle was wonderfully creepy. Kat was a well-rounded, curious girl who I could relate to as the main character, though I also enjoyed the varied cast of other children and adults in the castle. Best of all was the mystery of the chatelaine, and what lurked behind it.

Recommended if you like middle-grade mysteries in the classic vein, with a dose of magic!