I have a problem.
For this entire past weekend, the only books that were able to keep my interest with any consistency were adult romance novels. Specifically historical romance, and specifically Sarah MacLean’s historical romance. I’ve blown through four and a half of them in two days—starting with the first book in her upcoming series, The Rogue Not Taken, which made me laugh and get weepy and which I loved wholeheartedly even though I had a minor quibble with one of the plotlines—and I just realized that I’m about to run out entirely. So recommendations would be greatly appreciated, as I’m pretty new to the genre: I like historicals, I like strong character development, I like my heroines to have a backbone, I like my heroes to have an appreciation for my heroines’ backbones.
But that’s not actually my problem. My problem is that I’m supposed to be reading for the Cybils, but these darn romance novels keep calling my name: “Leilaaaaaa…just one more chapter. Leilaaaaa…Leilaaaa…just one more book.”
As of yet, the only book that has been able to pull me away is Delia Ray’s Finding Fortune. Which, as a middle-grade contemporary treasure hunt story, isn’t in my usual wheelhouse—or part of my Cybils reading—either. Maybe I’m just in need of some serious palate cleansing?
Finding Fortune is about Renata Jane Winningham, who just graduated from elementary school, who is waiting for her father to come home from Afghanistan, and who is worried that her mother has been spending too much time—too much giggly time—with their new neighbor, Rick. It’s about the town of Fortune—population 12—and the woman who has not only turned Fortune’s old school into a boardinghouse, but who is also trying to turn it into a museum…and find her father’s lost treasure. It’s about family and friendship; trust and community; taking chances, making choices, and chasing dreams. It’s got buckets of heart. BUCKETS.
It’s also about a lesser-known nugget of American history: that in the early 1900’s, the “Pearl Button Capital of the World”—pearl buttons made from the shells of freshwater clams—was, in all places, IOWA. Until I read her Author’s Note, I had no idea how much of Finding Fortune was based on reality—Ray works the information in so seamlessly that it never distracts from the story or the characters, never feels unnecessary or didactic.
Books I thought of while I was reading it:
Greenglass House, by Kate Milford: Because of the searching-for-treasure element, and also because of the large cast of entirely three-dimensional characters.
Penny Dreadful, by Laurel Snyder: Another large cast of quirky characters, and another unusual boardinghouse setting.
The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, by Uma Krishnaswami: Large, well-drawn cast, new friendships, a heroine who wants to help an adult solve a mystery, another story about creating community.
Three Times Lucky, by Sheila Turnage: This one is a bit darker, but has a similarly strong voice, large cast, and themes of family, friendship, and community-building.
Now that I think about it, I’m looking for THREE things. I want romance recommendations. I want more books along the lines of Finding Fortune. And I want some advice: when you’re having a hard time actually reading the stuff that you’re SUPPOSED to be reading, what do you do? Do you take a break? Do you do something entirely different? Do you just act like an adult and, like, DO YOUR WORK? (Please tell me it’s not that last one. Because if so, I think I’m in big trouble.)
In addition to running a library in rural Maine, Leila Roy blogs at Bookshelves of Doom, is a contributor at Book Riot, hangs out on Twitter a lot—possibly too much—and watches a shocking amount of television. Her cat is a murderer.