SC Poe's Indie EBook Sampler, # 11
Call Me Kate: Meeting the Molly Maguires
By Molly Roe
Tribute Books, 2009
Poe thinks this is MG historical
First sentence: "S'ter, s'ter, I need to see Katie right away!"
1860 is a crisis year for the nation as well as Kate's family. A great Civil War is inevitable, and Father is horribly injured on the job. Kate is beset with troubles that may sound familiar to young readers—coal mine safety and the struggles of immigrants (the Irish, in this instance) to make a new life among resentful natives.
Roe's first-person narration speaks with just a light tang of the Irish and the era, sprinkling in words like bewildered, beckon, feckless, betokened. The steeply-hilled Pennsylvania mining town feels real. The flavor of Kate's Roman Catholic traditions thread naturally through the story; we don't get sermons or dogma, but the rituals, vestments, snips of Latin, and of course the Sisters are always around, as they would have been. The author falls prey to occasional telling-not-showing, especially when a historical point must be made, but this doesn't happen enough to spoil the momentum. The book has received recommendations from several eastern PA historical societies and museums.
Best of all, the sample leaves us hanging on the finest cliff-edge Poe has ever encountered in an ebook. (And—glory be!—for once, the book blurb doesn't spoil the surprise!) Poe must read on.
Rated S for Snapped Up.
The Eyes of Pharaoh: A Mystery in Ancient Egypt
By Chris Eboch
Poe thinks this is MG historical mystery
First sentences: Seshta ran. Her feet pounded the hard-packed dirt street. She lengthened her stride and lifted her face to Ra, the Sun God.
Seshta's a 13-year-old Temple dance student who wants to be a star. She still pals around with brother-like Horus (a toy-maker's apprentice), but she's old enough to be developing a crush on another old friend, Reya. Reya's in the army now, and frustrates Seshta by treating her like a kid sister. He's also the source of hints that foreign troublemakers are hatching a plot in the city.
Like Call Me Kate, this story shows how today's kinds of conflicts play out in another time and place. Seshta must compete with sly fellow students who seem fresh out of Dance Moms; Horus's brilliant toy designs are claimed by his boss; every foreign face looks dangerous.
Eboch eschews the stilted language that often puts readers off historicals. The feel of time and place are expertly integrated, never telly. Eboch previously published another Egyptian historical, The Well of Sacrifice, with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and the Haunted series with Aladdin.
Rated S for Snapped Up.
Follow the Dream
By Heidi M. Thomas
Treble Heart Books, 2009
Poe thinks these are YA historical biography
First sentence: The rangy reddish-brown steer stared into Nettie Brady's eyes for just a second.
Book One's opening could use some spit and polish. The rodeo men feel like types, not individuals. But the steer? Utterly real. Suddenly we're in a rare place for a female MC—in the rodeo ring.
The very short sample doesn't reveal the era, but the blurb sets the story in the 1920's, and tells us that the series recounts the true adventures of the author's grandmother, who defied the town gossips by pursuing rodeo fame.
Book Two opens thus:
Mrs. Jake Moser. Nettie drew a heart around "Jake" and doodled flowers in the margin of the first entry in her new journal. I'm married to my cowboy and we're going to rodeo together.
Rated If you love horse books, true life stories, or historicals with unique settings, then take a look at this series.