This is a fantastic new Young Adult novel by the wonderful Emily Mah Tippetts!
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Madison Lukas knows her place in the world. She’s not pretty, not interesting, and therefore easy to forget.
John Britton is serving his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and has been praying for fifteen years to find the sister he lost in his parents’ divorce. She is beautiful, talented, and makes kindness a fine art.
When John and Madison cross paths, he recognizes her at once, but Madison is certain that he’s got it all wrong. Even if she is his long-lost sister, she can’t possibly be the exceptional, amazing girl he thinks she is, can she?
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free from the author on a read-to-review basis. Thanks so much to the lovely Emily Mah Tippetts!)
16-year-old Madison lives with her mom in a small town called Pelican Bluffs. Everybody knows everybody in Pelican Bluffs – it’s that kind of place, so you can guess how shocked Madison is when a Mormon man called John turns up at her door claiming to be her brother. What’s worse is that she knows it’s true just by looking at him; he even looks like her mother.
Amazingly enough there are other more pressing matters going on in Madison’s life though. Her best friend seems to suddenly have it in for her, and three different boys all seem to want something from her.
I absolutely loved this book. I nearly died when the bulb in my bedside lamp went out and I couldn’t carry on reading!
Madison is an average 16-year-old, and she’d never claim otherwise, it’s her friend Kailie who’s the pretty one. The appearance of a brother that she never knew about takes a lot of time to get used to, and Madison does take her time coming to terms with this, and doesn’t commit herself to feelings that she doesn’t have.
Madison’s main concerns surround her best friend and the people she goes to school with. So many times people ask her why she is friends with Kailie, as Kailie seems to be purposely trying to hurt Madison. Kailie’s actions lead to Madison getting physically attacked, but Madison knows Kailie well enough to know that Kailie does these things because she is having a meltdown, and not because she really wants to hurt Madison. Regardless of her reasons though, Madison proves time and time again that she is an amazing friend to Kailie, a better friend than she really deserves.
Madison has problems at home too though. Her Mom barely speaks to her, and the arrival of her brother John just causes more tension at home. Madison’s Mom spends all of her time making pottery so Madison doesn’t see a lot of her, but now instead of being cold when Madison sees her she is angry, but again Madison has the maturity to realise that her mother isn’t just mad at her; she’s hurting inside too.
As if Madison hasn’t got enough going on, all of a sudden boys are interested in her. First there’s Jean Pierre, Chess wiz and super popular, who wants to sleep with her, but isn’t interested in having a girlfriend, or even acknowledging that she exists in public. Then there’s Carson, a Mormon boy that her mother really doesn’t approve of. He’s good looking and a really nice guy, but there’s just no spark, no matter how much Madison wants her to be. The third boy is Alex. He’s been voluntarily mute for years, and spends most of his time flicking his lighter on and off and looking threatening. Everyone refers to him as a ‘psycho’, and Madison walks the other way when she sees him at night. But there’s more to Alex than people realise, and for some reason Madison feels the need to help him with his problems.
I love how normal Madison is, and at the same time how mature she is to see through peoples facades and get to the real issues. I loved the storyline in this book and how well it flowed, and whilst putting it down was difficult, getting back into it was a joy. There were several events that I didn’t see coming, and I loved the story of how things worked out for Madison and her friends and family in the end.
Overall; I loved this book and will definitely be reading the author’s other works! If you like young adult fiction, and like a bit of light romance, you’ll love this book.
9 out of 10.
Author Interview with Emily Mah Tippetts
When did you start writing?
As soon as I could hold a pencil. I'm one of those people who's wanted to be a writer ever since I learned where books came from. There's no other job I've ever wanted, really.
What was your inspiration for Castles in the sand?
The main plot was inspired by the death of a guy I grew up with. Jared Lyman, who the book is dedicated to, is someone I'd known since I was a toddler, and he was a great person. While my main characters are nearly always women, I wanted to focus the story on a man who makes a difference, hence this novel is about a brother who comes to the rescue of his sister, not by fighting her battles for her, but by getting her to believe she can do it herself.
What three words would you use to best describe Castles in the sand?
Good men matter.
What are your favourite things about Madison?
Her kindness and generosity. It made her a VERY difficult character to use as a protagonist, because the ideal protagonist makes things happen. That's why a lot of main characters of books are very willful or have superpowers of some kind, life deals them a situation and they set out to change it. Madison is very accepting and takes a passive role in her life, so I used every trick in my writer's toolbox to keep the story moving until she starts to act for herself!
How do you think you would react if you found out you had a long lost brother?
Like Madison, I wouldn't just be curious about the brother, but the whole story behind his existence. It'd definitely change my perception of my parents. I'd also think it was cool, though, as I grew up with a sister and no brothers.
Can you tell us about what you’re working on now or anything you have planned?
My last novel, Someone Else's Fairytale, has been so well received by readers that I would like to give them a sequel, so that's what I'll write next.
Other than your own, what are your favourite books?
I actually wouldn't put my own in that category. I write them as well as I can, but I can't help but see all their many flaws. It's always hard to list favorite books. When I was a child, it was King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry. Then it was Songmaster by Orson Scott Card. Now I just can't say! I read everything from Alexander McCall Smith to Veronica Roth and Robin Hobb. Thanks to Goodreads, I rarely pick up a book I don't love.
Random Questions –
What’s your favourite treat?
Chocolate, though it isn't a treat. It's a necessity.
What’s your Favourite place to read/write?
To read - on my Kindle. I love being able to finish one book and have the next one right there, ready to go. To write - on my laptop. For years I bought cheap netbooks and ran them into the ground, but thanks to my wonderful, amazing fans, I was able to afford a real laptop again. It's nice to have an actual computer, capable of editing everything from documents to digital scrapbook pages and book covers, that is portable.
If you won the lottery what would you most look forward to spending money on?
I'm the kind of person who'd likely turn it all over to charity. I may feel differently once my boys are old enough to start looking at universities.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
With my family. While I'm from New Mexico and love it there, right now I wouldn't want to be anywhere other than London, because that's where they are.
Thanks so much to Emily for stopping by the blog! I totally agree that chocolate is a necessity!
On to the giveaway!
Emily is very kindly offering up the winners choice of either a PAPERBACK or EBOOK copy of her new book 'Castles in the Sand'!! (International for either paperback or ebook!)
So good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favour!
UPDATE: Emily has kindly offered your choice of her books as a prize if you win this giveaway and have already purchased 'Castles in the Sand'!! So don't worry, get your copy now! Thanks so much to Emily for this fantastic offer!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Castles in the sand will be released in both paperback and ebook formats on August 20th 2012.