I read books of all sorts, but mostly kids' lit and young adult literature and speculative fiction for all ages—usually from a feminist perspective.
I've adopted a personalized version of the CHOICE reviews approach to recommendations/star ratings:
***** = Essential, a.k.a. truly love, absolute must-read, buy it now
**** = Highly Recommended, a.k.a. this is a really good book; I would buy it as a gift
*** = Recommended, a.k.a. pretty good; worth reading
** = Optional, a.k.a. meh
* = Not Recommended; a.k.a. this is not a good book
Wanted: Pirate Crew
Established, respected freelance pirate seeking experienced crew members for upcoming voyage. Must be able to swashbuckle, swab decks, swill grog, fire cannons, and climb to the crow's nest. Successful applicants will sign contract for one round-trip voyage, with opportunity for further collaboration if merited. Voyage details to be divulged upon acceptance. Applicants trained in treasure location are of particular interest. Please apply in person to 25 Little Herring Grove, Wimbly-on-the-Marsh, at ten o'clock on Saturday morning.
Eye patches and hooks OK.
Overall Recommendation: Maybe I am overexcited about this book, but upon first reading I think it’s pretty much a perfect middle-grade novel. I blazed through it, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
What made me pick it up?
I actually was hooked immediately when HarperCollins tweeted Caroline Carlson’s post about the cover reveal months ago and I read that our heroine was a young lady desperate to become a pirate rather than attend Miss Pimm’s Finishing School for Delicate Ladies. I was completely delighted, then, upon attending the Middle Grade Editors’ Buzz panel at BookExpo America, to discover that this was one of the selected books and that I could get an advance reader’s copy. The HarperCollins editor spoke so well of what made this book stand out that my excitement only grew, and I was not one little bit surprised to find that the book was as funny and adventurous as it promised to be.
What is there to like?
The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom—similar tone of silliness and adventure and overturning conventions
Treasure Island—often alluded to in the book, and which I can now endorse heartily as a not-to-be-missed adventure story
The Felicity books—for a younger audience than this book, but Felicity is great about being more adventurous and brave than prim and corseted
The Leviathan trilogy—featuring a girl who wants to be a naval officer in a fantastic setting, defying her exclusion from the boys’ club, and lots of action. YA.