Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bookanista Review: Selling Hope, by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb

I have been so excited for this week's Bookanista review you guys. SO EXCITED! Because I get to introduce you to an absolutely amazing book that I bet a lot of you haven't heard of. SELLING HOPE, but Kristin O'Donnell Tubb.

Ooo...look at the gorgeous cover!

This book is awesome you guys. AWESOME! In that I-should-give-up-writing-because-I-will-never-be-that-good kind of way. I have total writing envy. And I wouldn't be at all surprised if this book rakes in a bunch of honors and awards. It deserves it.  

Here's the official blurb:

It’s May 1910, and Halley’s Comet is due to pass thru the Earth’s atmosphere. And thirteen-year-old Hope McDaniels and her father are due to pass through their hometown of Chicago with their ragtag vaudeville troupe. Hope wants out of vaudeville, and longs for a “normal” life—or as normal as life can be without her mother, who died five years before. Hope sees an opportunity: She invents “anti-comet” pills to sell to the working-class customers desperate for protection. Soon, she’s joined by a fellow troupe member, young Buster Keaton, and the two of them start to make good money. And just when Hope thinks she has all the answers, she has to decide: What is family? Where is home?

I'll admit, I actually hadn't heard of the book when the publicist emailed me offering the ARC. But when I read the blurb I thought uh--Middle Grade + Vaudeville + Buster Keaton = WIN. And I was right!

Oh, and yes. When I say Buster Keaton I mean THE Buster Keaton:

He's one of the stars I spent the most time studying back in film school because I am obsessed with old, silent movies, and his are some of the best. If you haven't seen Sherlock Jr.,  The General, or Steamboat Bill, Jr. get thee to Netflix and check them out!!!

But I digress. 

The events in the story are not biographical--but they are authentic (man I hope I'm using the right words). Buster Keaton did tour the Vaudeville circuit, and Halley's Comet did cause mass hysteria, so you can't help feeling like, "okay, so, this didn't necessarily happen--but it could have." And may I just say that the 15-year-old Buster in the book is totally swoon-worthy? I'm more than a little in love with him. 

And the writing. OMG the WRITING!

I loved every word. 

I loved the zinger jokes breaking up the text, like the whole book was a Vaudeville act. 

I loved the way she pulls you so deeply into the time that you feel like you're really in Chicago during the comet panic. You live the dirty alleys. The run-down boarding house. The crowded, stuffy theater. The itchy clothes. 

I loved the language. Movies called "Flickering Flicks" and customers called "Coins." And Huck! Where has that swear word been all my life????? I am determined to make "Huck" happen. (Insert Mean Girls quote here). But seriously, Huck! How fun is that?

So yeah, in case you can't tell--I LOVED this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone--no matter what age you are. Middle Grade is not just for kids--and this book especially. You will love it!

You can't buy a copy until November 9th, but you can read an excerpt on Kristin's website. Go there and prepare to be hooked! :)

For more fabulous reviews, check out what the rest of the Bookanistas are up to today:

Elana Johnson is spreading the word about XVI.

Lisa and Laura Roecker are head over heels for Half Upon a Time.

Christine Fonseca is celebrating Cinders.

Shelli Johannes-Wells and Myra McEntire can't get enough of The Near Witch cover
Megan Miranda is excited about Monsters of Men.

Carolina Valdez Miller highlights the hottest November releases 


  1. oh I want to read... I want to read!!!!

  2. Thanks for sharing. I hadn't heard of it either.

  3. I really NEED to read this one. Fabulous

  4. Wow. Okay, this doesn't sound like something I'd usually pick up, but after your review? I'll so be grabbing it when I see it!

  5. Buster Keaton?!? I NEED to read this!

  6. Sounds so original--it's been added to my TBR list. Thanks for the review!

  7. As a Buster Keaton fan I say "yeah!!" :-)

    Thanks for the info - it's sounds like a brilliant read! Take care

  8. buster keaton was a cinematic genius. (a word i don't use lightly) take a look at any of his films and you'll see a man who understood storytelling, narrative structure, character and pacing. and, to top it all off, he did his own stunts.

    (there's a stunt where keaton is standing in the road and the wooden side of a house fall off. it comes down, falling towards him -- but he's standing in the exact location where an open window is in the side of the house. they did it in one take and keaton didn't even flinch)

    chaplin and lloyd? they got nothing on keaton.

    -- Tom

  9. Wow! This sounds awesome! I am such a young Buster Keaton fan! I've seen pretty much all of his silent films & think he was hotness personified when he was young! OMG! *fans self*

  10. Oh, this DOES sound good! I'm giving away three pre-ordered books in my contest (posted today). I'll have to add this one to the list of possibilities! :-)

  11. I admit, I may not have picked this book up before reading this review. Now, I want it. Now. Good job.

  12. Oh I am SO sold! I can't wait to read this one. Great review, Shannon!

  13. I love your reviews. The adoration you feel for the book really comes through. Although my to-read list keeps getting longer every time I come here!

  14. Buster Keaton as a teen? What a great concept!

    Thanks for the lovely review! I hadn't even heard about this book. I'm definitely going to check it out.

  15. hi miss shannon! could you believe that buster keaton movie the general was on tv the other night and we watched and it was soooo cool. pretty quiet though. ha ha. wow this book sounds really neat. i learned a new kind of writing word at miss nicoles blog and its called speculative fiction. i just had to look at my notes so i could remember those words. so i think that what this book is. its a what if kind of book. i like that its for middle grade. its going on my wanna read list for sure. hope youre feeling lots better.
    ...hugs from lenny

  16. Beautiful cover, with a story that sounds even better!

  17. Shannon and all, I can't tell you how big my smile is right now! Thank you so much for this amazing review. I'm so delighted that you enjoyed Selling Hope! If anyone wants a handful of "Hope's Anti-Comet Pills," email me and I'll send them right away! (You'll need them, after all, to walk the ruins of the the earth unscathed. ;-) ) My email: ktubb (at) comcast (dot) net.

    Thank you again, Shannon. I'm giddy.

  18. I'm Kristin's editor for SELLING HOPE, and your review of this amazing book just made my day. Many, many thanks, and I couldn't agree more with all your praise. This is a gem of a novel; one of those books that only comes around once in a while, sort of like a certain brilliant comet....

  19. Sounds fantastic! Thanks for the tip :)

  20. Sounds great! Thanks for sharing :)

  21. Okay, I can tell I need to get on over to my Bookanista chart and add my name to this one.

  22. Oh my goodness, this has everything. Buster Keaton, Vaudeville (which I have been into since I read Harpo Marx's autobiography when I was 11), it's MG, the cover rocks, the blurb rocks, your review rocks. Must read!

    Also, a quick flashback to your first MG spotlight a few weeks ago--I bought The Sisters Grimm after I read about it, and it just arrived! I had to leave it behind when I jumped on a plane to go on holiday, because I can tell already I'm going to want to keep it forever, but now going home doesn't seem that objectionable!

  23. Aw, shannon, what a terrific review! You've sold me on this. Love the setting, and what a cool premise! And with writing that good? Sounds like a definite winner.


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