Monday, September 22, 2014

MMGM: RORY'S PROMISE by Michaela MacColl and Rosemary Nichols

RORY'S PROMISE (by Michaela MacColl and Rosemary Nichols, Calkins Creek, September 1st, 2014)

You know a novel's good when the first words out of the Don's mouth on a Monday morning are, "Get me this Rory girl, pronto. She'll be an asset to the famiglia."

Yup, those are the very words I heard this morning, and no surprise. Anyone who knows the Don (and me) knows that we are huge fans of Michaela MacColl. The Don went to Africa after reading Promise the Night, and he's been heard reciting Emily Dickinson (of course he thinks he's unobserved) after reading Nobody's Secret. Now, with Rory's Promise, he's inquiring about becoming a benefactor to nuns with their projects. As he said to me the other day, "Them Sisters! Che par di palle!" Which is to say, he thinks the good nuns have got chutzpah!

Michaela's latest project is with Calkins Creek, an imprint of Boyds Mill Press. With co-author Rosemary Nichols, she's kicking off a series called Hidden Histories. This particular book is about Irish orphans who are sent west on so-called Orphan Trains. We meet the orphans from "The Foundling Hospital," a foundation run by Catholic nuns, led by the redoubtable Sister Anna. They are well-cared for, compared to the children from the Children's Aid Society who are also traveling west.

What I Loved: Like the DonI was captivated by the character of Rory Fitzpatrick, who is one of the spunkiest characters (male or female) I've read in a long while. Determined not to be separated from her younger sister, Violet, Rory gets arrested, stows aboard first a carriage, and then the orphan train itself, and generally stands up for herself in many ways--unafraid to tackle adults, as well as stand up to the formidable Sister Anna herself.

The Cover: The cover perfectly captures my idea of Rory. Go Red!

The Pacing: This novel moves at a clip. In fact, the Don barely looked up from it to sip from his morning cappuchino.

A look into a part of history of which I was unaware: Yes, the orphan trains actually existed. There are notes in the back of the book which tell all about it, as well as a great educator's guide which came with my copy. By the way, teachers, this would be an awesome novel to study in Grades 4-7 as part of a Language Arts or Social Studies Curriculum.

There's a blog tour going on--and Middle Grade Mafioso is stop numero due! Here's a list of the rest of the tour--be sure to stop by because, just like today, you could win a copy of this fantastic novel. Hey, the Don might even bring it to your door. (Oh, I guess not. He's in meetings with the sisters all week--so you'll have to rely on the good folks at Boyd's Creek to ship you your winning copy. JUST LEAVE A COMMENT. (U.S. addresses only for the win.)

Fri 9/19                 KirbyLarson
Mon 9/22             Middle Grade Mafioso 
Tue 9/23               Mother/Daughter Book Club 
Wed 9/24             Middle Grade Minded 
Thu 9/25              KidLit Frenzy 
Fri 9/26                Unleashing Readers

Here's more on Michaela, plus her book trailer. Thanks for stopping by. CIAO!

Michaela attended Vassar College and Yale University earning degrees in multi-disciplinary history. Unfortunately, it took her 20 years before she realized she was learning how to write historical fiction. Her favorite stories are the ones she finds about the childhood experiences of famous people. She has written about a teenaged Queen Victoria (Prisoners in the Palace, Chronicle 2010) and Beryl Markham’s childhood (Promise the Night, Chronicle 2011). She is writing a literary mystery series for teens featuring so far a young Emily Dickinson in Nobody’s Secret (2013) and the Bronte sisters in Always Emily (2014).  She has recently begun a new series with Boyd’s Mill/Highlights called Hidden Histories about odd events in America’s past. The first entry in the series is Rory’s Promise and will be published in September 2014. She frequently visits high schools and has taught at the Graduate Institute in Bethel, CT. She lives in Westport CT with her husband, two teenaged daughters and three extremely large cats. 


  1. Sounds awesome. I'm not really aware of the orphan trains either. Awesome she's already a favorite author of yours.

  2. I've been debating this one. Historical fiction is such a hard sell, and I already have the Joan Lowery Nixon Orphan Train books gathering dust on my shelves. Should probably read it before Cybils season...

  3. This is a pretty intense subject. I'm quite intrigued, and like Natalie I don't know much about orphan trains.

  4. Thanks for featuring this one - I really enjoy historicals and this one covers something I don't know much about. Plus, I love spunky characters.

  5. What a great historical topic for the author to write about! The eyes of the MC on the cover say so much. I probably wouldn't have read this one but based on your review, how can I resist?

  6. This looks great! I also love the idea of the Hidden Mysteries series coming up...!

  7. This sounds like a great book. I have it on my TBR list. In fact, the series sounds terrific. Thanks for the review.

  8. That cover looks really familiar, so I must have seen the book on someone else's blog recently. But I love the Don's take on this novel and the fact that he barely looked up to sip his cappuchino. Ha ha!

  9. This book looks so cool - I love MacColl's historical fictions! Thanks for the chance to win!

  10. This looks like one I should read before you give it away!

  11. I didn't know this one was coming out. I've enjoyed all of her other books!

  12. I really enjoyed Prisoners in the Palace and Nobody's Secret. This one sounds fabulous! Thanks for the feature!


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