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A Pocketful of Stardust, by J.P. Barnaby & Rowan Speedwell

A Pocketful of Stardust, by J.P. Barnaby & Rowan Speedwell

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A Pocketful of Stardust, by J.P. Barnaby & Rowan Speedwell

Book Info

Book Series
Aster, Book 1
About the Author
J.P. Barnaby
An award-winning, best-selling novelist of over a dozen books, J. P. Barnaby is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is often described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.

Rowan Speedwell
An unrepentant biblioholic, Rowan Speedwell spends half her time pretending to be a law librarian, half her time pretending to be a database manager, half her time pretending to be a fifteenth-century Aragonese noblewoman, half her time… wait a minute… hmm. Well, one thing she doesn't pretend to be is good at math. She is good at pretending, though.
In her copious spare time (hah) she does needlework, calligraphy and illumination, and makes jewelry. She has a master's degree in history from the University of Chicago, is a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, and lives in a Chicago suburb with the obligatory Writer's Cat and way too many books.
Publication Date
July 30, 2019
Available Formats
epub, mobi, pdf
Content Warning
 deals with loss of parent, grief, off-page domestic/child abuse
Noah Hitchens loves the New York City life he worked hard to build. But when his father dies and leaves him a bankrupt bookstore in their sleepy Georgia hometown, Noah knows he has to save it. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know anything about business. He finds unlikely help in Henry, the man who owned Stardust Books before his 1966 murder, and Kyle St. James, a shy but kind-hearted out-of-towner with a past almost as mysterious as Henry's.

Kyle came to Aster, Georgia, looking for redemption. On the run and out of hope, he’s just trying to get on with his life. Then he meets Noah, a ghost, and a big sloppy lab named Jake who redefine his idea of living. But his past is closing in, and when it finds him, they could lose everything.

Editor review

1 review
Full of Heart and Charm!
 POV: 3rd person, one character POV

 With a dose of southern charm, and a blend of genres – from contemporary romance, a mystery, a ghost story, and a journey of self-discovery – A Pocketful of Stardust has everything to take you on an emotional journey. It may have a lot of elements, but it has even more heart.

 The story is primarily a contemporary romance, about Noah. His life is ticking along, until he gets that phone call – his father has died, suddenly. He goes home, to all those conflicting emotions of 'why didn't I come home more often' and 'I should have known' and 'how do I go on without him?'. As he tries to navigate this exhausting wheel of emotion and stress and responsibility, a kaleidoscope of events derail his already shattered world; he loses his job, he meets Kyle, and he inherits a house and a bookstore.

 Though the story has the supernatural element of a ghost, and deals with a few criminal elements, it is primarily a story about Noah discovering himself, his strength, his ability to go on. The story spends a very generous and heartbreaking 13% revolving around Noah dealing with his father's death. I love that. Because, this is a HUGE event in his life, and it was treated as such. It wasn't something washed over or ignored after a while, it was the main focus of the story. How Noah dealt with losing his father and the consequences of that loss. Because of that, it's not an easy easy.

 It's nowhere near the lighthearted and sort-of magical story that I expected from the cover. BUT, it is heartwarming, heartbreaking, and it will leave you sobbing into a box of tissues, craving some healing chocolate and – for me, as I lost my dog last year – wishing there was still that fur-covered pup to cuddle. It will make you need comfort, and give you comfort at the same time.

 It utterly broke my heart. But, I'll admit, the worst part was when Jake came home. I've owned dogs all my life and I've lost more than a few of them; seeing Jake walk into that house and search for Noah's dad was the most heartbreaking part of the novel, and it's making me cry right now, just remembering it. In that moment, I knew I was going to love this book. It wasn't the glasses on the floor, though they smashed my heart with a hammer; it was Jake.

 Alright, yes...I cried a lot, actually. The glasses, Jake coming home, even Kyle made me cry sometimes because he was just so sweet and clueless and alone, Miss Edna and Thad, and then...Henry, and that last bit at the end at the church... Yeah, I cried a lot.

 I loved the respect that was given to each of the very serious issues raised throughout the book, without it becoming lecturing – the Syrian refugee, cultism, domestic abuse, child abuse, civil rights, religious persecution, equality, race, and sexuality. They were all handled with care, but without minimising or overshadowing them, without stooping to using them as a tool to add more diversity without understanding them.

 When it comes to characters, you can't ask for a better bunch. Miss Edna, with her rifle friends and sweetness; innocent and sweetly clueless Kyle; outrageous and loveable Thad; brusk and intriguing Cooper; and the smart and sophisticated Henry. I loved each and every one of them.

 Honestly, this is my first book by JP Barnaby, and I chose it because of Rowan Speedwell. I've learned that I can never be disappointed by a book by Rowan Speedwell, and – if this book is any indication of talent – then I've just added JP Barnaby to my list of “must read” authors, because...wow. The writing style was exactly up my alley. The blend of genres was utterly perfect and engaging. The characters were wonderful, heartfelt and real, with a huge diversity of personalities, sexuality, gender, strength, race, and quirks. The plot had a perfect pace, for me. It was always moving along with some even or other and it was always building the story with every event. Nothing was pointless or unexplained.

 In the end, what can I say? I loved it. I laughed, cried, broke my heart, and it made me heartsick for people lost and pets no longer with me. Every character had their place, their purpose, and has forged a place in my heart. I can't wait for the next book in Aster.


 Favourite Quotes

“A wracking moan shook him, and he cried harder, grief and loneliness ganging up on him and pounding him into the ground until he wanted to yell “Enough!” and have all this end.
And then warm lips brushed his ear and Kyle’s sweet voice said, “I’ve got you. Let go,” and he did, letting everything go until he lay limp and exhausted in Kyle’s arms.”
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