I do enjoy a good historical fiction story, especially when it’s based on a real character. As I started reading Susanna’s Midnight Ride by Libby Carty McNamee, I had to see if the author wrote anything about whether she was real or not. I was surprised to learn about this young girl who played such an important role in the war to create our great nation!
Susanna Bolling, Suki to her family and friends, is living on a plantation in Virginia during the Revolutionary war. Both of her older brothers are fighting further down South in North Carolina and Sukey finds herself frustrated at being stuck at home doing housework. She is sure she could do more for the cause than cleaning the floor for the umpteenth time. What she’s not so sure about is whether she’d have the courage to do something dangerous.
Early one morning, Sukey and her mother hear strange noises coming from down the lane. The ground shivers with the stomping of feet and hooves as General Cornwallis invades the once quiet Bollingbrook Plantation. Her mother puts on a brave face and orders the servants to hide so that they aren’t kidnapped by the army and she serves them dinner. As Sukey moves around the dining room keeping plates and classes filled, she overhears a nefarious plan to capture and kill Lafayette, the French hero of the Revolution. Now, her courage will be truly tested. Will she be able to overcome her fear and the concerns of her mother to do what needs to be done to prevent disaster?
Tilly Castillo is an amazing dancer. It’s all she’s ever wanted to do since the day she first put on ballet shoes. Lately, though, she’s fallen in love with modern dance. Her dreams were are nearly dashed when a nasty fall puts her dancing future in jeopardy. She worked hard to get back into shape and is rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to dance in NY as a part of a troupe, she jumps at the chance. The only damper to her excitement is that she has to lie to her mom.
In the troupe, she finds a best friend and an arch enemy. In the city, she finds love and courage. In the end, she slays her dragons.
Christina June has written a sweet and simple tale of triumph over adversity and finding your path no matter what the obstacles. Her characters are typical teens and mostly believable. I love that the main character is Hispanic. The story is wrapped up into a bow a little too neatly but, for readers looking for a great beach book or fun independent reading book, this would be excellent.
I started reading The Great Libraries series because I’m a great librarian. Seriously, though, I love the library and everything about it. Librarians and authors are superheroes to me so, of course, I read a book series all about libraries. Thing is, this series shows libraries in a different light. Power, privilege, words, and money are the currency. Sound familiar? Right, all of those descriptors apply to governments and politicians around the world. And that is exactly what the Great Libraries are in this series.
The Great Library has absolute control over what knowledge is accessible to people. The Scholars are powerful and ruthless; they will do anything to restrict what information is available to the masses. Jess and his friends are determined to change things, to make the Library live up to the ideals they still believe in; that all knowledge is precious and should be accessible to everyone. Not all of them will survive this revolution but what they are fighting for is worth more than their lives.
As some of you know, I’m a huge Cassandra Clare fan. Her book City of Bones was absolutely fantastic and I devoured that entire series. This series, The Dark Artifices, was even better, if that’s even possible. Reading the three books made me laugh out loud, cry angry tears, yell at the characters (embarrassing but I managed to control myself until I got home), and cry over broken hearts. The last book, though, was the most difficult to get through. Lord of Shadows ended tragically. It took me weeks to get over that horrifying loss. Queen of Air and Darkness picked up in the aftermath and barrelled through, picking up speed and terror along the way. It literally took me from the day it came out (Dec. 4 2018) until today to finish it. I NEVER take that long to read a book, regardless of how long it is.
Throughout this series, Cassandra took on issues currently plaguing our society without flinching, namely racism and bigotry, and carrying them through to their inevitable and deplorable end. Along the way, each of the characters endured pain and love, loss and discovery. So much emotion that it seemed like I was on a roller coaster. I just had to get off to rest and breathe for a bit every so often.
So why do I do this to myself? Because reading about it makes the reality a little more palatable and it gives me hope that maybe we, too, can defeat hatred and bigotry. That’s what books do, particularly Young Adult novels. I wish that I could infuse my student with my love for books and stories. I am a big believer in bibliotherapy, that is giving books about certain topics to students who are struggling with them. They can experience, vicariously (and safely) the ills of the world and maybe get some insight into how to survive, themselves. Reading stories about people just like you is a very good thing, especially for teens how might be living in places where they don’t know anyone else who looks the same, thinks the same or feels the same as they do (think really small, rural towns, etc.).
The moral of this story? If you are dealing with something difficult, take time to tune out and pick up a book. You can either read about someone else dealing with your difficulty or you can completely escape from your reality and vacation somewhere else for a while and breathe for a bit.
Why, oh why must authors taunt me like this. Why can’t I discover these fabulous series’ AFTER they’ve all been written so I can binge read them? I’m like a 3-year-old being told to wait for, well, anything. I do love Holly Black and her fairy stories. They are so real and awesome and scary. Cruel Prince has more twists and turns than the biggest, baddest roller coaster on the planet and Wicked King will have you on the edge of your seat. Be prepared because Ms. Black will leave you desperate for the next installment.
Jude witnessed the murder of her parents and was taken by the murderer, Madoc, to live in Faerie along with her twin sister Taryn and older sister Vivian. She has very little memory of her life in the mortal world, and the man who slew her parents has become her father. It’s little wonder that Jude isn’t is unusual. She is the brunt of cruel jokes and tricks by the other fey teenagers, but she has a goal. Jude wants to serve the High King as a knight. Crazy, impossible, insane but she wants it more than air. It isn’t long before she gets her chance. However, it’s not quite what she expected. Things rarely are in Underhill.
When last we saw Jude, she had tricked and schemed her way around Madoc’s power grab for the throne and put her most fearsome enemy in his place with her as the puppet master. Cardan is under her control but just barely and not for very long. Their hold on Faerie is tenuous at best, and it soon it comes to light that someone close to Jude will betray her. Meanwhile, the love/hate relationship between Jude and Cardan builds creating tension that you could cut with a sword. The Fae may not be able to lie but they are adept at tricks and the one played on Jude will send her reeling but will it unravel all of her devious plans?
I needed a quick read today so I browsed the teen titles on Overdrive and stumbled upon Margaux Froley’s Keaton School Novels. At first, they seemed like typical teen angst novels with private school snobbery for thrown in for flavor. But it soon became apparent that there was much more to these novels and now, I’m hoping that there are more to come!
In Escape Theory, we meet Devon MacIntosh, a scholarship kid at a prestigious private school overlooking the Pacific ocean. To say she feels out of place is an understatement. She’s managed to get to her Junior year under the radar but with college applications looming, she decides to get involved with the newly created peer counseling program. She wasn’t prepared for how quickly her services would be needed. The school year started with the suicide of one of it’s most popular and well-liked students. Jason Hutchins, known by all as “Hutch” was the golden boy who really had a heart of gold. As his friends came to her, they slowly began to trust her and let out their secrets and fears but, as they did, Devon began to realize that there was more to Hutch’s suicide than anyone else thought. Maybe she was crazy or obsessed with losing him before figuring out what was really between them but she just knew that he did not kill himself. Proving it, though, opened a whole other can of very dangerous worms.
In Hero Complex, Devon and her classmates are doing what they can to move past the losses of the semester before and get on with their lives. New Year’s Eve, Cleo convinces her to go to a party on a yacht to have a bit of fun and to get away from things for a while. At first, it was working. The lights, the swaying of the boat and the single glass of bubbly have Devon thinking that things are going to be okay. Suddenly someone hits her on the back of the head. Cleo finds her a few minutes later but there’s no sign of her assailant. Now, everyone thinks she’s paranoid and obsessive. Ironically, she is required to go through therapy because of the trauma she suffered. It seems that solving Hutch’s murder was just the beginning of a much deeper mystery and Reed Hutchins, Hutch’s grandfather, know the answers. With the help of Reed’s diary from his youth, she uncovers something someone is willing to kill for. The truths long hidden from her come out that will change her life forever.
I don’t know if you’ve read anything by Tamora Pierce before but if you haven’t, you need to pick up any of her books. My favorites were the Song of the Lioness series and the Trickster’s Choice duet. It’s been a while since she’s published anything new so when I heard that she had another book coming out and that it was going to be set in Tortall, I was over the moon! I couldn’t wait until the fall when the book would be available through my school (I pre-ordered) so I checked it out from the library. It was absolutely fabulous, as expected. Tamora is a consummate storyteller. Her characters are always interesting and always flawed in the coolest ways. She keeps you guessing and coming back for more. Her latest book is called Tempests and Slaughter.
Arram has a knack for getting into trouble. His burgeoning powers are becoming too much to handle so his family sends him The Imperial University for his training and education. He is the youngest student there. On his first day of class, he performs a complicated spell that works a little too well, earning him deep distrust from one teacher and great interest from others. He is moved into private tutoring and a new dorm where he befriends Ozorn, the “left-over” prince and Varice whose gifts are powerful but often go unnoticed. They form a bond that seems unbreakable but one day, Arram will have to make a choice about where his loyalties lie.
This is a bit of an origin story for a major character in some of the other books and you will meet characters you will see again.
I’m going to geek out a bit right now. One of my most favorite authors JUST ANSWERED MY EMAIL!!! Okay, now it’s probably not actually her but an assistant or something but I’m going to pretend it was really her. it seemed like her, anyway. Either way, how cool is that! I emailed Juliet Marillier to see if she was going to continue the Blackthorn and Grim series. If you’ve not read it and you enjoy high fantasy full of reluctant heroes, then it’s a must-read! I will put a brief description later in this post. Anyway, Juliet is an Australian author who wrote the Seven Waters series (Daughter of the Forest, etc.), Wildwood Dancing (there’s an earlier post about that one) and so many others. Many of her books are retellings of fairy tales but with many more twists and turns. Sigh…I get the same thrill when M.T. Anderson answers my posts on his Facebook page.
It is dark, dank and rat-infested in Mathiuin’s prison. She barely resembles a human much less a woman. He is an enormous lump of a man huddled in the back of the cell across the way. A guard delivers the devastating news that she is to be executed in the morning, quietly and without a hearing. She thinks she’s lost. He is afraid of losing her. As it turns out, though, fate has another idea. When the prison walls seem to explode and collapse, they make their escape but it doesn’t come without strings attached and they are held by a very powerful Fey being. She must forget vengeance for 7 years and use her wise woman powers for good. She calls herself Blackthorn and her companion is Grim. Together they must survive trials and tribulations but most difficult of all, they must survive their healing.
This is a mystery wrapped up in war and hidden by the lies we tell ourselves to survive.
It’s late in World War II and Amsterdam has been overtaken by the Nazis. Henneke is a resourceful young woman who helps her family survive. Food and everyday items are in short supply but she has a reputation for being able to find anything. Officially, she does paperwork for the local undertaker but her unofficial job is to fill black market orders for her clients around the city. On her usual delivery route, Mrs. Jensen makes an unusual and dangerous request. She wants Henneke to find a young Jewish girl whose family was wiped out in a raid in which Mr. Jensen was also killed weeks before. There are a million reasons not to take on this task but there’s something deep inside that makes her need to find this girl. Accepting this assignment takes Henneke on a journey to places she never imagined she’d go and the danger she puts herself into borders on reckless but the horror of watching what is happening to her country, her neighbors and friends are too much. She must do something but there are twists and turns in this hunt and, in the end, someone is found but another is lost. Such is life in war.
Have you ever read a book that touched your soul making you laugh out loud and cry your eyes out? The last one I read like that was John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. I love books like that; so real and raw.
Dill lives in the deep rural South where there are snakes both inside and outside. Dill’s father is a Pentecostal, snake-handling, poison-drinking preacher whose fall from grace hangs around Dill’s neck like a noose. The only things that keep him sane are his friends Travis and Lydia who hang out at the bottom of the social ladder like him and his music. Things are different this year, though. This is the year for doing things they are afraid of. Travis, a 6′ 6″ gentle giant, loves his fantasy stories and the chat rooms he hangs out in. It’s in one of these rooms he meets Amelia, and he’s smitten. Lydia convinces Dill to perform in the talent contest which has a $50 prize. Lydia is applying to colleges and working on her very popular (everywhere but home) blog. It’s their senior year, and everything is about to change in ways they do not expect.
Your heart will break and mend a dozen times in this book. If you are, like me, phobic about snakes, it will add another level of discomfort to your reading. Still, the story is apropos for these times we are living in, sadly. As a Southern woman, I had to cringe sometimes at the spot-on portrayal of the culture in certain areas of my home. It’s an important book, though, because it highlights the resilience of youth, the power of friendship and the influence (both positive and negative) of family.