Archive for the ‘Historical Fiction’ Category

TAB Book Review: Last Days of Summer

Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger

Joey Margolis, a Jewish 12-year-old living in 1940 is a smart kid but behaves badly in school and is constantly beat up by other kids. With his parents divorced, Joey lives with his mom and Aunt Carrie and almost never sees his dad. Joey faces many problems and is in need of a father figure in his life. He writes a letter to Charlie Banks, third baseman for the New York Giants. After many letters in which Joey tries to convince Charlie to do stuff for him and be his friend and Charlie tries to convince Joey to stop writing, Joey wins and they become friends. As Joey faces more problems, Charlie becomes the solution. When Joey’s dad can’t come to Joey’s Bar Mitzvah, Charlie takes his place. In this wonderful story, told entirely in letters, newspaper articles and telegrams, Joey and Charlie’s feelings and backgrounds shine through their arguments and smart-alec comments to tell the story of friendship and love.

Written by TAB member Sabine P.


New Books Highlight: New this month!

This week there’s not much rhyme or reason to the new books I want to highlight. They are just brand new to the Shorewood Library and have shiny new stickers on them that say 1/13! It’s a new year, people!

Rootless by Chris Howard

This is a very different and very fresh take on the post-apocalyptic theme that comes up again and again in YA books. In a world that has been devastated, in which the environment has been so degraded that trees no longer grow, 17-year0ld Banyan is a tree builder. He scavenges and hoards bits of scrap metal and other waste to create a replacement forest, one that does not shift or change. He’s never seen a real tree in his life, but he’s hear the stories about the old world. When Banyan stumbles across a clue to the possibility of real, growing trees, his world is irrevocably changed and he must seek them in spite of the danger.

Sneak Peek! “They figured me too young for a tree builder. I could see it in their eyes. Bunch of rich freaks, staring at me like I needed to impress them. But I did need to. That was the problem.” (Text copyright © 2012 by Chris Howard)

Passion Blue by Victoria Strauss

A brand new historical fiction novel that takes us to vibrant and mysterious Renaissance Italy. Giulia, the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman with what would seem to be a predetermined fate, finds something altogether different when her forced cloistering at a convent leads her into a world of painting. A warning that came just before she left – to be careful what she desires her fate to be – haunts her as she finds romance, friendship, and  skill in the art of painting. Does she know what she desires? Can she be the master of her own destiny?

Sneak Peek! “Milan, Italy, Anno Domino 1487. The clouds broke apart and sunlight flooded down, burnishing the rough bark of the apple trees and tossing their shadows across the grass. Giulia caught her breath at the sudden beauty of it, her charcoal stick racing across the paper on her knee as she tried to capture the moment before it vanished.” (Text copyright © 2012 by Victoria Strauss)

And now for something completely different…

Home Front Girl: A Diary of Love, Literature, and Growing Up in Wartime America by Joan Wehlen Morrison

This book is a real life diary from Wartime Chicago, rich with all the fascinating details of what it was like to grow up and be a teenager at that time. It’s daily life, it’s just like yours, but it’s so, so different. Joan’s daily record of the political atmosphere as America watches the world succumb to Hitler’s war and then finally becomes involved after the bombing at Pearl Harbor. Joan is 14-20 years old through the course of the diary. It’s entertaining, amazingly well-written and beautifully thought-out.

Sneak Peek! “Saturday, December 28, 1940. The world’s not going to come back the way it was…London is brave somehow – burning and huddled in shelters, yet walking also into the unlighted streets…London is Troy.” (Copyright ©2013 Susan Signe Morrison)

New Books Highlight: Exciting Sequels

It’s time for another look at some brand new sequels that are now available at Shorewood Library! If you’re gearing up for some exciting reads to take you through the upcoming winter break, add these to your list.

Seconds Away by Harlan Coben

The second book in the bestselling Mickey Bolitar, following 2011’s Shelter. In this thrilling read we follow Mickey and his friends as they investigate the murder of a classmate’s mother. Mickey still struggles with his own father’s death, and the many questions surrounding the Abeona Shelter, while also trying to be a normal high school dude. Thrills abound!

Diva by Jillian Larkin

This is actually the third book in The Flappers series (following Vixen and Ingenue), and also the stunning conclusion to the stories of Clara, Lorraine, and Carmody. History, romance, parties and trouble are the main elements of this super fun read that will transport you to 1920s Manhattan while also reminding you of your own life. It’s like Gossip Girl with more fringe and illicit activity (if that’s even possible!).

The Girl is Trouble by Kathryn Miller Haines

Sequel to The Girl is Murder, this mystery set in New York City in 1942 will keep you guessing until the end. After her mother’s (supposed) suicide, Iris Anderson finds herself helping unravel mysteries at her father’s detective business. When the sleuthing gets personal as Iris starts to learn more about her mother’s death. Mystery lovers, check this out!


TAB Book Review: This Dark Endeavor

Have you read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley? Then you should definitely read This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel. This Dark Endeavor is a prequel to the famous Gothic fiction tale and is a fantastic book. It tells the story of Victor Frankenstein at age 16, living happily with his mother and father, two younger brothers, adoptive sister, Elizabeth, and identical twin brother, Konrad. But one day everything changes when he, Elizabeth and Konrad stumble upon a secret passageway behind a shelf of books in the library. The passage leads to an archive of ancient alchemical books behind a rather disagreeable door. Victor becomes obsessed with alchemy and the hidden library, and when Konrad contracts a possibly fatal illness, Victor is sure that he can recreate the Elixir of Life, a potion that is said to be the cure to any ailment. With Elizabeth and his best friend Henry at his side, Victor sets off on a dangerous quest to save his brother, battling vultures, giant fish, his feelings for Elizabeth,  and the awful question of whether the elixir actually works, or is simply a foolish fantasy. This book will captivate your attention until the very end, and leave you scrambling to get your hands on the second installment, entitled Such Wicked Intent. Happy reading!

-Written by TAB member Annalise L.

Meet the Morris Award

There are so many book awards these days. Whoever says that reading is a dying art has not explored the world of book awards! There also seem to be an increasing number of awards for YA books, which is great for us YA fiends. Here’s one that you might not know about, but which is really worth exploring: The William C. Morris Award, given by the American Library Association, honors a book written for young adults by a previously unpublished author. Looking at the award nominees for this unique award is a great way to find authors you might not have heard of yet! Here’s the list of this year’s nominees:

Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby


Historical fiction. Set in Depression Era America, Wonder Show follows Portia Remini who is on the run from the creepy McGreavy’s Home for Wayward Girls, and on the hunt for her father.

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

Romance. Amelia is 15 and her grocery store coworker crush is…a little older. Set in Australia, this is a funny story of heartbreak and love and, above all, awkwardness.

After the Snow by S.D. Crockett


Post-apocalyptic. In the year 2059 a new Ice Age took the world. Willo Blake was born into this freezing future and must search out his  family after they mysteriously disappear from their mountain home.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post


Realistic/LGBT. The early 1990s was not a great time for the plight of LGBT teens. This fictional look at that time in history tells the memorable and moving story of gay teen Cameron as she makes her way through a gay conversion center.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman


Fantasy. Dragons and humans co-exist – although not in total harmony – in this cool fantasy debut. Orphan Seraphina grapples with her identity in a magical world rife with scandal and secrets.

History in Fact & Fiction

Situation: you’re reading the textbook for your history/social studies class when suddenly you realize you’re practically asleep and have no idea what you just read for the last hour. You yawn. You look at your cell phone and check Facebook. You cry a little inside at the fact that your grade is tied to how successfully you can get through this dry-as-dry-cereal textbook. You curse all of history for causing you such deep boredom.

Yep, history can sure be boring. But that’s really only because a lot of boring history books have been written. And so we tend to think that all of history is truly boring.The truth is, it’s boringly-written history books, not history itself, that tends towards the, ahem, less-than-interesting end of things.

I’m here to tell you that history is ridiculously fascinating if you read the right book. You can learn about history – I mean really learn about it! – from both well-researched fiction and well-written factual, or non-fiction, books. There is this under-explored genre called narrative non-fiction that I highly recommend: narrative non-fiction combines the best elements of fiction – plotline, well-developed characters, dialogue – with good research, primary source documents (like newspapers and photographs), and just plain fact.

Be prepared to expand your mind and travel back in time with a few of these historical fiction and historical fact titles from the library:

Set sail on the high seas and shiver yer timbers with…

Pirates! The True and Remarkable Adventures of Minerva Sharpe and Nancy Kington, Female Pirates by Celia Rees (Call number: YA REES)

A Thousand Years of Pirates by William Gilkerson (Call number: Youth Non-fiction X 910.4 G474)

Take a journey to France and see a side of World War II you might not have heard about with…

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Call number: YA WEIN)

A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France by Caroline Moorehead (Call number: Adult Non-fiction 940.5344 M825)

Go East to Cambodia and check out a crucial 20th century story in…

Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick (Call number: YA MCCORMI)

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Loung Ung (Call number: Adult Non-fiction 959.6042 U57)

For a list of more historical fiction and really readable non-fiction, come to the library and check out the display of Fact and Fiction.

New Books Highlight: Beautifunusual

Beautifunusual = Beatiful + Unusual. So many books can be described this way! Books that are beautifunusual fall into many genres: fantasy, realistic fiction, sci fi, romance, and the list goes on until you have listed all genres of books because ANY book can be so beautiful and so unusual – so out of the ordinary and unlike anything else you’ve read – that you can only describe it with this word: beautifunusual.

Today’s New Books Highlight celebrates a couple of brand spanking new and shiny books that are beautifunusual, and therefore absolute must-reads.

Ask the Passengers by A. S. King

This is an easy one because you already love A. S. King, right? King is the author of 2012 YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults title Everybody Sees the Ants, Edgar Award-nominated and 2011 Printz Honor Book Please Ignore Vera Dietz, and the Generally Awesome The Dust of 100 Dogs. So this book should be high on your “read soon” list. The book follows main character Astrid Jones, who – for lack of a better outlet due to ignorant parents, a backwards town, and falling-apart friendships – confides her secrets and shares her love with the passengers in the airplanes she loves to watch fly over her backyard. Astrid is possible falling in love with another girl, and this she can share with no one but the passengers, even when her friends demand answers. In an unusual and beautiful (hey, the theme of the day!) twist, all the love she sends to these people she doesn’t know, has actual consequences in their lives.

Jepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh

Jepp of Astraveld, a teenage dwarf in 16th century Spain, decides to do what many great heroes have done throughout history and defy his destiny. After he leaves behind his country home for the promise of grandeur, he finds himself imprisoned as a court dwarf, forced to endure humiliation and heartbreak. When he and a fellow court prisoner Lia make a run for it, Jepp gets kidnapped and fears the worst. Yet he actually finds what may be the best: a caring master who teaches him the secrets of the stars. This story is based on real people and real history, which makes it all the more beautifunusual. Jepp escapes time and again what has been fated for him, finding along the way what is true for all of us: that fate is what you make of it.

A Beautiful Lie by Irfan Master

This book takes you back to an India torn apart during the year 1947 when British colonial rule was coming to a violent end. Bilal is watching his father die and wishes only for his peace so he decides to tell a little lie about what’s really going on in their country – just so his dad doesn’t have to worry about his beloved country being torn asunder. But the well-intentioned lie rapidly spirals out of his control. The lie is intricate and beautiful, becoming a wish and an almost-reality, more than just an untruth. Bilal’s unfailing optimism in the face of the violence in his town, and the lack of resources he has to keep his little story alive, is beautiful. And just a little unusual, too.

What’s your favorite beautifunusual book?

World Book Night 2012

The first U.S. World Book Night is April 23.  Haven’t heard much about World Book Night?  It’s all about people sharing their love of reading by giving away books.  As a giver you receive 20 copies of a book generously donated by publishers and then you can give them away to light and non-readers.  The library’s Teen Advisory Board is participating in WBN and giving away copies of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  It’s a tremendous project backed by numerous publishers, bookstores, libraries, and more.  Interested in participating next year?  Check out their website for more info,

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

Meet Victor Frankenstein, yes the same Frankenstein who creates the monster in Mary Shelley’s classic novel, but as a young man of 16.  When Victor’s twin brother, Konrad, falls gravely ill, Victor, his cousin Elizabeth and friend Henry are determined to save him.  They have found a book of dark magic and with the help of an alchemist set out on several exciting adventures to find the ingredients for the elixir of life in the hopes of saving Konrad.

Full of heart pounding adventure and a bit of creepy science, This Dark Endeavor, introduces you to a young Victor Frankenstein.  Whether you’ve read Mary Shelley’s classic or not, you’ll enjoy This Dark Endeavor simply for the excitement and great characters.


Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Gwyneth feels a little dizzy, there’s a rush of light, and she finds herself at some point in the early 1900’s.  Her cousin, Charlotte, would know what to do, she’s been trained since birth to deal with the time travel gene in their family.   So why did Gwyneth time travel instead of Charlotte?  And what’s all this mystery about a secret society, a chronograph, and going back to the past to collect blood to complete the circle?

Ruby Red is a fun and exciting time travel mystery set in London and starring Gwyneth, a normal 16 year-old completely unprepared to deal with her family’s secret history and the time travel gene she has inherited.  Thankfully she has a time travel partner, the good-looking, but rude, Gideon de Villiers.

The first in a trilogy and already a smashing success in Germany, Ruby Red will have you wondering where Gwyneth is off to next, what is the great mystery, and why can Gwyneth see ghosts.  The sequel, Sapphire Blue, is coming June 2012!