Archive for the ‘Historical Fiction’ Tag

New Books Highlight: Resolutions

Let’s kick off the new year with resolutions. First, I highly suggest making a reading resolution, whether it is to read more books, read more of a certain kind of books, read a different way (i.e. try to finish books more quickly, make more time to read, try to savor books more, try new ways of finding good books, etc.) or whatever else you can think of. Me? I’m resolving to read fewer than two books at once. That sounds nutty, but reading more than two was a problem for me in 2013 – I felt like I didn’t care as much about each book when I was balancing three (or more – I know, insane) at once!

But of course there are the classic resolutions about health and wellness (“I will exercise”), friends and family (“I will be nicer”) or school (“I will try harder”). With that in mind, here are some books to help you kick off your resolutions. Resolve to read them.

Resolution: “I will start planning for college! EEEEEEK” This is one you juniors (or even sophomores…)  might make if you are feeling anxious about the planning process. Resolve to kick it off and stop being scared.

Read: Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

You might know Sara Zarr from all her awesome books. In this one she teams up with fellow author Altebrando to take a much-needed look at the trials and tribulations of transitioning from high school to college. With last year’s Fangirl (by Rainbow Rowell) it seems like books about that time period are becoming popular – and with good reason because it’s definitely a unique experience. Roomies tells the story of brand new roommates EB and Lauren as they get to know each other and college. Roommates aren’t always well-matched, of course, so very-different EB and Lauren must overcome differences in order to find trust in the person they’re sharing a tight space with.

Resolution: “I will practice more so I can follow my dreams!” Whether your an artist or an athlete, you might resolve to hone your craft so you can go farther.

Read: Chart Topper by D.M. Paige

Beth is shy, so when she takes a chance and posts a video of herself singing on YouTube, she doesn’t expect it to garner much attention. Maybe some of her peers will see it, and she’ll feel cool for putting herself out there. Never in her wildest dreams did she think a big-shot music exec would see it and offer her a way to make her singing dreams a reality: an internship in NYC at his recording company. Soon Beth is confronted with serious choices – when a collaboration with Bonified Records’ biggest stars means both girls might get to follow their hearts, or see their dreams disappear. This is a cool story that lets you explore the industry from the inside while inspiring your own dreams of stardom.

Resolution: “I will stand up for what I believe in!” Anyone seeking to be more courageous, more confident, or more self-aware might make this resolution.

Read: Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery by M. Evelina Galang

After her father dies and her grief-stricken mother immigrates to the U.S., Angel is left feeling alone and bereft in her home country, the Philippines. With her sister and grandmother left essentially in her charge, Angel doesn’t have much time for herself. Soon, though, her grandmother inspires her to get involved with the Filipina Comfort Women, an activist group that teaches Angel about the revolution going on in the Philippines. When Angel is forced to move to the U.S. to join her mother, she again feels unmoored and disconnected, and finds herself having to confront the grief and anger she has carefully hidden since her father’s death. Angel is an inspiring character, and you’ll also learn more about the rich history of the Philippines.




New Books Highlight: A Wrap-up List for 2013

This will be the last New Books Highlight post for 2013!

Instead of the usual showcase of three new books on one subject or theme, I thought I’d put together a few different themes that have been popular recently and a few books from each.


Pantomime by Laura Lam

The First Dragon by James Owen – book 7 in the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica

Historical Mystery:

Little Red Lies by Julie Johnston

Palace of Spies: Being a True, Accurate and Complete Account of the Scandalous and Wholly Remarkable Adventures of Margaret Preston Fitzroy, Counterfeit Lady, Accused Thief, and Confidential Agent at the Court of His Majesty, King George I by Sarah Zettel

Dark Dystopian (with less romance than your average dystopian.):

The Living by Matt de la Pena

The Darkest Path by Jeff Hirsch


Find Me by Romily Bernard

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Torn by David Massey


New Books Highlight: Literary Remixes

The literary remix is fast becoming its own genre. Let me define: literary remix is when an author takes a work of literature or lore and reworks it as a new piece of fiction. Whether the story uses the same character names and relatively the same plot but puts it into a different time or place, or uses the plot and its symbolism as bones to build a pretty new story around – a lot of authors take inspiration from literature and lore. It’s a really fun genre because if you’re familiar with the original, the reworked piece is more vivid. It’s fun to see where the plot is similar, or how the author of the remix has transformed objects, places and people for the modern day or future. Here are a few new books that remix either fairy tales or canonical literature.

Fairy Tales

Rags and Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales, edited by Melissa Marr and Tim PrattRags & Bones

The fact that this is a remix is right in the title: twists on timeless tales. Melissa Marr works in the fairy-tale remix genre often, so it is not surprising that she co-edited this. It features new stories by authors like Neil Gaiman, Margaret Stohl, Rick Yancey and Holly Black. Each story reworks a classic piece of literature or lore, and in the remixing author identifies which story inspired them, and tells you a bit about why. This is the most fun to read if you know the stories being reworked, but if you don’t you will be inspired to find them.

Hero by Althea KontisHero by Althea Kontis

This is the second volume in the Woodcutter sisters series. The author remixes not one but many fairy tales, even throwing in some Greek mythology for good measure. Most of Saturday Woodcutter’s family understands their magical gifts – everyone but her, it seems. So when the tossing away of a magic mirror puts her whole family in danger, Saturday is ready to take on the adventure in the hopes of better-understanding her gifts. She set sails on a conjured sea only to be imprisoned by a blind witch who mistakes her for her brother. But the witch has other prisoners and with their help Saturday may be able to orchestrate their escape – if she doesn’t accidentally fall in love first.


Black Spring by Alison CroggonBlack Spring

This is a dark and story paranormal romance retelling of Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. In this remix, the style of writing and the structure of the story remain very close to the original work – but author Croggon sets the story in a world in which women practicing magic has been made illegal, and main character Lina may have supernatural powers. As in the original, Lina is in a star-crossed lover situation with her adopted brother, Damek, which amps up the danger Lina faces. It is as haunting and atmospheric as the original, with even more Gothic touches and a paranormal overtone.

Still Star-Crossed by Melinda TaubStill Star Crossed

This is not a classic remix because it is set after the events in the original story, William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Author Taub imagines what comes next after Romeo and Juliet have both died (and now you’re totally saying, “I have always wondered!”). Verona has found some piece in its grief over the young lovers’ deaths. But the Montagues and the Capulets have not set aside their rivalry. Their is violence in the streets, and Prince Escalus decides he must take action: by forcing a Montague to wed a Capulet, thereby uniting the two families once and for all.

Thorn Abbey by Nancy OhlinThorn Abbey

Based on the classic Gothic novel Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. Tess has transferred to elite boarding academy Thorn Abbey. Despite her lack of confidence – or perhaps because of it – she draws the attentions of Max de Villars. However, Tess, and everyone at the school in some way or another, seems to be haunted by the ghost of Max’s last love, Becca, who tragically drowned the previous year. Tess’s roommate was especially changed by Becca’s death, and now seems to be channeling her madness towards Tess and Max’s union.

New Books Highlight: Playbook

Last week I featured three new books that take music as a central theme, a plot driver, a character changer. This week, let’s look at sports in that role. Sports books aren’t a huge genre. Besides the big names, Mike Lupica and Carl Deuker, there aren’t many authors that spring to mind. This fall, though, there have been several new releases featuring sports as a plot point and theme – not to mention the fact that I think they may be quintessential and classic sports stories! So if you love to read about your favorite sport – whether you play or not – pick these up.

Muckers by Sandra Neil WallaceMuckers by Sandra Neil Wallace

Publisher summary: “Felix O’Sullivan, standing in the shadow of his dead brother, an angry, distant father, and racial tension, must lead the last-ever Muckers high school football team to the state championship before a mine closing shuts down his entire town.” It’s a small-town story about a football team no one thinks will make it, based on a true story, written by a former ESPN sportscaster: what’s not to love?!

Sneak Peek! “I come to the shanty in the Barrio from behind, dipping under the broken shutters so the late-October moon won’t cast a shadow and wake up Cruz.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Sandra Neil Wallace)

The Pitcher by William HazelgroveThe pitcher

Maybe baseball stories are more your thing. Well then, Pitcher is a home-run for you. Ricky Hernandez dreams of being a pitcher and has done ever since he learned he had an arm while playing a carnival game. Thing is, now that he’s 14 and he’s got even more speed behind his pitches, he still has not learned to control the ball. He needs a chance and training, but he can’t afford it. He does have this reclusive neighbor, though, who is rumored to have been a big-shot MLB player, long-retired. Ricky’s mom wants nothing more than for Ricky to succeed, so she approaches their neighbor pleading for help; but she has no idea how much this will help them all, in the end.

Sneak Peek! “I never knew I had an arm until this guy calls out, ‘Hey, you want to try and get a ball in the hole, sonny?'” (Text copyright © 2013 by William Hazelgrove)

Second Impact by Perri Klass & David Klass

With all the recent coverage of the NFL’s head injury policies, or lack thereof, this is a particularly perfect book. Another football story, this time one that also features media scandals – high school paper style. The story is told in the form of emails and blog posts, making it a fast read. Jerry is the star quarterback, with all the drama that entails. When he’s thrown off the team after a drunk-driving incident, he thinks he’ll never get back into the world of sports. Enter, Carla, the high school paper’s star reporter. She recruits Jerry to work on a sports blog for the paper. Before he knows it, Jerry is deeply involved in Carla’s attempts to unearth a scandal surrounding head injuries sustained in contact sports at their school – something no one wants to hear as the school and town are poised for glory. It’s as dramatic as a perfectly timed interception when the team is down and needs to get on the board.

Sneak Peek! “On game day, I usually wake up very early and lie in bed thinking things over.” (Text copyright © 2013 by David Klass and Perri Klass)

New Books Highlight: Sing Along

This week, several new books that take music as a central theme. In each, the main character’s life comes to be defined in a unique way by music.

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila SalesThis Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

16-year-old Elise is unhappy, unpopular, and unsatisfied. A year ago, all of these feelings came together in an ugly way and she attempted suicide. Her home is not her happy place, so she gets out often at night – leading her to discover a world she had no idea existed. She quickly falls in love with the warehouse parties – and in lust with a hot older DJ – but even more she falls in love with DJing. She is excellent at it and through it she feels an escape from the pain. This is a true-to-life story of triumph – despite, or because of, Elise’s stumbles along the way. Bonus: the publishers made a playlist for the book so you can be completely immersed.

Sneak Peek! “You think it’s so easy to change yourself. You think it’s so easy, but it’s not.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Leila Sales)

All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarryAll Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry

Like your musical tales a little more magical? Our unnamed narrator and her best friend Aurora grew up like sisters in the atmospheric Pacific Northwest. Their mothers were both wild, and their fathers are both long gone, so mostly they have had each other – similar and yet different like mirror images. When a mysterious and magical musician arrives along with a charmingly conniving boss, the differences between the two girls cause their bond to rupture. Infused with art and music, this is a darkly romantic punk-rock tale for fans of Francesca Lia Block – and it’s the first book in a planned trilogy.

Sneak Peek! “Aurora and I live in a world without fathers. Hers is dead and mine was gone before I was born.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Sarah McCarry)

Are You Experienced by Jordan SonnenblickAre You Experienced by Jordan Sonnenblick

What if you accidentally fell backwards through time and found yourself at Woodstock? Yes, THE Woodstock. With Jimi Hendrix in all his glory rocking the Star-Spangled Banner. When he finds a white Stratocaster played by Hendrix, Rich wonders what on earth his uptight dad is doing with it. Even weirder, when he plays the right chord, he’s transported back to 1969. There, he runs into his dad and uncle as teens – the thing is Rich’s uncle OD’d at Woodstock, and his death is what left Rich’s dad the angry, sad man ruining Rich’s life. So Rich does the only thing that makes sense in this love-filled hippy fest: sets out to save his uncle – and thereby his dad and himself. Sound like a wacky premise? It may be but it is ultimately a realistic, funny and fun read.

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric L. Gansworth If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth

If you loved The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, you will love this book. It’s the 1970s. Lewis is the only kid from the Tuscarora Reservation in the smart-kid track at the county middle school. So you could say he’s a misfit. Used to being bullied and without many friends at his mostly white school, Lewis is surprised when he finds himself becoming friends with the new kid. Misfit meet misfit: they bond over their shared love of rock and roll – The Beatles and other greats – and both slowly begin to trust and understand one another. But when the school’s biggest bully decides Lewis is his next target, their friendship is tested. Given the barriers of class, race, and bullies – can their friendship survive?


New Books Highlight: Books to Make You Think

There have been some major books released over the last couple of months, so it’s been hard to choose which ones to highlight. This week, though, I was struck by how many “challenging” books I’ve seen hitting the new shelves recently.

By “challenging,” I mean books that suck you in, mess with your head, and knock you back out again as a new person. Books that leave you feeling winded, introspective…changed. Books that make you think – and keep you thinking even when you’ve finished them. One that sticks out in my memory as a challenging read for me is Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Not everyone likes these kinds of books: some of us read to be entertained or for comfort, and don’t want to be messed up by a book. That’s okay. You might be surprised, however, next time you reach for what sounds like a comforting read. One thing that is unique about “challenging” reads is that they come in all genres – and they sometimes come out of nowhere. You remember how you felt the first time you read The Hunger Games? You thought, “Boy, my life is different now that I have lived through that.” It’s entertainment, yes, but it left you breathless and altered. Personally, I read it in one night, convinced I wouldn’t like it, but completely changed by watching these children (children!) fight and die for nothing in the messed up world of Panem.

I digress. Without further ado, here are some challenging new reads I hope you pick up soon!

Tumble & Fall by Alexandra CouttsTumble and Fall by Alexandra Coutts

What if you knew the world was ending soon? The characters in this book do. An asteroid is headed for Earth, and all anyone can do is wait. Sienna returns from a mental health facility in time to watch her father get married. Zan must face her fears and get past the recent death of her boyfriend. And Caden is confronted by his long-lost father. Despite the terrifying premise, or maybe because of it, this is a deep and quietly wise book that will make you stop and think about your own life. It’s really kind of joyfully sad, in a way – so perfect for a “challenging” read that leaves you thinking.

Sneak Peek! “The day she gets out, it feels like the end. It’s funny to think about endings now. Now that all there is to do is wait. Now that the real end is coming, all of the other endings feel like something else completely.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Alexandra Coutts)

Into That Forest by Louis NowraInto that Forest by Louis Nowra

This one is challenging on several levels. It’s short – so it has less time to hook you, but it still manages to do so quickly and effectively. Narrated by Hannah in somewhat broken English, she tells the story of her youth. When her parents died in a flash flood on a river, she and her friend Becky were left to fend for themselves in the forests of Tasmania. They were essentially adopted by a pair of tigers who managed to keep them safe and fed, despite the girls’ fear and worry. But when Becky’s father finally found them, they were forced to reintegrate into human society at great cost.

Sneak Peek! “Me name be Hannah O’Brien and I be seventy-six years old. Me first thing is an apology – me language is bad cos I lost it and had to learn it again.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Louis Nowra)

Sex and Violence by Carrie MesrobianSex and Violence by Carrie Mesrobian

The title sure puts it all out there, huh? In a sense, that’s the point: these two topics run rampant in our society, many believe to the detriment of it. And this story tells just how the normalization of sex and violence hurts young people – without preaching a moral message. It’s is honesty on a plate – and it’s not always pretty. 17-year-old Evan is a master of being the new kid in school, after spending his lifetime moving around with his dad’s job. Evan is also the master of figuring out which girl will say ‘yes.’ But this time, he picks the wrong one and ends up getting beaten by the kings of his school. When he moves to a quiet small town to recover with distant family, he must confront the fears and weaknesses that have driven him, and result from his miscalculations. Gritty, funny, life.

Sneak Peek! “When I came out of the Connison gang shower, Collette Holmander was waiting for me.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Carrie Mesrobian)

Picture Me Gone by Meg RosoffPicture me Gone

Mila is highly attuned to people – able to read the room, sense emotions and put together the puzzles people make of themselves. When her father’s best friend goes missing, what was to be a visit to him turns into Mila and her father on the case, so to speak. But this story is far more than a mystery with an easy solution. Written in first person, so much so that the dialogues is filtered through Mila’s head, without quotes, you are drawn into Mila’s world in a strange and thrilling way. This is a complex story that will challenge your worldview and assumptions.

Sneak Peek! “The first Mila was a dog. A Bedlington terrier. It helps if you know these things. I’m not at all resentful at being named after a dog.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Meg Rosoff)

New Books Highlight: Travel to Asia, No Airplane Needed

When I saw Gene Luen Yang’s newest graphic novel on the shelves, I was inspired to pair it with a couple of other new releases set in, and about life in, Asian countries. Interestingly, these books almost perfectly span the entire 20th century, and are also tied together by a common theme of ancient versus modern cultural values: Yang takes us to late-nineteenth century China, we fast-forward to mid-century India in A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury, and finally Amanda Sun’s first book in the Paper Gods series lets us travel to modern-day Japan.

Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang


In true Yang fashion, this is an incredibly unique offering. First of all, it is two books, published simultaneously. You finish one and pick up the other immediately. Oh yeah, and it’s a fictionalized account of real Chinese history. In China in 1898, Christian missionaries from abroad roam the country, converting Chinese peasants through demeaning and violent coercion. Little Bao is fed up with seeing his people suffer in the name of this foreign religion, so he summons the powers of the ancient Chinese gods, and an army of commoners who call themselves Boxers, to fight them down. Saints tells the story parallel to Little Bao’s. Four-Girl is an unwanted daughter, not even given a name, But she finds acceptance, and a name, through Christianity. Because of the Boxer rebellion, China is unsafe for Christian Chinese like herself and she finds her loyalties tested between her nationality and her faith.

A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradburya moment comes

It is 1947 in India, a country about to be liberated and partitioned – the Muslim part, Pakistan, severed from the remainder of the country. Tariq is a Muslim Indian, so life is not easy at this moment for him. He dreams of getting out and studying at Oxford in England, but because of his religion he does not have clear access to that world. When he is offered a job translating for the English cartographers working on drawing the India-Pakistan borders, he leaps at the opportunity in the hopes it will lead him to his Oxford dream. He soon meets Margaret, the cartographer’s daughter, who is desperate for fun and attracted to Tariq’s foreignness. But Anupreet, the Sikh girl – and thus very off-limits – catches Tariq’s attention. The tensions in the country do not make love easy, and all three young people find their paths are wilder than they had every hoped.

Sneak Peek! “‘I know you will make us proud, Tariq,’ Master Ahmed calls out to me as I step onto the dusty sidewalk outside the school gates. I lift my palm to my face, fingertips to my forehead, bow. ‘Khuda hafiz.'” (Text copyright © 2013 by Jennifer Bradbury)

Ink by Amanda Sunink

This is the first book in a planned series by debut author, Sun, called Paper Gods. When Katie’s normal life explodes in front of her eyes, she is sent off to live in Japan with an aunt. She doesn’t speak the language and is utterly alone and out of place, until she meets Tomohiro. Tomo is popular, gorgeous, and shouldn’t want to have anything to do with awkward Katie, but neither of them can deny the things that happen when they are together. Pens explode, ink drips from nowhere, drawings…live. Tomo is part of an ancient order called the kami. Soon the two are drawn into a world of intrigue as the wrong people start asking the right questions about the kami and both Katie and Tomo find themselves in danger.

Sneak Peek! “I made it halfway across the courtyard before I realized I was still wearing my school slippers. No lie. I had to turn around and slink all the way back to the genkan, the stifled laughs from my classmates trailing me as I mustered what slippered dignity I could.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Amanda Sun)

New Books Highlight: Sequels

Every so often I have to highlight series books. Why? Because there are more series than stand-alone books, or so it seems! This fall, there have been and will be a lot of sequels out. It’s a great time to be a fan!

The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Ffordesong

Sequel to The Last Dragonslayer. Jennifer Strange and all of the magicians are back in this sequel that shares the funny, quirky style of the first book. When the King chooses a rival magician from the firm iMagic to be his court magician, Jennifer and the wizards at Kazam are thrown into a magic duel. They know that the King is up to no good, attempting to control magic for his own personal gain. Kazam has a problem though: some of its strongest wizards are under a spell, and the King has decided to lock up the others as criminals.  The quarkbeast might just save the day.

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Weinrose

This is not so much a sequel as a companion novel to last year’s Code Name Verity. Set during the same time period as Code Name Verity, this is the story of a young American girl who, like Queenie and Maddie, finds a way to be involved in the war efforts. As a pilot, Rose’s job is to move planes, not to fight. But then Rose is captured during a routine mission and sent to a notorious concentration camps with other prisoners of war.

Smoke by Ellen Hopkinssmoke

This is a long-awaited sequel to 2006’s Burned, written in Hopkins’ signature novel-in-verse style. As in Burned, we are following the story of Pattyn. The story begins abruptly, and somewhat violently, but readers of Hopkins’ books know to expect the troubled situations she portrays. Pattyn finds her father beating her sister Jackie, and presumably kills him. But only the girls know the truth of what happened. Although Pattyn and Jackie have not had it easy, they are easy characters to root for and see ourselves in.


Other sequels out now:

United We Spy by Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls #6)

Monsters by Ilsa Bick (Ashes trilogy finale)

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson (Fire and Thorns trilogy finale)

New Books Highlight: Great Pairs

There are so many books published for adults that have what is called “crossover appeal,” meaning they are recommended for teens, too. It’s hard to find those books, of course, because they are shelved in the adult fiction area and we don’t exactly put shining beacons on them all to let you teens know they’re there! So this week I thought I’d showcase some new-ish books for adults – that also happen to pair well with new-ish YA titles for extra added appeal and ease of entry into the world of books for adults.


Books about growing up

…featuring horses. You’re probably saying, “But I stopped reading horse books when I was 11!” Give these two a shot, though, if you still (secretly) like stories involving animals in some way, but also really love great realistic fiction about growing up in an imperfect world.

ADULT: The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani

In the South during the Great Depression, an elite equestrian boarding school gets a new student: sheltered Thea Atwell is banished from her wealthy family in Florida after her naivete gets her into trouble. Her home-schooled, insular life did not prepare her for what she finds at the Yonahlossee Riding Camp. The Southern belle and debutante students have their own particular social hierarchy into which Thea has trouble understanding at first, but her riding skills allow her to slowly make her way in this new world, coming to terms with who she is and what she needs to learn to grow stronger.

YOUNG ADULT: Catch Rider by Jennifer H. Lyne

Sidney grew up tough, so when she needs to escape her over-protective mother and her mother’s string of abusive boyfriends, she finds a job cleaning stables for a rich woman and drives herself there even though she’s only 14. She loves to ride, so working amongst the horses and riders is thrilling for Sid. The mill town she lives in feels like a dead-end, and probably will be for most of Sid’s classmates and her beloved uncle. But Sid wants so much more from life, and her opportunity to see how the other side lives leads to more opportunities to pursue her dream of riding.

Historical Fiction

ADULT: Blood & Beauty: The Borgias by Sarah Dunant

If you’ve seen any of the award-winning TV show The Borgias, you know that this is some fascinating history. When their father rose to power as the pope, the Borgia children had to learn the ropes of the family business: getting even more power for their family and themselves. Cesare is the cold, manipulative one who thinks nothing of killing those who stand in his way – including his sister’s husbands. Lucrezia’s job is to be beautiful and attract those husbands, until she realizes she is a pawn in a game over which she could have some control, too.

YOUNG ADULT: Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub

Love the thrilling real story of the dramatic Borgia family? Methinks the bard did, too. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet takes on Italian family drama, and this novel takes that drama to another level. Still Star-Crossed picks up where Romeo and Juliet leaves off – with the title characters dead. Even though they have died through their love, the Capulets and Montagues are still feuding. A plan to make peace involves another Capulet-Montague match-up, but will it end well this time?

Death & Destruction

ADULT: Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

If you’re a fan of fast-paced thrillers like Michael Crichton or Michael Grant, or literary horror/zombie stories like those of Daniel Kraus and Patrick Ness, then you will love Red Moon. In the world of this book, werewolves are real – they are people disturbingly transformed by a disease – and they are rising up against the rest of humanity. They live in what could be called peace, but an extremist group of lycans is planning deadly attacks on the U.S. (there are major parallels to the 9/11 terrorist attacks), determined to spark a war to end all wars.

YOUNG ADULT: The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer

While not as tensely paced as the book to which this is the sequel, House of the Scorpion (2002), this is another riveting and imaginative look at what our world could be in the future. El Patron is dead, and Matteo must step into his position of power.  I paired this with Red Moon because both focus intensely on real-world issues but frame them in an alternate reality.

New Books Highlight: Fantastical History

Historical fiction is a genre worth exploring. Yep, I know what you’re thinking: “Read history? No. Way.” I’m here to tell you: yes way. There are tons of different, unique, amazing ways that YA authors are bringing you back in time these days: some of them infuse their stories with fantasy and magic, some of them lean towards elements of the paranormal or supernatural, and some of them seem like magic in the way that they evoke the time and place they take you to. Check out these three new and highly recommended historical fiction/fantasy stories!

Historical Fantasy: Delusion by Laura L. Sullivancover image of Delusion by Laura Sullivan

Sisters Phil and Fee Albion come from a family of illusionists, so they are used to life being full of drama. When things in World War II London get too horrific, they are sent to the country where life feels free of the drama they crave. Or is it? When Phil – determined as ever – decides to get their new country town to sit up and play a role in the ongoing war, she stumbles upon a college for magicians. Their work is nothing like the illusions she and Fee produce, and the magic has power over her she never expected.

Sneak Peek! “Phil sprinted along the bank of the Thames, unbraiding her hair as she ran, so late she didn’t dare ask a passing stranger the time. Even that small delay might be disastrous. This was opening night.” (Text copyright © 2012 by Laura L. Sullivan)

Historical Paranormal Romance: In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters (not yet cataloged) cover image of In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

It’s 1918: World War One rages and the flu epidemic consumes millions worldwide. Mary Shelley Black is sent to San Diego to live with her aunt when her father is jailed for anti-Americanism – a considerable threat when the country is at war. People everywhere are seeking spiritual solace as their loved ones die around them. Mary Shelley (despite being named after a horror novelist) does not believe in spirits, seances, or anything else taht the people around her are going crazy for. When her first love comes back to her as a ghost, however, she must reckon with forces beyond her control and outside of our world.

Sneak Peek! “I stepped inside the railroad car, and three dozen pairs of eyes peered my way. Gauze masks concealed the passengers’ mouths and noses. The train smelled of my own mask’s cotton, boiling onions, and a whiff of something clammy and sour I took to be fear.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Cat Winters)

Historical Fiction: Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Rosscover image of Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross

Maude’s escape from provincial France to the bustling city of Paris has left her with broken dreams and empty pockets. When she answers an unusual ad for the Durandeau Agency, she is thrown into the midst of Paris aristocracy. However, she’s there under a ruse: she’s been hired to act as a “beauty foil” for high-society Isabelle – acting as Isabelle’s friend but there because her plain looks make Isabelle stand out. Drawn deeper into the aristocracy through her friendship with Isabelle, at the same time that she is kept very much outside of it because she is hired help, Maude struggles to keep herself and her dreams from being lost. Based on a short story by French author, Emile Zola, this is a riveting and atmospheric tale.

Sneak Peek! “‘Perfect, just perfect,’ says the stout man. He scrutinizes me, his suit pinching across his rotund torso, and I assume that this is Monsieur Durandeau, but he doesn’t introduce himself.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Elizabeth Ross)