Thursday, April 1, 2010

Tons and Tons of New Books: Part Two, Historical Fiction

Yes, we did get so many that I can make an entire post out of historical fiction as well as an entire post out of all the fantasy, and there will be a part three with all the realistic fiction--that's how many new books there are!

And yes, this is a good thing. It makes me very happy when scores of new books come downstairs all beautiful with crisp pages, still smelling of paper and ink...but this creates a problem for me. Can you guess what the problem might be?

I can't read them all fast enough. No, I must check them in and take them upstairs and leave them all alone on the New Book cart, knowing that I will have to say goodbye until such a time as I have a free moment to read them. It's hard!

Sigh. You think I'm a freak, don't you. Maybe you're right...

New books!

Finally, at long last, Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson!

In the last three months I have read nearly everything she's written. I strongly recommend every book--even the picture ones. They're fantastic! She uses such beautiful imagery, her historical fiction is accurate (to the point that she walked barefoot in the snow so she could better describe how the experience would feel), and she's downright funny! I mean, a little girl with hair that takes over her classroom? Genius.

I read it to all the elementary classes. We had fun.

If you have never read Speak...READ IT. That is her can't-miss book. And if you liked it...well, I have another book of hers you'll love that I'll tell you about tomorrow with the realistic fiction.

Chains is about a slave girl, pre-Civil war. It's set during the Revolutionary war, and it follows a young girl as she seeks freedom. That's all I'm giving you right now because I'm going to read it and tell you more...

I am Apache by Tanya Landman...

Siki's little brother was murdered in front of her when she was just 14. Her hunger for revenge fuels her as she grows, leading her to turn from the traditional role of women in her tribe and instead become a warrior. But as she earns her place among the men, she starts to hear whispers about a secret from her past.

Death on the River by John Wilson, set just following the Civil War.

Jake Clay, confined to the Confederate prison camp in Andersonville in June 1864, befriends Billy Sharp, who teaches him how to survive, at any cost. Torn apart by the war, Jake goes home, but the journey is its own danger, and it may just give him a chance at redemption.

Double Crossing by Eve Tal tells the story of a Jewish family fleeing Czarist Russia for America.

Raizel and her father cross the ocean, not knowing if they will be accepted at Ellis Island or turned away. And if they get sent back, what will happen to them? It's the narration that makes this book, Raizel is fantastic.

Joe Rat by Mark Barratt is set in Victorian London...

This is the time and place I studied most in college--I was the Victorian Literature expert in my graduating class. Everyone else liked Hemingway. Ick!

I bet none of you know what a "tosher" was. A tosher was someone who would dig through the sewers looking for valuable refuse. They stank. You can imagine, since London at the time had just introduced sewer systems. They all ran right into the Thames, the big river running through London, and if you wanted something to drink and pumped some water from the came from the Thames. So London was icky. Very gross. And sometimes, if you drank the water, it would give you nasty diseases like cholera and typhoid.

Joe Rat is a tosher (collectively: "EEEEEWWWW!") under the control of Mother, a Dickensian character that immediately makes me think of Oliver Twist's Fagin.

When Joe meets a runaway girl and a "madman" he starts to question his way of life, but will it change his life for better, or for worse?

Crossing Stones by Helen Frost, author of the Printz Honor Book Keesha's House...

This novel is written in structured verse, telling the story of Muriel Jorgensen, a young woman eager to win the right to vote and passionate about the war--which would be WWI, if you were curious. Frank Norman, a close friend of Muriel's since childhood, has just enlisted to fight in Europe. Muriel had just begun to think he might be more than a friend. Meanwhile, Muriel is surrounded by family and friends who want to silence her, so she must find a way to express herself in a changing world.

And the start of a series, The Diamond of Drury Lane by Julia Golding.

This book is also set in London, set in 1790. Cat Royal, our protagonist, is penniless, living in a theater in the old section of London, which is the part where I stayed when I was there (in a boy's choir school turned youth hostel with no air conditioning and 24-hour construction outside).

I am so not joking about the construction.

I bet you were about to shrug that off, too, but no. Right outside the window, all night long. Jackhammers and everything.

Here's what the back says, which I think sums the book up nicely, "Reader, you are about to embark on an ADVENTURE about one HIDDEN TREASURE, two bare-knuckle BOXERS, three ENEMIES, and four hundred and thirty-eight RIOTERS. It is told by an ignorant and prejudiced author--me."

Now I must make clear that that last part up there is a nod to Jane Austen, who during her childhood drafted a short history of England which is a laugh riot, entitled, "The History of England from the reign of Henry the 4th to the death of Charles the 1st" and the author (Jane) is listed like this: "By a partial, prejudiced, & ignorant Historian"

Then she adds this little morsel which always cracks me up: "NB. There will be very few Dates in this History."

If only I could have added that to my history papers and gotten away with it...

The other Cat Royal Adventures are on the way! If you get tired of waiting for us to put barcodes in them once you've read this one, you can try reading the Enola Holmes mysteries and the Theodosia books, both downstairs. Quirky heroines, touch of mystery, heart of London, you get the idea. And hey, you can always read those when you've finished reading Cat's books.

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