Saturday, August 31, 2013

Jack the Ripper

On this day in 1888, Jack the Ripper killed Mary Ann Nichols-- his (her?) first victim. On November 7th of the same year, he claimed his 5th and final victim. The case was closed in 1892, still unsolved. To mark this day, we look at books about Jack and Ripper and other serial killers. (I'm on vacation, so all annotations are taken from WorldCat).


Ripper by Stefan Petrucha. Adopted by famous Pinkerton Agency Detective Hawking in 1895 New York, fourteen-year-old Carver Young hopes to find his birth father, but when he becomes involved in the pursuit of notorious killer Jack the Ripper, Carver discovers that finding the truth can be worse than ignorance.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson. Rory, of BĂ©nouville, Louisiana, is spending a year at a London boarding school when she witnesses a murder by a Jack the Ripper copycat and becomes involved with the very unusual investigation. Jennie adds: The first in the Shades of London trilogy, follow it with The Madness Underneath.

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber. The albino beauty who has come to study at Victorian Londons Athens Academy will learn not only to deal with the ghosts that she can see, but her own part in the puzzling prophecy that threatens the known world. Jennie adds: Yes, this is technically an adult romance novel, but it's very clean (a bit disappointing if you're actually looking for an adult romance). Follow it with The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker.


Dodger by Terry Prachett. In an alternative version of Victorian London, seventeen-year-old Dodger, a cunning and cheeky street urchin, unexpectedly rises in life when he saves a mysterious girl, meets Charles Dickens, and unintentionally puts a stop to the murders of Sweeney Todd.

The Diviners by Libba Bray. Seventeen-year-old Evie O'Neill is thrilled when she is exiled from small-town Ohio to New York City in 1926, even when a rash of occult-based murders thrusts Evie and her uncle, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, into the thick of the investigation.

Shadowlands by Kate Brian. Rory, a girl in witness protection, thinks the serial killer she turned in has found her and is killing people around her. But as she investigates, she discovers a dark, disturbing truth about her new hometown.


Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. Twelve-year-old Sunny Nwazue, an American-born albino child of Nigerian parents, moves with her family back to Nigeria, where she learns that she has latent magical powers which she and three similarly gifted friends use to catch a serial killer. Jennie says: This is an awesome book, and I wish it were more popular, so we could get a sequel!

Henry Franks by Peter Adam Salomon. While a serial killer stalks his small Georgia town, sixteen-year-old Henry tries to find the truth about the terrible accident that robbed him of his mother and his memories, aided by his friend Justine but not by his distant father.

Acceleration by Graham McNamee. Stuck working in the Lost and Found of the Toronto Transit Authority for the summer, seventeen-year-old Duncan finds the diary of a serial killer and sets out to stop him.

Also check out our Jeffrey Dahmer list. What else would you add?

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Friday, August 30, 2013

Cleopatra Commits Suicide: Books About Ancient Egypt

On this day in 30 BCE, Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, committed suicide. To mark the day, let's look at some books about her and Ancient Egypt in general.


The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. After a disasterous trip to the British Museum, the Rosetta stone is destroyed, their father is missing, and some seriously bad dudes have been released. Carter and Sadie Kane are part of a long line of Egyptian magicians and with the help of some friendly Gods based out of Brooklyn, they have to help set things right. The first in the Kane Chronicles, follow it with The Throne of Fire.

Sphinx's Princess by Esther Friesner. In this imagined biography, young Nefertiti cajoles a scribe to teach her how to read and write and comes to understand the horrors of slavery. But, when she is brought to the royal palace by her aunt, the queen, Nefertiti realizes that her strength is all she has to survive many court intrigues. Follow it with Sphinx's Queen.

Cleopatra Rules!: The Amazing Life of the Original Teen Queen by Vicky Alvear Schecter. This irreverent and slang-filled biography of Cleopatra is based on solid historical research, but is just really fun to read.


Cleopatra Confesses by Carolyn Meyer. Starting at the age of 10, this is Meyer's version of Cleopatra's life as told be Cleopatra herself. She hopes to rule, but so do her older sisters. Playing politics with them may come with a body count.

Cleopatra's Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter. When her parents, Cleopatra and Marc Anthony, kill themselves, Selene and her brothers are forced to Rome to live as prisoners. There, Selene must fight to save her brothers and reclaim her throne as the rightful queen of Egypt.

For All Time by Caroline B. Cooney. Annie and Strat are time travelers. Strat is currently in Egypt, in 1899. Annie tries to meet him there, but ends up a few thousand years earlier, in way over her head as she tries to survive. The fourth in a series, start with The Time Travelers: Volume One.


The Curse of the Pharaohs : My Adventures with Mummies by Zahi Hawass. Here, archaeologist Hawass tells all about archeological discovery of Ancient Egypt's troubles, as well as the history behind them, and life during that time period.

The Book of Time by Guillaume Prevost, translated from the French by William Rodarmor. Sam's father is missing and when he searches for clues, he instead finds something that whisks him through time. Sam has to visit many places (including Ancient Egypt) before discovering where his father is. The first in a trilogy, follow it with Gate Of Days.

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury. Agnes is about to debut in society, but feels confined by class and gender. Deeply interested in Egypt, she navigates her social realities while having feelings for a Egyptologist and dealing with a mummy unwrapping party.

What are your Egypt must reads?

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Katrina hits New Orleans

On this day in 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall, a direct hit on New Orleans that caused the levees to fail and resulted in massive flooding.


A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld. Neufeld picks six people, from completely different socio-economic walks of life and different neighborhoods and tells their stories both before and after Hurricane Katrina. Some evacuate, some end up in the Superdome. Some lose everything, some are fine, but all are forever changed, just like the city. Originally published for adults, teens will enjoy this full-color graphic novel.

Ruby's Imagine by Kim Antieau. Even at 18, Ruby lives in a rich imaginary world, where she remembers her parents and can talk to the trees and animals. When the trees and butterflies tell her a 'big spin' is coming, Mammaloose and others dismiss it. But after Katrina hits, Ruby starts to wonder, and learn, how much is her imagination, and how much is real.

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes. There are signs everywhere, trying to tell them something, but Lanesha and Mama YaYa can't figure out what. Lanesha's teased at schools for her witchy ways, but a popular girl doesn't mind and starts to be her friend, and a new teacher encourages Lanesha's interest in engineering. Everything's starting the look up, and then the neighborhood clears out as Katrina comes. But, once the storm is over, the real trouble begins.


Hurricane Katrina: The Storm That Changed America by the editors of Time Magazine. This book gathers Time's reporting and, most notably, its photographs to document the storm and its aftermath.

Pawprints of Katrina: Pets Saved and Lessons Learned by Cathy Scott. When Katrina approached, most evacuation centers wouldn't let people bring their pets. In the aftermath of the levee failure, animals lay stranded and endangered until volunteers came to rescue them. In addition to many heartwarming and heartbreaking stories about these rescues, this book also covers the legal battle to make sure that animals would be protected in future disasters.

Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson. In Mississippi, Laurel looks like she has her life on track, but she turns to meth to forget what happened, to forget her life in New Orleans, and to forget when Katrina came and Laurel lost everything, and everyone.


Hurricane Song: A Novel of New Orleans by Paul Volponi. After his mother's remarriage, Miles moves in with his father. His father concentrates on jazz, while Miles focuses on football, making the team and dreaming of playing pro. When Miles gets to the Superdome though, it's not for football, but rather taking shelter after Katrina hits.

Hurricane Force: In the Path of America's Deadliest Storms by Joseph B. Treaster. Using Katrina as his focus, Treaster examines and explains the science behind why hurricanes form and why they're so dangerous.

Disasters: Natural and Man-Made Catastrophes Through the Centuries by Brenda Z. Guiberson. This book looks at 10 major disasters, what caused them, what happened, and what the short- and long-term effects were.

What are your Katrina must-reads?

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013


On this day in 1963 was the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Martin Luther King, Jr delivered is iconic "I Have a Dream" speech. On this day in 1968, protestors outside the Chicago Democratic National Convention were beaten as the world watched on TV. To mark both events, today we look at books about protest.

We looked at books about Dr. King on Martin Luther King Day and books about the Civil Rights movement during February.


The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano. In 1969, The Young Lords create in uprising in Evelyn's Spanish Harlem neighborhood. The fight spills into her own home, as Evelyn's grandmother supports the Puerto-Rican Young Lords, but her mother does not, with Evelyn caught in the middle.

Plastic by Sarah N. Harvey. When his best friend decides to get a boob for her 16th birthday, Jack does some research into plastic surgery and is horrified by what he finds. He starts a movement protesting plastic surgery on young people, but as the movement grows, it turns violent and Jack no longer has control of it.

Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman. Set during WWII and the independence movement, Vidya's father is badly beaten by the British during an independence rally. He lives, but his brain is damaged. The family is forced to move in with their conservative grandfather. There, Vidya's aunts make life even harder for Vidya and her mother. Vidya's only solace is the library, which is located upstairs in the male part of the house, and therefore forbidden to her.


The Beginning of the American Fall: A Comics Journalist Inside the Occupy Wall Street Movement by Stephanie McMillan. This book chronicles the first several months of the Occupy Wall Street protests with cartoons, interviews, and thoughts.

Zahra's Paradise by Amir and Khalil. Mehdi was arrested and disappears during the protests following Iran's 2009 elections, but his mother and brother (a blogger) won't let his memory die and are determined to find him, or the truth about what happened to him.

Bread and Roses, Too by Katherine Patterson. When the millworkers in Lawrence, Mass. go on strike, Rosa is confused. Her teacher says the strikers are good-for-nothing rabble rousers, but Rosa's mother and sister on the picket lines. Then she's sent away with the other children, to stay safe until the strike is over.


33 Revolutions per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, from Billie Holiday to Green Day by Dorian Lynskey. Lynskey looks at 33 different songs from the 20th century and the events they were protesting and actions they inspired.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan. When her father is murdered, Esperanza and her mother flee to from Mexico to the US. Esperanza is used to an upper class life, not her new life as a migrant worker worker during the depression.

Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix. Three girls from different backgrounds become friends at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory. Told in each voice, this does more than focus on the tragic fire, but also covers an earlier strike against unfair labor conditions.

What are your must-reads about protesting?

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Oil Discovered in Titusville

Note: Um, this accidentally got posted a day early, because I messed up the pre-scheduler on blogger.

On this day in 1859, the first (successful) oil well was drilled in the US, in the Titusville, PA. To mark the day, here are some books about oil...


Black Gold: The Story of Oil in Our Livesm by Albert Marrin. This is a history of oil, showing not only how we use it, but how the desire for it has shaped much of our modern history and will continue to do so.

Empty by Suzanne Weyn. In the not-too-distant future, civilization has just run out of fossil fuel. Following a few teenagers in the small town of Sage Harbor, they try to survive without heat, technology, or supermarkets.

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi. In this post-apocalyptic world, New Orleans and Orleans II are under water. Nailer works on a light crew, scavenging old ships for copper wire. But then storm brings a new ship, and Nailer's hit pay dirt. Except the girl who owns the ship is still alive, and now they're both on the run. Be sure to check out the companion novel, The Drowned Cities.


Oil! by Upton Sinclair. This ranging story about oilmen and the California oil industry might not be an obvious choice for teens, but it's more readable than the often assigned The Jungle and ever since the movie version (titled There Will be Blood, you might get some more teen readers to pick it up.

The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd. In 2015, global warming has gotten bad enough that countries decide to cut carbon emissions by 60%. In the UK, this means everyone gets a carbon ration card for the year. Laura must figure out how to navigate her life with less carbon (can a punk rock band go solar?) and the tensions the new system brings to her family (her father loses his job.) Check out the sequel, The Carbon Diaries 2017.

Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne. Faye lives in a world where the scarcity of oil leads to riots, where she's sent to a reform school that drugs her to feel normal, but that won't stop the visions that plague her. What the readers get is a psychological thriller where you're not sure who's crazy--the world, or Faye.

What are your must-reads about oil?

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Preppy Murder: Books about Spoiled Socialites

On this day in 1986, Jennifer Levin was murdered. According to the History Channel, "the case shocked the city and raised questions about underage drinking, drug use and casual sex among New York’s privileged youth." These are themes that have since been well explored in YA Lit.


Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar. Serena has just gotten kicked out of boarding school and is looking forward to hanging out with her friends again, especially Blair, and returning to her snooty school, Constance Billiard. But Blair has kinda enjoyed the spotlight ever since her taller, thinner, blonder, prettier best friend has been away and doesn't want to give it up. The first in a series, follow it with You Know You Love Me.

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard. Three years after Alison has disappeared, her former best friends, still have secrets to hide. Then they begin to get text messages from "A" who threatens to tell everything. Can Alison possibly be back? The first in a series, follow it with Flawless.

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen. Henry and Elizabeth are about to be married, even though Elizabeth is in love with the stable boy, Elizabeth's little sister is in love with Henry, and Henry keep sleeping with Elizabeth's best frenemy. Plus, it's 1899, so the dresses are amazing. Follow it with Rumors.


Private by Kate Brian. Reed is the new student at an exclusive boarding school where she's in way over her head, both academically and socially. She longs to be part of the Billings group, but they have their own secrets to hide. The first in a series, follow it with Invitation Only.

The Clique by Lisi Harrison. Claire has just moved from Florida and is living in Massie's guest house while her parents find a house (their fathers are friends). But Massie's the Queen Bee at school and Claire's Gap jeans from 2 years ago and Ked shoes just will not cut it. Follow it with Best Friends for Never.

Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz. These vampires aren't just the rich children of New York's elite, but they're actually fallen angels-- those that left Heaven with Lucifer, but changed their minds before entering Hell. Plenty of mean girl politics, entangled romances, and an alternate explanation for large portions of history make this long-running series smart and fun. The second is Masquerade.


The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. Disgusted by certain aspects of her elite boarding school, Frankie infiltrates the all-male Order of the Basset Hounds. Despite the fact her father and boyfriend are members, Frankie's supposed to pretend she doesn't know it exists. Instead, she makes it do her bidding without their knowledge.

The Liar Society by Lisa Roecker and Laura Roecker. Last year, Grace died in a mysterious fire. When her best friend, Kate, gets an email from her, Kate starts investigating, trying to figure out which of the many secret societies at their elite school may have been responsible. Fans will want to read the sequel, The Lies That Bind.

52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody. Lexington Larrabee has just crashed her $500,000 custom-built Mercedes into a convenience store. She's a spoiled brat and her father decides that if she wants that $25mil trust fund, it's time she got a job. He picks 52 different minimum wage jobs and she has to work each one for a week.

Who are your favorite rich, mean girls?

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