Saturday, November 30, 2013

St. Andrew's Day: Books in Scotland

It's Saint Andrew's Day! Saint Andrew's Day is also the national day of Scotland, so here are some books that take place in Scotland to read with your shortbread and haggis.


The Explosionist by Jenny Davidson. Set in Scotland in an alternate 1930s, where Napoleon won Waterloo, the Hanseatic League still exists, and spiritualism is real and you can talk to ghosts through radio waves, Sophie and her friend Mikael are investigating the mysterious murder of a famous medium when they realize the plot goes much, much deeper than they ever imagined and has ties to the highest levels of government. Follow it with Invisible Things.

Selkie Girl by Laurie Brooks. Set in Orkney, Elin Jean knows she doesn't fit in. When she finds her mothers seal skin, she learns her mother is a Selkie. Elin Jean must then decide if she should return the skin. Being half-Selkie herself, she must also decide if she wants to go to sea, or stay human.

Lady Macbeth's Daughter by Lisa Klein. Albia was raised by the three weird sisters, not knowing anything about her parents. When Macbeth shows up to hear his future, she learns the truth and then does everything she can to help her father's rival.


Girl in a Cage by Jane Yolen and Robert Harris. When Robert the Bruce becomes King of Scotland, the King of England vows vengeance. He kidnaps the Bruce's daughter, the newly minted Princess Marjorie. He then keeps her in a cage in the town square, exposed to the elements and the public. The second in the Stuart Quartet, start with Queen's Own Fool.

The Wild Queen: The Days and Nights of Mary, Queen of Scots by Carolyn Meyer. Part of her Young Royals series, Mary was 5 when she went to France to be with her future husband. At 18, she's a widow and no longer Queen of France, so she returns to Scotland to claim her crown there, hoping to also wear the English crown.

Undead by Kirsty McKay. On the way back from a ski trip, a busload of students gets snowed in at a rest stop where most turn into zombies. Follow it with Unfed.


Running on the Cracks by Julia Donaldson. After her parents die in a plane crash, Leo runs away to Glasgow, trying to find grandparents she's never met.

An Earthly Knight by Janet McNaughton. In this retelling of Tam Lin set in the 12th century, Jeanette is called on to restore her family's honor.

Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray. Ross always wanted to visit the Scottish town of Ross. But he's dead now, so his best friends steal his ashes to take them to Ross-- but what should be a simple journey quickly turns into something much crazier.

What are your Scottish must-reads?

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Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Birthday Madeline L'Engle!

On this day in 1918, Madeline L'Engle was born! (annotations are from WorldCat)


A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle. Meg Murry and her friends become involved with unearthly strangers and a search for Meg's father, who has disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government. Follow it with A Wind in the Door.

And Both Were Young by Madeline L'Engle. Philippa is miserable at an all girls' boarding school in Switzerland until she forms a supportive friendship with the mysterious Paul.

Meet the Austins by Madeline L'Engle. The life of the Austin family is changed by the arrival of self-centered young Maggy Hamilton, orphaned by the sudden death of her pilot father. Follow it with The Moon by Night.


Camilla by Madeline L'Engle. Fifteen-year-old Camilla gains new maturity through her relationship with her best friend's brother and the growing realization that her parents are fallible individuals.
v The Joys of Love by Madeline L'Engle. After graduating from college in 1941, Elizabeth Jerrold pursues her dream of becoming a stage actress, landing a position as an apprentice in a summer theater company where she hones her acting skills and falls in love with an aspiring director.

What are your favorite L'Engle titles?
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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving: Recommendations I'm thankful for

When you're a reader, people recommend books to you. When you're a librarian, there's a fair amount of assigned reading. Sometimes you just get through to the book. Sometimes you discover a new favorite that you almost never picked up. Today, I'm saying thank you to the people who brought some of my favorite books--books that I almost missed entirely.


The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson. A few years ago at ALA, Katie kept talking about how awesome this one was and how much her teens loved it. I was like "eh, not really my thing." THE LOOK ON HER FACE. I was pretty sure she'd never talk to me again if I didn't read it. So glad I did. I love this whole trilogy.

Going Bovine by Libba Bray. After this won the Printz, it became required reading for an in-system Reader's Advisory training. I wouldn't have read it if I hadn't had to, but I'm glad I did-- it made me give Bray's work a second chance (I'm not a huge fan of the Gemma Doyle series), which has only been a bonus for me!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling. Goblet of Fire came out the summer before my junior year in college. My boss had young kids and was telling me how they were counting down the days. I was only vaguely aware of Potter-- one girl on my floor had been reading it that year and said it was good, but I hadn't read any. The next day, she brought in her copy of Sorcerer's Stone for me to read. (Luckily for me, she knew I'd love it, so she had Chamber of Secrets waiting for me the day after that.)


Gingerbread by Rachel Cohn. This is one I had to read for a committee I was on. So glad I did--it's a great book and was the first thing I ever read by Cohn-- now one of my favorite authors.

Titanic: Voices From the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson. This is another one I had to read for committee. When I saw it, my thought was "eh. Another Titanic book." But I don't know of any other Titanic books that has me on the edge of my seat every.single.time I've read it, or sob so hard when the ship goes down (and, because it was a finalist for the award, I've read this book more times than I can count.)

Wintersmith by Terry Prachett. I had to read this one for Books for the Beat a few years ago. It was my first Discworld-- heck, my first Prachett. I never would have picked it up, but I'm so so so glad I did. Prachett's now a favorite author.


Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. This was a recommendation from my English penpal when I was in high school. I read it, because she was way cooler than I was. Not only did I love it, but it gave me major cool points in high school. Plus, after getting through it, I've never struggled with reading dialect again.

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma. I only read this one because SLJ assigned it to me for review. It's not even the type of thing they normally assign me, so I'm not sure why or how I got it, but I'm so glad I did. Such a wonderful book.

Saffy's Angel by Hilary McKay. Permanent Rose was assigned for a Reader's Advisory training, and I'm a bit of a dork that I felt I had to read the earlier books in the series first. And, oh, the Casson family!

If you haven't read any of these books, you should! What books are you thankful that someone shoved into your hands?

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pope Urban II orders the first crusade.

On this day in 1095, Pope Urban II ordered the first crusade--ordering Christians to reclaim the Holy Land.


Blood Red Horse by KM Grant. Will loves Ellie, but she's betrothed to his older brother. Both brothers are off to the Holy Land on crusade, but Will's horse Hosanna with almost mystical powers. The first in the de Granville trilogy, follow it with Green Jasper.

Troubadour by Mary Hoffman. Bertrand is a troubadour, traveling from castle and castle providing entertainment and warning of the coming crusade. Elinor is a nobleman's daughter, who falls in love with Bertrand and becomes a troubadour in order to find him again. But all around them, there is war as the Pope has called a crusade against the nobles of Southern France (including Elinor's father.)

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle. The classic tale of the outlaws who rob from the rich to give to the poor as a way of righting the wrongs of King Richard-- regent while his brother John was off fighting the Third Crusade.


Scarlet Moon by Debbie Viguie. In this retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, Ruth's grandmother has been banished to the woods--suspected of witchcraft. Ruth visits her whenever she can--an outcast in her village with her muscles and men's clothing. Ever since her brother was killed in the Crusades, Ruth's had to take his place as blacksmith. Ruth knows the woods well-- well enough to fear what's in them.

Keeper of the Grail by Michael Spradlin. Tristan is an orphan living at an abbey when the Knights Templar ride into town. He then becomes a squire to one of the knights and trusted with the task of bringing the Holy Grail back to England. The first in the Youngest Templar series, follow it with Trail of Fate.

Crusades: The Illustrated History edited by Thomas F. Madden. Lavishly illustrated, this is a beautiful introduction to the history of the Crusades.

What books about the Crusades am I missing?

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Alice in Wonderland

On this day in 1862, Charles Dodgson gave Alice Lidell a story he wrote. It was later published and is now a classic.


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll. This is the original, plus the sequel in one book.

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor. On Alyss Heart's 7th birthday, her evil Aunt Redd storms the castle and murders her parents. Alyss barely escapes through the pool of tears, into our world. But in our world, imagination can't make flowers sing or conjure things from thin air. Alyss eventually finds an adoptive family, and someone she thinks believes her-- until he publishes her story as children's fluff. But then card soldiers crash her wedding and take her back to Wonderland, to take her place as the warrior princess to save her land. This is Alice in Wonderland as you've never imagined it. The first in a trilogy, follow it with Seeing Redd.

Wonderland by Tommy Kovac, illustrated by Sonny Liew. At the beginning of Alice in Wonderland, the White Rabbit calls Alice Maryann. Who is Maryann? In this comic book, she's the White Rabbit's maid. Alice isn't actually in this one, but everyone else is.


Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot. This is a rather madcap love letter to Sunderland, England. Giving us a tour of the town, teaching us its history, and outlining all of Lewis Carroll's and Alice's connections with the area. Along the way are meditations on aging, the history of comics, and a guide to the town's great pubs.

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter. Alice has never been allowed out after dark--her father was too afraid of monsters. After zombies attack and kill her entire family, Alice learns to also fear the monsters-- but it's too late. She's now on a path of vengeance. The first in the White Rabbit Chronicles, follow it with Through the Zombie Glass.

Splintered by AG Howard. Alyssa's mother is crazy, and she thinks she might be too, she can hear flowers talking to her. But Alyssa and her mother are descendants of Alice Lidell, and Wonderland is real--and much darker than Carroll ever imagined. Follow it with Unhinged--it comes out in January.


Alice in the Country of Hearts, Vol. 1 by QuinRose, illustrated by Soumei Hoshino. Alice is kidnapped by men dressed as rabbits, and shoved in Wonderland, where a very dangerous game is going on. Alice has to win to survive, but she has no idea what the rules are. The first in a series.

Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrahams. Ingrid idolizes Sherlock Holmes-- something that comes in handy when she gets involved in a murder investigation. But on top of school, soccer practice, and playing the lead in a community theater production of Alice in Wonderland, can she solve the murder, too? The first Echo Falls Mystery, follow it with Behind the Curtain

Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde. In addition to being a Literary Detective in the Real World, Thursday is starting as part of Jurisfiction--the force the polices books from within. Her mentor/partner is the man-hating Miss Havisham, a bad break for Thursday who needs to get Landen un-eradicated. Other favorite characters include Havisham's nemesis, the Red Queen, the Chesire Cat, only, because of boundary changes, he's now the Unitary Authority of Warrington Cat. The second in a series published for adults, teens who've had to slog through the Western Canon for advanced lit classes will love this one. Start with The Eyre Affair.

What are your favorite Alice related books?

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Girls Dressed as Boys

I've done two posts this month featuring books from my Movember display (here and here). Most of the books that took a mustache well were ones with girls on the cover, so in that vein, here are some books that feature girls disguised as boys. Annotations are from WorldCat.


Wild Orchid: A Retelling of "The Ballad of Mulan" by Cameron Dokey. After disguising herself as a boy to join the Chinese army, Mulan returns home only to face an arena that frightens her more than any battlefield--the royal court where she must honor her family through marriage

Nobody's Prize by Esther Friesner. Still longing for adventure, Princess Helen of Sparta maintains her disguise as a boy to join her unsuspecting brothers as part of the crew of the Argo, the ship commanded by Prince Jason in his quest for the Golden Fleece. Start with Nobody's Princess.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. In an alternate 1914 Europe, fifteen-year-old Austrian Prince Alek, on the run from the Clanker Powers who are attempting to take over the globe using mechanical machinery, forms an uneasy alliance with Deryn who, disguised as a boy to join the British Air Service, is learning to fly genetically engineered beasts.


Babe in Boyland by Jody Gehrman. Natalie, a seventeen-year-old former drama club member who now writes a relationship column for her school newspaper, decides to go undercover as a student at an all-boys boarding school so that she can figure out what guys are really like.

Can I See Your I.D.?: True Stories of False Identities by Chris Barton. Stories of ten impostors-- many of them teenagers-- push questions of identity, deception, and gullibility to the extreme. (Jennie adds-- there are a few girls-as-boys stories.

Scarlet by AC Gaughen. Will Scarlet shadows Robin Hood, with an unerring eye for finding treasures to steal and throwing daggers with deadly accuracy, but when Gisbourne, a ruthless bounty hunter, is hired by the sheriff to capture Robin and his band of thieves, Robin must become Will's protector risking his own life in the process.


Alanna: The First Adventure Eleven-year-old Alanna, who aspires to be a knight even though she is a girl, disguises herself as a boy to become a royal page, a learning many hard lessons along her path to high adventure.

The Body at the Tower by YS Lee. As a nearly full-fledged member of the Agency, the all-female detective unit based in Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls, Mary Quinn, disguised as a poor apprentice builder, must brave the sinister underworld of Victorian London in order to unmask a murderer.

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. Struggling to survive after a shipwreck, Viola disguises herself as a young soldier, complicating numerous relationships.

What books would you add?

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Publication of Origin of Species

On this day in 1859, Charles Darwin published Origin of Species, outlining his theory of evolution.


The Origin Of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition by Charles Darwin. This is the book that started it all!

Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman. This biography focuses on the Darwin's home life and how Emma Darwin deeply feared for her husband's soul, while still being supportive of his work.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfield, illustrated by Keith Thompson. In this alternate take on WWI, The Allies are Darwinists, with their warships and weapons made by combining DNA strands from different animals. The Central Powers distrust the Darwinists reliance on animals, instead trusting technology and machines. The first in a trilogy, follow it with Behemoth.


Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande. Mena's being shunned by her family, friends, and church for stopping them from some homophobic bullying. Things get worse when her science teacher refuses to teach intelligent design and only teaches Darwin's theory of evolution.

Ringside, 1925 by Jen Bryant. In 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee the teaching of evolution was on trial. This verse novel looks at the Scopes Monkey Trial by telling the story in multiple voices.

Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. This classic play is the version of the Scopes Trial that most are familiar with.

What are your favorite reads about Charles Darwin or evolution?

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