Archive | #keepYAweird RSS feed for this section

My Lady Jane

24 Oct
by Unknown artist,painting,1590

by Unknown artist,painting,1590

Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Day Queen, became the de fact English monarch immediately following the death of Henry VII’s only son, Edward VI. She ruled from 10 July until 19 July 1553, a pawn in the machinations of courtiers and other heirs to the throne. Her life ended when she was beheaded on February 12, 1554.

02_f2_m

Most of my knowledge of Jane comes form the 1986 movie starring Helena Bonham Carter and Cary Elwes.

mv5bmtg0ndg4ntc2nl5bml5banbnxkftztcwmjcxmjiymq-_v1_uy268_cr40182268_al_

When I first saw the cover of My Lady Jane,  by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows, I anticipated a traditional tale of the Tudor dynasty.

22840421

But, then there were those white notes written on the cover. I knew I was in for something a little different.

Publisher’s Summary:The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane gets to be Queen of England.

Like that could go wrong.

My Lady Jane  is full of comical (and not so comical) cultural references. Gifford, a secret poet, is forever quoting  Shakespeare.  Instead of the conflict between Catholics and Protestants, there is a conflict between Verities, regular people,  and Eðians, people with the power to shapeshift into various animals.

As I write this, I am a few chapters short of the ending. I can’t help hoping that this excellent trio of authors will find a way to leave Jane, Gifford and King Edward alive at the end. After all, when you are rewriting history, why not keep the protagonists alive!

Calling all thinking girls

14 Aug

My brother in law’s friend one described someone (Debbie Gibson?)  as “the thinking girl’s Tiffany”. The phrase has stuck with me through the decades. It recently popped back into mind with David D. Levine’s Arabella of Mars.

This is such a fun book, full of the adventure and the chaste romance you would expect of a Regency novel, but it is set on Mars. Thinking girls just want to have fun, too!

Unknown

Publisher’s Summary:Since Newton witnessed a bubble rising from his bathtub, mankind has sought the stars. When William III of England commissioned Capt. William Kidd to command the first expedition to Mars in the late 1600s, he proved that space travel was both possible and profitable.

Now, one century later, a plantation in a flourishing British colony on Mars is home to Arabella Ashby, a young woman who is perfectly content growing up in the untamed frontier. But days spent working on complex automata with her father or stalking her brother Michael with her Martian nanny is not the proper behavior of an English lady. That is something her mother plans to remedy with a move to an exotic world Arabella has never seen: London, England.

However, when events transpire that threaten her home on Mars, Arabella decides that sometimes doing the right thing is far more important than behaving as expected. She disguises herself as a boy and joins the crew of theDiana, a ship serving the Mars Trading Company, where she meets a mysterious captain who is intrigued by her knack with clockwork creations. Now Arabella just has to weather the naval war currently raging between Britain and France, learn how to sail, and deal with a mutinous crew…if she hopes to save her family remaining on Mars.

Arabella of Mars, the debut novel by Hugo-winning author David D. Levine offers adventure, romance, political intrigue, and Napoleon in space!

It reminded me of a lot of books and series I like. It has the “dress up as a boy and go on an adventure during the Napoleonic wars” adventure of the Jackie Farber seriesIt has adventure in space like Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles. It is an alternative history like Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series. And, it is by a local Portland author.  Although I started y talking about thinking girls enjoying this book, I can think of a number of boys in last year’s class that would enjoy reading Arabella of Mars. 

This might be one of my favorite  reads of the summer and I think it would be highly appropriate for the kids I teach. It might be one of my first book talks of the year.

 

 

 

The thrill of victory…

7 Aug

…the agony of defeat.

Growing up, many a Saturday was spent watching Wide World of Sports. Its opening became  an iconic sports meme for me long before the Internet was flooded with them.

I’ve been thinking about this intro as the Olympics begin.

There are lots of ways spectators can participate without flying to Rio. Knitters can join the Ravellinic Games on Ravelry, where there is only one rule:

The One Rule To Rule Them All: Challenge yourself by starting and finishing one or more projects during the 2016 Summer Olympics.

There are actual events such as the Mitten Medley, WIPs Wrestling, Sock Put and Synchronized Spinning. Although I am madly working on a WIP (Work in Progress) I am not participating in the Ravellinics. Too much pressure to perform.

I am however, reading a sports themed book!

Unknown

Publisher’s Summary:

I am Lou Brown:

Social outcast, precocious failure, 5’10” and still growing.

I was on the fast track to the Olympic superstardom.

Now, I’m training boys too cool to talk to me. In a sport I just made up. In a fish tank.

My life has quickly become very weird.

Nat Luurtsema’s YA debut is side-splittingly funny and painfully true to anyone who’s just trying to figure out how they fit into the world.

Goodreads gives a little more detail.

Goodreads Sumary: Lou Brown is one of the fastest swimmers in the county. She’s not boasting, she really is. So things are looking pretty rosy the day of the Olympic time-trials. With her best mate Hannah by her side, Lou lines up by the edge of the pool, snaps her goggles on and bends into her dive…

Everything rests on this race. It’s Lou’s thing.

… or it was. She comes dead last and to top it all off Hannah sails through leaving a totally broken Lou behind.

Starting again is never easy, particularly when you’re the odd-one out in a family of insanely beautiful people and a school full of social groups way too intimidating to join. Where do you go from here? Finding a new thing turns out to be the biggest challenge Lou’s ever faced and opens up a whole new world of underwater somersaults, crazy talent shows, bitchy girls and a great big load of awkward boy chat.

Lou Brown guides us through the utter humiliation of failure with honesty, sass and a keen sense of the ridiculous. This girl will not be beaten.

This book was first published in the UK as Girl out of Water.

Unknown-1

In France, it is Moi et les Aquaboys.

Unknown-2

No matter what language you read it in, this is a funny and poignant novel about what happens after the agony of defeat.

Goodbye 2015…

31 Dec

No, I won’t be up until midnight reading. I haven’t stayed up on New Year’s Eve for years. Maybe decades. My New Year comes in September, with the start of each new school year.

Today, I want to tell about a small book that has been overlooked by many. It is not a book for everyone. There is little happiness in it, but there is power.

Unknown

Publisher’s Summary: Wasp’s job is simple. Hunt ghosts. And every year she has to fight to remain Archivist. Desperate and alone, she strikes a bargain with the ghost of a supersoldier. She will go with him on his underworld hunt for the long-long ghost of his partner and in exchange she will find out more about his pre-apocalyptic world than any Archivist before her. And there is much to know. After all, Archivists are marked from birth to do the holy work of a goddess. They’re chosen. They’re special. Or so they’ve been told for four hundred years.

Archivist Wasp fears she is not the chosen one, that she won’t survive the trip to the underworld, that the brutal life she has escaped might be better than where she is going. There is only one way to find out.

Wasp is an anti-hero on a classic hero’s journey. There is no romance, as there is in so many fantasy books. It opens with Wasp’s most recent fight in which she has to win to maintain her position, a position she often loathes. She feels trapped.Until she meets the nameless ghost who asks her to help him find someone. Along the way, as one might expect on a hero’s journey, Wasp learns as much about herself as she does about the world that came before the post-apocalyptic world in which she lives.

It is such an intriguing mix of fantasy, myth and science fiction. Archivist Wasp is no beach read, but it is full of well-developed characters, excellent world building and beautiful writing.

Extraordinarily Ordinary

6 Dec

Unknown

This is a novel about a group of ordinary friends who want to have a normal life and graduate before their school blows up. The plot was pretty straightforward the only hints that something bad might happen were the chapter titles, which were mini-descriptions of what was going on with the indie kids (the Chosen Ones). the novel is s satire of YA novels in which kids save the world, but I think it sensitively sheds light on what it is like to just be an ordinary kid. And in a  way, just being an ordinary kids requires super powers.

Publisher’s Summary: What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

I heart A. S. King!

23 Jul

One of my big scores at the ALA conference was an arc of A. S. King’s new novel  I Crawl Through It.

Unknown

This is what I will be up to today. Crawling through its pages and loving every minute of it. It’s received a number of starred reviews already, from VOYA, Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, and School Library Journal.

Here’s what all the buzz is about:

Publisher’s Summary: Four teenagers are on the verge of exploding. The anxieties they face at every turn have nearly pushed them to the point of surrender: senseless high-stakes testing, the lingering damage of past trauma, the buried grief and guilt of tragic loss. They are desperate to cope, but no one is listening.

So they will lie. They will split in two. They will turn inside out. They will even build an invisible helicopter to fly themselves far away…but nothing releases the pressure. Because, as they discover, the only way to truly escape their world is to fly right into it.

The genius of acclaimed author A.S. King reaches new heights in this groundbreaking work of surrealist fiction; it will mesmerize readers with its deeply affecting exploration of how we crawl through traumatic experience-and find the way out.

Andrew Smith said “I Crawl Through It proves that A.S. King is one of the most innovative and talented novelists of our time. This is King’s masterpiece–a brilliant, paranoid, poetic, funny, and at times overwhelmingly sad literary cocktail of absinthe and Adderall. What a trip!”

Today is going to be an excellent day.

Unknown-1

Modern myths and fairy tales

13 Jul

Finn was the only person who witnessed the kidnapping of  beautiful  Roza, at the spring festival. Finn O’Sullivan  is the main character of Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap.

Unknown

The story begins as if it were a realistic novel about the aftermath of a crime. But as we read this novel, we see glimpses of subtle magic and realize Bone Gap  is much, much more.

I started this book a few weeks ago and abandoned it. I decided to give it another chance and I am so glad I did. Roza hasn’t been kidnapped by an ordinary man. Finn can’t describe the kidnapper. Other characters, human and animal, seem to be just a bit shy of ordinary. Bone Gap appears to be an ordinary small town, complete bullies,eccentrics, rumors, affection, and intimacy. As Finn looks into Roza’s disappearance the book transitions seamlessly from ordinary to extraordinary.

The book has overtones of Greek mythology and fairy tales, none of it spelled out in detail. Ruby lets the reader draw on their one knowledge of these things and connect the dots. Whoever you imagine the kidnapper to be, you will not regret reading  Bone Gap.

The Fat Squirrel Speaks

Knitting, spinning, and assorted awesomeness.

Global Yell Blog

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Jone Rush MacCulloch

Deo Writer: Musings to Spark the Spirit

Klickitat St. Readers

Just another WordPress.com site

Readerbuzz

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

PLUMDOG BLOG

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Gail Carriger

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Kate Messner

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Cybils Awards

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Someday My Printz Will Come

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh!

Opening books to open minds.

andrea gillespie

Inquiring My Way Forward

Kirby's Lane: A Place for Readers and Writers

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The Horn Book

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The History Girls

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Books Around The Table

A potluck of ideas from five children's book authors and illustrators

%d bloggers like this: