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Tag: Anna Godbersen

Fashion Hits and Misses from YA Historical Fiction Book Covers

I love historical fiction.  The drama, the intrigue and, oh– the fashion.  I just assume all the period details regarding clothing are accurate.  Or I did until my friend Liz shared it was her secret delight to troll the adult fiction section and find anachronistic apparel.  Curious to know how Liz knows all that she does about fashion?  Here her bio:

I have had an interest in fashion history since I was young.  My mother would take me to estate sales and auctions where I would buy vintage fashions with my allowance.  After graduating from high school I found I did not know exactly what I wanted to do and ended up going to Miami University for costume design.  While studying I found the thing I loved most about designing costumes was actually doing the research that went into the design.  After this discovery I finished up my Bachelor’s Degree at Miami and moved to New York City to study what I loved most.  I got my Master’s Degree in Costume Studies at New York University and have been working in museums since..  Being with the objects in such an intimate setting has allowed my passion to continue to grow and for me to learn more about every aspect of fashion and clothing construction.

Turns out a lot of books from specific dates and locations feature outfits as cover art that either haven’t been invented yet or were way out of fashion.  I was eager to know if these same mistakes were being made in Young Adult historical fiction. After all, how was I to know? Here are some examples of books that got it right and those that got it wrong.

Hit:  His Fair Assassin Trilogy. Grave Mercy (2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults) and Dark Triumph (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults) by Robin LaFevers

his fair assassin
His Fair Assassin series by Robin LaFevers

This series is set in Brittany in 1485.  Brittany is a region of North West France.  The book covers features the main character Ismae and Sybella. Both of these costumes are acceptable imitations of clothing found in 15th century France.  The v-neck style does appear to be more indicative of middle 15th century fashion instead of what you would find in the later half of the century. But because fashion didn’t change as fast at that time it would have still been common later in the century, especially for the masses.  Fashion was fairly limited at the time due to the production method and dyes used to make textiles.  Nicer textiles would have been astronomically expensive and impossible for commoners to own because of strict sumptuary laws that restricted the clothing that could be worn by different classes.  The hair, on the other hand, is very inaccurate as you can see from the comparisons below.


Get Ready for Downton Abbey Season 4 With These Books

DowntonAbbeySince debuting in the UK three seasons ago, Downton Abbey has become a worldwide phenomenon. It combines great characters, a compelling plot and a fascinating historical setting to make for an addictive viewing experience that has captivated audiences of a wide range of nationalities and age groups. Now that Season 4 is about to start airing in the U.S., I know I am excited to see what is in store for all of my favorite residents of the Abbey. If you are like me and Downton Abbey has sparked your interest in the history of this time period more generally, get in the mood for Season 4 (or tide yourself over between episodes) with one of these books.

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History of American Women through Books

March is National Women’s History Month. This year was the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage Parade in Washington D.C. As a tribute and celebration to all the previous women who have challenged rules, broken rules, and changed the world, here’s a list of books throughout America’s history from a woman’s perspective.


Major Events Include: the Jamestown settlement, Mayflower Voyage, and Salem Witch Trials.

Books in this time period include:

Witch Child by Celia Rees
Mary admits that she’s a witch. She travels from England to the New World in hopes of escaping the same fate as her grandmother. The more she sees in the New World, the more she tries to hide her true self, until she can’t take it any longer.



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Pretty Little Liars Anonymous

I have to admit I am addicted to Pretty Little Liars. I actually first started watching the TV show (on ABC Family) by checking it out from my library, and I couldn’t stop watching. Then I picked up the first book of the series as a summer vacation read, and of course I couldn’t stop reading. I don’t know what it is about this series — the mystery, the drama, the scandal, or the secrets — but I am hooked!

If you are like me and are a fan of Pretty Little Liars, have already read the entire book series, are eagerly awaiting the next episode and next book in the series, and are looking to fill that empty hole that remains, then check out these novels that may appeal to the fans of Pretty Little Liars:

If you like the mystery of Pretty Little Liars, check out…

wish you were dead todd strasserWish You Were Dead by Todd Strasser

Students are disappearing at Soundview High, and they are disappearing in an order determined by anonymous blog posts by a bullied student who wishes the popular students were dead. Madison is one of those popular students and begins getting messages online that she will be named next. Can Madison solve the mystery of the disappearances before it is too late and her name is the next one posted?

If you like the drama, read…

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

Set in late nineteenth century, The Luxe delves into the lives of young Manhattan socialites. Arranged marriages, forbidden romance, backstabbing, and jealousy are only the start of the drama that unfolds in this first book in The Luxe series.

If you like the scandal, try…

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PPYA Revisited: Teens from Other Times

Historical Fiction section of a libraryRecently, an author friend on Goodreads posted about the recent scarcity of historical fiction in the YA category. After a swift perusal of my own “read” and “to-read” list, I couldn’t help but acknowledge that it’s true. With that thought in mind, I had a look at YALSA’s Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (PPYA) lists, which have themes every year. The last time a historical fiction PPYA list was done was in 1998, the second year PPYA was in existence. The theme was “Teens from Other Times” and featured familiar titles Catherine, Called Birdy, Walter Dean Myers’ Fallen Angels, and Ann Rinaldi’s In My Father’s House. Of the twenty five titles placed in this category, few are regular familiars. If there are fewer pure historical fiction novels being written for a young adult audience, how do we determine the best ones to read? I am a history buff myself, and I usually find that fascinating characters, groups, or events from history can draw out the most compelling story. This is not, however, always the case. A fabricated historical figure, or one whose name might have been picked from a historical account and then fictionalized, can pull a reader just as well in any era. Every point in time had something going on; it’s up to the author to realize that event and make it palpable to the reader.

With that in mind, let’s look at a few books that might be on this PPYA list if it had been created today. This was actually a difficult list to put together, as there are no parallel plotlines, no magical realism or urban fantasy, and absolutely NO speculative fiction (that last was really hard; some of my favorite “Victorian” novels are actually steam- and dieselpunk). Also, more recent titles were considered; we’re going to stick to novels written in the 2000s or later. Finally, the parameters of PPYA–as seen in the title–indicate paperbacks, and therefore some of the great historical fiction that has come out in the past year would not qualify.

PPYA lists are usually 25 titles long; we’re going to do 10 of the historical fiction novels that have been incredibly popular from their hardcover release through to their paperback ones.


If you like Downton Abbey, you’ll like these books….

Even if you haven’t succumbed to the irresistible lure of the British PBS series Downton Abbey–and I have to say there are probably more female fans out there than male–I think everyone should take a look. There are many topics explored in the series that are of great interest to readers of both genders. The many universal themes explored in the show will have a lot of appeal for teen readers, and they are not all just portrayed in a soap opera-ish way either.

Downton Abbey takes place in a stately manor in Great Britain beginning in 1912 with the sinking of the Titanic and explores the lives of those who live upstairs and below stairs in the manor. World events like WWI, the women’s suffrage movement, and social class struggles affect the lives of the Earl and Countess of Grantham and the rest of the Crawley family and their servants, from the acerbic Dowager Countess played with perfection by Maggie Smith (who has the best lines), her fair-minded and kindly son the Earl of Grantham and his American born wife Cora, their three headstrong daughters, to their many servants, including two servants I really love to hate, Cora’s scheming maid Sarah and nasty Thomas, the former footman.

The website for the show is really comprehensive and fun and it even has a quiz that you can take to see what character you are most like. Not too surprisingly, I am most like the hardworking and love-thwarted head housemaid Anna.

There are lists popping up everywhere with read-alike booklists, including one from SLJ Teen’s February 15th e-newsletter as well as the Youth Services Corner website and CLM’s blog called Staircase Wit. Many of the lists are comprised of mostly adult titles but there are books for teens too. I’ll try not to repeat all the same books listed on other lists that I’ve seen, although there are a few that are so good they deserve to be mentioned again. I also have to say that my list is a bit biased toward more male, action-oriented books because I tend to read more of them and less of the romances. You’ll find that other lists are skewed a bit more towards romance.


And the winner is…

It’s my favorite time of the year! The 84th Academy Awards are set to take place on Sunday, February 26 on ABC and I cannot wait. If you haven’t had the chance yet, be sure to take a look at all the talented actors, actresses, producers, directors, and more nominated this year. While I don’t consider myself a tried and true movie buff, I definitely watch my fair share of movies, from really bad movies with awful graphics to the silly and cartoonish. There’s something exciting about seeing my favorite celebrities all decked out in their finest, about moaning and groaning through the overly long speeches, and wondering how they are going to dramatize the “in remembrance” portion of the evening. Yep, I’m an Oscars junkie and proud of it!

If you’re anything like me, you may be interested in reading some fun teen lit that focuses on the glitz and glamour of the movies and celebrities. There are a plethora of great titles out there so read on to find out some of the highlights and be sure to add your own suggestions in the comments! Perhaps you want to make an Oscar themed book display or have an Oscar YA party. These books will help you bring on your own inner star.

YALSA’s Popular Paperbacks list is a great place to start. The 2009 Fame and Fortune list is a great resource to “read all about teens aspiring to make it big.” This list focuses on several of the talents celebrities are famous for including acting, music, and modeling. And to add to that great YALSA list, be sure to check out the 2012 Fabulous Films for Young Adults: Song and Dance list. Combining books and movies is always a winning combination for any movie buff.