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Genre Blend: Historical Fiction and Mysteries

"Postcards and magnifying glass" by Anna - Flickr: records. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Postcards_and_magnifying_glass.jpg#/media/File:Postcards_and_magnifying_glass.jpg
“Postcards and magnifying glass” by Anna – Flickr: records. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

I am a huge fan of mysteries, especially during the summer! I love a good page-turner that keeps me guessing until the very last page. A great thing about mysteries are that they also work well when they are blended with other genres.  One of my newest favorite genre blends are historical fiction and mysteries! If you are also a fan, or have yet to explore this genre blend, check out some of the titles below to get you started!

 

 

 

Death CloudDeath Cloud by Andrew Lane (2015 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)

Set in the summer of 1868, fourteen-year-old Sherlock Holmes is sent to live with his aunt and uncle where he uncovers two mysterious deaths that appear to be plague victims. However, Sherlock suspects that these deaths are not what they seem so he sets out to investigate and uncover the truth.

 

 

 

 

 

northern light donnelly printzA  Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (2004 Printz Honor Book, 2011 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2004 Selected Audiobooks for Young Adults, 2004 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults)

Based on the true story of the 1906 Gilette murder case, Maggie is working the summer at a nearby inn, when one of the guests drowns.  Mysterious circumstances surround the death, including Maggie’s own involvement and interactions with the victim.

 

 

 

 

A Spy in the House by Y.S. LeeA Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee (2015 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)

In Victorian London, Mary is saved from the gallows at the last minute and sent to a school where she is secretly trained to be a spy.  She is eventually selected to work a case where she is undercover as a lady’s companion to investigate a wealthy merchant’s shady business dealings.

 

 

 

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Bookist: Asian Women’s History Through YA Fiction

March is Women’s History Month, celebrated worldwide. In the past two years, I’ve taken a look at history in Britain and history in the US. At the time, I didn’t view this as a series of posts, but I admit that I love learning about history, especially through the eyes of women. So this year, I’m taking a look at history through the eyes of Asian women.

Mulan from Once Upon a Time

Ancient World to 1099: Major Events Include
Paper was invented, Buddhism emerged, advances in math (zero and decimals), oldest book was produced, paper money was invented by the Chinese Government, Chinese use gunpowder in warfare, Nam-Viet ruled for more than 1000 years by the Han Dynasty in China, Silk Road, Alexander the Great reaches India, India and the Roman empire trade, Hinduism emerges, Constantine founds New Rome, Ottoman Empire begins, and Great Wall of China was constructed.

Books Include:
Spirit’s Princess by Esther Friesner: A shamaness predicts great things for Himiko, the daughter of a chieftain, who will one day rule Japan using her strength and her love for her people.

Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey:  A retelling of the tale of Mulan – the girl who took her father’s place in the army in disguise.

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British Women’s History in YA Lit

womens_history_ya_litMarch is Women’s History Month, celebrated worldwide. In Britain, the Great Reform Act of 1832 excluded all women from voting by specifically changing the word person to male. In 1918, women started to regain voting privileges but it wasn’t until 1928 that women over the age of 21 had the same voting rights as men. 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 Great Britain’s history from a woman’s perspective.

Ancient Days: (0-1066)
Major Events Include: Rome invades Britain, Rome conquers Wales, Boudica leads rebellion against the Romans, Hadrian’s Wall is constructed, Rome withdraws, Anglo and the Saxons arrive looking for a fight, Vikings attack, and the Battle of Hastings occurs.

Books in this time period include:
The Edge on the Sword by Rebecca Tingle (2002 Best Books for Young Adults)
Princess Aethelflaed finds herself reluctantly betrothed to an ally of her father’s, in hope that their marriage will bring peace to the land. Betrothed isn’t the same as married, and when enemies attack, Aethelflaed will have to stand her ground.

Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell
Elaine of Ascolat, the Lady of Shalott lives with her family in the camps of King Arthur. As the only girl, she finds herself lonely, until Gwynivere arrives. Unfortunately, Gwynivere isn’t the type of companion Elaine’s been hoping for. Written in a novel in verse, Elaine shares her view of the world of King Arthur.

Middle Ages (1067-1485)
Major Events Include: Oxford University founded, Richard the Lion-hearted enters the Third Crusade, Prince John Signs the Magna Carta, Wales becomes part of Great Britain, Execution of William Wallace, Great European Famine, Hundred Years War, Black Death, and The War of the Roses

Books in this time period include:
Hawksmaid by Kathryn Lasky
Maid Marian (Matty) is the daughter a famous falconer. Matty has her father’s gift with the birds and hopes her future lies with them. When King Richard is captured and his brother rises to power, everything changes. She does her best to help Robin Hood (her childhood friend) make sure everyone survives.

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
Scarlet keeps her female identity hidden from everyone in Nottinghamshire, except Robin and his friends. When the Sheriff tries to capture the band, she’ll do anything to save her friends. 

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Spotlight on the 19th Century

photo (6)Entertainment Weekly recently had a timeline labeled “The 19th Century is Having a Moment.” The 19th Century time period has been heating up in teen books as well. It’s a century of big moments: Jane Austen, the Industrial Revolution, women’s rights, the Civil War, Western exploration, the Napoleonic Wars, the War of 1812, Queen Victoria’s reign, the Trail of Tears, the potato famine, the Second Opium War, the Franco-Prussian War, the assassination of Czar Nicholas II, Jack the Ripper, and Athens holding the first modern Olympic Games.

Some of my favorites

Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle
Persephone and Penelope are set to make their debut into London society when their governess goes missing. As the two 17 year olds dig into her disappearance, they don’t just uncover a kidnapping, but also a magical plot that could foil Princess Victoria’s reign.

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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.

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