I finished out the year by reading two award-winning books!…
8 Hours 55 Mins | Simon & Schuster Audio | Historical | 8/04/2020
I don’t typically seek out “Black trauma” books so I don’t know what possessed me to pick this up but I am so glad I did. The Black Kids is an evocative, stunning and salient (historical?) YA set during the L.A. Riots following the Rodney King verdict.
Our protagonist is Ashley Bennett an upper-class Black teen in Brentwood trying to get through the end of her senior year; while just a few miles away South Central is on fire. Throughout the book, Ashley contemplates the good and bad in the world and tries to figure out her place in all of the turmoil.…
14 Hours 4 Mins | Margaret K. McElderry | Historical/Sci-Fi/Horror | 1/26/2021
These Violent Delights is a Historical (sci-fi ?. .horror ?) YA set in the dangerous and dazzling city of Shanghai during the roaring 20s Shanghai. The novel is an homage (read: Not a retelling. Not even a little bit) to Romeo and Juliet and follows rival gang heirs Juliette the cutthroat fierce heir to the Scarlett Gang and Roma the stalworth Russian heir to the White Flowers, as they hunt down the source of a maddening disease sweeping the city
Going in I didn’t know much about Shanghai’s history as an international (read colonized) port. It’s the perfect setting for this dark and mysterious mystery the main characters find themselves in. I’m curious to read more book set during this time period.…
399 Pages | Knopf | AU Historical Fiction | Release Date: 06/02/2020
The Court of Miracles is a Les Miserables retelling that re-imagines discarded daughter Eponine “Nina” Thenadier as a thief in the underground Parisian criminal network known as The Miracle Court. When a powerful member of the Miracle Court threatens to enslave Nina’s sister Ettie (aka Cosette) she makes moves to bring him down. All while the June Revolution is stirring.
Am I the only one who thought this was a fantasy ? Because it isn’t and I’m trying not to let my review be clouded by what I expected to be.…
298 pages | Dutton Books For Young Readers | Historical Poetry? | 3/6/2018
Trigger warning: Rape / Sexual Assault
In her debut novel, Joy McCullough gets inside the head of 17-year-old Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi, a real historical figure, as she struggles against the overbearing patriarchal society she was born into. Written mostly in verse from Artemisia’s perspective it blends in prose stories of the biblical figures Susanna and Judith–two figures featured prominently in Artemisia’s work.
I think it is really helpful for readers to have some context about Artemesia before going into this book because I’m not sure how much teens know about art history and the art world during the Baroque period. But also, it’s helpful if you are like me and have taken art history classes but just never heard of Artemisia *side eyes college syllabi*or her infamous rape trial. I felt like I was only getting half of what was going on and it wasn’t until I used some Google-fu that is all clicked.
This book is actually an adaptation of a play also written by McCullough, this book is so cerebral and really focuses on Artemisia’s internal emotions and senses like a play script. If anyone doesn’t understand why women need feminism just go ahead and throw this book at them because holy crap, it was difficult to be a woman back in the day. Needless to say, this is not a happy time book.
In this timely debut, McCollough develops a sharp feminist perspective to the life of Artemesia, a talented young woman who shows the patriarchy exactly what a woman can do.
Between this book, Jason Reynold’s Long Way Down sweeping award shows and Kwame Alexander’s new verse only imprintI wonder if verse novels are about to become the next trend in YA ? If anything, I like that they can be read in one sitting.
10 hours 47 minutes | Harper Audio | Historical/Fantasy | 06/27/2017
In The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice and Virtue an all around scoundrel is about to embark on a dangerous high stakes road trip to self discovery. It’s hard out there for a YA historical to top the YA bestseller list (I mean except for Ruta Sepetys and just reading the synopsis of her books makes me sad) and I think what helps this book stand out is it’s outstanding originality,
The book is primarily told in a semi-anarchistic self deprecating tone that emanates from our narrator, Henry “Monty” Montague. Monty is about to embark on his Grand Tour, where he plans to spend the year drinking and partying, all while trying to keep the fact that he is madly in love with his best friend a secret.