Today I'm delighted to welcome Katherine Longshore to the blog! She is going to discuss her favourite YA Historical Fiction novels.
My Top Ten Favorite YA Historical Reads
by Katherine Longshore
I have to preface this post with a disclaimer: my lists of favorites (books, movies, songs) change frequently. Almost daily. If I’ve read and not mentioned a book here, it’s because I’m a bit forgetful, not because I don’t like it. For today, these are my favorite YA historical reads. In no particular order.
The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats. Set in thirteenth century Wales, this is the story of two girls (one English, one Welsh—one rich, one poor) in the days leading up to a violent uprising. Through the girls’ distinct voices and beautiful detail, Coats brings this medieval world alive.
A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly. Part romance, part murder mystery, and every inch historical, this book is set against the backdrop of the crime that inspired Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy. But more than the history, it is the writing that makes this book one of my favorites. Donnelly is a master of description, of characterization and of those little turns of phrase that just make you want to weep with appreciation.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Another book that took me a long time to read because I had to savor the writing. This one made me want to stop strangers on the street and say, “Listen to this!” and read entire passages aloud. Written from the point of view of Death, it tells the story of a girl living in Germany during World War II, but really it tells so much more.
In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters. This gorgeous novel is a vision of post-Apocalyptic 1918, set in San Diego. The flu pandemic has made everyone paranoid and the dead are piling up in the streets. The War has killed even more, and sends the living home broken. And in the midst of it, Mary Shelley Black must solve the mystery of her childhood friend (and love of her life) who has come to haunt her.
The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt. I love all of Schmidt’s novels, so it was very difficult to pick just one. He has an incredible talent for description so powerful it is more about what is not said. Set in the late 1960’s, this book is about war, baseball and Shakespeare. It is funny, poignant, and utterly brilliant. This book is sometimes shelved as middle grade, but it is one of those books that bridges the gap.
VIII by H.M. Castor. I made a pledge not to read any fictional accounts of Henry VIII or his wives while I’ve been writing my own series, but I had to make an exception for this one. Told from Henry’s point of view, it’s the story of how he became the king we know and love. Published in the UK in 2011, it will be out here in August.
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. This book explores a side of the second world war that I knew nothing about—the Soviet Siberian labor camps and oppression of the Lithuanians. Delicately told with deep, precise emotional intensity, this is one of my favorite books of the past few years. And Sepetys’s second book, Out of the Easy, is every inch its equal.
Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan. Meticulously researched and cleverly crafted, this is a murder mystery set in Elizabeth’s court. The characters are beautifully rendered and include a dark and enigmatic Windsor Castle.
I’m fascinated by alternative histories (novels with Steampunk, paranormal and fantasy elements) and am ever in awe and admiration of the people who write them. I think you have to know your true history inside out and back to front to be able to write an alternative because you need to make good, solid, believable choices and back them up. One of my favorites is:
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. The world Westerfeld has created in this trilogy (including Goliath and Behemoth) is incredible. The detail, the creatures, the machines, the characters. Brilliantly written and a fascinating alternative to the First World War we know from history books.
I also love:
Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood. Her characters live in an alternate 19th Century America, where witches have been hunted almost to extinction and women are even more oppressed than they were in reality (but women in Saudi Arabia wear trousers and have jobs). This book is lush and beautiful and contains one of my favorite love interests of all time.
One for luck:
Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen is a retelling of the Robin Hood legend, but set in a believable and historically realistic 12th Century England. And as I recently heard a teen reader say, “Scarlet is the best fictional heroine since Hermione Granger.”
Thank you, Katherine! I absolutely have to agree with some of her picks and must scurry off to read the rest! *ashamed historical fiction loving book nerd*
Make sure you check out Katherine's upcoming novel, Tarnish, coming out in June!
Goodreads Blurb: Anne Boleyn is the odd girl out. Newly arrived to the court of King Henry VIII, everything about her seems wrong, from her clothes to her manners to her witty but sharp tongue. So when the dashing poet Thomas Wyatt offers to coach her on how to shine at court--and to convince the whole court they're lovers--she accepts. Before long, Anne's popularity has soared, and even the charismatic and irresistible king takes notice. More than popularity, Anne wants a voice--but she also wants love. What began as a game becomes high stakes as Anne finds herself forced to make an impossible choice between her heart's desire and the chance to make history.
Now, Katherine has kindly offered to give away a signed copy of the beautiful new paperback of Gilt to one lucky US/Can follower!
This gorgeous thing right here.
Some Rules (aka the not so fun but important part):
~ This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada only.
~ No P.O. boxes.
~ Must be 13 or older to enter.
~ Winner will be chosen randomly and contacted via email. The winner has 48 hours to respond to my email, otherwise they forfeit their prize and I will choose another winner, who must abide by the same rules.
~ Neither Katherine nor I are not responsible for lost or damaged packages.
~ No cheating! In this case, I have the right to disqualify entries as I see fit.
~ By entering the giveaway, you are agreeing to these rules.
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