Top Ten Tuesday: Settings I Want More Of

Well hello there! Welcome back!

It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday, which is a weekly event hosted by The Broke and Bookish that I participate in on a weekly basis. This week the theme is Top Ten Settings I’d Like to Read More Of.  I’m not sure why, but this was a difficult list for me to create. But I did finally manage it! There are probably tons of books with these settings out there but I just need to find and read them!

So here we go:

1. London: Be it historical or contemporary I love books set in London. Really, I’ll take stories set anywhere in the UK! I’m a total Anglophile and proud of it!London

2. Boarding Schools: If your book is set in a boarding school chances are I’ll pick it up. I just love the idea of being away from home and kind of on your own in a new place.

3. Under the sea: I’ve only read a few mermaid novels, but I think I could really get used to this genre.

4. Amish Country: The Amish are completely fascinating and I am always up for a story set in this community.AmishCountry

5. Colonial America: As a history major in college American colonial history has always intrigued me.  Give me more of this!

6. Florida: Who doesn’t want more books set where they live? It’s fun to read about places you’re familiar with!

7. Wild West Space: Like my beloved Firefly. I like to believe that the future is actually more like the wild west with space travel and Chinese curse words.

Firefly8. Fairy Tale Lands: Fairy tale retellings are one of my favorite genres so I will gladly accept any novels set in fairy tale lands!

9. Steampunk worlds: I think I just need to read more YA steampunk novels because I know they’re out there. Although I love this genre I think I prefer a mild steampunk setting to a high one.

10. Futuristic dystopian societies: I know this sounds super trendy, and some people may be over dystopian fiction, but I sincerely love this setting and have since I read A Handmaid’s Tale in high school. More YA dystopia!

So there you have it! My nerdiness has been revealed now that you know I want more Amish, steampunk and mermaid themed settings in books! My husband will laugh at me if he reads this post…haha

Am I the only nerd out there or are some of these settings that you’d like to read more of?


Waiting on Wednesday: Etiquette and Espionage

Hi there!

Wow! It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve written a Waiting on Wednesday post! It feels good to be back. :)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Breaking the Spine, where book bloggers get to showcase an upcoming new release that we’re especially excited for.

This week I’m excited about Gail Carriger’s Etiquette & Espionage.

It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to finishing school. Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother’s existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea–and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right–but it’s a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine’s certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.

I have a major track record of really liking boarding school books and this seems like it might be similar to Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series – only more steampunkish!

This is slated to be the first in a four book series called Finishing School and is expected to be released by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on February 5 this year, so I won’t be waiting too long!

Are there any particular upcoming titles you’re waiting on this week?


Mystery and History: Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon

I was pretty excited to read this mystery for many reasons.  First, Zora Neale Hurston is from Eatonville, Florida and so are many of my students. Second, the authors came to visit our school and talk to our students (which was awesome!).

Told through the eyes of Zora’s friend, Carrie, Zora and Me begins with the discovery of a dead body by the railroad tracks.  Zora, with her incredibly wild imagination believes that a dangerous shape-shifting gator man (from a local myth she read) is prowling the swamps around the town, feeding on the souls of men.  In order to stop more people from getting hurt, and possibly murdered, Zora, Carrie and their friend Teddy spend their time trying to solve the mystery.  The three friends have no idea what they’re in for as they get a peek into the hearts of men; hearts full of jealousy, deceit and betrayal.  Mystery and history wrapped into one! LOVE IT!

This is a fictionalized story about the childhood of Zora Neale Hurtson, famous writer of the Harlem Renaissance, and her time in Eatonville during the early 1900s.  This book is great for a lot of reasons.  First, the authors, Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon grab the readers’ attention within the first few pages as Zora and her friends recount the death of a man by a local alligator. Way to get my students (and me!) hooked!  My students are usually not interested in reading historical fiction, but the authors manage to create a sense of immediacy that makes you want to find out what happens next. Second, I really enjoyed the way in which the authors imagined what Zora Neale Hurston might be like as a young girl.  Knowing her love for learning, people and story-telling they really fleshed out a character who is both believable and interesting.  Zora and Me encourages imagination as it helps readers think beyond the historical figure and wonder “what was that person really like?”.

I also appreciated (as a history major while in college) the fact that the authors didn’t shy away from discussing some of the more disturbing issues that were common in the early 1900s south.  Race and racism is brought up, as well as questions of class and “passing”.  I wasn’t sure how or if my students would really understand any of these concepts (especially the idea of racial “passing”), but they did pretty well and even asked the authors some good questions when they visited the school.

All in all,  this is an exciting historical mystery that younger teens will enjoy.  Some younger readers may have questions about some of the issues mentioned above (and the use of the “n” word- I say so since my students did), which is why I’d tell all parents to read this one too so your kids have someone reliable to answer their questions.


On a Serious Note: The Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson

Meli Lleshi is eleven years old when unrest in Kosovo begins to threaten her security and innocence. Her Serbian neighbors no longer talk to or shop in her family’s store, and her brother is becoming enthralled by the idea of war.

One day in school Meli goofs off and draws a picture of a pelican that looks surprisingly like her teacher and gets caught.  Because Meli must stay after class, penance for her class disruption, her older brother Mehmet has to walk home alone and is kidnapped by the Serbian police, beaten and left for dead.

Mehmet’s eventual return starts a chain of events that sends the ethnically Albanian Kosovar Lleshi family, fleeing to the hills to escape extreme violence, traveling across their country, forced into a refugee camp, and finally across the Atlantic to the United States.   But the Lleshi family’s struggles aren’t over yet, as 9/11 hits shortly after Meli’s arrival in the U.S.

I knew almost nothing about the Kosovo War of the late 1990s when I picked up this book and neither will most children, as it’s not usually something covered in today’s world history classrooms. I’m so excited at how well this book would tie into a Holocaust curriculum at the middle school level.  Because this story takes place less than twenty years ago,  it would show students that the ethnic and religious prejudice are not always a thing of distant past.

In addition to the educational value of The Day of the Pelican, the themes of kindness and forgiveness made me thankful that I read it.  Mehmet’s struggle with bitterness and the true definition of manhood is perfectly juxtaposed with Meli’s father, or Baba as she calls him, who refuses to succumb to the prevalent and seemingly logical hatred and revenge felt by others in his situation.

This book is intended for middle grade readers, but be warned that there is war violence throughout (just a nod to the Parentals out there).  Deep learning and discussion can grow from reading this fictionalized piece of modern history.