Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Fortnight of Guests: Alison Can Read (YA Historical Fiction)

Hi everyone. I'm Alison of Alison Can Read. I've been blogging for a little over a year. I mostly review young adult novels, with a few middle grade titles and a weekly manga feature. Thank you so much to Megan for inviting me to guest post on her blog.

Historical fiction has always been one of my favorite genres of books. I've enjoyed it since I began reading and have always kept a steady diet of historical fiction novels. History is bemoaned by many as dull and hard to relate to. I've never thought of it that way. In fact, history has always been alive for me. Story after story that I never grow tired of hearing. Perhaps it's because I've always read historical fiction.

When you read a textbook, history seems far away and simply a collection of facts. Historical fiction on the other hand places you into a different world. No longer is Marie Antoinette a waxy, dead figure...she's a real person who thinks, feels, loves, and hates. 

Here are a few of my favorite historical fiction novels:

Historical Fiction I Enjoyed When I Was Younger

Number The Stars by Lois Lowry

Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think of life before the war. It's now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching through town. When the Jews of Denmark are "relocated". Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be one of the family. Soon Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission to save Ellen's life. (courtesy of Goodreads)

The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss
In the part of the marketplace where flowers had been sold twice a week - tulips in the spring, roses in the summer - stood German tanks and German soldiers. Annie de Leeuw was eight-years-old in 1940 when the Germans attacked Holland and marched into the town of Winterswijk where she lived. Annie was ten when, because she was Jewish and in great danger of being captured by the invaders, she and her sister Sini had to leave their father, mother, and older sister Rachel to go into hiding in the upstairs room of a remote farmhouse.  (courtesy of Goodreads)

The Fifth of March: A Story of the Boston Massacre by Ann Rinaldi

Fourteen-year-old Rachel Marsh, an indentured servant in the Boston household of John and Abigail Adams, is caught up in the colonists' unrest that eventually escalates into the massacre of March 5, 1770. (courtesy of Goodreads)

Finishing Becca by Ann Rinaldi
Peggy Shippen is everything Becca is not--a beautiful, rich, and horribly spoiled Quaker daughter whose life revolves around the whirlwind society of Philadelphia in 1778. Becca's family has fallen on hard times, and she is sent to the Shippen household to be Peggy's personal maid and to receive a finishing education. But working for Peggy, Becca gets an education in deceit and treachery, as Peggy sets her sights first on British Captain John Andre and then on American General Benedict Arnold.
As Becca fervently tries to find the "missing pieces" of herself, she watches in horror as Peggy Shippen manipulates General Benedict Arnold to turn traitor and join forces with the Crown against the revolutionary Americans. (courtesy of Goodreads)

*Actually, I like everything by Ann Rinaldi. She was my favorite author as a teen.

Recent Historical Fiction Novels

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys 

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously—and at great risk—documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. (courtesy of Goodreads)

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present. (courtesy of

The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller
But in a gunshot the future changes for these sisters and for Russia.Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. Like the fingers on a hand--first headstrong Olga; then Tatiana, the tallest; Maria the most hopeful for a ring; and Anastasia, the smallest. These are the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II, grand dutchesses living a life steeped in tradition and privilege. They are each on the brink of starting their own lives, at the mercy of royal matchmakers. The summer of 1914 is that precious last wink of time when they can still be sisters together--sisters that link arms and laugh, sisters that share their dreams and worries, and flirt with the officers of their imperial yacht.  As World War I ignites across Europe, political unrest sweeps Russia. First dissent, then disorder, mutiny, and revolution. For Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, the end of their girlhood together is colliding with the end of more than they ever imagined. (courtesy of Goodreads)
Thanks for this, Alison!  There are definately a few here I'm going to be on the look out for!  And Between Sades of Gray is one of my favourite historical novels!


Cliona said...

I'm not a bug fan of historical novels, sorry, but I do find them a little dull! But I LOVE books set during WWII, they were my favourite books when I was younger. I SO want to read 'Between Shades of Grey', though! And Revolution sounds interesting too, my friend has it so I might get it off her. Great post, I'm loving the FOG!

Jenny said...

Oh I remember Number the Stars! I loved that book:) I don't read too much historical fiction, but I always enjoy it when I do, so I need to try Between Shades of Grey and Revolution, I've heard both of those are amazing:)

Aylee said...

Thank you so much for this list. I am, admittedly, someone who tends to shy away from historical fiction though I could not really tell you why. I usually enjoy it. And I agree that it's a fun way to learn about history, compared to a dry textbook, which I love. I must add these to my TBR!

Shoshanah said...

I've read most of these, although one that I haven't read is Revolution. I'm really looking forward to reading it though, since I loved the author's Tea Rose Trilogy books. Or at least the first 2 of the trilogy. The final one comes out in August.

Alison Can Read said...

Thanks so much for allowing me to guest post on your blog. It was such a fun opportunity to write about the historical fiction books I enjoy.

T.B. said...

I've never been a big fan of historical fiction, but some of these books look really interesting! I definitely think that reading historical fiction gets me more involved in history rather then reading a textbook. Great list, and I'll definitely check out a couple!

TheBookAddictedGirl said...

Cliona: I loved this post too! Both me and Alison recommend Between Shades of Gray! It's on my Favourites list.
Jenny: Between Shades of Gray is amazing! :D
Aylee: Ah, gotta love Historical fiction. :)
Shoshanah: Revolution looks amazing!
Alison: Thank you so, so, so much for taking part! I love the post!
Tessa: I'm checking a few out too!

Thank you all for following Fortnight of Guests! :D

Missie, The Unread Reader said...

I struggle to get into historical fiction, which is weird because I love classic literature like Edith Wharton, Daphne du Maurier, and Jane Austen.

This list is great. Some of these titles are familiar to me. I just need to make time to check them out. Of course, I've been dying to read Shades of Gray. Haven't read one bad review for it!

Awesome guest post, Alison.

Logan E. Turner said...

I agree. I love historical fiction because it breathes life into the past and it makes me feel connected to it. Great books!

TheBookAddictedGirl said...

Missie: Between Shades of Gray is amazing. I know Alison will agree with me on that!
Logan: Alison did a great list! :D
Thanks for stopping by to have a look at the Fortnight of Guests!