The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny , and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin
On July 17, 1944, a massive explosion rocked the segregated Navy base at Port Chicago, California, killing more than 300 sailors who were at the docks, critically injuring off-duty men in their bunks, and shattering windows up to a mile away. On August 9th, 244 men refused to go back to work until unsafe and unfair conditions at the docks were addressed. When the dust settled, fifty were charged with mutiny, facing decades in jail and even execution. This is a fascinating story of the prejudice that faced black men and women in America’s armed forces during World War II, and a nuanced look at those who gave their lives in service of a country where they lacked the most basic rights.
Why I Recommend It: A riveting and inspiring story of 50 brave men who stood up for their most basic human rights, were denied, persecuted, and some even executed, but they still continued to stand up for what they believed to be right.
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Princess Lia the First Daughter of the House of Morrighan, was born with the gift of sight* (still waiting for this ability…), and has been betrothed to the old and grotesque prince of a neighboring kingdom in order to form a powerful military alliance. So, on her wedding day, Lia and her maid Pauline set out for a fresh start. That proves difficult from the onslaught when Lia’s father has put a bounty on her head, the jilted prince goes after her (who is nowhere near being ugly or old), and an incognito assassin from a barbarian tribe has been hired to hunt Lia down and kill her!
Why I Recommend It: There are so many things to like about this book, whether it be character based, adventure, romance, and/or the dreamy prince and assassin. Ahem, I mean, dreamy farmer and equally swoon worthy animal pelter. Towards the middle of the book we start to see just how big the world is leaving the reader with a lot of potential. I cannot wait to read the next installment. I’m thinking it could get downright YA Game of Thrones-ey. An-ti-ci-pation!!!!
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
A coming of age story about love, friendship, identity, and the ubiquitous hurt and confusion which comes with the territory. It is a story of a small town in Iowa; of several generations of a Polish family; a story of science gone wrong; of unperceived connections; it is a story of the end of the world.
Why I Recommend It: What starts out as a darkly comical tale of adolescents quickly morphs in to one about 6 foot tall unstoppable praying mantises and the end of the world! Smith seamlessly pairs the two and creates a rollicking read that ebbs and flows between coming of age and science fiction. This book isn’t for everyone.
Half Bad by Sally Green
Nathan is 50% Black Witch/50% White. Due to Nathan’s disposition he is shunned and eventually tortured by the “good” White Witches. What’s a good half blood to do?
Why I Recommend It: This book could be affectionately titled, Snape: The Teenage Years. What this book lacks in magic, it more than makes up for it in character development and an intriguing back story of witchery! This is the first in the series and I am anxious for more adventures and to watch Nathan develop in to his gifts.
The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming
This book chronicles the Romanov family (Russia’s last czar family), the fall of Imperial Russia, a history of Russia and it’s people, what became of Russia after the fall of Nicholas II, and so much more!
Why I Recommend It: I’ve always been interested in the last tzar family of Russia, as well as their gruesome ending! I’ve also never had much of a knack for world history, especially the history of places that I have never been. But, due to the riveting detail, as well as the narrative style of the book I was able to fully comprehend and walked away from this novel with an understanding of the events that lead up to the Romanov’s execution, as well as the plight of the Russian peasant (which made up 84% of Russia’s population). This book is detail rich and does not skim on some of the juicier tidbits. I swooned over the love notes sent between Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra, and laughed at the frivolity of the young Romanov’s who were never prepared for much more than being children. Anyhow, super interesting read that will in return teach you a lot about Russia and European History. WIN!