#AtoZchallenge: “O” is for Outlander (1991) by Diana Gabaldon

I have been reading and reviewing a good number of time travel books for children and young adults, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of fabulous time travel books for adults.

outlander-book-cover

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is one such book that I have yet to read. I keep reading reviews on GoodReads of friends who have read (or are reading) Outlander and its sequels, and what I’m hearing is that it’s a fabulous story.

Here’s part of the GoodReads summary of the book:

“The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon–when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach–an “outlander”–in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigues and dangers that may threaten her life…and shatter her heart.”

There are seven books in the series and each one is at least 800 pages, so it’s definitely a hefty set of books. However, Scotland and time travel. I’ll take it!

#AtoZchallenge: “N” is for The Ninja Librarians (2014) by Jennifer Swann Downey

Ninjas! Books! Librarians! Sword fighting! Time travel!

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The Ninja Librarians (2014) by Jen Swann Downey

Suggested age range: 9 and up (Source Books, 384 pages)

Rating: 5/5 stars Source: e-ARC from Net Galley

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy

Release Date: April 15th, 2014

ninja

The Book: Dorrie has high hopes for adventure. But will she ever find it? Or will it find her? Opening with a bang, the novel charts Dorrie’s journey as she and her brother, Marcus, discover a secret space in the local library while chasing a runaway mongoose. Suddenly they are transported to Petrarch’s Library, the base for a secret society of librarians. After their surprising arrival in the library, they discover that the home of the secret society is not just a connecting point for various libraries around the world—it is linked to the past by giving access to all time periods since the advent of the written word. Dorrie discovers that she is a “keyhand,” someone who has the ability to time travel! When the kids are allowed to stay in Petrarch’s Library, they jump at the chance. Who wouldn’t want to be a ninja librarian for an epic library and help make the world a better place?

Spirituality in The Ninja Librarians: Some people believe in the idea that a person can be “destined” for great things. This idea underlies the narrative of Downey’s story; Dorrie and Marcus are both clearly cut out for something greater than what they think they are capable of, especially Dorrie. Downey explores the idea of the importance of preserving the past and appreciating the sacrifices of those who have gone before us. The story also celebrates people, many of them quite selfless, working (largely unseen) for the good of those whom they may never meet. There’s a spiritual idea here that I think should be explored some more.

Exploring this Book with Readers: This spotlight on libraries and librarians and how amazing they are means a trip to the library is in order! I loved how Downey highlighted different skills librarians must have, but in a fun way. Reading this book and talking about it with young readers might represent a fantastic opportunity to talk about libraries and why we love them. There is also the potential to cross into something history related with this book, especially in regards to the novel’s time hopping.

The Final Word: Readers of all ages who love books and libraries will enjoy this bookish adventure! Dorrie is a real hoot, and her antics (as well as Marcus’s and Moe’s) will keep you laughing throughout the story. I love books and libraries, so when I saw that this book was releasing this year, I was pretty excited, to say the least. I was even more thrilled when I received an e-ARC through Net Galley AND hosted an interview with Jen Swann Downey on the blog! Thank you Source Books! I expect there will be a sequel, and I am quite excited to read what happens in the next adventure of the Ninja Librarians!

#AtoZchallenge: “H” is for The Here and Now (2014) by Ann Brashares

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares (2014)

Suggested age range: 13 and up (Random House, 256 pages)

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Source: e-ARC from Net Galley

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Time Travel

The Here And Now by Ann BrasharesH

The Book: It’s 2014, but not all who live in this year were born in the past. Some of them, including seventeen year-old Prenna, were born many years later in the future. Prenna and her “community” have traveled into the past, in order to escape the horrors of the future world they lived in, rampant with plague and death. However, as she gets to know a classmate, Ethan more, and meets a homeless man with mysterious information, Prenna begins to question what her leaders are telling her. As she and Ethan discover more, they realize they have to change the present in order to fix the future. At the same time, Prenna and Ethan find themselves falling in love, even in the midst of recognizing the impossibility of their connection.

Spirituality in The Here and Now: Making sacrifices for people who have not yet been born is a spiritual aspect of the story, and one I think could raise some fascinating discussion. Should people be allowed to do something bad for the greater good? Is this ever justified? Should those of us in the present exploit our resources when it means great cost to the future inhabitants? And that ending!! I won’t give anything away, but I do think there is an aspect of spirituality to discuss there.

Who Should Read This Book: If you enjoy time travel and science fiction or science fantasy, you may be interested in this story. Though some themes and devices were similar to other fantasies I had read, the premise was refreshing enough that I enjoyed the story and raced along with Prenna and Ethan as they sought to make things right.

The Final Word: I loved Ann Brashares’ book, I Am Memory, so was really excited to see that she was publishing a new young adult novel, and a time travel one at that! Though I was interested in whether Prenna and Ethan would be successful in their quest to set things right, I sometimes felt that they were more consumed with one another than the challenges of the danger in front of them. At the same time, teen readers are drawn to the depiction of romantic relationships in young adult novels. At times, I was confused about what issues caused problems in the future and how Prenna and Ethan’s actions affected those issues. Though I enjoyed reading this novel, it wasn’t one of my favorite time travel books. I could certainly see Brashares developing a sequel, and perhaps that would clear up some of my confusion. Though I did have a few hang-ups, I would still recommend the book!

 

Top Ten Books I Read in 2013

Top Ten Books I Read in 2013

This is a little late, but better late than never! I wanted to share with you my top ten books for 2013. This weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and Bookish—check out their wonderful blog if you haven’t yet. I have already written reviews for a handful of these books—they are a mixture of YA, children’s, and adult. These books are fabulous and I have high hopes for new discoveries in 2014.

All Our Yesterdays
by Cristin Terrill yesterdays

I had been highly anticipating this time-travel YA novel, and got it the day it came out. Review here. A fun and exciting read!

 The Girl of Fire and Thorns
by Rae Carson

rae carson

You may have read my recent review of this amazing first installment in a trilogy. Love this fantasy.

 The Meaning of Night: A Confession
by Michael Cox

meaning

If you like Charles Dickens or Wilkie Collins, this mystery will be the perfect read. A wonderful page turner and there is a sequel.

Citadel: A Novel (Languedoc Trilogy)
by Kate Mosse index

I read this while I was traveling this past summer, and finished it while on holiday for one month in Israel. Love historical fiction and love Kate Mosse’s other books.

 The Map of Time: A Novel
by Felix J. Palma

The Map of Time UK Another fun time travel read that also has a sequel!

Divergent (Divergent Series)
by Veronica Roth

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I didn’t start Roth’s trilogy until this past year and I was definitely sucked in. I think the fantasy contains multiple spiritual aspects that make for great discussion.

The One and Only Ivan
by Katherine Applegate

9780061992254_p0_v4_s260x420 Read this animal fantasy on my own, and then used it as a read-aloud in with my 8th graders. Surprisingly, they loved it!

Son
by Lois Lowry

SON

The conclusion to Lowry’s Giver series was stunning. I won’t say anything more.

The Friendship Doll
by Kirby Larson

friendship-doll See my review of this luminous toy fantasy!

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child
by Donalyn Miller

book whisperer

One of my favorite nonfiction reads of all times, perhaps, this book is a must read for all parents and teachers!

Happy Reading for 2014 and hope you pick up some of these titles, if you have not read them already!