The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua. ★★★★★
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage is an absolutely delightful graphic novel that contains a wealth of historical information regarding Ada Lovelace, Charles Babbage, and the history of computing while at the same time being relentlessly entertaining.
The book begins with a brief history of Ada Lovelace, Charles Babbage, and their work on the invention of the computer and computer programming. However, both died before any of the machines Babbage planned were ever invented. And so Padua imagines an alternate ending – a world where their Analytical Engine reached completion and adventures ensue.
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire. ★★★★★
Every Heart a Doorway is an elegant novella about what happens to children who go to magical worlds but then wind up back in this world, longing for the magical home they’ve lost. A woman named Eleanor West runs a school for the stranded teenagers, where at least they can be different together.
For all it’s brevity, Every Heart a Doorway is a story that really resonated with me. It has that sense of beautiful darkness that’s often best found in fairy tales and that reminds me of Catherynne Valente’s In the Night Garden. More than that, it’s a story about feeling out of place and adrift, looking for a place where you feel is home. While it didn’t have a YA “feel” to it, it could easily be suitable due to the themes and teenage main characters.
The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire by Jack Weatherford. ★★★★★
A section from the ancient text The Secret History of the Mongols was cut away by censors, leaving only these words of Genghis Khan: “Let us reward our female offspring.” In The Secret History of the Mongol Queens, Jack Weatherford chronicles the stories of Genghis Khan’s daughters and the queens who came after them. The stories of many of these women have been largely forgotten in the mainstream historical narrative, but they had important and overlooked roles in Mongol history.
Warchild by Karin Lowachee. ★★★★★
Trigger warning for rape and child abuse
Warchild was an absolutely brutal book. When you look at the thematic material – the effects of war on children’s psychology – it’s no wonder.
Warchild takes place against the background of war between humans and aliens and some humans who sympathize with them. Yet, Warchild is an intensely character based novel centered around Jos, who ages from eight to eighteen over the course of the book. Basically, this is a coming of age story from hell.
The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg. ★★★★★
The Encyclopedia of Early Earth is a graphic novel about the power and beauty of storytelling. The book opens with a man from the Nords (the North Pole) falling in love with a woman from the South Pole. Due to fantastical magnetic reasons, they cannot touch each other, yet they chose to spend their lives together anyway. During that time, the man tells stories of his life and how he came to arrive at the South Pole.
Wizards at War by Diane Duane. ★★★★★
Wow, this book was intense.
Remember how I complained that in the seventh book of The Young Wizard series the plot took forever to take off? The eighth book pulls no punches, and the tension’s there from the very first chapter.
You definitely need to have read the prior books in the series (start with So You Want to Be a Wizard) before picking up Wizards at War, which builds upon the prior books, reintroduces characters, and starts almost immediately where the last book left off.
The Wizard’s Dilemma by Diane Duane. ★★★★★
To what lengths would you go to save someone you love?
I cried while I read this book. Actually, just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. The Wizard’s Dilemma is a book with a lot of emotional difficulty to it, but that’s part of what makes it so powerful.
The Wizard’s Dilemma is the fifth installment in the Young Wizard’s series, which starts with So You Want to Be a Wizard. I don’t think you necessarily need to have read all four of the previous books to understand this one, but I think it will be more forceful if you are already attached to the characters.