I have a friend who is graduating students this year at my school and she’s going to an international school where she’ll spend her first year in Tanzania, Japan and India. To celebrate, I recommended her sixteen books set where she might travel in the future! The list is below:
1) The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges
Set in: St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888
Not the best “set-in-Russia” book I’ve ever read, but the latest one I read. And I would be lying if I said it didn’t interest me. A pretty good fantasy with some history mixed in. 3.6 stars.
Synopsis: As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.
An evil presence is growing within Europe’s royal bloodlines—and those aligned with the darkness threaten to topple the tsar. Suddenly Katerina’s strength as a necromancer attracts attention from unwelcome sources . . . including two young men—George Alexandrovich, the tsar’s standoffish middle son, who needs Katerina’s help to safeguard Russia, even if he’s repelled by her secret, and the dashing Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro, to whom Katerina feels inexplicably drawn.
The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power, but which side will she choose—and to whom will she give her heart?
pg count for the hardcover: 386
2) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Set in: France 1943
So, actually, this is a book about two British girls in 1943 who were captured by German Nazis in France. Reminds me of this pic I once saw:
This book really wasn’t all it was cracked up to be for me, but it was still a good book that I think a lot of other people will enjoy. A great recount of friendship and action. 3.8 stars.
Synopsis: I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.
That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.
He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two.
We are a sensational team.
Series: Code Name Verity
pg count for the paperback: 447
3) Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
Set in: Shanghai, China, 1937
This was an awesome book, another amazing one was Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, also be Lisa See. 4.3 stars for these two books.
Synopsis: In 1937, Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, a city of great wealth and glamour, the home of millionaires and beggars, gangsters and gamblers, patriots and revolutionaries, artists and warlords. Thanks to the financial security and material comforts provided by their father’s prosperous rickshaw business, twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives. Though both sisters wave off authority and tradition, they couldn’t be more different: Pearl is a Dragon sign, strong and stubborn, while May is a true Sheep, adorable and placid. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree . . . until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth and that in order to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from California to find Chinese brides.
As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the Chinese countryside, in and out of the clutch of brutal soldiers, and across the Pacific to the shores of America. In Los Angeles they begin a fresh chapter, trying to find love with the strangers they have married, brushing against the seduction of Hollywood, and striving to embrace American life even as they fight against discrimination, brave Communist witch hunts, and find themselves hemmed in by Chinatown’s old ways and rules.
At its heart, Shanghai Girls is a story of sisters: Pearl and May are inseparable best friends who share hopes, dreams, and a deep connection, but like sisters everywhere they also harbor petty jealousies and rivalries. They love each other, but each knows exactly where to drive the knife to hurt the other the most. Along the way they face terrible sacrifices, make impossible choices, and confront a devastating, life-changing secret, but through it all the two heroines of this astounding new novel hold fast to who they are–Shanghai girls.
Sequel: Dreams of Joy
pg count for the hardback: 309
4) The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
Set in: Venice, Italy
The Inkworld trilogy by Cornelia Funke is a remarkable series that led me to this book and Dragon Rider, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. This is probably my favorite book by Cornelia Funke, as well as Inkheart, the first book in the Inkworld series.
Synopsis: Welcome to the magical underworld of Venice, Italy. Here, hidden canals and crumbling rooftops shelter runaways and children with incredible secrets….
After escaping from their cruel aunt and uncle, orphans Prosper and Bo meet a mysterious boy who calls himself the “Thief Lord.” Clever and charming, the Thief Lord leads a band of street children who enjoy making mischief. But the Thief Lord also has a dark secret. And suddenly Proper and Bo find themselves on a fantastical journey to a forgotten place. What they discover there will change the course of their destiny.
Series: single novel
pg count for the paperback: 350
5) Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby
Set in: Fantasy World
This book is not historical or even set in the real world, but it is an awesome adventure. 4 stars, great almost-thriller with dashes of mystery and action.
Synopsis: Trapped in a hidden fortress tucked between towering mountains and a frozen sea, Solveig, along with her brother the crown prince, their older sister, and an army of restless warriors, anxiously awaits news of her father’s victory at battle. But as winter stretches on, and the unending ice refuses to break, terrible acts of treachery soon make it clear that a traitor lurks in their midst. A malevolent air begins to seep through the fortress walls, and a smothering claustrophobia slowly turns these prisoners of winter against one another.
Those charged with protecting the king’s children are all suspect, and the siblings must choose their allies wisely. But who can be trusted so far from their father’s watchful eye? Can Solveig and her siblings survive the long winter months and expose the traitor before he succeeds in destroying a kingdom?
Series: single novel
pg count for the hardback: 324
6) The Outcasts by John Flanagan
Set in: Fantasy World
Again, not historical or set in the real world but an astounding adventure. Lots of action, humor and enjoyment. John Flanagan won my respect and earned his place as one of my favorite authors with his Ranger’s Apprentice series, and this is set in that world. An awesome book.
Synopsis: They are outcasts. Hal, Stig, and the others – they are the boys the others want no part of. Skandians, as any reader of Ranger’s Apprentice could tell you, are known for their size and strength. Not these boys. Yet that doesn’t mean they don’t have skills. And courage – which they will need every ounce of to do battle at sea against the other bands, the Wolves and the Sharks, in the ultimate race. The icy waters make for a treacherous playing field . . . especially when not everyone thinks of it as playing. John Flanagan, author of the international phenomenon Ranger’s Apprentice, creates a new cast of characters to populate his world of Skandians and Araluens, a world millions of young readers around the world have come to know and admire. Full of seafaring adventures and epic battles.
Series: The Brotherband Chronicles
pg count for the hardback: 434
7) Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
Set in: Pakistan
Synopsis: Anyone who despairs of the individual’s power to change lives has to read the story of Greg Mortenson, a homeless mountaineer who, following a 1993 climb of Pakistan’s treacherous K2, was inspired by a chance encounter with impoverished mountain villagers and promised to build them a school. Over the next decade he built fifty-five schools—especially for girls—that offer a balanced education in one of the most isolated and dangerous regions on earth. As it chronicles Mortenson’s quest, which has brought him into conflict with both enraged Islamists and uncomprehending Americans, Three Cups of Tea combines adventure with a celebration of the humanitarian spirit.
Series: single novel, but lots of companions
pg count for the paperback: 349
8) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Set in: Afghanistan and the US
A great and really powerful story, really moving and a intriguing to read. 4.5 stars.
Synopsis: A novel set mostly in Afghanistan. The introverted and insecure afghan narrator, Amir, grows up in Afghanistan in the closing years of the monarchy and the first years of the short-lived republic. His best and most faithful friend, Hassan, is the son of a servant. Amir feels he betrays Hassan by not coming to his aid when Hassan is set on by bullies and furthermore forces Hassan and his father Ali to leave his father´s service. Amir´s relatively privileged life in Kabul comes to an end when the communist regime comes to power and his extrovert father, Baba emigrates with him to the U.S. There Amir meets his future afghan wife and marries her. Amir´s father dies in the U.S. and Amir receives a letter from his father´s most trusted business partner and, for a time, Amir´s surrogate father, which makes Amir return, alone, to a Taliban-dominated Afghanistan in search of the truth about himself and his family, and finally, a sort of redemption.
Series: Single novel
pg count for the paperback: 371
9) Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
Set in: On an island in the Pacific
Synopsis: In the Pacific, there is an island that looks like a big fish sunning itself in the sea. Around it blue dolphins swim, otters play, and sea birds abound. Karana is the Indian girl who lived alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Hers is not only an unusual adventure of survival, but also a tale of natural beauty and personal discovery.
Series: Island of the Blue Dolphins
pg count for the paperback: 184
10) Shooting Kabul
Guess where this one is set. (Hints: It’s in Afghanistan, it starts with a K and ends with an L and it’s five letters. It’s
Synopsis: In the summer of 2001, twelve year old Fadi’s parents make the difficult decision to illegally leave Afghanistan and move the family to the United States. When their underground transport arrives at the rendezvous point, chaos ensues, and Fadi is left dragging his younger sister Mariam through the crush of people. But Mariam accidentally lets go of his hand and becomes lost in the crowd, just as Fadi is snatched up into the truck. With Taliban soldiers closing in, the truck speeds away, leaving Mariam behind.
Adjusting to life in the United States isn’t easy for Fadi’s family and as the events of September 11th unfold the prospects of locating Mariam in a war torn Afghanistan seem slim. When a photography competition with a grand prize trip to India is announced, Fadi sees his chance to return to Afghanistan and find his sister. But can one photo really bring Mariam home?
Series: single novel
pg count for the hardback: 272 pages
11) Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
Set in: Mexico and California
YES! My favorite numbers: 2, 4 and 11. 2 is just well, awesome. 4 is the only number with the same value as the number of letters in the word. (Forty is the only number with the letters in alphabetical order). And 11 is the only double-digit palindromic prime! I loved this book almost as much as I love the number 11!
Synopsis: Esperanza thought she’d always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico–she’d always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, and servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression, and to settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances–Mama’s life, and her own, depend on it.
Series: single novel
pg count for the paperback: 288
12) The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Set in: Berlin 1942
A really interesting, heart breaking book. I loved Bruno and John Boyne’s voice as a writer. 4 stars.
Synopsis: When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.
But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.
Series: single novel
pg count for the hardback: 218
13) Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
set in: Siberia
I thought this was a pretty good book, don’t understand all the ranting, but 4 stars. This gets known around my school as “The Siberian Book”. Is that just me?
Synopsis: 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.
14) Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
set in: Paris
I thought this book was a little predictable at times, but this book also simultaneously warmed my heart, broke it and amazed me. 3.8 stars.
Synopsis: Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family’s apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.
Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France’s past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl’s ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d’Hiv’, to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah’s past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.
Series: single novel
pg count for the paperback: 293
15) First Light by Rebecca Stead
Set in: Greenland
Synopsis: PETER IS THRILLED to leave New York City to accompany his parents on an expedition to Greenland to study global warming. There he has visions of things that should be too far away for him to see.
Generations ago, the people of Thea’s community were hunted for possessing unusual abilities, so they fled beneath the ice. Thea needs help that only Peter can give. Their meeting reveals secrets of both their pasts, and changes the future for them both forever.
pg count for the paperback: 336
Series: not a series
16) Sebastian Reckless Vol. 1 by Rushton Howard
Set: all over the world
So, I’ve met this guy. Rushton Howard. His personality is a little quirky, as is with a lot of writers, but I absolutely love the way he writes. His adventures take you all over the world, from New Mexico to Antarctica to Egypt, with a ton of history, action and adventure in between. If you liked this book, you should read Rushton Howard’s the Long Forgotten Kings trilogy. It’s about Sebastian on a mission to locate and recover three nuclear bombs. In the first book, you go to San Francisco, New Mexico and Antarctica. In the second book, you go to Antarctica and Egypt. In the third and final book, you travel through time and then, if Sebastian can face his worst fear and come back with his wits still functioning, he’ll have to travel to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.
Synopsis: Tessa Dumont is in the worst possible peril. Having discovered the sinister secret of unlimited wealth, she finds herself pursued by hired killers and finally enlists the aid of a world-renowned troubleshooter: the madman/genius… Sebastian Reckless! A man of action, a man of mystery, a man … TEN YEARS OLD!
Thus begins the strange tale of Tessa and the boy genius: undertaking a dangerous journey to the dark dimension where evil is born… and back again, if they’re lucky.
Series: Sebastian Reckless
pg count for the paperback: 263