Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss

Jennifer Barnhart | Following in History’s Footsteps

August 22, 2014

I am often considered a nerd. It happens to be true. I’ve read a wonderful essay about the history of manhole covers and another about garum, a fermented fish sauce Romans used quite liberally to season their food. I troll Game of Thrones forums and read everything involving dragons. I sometimes think I’m addicted to letters. If I see print, I have to read it. Watching subtitled movies is a nightmare because I only see the words. Whatever it is I’m compelled to read, I always find something to spark my imagination, and this week I read a fascinating article about the Mongol Derby which took place between August 2 and the 15.

The Mongol Derby is considered the longest and toughest horse race in the world. At 1,000 km (621.371 miles), the Derby follows the route of Genghis Khan’s rather ingenious postal system that spanned the entire Mongol Empire. Implemented around 1200 B.C.E., way before the Pony Express, the postal service delivered important news and information across the vast empire in an efficient and timely manner. The Mongol Derby gives 30 riders a chance to sleep under the stars, camp with herders, and survive the arduous track and brutal conditions. People have died in this race. They’ve been disfigured and permanently disabled, and they endure it all for the grand prize of bragging rights. That’s right; there is no jackpot at the end of this race, no trophy or medal. You win a sense of accomplishment, which in this case cannot begin to express the euphoria of simply finishing this race.

I’m fascinated by this drive to follow in history’s footsteps. Why is it so important for us to experience at least a small part of the hardships, joys, and pain of the past? To help answer it, I’ve picked three YA novels about the spirit of adventure and danger and how some people are driven to follow a path sets by those who came long before.



Sophia Tims has explored the world through maps. She comes from a family of explores and cartologers who have mapped the New World—a world far different after the Great Disruption of 1799, when all the continents were flung into different time periods. She never realized how dangerous the world is.

After her parents’ disappearance eight years ago, Sophia is raised by her brilliant uncle Shadrack whom she adores. Then Shadrack is kidnapped and Sophia is the only one left to search for him. With the help of Theo, a refugee from the West, Sophia sets off to find her uncle over rough terrain and uncharted oceans. She’ll encounter pirates and traders, and she’ll have to rely on her family maps, her common sense, and her own will to survive.

I’m fascinated by the concept in THE GLASS SENTENCE by S.E. Grove and can’t wait to read this novel. How will Sophia handle the challenges of exploring the world but also how will she manage to adjust to different time periods? She’s definitely following in the footsteps of her family and going off to explore the uncharted world. THE GLASS SENTENCE by S.E. Grove promises a world of wonder and unexpected challenges.

TESLA’S ATTIC by Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman


Sometimes a grand adventure isn’t found by traveling the globe. Sometimes it’s found in a new house with an attic full of junk.

Nick, his younger brother, and their father move into a falling down Victorian house they’ve inherited after their home burns to the ground. To clean out his new attic room, Nick holds a garage sell to get rid of the odd antiques that are doing nothing but collecting dust. After the garage sale, Nick learns that Nikola Tesla had placed his last inventions in the attic as part of grand plan. The attic is a strange magnetic vortex and it seems to have an intelligence and purpose of its own.

Now Nick and his new friends must track down every piece of junk he sold at the garage sale, but with a secret society hot on his trail, Nick will have to work fast if he wants to protect Tesla’s inventions.

TESLA’S ATTIC gives Nick a chance to follow in the steps of Nikola Tesla. Tesla is a fascinating man and his inventions were far beyond his time. I can’t wait to see how Nick’s journey will connect him with this man who helped shape the world we live in. Fresh Fiction Reviewer Clare O’Beara says, “TESLA’S ATTIC by Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman is an addictive read…and serious fun.” You should definitely check out this novel.



The journey home can be the most difficult and dangerous adventure.

Leilani and her father are visiting Oahu when a global disaster strikes. All electronics fail, and the Hawaiian Islands are completely cut off from the rest of the world. Not only that, but a strange starscape fills the sky. To get back to their home on the Big Island, Lei and her father must revert to the traditional ways to survive. Their nightmare odyssey from island to island shows the rapid change of their world, but that isn’t the only change. Lei is changing, and her epilepsy might hold a clue to the disaster and their survival.

THE ISLANDS AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Austin Aslan embodies the human will to survive, and I’m excited to see how Lei will grow and change as she adopts the traditional survival skills to reach her home and family. I’ve a feeling this story will be an intense journey that tests not only her physical abilities but her character strength as well. I really can’t wait to get my hands on this book.

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