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Season 1, Episode 1

Steampunk, High Fantasy ... and Murder

January 14, 2021

In the first episode of the Planet Book Podcast, podcast host, Emily, is joined by guests Sarah and Adrienne as they talk about steampunk adventures and murderous princesses each on a quest to become queen. Book recommendations for young adult and...

Titles Mentioned in This Episode

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Emily 0:04 Welcome to the Planet Book Podcast where we explore middle grade and young adult books. My name is Emily and I work in youth services at the Willard branch of the Springfield Greene County Library District. Join me each episode as we welcome guests to book talk their latest favorite teen and tween reads. Thank you for joining us as we start this podcasting adventure.


Emily 0:22 For this episode, I am joined by Sarah Bean Thompson, the youth services manager at the Library Center. Welcome, Sarah.

Sarah 0:28 Hi, thanks for having me.

Emily 0:30 Also, joining us today is Adrienne Poulson, the branch manager of the Willard and Ash Grove branches of the Springfield Greene County Library District. Hello, Adrienne.

Adrienne 0:38 Hello, Emily. Thanks for having me.

Emily 0:41 Thank you guys, both for joining me and our first ever episode of the Planet Book Podcast. I'm very excited to hear which books you're going to be sharing with me today. Let's start with Sarah. Sarah, what book are you recommending?

Middle Grade Book Recommendation

Sarah 0:52 So I am recommending a trilogy that is a middle grade series but it's also a good, it's middle grade/YA, so I think has a lot of crossover appeal for teens that maybe want to read just anything, some adults that maybe want to read along with their teens, or, you know, just kids that want to read a little bit higher. It's called Airborn by Kenneth Oppel, and it is a three book series featuring the character Matt Cruse. So believe the series is actually called the Matt Cruse series.

It takes place in a like alternate history, somewhat steampunky vibe with the setting and instead of big boats, like the Titanic, imagine the Titanic as a gigantic blimp in the air. And that is the ship that Matt is a cabin boy on. His dad was a sailor, I guess you could call them on the ships and his dad died in an accident and it's always been Matt's dream to be in the air as well. So as soon as he could, he took off to be in the sky. And he's a cabin boy, which means he kind of has the lowest one in the ship. He's the lowest man. And he is keeping watch at night, and he sees this hot air balloon. And it's not on their track at all that the hot air balloon should be there. And Matt knows that it needs help because something is wrong with a hot air balloon. And he rescues this old man. And the old man says, Did you see them? Did you see them? And Matt just thinks, Okay, I'm gonna be nice to the old man who's dying. He says, Yeah, I did. and he's like, the creatures, they were real. And Matt's just thinking, yeah, there weren't any creatures. He's hallucinating. And then the old man dies. And then a year later, a girl shows up, and she says, Hey, you remember that old man who saw creatures. I'm his granddaughter. I have his journal and I'm on the ship now. And I want to prove that they're real. And so then that sets Matt and Kate, the granddaughter, off on this very wild adventure that features sky pirates, and cloud cats and all sorts of super fun things. I really love this series because it's a fantastic audiobook so you could read them and that's great. We have them at the library, but they're also available on Hoopla as audiobooks. And the thing I like about the audiobooks is that they are full cast audio, which means there are some sound effects. There's music, intro and outro on each chapter or section of the book. And each character is played by a different voice actor. So you're really listening to a radio drama as you're reading and it just upped the ante and it makes it even more adventurous. And then the series continues where they go even higher into the sky in the second book, and then they go to outerspace in the third. So each one is full of lots of adventure and there's lots of twists and turns and there's some romance for those readers who want a little bit of romance in their adventure story.

Emily 4:06 Awesome. I love full cast audio productions. I think it's such a great way to kind of really get immersed in a story and feel like you really get to know the characters on a totally different level. I'm excited for that one. So you said there's a little bit of romance. It sounds like there's maybe some like fantasy and science fiction elements too, what kind of readers do you think would enjoy this book?

Sarah 4:29 I think readers who want an adventure story, there's, it's hard to categorize this book because it's, it does have like this alternate history kind of fantastical element, but it's like realistic fantasy, realistic sci fi, I guess, because there you could almost see that these airships would be built and it's in this like, Victorian timeline, kind of. So it's an alternate history. And they, I think, just readers that want lots of adventure because they have lots and lots of just one thing after another happens to Matt and Kate, they just can't catch a break. They just keep finding trouble. And that's just kind of what they, what they like to do. I also really like that Kate is this woman in Victorian times, this girl, who is trying to be a scientist and a zoologist in a time when women were not really allowed to do that. So I think it's really good for girls who want to read about, you know, girl power and girls that could do anything and girls and sciences. So she's a really awesome character and I love Kate a lot.

Middle Grade Read-alikes

Emily 5:39 That's awesome. It kind of is reminding me of Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan series. Do you think readers who enjoyed that would also enjoy this one?

Sarah 5:49 I think so. It reminds me of that as well because it's kind of got that steampunk vibe, and the strong characters and lots of adventure and lots of twists throughout. So I think it would be a great Read-alike for the Leviathan series, if you like that.

Emily 6:04 So we mentioned steampunk a couple of times. Could you maybe describe what that is a little bit in case people aren't familiar with that term?

Sarah 6:11 Yeah.

Emily 6:12 I know you kind of put you on the spot there.

Sarah 6:14 Yeah. But hopefully I can describe it well. Steampunk is kind of like a science fiction/fantasy mash up. I guess it's a little more sci-fi. But it's basically taking history but injecting technology that was not available during that time period. So you know, this Victorian era with steamships and technology that they wouldn't have. We didn't have gigantic airships at that time. So it's kind of playing with time and playing with timelines, and mashing those things together so that you have things that are maybe a little more modern in a historical setting.

Emily 6:54 Awesome. Well, thank you so much for describing steampunk to us. And then also for sharing Airborne I think it sounds like a really fun series. I really hope our listeners enjoy reading it. And thank you so much for sharing that with us.

Sarah 7:05 Yeah, you're welcome. I hope they enjoy it.

Emily 7:07 And now we're going to move on to Adrienne who is going to be recommending a YA book for us. Adrienne, what do you have for us today?

Young Adult Book Recommendation

Adrienne 7:14 I am going to talk about the Three Dark Crowns series by Kendare Blake. And it is a five book series and it is about some young woman triplets born in a cruel world, but only one of them can be queen. So they're born to be Queen's, but you can only have one queen. So once they grow up, one girl must kill the other so that they can be able to rule. So there's lots of twists and turns in the series. The first book, because it goes back and forth between perspectives of the Queen's because you're getting introduced to those characters, some people might have a hard time following because it does go back and forth. So sometimes that's a little hard, but I definitely suggest hanging in there because the first book does start off a little slow, but it ends really well. And the series carries on really well from there. The world building is really well done. And so, Kendare Blake did a very good job with that one. And there is a little romance between a couple of characters in there and it's kind of dark fantasy. So if you're not really into the darker fantasy, then it might not be something that you want to pick up but it's a really good read.

Emily 8:54 It kind of sounds like Game of Thrones for teens, do you think that would be a good kind of likeness?

Adrienne 9:01 Oh yeah, definitely. And also, like if you, if the reader liked An Ember in the Ashes series or the Cruel Prince series, I would definitely put those up against each other because they definitely have the world building and characters that you grow to love or hate. And there's lots of twists and turns. And with this series and the thing with that is, it's always good to have the next one on hand, because she kind of leaves you in a cliffhanger, almost every book. So it's good to have the next one so that you can continue.

Emily 9:48 So you say that most of the stories end on a kind of cliffhanger and it's a five book series. What do you think of like the end book does it tie it all together really well.

Adrienne 9:59 I honestly have not gotten that far yet. Unfortunately.

Emily 10:02 That's okay!

Adrienne 10:03 And I haven't gotten to the last one. But, um, and I'm hoping that it does. Because if you've ever read a series with cliffhangers, it's very hard to just put it down and say, Okay, that's it, and I can't read on. Um, so I'm hoping that she does wrap it up really well, because otherwise I might be frustrated like I am after the end of a couple other books.

Emily 10:31 So is the fifth book out though? It is?

Adrienne 10:34 Yes.

Emily 10:35 The series is complete.

Adrienne 10:36 Yes.

Emily 10:37 Awesome. I hate when you are reading a book and you can't wait for the next one. And then it says publishing to be determined and you're like, nooo!

Adrienne 10:45 Yeah, it's like if you were ever a Harry Potter fan, and when Harry Potter was coming out, and it was like, you had to wait a year for the next one to come out and it was so frustrating. So I tried to stick to the ones that I know maybe have all the books in the series before I start diving in.

Emily 11:07 It's funny that we compared it to Game of Thrones earlier because those fans are having to wait forever for the next book.

Adrienne 11:13 Exactly.

Emily 11:14 George RR Martin, I'm sure every time he goes to the grocery store, they're like, dude, you should be writing. Don't, Don't pick up your groceries. Go, Go home and write.

Adrienne 11:21 Yes.

Emily 11:22 It's good that it's a completed series and hopefully the fifth one really pans out because when you spend so long, like so much time committed to a book series, just hope that final book really pays off.

Adrienne 11:33 Yes. And the audio book is also very well done. It's only done by one narrator but she does really well. The narrator's name is Amy Landon and, and she's a very good narrator. So the audiobooks are well done.

Emily 11:52 Awesome. Well, Adrienne, that book sounds awesome too. Thank you so much for sharing Three Dark Crowns with us. And thank you both so much, Sarah and Adrienne, for being the first guests on our first episode of the Planet Book Podcast.

Sarah 12:04 Yeah, it was lots of fun.

Adrienne 12:05 Yes, thank you.


Emily 12:07 And to our listeners, thank you so much for joining me for this episode of Planet Book Podcast. Look for links to all the books and activities talked about in this episode on the library website. While you're there, check out the kids and teen pages for book lists and other resources. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, click on the Your Next Read banner on the library website and fill out our questionnaire. We will email you or call you with a list of books specifically for you. Look for a new episode next week. And thanks again for listening to the Planet Book Podcast.

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