Today's Best Book Deals for Your Homeschool
(Prices are correct as of the time of writing, but y'all know sales move fast — check before you click the buy button! These are Amazon links — read more about how we use affiliate links to help support some of the costs of the HSL blog here.)
The Clockwork Scarab is $0.99. Bram Stoker’s sis teams up with Sherlock Holmes’s niece to solve mysteries in a steampunky Victorian London. In this first book in the series, the duo suspects a secret society based on Egyptology may be behind the disappearance of two society girls. I think this is one of the most fun middle grades mystery series I’ve discovered in recent years.
Still on sale
The Hero and the Crown is $1.99. The Washington Post compared this Newbery winner to Tolkien’s and LeGuin’s modern fantasy classics. I love that it’s feminist without even trying.
The Witch’s Boy is $3.90. Kelly Barnhill’s modern fairy tales are effortlessly complex, and I love them all. From the publisher: “When Ned and his identical twin brother tumble from their raft into a raging river, only Ned survives. Villagers are convinced the wrong boy lived. Across the forest that borders Ned’s village, Áine, the daughter of the Bandit King, is haunted by her mother’s last words: “The wrong boy will save your life, and you will save his.” When the Bandit King comes to steal the magic Ned’s mother, a witch, is meant to protect, Áine and Ned meet. Can they trust each other long enough to cross a dangerous enchanted forest and stop the war about to boil over between their two kingdoms?”
Seveneves is $1.99. This hard sci-fi story is a great follow-up for fans of The Martian. What would happen if the surface of the Earth suddenly became uninhabitable? In Stephenson’s world, scientists band together to create a tiny space colony of chosen survivors, a task that comes with constant technical challenges that need to be scienced if humanity is going to stand a chance of survival. (The first part is stronger than the second, but I always feel that way about Stephenson’s books.)
The Night Gardener is $2.99 and a great Halloween readaloud. From our review: “This is a terrific middle grades take on classic Gothic literature, complete with a spooky old house, a deliciously creepy ghost, and a slow nightmarish unfolding. Auxier has a deft lyrical voice that echoes classic scary tales like Rebecca and The Woman in White, but the story has a steady action pacing that will appeal to tween readers. Kids will identify with Kip, who really wishes he could just be like everybody else, and Molly, who’s taken on adult responsibilities that are really too big for her to face alone. There’s plenty of suspense and drama, but it winds up with a satisfyingly safe and happy ending for pretty much everyone the reader has gotten fond of over the course of the book.”
Ancillary Justice is $2.99. Sci-fi fan Suzanne put this trilogy kick-off on her best books of the year list and we talked about it on the podcast. This is old-fashioned science fiction in the traditional sense, but it also plays with notions of identity, gender, and responsibility in ways that are interesting (and satisfyingly resolved in the book!) for a non-hardcore sci-fi fan.
Six of Crows is $2.99. We've recommended Bardugo's Grisha-verse trilogy as a binge-worthy series more than once, and this book returns to that world with a story of six talented people commissioned to pull off an impossible heist.
The Fifth Season is $2.99. I have to confess that I read this book to be polite because Suzanne kept talking about how great Jemisin is, and I was BLOWN AWAY. The three interconnected narratives tell the story of a world where the earth’s power can be harnessed by a much-feared and heavily controlled group of people, but the gorgeous language, complex plotting, and subtle characters make this an extraordinary piece of literature.
The Vengekeep Prophecies is $2.99. From our readalikes for The Hobbit: “Jaxter Grimjinx was born to be a master thief—but it turns out that with disaster bearing down on his world, he may need to become a hero instead.”
Eleanor and Park is $1.99. It’s one of our summer readalikes for The Fault in Our Stars: “Misfits Park and Eleanor fall in love in high school, but both of them are smart enough to know that first love never lasts forever.”
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood is $2.99. Suzanne’s got our middle schoolers reading some of this as part of their African literature section. From The New York Times review: “By turns alarming, sad and funny, [Trevor Noah’s] book provides a harrowing look, through the prism of Mr. Noah’s family, at life in South Africa under apartheid. . . . Born a Crime is not just an unnerving account of growing up in South Africa under apartheid, but a love letter to the author’s remarkable mother.”
Terrible Typhoid Mary is $2.99. My son became really interested in infections when our homeschool group got hit hard by a bug this winter, and I picked up this book about one of the most notorious infections of all time at the library. This was a pleasantly complex book that went into the science of pathology but also the legal and social issues at the center of her case. Really interesting!
Vengeance Road is $2.99. From our great YA westerns roundup: Kate disguises herself as a boy to find justice for her father, who was murdered for his journal containing the location of a secret gold mine. (Remind you a little bit of the plot for True Grit?) But family secrets are dangerous in a world where gold is king, and even with the help of her unlikely band of allies, Kate may not be able to avoid the danger that awaits her.
The Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague is $1.99. From our science of infection reading list: When a bolt of infected fabric from London was delivered to the village of Eyam north of the city, the townsfolk there voluntarily sealed themselves off from the rest of the world to prevent the spread of the plague. (Their decision probably saved thousands of lives, though it was a death sentence for many of the people who lived there.) The Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague is set in Eyam during this time and told from the perspective of a young housemaid who sees both the incredibly generosity and kindness and the cruelty and horror of people faced with almost certain death.
The Story of Earth: The First 4.5 Billion Years, from Stardust to Living Planet is $2.99. This is a terrific text to ground your big history studies. From the publisher: “With an astrobiologist’s imagination, a historian’s perspective, and a naturalist’s eye, Hazen calls upon twenty-first-century discoveries that have revolutionized geology and enabled scientists to envision Earth’s many iterations in vivid detail—from the mile-high lava tides of its infancy to the early organisms responsible for more than two-thirds of the mineral varieties beneath our feet. Lucid, controversial, and on the cutting edge of its field, The Story of Earth is popular science of the highest order.”
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is $1.99. This is one of those big, satisfying books that makes for perfect holiday reading: In an alternate Austenian England, magic is still alive — but barely. Two magicians, with decidedly different abilities and opinions about magic, rise to power, and their friendship and eventual conflict will define the future of English magic. You know we love a good Jane-Austen-plus-magic mashup, and this one delivers, with fictional footnotes to boot. (The miniseries adaptation is also pretty good!)
All the King’s Men is $2.99. This is one of my go-to books for AP Literature reading lists because 1) it’s an interesting story of political corruption and power that never stops being disturbing or relevant, 2) I love that it is written by the only person to have won the Pulitzer for both poetry and fiction, and 3) it’s chock-full of themes, characters, and ideas that work for many AP essay test questions.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is $2.99. From our essential high school reading list: “What does it mean to be human? Dick’s twisted, dark tale of an android-hunter on a mission to take down rogue robots dives fearlessly into the question of self.”
Binti is $3.99. I grabbed a copy of this YA sci-fi-with-magic fantasy from Akata Witch author Nnedi Okorafor, and I have high hopes! Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu said, “Binti is a supreme read about a sexy, edgy Afropolitan in space! It's a wondrous combination of extra-terrestrial adventure and age-old African diplomacy.” Yes, please!
Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories is just $2.99, and I don’t even know why you are still reading this when you could be reading that right now. I don’t like to play favorites with short stories, but if I had to pick a desert island collection, this might just be it.
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History is $3.99. In addition to being a “compelling and enlightening report [that] forthrightly addresses the most significant topic of our lives” (that’s what Booklist says!), it’s part of the spine of Build Your Library’s 9th grade reading list.
A Study in Charlotte is $1.99. In this YA mystery, Sherlock Holmes’s equally brainy, equally troubled great-great-great-granddaughter ends up attending the same New England boarding school as John Watson’s great-great-great-grandson, and murder inevitably ensues. Kirkus said, “Cavallaro’s crackling dialogue, well-drawn characters, and complicated relationships make this feel like a seamless and sharp renewal of Doyle’s series. An explosive mystery featuring a dynamic duo.”
Sounder is $1.99. This is a classic! Amazon’s reviewer says: “William H. Armstrong's Newbery Award-winning novel quickly became a classic as a moving portrayal of resilience and hope in the face of profound human tragedy. Decades later, the bittersweet story still rings true, as strong-spirited individuals continue to battle the evil of prejudice.”
Breadcrumbs is $1.99. This middle grades homage to Andersen’s fairy tale “The Snow Queen,” set in the modern-day real world, is peppered with references to other fairy tales but manages to stand as its own story: about a girl who risks everything to save her friend. I’d read this with an Andersen fairy tale collection.
Archer’s Goon is $2.99. This is classic Diana Wynne Jones: A band of sorcerer siblings will go to any lengths to beat each other to the 2,000 words Harold’s author father was supposed to deliver — words that they believe will be the key to breaking them out of the individual jails they rule. Harold, of course, finds himself caught up in the competition, and trying to tell the good guys from the bad guys isn’t always easy.