Book Trailer Thursday (153)–Stray by Elissa Sussman

Book Trailer Thursday

I’ll admit that fairy tales aren’t always my thing, but Stray by Elissa Sussman has me intrigued. I do love fantasy, however, and this sounds more like a dark fantasy than a fairy tale (at least the type of fairy tale I’m used to). Stray released on October 7th and I may or may not be thinking about getting myself a copy to read sooner rather than later. It has one of those summaries that makes me want to put down the book I’m currently reading and jump right into this one instead.

StraySummary (From Goodreads):

“I am grateful for my father, who keeps me good and sweet. I am grateful for my mother, who keeps her own heart guarded and safe. I am grateful for my adviser, who keeps me protected. I am grateful for the Path, which keeps me pure. Ever after.”

Princess Aislynn has long dreamed about attending her Introduction Ball, about dancing with the handsome suitors her adviser has chosen for her, about meeting her true love and starting her happily ever after.

When the night of the ball finally arrives and Nerine Academy is awash with roses and royalty, Aislynn wants nothing more than to dance the night away, dutifully following the Path that has been laid out for her. She does not intend to stray.

But try as she might, Aislynn has never quite managed to control the magic that burns within her-magic brought on by wicked, terrible desires that threaten the Path she has vowed to take.

After all, it is wrong to want what you do not need. Isn’t it?

STRAY is the first in a collection of intertwined stories, all set in a world where magic is a curse that only women bear and society is dictated by a strict doctrine called The Path. A cross between The Handmaid’s Tale and Wicked, with a dash of Grimm and Disney thrown in, this original fairy tale will be released October 7th, 2014 from Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins.

Book Trailer Thursday (72)–Insignia by S.J. Kincaid & Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Why feature only one book trailer when I can feature two book trailers, right?  It’s Insignia’s book birthday week, so it only makes sense to post the trailer for it this week (and because I love the book).  I read a review for Tiger Lily @ Good Books and Good Wine not too long ago, and since then it’s been on my mind.  The review sold me on the book, so I’m looking forward to reading it this summer.

I’ve noticed that as book trailers are becoming more popular, some get the full movie-type treatment and others are more simplistic like these two.  I’m not sure if I prefer one style over the other, but these two trailers work for me.  What do you think?

Summary of Insignia (From Goodreads): More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom’s drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.

Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone’s been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he’s offered the incredible—a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom’s instincts for combat will be put to the test, and if he passes, he’ll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War Three. Finally, he’ll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom’s always wanted—friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters—but what will it cost him?

Gripping and provocative, S. J. Kincaid’s futuristic thrill ride of a debut crackles with memorable characters, tremendous wit, and a vision of the future that asks startling, timely questions about the melding of humanity and technology.


Summary of Tiger Lily (From Goodreads): Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Peaches comes a magical and bewitching story of the romance between a fearless heroine and the boy who wouldn’t grow up.




Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’ve Read Because of Other Bloggers

I’m switching things up this week by participating in the weekly meme–Top Ten Tuesday–hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is in honor of Book Blogger Appreciation Week.  I love that I get to mention books I’ve read based on other bloggers’ reviews and recommendations because everyone deserves recognition 🙂

Books Reviewed & Recommended by (the awesomely wonderful) Kelly @ Stacked Books:

1. Everything Beautiful by Simmone  Howell (Goodreads): Kelly not only physically handed me this book and told me to read it, she told me that it’s “Y.A. done right.”  I really enjoyed it and it’s already become a popular book among my girls this year and it’s only the second week of school!

2. Split by Swati Avasthi (Goodreads): I have to also thank the Cybils for this one, but that includes lots of bloggers too.  This book was a Cybils winner last year and it’s awesome.  I’ve seen it on the shelves plenty of times, but Kelly really pushed me to finally cave and buy it.  It’s a book that I wish I would have read much sooner.

3. Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard (Goodreads): I had planned on reading this when I signed up for the Contemps Challenge, but Kelly encouraged me to read it sooner.  She told me how strong the characters Grace and Mandarin are, so I was excited to read it.  It’s absolutely a great book that I know my girls in class will relate to and love.

Books Recommended by Katelyn (One of my former students) @ Katelyn’s Blog:

4. Perfect Chemistry (and her other books) by Simone Elkeles (Goodreads): Katelyn was in my Y.A. Lit class when she was a senior and since then she’s been telling me to read these books.  I FINALLY read them this past spring and LOVED them!

5. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (Goodreads): So technically I haven’t read this one yet, but the only reason I plan on reading it is because of Katelyn’s A-MAZING review.  I have a copy in my classroom and I tried reading it last summer and couldn’t stick with it.  In Katelyn’s review she says that it takes a bit to get into it, but that once you do it’s wonderful.

Books Recommended by Sarah @ GreenBeanTeenQueen:

6. Moonglass by Jessi Kirby (Goodreads): Sarah is always a reliable and honest reviewer, so when I read her review for Moonglass, I knew I should give it a shot.  She mentioned that it’s a great summer read and compared it to Sarah Dessen’s novels.  That was good enough for me.

Reviewed & Recommended by Mindi @ Next Best Book:

7. Divergent by Veronica Roth (Goodreads): Mindi is a fellow teacher that I love talking to on Twitter about teaching, books, etc.  I wanted to read this book anyway, but once I saw that Mindi liked it more than The Hunger Games, I knew I had to read it.

Reviewed by Crys @ Book ‘Em! The Adventures of a Wannabe Librarian:

8. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (Goodreads): Honestly, this isn’t my favorite book, BUT I’m really glad Crys and other bloggers recommended this book.  It doesn’t matter that I didn’t like it as much as Crys and the others did because The Near Witch has gained quite a bit of interest from my students.  That’s all I need 🙂

Reviewed & Recommended by various bloggers:

9. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (Goodreads): I can’t remember which blogger reviewed this book because I read the review over a year ago when I first started blogging.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it, but once I read her review I knew I had to have it.  I’m incredibly thankful that I did because I’ve been reading it to my freshmen and they LOVE it.

10. The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting (Goodreads): I have so much love for this series!  I wish I could remember which blogger first introduced me to Jay and Violet because I’d love to thank them.  These books are made of awesome.

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

Lauren Oliver Liesl & Po

320 pp.  Harper (HarperCollins)  2011  ISBN: 978-0-06-201451-1

Release Date: October 4, 2011

Interest: First middle grade title from YA author

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice—until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone.

That same night, an alchemist’s apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable

Will’s mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes a luminous and magnificent novel that glows with rare magic, ghostly wonders, and a true friendship that lights even the darkest of places.

During some conversations I had with my freshmen last school year, I discovered that many of them still enjoy middle grade titles, especially fantasy and action/adventure titles.  Since then I’ve been making a point of seeking titles like these out and reading them.  When I heard about Liesl & Po, and that it’s written by Lauren Oliver, I knew I had to read it.  Truth–I think I like this book more than Before I Fall.

Lauren Oliver has a note in the very beginning of the ARC (I hope it’s in the finished copy as well) explaining why she wrote this book.  It’s incredibly moving and something I thought back to many times while reading this book.  I’d rather not go into detail about the note, though, because I think you should experience it for yourself.  It made reading the book feel more personal, and I appreciate that sort of honesty from an author.

The illustrations by Kei Acedera are fantastic!  I wasn’t expecting any art, so it was a very pleasant surprise and experience.  I like that they’re paced throughout the novel and I like the style used to create the setting & characters.  I’m not very good with art/drawing terminology, so please forgive my ignorance on this.  The drawings felt like how I would see the characters if this book were made into an animated Disney movie or something.  But the shading and everything also felt whimsical.  I may not be making any sense, but regardless, I love the illustrations.  They added an element that made the story come alive.  I wish more books could include illustrations, MG and YA alike.

Another element I love about this book is the cast of characters.  Liesl is sweet and caring, but also full of adventure.  Po is mysterious, but I love that it looks out for Liesl and begins to feel human emotions again.  I also couldn’t get enough of Po’s wit and one-liners, especially when Will, the alchemist’s assistant, enters the scene.  Liesl & Po forge an unusual friendship, but it’s ultimately one of trust and understanding.  There’s also a few villains, of course.  Liesl’s stepmother is truly horrible; she has Liesl locked up in an attic and barely feeds her.  The Lady Premiere, who expects to receive the box of magic, rivals Liesl’s stepmother in the evilness category.  These characters, along with others, made for a fantastic story full of magic and hope despite all the gray.

Lauren Oliver has written a story that children, tweens and teens will appreciate and enjoy.  There are plenty of universal themes like loneliness, the importance of family, grieving, etc.  This is another title that I’m excited to share with my students, and I’m equally excited to buy a finished copy.

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

Victoria Schwab The Near Witch

282 pp.  Hyperion (Disney Book Group)  2011  ISBN: 978-1-4231-3787-0

Interest: 2011 Debut Author

Source: Purchased

Summary (From Goodreads): The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.

Prior to and during the week of The Near Witch‘s release, almost all of the blogs I follow had glowing reviews for this debut.  After reading all of those reviews, and being in an odd mood on the day of the release, I decided to buy my own copy.

I think all of the reviews spoke of Schwab’s beautiful, lyrical writing and I completely agree.  She created an atmosphere of mystery and magic, very much like a fairy tale.  The imagery is fantastic and painted an easy to imagine setting.  Overall, the writing is gorgeous and impressive.

My only complaint is that the story is too plot-driven.  It was while reading this book that I realized how much more I enjoy character-driven stories.  I never felt connected to Lexi or anyone in the story.  I was interested in the mystery behind who’s kidnapping the children.  And I was interested in the lore of the Near witch.  My lack of connection with Lexi made the story drag on.  I got to the point where I just wanted to know what happened.  Despite the writing, and how much I was enjoying it, I found myself skimming the last couple chapters because I was growing weary and wanted to be done.

Honestly, it makes me feel down writing this review because I wanted to love this book.  I did like it and will recommend it to my students.  Reading is subjective and not every book is for every person.  I already know which of my students will most likely love this book as much as the reviewers I follow did.  I’d love to get some comments from those of you who read The Near Witch and loved it or feel the same as I do.

A few bloggers who enjoyed The Near Witch:
The Story Siren
Novel Thoughts
Reading Teen

In My Mailbox (22)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme sponsored by The Story Siren.  It’s a way for bloggers to share what books they’ve received for review, borrowed from the library, or bought from the store.

Purchased (all but Anya’s Ghost):

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (Goodreads): I just started this one and I’m liking it so far. I’ve read a lot of positive, glowing reviews.  So far it’s very lyrical, as many of the reviews have stated, and it feels almost like a fairy tale in atmosphere.

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry (Goodreads): I’ve heard good things about this book, too.  I’m not always sure about zombie books, but I know my boys in class like them and I loved Bad Taste in Boys.  I skimmed through the book and found out that the chapters are short, so maybe it will be a fast read.

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol (Goodreads): A friend of mine on Twitter sent me this one (Thanks John! @MrSchuReads).  My best friend read it and enjoyed it, plus I’ve heard good things from other teachers I’m friends with.  Any time I hear good things about a graphic novel, I have to look into it.

You Are Not Here by Samantha Schutz (Goodreads): I found this one while perusing what was left in the YA section at Borders.  It’s written in verse which is the primary reason for buying it.  I read a few pages yesterday and already know that I’ll love it.  It’s looking like a very poignant tale of love and loss.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Goodreads): Most of the reviews I’ve read for this one talk about it being fantastic, creepy, funny, etc.  I have a book club with a group of alumni students and this is our most recent pick.  I’ll have to start reading it soon!

Book Trailer Thursday (29)

I’m sorry I didn’t have a Book Trailer Thursday post last week, everyone.  It was raining like crazy last Wednesday and into Thursday, which resulted in my basement flooding 🙁  I spent all day cleaning it up and tearing out carpet–and the clean up still isn’t done (we need to repaint the floor and the walls, redo parts of the drywall, etc.).

I’m back this week and excited about this brand new trailer.  Today I’m featuring Kathy McCullough’s book trailer for her debut novel Don’t Expect Magic (releases on November 8, 2011).  She’s really excited about this trailer for a couple of reasons.  Number one is that Mike Schmid, a keyboardist for Miley Cyrus and a musician who has worked with Sheryl Crow and the Jonas Brothers, read her novel and liked it so much he was inspired to write a song for it and is letting her use the song for her trailer!  How cool is that?!  The song is called “Magic” and can be found on iTunes.  The second reason for excitement is that Kathy’s friends Judy and Dave put the trailer together for her.  Judy did the illustrations.

Kathy is also one of the debut authors who signed up for Students Want to Know, which I’m very excited about 🙂  I’m looking forward to showing my students this trailer in the fall and sharing the ARC of Don’t Expect Magic with them.

Summary of Don’t Expect Magic (From Goodreads): Delaney Collins doesn’t believe in fairy tales. And why should she? Her mom is dead, her best friend is across the country, and she’s stuck in California with “Dr. Hank,” her famous life-coach father—a man she barely knows. Happily ever after? Yeah, right.

Then Dr. Hank tells her an outrageous secret: he’s a fairy godmother—an f.g.—and he can prove it. And by the way? The f.g. gene is hereditary. Meaning there’s a good chance that New Jersey tough girl Delaney is someone’s fairy godmother.

But what happens when a fairy godmother needs a wish of her own?

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