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.

Is YA Fantasy Really YA?

Within the past couple years I’ve made it a point to read more YA fantasy since I have so many avid fantasy readers in my classroom. For the past week or so I’ve been listening to the audio of Laini Taylor’s Days of Blood & Starlight (the sequel to Daughter of Smoke & Bone) since the third book in the series, Dreams of Gods & Monsters, released this week. As I’ve been listening to this book I’ve found myself questioning whether it’s truly YA.

I adore Laini Taylor’s series and her writing. My students adore it as well. What exactly about this series qualifies it as YA though? Karou’s a teenager, but is she going through any sort of specific teenage struggle? Karou’s major conflict, especially as the series progresses, is about past lives and how she fits those past lives currently. (I don’t want to spoil the series for anyone.) So is it the questioning of identity that qualifies Karou’s story as YA? The Daughter of Smoke & Bone series could easily appeal to an adult audience, especially when I consider Taylor’s lush writing style and how layered the story is. Some adults unfortunately dismiss YA because of the angst and many other reasons, but I wonder if a non-YA reading adult would realize that this series has been published as YA after having read it.

I’ve started thinking about this about many of the YA fantasies I’ve read. Besides the age of the character, what makes those books YA novels exactly? Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers and The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson are two other books that have made me question this. I don’t have a problem with these books; I think they’re fantastic. I love that my students love them. But some of the elements to these stories, like characters marrying adult men and taking on adult roles like protecting and ruling a kingdom, causes me to pause and think about this. Could these stories be marketed and published in the adult market and be as successful? Would teens still find them and love them? Would more violence and sex, like in The Game of Thrones series, push these novels into the adult market? I understand that many fantasies are set in feudalistic worlds where teen girls are getting married and teens are ruling realms/lands, but it still seems like some other young adult aspect is missing.

This series of questions crossed my mind briefly while reading Cinda Williams Chima’s The Seven Realms series, but I didn’t find myself reading  Han’s or Raisa’s characters as if they’re adults. Their voices still rang true as teenagers to me while I read their stories. While those characters are also worrying about kingdoms and arranged marriages and so on, many of their thoughts, discussions, and actions still fit those of a teenager’s.

I’d really love to get some opinions on this. Has anyone else found themselves thinking like this? I think this discussion could cross over into the dystopian genre as well. I hope we can get a discussion going through the comments!

Book Trailer Thursday (121)–Scorched by Mari Mancusi

Scorched by Mari Mancusi is releasing from Sourcebooks Fire on September 3rd, 2013.  I’m not always sure about dragon books, but this one looks interesting.  I’m looking forward to sharing this book trailer with my students when school starts again so I can gauge their reactions to it.  I wonder how many will request a copy to read.

ScorchedSummary (From Goodreads):

Trinity
Don’t leave me here… It starts with a whisper. At first Trinity thinks she’s going crazy. It wouldn’t be a big surprise–her grandpa firmly believes there’s a genuine dragon egg in their dusty little West Texas town. But this voice is real, and it’s begging for her protection. Even if no one else can hear it…

Connor
He’s come from a future scorched by dragonfire. His mission: Find the girl. Destroy the egg. Save the world.

Caleb
He’s everything his twin brother Connor hates: cocky, undisciplined, and obsessed with saving dragons.

Trinity has no idea which brother to believe. All she has to go by is the voice in her head–a dragon that won’t be tamed.

Book Trailer Thursday (116)–Giants Beware! by Jorge Aguirre

I love graphic novels, and when I saw my friend Beth @ A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust pin this book trailer on Pinterest, I knew I had to read it.  This trailer is so much fun, so I can only imagine how much fun the actual book is.

Giants Beware! is written by Jorge Aguirre and illustrated by Rafael Rosado.  It released on April 10th, 2012.

Giants Beware!Summary (From Goodreads):

Make way for Claudette the giant slayer in this delightful, fantastical adventure!

Claudette’s fondest wish is to slay a giant. But her village is so safe and quiet! What’s a future giant slayer to do?

With her best friend Marie (an aspiring princess), and her brother Gaston (a pastry-chef-to-be), Claudette embarks on a super-secret quest to find a giant—without parental permission. Can they find and defeat the giant before their parents find them and drag them back home?

Giants Beware! offers up a wondrous, self-contained world in the tradition of the very best of Pixar. Claudette and her friends will have you laughing out loud from page one.

Top Ten Tuesday: Intimidating Books

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Today’s post features books that I’ve been intimidated to read even though many of my friends and reviewers have loved them.  I don’t know if all of these books have been loved by many, but many of them have received awards and starred reviews.

The Printz Books:

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein–I can only think of one person who wasn’t a huge fan of this book; everyone else I’ve spoken with has raved about it. I can’t explain why I’m scared to try reading it.  I’ve had it on my Kindle for over a year, and I have two copies of it in my classroom.

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly–I listened to the audio for Revolution, and while the audio was great, I really didn’t like the story. I want to read as many Printz books as I can, especially considering it’s part of the summer homework assignment for my honors sophomores, but I’m scared to try another one of her books.

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey–Horror isn’t really for me, unless it’s Anna Dressed in Blood because that book is flat out great.  I sampled the audio for this book, and it sounded pretty good, so I might try it that way.  Maybe even around Halloween!

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta–Sigh. I’ve tried reading this and listening to the audio and neither worked for me.  But I REALLY want to love this because SO MANY of my friends have raved about it.  What should I do??

So Many Series Books:

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand–I’ve tried reading this a couple times and I can’t stick with it.  My mom has read the entire series and loved it.  My students have read these books and loved them.  My close friends have read this series and loved it.  Should I give it another shot?

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore–I absolutely loved Graceling; I flew right through it. I tried reading Fire THREE times and couldn’t finish it.  I’m scared to try Bitterblue because I’ll be really sad if I don’t like it.  And it’s super long.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman–I sat down and tried reading this a few months ago and I couldn’t pay attention.  It’s really dense, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it, but I’m hesitant to try it again.  I really should buckle down and do it this summer.

Historical Books:

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman–I own a copy of this, and I have it sitting on my shelf right now.  The summary sounds really intriguing.  Maybe it’s the size of the book, or maybe it’s the historical part of it, but I’m simply intimidated by it.

Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin–I have a copy of this in my classroom library thanks to a Donors Choose project, and one of my seniors grabbed it right away to read.  He’s a huge historical non-fiction buff, and he absolutely loved it.  This book has FOUR medals on it, yet I’m hesitant to read it mostly because I don’t like non-fiction.  It’s hard to admit that, but I really don’t like non-fiction, although I do enjoy memoirs.

Hits too Close to Home:

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult–I’ve read and enjoyed a few of Jodi Picoult’s books.  I tried reading My Sister’s Keeper when I was in college, but I couldn’t get past the first 100 pages.  My dad had leukemia (thankfully he’s been cancer-free for years) a couple years before I tried reading this.  I couldn’t do it.  I kept crying and crying and finally decided to eat the money I spent on the book and put it away.  It’s hugely popular in my classroom and my students want to talk about it with me whenever they finish.  I haven’t see the movie, but I know what happens in both the book and the movie, so I can at least discuss a little bit with them.  I always tell them why I haven’t read it, but I don’t want to not talk to them about it either.

My Sister's Keeper

Audiobook Review: The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

The Crown of Embers audioTitle: The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns #2)

Author: Rae Carson

Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Release Date: September 18th, 2012

Interest: Series

Source: Audiobook purchased via Audible

Summary (From Goodreads): In the sequel to the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, a seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny.

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone’s power. That is not all she finds. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy.

Audiobook Review:  I read The Girl of Fire and Thorns traditionally and absolutely loved it.  Besides enjoying the narrator, the main reason I decided to listen to The Crown of Embers is because I don’t always like reading books in the middle of a series during the school year; most times I’d rather read a stand alone or the beginning of a series.  I often save series continuations or endings for the summer when I feel like I have more freedom to read what I want, when I want.  Anyway, I very much enjoyed Jennifer Ikeda as a narrator for this story.  I honestly don’t know if I’ll read the third book traditionally or as an audio now that I’ve experienced both.  What I liked most about listening to The Crown of Embers is being able to hear the correct pronunciations of names and places.  I never knew how to pronounce Ximena while I was reading the first book, and of course, I was pronouncing it wrong.  Jennifer Ikeda does a nice job bringing a different voice to each character and really bringing Elisa’s character to life.

Book Review:  I love this series.  Rae Carson is such a talented fantasy author.  I can’t wait to read book three, but I’m even more excited to see what other worlds and stories she’ll write in the future.  I love her use of imagery and pacing.  Picturing the setting comes easily as does imagining the characters.

I can’t write this review without bringing up the relationship between Elisa and Hector.  It’s such a strong friendship in the beginning and now it’s blossoming into something more.  Even when Elisa was in love with Humberto, I was hoping she would recognize Hector as more than a guard.  Their relationship might be a new favorite YA romance for me.  Hector is so honorable and strong and Elisa is finally beginning to gain some self-confidence and strength.  They’re a great match.

The Crown of Embers is a bit slower than The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but I think that’s because so much more of the story is building.  Elisa is maturing and really finding herself as a carrier of the Godstone and also as a queen.  We’re also learning more about the Godstone and we’re learning more about the realm.  I’m excited to see where all of this build-up is going to take us in book three, especially with an ending like we have in this book!  The ending is bittersweet, but it also left me feeling proud of Elisa.

Overall, I can’t recommend this series enough.  I included The Girl of Fire and Thorns as a fantasy option in my YA II class and the majority of my students who chose it loved it.  Many of them went on to read The Crown of Embers because they loved Elisa and her story so much.

Audiobook Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone AudioTitle: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Author: Laini Taylor

Narrator: Khristine Hvam

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Audio)

Release Date: September 27th, 2011

Interest: Paranormal Fantasy / Fantasy

Source: Audiobook purchased via Audible

Summary (From Goodreads):

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages – not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers – beautiful, haunted Akiva – fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Audiobook Review:

It took me some time to get into this book both physically (my first attempt at reading it) and aurally.  I’m so thankful I kept with the audio because it is one of my favorite audiobooks.  To put it simply, the narration is wonderful.  Khristine Hvam used a believable accent and differentiated between each character so well that I was never questioning which character was speaking.  I love listening to audiobooks when I’m getting ready for work, driving to and from work, and getting chores/cooking done.  I know I really love an audiobook when I find myself making excuses to drive somewhere or to get more cleaning done, which is what I did while listening to Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

Book Review:

The first thing I want to say about Daughter of Smoke and Bone is that I love Laini Taylor’s beautiful use of vocabulary.  Her writing is lush and vibrant.  I don’t know if I would have appreciated it as much if I wasn’t listening to the audio, but it’s seriously wonderful.  I’ve never read a book that uses vocabulary and description to the degree that Taylor does, at least not recently.

The story itself is layered and engrossing.  I love Karou and the incredible life she leads.  She’s feisty, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but she’s vulnerable as well.  I was a little lost during the Akiva back story, but when everything came together I was so impressed and excited.  I’ll admit that the back story was beginning to bother me since I didn’t know where it was going, but it did make me love Akiva that much more.

I’m not sure if any movie rights for Daughter of Smoke and Bone has been purchased, but I would love to see this story come to life on the big screen.  I know a movie wouldn’t do it justice (they rarely do), but I think I’d still enjoy it just the same.

If you decide to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which I hope you, make sure you have a copy of Days of Blood & Starlight handy because you’ll want to start reading it as soon as you can!

Book Trailer Thursday (99)–Middle Grade Titles

Sometimes I get the feeling that a lot of middle school teachers/librarians follow my blog.  One of these days I should set up a poll to see how many of my readers teach or work with elementary, middle, and high school students.

I decided to feature some middle grade title book trailers.  They’re for “older” titles, but I hope you enjoy them anyway :)

Juniper BerrySummary for Juniper Berry (From Goodreads): Juniper’s parents have not been themselves lately. In fact, they have been cold, disinterested and cruel. And lonely Juniper Berry, and her equally beset friend, Giles, are determined to figure out why.

On a cold and rainy night Juniper follows her parents as they sneak out of the house and enter the woods. What she discovers is an underworld filled with contradictions: one that is terrifying and enticing, lorded over by a creature both sinister and seductive, who can sell you all the world’s secrets in a simple red balloon. For the first time, Juniper and Giles have a choice to make. And it will be up to them to confront their own fears in order to save the ones who couldn’t.

M.P. Kozlowsky’s debut novel is a modern-day fairy tale of terror, temptation, and ways in which it is our choices that make us who we are.

The Strange Case of Origami YodaSummary for The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (From Goodreads): IT TAKES THE WISDOM OF YODA TO SURVIVED THE SIXTH GRADE

Meet Dwight, a sixth-grade oddball. Dwight does a lot of weird things, like wearing the same T-shirt for a month or telling people to call him “Captain Dwight.” This is embarrassing, particularly for Tommy, who sits with him at lunch every day.

But Dwight does one cool thing. He makes origami. One day he makes an origami finger puppet of Yoda. And that’s when things get mysterious. Origami Yoda can predict the future and suggest the best way to deal with a tricky situation. His advice actually works, and soon most of the sixth grade is lining up with questions.

Tommy wants to know how Origami Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. Is Yoda tapping into the Force? It’s crucial that Tommy figure out the mystery before he takes Yoda’s advice about something VERY IMPORTANT that has to do with a girl.

This is Tommy’s case file of his investigation into “The Strange Case of Origami Yoda.”

The False PrinceSummary for The False Prince (From Goodreads): THE FALSE PRINCE is the thrilling first book in a brand-new trilogy filled with danger and deceit and hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end.

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats.

Book Trailer Thursday (96)–Prophecy by Ellen Oh

I’m on a fantasy kick and Ellen Oh’s debut Prophecy sounds really cool.  And this may seem trivial, but I’m excited that it’s high fantasy and only 320 pages long as opposed to the usual 400+ pages long many high fantasy novels are.  It released on January 2nd.  Have any of you read it yet?  If so, what are your thoughts?  What do you think of the trailer?

ProphecySummary (From Goodreads):

The greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms… is a girl with yellow eyes.

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope…

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.

Book Trailer Thursday (95)–Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

I’ve been reading tons of rave reviews for Seraphina, so I’ve been looking forward to reading it.  I even bought myself a copy with one of my Christmas gift cards.  I like the cover, the concept, and the book trailer.  I started reading Rachel Hartman’s debut the other day, though, and I think Seraphina is better suited for a weekend when I’m not distracted.  So far it’s pretty dense, but it’s interesting.  Have you read it yet?  I’d love to know what you think!

SeraphinaSummary (From Goodreads): Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina’s tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they’ve turned the final page.

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