Book Trailer Thursday (170)–The Witch Hunter by Victoria Boecker

Book Trailer Thursday

The Witch Hunter by Victoria Boecker slipped past my radar until I went searching for a book trailer to post today. I’m glad I found it, however, because it has a really intriguing summary and trailer. I especially love the music playing at the end of the trailer. Since it’s being compared to Game of Thrones, maybe I’ll read Boecker’s debut when GoT ends this month and I need something to help me hang on to the show for just a little while longer.

The Witch HunterSummary (From Goodreads):

The magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.

Your greatest enemy isn’t what you fight, but what you fear.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king’s best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she’s accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.

Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that’s been laid upon him.

But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth’s witch hunting past–if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she’s thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.

Book Trailer Thursday (163)–An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Book Trailer Thursday

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir doesn’t release until April 28th, but I received an ARC months ago and the book trailer was released a couple weeks ago. It’s high fantasy and sounds really exciting, which must be why Penguin is spending so much time and effort publicizing it. Hopefully this book trailer will excite some of my students.

An Ember in the AshesSummary (From Goodreads):

I WILL TELL YOU THE SAME THING I TELL EVERY SLAVE.
 
THE RESISTANCE HAS TRIED TO PENETRATE THIS SCHOOL COUNTLESS TIMES. I HAVE DISCOVERED IT EVERY TIME.
 
IF YOU ARE WORKING WITH THE RESISTANCE, IF YOU CONTACT THEM, IF YOU THINK OF CONTACTING THEM, I WILL KNOW

AND I WILL DESTROY YOU. 

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.
 
ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier— and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.
 
When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

Book Trailer Thursday (162)–Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Book Trailer Thursday

I’m making it a goal to read more fantasy this year. I’ve noticed that I keep recommending the same few fantasy titles to my students which means it’s time for me to expand my fantasy novel knowledge. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard looks like a cool place to start!

Summary (From Goodreads):

Red QueenThe poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

Book Trailer Thursday (159)–The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Book Trailer Thursday

The Darkest Part of the ForestHolly Black’s newest release, The Darkest Part of the Forest, released from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on January 13th, 2015. Hopefully this book trailer makes some Holly Black fans happy!

Summary (From Goodreads):

Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

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

toptentuesday-New

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.

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