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?

Top Ten Tuesday Freebie: Strong Female Protagonists

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

It has been a LONG time since I’ve written a Top Ten Tuesday post! I love that today happens to be a freebie because I’m working on a new bulletin board for my classroom. Four out of five of my classes are seniors and since they’re gone for the school year and I’m going to be on maternity leave at the beginning of next school year, I want to use some of my extra time putting together bulletin boards for next year. I really doubt bulletin boards are going to be a high priority when I’m ready to pop. 🙂

Anyway, in April I posted the survey results about whether my girls see themselves in what they’re reading. One of the questions I asked them is what they’d love to see in the books they’re reading and a majority of them wish to see strong female characters (their definitions of this vary). Back in February I created a bulletin board featuring book recommendations based on what my students are reading and interested in reading. I’ve decided to merge these two ideas; one section of the bulletin board will feature some strong female characters that my girls are searching for. I’m also thinking about adding a section that features girls in YA who play various sports. Of course, those two ideas can easily be one in the same.

1. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (Goodreads): Elisa isn’t your average royal YA fantasy character. She’s a little bit insecure, she’s very religious, and she’s fat (she describes herself this way). What I love about her, however, is that throughout the first book and the series itself she becomes increasingly self-reliant and a strong leader.

2. Ask the Passengers by A.S. King (Goodreads): A.S. King is one of my favorite authors for reasons like this book and Astrid’s story. Astrid is a character who sees beyond labels, especially those that label sexuality, and simply wants to find herself and where she fits in the world. Plenty of readers will be able to connect with her.

3. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (Goodreads): Frankie is still one of my favorite characters and for good reason, too. She’s smart, independent, and full of spunk. I also like that this book features a strong female protagonist and is light-hearted at the same time.

4. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (Goodreads): One of the things I like about this book is that while there’s a romance, it’s not the center of the story. The main focus of the story is how Hayley is dealing with her father’s PTSD and in turn her own PTSD from dealing with her father. She’s self-reliant almost to a fault. Her journey through this story is touching.

5. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (Goodreads): I can’t imagine growing up with a prostitute as a mother, especially living in a brothel. Like many of the characters on this list, Josie is independent, smart, and strong-willed. This is an excellent piece of historical fiction and example of how strong a YA character can be.

6. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (Goodreads): Tana’s wakes up as the only one living after vampires attack a party she attended so she takes a huge risk by entering Coldtown to save a few of the other survivors. Tana is tough, resourceful, and resilient. This is a vampire book and Tana is no Bella Swan.

7. We Are the Goldens by Dana Rheinhardt (Goodreads): This just released today and thankfully I had the ARC to read already. This is a great story about the power of sibling relationships. Nell is extremely close to her older sister Layla, but because of a secret Layla’s keeping, Nell is being pushed away and is forced to figure out who she is without her sister.

8. Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John (Goodreads): I really like Piper. I like that she’s deaf and managing a band. I like that she’s looking out for her little sister and trying to connect with her family. This is a fun, engaging, heartwarming book.

9. Sold by Patricia McCormick (Goodreads): Surviving being sold into prostitution. Enough said.

10. Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu (Goodreads): Have you seen the show Hoarders? Reading Lucy’s story is like watching an episode of Hoarders. Her mom has suddenly died in their home and Lucy feels it’s up to her to keep her mom’s secret and clean up their home before anyone arrives to get her mother’s body. Talk about strong and independent.

Book Trailer Thursday (128)–The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Book Trailer Thursday

The audiobook for The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is fantastic. The book trailer makes me like the book even more now that I can see Tana and what the opening scene looks like. I also included a video featuring Holly Black essentially book talking her book. Hopefully that and the book trailer will pique my students’ interest!

The Coldest Girl in ColdtownSummary (From Goodreads):

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

Audiobook Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Audio Review

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown Audio CoverTitle: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Author: Holly Black

Narrator: Christine Lakin

Length: 12 hrs 6 mins

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Release Date: September 3rd, 2013

Interest: Student interest

Source: Purchased via Audible

Summary (From Goodreads):

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

Audio Review: I’ve never listened to an audiobook narrated by Christine Lakin but I will again. Her voice is easy to listen to and I love how she so easily changes her accent to fit characters like Gavriel. I chose to listen to the audio because I really didn’t know if I’d like the book. I’ve found that it’s easier to try reading books I’m hesitant to read by listening to the audio. One of my seniors mentioned a love of vampire books on her interests survey which is what drove me to give The Coldest Girl in Coldtown a try. Anyway, this audiobook is on the longer side but it’s definitely worth a listen. At certain points throughout the audio–often at pivotal moments–different types of music play, which I didn’t think was really necessary, but I did appreciate it. This audiobook made cleaning, cooking, and driving much easier to get through. One quirk I need to mention is that I wasn’t expecting the switch in time periods/place. That threw me as I was listening, but I know it wouldn’t have been an issue had I been reading the book traditionally.

Book Review: I’m so happy to have finally found a Holly Black novel that I enjoyed! I was doubly hesitant to read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown because I didn’t liked Holly Black’s Doll Bones or White Cat and I’m over vampire books. Tana’s story is addicting, creepy, and bloody. I’m not into horror, either, but I was engrossed in this book!

I just ordered a copy of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown because I know many of my students will want to read this once I tell them about it. I have quite a few horror and mystery fans, although not as many vampire fans, but regardless I know they’ll enjoy it. I’m going to recommend this to my Anna Dressed in Blood fans because even though there isn’t as much humor in Tana’s story, there’s plenty of gore and action to keep them interested.

When it comes to characters, I really enjoyed Tana and Gavriel. Gavriel is the perfect mix of mysterious and alluring. Tana is independent and strong-willed. I loved the interactions between the two characters and honestly couldn’t decide if I wanted them to be together or not. I wasn’t sure if I wanted Tana to go cold and/or become a vampire or continue on as an unaffected human. I kept wondering what would happen to her because it seemed like she would need to go one way or another to make her story work. I’ll let you find out what happens to Tana and if anything develops between her and Gavriel 🙂

Coldtown’s setting reminds me of a post-apocalyptic world. It’s run down, dismal, and dangerous. Holly Black did a great job describing and developing it. If there’s a second book I’ll be happy to read it and learn more about Coldtown, but the ending as it is now is satisfying.

If you’re looking for a vampire story without sparkly vampires then I recommend picking up The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.

Audiobook Review: Doll Bones by Holly Black

Doll BonesTitle: Doll Bones

Author: Holly Black

Narrator: Nick Podehl

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster)

Release Date: May 7th, 2013

Interest: Audio narrator / #titletalk Recommendation

Source: Purchased via Audible

Summary (From Goodreads):

Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for ever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing . . . and stop being friends with Poppy and Alice. But one night the girls pay Zach a visit, and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences. Poppy swears that she is now being haunted by a china doll – who claims that it is made from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. They must return the doll to where the girl lived, and bury it. Otherwise the three children will be cursed for eternity . . .

Audio Review:

I don’t think I would have read Doll Bones if Nick Podehl wasn’t narrator; he’s one of my favorite audiobook narrators.  As usual, I enjoyed his narration and how he brought the story to life.  I will admit, however, that since I’ve listened to so many books he’s narrated I started hearing other characters instead of the ones in Doll Bones.  For instance, Zach’s dad sounds a lot like one of the dads from Swim the Fly by Don Calame.  I don’t know if there’s anything Nick Podehl can really do about that, but there it is.  Also, since this is a shorter book at 244 pages, the audio is only just over five hours long.  After finishing The Help, even though I enjoyed that immensely, it was nice to listen to a shorter audiobook.

Book Review:

Doll Bones wasn’t a book I was considering until I kept seeing it mentioned in a #titletalk chat a month or so ago.  Once I looked it up and saw that Nick Podehl narrates it I was sold.  Unfortunately, this middle grade title didn’t work for me.

I will give Holly Black some credit–she’s written a nice story of friendship and the awkward time between being a kid and moving on to being a teen.  I can see why middle grade readers will enjoy this.

Porcelain dolls creep me out, and based on what I saw on Twitter I expected this to be creepy.  It really isn’t, at least for me.  There’s so much potential for this to be scary though.  I understand that it probably shouldn’t be too scary, considering the audience, but it could have used a little more suspense.  I was hoping for something creepy like Coraline.  Now that is a spooky book, especially the graphic novel.  Doll Bones?  Not so much.  There are a few paranormal-type scenes, but they didn’t go far enough.  If they had, I probably would have enjoyed this that much more.

The pacing is off as well.  For being a shorter book, it felt long at times.  There are scenes with lots of discussion and not enough action, especially when the doll is concerned which surprised me. I would have expected those scenes to move at a faster, more suspenseful pace.  I found myself more interested in the game storyline Zach, Poppy, and Alice created than the actual story Holly Black wrote.

Now this has nothing to do with Holly Black and her writing, but I have to mention the cover.  If you don’t already know this, and I didn’t before reading the book, Doll Bones is narrated by Zach.  I never would have guessed that a book called Doll Bones with a doll on the cover was narrated by a twelve-year-old boy.  I know readers should look past covers and guy books vs. girl books, but I really can’t see a middle grade boy picking this up off the shelf and thinking “This is a book for me.”  Yet I think plenty of boys like Zach would like this book.  I’m sure there are lots of boys who want to play with their “figures” and get harassed by parents about growing up and moving on.  I’m also confident that plenty of boys are teetering between playing with “figures” and moving on to more “grown up” activities.  Reading Zach’s story might help them navigate those awkward waters better.  Unfortunately, despite how often many of us try to get kids to look past covers, many of them can’t get past it.  I hope I’m not right, but I think the cover of Doll Bones will turn away more boys than it will draw in.

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