Hope leaves her small town for a fresh start, but her plans are derailed by an online romance and the appearance of her brother.
Hope lives in a small town with nothing to do and nowhere to go. With a drug addict for a brother, she focuses on the only thing that keeps her sane, writing poetry. To escape, she jumps at the chance to attend Ravenhurst Academy as a boarding student. She’ll even put up with the clique-ish Ravens if it means making a fresh start.
At first, Ravenhurst is better than Hope could have dreamed. She has a boyfriend and a cool roommate, and she might finally have found a place she can fit in. But can she trust her online boyfriend? And what can she do after her brother shows up at the school gates, desperate for help, and the Ravens turn on her? Trapped and unsure, Hope realizes that if she wants to save her brother, she has to save herself first.
Steph: Ok, the cover is one of my pet peeves (a bird representing femininity/female protagonist) and the title being a play on the main character’s name, which is Hope, is a little… forced? It just rubs me the wrong way when the character name hits us over the head with what the story is about… she’d better earn the name, that’s all I’m sayin’. Then we get to the back copy and I’m definitely out. We go from something doable – moving to a new school to get a fresh start – to online boyfriends, a random brother who shows up and needs saving and these mysterious Ravens (not real birds, right?) are attacking stuff… It’s a little scattered. The sibling story is appealing, the fresh start is alright but I’m not sure how the “she has to save herself and find hope” plotline works in with a bunch of ravens.
Nafiza: I actually really like the simplicity of the cover. I like the Picasso-esque bird (you know with the angles etc.) and I like the calm green background. I don’t mind the title either. The back copy though seems to be confused. A place like Ravenhurst immediately brings to mind a Gothic mansion and gargoyles and suggests some elements of fantasy. Then the “online boyfriend” interrupts with an (unwelcome) reminder of technology forcing the reader to re-evaluate. I honestly don’t know what the story is offering. The Ravens brings to mind The Raven Boys and I’m just confused. I think I’ll just appreciate the cover.
Janet: A geometric bird doesn’t have the same appeal a real bird would. The boarding school setting and the Ravens bring to mind The Seven Magpies by Monica Hughes. The third paragraph of the synopsis crams too much in without providing a feel for the story or the characters. This could be popular with readers who like boarding school stories, but I’ll pass.
Yash: I like the interesting, angular bird. I don’t, as Steph says, like it as a motif for femininity but a) at least it’s not a sparrow and b) if it’s meant to be some kind of corvid, I don’t know, aren’t they supposed to be sharp and good at finding things? Maybe the title makes sense in this context. (She rationalizes, knowing nothing about birds.) I have to say, I wish the background colour was less drab, but then I guess if the publisher wants to fashion this book as a “grown-up” read, drab green maybe okay. I’m not the biggest fan of realistic fiction, so this isn’t something I might pick up. I do think the cover is nice despite my personal preference on the colour. And I think a lot of realistic fiction fans might pick this up– Hope’s life seems to be tragically interesting.
A moving, bittersweet tale reminiscent of Sharon Creech’s Walk Two Moons set in a West Virginia coal-mining town
When her brother dies in a fire, Sasha Harless has no one left, and nowhere to turn. After her father died in the mines and her mother ran off, he was her last caretaker. They’d always dreamed of leaving Caboose, West Virginia together someday, but instead she’s in foster care, feeling more stuck and broken than ever.
But then Sasha discovers family she didn’t know she had, and she finally has something to hold onto, especially sweet little Mikey, who’s just as broken as she is. Sasha even makes her first friend at school, and is slowly learning to cope with her brother’s death through writing poetry, finding a new way to express herself when spoken words just won’t do. But when tragedy strikes the mine her cousin works in, Sasha fears the worst and takes Mikey and runs, with no plans to return. In this sensitive and poignant portrayal, Sarah Dooley shows us that life, like poetry, doesn’t always take the form you intend.
Steph: I’m not sure which books is set in a West Virginia coal-mining town, this one or Sharon Creech’s Walk Two Moons, until I read the rest of the back copy. Honestly, the location sounds pretty neat, although poor Sasha’s life seems pretty darn depressing (a little too melodramatic?) and I’m not sure I’m up for it, especially since I wouldn’t pick the book up based on the cover (again, the bird in flight motif = female protagonist on the cover is an instant turn-off for me, find new imagery guys, the bird thing is overdone).
Nafiza: Poor Sasha. Her life is horrible. I do wonder if the book is written in verse. I think tragedy is a lot easier to handle in poetry. Unlike Stephie, I have no problem with using birds on the cover. I don’t necessarily think it is a bad thing to represent the protagonist as a bird. I like that the open suitcase suggests breaking free of some kind of captivity and that it is through free verse/writing that escape is achieved. If this is a verse novel, I shall give it a whirl.
Janet: “Free verse” inescapably reminds me of LM Montgomery’s poem by that title. The cover is mildly appealing for the use of white space and white blue in place of black ink. The synopsis tells a little more than it should, perhaps, but I’d look inside.
Yash: Again, this is probably not for me BUT WOW I LIKE THIS COVER DESPITE ALL THE BIRDS. The blue and white and the open, empty suitcase (packing? unpacking?) does it for me. And I really like the last line of the synopsis that puts the title in context. It would be best if, as Nafiza said, the story was in verse.
When Grayling’s mother, wise woman Hannah Strong, starts turning into a tree, Hannah sends Grayling to call “the others” for help. Shy and accustomed to following her mother in everything, Grayling takes to the road. She manages to summon several “others”—second-string magic makers who have avoided the tree spell—and sets off on a perilous trip to recover Hannah’s grimoire, or recipe book of charms and potions. By default the leader of the group, which includes a weather witch, an enchantress, an aspiring witch, a wizard whose specialty is divination with cheese, and a talking and shape shifting mouse called Pook, Grayling wants nothing more than to go home.
Kidnapping, imprisonment, near drowning, and ordinary obstacles like hunger, fatigue, and foul weather plague the travelers, but they persist and achieve their goal. Returning, Grayling finds herself reluctant to part with her companions—especially Pook. At home she’s no longer content to live with her bossy mother, who can look after herself just fine, and soon sets out on another journey to unfamiliar places . . . possibly to see the young paper maker who warmed her heart.
Steph: I keep reading the title as GraVling’s Song, perhaps the font is too scrawly? I like the cover otherwise, a sort of old English/ medieval feel to the artwork – a con might be that it feels/looks like an old book when it’s actually a new one, but this generally doesn’t turn me away. I feel like the back copy gives too much away, it would have been nice if they could have been more aloof with that second part of the plot and simply hooked us in one paragraph. I really like that the story has a turn-around within it, but I think the back copy could do this refreshing story more justice. I know that Cushman is a well recieved writer, and despite now knowing everything that’s going to happen in the book, I might read it anyway.
Nafiza: I don’t know how much I like this cover. The lack of diversity is distressing and these days, I demand it in all the novels I read. The back copy sounds intriguing but as Stephie said, it’s a bit clunky as it gives more away than I need to know. Is the bit about the paper maker that necessary or is it a ploy to garner the interest of those who like romance? I don’t know.
Janet: I like the cover! The colours aren’t strictly medieval, of course, but the evoke the age just the same. It is very pleasant to see a round-faced, not particularly attractive, and distinctly not 2015-looking protagonist. And I like Karen Cushman – anyone else read Catherine, Called Birdy? And the first paragraph of the synopsis suggests character, setting, and the feel of the book – very appealing. The second, unfortunately, TELLS WAY TOO MUCH. I’ll read this anyway, but I wish the second half (or bulk?) of the story wasn’t miserably spoiled.
Yash: I do like the cover but I wish we had only one figure instead of three, it’s much too distracting to have those many colours and it takes the focus away from the creepy trees. I do think the synopsis is telling us two different stories, the second one almost sounds like a sequel adventure. I am hoping that it doesn’t read like that in the novel itself. Shape-shifting mouse reminds me of Jade Rat from Half World and it makes me like the summary. I am also wondering why the young paper maker’s pronouns aren’t used. I hope it isn’t a straight white dude. I bet it’s a straight white dude. *sigh* I dunno about this one.
Through prose and comics alike, these heart-pounding short stories ask hard questions about a range of topics from sexuality and addiction to violence and immigration. Here is the perfect tool for starting tough discussions or simply as an introduction to realistic literary fiction. In turns funny, thought-provoking, and heartbreaking, I See Reality will resonate with today’s teens long after the last page has been turned.
Contributing authors include Jay Clark, Kristin Clark, Heather Demetrios, Stephen Emond, Patrick Flores-Scott, Faith Hicks, Trisha Leaver, Kekla Magoon, Marcella Pixley, James Preller, Jason Schmidt, and Jordan Sonnenblick.
Steph: I don’t think this is my week. The cover is alright but hints at science fiction where the back copy clarifies there is none. I don’t think I’d go for this one, I’m not much for realistic fiction and this anthology seems to have an agenda to “resonate with today’s teens” even though it talks about sexuality, drugs, violence etc… which to me feels like it might just be a bit overly didactic for me. I can already see this in a grade 10 classroom.
Nafiza: I like this cover but it’s not the kind of book I’d read. And if it were obligatory reading, I’d whine. A lot.
Janet: The ominously sepia photos on the cover, with the handwritten names below but no humans photographed, combined with the title… my first and strong impression was that this was a story about how people died/how they were murdered, possibly by the narrator. Terribly creepy but interesting – the synopsis (which fails at being a synopsis and, btw, is not addressed to the supposed target audience – or maybe is, if the target audience is anxious parents of teenagers) is not.
Yash: Ah, so I dislike realistic fiction (which this may/may not be) buuut, I do so love Kekla Magoon and Faith Erin Hicks. So, yeah, I am in. I love the photographs and the hand and the strange moments/images that have been captured. I definitely want this one for my own.
Asleep for a hundred years, awoken by a kiss, Aurora’s life was supposed to be a fairytale. But since discovering that loyalty to the crown and loyalty to her country are two very different things, Aurora knows she can only dream of happily ever after. Once the enchanted princess, savior of her people, she is now branded a traitor.
Aurora is determined to free her home from the king’s tyrannical rule, even if it means traveling across the sea to the kingdom of the handsome and devious Prince Finnegan—someone who seems to know far more about her magic than he should. However, Finnegan’s kingdom has perils of its own, and any help he gives Aurora will come at a price.
As Aurora and Finnegan work together to harness her power—something so fiery and dangerous that is as likely to destroy those close to Aurora as it is to save them—she begins to unravel the mysteries surrounding the curse that was placed on her over a century before…and uncover the truth about the destiny she was always meant to fulfill.
Brimming with captivating fantasy and life-threatening danger, the sequel to A Wicked Thing takes Sleeping Beauty on an adventure unlike any she’s ever had before.
Steph: I’m not a fan of this kind of cover, the kind that only purports beautiful creatures in beautiful dresses. Yes, it’s a retelling of a princess story but one doesn’t have to cater to the usual image. Anyway this sounds more like what comes after sleeping beauty wakes up – which is kind of fun only in this case it seems to mean romance and a power that is difficult to master (something that is more and more common these days). I think I’ve talked myself out of this one.
Nafiza: I adored the first in this series which is a feminist retelling of Sleeping Beauty. (I just asked the author for a guest post because hey, it fits the theme.) Anyway, I like this cover because of a tiny detail. She’s holding up her dress as if to go on climbing and I like that movement. I also like the fact that she continues to walk upward despite the dereliction of the first floor–ploughing forward in the face of odds. And Steph, the romance is very interesting in here…the prince who wakes her up is not the prince the second book talks about. Anyway, if you want a chilling look at what Sleeping Beauty must have faced after she woke up, I’d recommend this.
Janet: This is a horrible cover but I like that door. Could we have a photograph of just that door, please? The synopsis also is dreadful; the story is absolutely predictable. Mind you, it might actually not be, but the impression I am left with by the cover and synopsis is that the writing must be just as obvious. *Sigh* Nafiza liked this book’s predecessor, which means that somewhere along the line there must have been a mismatch between external content and internal content. Also, why are princesses always shown in modern North American prom dresses? What version of Sleeping Beauty is this based on?
Yash: I actually like the cover? Because I like floofy dresses? I like them more when they’re red! And I like that door. That is a fancy door. I just don’t get why you’d step into all that dust and dirt in such a nice gown. Okay, the privilege of being a kind-of princess? And *looks at Janet’s notes* is the story predictable? I didn’t think so. It’s a very odd adaptation of Sleeping Beauty. It actually makes me like Sleeping Beauty. And I am pretty sure Nafiza told me about this before. It’s just that I simply cannot bear to add another book to my TBR pile.