Review (Plus): ‘The Hawkweed Legacy’

Ms. America’s Review: I love when the wait is finally over and you get to touch, smell and devour the next book in a series, which I was able to do with The Hawkweed Legacy, book number two by screenwriter Irena Brignull, which hits shelves tomorrow.

A quick synopsis of the first one, The Hawkweed Prophecy, which will be released in paperback on the same day: Two girls–Poppy and Ember–are switched at birth: one has magic running through her veins, the other is a mere mortal. One is to be ruler over the Covens of Witches, the other will just be. A jealous aunt craving power casts a spell switching these two girls at birth, their altered destinies interfering with the powers of the universe. As Karma takes hold of their lives we see Mother Earth prevail and these two girls discover their true identities.

Throw in a homeless boy, Leo, who befriends them both (as they always do), who tests their love and loyalty while struggling with his own painful past.

The prophecy dictates Poppy Hawkweed will govern the witches, but she has fled to Africa to escape the responsibilities given to her. Charlock Hawkweed, her mother, leads the Coven in her absence. The witches start to revolt and Charlock knows she must find Poppy and lead her back to her rightful place: leader of the Coven.

At first I found Charlock to be a shy and timid witch who was a mere follower, doing whatever her sister, Raven, bid. My heart yearned for Charlock who held Ember close and protected her, despite knowing her true daughter was elsewhere. But the thought process of this unsuspecting reader was far from the truth. Charlock had a past–one we are told in this book, one which changed my thoughts from innocent Charlock to conniving and slightly evil. Once I had realized her true intentions it changed my thought process on how the Hawkweed Legacy was to ever come to fruition.

Our characters evolve giving more insight to the Prophecy. As Charlock goes in search of Leo’s mom, we glean more about his past and the powers he possesses. We also see Ember understand the depth of being a human tied to a Coven of very powerful witches. I was thrilled to see the development of the characters I so loved in the first book. I am hopeful to learn more in the third book which is promised to come sooner than later. I can’t get enough of the Fantasy genre, so this is good soul food if you’re in to that kind of thing!

In the classroom: Fantasy abounds! When you are overwhelmed grading papers, I encourage you to think outside the box and NOT make your students write a book report (CCLS.ELA-Literacy.SL.1-12.5). Instead invite your students to create a board game based on a Fantasy Book. Write clear rules of the game. Use direct quotes from the book. Use Character questions. Use Setting questions. It is a great way to establish comprehension without having to grade another paper. Each year Hasbro Gaming Lab opens up submissions for gaming ideas, so for extra credit have your students submit their idea and show you proof for submitting their book/game.


The Hawkweed Legacy by Irena Brignull (Weinstein Books | 9781602863149 | August 15, 2017)

@tahoo.com? It’s time to check bounces.

@tahoo.com? It’s time to check bounces.

When I send an issue of Books & Whatnot to your inbox, I use a program called Campaign Monitor. I also use Constant Contact on a daily basis for several of my clients. It’s when I look at campaigns and all of the open rates and click throughs involved that I’m reminded of the differences in various email marketing service providers.

Today we’re going to tackle bounces.

Say As I Do: Kamila Shamsie

Say As I Do: Kamila Shamsie

Kamila Shamsie’s book Home Fire (Riverhead Books | 9780735217683) hits shelves tomorrow. Late last month it was longlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. I interviewed Shamsie for this Friday’s Marginalia podcast and while I had her on the line, I asked if she had a message she’d like to send to independent booksellers. Here’s what she said (as well as how to correctly pronounce her name):

 

 

“I love you. When I was in graduate school at UMass Amherst, one of the things that I loved most was we had in Amherst there was a independent bookstore called Wootton’s and they had readings by the graduate students in the UMass MFA program. It was amazing because one day you’d be at Wootton’s Bookstore [Amherst Books] listening to someone like Peter Carey or Michael Ondaatje, you know, these writers who I love. And then the next week you would have a chance to stand up and read in that same space. And Mark Wootton who ran it was incredibly generous to the MFA students. And I think that was the first independent bookstore I really loved and understood how the independent bookstores can be such an important part of a local community and how important they can be to upcoming writers. So I’ve always had a particularly soft corner for them.”

 

And here’s how she says her name:

Enhanced Shelf Talkers

This week I received a note from Patrick Battle, a bookseller at The Book Table in Oak Park, IL. (And not just a bookseller, he’s The Book Table’s longest serving employee.) Patrick wrote about a display idea he had for the store featuring Tom Perrotta’s Mrs. Fletcher.

“I enjoy coming up with alternative ideas to enhance the visual quality of our shelf talkers,” Patrick wrote. “Since a large part of the plot of Mrs. Fletcher revolves around text messaging, I decided to experiment a bit with the style of this particular recommendation with something I hadn’t tried before.

Patrick found an image of an iPhone online, removed the ‘screen’ images, and, with some fonts and a bit of digital magic, replaced it with this recommendation:

“This novel is a fine and fitting reflection of the ever morphing landscape of human relationships, and the difficulty of navigating its nuances as well as transcending the stigmas of its taboos. Perrotta ascribes a convincing amount of naiveté to each of his subjects, allowing their journeys to blossom (for better or worse) with an allure that borders pure magnetism. Their every victory and failure are in some way enlightening, particularly when their supposed principles are in direct conflict with their behavior. Perrotta also gives the impression that he shares some of the curiosity and vulnerability he so eloquently infuses into his characters, which invites us to grow and learn, triumph and fail right alongside them as we contrast their development against our own presumptions. This is a story rich in discovery, and a exemplary tale of people exploring the best and worst parts of themselves, enigmatic though their actual selves may be.”

He then printed the image on card stock and laminated it for use in the store display. The images–the display, the shelf talker, and Patrick doing a bit of cover reenactment–were collaged and posted on The Book Table’s Instagram account, which I’ve embedded below.

I love the coordinated campaign between the shelf talker, the display, and social media. It reinforces a message across multiple platforms while allowing the work to perform double-duty.

Good job, Patrick. Your reign as The Book Table’s longest serving employee should continue another day.

 
 

It’s #NewBookTuesday and Patrick recommends “Mrs. Fletcher” by Tom Perrotta! We have a limited number of signed copies, so grab yours today and beat the heat with a good read in bed! “This novel is a fine and fitting reflection of the ever morphing landscape of human relationships, and the difficulty of navigating its nuances as well as transcending the stigmas of its taboos. Perrotta ascribes a convincing amount of naiveté to each of his subjects, allowing their journeys to blossom (for better or worse) with an allure that borders pure magnetism. Their every victory and failure are in some way enlightening, particularly when their supposed principles are in direct conflict with their behavior. Perrotta also gives the impression that he shares some of the curiosity and vulnerability he so eloquently infuses into his characters, which invites us to grow and learn, triumph and fail right alongside them as we contrast their development against our own presumptions. This is a story rich in discovery, and a exemplary tale of people exploring the best and worst parts of themselves, enigmatic though their actual selves may be.” – Patrick #TomPerrotta #MrsFletcher #Scribner #SimonandSchuster #Fiction #summerreads #indiebookstores #bookrecommendation #booksellers #TheBookTable #bookstagram #newrelease

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300 Seconds: Upcoming IndieNext Deadlines

Here’s a 5-minute marketing task. It’s time to send in nominations for the October 2017 IndieNext list. They are due tomorrow, August 4, 2017, at midnight Pacific.

Just a reminder… these blurbs do not have to be perfect. The folks at the ABA will even help with grammar and whatnot. Either email your nomination to indienextlist@bookweb.org or use the online form.

And if you’re feeling especially productive, nominations for the Winter 2017-2018 Reading Group List are due August 15, 2017. Send them to the same email address or use the same form above. (Look at you working ahead!)