Review (Plus): ‘The Bone Witch’ by Rin Chupeco

TheBoneWitch_9781492635826_28eb1America's Review: With short, concise chapters blending the past and present, The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco, quickly hooks readers with its ability to seamlessly weave together magic and fantasy. Reluctant readers and YA fans alike will love this book. As we first meet our protagonist Tea, she is resurrecting her brother from his freshly dug grave. Tea's ability to revive the dead shocks her community; they haven't seen such a young a Bone Witch--or dark Asha. Tea too is both horrified and enthralled with her newfound magic. She is curious, but cautious about what this means for her future. With her brother, Tea moves into an Asha house where she can be trained and taught to respect her magic. Some there are jealous of the powerful and ambitious witch and will do anything to destroy young Tea. But with the help of three other Ashas, Tea discovers who she is destined to become. Tea knows she must keep the dark power within her hidden and under control. She wants to help win the war for her people, but in doing so she also creates turmoil. Will she ultimately be a good witch? The Bone Witch ends with true cliffhanger--one which leaves all of us eagerly awaiting the sequel. In the Classroom: This is one of those books where a lesson plan doesn't come immediately to mind. Many times the comparison between the house of the Asha and a geisha house came to mind. The Ashas’ costumes, customs, and ability to entertain were very similar to the life of a geisha. The Bone Witch is a wonderful book and one which reads quickly. The mix of characters--both boy/girl, evil/good--make it a good book to put in the hands of any student who enjoys fantasy, magic, or historical information.
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (Sourcebooks Fire | 9781492635826 | March 7, 2017)

Video: Fantasy Novels & Fountain Pens

The information published with this video reads: "How to write a fantasy novel by hand in less than two minutes." The title of the video is: "How to write a fantasy novel with a fountain pen." The actual video is somewhere in the middle. Jon Skovron's second book in The Empire of Storms series--Bane and Shadows--goes on sale next week. Skovron has more information on his website, and he is on Twitter @jonnyskov. If you'd like to share the video with other adventure fans (or fountain pen nerds), here's the embed code:

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Cioran-uary at Seminary Co-op

Cioran-uary at Seminary Co-op

I love reading bookstore newsletters and discovering unique promotions that you create. One that recently piqued my interest is Seminary Co-op Bookstores "Cioran-uary" promotion, which features one quote from Emil Cioran every day throughout the month. Marketing manager Alex Houston explained to me that this is in fact their third year of Aphoristic Januaries. "With the expansion of our marketing department beginning in 2014, and in recognition of our customers' (near and far) appreciation of quirky, esoteric, and unexpected things, we decided to try a 'Lichtenberg Appreciation Month' in January 2015," she said. Every day that month, one aphorism from Georg Christoph Lichtenberg's Waste Books was posted across their social media accounts. "Aphorisms fit nicely into the social media format, while also overcoming it. They're brief in terms of character count, but contain a great deal of wisdom--often not the case on social media!" she said. Both the book and the execution of the promotion were well received, so Houston said they turned it into an annual tradition, featuring an aphorist each year since. "Last year we highlighted Joseph Joubert's Notebooks (Joubertuary, we called it), and this year we're doing Cioran's whole oeuvre (Cioranuary)," she said. They've used the same marketing formula each year: a quote in the weekly newsletter, social media posts, and in-store display; and Houston said that every year they gain more followers and subscribers. "It's actually one of several 'traditions' we've started over the last few years--in February, we highlight a major piece by Theodor Adorno (Adorno-a-Day) and in July we highlight the Library of America--and people seem to enjoy the continuity, focus, and daily bits of wisdom each one provides," she said.

U.S. Poet Laureates and Their Presidents

Whether you want to highlight President's Day or plan ahead for Poetry Month, just published an article + an embeddable infographic highlighting all of the U.S. Poet Laureates and the presidents they serve under. "The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, as they’re formally known, is appointed by the Librarian of Congress for a one year term, serving from October to May," says Danielle Mohlman in the article. "It’s fairly common, however, for the Librarian of Congress to renew a Poet Laureate’s term for an additional year, if the Librarian feels strongly that the poet has raised the national consciousness around the idea of a greater appreciation of reading and writing poetry." The timeline infographic includes the 51 poets that held the position since 1937 and the U.S. President (in office at the time), from Joseph Auslander and Roosevelt, to Juan Felipe Herrera and Trump. The article also highlights 7 women poet laureates. Find both the article and the embeddable infographic here. US Poet Laureates and the Presidents They Served Under US Poet Laureates and the Presidents They Served Under, by My Poetic Side

Review (Plus): ‘Simon Thorn and the Viper’s Pit’

SimonThornViperPit9781619637153_26b6cI love finding a strong male protagonist in a middle grade series! Aimee Carter has followed through on her promise with the second book in her Simon Thorn series, Simon Thorn and the Viper's Pit. Simon Thorn is a boy who struggles with his identity, his emotions, and the sense of belonging. He has just discovered that he is an Animalgam. He has the ability to change from a person into a golden eagle, making him heir to the Bird Kingdom. Simon also discovers he has a twin brother who can shape-shift into any animal he chooses, thus making him the Beast King. Simon eventually learns that he too can transform himself into any animal in the kingdom. Can there be two Beast Kings in the same family? Before he can deal with that, Simon discovers a postcard from his kidnapped mother, and he knows he must go to her. Simon calls upon his friends from the first book in the series, and we are reunited with Ariana, Jam, and Winter once again. Each brings a special talent with them on the adventure. We also meet new Animalgams who increase the excitement and add multiple plot twists. Simon, along with his readers, continues to learn new personality traits he possesses. It is this ability to relate to his audience which makes reading The Viper’s Pit thoroughly entertaining. Simon doesn't know what is going to happen, and the question of “What will happen to me when I am caught?” is always foremost in his mind-- again, like the young readers of this series. Not all questions are answered, and Simon must deal with the secret he carries into the third installment. For my part, I can't help but tweet, “When will we get the next book, @aimee_carter?” In the Classroom: For those schools who do AR, order a test for the Simon Thorn series--it is a wonderful investment to encourage your students to read more than just one book. This is a series to entice young readers, offering adventure and fantasy. Simon Thorn and the Viper's Pit is one to recommend and be guaranteed you won't be wrong.
Simon Thorn and the Viper's Pit by Aimee Carter (Bloomsbury USA Childrens | 9781619637153 | February 7, 2017)