Liberty Frye and the Witches of Hessen by J.L. McCreedy

Liberty Frye and the Witches of Hessen
by J.L. McCreedy

The author’s website has a great map of Liberty’s adventures through Germany and links to websites where you can read the Grimm fairy tales for free. I did not find any book trailers online.  **Full disclosure – I received a print copy of this book for free from the author.

Summary from author’s website:

The average ten-year-old girl seldom travels far from home.  She doesn’t worry about being kidnapped by witches or imprisoned in medieval castles where children are ensnared to meet their unspeakable demise.  She rarely gives thought to curses, potions and magic.  She certainly isn’t risking life and limb to decipher ancient rites and lost treasures….

But Liberty Frye is about to discover she is not just an average girl.

When a cryptic note from long-lost relatives arrives, the news it brings flips Libby’s small-town existence upside down.  Soon, she finds herself lured to a foreign land where retired witches, talking bats and geriatric World War II pilots await.  It’s up to Libby to unravel the sinister plot that brought her there in the first place, but in so doing, she’ll uncover a shocking secret that will change her life forever … if she survives the challenge.

Personal Reaction: I liked it!

Any Cautions: Boiled boy imagery

Curriculum or discussion topics: Fairy tales

Connections to other books: Grimm’s Fairy Tales: Complete and Illustrated, The Sisters Grimm series by Buckley, A Tale Dark and Grimm by Gidwitz, Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird by VandeVelde; Germany travel book, cookbooks

Items to display with book: Stuffed animals (goose and raven), recipe cards or family book of recipes, slingshot, letter in yellow envelope, map w/ “future adventure” dots; photo of dilapidated Victorian house, German castle and German cottage; toy robot, walkie-talkies, blue amulet on a silver necklace, map of Germany or Hanau, “Fairy Tale” road map, backpack, photo of P-40 Army Air Corps fighter plane WWII, black cauldron, photo of bright red tree “Baum des Feuers” (here’s a shot of a red maple)

Food items connected to story: Berries (purple – try blueberries or jaboticaba), Herbs and spices (witch’s pantry stuff); tea, any kind of bakery pastry, bread rolls, chocolate cake, fruitcake, strudel, cheesecakes


Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

Author’s website with a cool playlist!            No video book trailer found, though there are a few long book review trailers. There was one fan made trailer for the sequel, Ballad.

Summary: A dark faerie fantasy: 16yo musical prodigy Dierdre falls for Luke. At the same time, she begins to get the “sight” and is able to glimpse the faerie realm – only, the faeries aren’t nice. The Queen of the Faeries have sent Luke to kill her, and if he won’t do it then there are several other characters waiting around to take the job.

Personal Reaction: Though typical teenage romance-ish, things get passionate but there’s only one use of the F-word. I think the author meant it to come as a shock (and it DOES) to show how not-nice the faeries can be. Violence ensues, but I appreciated the mob ending. This book wasn’t necessarily my style, but I think it’ll find a YA following.

Connections to other books: books on faerie lore or Irish/Celtic folklore, Thomas Rhymer, Daoine Sidhe (see primary and secondary sources here); Faerie Wars by Brennan, Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Black, The Faerie Path by Jones, Wicked Lovely by Marr, A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare

Items to display with book: sheet music, flute, harp (if your school has one); white dove in a gold cage, stuffed valentine heart, illustration of The Hunter or a hound figurine (as many as you can find;, things made of iron: nails, rings, etc.; green slime in a jar (use food coloring and Crisco?), photo of a fairy ring

Food items connected to story: anything BBQ, esp. pulled pork sandwiches, fries and sweet tea; perfect ice cream sundaes

Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Flux Books in a Twitter contest, but was not asked for anything in return.

Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead

author’s website                         No video book trailer found.

Summary: 7th grader Georges (silent S, named after artist Georges Seurat) is getting picked on at school, dad has recently lost his job, mom’s an absentee doing double shifts at the hospital. They have to sell their house and move into an apartment only a few blocks away in Brooklyn where Georges gets sucked into his new friend Safer’s Spy Club to determine whether another neighbor is evil. Friendship & family come together in this story so well.

Personal Reaction: Now this is getting tough – another one to nominate for SSYRA!
This book was expertly crafted as opposed to just being written. I love it when the climax pulls so many pieces of the story line together that it makes you dizzy. The LIE, the revelation to dad, the mom, the blue team… it was awesome. My favorite funny is p.74 stomping in slippers.

Curriculum or discussion topics: bullying, Science (sense of taste unit, bird watching), Home Ec (so many foods to make and describe!), PE (volleyball, Capture the Flag),  Art (color theory, Seurat, architecture, shabby chic, repurposing items) and Language Arts (the Science teacher has them write using taste sensory words, Scrabble tile messages, practical fortune cookie messages). Do I love this or what???

Connections to other books: NONFICTION – any books about art, esp. Georges Seurat and biographies will be great; kids cookbooks; books about your sense of taste, especially with microscope closeups of taste buds; PE/camp games to try with friends like Tag, Toss & Run: 40 Classic Lawn Games; spying & sleuthing skills, Morse Code & codebooks; the history of candy (any kind!), Wild Parrots In New York City; FICTION – for candy lovers The Candymakers by Mass, for Spies-in-Training NERDS by Buckley, for Benjamin Franklin trivia 39 clues Maze of Bones by Riordan…

Items to display with book: Scrabble tile message, blue Sharpie pen, silver flask, America’s Funniest Home Videos DVD, tongue chart (see link), binoculars, Naturalist’s notebook, fake dog poop or dog collar/leash, SPY CLUB sign, silver gum wrapper, small suitcase, baseball, old keyring with dozens of keys and/or little gold diary key, hospital scrubs

Food items connected to story: candies of any kind (esp. giant SweeTarts, lemonheads, Starburst, peanut M-n-M’s), coffee, all kinds of Chinese food (chicken & broccoli, sesame noodles, soups, scallion pancakes, and definitely fortune cookies), pretzels, peanut butter & banana on hot dog buns, pizza, Mallomars, scrambled eggs (with or without cheese), milkshakes, crusty mac-n-cheese

full disclosure: I received an ARC of this title as a Twitter prize, but was not compensated or asked to write a review for this book at all!

In My Mailbox

This is my first ever edition of “In My Mailbox,” in honor of my friend Christina at BookTasty who in turn credits The Story Siren. Since I’m very much a newbie at blogging and Twittering, I have been amazed at the generous opportunities that are to be found by participating in conversations about reading.

Here are some items that arrived this week that I will be soon reviewing here on my blog:

Stiefvater Scieszka Stead

My first ever win was for Guys Read: The Sports Pages  (#3) from Walden Pond Press

The next win was for Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead from Random Buzzers.

And the latest gift is a pair of The Books of Faerie by Maggie Stiefvater, Lament #1 and Ballad #2, from Flux Books.

Beyond the actual physical print books that have arrived by post, I have been also been fortunate that some people have found me and asked for my book review opinion though now I realize I’m going to have to be super picky and stick to my AA scifi/fantasy genre in my acceptances.

I have received the following via e-mail and will also chat each of these up as soon as I finish. Possible post dates are in parentheses… I’ve got so many good books on my to-read list on Goodreads, I don’t know how I’ll ever keep up with reading, posting, and (oh, yeah) working!

Nimpentoad by Henry Herz (October)

Sihpromatum – I Grew my Boobs in China by Savannah Grace (November)

Dragon’s Mind: Dragon & Myth #1 by Vered Ehsani (December)

Light & Dark: The Awakening of the Mageknight by Daniel Fife (January)

The Rock Island Line: Conversations Over Chicken and Dumplings by Michelle Dobbs (January)

Tales From a Second Hand Wand Shoppe by Robert Wills (February)

and DAUGHTER MOON by Harv Griffin aka “hg47” (March)

Thank you to everyone who shares the love of reading with others!