Set in a quasi urban fantasy, futuristic world with a tinge of steampunk flare, Seeker is the first in a new YA series by Arwen Elys Dayton.
Still just a teenager, Quin Kincaid, has been through years of grueling training in hopes of taking the vow to become a Seeker, along with friend, Shinobu, and love interest, John . This role as she understands it, places her in the path to do good and protect those who need help from the evils of the world.
However, once she takes her Oath, Quin learns quickly that her whole world has been a lie. Her family and even the boy she loves are not what they seem. Realizing that her father has manipulated her, corrupted the Seeker ideal, and forced her to commit unspeakable crimes as an assassin, Quin flees her home in Scotland for Hong Kong, Shinobu at her side. The real question remains if she will be able to hide from her past or whether it will find her.
The story certainly has potential. The concept is intriguing and on point with other similar books exploring assassins in a corrupt, fantasy setting (i.e. Game of Thrones, Throne of Glass, His Fair Assassin).Quin is a strong, fierce fighting and deadly female protagonist with a kind heart and good intentions. Shinobu is a flawed but loyal friend. Even his guilt and downfall make him likable and have readers hoping that he will find redemption for himself and win Quin's heart. Lastly, John is complicated, making him interesting but infuriating given much of his actions. There is a good set-up for a love triangle, which will win the interest of a lot of teen readers.
Overall, the character development is inconsistent but there are promising nuggets to explore should the author refocus for book 2, Traveler. There are still plenty of questions to be answered: Who will Quin choose? Will John redeem himself? Will the true nature of Seekers be restored? What is truly up with Maude/The Young Dread? Will the plot and this world ever make sense?!?
I wanted to like this book but it just didn't hit the mark for me. Much of the world-building is inconsistent. As a reader, it was difficult to follow much of the premise. There were large chunks missing from the plot, making it difficult for the writing to flow cohesively from start to finish. As a fan of fantasy reading, I can't stress enough how important it is to adequately develop background and make sure that essential connections are made. When readers do get some backstory, it feels like too little, too late. Likewise, the POV changes became cumbersome and only add to the disjointed feel of the writing and plot. Focusing on one character's journey (i.e. Quin) and exploring her reactions and growth would make me more inclined to continue reading.
That being said, what I did like were the descriptive action sequences. The pacing in these scenes was great and it was easy to visualize the details. Such sequences make this appealing to teen readers who are expecting the same fast pace set by other series. If only some of the other parts held up to the quality of these scenes.
Final thoughts: I do not often give books a 1 out of 5 start rating, but I had to for Seeker. I just did not like it. I read plenty of other reviews that say the opposite. It is certainly a matter of opinion. However, I can see the appeal for the teen target audience -- action, romance, friendship, betrayal. The glaring problems for me fall back to unrealized potential, plot holes, and character disconnection. I expected more than what I was given; however, I will say that I will entertain reading the second book out of curiosity for plot resolution and character growth. Recommended for grades 8 and up.
Whew! It's been a hectic week. Here's an idea for a reading centered program for the teens' Unmask theme.
How about trying a mystery, detective, or crime centered book club? This is a great chance to get teens reading and provide an opportunity for discussion. Things to consider: time, participation, and availability of titles.
Below are just a few title considerations. There are plenty more you could choose!
Such a program could be organized in several ways:
Pick two or three titles for a scheduled monthly meeting. Make sure you have sufficient copies of the books.
Pick one title for a single summer book club.
This would be a great idea for a book v. movie/television program and discussion.
i.e. Pretty Little Liars or even Sherlock Holmes
Host the mystery book club as an open book talk. Participants can come to discuss their favorite books in this genre based on past reads or along with a book list or display you have up for the summer.
If program planning doesn't allow for a book club meeting...
Consider a mystery, detective, or crime book display to coincide with this year's theme. There are some great ideas on Pinterest. Signage might say:
Here's another crafty idea you might consider for the summer reading 'Unmask' theme!
An activity perfect for both teen boys and girls would be makeup tutorials. Such a project could be something you undertake as a teen librarian. You'll find a plethora of tutorials via searches on Pinterest and YouTube.
Take care to be prepared, if you go down this road you'll want to practice, practice, practice! I'd suggest doing a bit of research, find 3-5 techniques you feel confident in replicating and teaching. Keep it simple so that the tutorials can be done in your scheduled time and you can purchase supplies within your budget.
This would also be a great opportunity for networking throughout the local community. Do you or one of your family members or co-workers know a makeup artist? Is there a theater nearby? If so, see if they might volunteer their time or work within your library budget. When I did a similar program for Halloween, it turns out that two co-workers had previous experience. With their help we 'zombified' a whole group of teens!
Tutorials of this sort would work great if teens wanted to create superhero personas and costumes to go along with other summer reading events!
For my library, the teen summer reading theme is Unmask. This can be interpreted in a multitude of different ways. Of course, one way to approach this is by adhering to a superhero theme. Some of what I have planned for the summer will do just that; however, I have such a diverse group of teens, I didn't want to focus solely on this POV for fear of alienating those not interested or for superheroes to overstay their welcome.
June 1st will mark the third year I've planned 'Teen Tuesdays' at my library. These weekly, 2-hour events start at the beginning of June and end the second week of August, just before school starts. Typically, I alternate between crafty activities, game days, movies, and other special guests.
Today, let's talk about mask making. To introduce and tie in this year's theme, the kick off event will ask teens to create their own mask. How to do this depends on your own craft comfort level. For me, I'd say I'm moderately comfortable with executing crafty creations, but there is a lot out there based on your time, budget and creativity restraints. Personally, tackling paper mache is way out of my comfort zone!
First, you'll want to pick a medium:
Glue (I recommend tacky glue or using a hot-glue gun w/ appropriate supervision)
My summer programs usually yield attendance in the double digits. For ease of set up, execution, and clean up, I've decided upon the purchase of pre-made plastic masks from Oriental Trading because they are inexpensive for the quantity. My library has a well stocked craft closet with the rest of the desired supplies.
I estimate that the creation of these masks will keep my teens busy for the majority of the 2-hours. The plan is use this kick off as a tie in for a special program later in the summer.
One of the highlighted events outside of 'Teen Tuesdays' will be Murder at the Masquerade. We've hired the Murder Mystery Company to put on a interactive whodunit with teen participants. They'll get to wear their masks they made earlier in the summer and work with the actors and their peers to solve the crime!
I'm a big fan of steampunk and I'm disheartened that it has never quite taken off with my community teen readers as I would have hoped. I thought I'd share a new infographic I made to try to stir up more interest.
Since this is not a newer release, I won't post a full review. However, I think that such a profound read deserves a few comments. I had not read this before. Truthfully, while it was on my radar as a notable book, it was not too high on my never ending 'to read' list.
That being said, the high school lunch book club I co-conduct monthly chose this as the last read of the school year. Liesel's story was powerful and uniquely portrayed. Zusak artfully developed a memorable cast of characters. His strong creativity and prose enabled readers to experience an altogether different kind of Nazi Germany narrative unlike others they may encounter in either fiction (i.e. Code Name Verity) or nonfiction such as Night, Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, or Hidden Like Anne Frank: 14 True Stories of Survival.
For me, the book started slow; however, with the introduction of Max, and subsequent events, I was hooked. I found the unconventional narrator --Death--to be wildly imaginative and surprisingly appropriate. This POV allowed for a unique bird's eye view which I cannot recall experiencing with other books. Scenes made me laugh, curse the evils of humanity, and cry. Sitting alone late last night, I will admit to an extended period of ugly crying as the narrative came to a close. Overall, it is a poignant and beautiful book. However, one downfall to the overall storytelling was the narrator's pesky spoilers.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Rogue is the anticipated sequel to Talon (2014).
The story thus far...
Ember Hill is a 16-year-old dragon hatching, at first sent with her twin, Dante, to learn to assimilate into human society as well as train for a future role within Talon. Like any young girl, Ember just wants to have fun and fit it. Little does she know that the new cute guy, Garret, is really one of the Order of St. George's deadliest soldiers, sent to discover Talon's sleeper agent with orders to eliminate the target. To further complicate matters, she meets Riley (Cobalt) --a decidedly sexy and handsome rogue dragon whose sense of danger and dislike of Talon appeal to a dark side she didn't know she had. Heartache and betrayal frames the end of book 1 as Garret must decide if love re-imagined outweighs a lifetime of taught prejudice. Furthermore, Ember has to make some tough choices of her own when she learns that Talon is more sinister than she could have ever imagined.
In this second novel, Ember, Riley and Wes (human hacker extraordinaire) are on the run. The plot thickens when the group attempts a daring rescue to save the dragonslayer from execution at the hands of his former friends and mentors. These rogues find an unexpected ally in Garret; however, the challenge of evading both Talon and the Order proves to be difficult. The previous themes touched on in Talon --ethics, responsibility, betrayal, love, duty--continue to be at the center of the narrative.
A significant love triangle begins to develop as Ember and Garret explore their feelings and the consequences oft such a relationship between a dragon and a human. Ember feels torn as her dragon-side responds to her growing proximity to Riley. The development of these relationships as well as the delicious angst will have teen readers thirsty for more.
Since discovering Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey books, I've been a huge fan of her writing. Not only are her characters accessible, interesting and complex but she has the uncanny ability to captivate readers from page one. I've often told others that just one of Kagawa's sentences is worth pages of some other writers in the genre. I adored the Blood of Eden books and truly appreciate that as an author she continues to stretch her creativity by exploring YA urban fantasy from a variety of supernatural areas. Faeries, vampires, and dragons, oh my!
Overall, Rogue is a solid second in the series. If anything, I think I enjoyed it more because of the pacing and development of the characters. The addition of other POV's (i.e. Riley/Cobalt and Dante) round out the storytelling. One downside for me as a reader is Ember. At times she has such potential as a strong, female heroine; however, she has significant relapses into just blatant immature and irresponsible behavior. I realize this demonstrates a truthfulness to typical adolescent stereotypes but the inconsistency is frustrating.
In our community, businesses are booming that allow patrons to come to socialize, have snacks and paint a picture. This is a trend in other areas as well. I wanted to attempt a library friendly version of such an event for teens.
Paint by Numbers was born!
Unlike the namesake of children's crafts of yore, I did not set specific art projects. Instead, I had the materials on hand and teens were able to use their creativity to paint mini pictures of their own accord. I made several examples prior to the event, which were then on display in the library's teen area and in our meeting room during the day's activity. This planned activity lasted 2 hours (allotting dry time). Teens chatted and had some snacks while they waited for their art to dry.
*Disclaimer: I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for a review*
Both Riley and Reid, 16 year old friends and bandmates, are unlucky in love. What's worse is when they learn their other two bandmates are hooking up. Riley and Reid decide to take matters into their own hands, give each other advice and record their shared experiences in a notebook. The story which unfolds is a sometimes hilarious, and poignant look at the trials of tribulations of teenage relationships.
I really enjoyed this. The characters, writing, and situations present themselves as relevant for modern teenagers. The themes of growing up, battling hormones, and building relationships are universal. I recommend this for readers who like contemporary, realistic fiction with romance. This is definitely recommended for those who liked Easy A and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. I'd also recommend this to a reader who enjoyed The DUFF or just want a quick, realistic read that sets itself apart from other YA fiction.
My overall rating is 4 out of 5 stars. Follow the author on Twitter: @theames
#YA #realisticfiction #humor #amyspaulding #theames #kisstedcallahan #netgalley
I hope you all had a fantastic weekend! I did some reading plus had the chance to go see Avengers: Age of Ultron. I enjoyed it immensely! It is a fun, well-produced film and I certainly plan on using it for a teen program when it comes out on DVD.
Since the summer reading theme for my library is 'Unmask'. I have incorporated some superhero elements to my summer programming. We're planning two separate marathon days--one for Marvel and another for DC. Plus, I have a great friend who does cos-play and other charity functions locally and he'll be stopping by for a surprise visit as Batman!!
Here's to Monday starting off well. Have a great week and enjoy these adorable rats who love books too!!
Disclaimer: I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for a review.
Author Holly Black returns to the world of the fae in her latest standalone YA novel. Taking place in Fairfold, where humans and the fae coexist. A handsome fae prince sleeps in a glass casket, waiting to be reawakened and is the town's primary tourist attraction. Protagonists Hazel and her older brother, Ben, are both half in love with the idea of this slumbering royal.
Readers learn that Hazel made a bargain to the Alderking to give 7 years of her life to him in exchange for her brother to have an extraordinary musical gift. However, one should never make deals with the fae for things are never quite what they seem. A truly unique, dark adventure unfolds as the prince awakens, Hazel falls for Ben's fae BFF, Jack, and secrets are revealed that will shape the future's of these brave protagonists.
Black remains one of the most talented contemporary writers of adolescent and young adult fiction. As a fan, I was delighted to see her return to the subject of the fair-folk since her research, attention to detail and creativity are among the best in such a niche genre. When so many YA titles are in series today, I am pleased that this was such a succinct standalone novel with strong character and well developed plot.
I did not like this quite as much as some of Black's other faerie books such as Tithe or Valiant; however, she sets herself apart for others in the YA genre by continuing to produce interesting and edgy pieces featuring fantastic writing.