Welcome to Teens Read Week!

Happy October and welcome to Teens Read Week! Teen Reads week encourages you to think and read outside of the box! If you aren’t someone who normally reads fantastical genres, seek out those fantasy, science fiction, and other out-of- this-world reads during the week of October 7th-13th! In the meantime I will be adding some reviews from paranormal, science fiction, and fantasy. To start off we will be discussing The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, a paranormal romance. So, if you enjoy fortune telling and possibilities beyond the realm of our reality, this book might be the perfect book to pick up.

Synopsis: All her life, Blue Sargent has been told by her clairvoyant aunts and mother that if she kisses her true love, he will die.While Blue does not possess the gift of clairvoyance, she has the ability to amplify other psychics powers and on the night of St. Mark’s Eve, when those fated to die in the next twelve months walk through the church grounds, Blue sees a spirit, Gansey’s spirit in fact. Unfortunate for her, those without the power to see the dead only see the spirits of their true love, or the ones they are going to kill.
As fate would have it, Blue comes face to face with Gansey and his crew of Anglionby prep school friends and slowly begins to form a friendship with the four boys, joining in on Gansey’s wild quest to find the dead Welsh King, Glendower.
Gansey, on the other hand, has been on a mission to find the resting spot of Glendower for years, a mission that has consumed his life and defined his friendships.

Review: I will be honest, I tried to read the Shiver series (Maggie’s Steifvater’s first paranormal series) a while ago and it was not for me, so I had very little interest in The Raven Boys when I initially learned about it. Much like Cassandra Clare, I told myself I wasn’t going to waste my time on anything else by Maggie Stiefvater, but here we are, flying along on the hype train. Well, I read The Raven Boys and my initial impression is that it was much, much better than I expected, as a matter of fact, I highly enjoyed the ride.

Let’s discuss the negatives first, to get this out of the way. It took me a depressingly long time to get into this book and enjoy the story. Admittedly, I was so confused with what was happening that I began to dread the reading process, so I started listening to the audio book in order to get through the beginning quarter of the book (a solution I do not suggest, considering how completely horrendous the narration is, but it worked). Even so, the point of this hunt for a Welsh King was utterly lost on me, if not at times convoluted and irrational. I had the sinking feeling that I had just picked up another disappointing read thanks to my inability to exit the hype train.

BUT! Once I got a little over a quarter of the way in I realized that The Raven Boys is a book structured around characters and relationship, rather than this wild story line. There was never a question in my mind that the character development was top notch and intentionally the centerfold of this story. Even if I didn’t like a character, it was fun to dislike them, and I unexpectedly felt very attached to everyone I met regardless of likability. (But we all know that Blue and Noah are the GREATEST OF ALL TIME.) As I began to grow attached to these characters and understand that this story is not completely about the paranormal, the Welsh King, or this impossible quest, I began to thoroughly enjoy The Raven Boys, if not feel a sense of longing to be back with them when I stopped reading.

Maggie has a way of making you feel emotionally invested in each personality. I hurt when Adam hurt, felt giddy with Gansey, understood Ronan’s anger, and felt Noah’s emptiness. I am not sure the last time I felt so intimately connected to a character, let alone a whole slew of characters. So as the last quarter of the book approached and the drama began to amp up, I was hooked, I didn’t fully care what happened to this Welsh King, but I knew I wanted to see where this adventure took these characters.

Also, Maggie has a knack for cliffhangers…

While I initially thought the beginning half of this book felt unnecessary, after finish the entirety of the series now, I believe see the value in setting up these characters and relationship dynamics so thoroughly.
I gave this book a 4/5 stars!
Also, if you are interested in keeping updated on Teens Read Week remember to join the conversation on Twitter using #TRW18
–Stephanie, Assistant Teen Librarian

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Synopsis: All her life, Blue Sargent has been told by her clairvoyant aunts and mother that if she kisses her true love, he will die.While Blue does not possess the gift of clairvoyance, she has the ability to amplify other psychics powers and on the night of St. Mark’s Eve, when those fated to die in the next twelve months walk through the church grounds, Blue sees a spirit, Gansey’s spirit in fact. Unfortunate for her, those without the power to see the dead only see the spirits of their true love, or the ones they are going to kill.
As fate would have it, Blue comes face to face with Gansey and his crew of Anglionby prep school friends and slowly begins to form a friendship with the four boys, joining in on Gansey’s wild quest to find the dead Welsh King, Glendower.
Gansey, on the other hand, has been on a mission to find the resting spot of Glendower for years, a mission that has consumed his life and defined his friendships.
Review: I will be honest, I tried to read the Shiver series a while ago and it was not for me. Much like Cassandra Clare, I told myself I wasn’t going to waste my time on anything else by Maggie Stiefvater, but here we are, flying along on the hype train. Well, I read The Raven Boys and my initial impression is that is was much better than I expected, which is a plus!

Let’s discuss the negatives first to get this out of the way. It took me a depressingly long time to get into this book and enjoy the story. Admittedly, I was so confused with what was happening that I began to dread the reading process, so I started listening to the audio book in order to get through a huge chunk of the book (a solution I do not suggest, considering how completely horrendous the narration is, but it worked). Even so, the point of this hunt for a Welsh King was utterly lost on me, if not at times convoluted and irrational. I had the sinking feeling that I had just picked up another disappointing read thanks to my inability to exit the hype train.

BUT! Once I got a good chunk in I realized that The Raven Boys is a book structured around characters and relationship, rather than story line. There was never a question in my mind that the character development was top notch and intentionally the centerfold of this story. Even if I didn’t like a character, it was fun to dislike them, and I unexpectedly felt very attached to everyone I met regardless of likeability. (But we all know that Blue and Noah are the GREATEST OF ALL TIME). As I began to grow attached to these characters and understand that this story is not completely about the paranormal, the Welsh King, or this impossible quest, I began to thoroughly enjoy The Raven Boys.

Maggie has a way of making you feel emotionally invested in each personality. I hurt when Adam hurt, felt giddy with Gansey, understood Ronan’s anger, and felt Noah’s emptiness. I am not sure the last time I felt so intimately connected to a character, let alone a whole slew of characters.

Also, Maggie has a knack for cliffhangers…

I gave this book a 3.5/5 stars!
–Stephanie

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Synopsis: At seventeen years old Mariko, the daughter of a prominent Samurai, is promised to marry the heir of the Imperial Kingdom in order to strengthen ties and status for her family. On Mariko’s trip to the Imperial Kingdom the Black Clan attacks her and her convoy. In order to understand why she has had a target on her back, Mariko takes on the identity of a boy and infiltrates the Black Clan. Meanwhile, Mariko’s twin brother, Kenshin, a Samaria known as The Dragon, is convinced his sister is still alive despite news of her death and is determined to find who has taken her captive.

Review: So this book was sold to me as a “Mulan retelling,” pushing aside the fact that this was set in Japan, not China, or the fact that there is a marriage born purely out of alliance, it would still be a giant leap to say this was close to a Mulan retelling. Mariko, our protagonist, was not fighting for her country in place of her father or anyone for that matter. Her motives were solely based on trying to understand why the Black Clan would attack her convey with the intentions to kill. Despite my expectations, I enjoyed this story immensely and probably because it had its own story to tell.

This story is full of grit, action, ancient feuds, honor, and political intrigue. Something I didn’t really take notice of until later, this isn’t a book constructed around romance, romance is sprinkled in, but there is so much more to this story and the complex ties these characters have to one another. But, with all the action and feuds, it seemed like there were so many parts that dragged on for far too long. There were many moments I had to go back and reread chapters or paragraphs because my mind began to wander and I lost track of what was happening, which is never really a good sign.

Character wise, I liked Mariko, she was witty, courageous, and an intellectual force to be reckoned with, though she had those moments where she seemed to have this mentality of “I’m surrounded by idiots” and it made me laugh because she had her own questionable moments when it came to intelligence. Interestingly, I really enjoyed The Dragon’s story line and his personality. In the beginning he grated on my nerves, but slowly he began to grow on me and I loved watching him change and grow throughout the story.

I did feel like each of the characters we were introduced to were interesting, I wanted to know their stories and understand their motives, and understand their dynamics with each of the other characters. Since I am someone who is tends to lean more toward character driven books, these characters made up for the moments in the plot that dragged.

Overall, the story was captivating and the characters were interesting, I really love this concept and have high hopes for the books to come!

I gave this book a 3.7/5 stars.

–Stephanie

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Title: Walk on Earth a Stranger 
Author: Rae Carson
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (an imprint of Harper Collins)
Publication Date: September 22nd, 2015

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Photo Credit: @stephanieleannebookish

There’s something so charming about Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson. At first, I was captivated by the plot and how the story opens. So, it’s 1849 and the Gold Rush is in full swing, but our main character, Leah Westfall, has an impossible secret. Leah has the magical ability to sense gold and it seems someone may be onto her secret after all.

The story opens with the death of Leah’s parents and the discovery that her Uncle, the only living person to know of Leah’s secret, has swiftly come into town to take ownership of her home, her rights, and her “witching” powers. So, Leah changes her identity and hightails it West to California.

Now, I thought this story would read more like a fantasy novel, but it reads more like a historical fiction with a magical realism twist. Leah’s magical ability is what causes the plot to move forward, but overall the story is rich with historical detail and the gruesome realities of traveling across America in search of Gold.

While I could spend a deal of time discussing how much I enjoyed the plot, though admittedly slow at times, the characters are what makes this series worth reading and ultimately what kept me engrossed. I lived for these characters, even the characters who nestled under my skin. I continued to root for each character and hope for their well being in the end.

I have read a total of five YA Westerns and have come to the realization that fleshed out and flawed characters paired with character development is what makes or breaks a Western. Yeah, you can have a thrilling shoot ‘em up, but what about the parts in between when the characters have to spend three months crossing a boring desert? That’s right, you get to know the characters, and Carson does an amazing job fleshing out and developing her characters. I am so attached to almost every ‘good’ character we meet that I feel as if I know them and I continue to think about them every day… and truly I don’t cry easily, but lord help me this book had me shedding a tear left and right!

A solid 4/5 ⭐️ read!

-Steph (Assistant Teen Librarian)

Everless by Sara Holland

Title: Everless
Author: Sara Holland
Publisher: Harper Collins
Published: January 2nd, 2018

“What if the person to be feared is me?”

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Photo Credit: @stephanieleannebookish

Everless by Sara Holland was an interesting read, but not my favorite. The world building is a bit lacking, so what I will say is our main character Jules lives in a world where time is currency (much like that Justin Timberlake movie In Time) and one never truly knows how much time they have left. Jules and her father used to live on a wealthy estate in Everless as a blacksmith and servant, but one day Jules saves Roan after his brother, Liam, pushed him into a fire, and everything changes for Jules and her father. Years and two different towns later, Jules and her father are in dire need of time and she must go back to Everless to help serve at the royal wedding, but once Jules arrives back in Everless she is wrapped up in a mystery that might explain everything about her past.

As I said, the world building is a bit all over the place and it took me a bit to piece together what was what, but it didn’t take away from the main point in the story, which was figuring out Jules past. Everless is shrouded in mystery and it’s what kept me so engaged, I wanted to know what was happening just as much as Jules.

As for characters, I actually like Jules and her determination. It never felt like she had the wrong motivations when it came to why she chose to go back to Everless and essentially put her life in danger in order to get closer to the Queen. Only once did I question her decisions, which is saying a lot. I do feel that the characters were fleshed out for the most part, but I wouldn’t say I connected with any of them, even Jules. I liked a few of the characters, but most of them were forgettable. Even Roan, who Jules gushes on and on about, is a cardboard cut out of a character. Though I will note that due to the ending of the book this could serve an overarching purpose, but as it stands I couldn’t care less about his character or if he develops an actual personality.

Although Everless reads like your typical YA fantasy and falls into some of the trope traps, Holland does a beautiful job of twisting tropes and conventions that made the story seem fresh. I mean TIME AS CURRENCY, what a horrific thought. Overall, the story fell flat for me and I am afraid over time I will stop caring about the plot and the characters (not that I cared about the characters much, to begin with).
So this ended up being a 3/5 for me.

-Stephanie (Assistant Teen Librarian)

The Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely

Title: Gunslinger Girl
Author: Lyndsay Ely
Publisher: James Patterson
Published: January 2018

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“Welcome to Cessation, Serendipity Jones. The last place on the continent where you can do whatever the hell you want.”

I am not sure what has come over me, but Westerns are my jam right now and it all started with The Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely! The story itself is actually set in the future, though we aren’t given a concrete time, it’s a time that has surpassed technological advances (think Westworld).

Basically, the story is set in North America after the country went through a devastating Civil War. After the war and a shift in power, a new government was established called CONA and they forced the inhabitants of America to live on separated communes, women are sold for large sums of money due to a high infertility rate, and the world resembles the old west once again. Our main character Serendipity “Pity” Jones is a sharpshooter with big dreams, but her abusive father wants to sell her off. As you can imagine, Pity isn’t having it and she runs off to Cessation, a city considered the seedy underbelly of the world, thus our plot begins to unfold!

I highly recommend this to anyone who is apprehensive about Westerns because it doesn’t read as you’d expect. The beginning is a tad slow, but it’s worth it in the end. The plot moves quickly and there are twists and turns around every corner, you never know who to trust, and the political intrigue is unbelievable. At the same time, this story is quirky and full of imagination. Everyone in Cessation must work for their keep and Pity is tasked to join the theater and use her sharpshooting as the star act. While this sounds epically cheesy, it is so much fun.

My personal favorite aspect of this story? The characters! Each character was fleshed out and unique. I lived for the banter and the theater performances and felt like I wanted this band of misfits as my friends. Did I mention that there is a slow-burning and sweet romance?

Overall I gave The Gunslinger Girl a 4/5 and would highly recommend for anyone looking for an action-packed and thrilling read.

–Steph (Woodland Public Library LTA)

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Publisher: Razor Bill an imprint of Penguin Random House
Publication Date: May 2015

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“All the beauty of the stars means nothing when life here on earth is so ugly.”

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir is a dual perspective desert fantasy. Our first perspective is Laia, and Laia is a Scholar. Scholar are essentially slaves to the empire, although they have some agency within their lives they must live by strict rules of the Empire enforced by the Black Cliff Army or the Masks. Our second perspective is Elias, who happens to be a Mask in training, but he wants to flee the academy as soon as he graduates. And thanks to some unthinkable events, both Laia and Elias are forced to make some hearty decisions which bring them together as one and alter the course of their future for good.

I loved this book. While I know AEITA is very much a foundational book there is no lack of raw grit, emotional turmoil, and realism to the overall plot. Despite the fact that there is a magic system developing and we are seeing small fragments of that system unfolding, AEITA focuses on the intricacies of the relationships established and developing, rather than trying to info dump an entirely new and complex magical system.

Speaking of relationships there’s are a lot of love circles(?) happening within the story, though I will admit it didn’t bother me as much as the typical love triangle. Mainly due to the fact that the love aspect didn’t steal the spotlight, rather the motivations and politics were a more compelling plot point. And if anything the storyline and brutality stole my attention.

As for characters, I loved them all, good or bad, and how they interacted with one another. It says a lot when you’re dying to see what the villain of the story is going to do next. For me, a story needs to have both compelling and complex characters as well as an interesting storyline, although if there are a whole cast of well fleshed out characters I am okay with a lacking plotline, and honestly, AIETA nailed the complex characters as well as character development.

Overall this was one of the best YA fantasies I’ve read and I recommend this to all my fantasy lovers, bearing in mind this is a foundational book.

I gave An Ember in the Ashes a 4.7/5

–Steph (Woodland Public Library LTA)

the princess saves herself in this one

This poetry book written by Amanda Lovelace is an empowering read for women and girls everywhere. With poems ranging in size, the words are captivating and can be interpreted in many ways. The Princess Saves Herself in this One is based off of some of Amanda’s own experiences, thus bringing the words to life.

Best for older teens as it deals with mature themes and topics.

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If you are a fan of Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey, check out this poetry book!!!

Summer 2017

We started with a graduation ceremony for our senior TAB members in June and throughout summer held various events and activities for teens and children.

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A popular activity was our Teen Paint Day, where we had one of our TAB members, Amber, teach other teens how to paint.

Teens logged in over 150 hours of volunteering during the Summer Reading Party, Thursday Maker Days, Farmers Markets, Performance Set-up, Homeless Shelter Dinner, Window Display, and Square One Opening.

We appreciate all of you and thank you so much for helping build a better world in your community!

Teen Book Review: Seeker

Seeker by ARWEN ELYS DAYTON

Quin Kincaid has been trained all her life to become a Seeker: someone who protects the weak and less fortunate to keep peace in the universe. She has trained beside her two best friends, John and Shinobu, and the three of them plan to fight as Seekers together. The best part is that Quin will be with the one she loves, who also happens to be one of her best friends.

The night of her Oath to become a Seeker however, she finds that being a Seeker is not what she thought at all- and neither is her family, or the one she calls her true love.

Seeker is a fast paced novel filled with action, romance, and betrayal; it is the first of three books, highly recommended for fans of science fiction!

Review by,

Anoushka Sharma

Former TAB member and current Library Page