Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Seeker--Arwen Elys Dayton

Title: Seeker
Author: Arwen Elys Dayton
Publisher: Delacorte, 2015
Pages: 448 p
Source: Netgalley
Compensation: None


Quin Kincaid is about to take the final test to become a Seeker, a mysterious time traveler, and is excited and ready after years of hard training. Her secret boyfriend John is less excited since he knows what Seekers actually do and it is much less noble than Quin and her "cousin" Shinobu have grown up believing. Quin's father is their harsh teacher who has no love for anybody. When John falters during a particularly hard training session, he is kicked out by Quin's father. Unable to take the test and fulfill his family duty of becoming Seeker, he leaves Quin and Shinobu--who have taken their "test" and changed their lives forever. Before John leaves he tries to take back what Quin's father stole from his family and sets off a dangerous series of events.

There is so much in this book it's hard to summarize. The chapters are told in alternating viewpoints-- Quin and John and then later on Shinobu. There are also chapters telling the story of Maud--a girl who is much older and mystical than she appears. Quin is both strong and vulnerable, John is both honorable and devious, Shinobu is weak and trustworthy. None of them are perfect characters, they are all flawed in some way. I liked Quin and I enjoyed the story of the Seekers, but I was really drawn to Maud and her story as well. There were some parts that could have been condensed and others that kept me from putting down the story. Seeker is an interesting fantasy that has stuck with me in the weeks since I've read it. I'm looking forward to the next one in the series.

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Monday, April 06, 2015

Heat of the Moment--Lauren Barnholdt

Title: Heat of the Moment
Author: Lauren Barnholdt
Publisher: Harper Teen, 2015
Pages: 304 p.
Source: VOYA
Compensation: None



High school senior Lyla McAfee has her whole senior trip to Florida planned out perfectly. She plans on losing her virginity to her boyfriend of two years (a plan mentioned four times in the first two pages), but first she needs to get there. She misses the school sponsored bus to the airport, so Lyla hops on the back of a motorcycle belonging to a classmate she barely knows so she can make it to the airport on time. She would not normally do that, but as a freshman she had scheduled an email to repeatedly be sent to herself as a senior (over the course of one day) saying, "Before graduation, I will… learn to trust." Lyla manages to get on the plane but the weekend does not go quite as she planned it. Her boyfriend is annoyed that she rode with another guy, she's rooming with ex-friends she has not spoken to in years, and the motorcycle guy keeps popping up in her life.


Lyla is not a particularly likable character. She is unforgiving; a trait that causes her to lie and try to cover up her own actions. She is concerned with trusting other people, but she is not very trustworthy herself. She does come to realize her mistakes by the end of the story and there is hope that she will mature in the next two books in this planned trilogy. This is a good addition to large teen collections with insatiable romance readers.

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Monday, February 09, 2015

Finding Mr. Brightside--Jay Clark

Title: Finding Mr. Brightside
Author: Jay Clark
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company, 2015.
Pages: 288 p.
Source: VOYA
Compensation: None



Abram is slightly obsessed with his neighbor Juliette but he is afraid to make contact because of their shared traumatic past. Abram's dad and Juliette's mom were in a horrible fatal car crash which revealed the two had been having an illicit affair. Abram and Juliette each react differently to the loss of their respective parents and the scandal it uncovered. Juliette is addicted to Adderall because it helps occupy her mind and prevents her from sleeping. Abram is on antidepressants that do the opposite. When they run into each other filling their prescriptions at the local drug store, Abram takes a chance and speaks to Juliette, who takes a bigger chance and speaks back. From there they open the door to an unexpected friendship and romance and some much needed healing.

Finding Mr. Brightside is told in both Abram's and Juliette's points of view in alternating chapters. Clark does a good job of making their voices different without resorting to stereotypical differences between girls and boys (Abram does not obsess over sex). The romance unfolds nicely and although it is quick, this is not a case of insta-love. It takes Juliette a while to let her guard down and truly trust Abram. She may have been subconsciously attracted to him, but she was determined to not be in a relationship with anyone. Clark's characters are realistic and sympathetic. Readers will root for both of them to overcome their trauma and accept a future of happiness.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2015

When My Heart Was Wicked--Tricia Stirling

Title: When My Heart Was Wicked
Author: Tricia Stirling
Publisher: Scholastic Press, 2015.
Pages: 192 p.
Source: VOYA
Compensation: None



Lacy is grieving for her beloved father with her kind-hearted stepmother when her troubled mother shows up demanding custody. Although clearly the better parent, Lacy's stepmom has no legal claim to her and must give her up to the wild and evil-spirited Cheyenne. Lacy fears that all of the work she has done to overcome her own troubled past will be undone as soon as she is under her mother's influence. She tries to fight it but little by little she loses herself until she must confront her mother and battle for her own soul. On the surface this is a normal story about a girl trying to find her own identity separate from her mother's. But underneath the surface, there is an element of magic. Cheyenne has always turned to dark magic and included her very young daughter in her spells. Now that Lacy is older and trying to resist her mother, Cheyenne goes so far as using magic against her. Lacy's battle for her soul is a very real one and not just a metaphor.


When My Heart Was Wicked is not a traditional fantasy story, nor is it traditional realistic fiction. Fans of Francesca Lia Block's magical realism will enjoy this quick and powerful debut from Tricia Stirling.  

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