Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Take 5: Scorchers, aka It’s #DragonDay (list by Cuyler)

What’s scarier than vampires, zombies, and werewolves combined? Dragons, baby. These fiery serpents have seared their way into fiction for years and they’re here to stay. Everyone needs a little fire-breathing, knight-eating goodness in their reading piles this Fall, so why not take a gander at these scorching tales: 

1) Seraphina by Rachel Hartman- Seraphina is Rachel Hartman’s deubt novel about the animosity between dragons and humans. Not only can Hartman’s dragons breathe fire, but they also change shape, changing into humans to serve as ambassadors and lend their mathematical abilities to mankind. Seraphina also has a unusual gift. As a remarkable musician, she attends court with the others. Only this time someone in the royal family is murdered, and despite the four years of peace between the species, the murder’s trail looks a lot like a dragon’s. In mystery surrounded in fantasy, Seraphina is enticed by the investigation along with the help of Lucian Kiggs, prince and captain of the Queen’s Guard. The peace between dragons and humans is being sabotaged, and as she uncovers plots to do so, Seraphina struggles to keep her gift a secret. Because if the truth gets out, it may cost Seraphina her life. This novel has been awarded Winner of the 2013 YAlSA Morris Award for Best YA Debut Novel, and is entirely worth your time to delve into this mysterious and mystical world fashioned brilliantly by Rachel Hartman. 

 
2) Eon and Eona by Alison Goodman-
Studying the arts of sword-work and dragon magic, sixteen-year old Eon has been focusing all his hard work for one purpose: being chosen as the Dragoneye, an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune. There’s only one problem. Eon is actually a girl, which is deadly, because if anyone discovers that a female is using Dragon Magic, death will find her quickly. Trying to keep her identity a secret is not as easy as it seems, and it will take all Eon’s power to keep those from taking her magic and her life. Eon continues on with its companion Eona, which offers its own scorching tension and twists. This New York Times bestseller is one thrilling duology that sizzles right down to the end.
 
3) The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini-
The famous Inheritance Cycle is full of unforgettable storytelling that has touched readers’ hearts worldwide. Eragon, as simple farm boy, finds a blue stone in the forest. Except it’s not a stone at all. It’s a dragon egg. When the dragon hatches, Eragon realizes that a legacy nearly long forgotten resurfaces the minute the hatchling bursts through its shell: The legendary Dragon Riders. In a thrilling four book series, Christopher Paolini crafts a beautiful and dangerous world of destiny, magic, and terrifying power that’s kept its readers glued to the pages from the first book to the last. A must have set in your fiery reads!  

4) Scorched by Mari Mancusi- Scorched takes the sci-fi approach to dragons, which is totally awesome. Trinity Foxx becomes attached to the last dragon egg on Earth when her grandfather brings it in to be the next big piece in his museum. She bonds with it, realizing she is the Fire Kissed, someone who’s destiny is intertwined with that of a dragon. She also, just so happens, to be the cause of the future dragon apocalypse. Which is why twins Connor and Caleb come back from the future to keep the earth from being engulfed in flames. Except they’re on different sides. One wants to save the dragons, and the other wants to destroy them. Trinity has to make the right choice or the world as they know it will go up in flames. This is a great, brand new read by Texas author Mari Mancusi, and hit’s the shelves hotter than a dragon’s flame this October. Get it. Read it. Love it.
 
5) The Last Dragon Chronicles by Chris d’Lacey-
Chris d’Lacey creates an action-packed six-book series that tells the story of David Rain and his discovery of a collection of clay dragons who come to life and harbor extraordinary powers, even receiving his own dragon, Gadzooks, who can see into the future. The dragon world is mystical and astounding, and David is drawn down a path that may not offer a return. The later books skip ahead a few years and tells the adventures of his daughter, Alexa. A great, funny, and exhilarating fantasy saga for all ages! 

  
Your TBR pile looks a little bland. Why don’t you pick up these fantastic reads and “heat” things up? The dragons have made themselves known, and they’re not going anywhere. Take a ride on the back of one of these fiery beasts, and see what adventures it takes you on!  Also, remember to tell us your faves in the comments or Tweet them to us with the hashtag #DragonDay.  I’ll try and compile everyone’s tweet for a recap tomorrow. Here’s a list of more titles for you from Goodreads.

Book Review: Scorched by Mari Mancusi

The closest thing to a dragon Trinity Foxx has ever seen is in her favorite online video game Fields of Fantasy. But that all changes when her grandfather, her legal guardian and somewhat unorthodox museum owner, brings a new piece that he says will save the museum from being forced to close its doors.
 
A real dragon egg.

 
Of course, that’s crazy, right? Dragons don’t exist, and if they did, they only did in fairytales and video games. But when the egg starts to talk to Trinity, things may be more real than legend than she had first thought.

 
Suddenly men are after her and after the egg, including Connor, a handsome time traveler from the future brought back to destroy the egg and save the world from the dragon apocalypse. Because dragons are very real, and Trinity holds the last dragon egg in existence. She is the Fire-Kissed, someone with intertwined destinies with the dragon inside the egg, a green dragon named Emmy. Because not only does Trinity bond with the last dragon on Earth, she’s the one who inevitably caused the Scorch, a future global dragon apocalypse from Connor’s time. Connor’s job was to be sent back in time to keep this day of reckoning from happening.

 Even if it means killing Trinity himself.
But not everyone thinks dragons need to be destroyed. The Dracken, a mysterious group from the future come back in time as well to find the last dragon and its Fire-Kissed and keep them safe, whatever the costs. They have sent Caleb, Connor’s twin brother, to find Trinity and Emmy before the dragon can be annihilated and bring them into the arms of the Dracken.
 
Who will Trinity believe? Two brothers from the same world, yet torn apart by what they believe in. Trinity faces a choice. A choice that may very well cause the earth to be engulfed in flames.
 
MY OPINION:

 
This book has been described to me to be like Terminator with dragons. And they’re dead on. This is unlike any book I’ve ever read featuring dragons. I’m not a huge fantasy fan myself, so I found this sci-fi, futuristic approach refreshing, and one heck of a thrill ride. It’s tense, it’s twisty, it’s extremely fun. Mari Mancusi crafts a tough, yet damaged, protagonist, Trinity Foxx who’s thrown in an all out race for the earth’s salvation through either the death or deliverance, and each side is shrouded in lies and confusion and two twin brothers who steal her heart in different ways. It’s one tough decision for a teenage girl to make.

 
One thing I appreciated was Mancusi’s art of description. She paints a very detailed picture with her words, and I had absolutely zero problem visualizing where Trinity was and what she was doing. The storyline was paced well, but only made you wonder about some things and how they worked, leaving Connor and Caleb‘s lives in the Scorch somewhat unexplained. This was definitely Trinity‘s story, and it made me want to know more about the twins their lives in the future. Which, of course, can be redeemed by a sequel. Which Mancusi must write, or I will throw a dragon-sized hissy. 

 
The one thing I did find not as appealing as the rest of the story was the romance aspect of it. I am a stickler when it comes to a girl falling for a guy immediately and vice versa. It seemed to me like that went a little fast on Trinity’s part, but there were only a few minor instances. And I’m a guy, so my point may be invalid anyway. But all in all, I enjoyed Trinity, Connor, Caleb, and Emmy’s story, and I look forward to anything else Mancusi throws our way.

 
This brand new sci-fi dragon tale comes out in October, and is worth a good look at. Mari Mancusi is a Texas author (fist bump), and holds her own giving us a book hotter than a dragon’s breath. I give it 3 out of 5 stars and deem it worth being in your Fall TBR pile. Thanks for a great read, Mari, and keep it up!

Booktalk This: The Geek edition

This quote has been circling the internet for a while, and as a life-long nerd and geek, I’ve worked to live up to the sentiment. This is not always easy, and it was especially difficult for me during high school, as I was torn between wanting to both appear “cool” AND to embrace that which I loved.  In remembering that time, I always enjoy discovering books about teens that are able to embrace their inner geeks or nerds and find happiness at the same time!

Would you rather be the nerd finding love? Or find love with a nerd?
If you’d rather embrace your nerdom while finding love, try Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill.  Julia’s thrilled to spend Spring Break on a school-sponsored, no-parents field trip to London, England, and with extra pencils and her pocket Shakespeare, she plans to get the most out of it. Unfortunately, most of her classmates see the trip as a license to party, and she ends up paired with the worst offender of them all, her nemesis, Jason. Can she keep him from getting into too much trouble? And can he help her woo her true love?

If you’re looking to find love with a nerd of your own, try Julia Halpern’s Into the Great Nerd Yonder. Jessie is the odd girl out at the start of sophomore year, when she comes back to school in a new skirt but her two best friends show up as new people: buzz-cuts, neon hair, and punk rock attitudes. Uninterested in joining their punk rebellion, Jessie spends her time sewing, listening to audiobooks (she has GREAT taste), and dips her toes into tabletop gaming. Can she find happiness over 20-sided dice?
Would you rather use your analytical skills to figure out how to avoid getting dumped? Or to fight the man?
As a former child prodigy and current dumpee, Colin is determined to create a theorem that will explain why nineteen Katherines in a row have dumped him, and enable him – and others – to avoid getting dumped in the future. In John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines, Colin and his best friend, Hassan, go on a summer road trip, chase down feral pigs, and find the grave of Franz Ferdinand in a town called Gutshot. Love, graphing, and anagramming will never be this fun again!  
  
Marcus is a computer genius…and a rule-breaker. So, when San Francisco is rocked by a terrorist attack and the government responds by cranking up their electronic surveillance, Marcus gets caught in the mix. Scared and angry after a brutal interrogation, he fights back as his hacker alter ego, w1n5t0n, against growing governmental control. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow is a scary and intense thrill ride you won’t want to miss!
And finally, do you limit yourself to one realm of nerdom or geekery? Or does it (like my own) span many areas and genres?
If you limit your geekery to one area, you may feel some camaraderie with Maddy, the heroine of both Mari Mancusi’s Gamer Girl AND of Maddy’s favorite online game, Fields of Fantasy. In the game, Maddy is beyond awesome, and her elfin alter-ego is beginning an online friendship/flirtation with another gamer, Sir Leo.   But, outside of the game, Maddy has no friends at her new school.  Can she be as brave as her manga-style gaming avatar and find love in the real world?
 
If your geekery knows no bounds, check out the wide-range of fun (for older teens) contained in Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd, an anthology celebrating all things nerd and geek, edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castelucci. Many awesome teen authors contributed, from Cassandra Clare to Scott Westerfeld, and it alternates between short stories and short, funny, how-to comics (my favorite geekdoms are represented in “How to Identify…the Living Dead” and “What to Remember When Going to a Convention”). There’s something here for any form of geekery!
Kearsten is the YA Librarian from the Glendale Public Library in Arizona and our resident Booktalk This column writer.  In short, she rocks.