Teen Librarian Toolbox
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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: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Dragons rule the land of fantasy, and Seraphina by Rachel Hartman creates a unique fantasy world where dragons can take on human form, though not necessarily human emotion, and try to blend in.  For 40 years the land has been ruled by a shaky peace treaty between humans and dragons, but not everyone supports the treaty.  And as an upcoming gala event approaches, the signs seem to indicate that there are those out to sabotage the peace in Goredd.

“I know courage when I see it, and when I lack it.”  (from Seraphina)

In the midst of it all is Seraphina, a gifted musician with a secret of her own.  This secret could cost her life.  As events unfold, Seraphina in drawn into the investigation and as time races forward, Seraphina must spend more and more time with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, Prince Lucian Kiggs.  It seems sometimes as if he perhaps knows more than Seraphina would like, and that is a dangerous thing.

Seraphina is a rich high fantasy novel, the first in a new series that will warm the hearts of fantasy readers everywhere with its dragon’s breath and soul that permeates the page.  Here, there are different types of dragons hiding as humans in a world that still isn’t sure what to do about these fierce creatures.  As you read the story of Seraphina, you can’t help but reflect on our own world history and how various people groups have not always gotten along and have often afforded an uneasy, delicate peace.  Seraphina affords readers the chance to step outside and look at the interactions of different groups through a safer lens.  Through the art of storytelling, Hartman gives us a crafty, glorious vehicle to examine our own hearts and explore what it means to live in a world with people different than ourselves.

Seraphina is also a story about identity and self acceptance.  Because of her secret, Seraphina is not always at peace with who she is.  She straddles a variety of worlds and is trying to find a way to be a part of each of them.  Her struggle is one that any teen will readily identify with.

“He did not know the truth of me, yet he had perceived something true about me that no one else had ever noticed. And in spite of that—or perhaps because of it—he believed me good, believed me worth taking seriously, and his belief, for one vertiginous moment, made me want to be better than I was.”  (from Seraphina)

As is true with most high fantasy, Seraphina is a visionary world with unique names, places and terminology.  Part of the goal of this first book in the series is to build that world, which can sometimes slow down the pacing, particularly in the first part of the book.  But as readers come to understand the world of Goredd and what is at stake, they are drawn into the story of Seraphina.  Seraphina is a story beating with a dragon’s heart, being told with a dragon’s breath, and filled with a melodious language that is pleasing to read.  There is danger, mystery, and intrigue.  There is everything that a fantasy fan could ask for and more.  4 out of 5 stars, recommended for all libraries.