Ever the Hunted

Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill is a YA fantasy set in a medieval-esq world of clashing kingdoms on the verge of war. Britta Flannery has been in mourning for her murdered father for two months and she is starving. Having nowhere to go and no one to turn to, she poaches on the kings land and is caught. In return for her life, Britta is sent with three guards to capture her fathers killer… her father’s apprentice and her best friend.

Britta and Cohen had been trained together since childhood to follow in her father’s footsteps as a royal hunter. Both can track, hunt and disappear better than anyone, which is why Britta is the only one who can hunt Cohen down. Torn but unable to deny the truth she feels in her gut, Britta agrees to track Cohen and revenge her father. But things aren’t as they seem and soon Britta is questioning everyone around her.

Will Britta trade her life for her only friends? And what truths will she uncover along the way?

This was such an easy read. It had a quick pace, a fairly simple plot and for the most part a nice flow. That being said, it also didn’t wow me. Fairly middle of the road for a YA fantasy.

Ever the Hunted holds no bars, the storyline gets right to the point and we are thrust into the meat of the story within the first two chapters. This can be a little off-putting because there really is no build up. Any background you get, you get as the story progresses. There isn’t really an introduction to the book. I really shouldn’t be bashing this because often a book will have too much build up, but still you had to catch the train running here.

There will be so many people who love flirtatious build-up of Britta and Cohen’s relationship–and yes, I am one of them–but I felt like the story came second to the two. Important plot points were rushed and happened out of nowhere and it was all colored by this budding love story. There are books that are about love stories and that’s fine, but this isn’t one of them; the love story is a parallel plot but it’s the clash of kingdoms, the black-mark and magic of being a channeler that is going to push this story onward.

I also have to say, as much as this story focuses on Britta and Cohen’s relationship (almost to the exclusion of all else), not much happened. We get this kinda slow burn, this inner conflict and hesitation, and not much else. We wait this whole story for some romance and all we get is a few kisses here and there. And then that hint at the end! Good grief.

This book was just missing something for me. It could have been great but it needed a little more depth in my opinion. That’s not to say I didn’t like it, I just didn’t think much of it either way. I do think the second book will be better as more things happen and the plot develops. Not a bad read if you are looking for something quick and easy.

That’s all for now!

-M-

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February is Library Lovers’ Month

As some of you may know, February is library lovers’ month. A whole month to show your appreciation for libraries!

For a second year in a row we have created a display in our children’s room, so that the kids can write down what they love about libraries and then we display their answers for the rest of the month. <<< Totally stole that idea from grocery stores.

I didn’t have much time to get too creative this year so here is what I came up with:

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Balloon hearts and all!

So make sure to show your appreciation for your library this month!

Happy Library Lovers’ Month!

-M-

The Invasion of the Tearling

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen is the second book in The Queen of Tearling series. We leave off a few months after the first book. Queen Kelsea has become a queen both feared and respected. She has taken on the mantel and all that it entails. But her decisions come at a price.

The Red Queen has declared war and every day her army grows closer to the Tearling’s gates. All she can do is evacuate her people and stall for time. Desperate to find a solution, Kelsea finds herself beholden to a terrible ally, one whose price may be too much to pay.

Among the scramble, Kelsea is changing. She is no longer the plain, scared little girl found in the woods. Her appearance has altered dramatically and there is an anger and thirst for blood inside of her that she can barely contain. And through it all Kelsea loses herself in fits of memory of the pre-crossing and of a young woman who might hold the key to her salvation.

Will Kelsea save the Tearling from tyranny and ruin? Will she lose herself in the effort? And what secrets could the past possibly contain that would help the future?

Good lord this was long and loads more complicated then the first book. After reading the first book I thought The Queen of Tearling was a little vague but The Invasion of Tearling was complicated and filled with … a lot. I mean woahh–a lot happens, there are a lot of characters and now we have this whole backward-forward in time thing. Oh, and we are left with even more questions.  Thank goodness the whole series is out or else I’d probably be a lot more frustrated.

We get a lot of background and history in this one, which I liked. That was really what I felt was missing in the first book, so it was a relief to get some context. However, the plot went from a fairly simple, girl gains crown amidst diversity and must save the realm–insert love interest here and evil backstabber there, to a complicated story filled with plot, subplot and a smattering of side-plots meandering off at random. I’m sure everything will come full circle in the third book, but I wish just a little more balanced so I knew what I was getting myself into.

That being said, I still want to know what happens. I think the story wanders a bit too far and could definitely have been cut back a little but it isn’t a bad book. I do like where it is heading, that’s for sure. The ending gave me just enough fire to want to read more.

Overall, I give this one three stars. A little lackluster at the start but it worked its way up in the end.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Thousand Nights

A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston is a retelling of the tale of 1,001 nights. Lo-Melkhiin killed three-hundred of his wives before he reached our main characters village. Her sister was sure to be chosen and using cleverness and the strength of her will she takes her sister’s place.

Lo-Melkhiin’s court is filled with dangerous luxury and the man himself holds cruelness within. After she miraculous survives her first night and continues to wake each morning, she learns that Lo-Melkhiin and the place is more than it seems. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes and does nothing more than take her hands but in doing so strange lights ignite between them and there is an exchange of powers that she does not understand.

Far from the palace her sister is in mourning and in mourning her sister sends more than just prayer. Each night a she speaks with Lo-Melkhiin her power grows and so does her hope that she may overcome the evil within him.

What powers have she uncovered? Can she survive the battle to come? And will good conquer evil?

Gosh that was a hard synopsis to write, considering that Lo-Melkhiin is the only one with an actual name. And do you want to know what? I didn’t even realize this fact until I sat down to start writing the synopsis. The only way to write it is in the third person.

This nameless anonymity given to people, especially the women of this book serves a purpose. This book flips the story of 1,001 nights on its head and gives strength and power to the women of the story. Our narrator takes and gives and even though she wears her womanly guise, she see things and acts to save others; she is the one in power and even after she loses her mystical powers, she gains the right of men–to rule. Even her sister is portrayed as a strong, powerful influencer of others and she falls in love with her husband because he won’t change her and he will never take another. This is completely opposite of what one would expect to read in a book set in this testosterone ridden culture.

The author is constantly referring to the “woman’s world” and the separation of the roles of men and woman. Lo-Melkhiin cannot influence the women as he does his male followers and this is because he is outside of the “woman’s world” but our narrator is not. She can influence the masses, without touching, while Lo-Melkhiin cannot. Gender roles are blurred and we take away that what matters most is goodness.

I’ve been really into this desert setting lately. Rebel of the Sands was great and so was this one. There is just something magical about the desert–the harshness and beauty and the battle for survival in such a harsh environment. If you have any suggestions on other books that take place in the desert, send ’em my way!

Finally, there really isn’t a lot of back story, explanation behind what is happening and why and yet it all still works. The why isn’t overdone and instead we get to focus on the story itself and what we get out of it.

This was a pretty great read. Reviewing it only makes me like it even more. This is a YA read made for an adult audience; it makes you think and I think having lived a little, will only make you appreciate it even more.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Lost Girls

A while back I picked up The Lost Girls and read the synopsis and I don’t know why but I was pulled in. This isn’t the type of book I usually go for but for some reason I couldn’t get it out of my head.

The Lost Girls by Heather Young is part thriller, part mystery and part confessionary tale. Nearing death, Lucy Evans–the last of the three Evans sisters–lays bare the story of her life, her family and the story of Emily. Six-year-old Emily Evans went missing in the summer of 1935. Her’s has been a cautionary tale and one that has followed the Evans family throughout the decades.

Now sixty years later, Lucy has passed away, leaving her lake house to Justine, a grandniece she met once almost 20 years earlier. Desperate to escape her manipulative boyfriend, Justine takes her eight and eleven-year-old girls and they move into the house. But things aren’t like Justine remembers. The house is old and in need of repair and the lake is no longer the bustling retreat it once was. The only other inhabitants of the lake are two elderly brothers; the place is isolated  and the house is soaked in the past.

As Justine and the girls adjust to their new life, the truth about Emily’s disappearance comes to light, revealing a past that is dark, awful and much, much more than meets the eye. What happened to Emily? And what will become of Justine and her family?

This book is so hard to review because it is not a genre I normally read. I literally kept asking myself why I was reading it. That being said, it wasn’t a bad read–it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

One thing I will say about this book is that you know what’s coming and yet it is still a total surprise. Young basically takes you by the hand, she leads you down this path where you know what awful things are coming and still it’s a shock. One of those: “It can’t be.” “Please, no.” moments.

The mystery, whodunit moments in this book were really well done. Lot’s of different breadcrumbs to follow and looking back you find you had the answers all along. This is not something every writer can do.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the narration… well I should say, I wasn’t a huge fan of Justine’s narration. Lucy’s was great but Justine’s story was just not as interesting to me and as a character she fell kind of flat.

Overall, this is a book fans of Gone Girl and Girl on a Train would probably like. It has some similar elements, although it doesn’t quite get there. I give this book 3 stars, mostly because I am not sure how I feel about it. Not a bad read but not one I would pick up again.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Time for Twos – 1/24/17

Phew! Twos are tough. I have inherited our Time for Twos monthly storytime and boy are they a rambunctious bunch. For this storytime, I decided to go with a construction theme. Kids love trucks and building, so I thought this would be a great theme for the Twos. Also, it will be good practice since our summer reading theme is Build a Better World.

Here’s what we did:

I always start with the same warm ups:

  • Song – Top of the Morning
    • This is a good song to warm up with because we stretch all the parts we will be using in storytime. Eyes, arms, legs, mouth, nose.
  • ASL – Hello Friendsfinishednailsdown-300x243
    • I like to use sign language in my story time. We go over the signs for: Hello, Friends, Time and Say. Thanks to Jbrary for this one!
  • Song – SkidamarinkIt’s a classic, I know you all know it!

Then I get into my theme. This time we did all things construction!

  • Movement Exercise – CranesWe pretended we moved like cranes; reaching up high and low and all around. You can find the words at: Jen in the library51pkzlxbr6l-_sx467_bo1204203200_
  • Rhyme w/ Prop – Five Little Nails
    • I made my own version from Mel’s Desk. This was such an easy and awesome prop!
  • Story – The Construction Crew by Lynn Meltzer
    • The first book we read showed us building from the groud up. It’s a good one for identifying words and pictures.
  • Song – The Wheels on the Bus
    • By this time we need a song. We did all the movements and this was a good way to get us back on track. 51hd0awvwbl-_sx430_bo1204203200_
  • Flannel Board – Construction Countdown by K.C. Olson
    • I actually created my own flannel board using the vehicles listed in the book. We counted 10 dump trucks, 9 cement mixers, etc. Counting is popular with this crew.
  • Rhyme w/ Movement – Zoom Zoom Zoom
    • This is a pretty standard movement rhyme. Jbrary has a video you can learn it from.
  • Story – Rex Wrecks It! By Ben Clanton
    • Kids can always relate to building things and then knocking them down. I love this one because you know what’s coming and so do the kids. 61dm42gzvul-_sx484_bo1204203200_
  • Song w/ Shakers – Chug-a-lug-a Choo Choo
    • We just shake our shakers and dance. By this point in storytime we just need to dance!

Finally, I always end with the same three things:

  • Movement Exercise – If You’re Happy and You Know It
    • I tell the kids that I want to know how happy they are.
  • Rhyme – Say Goodbye
    • This is the same rhyme we started with, so the new guys are familiar with it by the end of storytime.
  • Song – Goodbye, So Long, Farewell my Friends by Music Together
    • I always put this one on as I go to open the door. Its a nice, slow, peaceful song to wind down on.

How’d it go:

Overall, this was a pretty good storytime. I learned that two year olds love to count! Will definitely incorporate a lot more counting for this crew. I also think I need to add a few more action songs because we were getting pretty fussy by the end.

Not a bad start for the this age group but I think I will make a few tweaks for next time.

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

The Queen of Tearling

Everyone once in a while, I stumble upon a newly published book that I am not familiar with and find out that it is part of a series. I love when this happens because I can binge read or listen without having to be left with a cliffhanger. It’s the little things right?

The Queen of Tearling by Erika Johansen is a YA fantasy novel set in a somewhat alternate post-Columbus world. As a baby, Kelsea Raleigh, was sent away from her mother, Queen Elyssa, to be raised away from the throne and all of its influences and dangers. Now, 19 years later, Kelsea must reclaim her throne and her people. But Kelsea knows little of the politics of Tearling and even less of it’s tumultuous past.

Kelsea is escorted to the heart of Tearling and her throne by the Queen’s Gaurd, a small troupe of loyal soldiers, but they are chased by mercenaries and her uncle’s soldiers who have hunted Kelsea since her birth. As Kelsea fights for her birthright, the sapphire necklace she has worn since birth awakens and Kelsea finds herself enthralled to its power and magic.

Can Kelsea win the heart of her people? Can she protect them from Mortmesne and the Red Queen? Will she learn the secrets of the Tear sapphire or will she be a slave to its power? And can Kelsea keep her heart when a cunning stranger comes to call?

Seriously, where is this set? I am assuming a post-Columbus world on a continent founded after the Americas but it’s hard to be sure. I mean literally, this book could take place any time between Columbus setting foot on American soil and a future America we’ve not yet lived. Living in the dark here people. There are a ton of references to America and a crossing from America to where the book is set now but medicine, weaponry, technology is all lost … and can’t be retrieved by crossing back to America… It’s all very odd and somewhat distracting from an otherwise entertaining story. I am hoping this gets explained more fully in the sequels.

Kelsea is an interesting character. As Queen she is a strong, determined character who isn’t over confident and definitely knows her flaws. Her transition from princess in hiding–who knows nothing about the world or her rightful place in it–to Queen happened quite suddenly but that didn’t bother me too much. There is quite a difference though from pre-queen Kelsea in the first few chapters, to Queen Kelsea who can get stabbed and still kneels for her coronation. Gotta love a bad-ass chick.

This was an entertaining read with a nice pace and a developing plot. Other then an inevitable confrontation with Mormesne, I’m not sure where we are going but I am interested in finding out. As an audiobook it worked, but I fear that if the plot gets too complicated listening may not be the way to go.

I give this one 4 stars. A good start to a series.

That’s all for now!

-M-