LIBRARY IDEA FOR NOVEMBER:

THANKSGIVING TRIVIA GAME: Looking for zero-prep Thanksgiving activities for middle school? This trivia game helps keep your students learning and engaged, even in the days before a holiday break. It’s zero-prep for you, and text and images are 99% editable.

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CHILDREN OF RAGNAROK:

Since Ragnarokthe great war between the gods and the forces of chaos—the human realm of the Midlands has become a desperate and dangerous place, bereft of magic.

Sixteen-year-old Eiric Halvorsen is among the luckier ones—his family has remained prosperous. But he stands to lose everything when he’s wrongly convicted by a rigged jury of murdering his modir and stepfadir. Also at risk is Eiric’s half-systir, Liv, who’s under suspicion for her interest in seidr, or magic. Then a powerful jarl steps in: He will pay the blood price if Eiric will lead a mission to the fabled Temple at the Grove—the rich stronghold of the wyrdspinners, the last practitioners of sorcery.

Spellsinger, musician, and runecaster Reginn Eiklund has spent her life performing at alehouses for the benefit of her master, Asger, a fire demon she is desperate to escape. After one performance that amazes even herself, two wyrdspinners in the audience make Reginn an irresistible offer: return with them to the Temple to be trained in seidr, forever free of Asger.

Eiric’s, Liv’s, and Reginn’s journeys converge in New Jotunheim, a paradise fueled by magic and the site of the Temple. They soon realize that a great evil lurks beneath the dazzling surface and that old betrayals and long-held grudges may fuel another cataclysmic war. It will require every gift and weapon at their command to prevent it.

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Review: Beyond the Red (Jae)

AUTHOR: Ava Jae
SERIES: Beyond the Red, book 1
PUBLISHER: Sky Pony Press
PUBLICATION DATE: March 1, 2016
ISBN: 9781634506441
PAGES: 352
SOURCE: Edelweiss
GENRE: Science fiction, aliens
SETTING: distant desert planet far into future
GIVE IT TO: HS

SUMMARY: Eighteen-year old Eros is a half-blood, the product of a forbidden alien/human tryst. Though he never met his real parents, Eros knows most half-bloods are killed at birth so they are not allowed to “taint” either bloodline. Raised among nomads, Eros loves his foster family and his brother, Day. But when alien invaders brutally attack their their camp, Eros and others are taken as slaves to the aliens. The alien queen, Kora, recognizes Eros’s strength and loyalty, and she quickly makes him her personal guard. Soon though, Eros and Kora are accused of attempted murder and must flee their city.

REVIEW: Beyond the Red begins with so much potential. I loved the otherworldly setting, and half-blood Eros reminded me a little of Nathan in Half Bad. The action began quickly with a kidnapping at gunpoint, a massacre, and enslavement occurring within just the first few chapters. The scene where Eros and the others are turned into slaves was especially heart-breaking and unique.

I did finish this book, but that is largely because the beginning was so good. I kept thinking the story would surely find its feet again. By the time I decided it wasn’t going to happen, I figured I might as well finish.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:

  • My main girl Kora. Am I supposed to feel sorry for her? She is not a good queen, and she needs to be overthrown. I’ll admit that her character does show some growth, but really, girl. You are flirting with a boy whose family your people massacred and enslaved. Granted, you did not condone this, but you didn’t do a whole lot of speaking up against it, either. Are you the queen or what? How different would this story have been if Kora were a ruthless, kick-ass queen instead of a sniveling, flirtatious weakling?
  • Nanites. Everything impossible on earth is suddenly possible with the ever-ubiquitous nanites. Need to change your eye color to hide your identity? Nanites! Need to track down someone and kill them? Nanites! Need to tame a ferocious beast? You got it–get some nanites! I wonder, if nanites can do so much, why are slaves even necessary? Surely, they can be “programmed” to do something as simple as cooking and ironing…
  • The chest-lust. And nipple-lust. Leg-lust. Ripped abs-lust. Floating bed lust. More breast-lust. Muscle-lust. It’s just too much and significantly detracts from the story. And seriously, Kora sleeps naked with a similarly-aged, half-naked, hunky male stranger in her room (and quickly, in her bed)? She fights without underwear on? Classy.
  • Eros appreciates Kora’s sexy bod, even knowing her people just slaughtered his whole family and enslaved the few survivors? She may not have ordered the massacre, but she is the queen. Did she punish anyone for their involvement? Did she willingly let the captured slaves go? I can’t imagine that Eros could, just a short time later, comfort her from nightmares or think about sex with her. I would think he’d be too busy plotting to kill her.
  • Insta-love and a love triangle that also has insta-love? KMN.

Eventually, the action returns, but for me, it was too little, too late. If there is a sequel (surely, there must be–hardly anything is resolved), I do not plan to read it.

THE BOTTOM LINE: A disappointment. It joins Nil and Defy as another disappointing Two-Face.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: I do not plan to order it.

READALIKES: Read Legend (Lu) or Half Bad (Green) instead.

RATING BREAKDOWN:

  • Overall: 2/5–it’s not all terrible, and I did finish it
  • Creativity: 2/5
  • Characters: 2/5–die Kora!
  • Engrossing: 3/5
  • Writing: 2/5
  • Appeal to teens: 3/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 3/5

CONTENT:

  • Language: moderate–some F-bombs “fucken”
  • Sexuality: high–plenty of male and female body lust; frequent nakedness or semi-nakedness; male homosexual relationships (including two men caught in bed together); multiple references to erection; kissing; 2nd base is reached
  • Violence: high; bloody massacre of innocent men, women, and children; torture (sleep deprivation, extreme temperatures); a man’s ear is bitten off
  • Drugs/Alcohol: mild; wine; nanites are used for control and torture

 

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