Truthwitch
Young Adult / May 1, 2016

The Witchlands #1. Author: Susan Dennard. Summary: Threadsisters Safiya and Iseult are in trouble, yet again. In attempting to hold up a thief on the road, they caught the wrong wagon and antagonized the wrong person. With a Bloodwitch on their trail they have to flee the city, for Safiya’s talent of truthwitchery is a dangerously rare secret, and there are men who would kill to possess her. Safiya flees to the Court, where her relatives should shelter her; but instead they use her in their plans, declare her betrothed to the emperor, and send her off again. The ship she and Iseult land on may help them escape the Bloodwitch, but Safiya and Iseult are still going to have to push their limits to survive the hot-tempered prince, the seafoxes, and the determined assassin who’s still on their trail. My Thoughts: This rich new fantasy weaves an intriguing world of diverse cultures on the brink of war and a magic/mythos system to be explored without a single info-dump, allowing things to come up naturally and trusting, for once, the reader’s capability of putting things together. There’re still many questions unanswered, but this is only the first book. I loved…

The Siren
Young Adult / May 1, 2016

Author: Kiera Cass. Summary: Years ago, Kahlen was rescued from drowning by the Ocean. To repay her debt, she has served as a Siren ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their deaths. Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can’t resist spending her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again. Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude…until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. Falling in love with a human breaks the Ocean’s rules. But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart. Sexual content: Girl wears revealing dress, a couple men stare at her in bar. Character is aware that a friend-siren has “affairs” with men on land. One kiss. Character reveals to another that she has a daughter, although she was never married. My Thoughts: A kind of cute romance story with an interesting character in the form of the Ocean, but it takes the trend of insta-love over the top. Kahlen has only…

The Final Empire
Adult / May 1, 2016

Mistborn #1. Author: Brandon Sanderson. Summary: For a thousand years, the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years, the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years, the Lord Ruler, the “Sliver of Infinity,” reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler’s most hellish prison. Kelsier “snapped” and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark. (Provided summary.) My Thoughts: I have learned, through much hard experience, not to trust a book’s summary or concept line. The book never lives up to it. Imagine my astonishment, then, when this book did. The concept line: What would the world be like if the chosen one, the hero of ages… failed? Set a hundred years after the hero could not save the world, the civilization is a brutal scene of slavery and oppression, cruelty and nobility, and constant ash over it all. None of the…

Island of Fire
Middle Grade / Juvenile / May 1, 2016

Unwanteds #3. Author: Lisa McMann. Summary: The magical world of Artimé is gone. The Unwanteds have no food, no water, and no hope. And everyone is looking to Alex Stowe for answers. Overwhelmed and feeling totally helpless, Alex knows it’s up to him to find a way to restore Artimé, rescue his captive friends, and free Megan from her voice-stealing necklace of thorns – three impossible tasks. But could help lie with the silent, orange-eyed newcomers? Meanwhile, Alex’s twin brother Aaron continues to build his army in the stark land of Quill, preparing for the ultimate showdown with the Unwanteds. But a shocking twist reveals that Alex and Aaron share a common enemy more dangerous than either could have imagined… (Goodreads summary.) Content Review: Sexual content: One kiss, some talk about whether a character ‘likes’ specific girls. Language: 4 crud Violence: Two men snatch food from a boy and run. A prisoner is kept tied up in the cupboard most of the day. A girl who was captured is dragged away and the boy has to be kicked down to keep from following them out. High priest sends his own father to be executed, but then rescinds the order. A…

The Screaming Staircase
Young Adult / May 1, 2016

Lockwood & Co #1. Author: Jonathan Stroud. Summary: Lucy Carlyle is a talented teen-agent seeking employment in London. She’s a ghost-killer, one of hundreds who protect the countryside. For fifty years now ghosts have been returning to kill the living, and only the young can sense them. The only agency Lucy can get into turns out to be a small, independent organization with only three agents, called Lockwood & Co. after its head. The agency is already struggling with lack of customers, and when a case goes disastrously wrong, they’re ready to take on anything to climb back up – even the most suspicious of cases. My Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed this alternative-history murder mystery. The main character is an independent, intelligent heroine – always a plus – and her companions stand out in their own right. The alt-history is well done, grounding the story solidly in a believable place and time. I’ve seen some reviews complaining about the exposition, but for me the plot seemed fast-paced, with excellent tension. A lot of shivers, and I was careful not to read it too close to the evening. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: 10 hell, 4 bloody, 1 d*** Violence:…