The Scrivener’s Bones
Middle Grade / Juvenile / August 31, 2016

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians #2. Author: Brandon Sanderson. Summary: In his second skirmish against the Evil Librarians who rule the world, Alcatraz and his ragtag crew of freedom fighters track Grandpa Smedry to the ancient and mysterious Library of Alexandria. Hushlanders―people who live in the Librarian-controlled lands of Canada, Europe, and the Americas―believe the Library was destroyed long ago. Free Kingdomers know the truth: the Library of Alexandria is still around, and it’s one of the most dangerous places on the planet. For it is the home of the scariest Librarians of them all: a secret sect of soul-stealing Scriveners. Can Alcatraz and his friends rescue Grandpa Smedry and make it out of there alive? (Published summary.) My Thoughts: If anything, more engrossing than the first. Not only is the narrator in top form, an irrepressible, exasperating, hilarious presence in the story, but the writing-balance is so good I’m actually getting sucked into the ridiculous plot. (Also, Sanderson has finally admitted the truth: It’s a law of nature that all books he writes are awesome.) Content Review: Sexual content: None Language: None Violence: One aerial fight, in which a plane is shot down. All occupants survive, but there is…

The Sword of Summer
Middle Grade / Juvenile / August 30, 2016

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1. Author: Rick Riordan. Summary: Magnus Chase is a homeless kid who’s mother is dead. He’s doing pretty well, surviving by his wits and a pair of friends, but everything goes wrong one day. First his uncle is trying to track him down for the first time in years, then a fire-god attacks him, and the next thing he knows he’s dead. Things just get weirder from there when he finds himself in Asgard. Content Review: Sexual content: Once a character wakes up to someone knocking on his door and hastens to open it before realizing he’s in his underthings. Language: 1 d***, a couple of uses of the exclamation “gods”. Violence: High. Too high to go into details; not very detailed or graphic, but there’s a lot of fighting and stabbing, and due to the nature of the story there’s a good bit of ‘killing’ of ghosts who just come back. Other issues: The main character is homeless, admits to having stolen before. The story is about Norse gods being real, and he interacts with them after dying.

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians
Middle Grade / Juvenile / August 28, 2016

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians #1. Author: Brandon Sanderson. Summary: A hero with an incredible talent…for breaking things. A life-or-death mission…to rescue a bag of sand. A fearsome threat from a powerful secret network…the evil Librarians. Alcatraz Smedry doesn’t seem destined for anything but disaster. On his 13th birthday he receives a bag of sand, which is quickly stolen by the cult of evil Librarians plotting to take over the world. The sand will give the Librarians the edge they need to achieve world domination. Alcatraz must stop them!…by infiltrating the local library, armed with nothing but eyeglasses and a talent for klutzines (Published summary.) My Thoughts: Alcatraz knows his life is ridiculous. But what can he do about it? Since the day his inheritance (a small bag of sand) showed up, things have just gotten weirder, and there’s no backing out now. Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians is quite a departure from Sanderson’s usual work, and the plot is clearly middle-grade. But the story’s well-written, balancing on the fine line between amusing and just silly (at least I thought so) and the sarcastic, self-aware narrator is wonderful. A little like the narrator of The Name of this Book is…

Silver in the Blood
Young Adult / August 26, 2016

Author: Jessica Day George. Summary: Society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about the mysterious Romanian family that they barely knew. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their relatives, find proper husbands, and—most terrifyingly—learn the deep family secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, and it is time for Dacia and Lou to fulfill the prophecy that demands their acceptance of this fate… or fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might. My Thoughts: While it was okay, and better than some YA, I have to say this seems Jessica Day George’s worst book so far. The girls had some character, but they were not particularly interesting. The plot was odd, the villain lacked depth, and the overall tone was harsher than her previous books. Content Review: Sexual content: The villain threatens to rape two girls. A couple different women end up naked in front of men several times due to shapeshifting, but they then cover themselves with a shawl/blanket/some such. Language: Low. Violence: One girl is kidnapped…

Dragon Champion
Young Adult / August 25, 2016

Age of Fire #1. Author: E.E. Knight. Summary: After escaping those who killed his siblings, Young Auron, a rare, defenseless gray dragon, might be the last of his breed. Armed with nothing but his claws and a determination to survive, he sets off in search of his kind. But to find other dragons-or, at least, find out who’s killing them off-Auron will have to search a world of mercenary elves, vicious humans, and dangers of all kinds. Finding allies in the strangest places-and himself along the way-Auron is about to make the trek of a lifetime. (Published summary.) My Thoughts: Tracking Auron, a rare grey dragon, from his birth through his life Dragon Champion is reminiscent of Watership Down, the Warriors series, and Redwall. The setting is very classic-fantasy, with elves, dwarves, kings and dragons, but E.E. Knight puts a new spin on it with his draconic pov. The dragons as a species are very well developed. Even though Auron doesn’t know all the lore and traditions, he knows enough to give us an outline, and we can see the absence of what he couldn’t learn from dead parents. Not the fastest paced book, but I really enjoyed it. Content…

Every Last Word
Young Adult / August 24, 2016

Author: Tamara Ireland Stone. Summary: Words have destroyed Samantha’s life. Black, spiraling thoughts that she can’t always control bind her into an OCD prison that she hides from her popular friends and goes to weekly therapy to keep under control. Now, words may build her life back up again. After making a new friend and finding the secret Poet’s Corner, things seem to be taking a turn for the better. And writing nightly poetry is helping Samantha open up and stop walling herself in. But if her friends, the popular group, found out – they’d kick her out for sure. And how can she keep the secret from her therapist? Life may at last be looking up, but Sam still has plenty of problems. My Thoughts: I wasn’t sure about this book at first, for Sam seemed irritatingly stupid – why would anyone hang out with the girls she calls friends? But as I got into the book, it became engrossing, and I was loving it by the half-way mark. Every Last Word is a carefully researched story that shows vividly what it’s like to suffer from Pure-O OCD. It also deals with the topics of peer pressure, fitting in,…

Middle Grade / Juvenile / August 23, 2016

Wings of Fire: Legends #1. Author: Tui T. Sutherland. Summary: Three dragons. One unavoidable, unpredictable destiny. This is the beginning… of the end. In the SeaWing kingdom, a young prince learns he is an animus — capable of wonderful magic that comes with a terrible price. In the mind of a NightWing dragonet, a thousand futures unfold — and almost all of them, she knows, lead to disaster and destruction. And under three full moons and the watchful eyes of his NightWing mother and IceWing father, the most powerful dragon Pyrhhia will ever know is clawing his way out of his egg. Darkstalker, the dragon who will change the world forever. Long before the SandWing war, lifetimes before the Dragonet Prophecy… darkness is born. (Published summary.) My Thoughts: Darkstalker continues the best tradition of the Wings of Fire series, with well-rounded fascinating dragons, intricate connections, and laugh-out-loud moments in the midst of blackness. (And, yes, the apparent tradition of disturbingly violent images. How does “cut your own tongue out” get into a middle grade book? I don’t know.) We’ve got a split view point, with Darkstalker, Fathom, and Clearview. Sutherland finally answers the question of what seeing the future clearly…

First & Then
Young Adult / August 22, 2016

Author: Emma Mills. Summary: Devon Tennyson wouldn’t change a thing. She’s happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon’s cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn’t want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life. (Published summary.) My Thoughts: I didn’t really enjoy it, but that wasn’t a problem with the writing style. The setting was fairly classic public high school, and the characters fairly rounded. I just had problems with some of the content, on my own account. Neither did the story strike me as very original – just ye YA story set in highschool, with a handsome love interest and tragic problem. Content Review: Sexual content: Five kisses. In a locker room, a character wonders when freshmen girls started “wearing thongs and showing deep cleavage”. Characters wear short shirts to expose skin. One teenage character is pregnant. One hug. Kid says he overhead a guy and girl talking about…

His Majesty’s Dragon
Young Adult / August 21, 2016

Temaraire #1. Author: Naomi Novik. Summary: Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors ride mighty fighting dragons, bred for size or speed. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire. (Goodreads summary.) My Thoughts: I definitely enjoyed this alternate-history. It has a steady, calm pace and is told in the historical-novel writing style. Napoleonic war + dragons = awesome. Content Review: Sexual content: Passing mention of harbor prostitutes, and the fact that training men may go to them on their nights off. Dragon comes into his first ‘season’. A dragon-rider with a daughter mentions she is not married; this turns out to be common among dragon riders due…

Code Name Verity
Young Adult / August 20, 2016

Code Name Verity #1. Author: Elizabeth Wein. Summary: I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do. That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine – and I will do anything, anything to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again. He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France – an Allied Invasion of Two. We are a sensational team.                          (Published summary.) My Thoughts: Two best friends, separated in war, each tell their halves of the story in journal-style. One, a female pilot; the other, a female spy. Neither of them know if they’ll ever see the other alive again. I wasn’t impressed when I started…