Battle Magic
Young Adult / September 30, 2016

Circle Reforged #3. Author: Tamora Pierce. Summary: While visiting the God-King and the First Circle temple in Gyongxe, mages Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy are invited to visit the emperor’s summer palace. Although treated like royalty when they first arrive, the mages soon discover that the emperor plans to invade Gyongxe, posing a fatal threat to the home temple of the Living Circle religion. Accompanied by one of the emperor’s prize captives, the three mages rush to Gyongxe to warn its citizens of the impending attack. With the imperials hot on their trail, Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy must quickly help the country prepare for battle. But even with the help of new allies, will their combined forces be enough to fight the imperial army and win the war? (Goodreads summary.) My Thoughts: Fairly mediocre, I thought. There’s interesting world-building, in the singing mountains one girl can hear and the living gateway paintings another boy can see, but the full range and implications aren’t really explored. Nothing in particular stood out beside Tamora Pierce’s other books. Content Review: Sexual content: “He knew that Rosethorn sometimes slept with people other than Lark. He knew that Lark knew. He had had one conversation with…

First to Ride
Middle Grade / Juvenile / September 30, 2016

Author: Pers Crowell. Summary: “You shall choose for your king the one who comes riding upon the back of a Fleet One.” This is the strange message left by the leader Manos before he dies. Ride upon the back of a Fleet One, a wild horse? No one has ever done that — not the bravest of the cave dwellers, not the mightiest of the hunters. And among these men of long ago, no one believes it is possible to ride a horse — except the boy Vuldar. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: None. Violence: One mammoth is killed, one man is speared by a mammoth, a wild stallion is tamed, which involves rough, wild, bucking rides and him fighting ropes several times. No gory details for any of this.

Feet of Clay
Adult / September 28, 2016

A Discworld Novel. Author: Terry Pratchett. Summary: There’s a werewolf with pre-lunar tension in Ankh-Morpork. And a dwarf with attitude, and a Golem who’s begun to think for itself. But Commander Vimes is more concerned about the crime that’s happened. He’s got to find out not only whodunit, but howdunit too. He’s not even sure what they dun. But as soon as he knows what the questions are, he’s going to want some answers. (Published summary.) Content Review: Sexual content: Minor innuendo. Language: 51 d***, 13 derogatory terms, 11 bloody, 5 hell Violence: Ghost complains about how it was beaten to death with a loaf of dwarf bread. Three thieves try to take a werewolf girl hostage – there are screams out of sight, then the girl re-enters and says they have flesh-wounds only. Golem commits suicide by laying its head under an automatic hammer. One man killed by a cross-bow bolt to the head. Second-hand account of an old woman and baby dying of second-hand arsenic poisoning.

Fool’s Assassin
Adult / September 27, 2016

Fitz and the Fool #1. Author: Robin Hobb. Summary: Tom Badgerlock has been living peaceably in the manor house at Withywoods with his beloved wife Molly these many years, the estate a reward to his family for loyal service to the crown. But behind the facade of respectable middle-age lies a turbulent and violent past. For Tom Badgerlock is actually FitzChivalry Farseer, bastard scion of the Farseer line, convicted user of Beast-magic, and assassin. A man who has risked much for his king and lost more… On a shelf in his den sits a triptych carved in memory stone of a man, a wolf and a fool. Once, these three were inseparable friends: Fitz, Nighteyes and the Fool. But one is long dead, and one long-missing. Then one Winterfest night a messenger arrives to seek out Fitz, but mysteriously disappears, leaving nothing but a blood-trail. What was the message? Who was the sender? And what has happened to the messenger? Suddenly Fitz’s violent old life erupts into the peace of his new world, and nothing and no one is safe. (Published summary.) My Thoughts: Unfortunately, my experience of this book was severely impacted by a misunderstanding + lack. I thought…

Alcatraz vs. the Shattered Lenses
Middle Grade / Juvenile / September 26, 2016

Alcatraz #4. Author: Brandon Sanderson. Summary: Alcatraz Smedry, the boy with the incredible Talent for breaking things, has a lot to prove and little time in which to do it. In this adventure, Alcatraz faces an army of librarians–and their giant robots–as they battle to win the kingdom of Mokia. If the librarians win the war, everything that Alcatraz has fought so hard for could end in disaster. Alcatraz must face the robots, the evil librarians, and even his own manipulative mother! But will he be able to save the kingdom of Mokia and the Free Kingdoms from the wrath of the librarians before everything comes crashing down? (Goodreads summary) Content Review: Sexual content: One character stripped naked by magical bomb. They don clothes as fast as possible. Language: None Violence: Part of an airplane explodes and it’s forced to land, but except for minor bruising everyone’s fine. Multiple soldiers are struck and knocked out by martial arts/bad dancing (they’re sort of the same thing). There’s hand-to-hand fighting with soldiers, and some are knocked out.

A Mango-Shaped Space
Young Adult / September 20, 2016

Author: Wenda Mass. Summary: Mia Winchell appears to be a typical kid, but she’s keeping a big secret—sounds, numbers, and words have color for her. No one knows, and Mia wants to keep it that way. But when trouble at school finally forces Mia to reveal her secret, she must learn to accept herself and embrace her ability, called synesthesia, a mingling of the senses. My Thoughts: The parts about synesthesia itself were cool, although not having this condition myself I can’t attest to their accuracy. The rest of the book was okay, some parts interesting, but mostly meh. It was strange how long they took to figure out what she has – neither the licensed doctor nor therapist can figure it out (frustration at this may have been because I recognized it from the beginning). Mia is believably portrayed as a thirteen year old – but that does mean we have to deal with all the problems, angst and uncertainty of that period. Content Review: Sexual content: “It’s not a school book,” she whispers. “It’s a dirty book I put the cover on to fool people.” Language: None Violence: An old dog is euthanized.  

Dragon’s Bait
Young Adult / September 19, 2016

Author: Vivian Vande Velde. Summary: If Alys really was a witch, as she has been accused of, she would cast a spell on her accusers to save herself as they leave her tied to a stake for a dragon. But she isn’t, so there’s nothing she can do but wait for her doom. It comes in the form of a golden-maned dragon, but instead of carrying her off he lands in front of her and transforms into a man. Alys may have a second chance at life… but will she spend it on revenge, or seek escape from the old life? My Thoughts: The characters felt a little flat. None of them were quite three-dimensional, except perhaps the protagonist. The message at the end also felt a little forced – I’d been expecting it from the beginning, but in a rather different format, not a straight statement from the protagonist. Despite this, I did enjoy Dragon’s Bait. It was a fun little story, the (slightly forced) thesis was at least a good one, and I frankly enjoyed the dragon. Content Review: Sexual content: Some low-level flirting. Male dragon takes human form to speak to a girl – unfortunately, this leaves…

Winter Turning
Middle Grade / Juvenile / September 6, 2016

Wings of Fire #7. Author: Tui T. Sutherland. Summary: Winter has been a disappointment to his royal IceWing family his whole life. When his sister, Icicle, runs away from Jade Mountain Academy, fleeing terrible crimes and possibly planning to commit more, Winter knows that they both need a second chance to make things right — if only he can find her. Winter’s new clawmates, Moon, Qibli, and Kinkajou, won’t let him make this dangerous journey alone. They don’t seem to understand that IceWings, the most superior of all dragon tribes, can fix their own problems. When their search leads the dragonets straight into Queen Scarlet’s vicious talons, Winter is grateful to have some help. But even the bravest dragons can’t follow him to the Ice Kingdom, where he’ll have to face the greatest threat of all: his own family. My Thoughts: I had forgotten why I keep reading these middle grade books! While having a high level of violence possibly unsuitable for younger readers, they are never very graphic. The characters are interesting, with back-stories and dilemmas and character growth, the plot is fun, and the pace never slows down. An excellent action-adventure read, like the rest of the series….

Young Adult / September 6, 2016

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson. Summary: “Dead girl walking”, the boys say in the halls. “Tell us your secret”, the girls whisper, one toilet to another. I am that girl. I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through. I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame. Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit. Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery. (Published summary) My Thoughts: This was an odd read. I didn’t like it. Not really. It’s painful, and jarring, and even confusing. It’s supposed to be. Told in the first person, Wintergirls is one teenager’s story of fighting a life-threatening eating disorder, and perhaps mental illness. The world view she drags us into is unbalanced and spiraling downward. The story is well-written. I found it compelling, and Lia a sympathetic character, even when she admits to making the wrong choices. The writing…

Young Adult / September 5, 2016

Paranormalcy #3. Author: Kiersten White. Summary: In Endlessly, pink-loving, butt-kicking Evie has way too much on her to-do list. Paranormals are begging her to open a faerie gate so they can leave the human world, something Evie’s not sure she has the power to do. The Dark Queen is torturing humans and must be destroyed. On top of all that, Evie’s prom is coming up. She’s not sure what to wear, and, oh, yeah, her shape-shifting boyfriend, Lend, has been cursed so that he falls into an enchanted sleep whenever he and Evie are in the same room…and even Evie’s ex-boyfriend, the faerie Reth, can’t reverse the dark magic. An epic battle is looming, and the choices Evie makes will determine the fate of whole paranormal world—and her own life. (Published summary.) My Thoughts: Morally, what Reth does is wrong. He manipulates and lies to Evie, using her for his own purposes. But… yeah, his summary of her behavior when she confronts him is exactly on. As he points out, Evie is more interested in her boyfriend than helping the paranormals of the world. As they beg for the help only she can give them, she whines about how hard…