Water
Young Adult / October 17, 2016

Tales of Elemental Spirits #1. Author: Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson. Summary: Seven tales describe magical beings that inhabit our waters. Some are familiar mer-people; some as strange as as a golden eye in a pool at the edge of the Great Desert Kalarsham, where the mad god Geljdreth rules; or the unknowable, immense Kraken, dark beyond the darkness of the deepest ocean, who will one day rise and rule the world. (Goodreads Summary) My Thoughts: I was kind of disappointed. The stories were fairly interesting, but they all felt just a little flat. Content Review: Sexual content: Girl comes upon her betrothed cheating on her: “Robert was lying there, with a very pretty girl. The very pretty girl had no clothes on.” Some kissing. Language: None Violence: Girl’s grief-ridden father falls into alcoholism, then beating her – this is told rather than shown. Sea-monster strikes boat and sinks it. Love Triangle: None.  

Wild Magic
Young Adult / October 17, 2016

The Immortals #1. Author: Tamora Pierce. Summary: Young Daine’s knack with horses gets her a job helping the royal horsemistress drive a herd of ponies to Tortall. Soon it becomes clear that Daine’s talent, as much as she struggles to hide it, is downright magical. Horses and other animals not only obey, but listen to her words. Daine, though, will have to learn to trust humans before she can come to terms with her powers, her past, and herself. My Thoughts: Daine is not as interesting as some of her stronger women warriors, and her magic with animals must be taken as a fantasy-world item; there is no effort made to make the animals realistic. However, it was a pleasant read, and I was glad that there was much less romance/innuendo than some of her other books. It seems almost younger. Content Review: Sexual content: One kiss on the cheek. Man flirts lightly with a girl. MC doesn’t know who her father is. Two married characters kiss. A married man flirts slightly with a girl, but his wife is present and knows he’s only friendly. Language: 2 derogatory names, some exclamations of ‘gods!’ and an interesting phrase – ‘odd’s bobs’….

Escaping Peril
Middle Grade / Juvenile / October 16, 2016

Wings of Fire #8. Author: Tui T. Sutherland. Summary: Peril has been loyal to Queen Scarlet, who used her fatal firescales to kill countless dragons in the SkyWing arena. Now, Peril is loyal to Clay, the only dragonet who has ever been her friend. So when Scarlet threatens Jade Mountain Academy, Peril sets off to find her former queen, stop her, and save the day, no matter what it takes. There’s just one problem: a strangely persistent SeaWing, Turtle, insists on coming along, too. Turtle is worried about his friends, who left to search for Scarlet and haven’t returned. Peril is worried that she might accidentally burn Turtle — or burn him on purpose, for being so annoying — and frustrated that she keeps saying and doing the wrong things. She can’t escape her firescales, and she can’t escape her reputation as the deadliest dragon in Pyrrhia. So when she’s offered a chance to trade everything for a second chance, Peril has to decide who she’s really loyal to . . . and whether her own scales might actually be worth saving. My Thoughts: The Wings of Fire series seems to be aiming higher in its age range, and the…

The Chosen Prince
Middle Grade / Juvenile / October 11, 2016

Author: Diane Stanley. Summary: On the day of his birth, Prince Alexos is revealed to be the long-awaited champion of Athene. He grows up lonely, conscious of all that is expected of him. But Alexos discovers that being a champion isn’t about fame and glory—it’s about sacrifice and courage. Alexos follows the course of his destiny through war and loss and a deadly confrontation with his enemy to its end: shipwreck on a magical, fog-shrouded island. There he meets the unforgettable Aria, and faces the greatest challenge of his life. (Published summary.) My Thoughts: The Chosen Prince is set in a fairly generic, medieval-type kingdom. There is poverty and starvation for the prince to learn from and try to better; a neighboring kingdom that is always at war on the border; peasants, nobles, and farmers. Although the specific setting that Alexos interacts with is always clear, the world in general felt a little flat and fuzzy to me. Diane Stanley may, of course, have been trying to evoke the medieval stereotype on purpose. I did like the story. Alexos is a sympathetic character, and plot took a couple of twists that I did not see coming. Content Review: Sexual content:…

A Monster Calls
Young Adult / October 10, 2016

Author: Patrick Ness. Summary: The monster showed up after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming… This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth. (Published summary.) Content Review: Sexual content: Character telling a sort of fairy-tale, “They had vowed to be chaste until they could be married, but their passions got the better of them and it was not long before they were asleep and naked in each other’s arms.” Language: 1 scatological term, 1 hell, 1 d*** Violence: Bully trips a boy up, and punches him in the stomach. One boy beats another up badly. Boy deliberately smashes a clock and trashes a room fairly thoroughly. Love Triangle: No romance.  

Fairest
Young Adult / October 8, 2016

(Prequel) Lunar Chronicles: Levana’s Story.  Author: Marissa Meyer. Summary: This is the fairytale of a princess. She wanted beauty, she wanted true love and children of her won, she wanted to rule her kingdom with justice and wisdom. She was scarred by her sister, her love fixed on a man who could never return it, and she was raised in a court of debauchery, where monogamy was forgotten and opulence enthroned. The princess fought to do what was right, to marry the man of her dreams, to hold the throne with fairness, to become the woman her country needed. But she had no example, no way to tell what was right, and in the end – broken, twisted, and slightly mad – she still knew that she’d been wrong. She knew she’d failed with every manipulation, every kiss, every step of the way. This is the tale of Queen Levana, ruler of Luna. This is the story of the princess who stumbled into the shadows and could not find her way out to the right side of the fairytale. This is the tragedy of the tyrant who died on her throne without ever knowing what love truly is. My Thoughts:…

After Ever After
Young Adult / October 6, 2016

Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie #2. Author: Jordan Sonnenblick. Summary: Jeffrey isn’t a little boy with cancer anymore. He’s a teen who’s in remission, but life still feels fragile. The aftereffects of treatment have left Jeffrey with an inability to be a great student or to walk without limping. His parents still worry about him. His older brother, Steven, lost it and took off to Africa to be in a drumming circle and “find himself.” Jeffrey has a little soul searching to do, too, which begins with his escalating anger at Steven, an old friend who is keeping something secret, and a girl who is way out of his league but who thinks he’s cute. My Thoughts: Eh. The subjects were YA but the writing style felt aimed toward middle grade, a characteristic I’m beginning to associate with this author. Also, I didn’t find out this was a sequel until after I read it, which may explain why I didn’t get it very well. Content Review: Sexual content: Some implied kissing, off screen. Two friends, boys, seem to make a running joke of talking about dating each other’s mothers. (Yeah, I didn’t get it either.) Multiple instances of a boy…

One Good Dragon Deserves Another
Young Adult / October 5, 2016

Heartstrikers #2. Author: Rachel Aaron. Summary: Julius finally has his own magical business, in partnership with his human friend Marci. He’s happy to settle down there and never see the heartstriker clan again – but Bethseda is finally interested in him. His involvement with the Three Sisters has made him useful, and she’s not letting him disappear. Soon, Julius realizes he can’t try to back out – his clan needs him, whether or not he likes them. Mysterious attacks on high-ranking dragons, Estella’s suspicious co-operating, and the appearance of Alonquin’s dragon hunter adds up to more trouble than even Bob the seer can manage. Especially when futures are dropping off the map, whole trains vanishing completely. Can Julius and Marci find the future they need… and how much are they willing to trade for it? My Thoughts: I think this was even better than the first book, with more character development on all the minor characters. Very enjoyable, with fast-paced plot, intriguing characters, a well-worked out world and a good sense of humor. Content Review: Sexual content: One scene opens with dragon-woman in bed, grumping because her “young lover” is up and dressing “before noon”. Female dragon shapeshifts to human,…

Genesis
Adult , Young Adult / October 5, 2016

Author: Bernard Beckett. Summary: Genesis is a dystopian story with a twist. It explores questions such as: what does it mean to be conscious? Can a robot be alive? The whole story takes place over four hours in a single building, through the narration of a student testing for entrance to The Academy. It leaves you with many more questions than answered. My Thoughts: Genesis can feel a bit slow at parts on the first time through, as there isn’t much action. What action there is comes through the story told in dialogue, and all happened some time ago. But the book isn’t that long, and the ending turns everything on its head. The second read through is completely different, as you see and ponder things that went right past your attention before. I thought it was a very interesting and thought-provoking read. Content Review: Sexual content: A transcript conversation has a character saying he would “Like a woman. Right here, right now. You could watch.” Language: Two f***, three scatological terms, one a** Violence: One character shoots another, there is a (told, not shown) fight in which eleven men are killed. It is mentioned that early prototypes of robots…

Zen and the Art of Faking It
Young Adult / October 3, 2016

Author: Jordan Sonnenblick. Summary: When eighth-grader San Lee moves to a new town and a new school for the umpteenth time, he doesn’t try to make new friends or be a loner or play cool. Instead he sits back and devises a plan to be totally different. When he accidentally answers too many questions in World History on Zen (only because he just had Ancient Religions two schools ago) all heads turn and San has his answer: he’s a Zen Master. And just when he thinks everyone (including the cute girl he can’t stop thinking about) is on to him, everyone believes him . . . in a major Zen way. My Thoughts: Silly, light-hearted, with a few morals tossed in for good measure. When San Lee is mistaken for a Zen Master, he decides to run with it – and despite the fact he’s a massive fake, this Zen thing is beginning to get to him. His approach to the problem was also interesting, not something you see a lot – a flagrant admittance of the fact that everybody tries to fit in. He was just going to choose where he fit in. Content Review: Sexual content: Boy thinks…