The Assassin Game
Young Adult / December 31, 2016

Author: Kirsty McKay. Summary: Who will be left after lights out? Tag, you’re it… It’s 4:00 a.m. when they come for me. I am already awake, strung out on the fear that they will come, and the fear that they won’t. When I finally hear the click of the latch on the dormitory door, I have only a second to brace myself before— At Cate’s isolated boarding school, Killer is more than a game—it’s an elite secret society. Members must avoid being “Killed” during a series of thrilling pranks, and only the Game Master knows who the “Killer” is. When Cate’s finally invited to join the Assassins’ Guild, she know it’s her ticket to finally feeling like she belongs. But when the game becomes all too real, the school threatens to shut it down. Cate will do anything to keep playing and save the Guild. But can she find the real assassin before she’s the next target? (Published summary.) My Thoughts: Despite the death, much less of a thriller than I expected. Somewhat disappointed. Content Review: Sexual content: Boy strips naked (in front of other students) to go swimming. Video of boy/girl kissing released. Some innuendo. Language: 9 d***, 6…

Thirteen Reasons Why
Young Adult / December 30, 2016

Author: Jay Asher Summary: You can’t stop the future. You can’t rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play. Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever. (Published summary.) My Thoughts: I didn’t like this book at all. It’s obviously not meant to be an easy read, but a painful, thought-provoking book – I certainly found it painful, but not so much thought-provoking in the right ways. I would agree with those (numerous) fellow readers who thought it glamorizes suicide in a certain way, through the implicit changes wrought by the end, and moreover gives a…

Young Adult / December 29, 2016

Old Kingdom #3. Author: Garth Nix. Summary: Only Lirael, newly come into her inheritance as the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, has any chance of stopping the Destroyer. She and her companions — Sam, the Disreputable Dog, and Mogget — have to take that chance. For the Destroyer is the enemy of all Life, and it must be stopped, though Lirael does not know how. To make matters worse, Sam’s best friend, Nick, is helping the Destroyer, as are the necromancer Hedge and the Greater Dead Chlorr, and there has been no word from the Abhorsen Sabriel or King Touchstone. Everything depends upon Lirael. A heavy, perhaps even impossible burden for a young woman who just days ago was merely a Second Assistant Librarian. With only a vision from the Clayr to guide her, and the rather mixed help of her companions, Lirael must search in both Life and Death for some means to defeat the Destroyer. Before it is too late… (Goodreads summary) My Thoughts: I really, really liked this book. Lovely, intriguing characters, some of the mystery finally cleared up, and a stunning ending. The ending was over shorter than I would have liked, but characteristic of his style and still delightful….

Rebel of the Sands
Young Adult / December 29, 2016

Rebel of the Sands #1. Author: Alwyn Hamilton. Summary: She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands. Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from. Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him… or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is. (Goodreads summary) My Thoughts: A fun, fast-paced fantasy read that felt just a little hollow. I think it wanted to be layered and deep, wanted to have that perfect turn of phrase and the…

Court of Fives
Young Adult / December 28, 2016

Court of Fives #1. Author: Kate Elliot. Summary: On the Fives court, everyone is equal. And everyone is dangerous. Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family, she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for the Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an improbable friendship between the two Fives competitors—one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy—causes heads to turn. When Kal’s powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test her new friend’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death. (Published summary.) My Thoughts: Eh. Nothing in particular wrong with it, but it was just a fairly mediocre read. We’ve got a rather nebulous setting – it seems loosely egyptian-based and has various world-building facts, but I never got a strong over-all sense of the world they live in – we’ve got a few vague hints at magic (right at the end, completely unexplained), and we have…

Young Adult / December 27, 2016

Splintered: Extras. Author: A.G. Howard Summary: Alyssa Gardner went down the rabbit hole and took control of her destiny. She survived the battle for Wonderland and the battle for her heart. In this collection of three novellas, join Alyssa and her family as they look back at their memories of Wonderland. Content Review: Sexual content: Man stares indecently at girl, tries to force himself on her. Girl remembers boy forcing a kiss on her. Girl looks forward to her wedding night. Her betrothed comes into her changing room while she’s only wearing underthings. Wife mentions playing strip-chess with her husband. One birth. Some kissing. Fairies mentioned in past Splintered reviews. Two newly-weds consummate their marriage, no description, just a single sentence. Some kissing, and some verbal innuendo. Language: 4 bloody, 4 hell, 1 d***, 1 scatological term. Violence: One practice sword fight. Girl remembers boy forced a kiss on her, she bit off the tip of his tongue and broke his thumb. Character lifts girl by neck. Spiders choke a man, he stumbles backward and out a window. Boy is transformed into a monkey by poison. Character catches a tiny fairy, questions her using the nearness of iron, which is…

Young Adult / December 26, 2016

Splintered #3. Author: A.G. Howard. Summary: After surviving a disastrous battle at prom, Alyssa has embraced her madness and gained perspective. She’s determined to rescue her two worlds and the people and netherlings she loves. Even if it means challenging Queen Red to a final battle of wills and wiles . . . and even if the only way to Wonderland, now that the rabbit hole is closed, is through the looking-glass world–a parallel dimension filled with mutated and violent netherling outcasts. My Thoughts: I have major problems with the ending here. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. A.G. Howard has taken would could be a wonderful premise, woven it completely around the tension of a love triangle, and finally… completely failed to resolve this plot in any meaningful way. Content Review: Sexual content: Afore mentioned fairies. Girl in what is – basically – a bikini, has clothes painted on her by a boy. Two characters lie on ground together kissing. Two characters’ clothes dissolve, having been originally made of paint, and they are left in nothing more than underclothing. They end up kissing each other in this state. One completely confusing incident where a boy sends…

Young Adult / December 25, 2016

Splintered #2. Author: A.G. Howard. Summary: Alyssa Gardner triumphed over her trials in fairyland and made her way back to the human world. Now she’s ready to stay there, with the boy who’s earned her trust and the mother she barely knows yet. But when Morpheus shows up, everything goes wrong. Alyssa’s forced to keep him off, try to open herself to Jeb, explain herself to her mother, all while maintaining appearances at school despite dangerous signs appearing everywhere. And that’s not even counting her struggle to keep her dark-netherling half down. Can Alyssa do it? Will she be forced to abandon the human world once again for the world in which she is a dangerous queen… and worse yet, will she leave her human half behind? Content Review: Sexual content: Girlfriend thinks briefly about the fact that she’s a virgin, while she knows her boyfriend lost his virginity at 16. Boy brings girl to a secluded, romantically decorated spot and she wonders if he wants to “bring their relationship to the next step”. One character often uses innuendo, mostly teasing. Girl gets excited because she thinks her friend spent the night with her boyfriend (didn’t). Two occasions were girl/boy…

Young Adult / December 24, 2016

Author: Victoria Laurie. Summary: Maddie Fynn is a shy high school junior, cursed with an eerie intuitive ability: she sees a series of unique digits hovering above the foreheads of each person she encounters. Her earliest memories are marked by these numbers, but it takes her father’s premature death for Maddie and her family to realize that these mysterious digits are actually death dates, and just like birthdays, everyone has one. Forced by her alcoholic mother to use her ability to make extra money, Maddie identifies the quickly approaching death date of one client’s young son, but because her ability only allows her to see the when and not the how, she’s unable to offer any more insight. When the boy goes missing on that exact date, law enforcement turns to Maddie. Soon, Maddie is entangled in a homicide investigation, and more young people disappear and are later found murdered. A suspect for the investigation, a target for the murderer, and attracting the attentions of a mysterious young admirer who may be connected to it all, Maddie’s whole existence is about to be turned upside down. Can she right things before it’s too late? (Published Summary) Content Review: Sexual content:…

A World Without You
Young Adult / December 23, 2016

Author: Beth Revis. Summary: What if finding her means losing himself? Seventeen-year-old Bo has always had delusions that he can travel through time. When he was ten, Bo claimed to have witnessed the Titanic hit an iceberg, and at fifteen, he found himself on a Civil War battlefield, horrified by the bodies surrounding him. So when his worried parents send him to a school for troubled youth, Bo assumes he knows the truth: that he’s actually attending Berkshire Academy, a school for kids who, like Bo, have “superpowers.” At Berkshire, Bo falls in love with Sofía, a quiet girl with a tragic past and the superpower of invisibility. Soíia helps Bo open up in a way he never has before. In turn, Bo provides comfort to Sofía, who lost her mother and two sisters at a very young age. But even the strength of their love isn’t enough to help Sofia escape her deep depression. After she commits suicide, Bo is convinced that she’s not actually dead. He believes that she’s stuck somewhere in time—that he somehow left her in the past, and that now it’s his job to save her. And as Bo becomes more and more determined to save…