Tuesdays at the Castle
Middle Grade / Juvenile / December 22, 2016

Castle Glower #1. Author: Jessica Day George. Summary: Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie’s favorite days. That’s because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one-other than Celie, that is-takes the time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it’s up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle’s never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom. (Goodreads summary.) My Thoughts: A fun, whimsical read for both younger and older kids. Content Review: Sexual content: Some very minor flirting. A girl asks to see the prince’s bedroom, and another character is scandalized, but the girl explains she needs to see how the castle favors him. Language: None Violence: Soldier reports that a carriage was attacked – most of his men were shot down by arrows and one horse had to be put down. Two men try to imprison a girl, who pushes them down a flight of stairs. Girl breaks man’s nose by flinging her head back while he’s trying to…

The Safe-Keeper’s Secret
Young Adult / December 21, 2016

Safe-keepers #1. Author: Sharon Shinn. Summary: Damiana is safe-keeper in the small village of Tambleham. Neighbors and strangers alike come one by one, in secret, to tell her things they dare not share with anyone else, knowing that Damiana will keep then to herself. One late night, a mysterious visitor from the city arrives with an unusual secret for the Safe-Keeper—a newborn baby. Damiana, who is expecting her own child, agrees to take the foundling. She names him Reed and raises him side by side with her daughter, Fiona. As the years pass and the two children grow into teenagers, they must come to terms with who they are—and who they may be. (Goodreads summary) My Thoughts: A lovely little tale set in a quiet medieval-style village. Sharon Shinn develops an interesting premise here, with safe-keepers, truth-tellers, and dream-granters. It’s a quieter form of magic than many fantasies, more concerned with the psychology of the human mind, what it needs and how it would react to certain things. I really liked the story. It’s not a stunning, sweeping tale by any means; just a coming-of-age story about love, siblings, and truth. Content Review: Sexual content: Woman living alone is having…

The Girl From Everywhere
Young Adult / December 20, 2016

Girl From Everywhere #1. Author: Heidi Heilig. Summary: Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination. As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix. But the end to it all looms closer every day. Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence. For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters. She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love. Or she could disappear. (Published summary.) My Thoughts: Eh. I really liked the time-travel ship idea, but they didn’t spend a whole lot of the book time-traveling, and the plot was kind of a let down. Instead of adventures on the high seas of timey-wimy…

The Dream-Maker’s Magic
Young Adult / December 19, 2016

Safe-Keepers #3. Author: Sharon Shinn Summary: Kellen’s mother has always insisted that her only child was born male, not female—so Kellen has been raised as a boy. Then she is forced to go to school, where she meets Gryffin, whose mind is as strong as his legs are damaged, and the two become friends and allies. A few years later, the two get jobs working at a nearby inn, the Parmer Arms. When it is discovered that Gryffin is the kingdom’s new Dream-Maker—someone whose mere presence can help dreams come true—he is whisked away to the castle, leaving Kellen behind. By now, their friendship is shading into something more.Will it endure? (Published summary.) My Thoughts: A quiet, sweet romance with some interesting underlying motifs. I must say I especially liked the details Shinn put into the worldbuilding – such as the Wintermoon festival and all its mythology and connotations. Content Review: Sexual content: Gang of middle-school boys pull a girl’s clothes down to see if she’s really a girl (it’s ambiguous). Boy says he has to go somewhere else when his room’s ‘in use’ by people who were in the tavern. It’s non-explicit, but implied to older readers what they…

Con Academy
Young Adult / December 18, 2016

Author: Jo Schreiber. Summary: Will Shea is completing his senior year at one of the most elite prep schools on the continent. The catch? He doesn’t belong there – conning their way into things is a family specialty, and this is only Will’s latest exploit. It’s just bad luck that he picked this particular school, for it already has a resident con artist, Andrea, and she isn’t interested in sharing the school. In proper thieving tradition, the show-down will be a massive con – played on non other than Brandt, a billionaire’s heir and a student with power. But as they race to be the first to Brandt’s money, they’re not holding back on the tricks and twists. There can only be one con artist here… or will they mutually expose each other? My Thoughts: A short, kind of funny read. I wasn’t super impressed though; I never really liked either of the main characters, and the ending wasn’t very strong. Content Review: Sexual content: Character says boy sneaked camera into a girl’s room – posted pictures of her on facebook to humiliate her. Some kissing. Language: 3 scatological terms, 2 hell, 1 derogatory term Violence: One boy hits another…

Beastly Bones
Young Adult / December 17, 2016

Jackaby #2. Author: William Ritter. Summary: I’ve found very little about private detective R. F. Jackaby to be standard in the time I’ve known him. Working as his assistant tends to call for a somewhat flexible relationship with reality . . . In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, R. F. Jackaby, are called upon to investigate the supernatural. First, members of a particularly vicious species of shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens. A day later, their owner is found murdered, with a single mysterious puncture wound to her neck. Then, in nearby Gad’s Valley, dinosaur bones from a recent dig go missing, and an unidentifiable beast attacks animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind. Policeman Charlie Cane, exiled from New Fiddleham to the valley, calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer. (Published summary.) Content Review: Sexual content: One kiss Language: 4 d***, 1 derog Violence: Characters find dead bodies. They find carnage (blood and splinters) of what used to be animals. Find man badly wounded by monster…