Fridays with the Wizards
Middle Grade / Juvenile / January 12, 2017

Castle Glower #4. Author: Jessica Day George. Summary: After the complex and convoluted castle history was worked out in the last book, Celie and her friends are back in the castle safe and sound. It’s not happily ever after quite yet, though – not when the Arkower wizard breaks out and is running around on the loose! Celie needs to stop him, save her friends, and prove to her parents that she’s level-headed and mature, all while dealing with the blow of her sister’s impending marriage. My Thoughts: This is clearly an effort to combine a magical adventure with a more mundane struggle of growing up. It might work better for children in the age range intended, as they may sympathize with the character more. For myself, I found Celie grating on my nerves through the book, as she complains about not getting enough credit, shouts at her sister about abandoning them for the Grathians, and demands to be more involved with things. In other words, she lost the pleasing maturity she showed over the last few books. On the good side, it was fun to see more griffins. Content Review: Sexual content: One hug. One character asks for another’s…

The Demigod Files
Middle Grade / Juvenile / January 11, 2017

A Percy Jackson and the Olympians Guide. Author: Rick Riordan. Summary: How do you handle an encounter with Medusa on the New Jersey interstate? What’s the best way to take down a minotaur? Become an expert on everything in Percy’s world with this must-have guide to the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Complete with interviews, puzzles, games, and original short stories by Rick Riordan. My Thoughts: Some interesting backstory for the Heroes of Olympus (My name is Bob!) but overall the stories seemed random and unnecessary, with the quality being of a lower age-level than the books. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: None. Violence: Non-graphic. Ghosts/monsters are stabbed and disintegrated, one monster has his memory wiped clean, some buildings are blow up during a fight. Love Triangle: No.  

Beautiful Redemption
Young Adult / January 10, 2017

The Castor Chronicles #4. Author: Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl. Summary: Is death the end . . . or only the beginning? Ethan Wate has spent most of his life longing to escape the stiflingly small Southern town of Gatlin. He never thought he would meet the girl of his dreams, Lena Duchannes, who unveiled a secretive, powerful, and cursed side of Gatlin, hidden in plain sight. And he never could have expected that he would be forced to leave behind everyone and everything he cares about. So when Ethan awakes after the chilling events of the Eighteenth Moon, he has only one goal: to find a way to return to Lena and the ones he loves. Back in Gatlin, Lena is making her own bargains for Ethan’s return, vowing to do whatever it takes — even if that means trusting old enemies or risking the lives of the family and friends Ethan left to protect. (Goodreads summary) Content Review: Sexual content: Some kisses, flirting. Language: 4 scatological terms, 4 uses of hell, 2 derogatory names, 1 d*** Violence: One paranormal killed by sunlight, one killed by garden shears to the heart, one killed by fire, and one killed by having…

Beautiful Chaos
Young Adult / January 9, 2017

The Castor Chronicles #3. Author: Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl. Summary: Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena’s Claiming. Even Lena’s family of powerful Supernaturals is affected – and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What — or who — will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin? For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He’s being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn’t by Lena – and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself — forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn’t know why, and most days he’s too afraid to ask. Sometimes there isn’t just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there’s no going back. And this time there won’t be a happy ending. (Goodreads Summary) My…

Beautiful Darkness
Young Adult / January 8, 2017

The Castor Chronicles #2. Author: Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl. Summary: Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan’s eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there’s no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town’s tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems. My Thoughts: The first three-quarters of the book were just as bad as the first. The last quarter… well, it might have had something to do with how late the evening was getting. However, it was significantly more interesting and actually enjoyable. I’m also intrigued, wondering where the new developments will go, with the two changed to Light and the one new incubus. The magic edges close to Dark magic sometimes, which does not please me. After all, there’s the dark side. And there really doesn’t seem to be a religion at all. There is still a good chance I’ll continue with the series though, if only…

Beautiful Creatures
Young Adult / January 7, 2017

The Castor Chronicles #1. Author: Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl. Summary: Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever. Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them. In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything. (Goodreads Summary) My Thoughts: If you’ve ever wondered what paranormal romance is like, I think you can read this to get a feel as to what it’s all like. It manages to embody almost all the clichés. MC is stuck in a boring little town, plans to get out as soon as possible. Until a new kid moves in, of course – a gorgeous, strange new kid whom nobody else likes at all. Cue the insta-love….

Seriously Wicked
Young Adult / January 6, 2017

Seriously Wicked #1. Author: Tina Conolly. Summary: The only thing worse than being a witch is living with one. Camellia’s adopted mother wants Cam to grow up to be just like her. Problem is, Mom’s a seriously wicked witch. Cam’s used to stopping the witch’s crazy schemes for world domination. But when the witch summons a demon, he gets loose—and into Devon, the cute new boy at school. Now Cam’s suddenly got bigger problems than passing Algebra. Her friends are getting zombiefied. Their dragon is tired of hiding in the RV garage. For being a shy boy-band boy, Devon is sure kissing a bunch of girls. And a phoenix hidden in the school is going to explode on the night of the Halloween Dance. To stop the demon before he destroys Devon’s soul, Cam might have to try a spell of her own. But if she’s willing to work spells like the witch…will that mean she’s wicked too? (Goodreads summary). My Thoughts: Extremely quirky, fluffy read. It’s set in a fairly normal town, with an average highschool. Boybands, punk kids, arguments over prom – the works. But Cam’s home life is a little bit… different. It’s silly fluff, but honestly…

Wednesdays in the Tower
Middle Grade / Juvenile / January 6, 2017

Castle Glower #2. Author: Jessica Day George. Summary: Strange things are afoot in Castle Glower: new rooms, corridors, and even stables keep arriving, even when they aren’t needed. Celie’s brother Bran, the new Royal Wizard, has his hands full cataloguing an entire storeroom full of exotic and highly dangerous weapons, while Celie has her hands full . . . raising the creature that hatches from a giant egg she finds! Will they be able to find out what’s making the Castle behave this way in time? (Goodreads summary.) My Thoughts: Another light-hearted read for the younger kids – and now we get griffins! Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: None. Violence: Minor roughhousing with a griffin – he nips, but leaves no more than bruises.  

Stars Above
Young Adult / January 5, 2017

Lunar Chronicles: Extras. Author: Marissa Meyer. Summary: The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies? My Thoughts: Marissa Meyer allowed the setting to fade into the background this time, confident that her readers are familiar with it. The characters, however, are every bit as vivid as before. She delves into the past, revealing the history behind certain occurrences and relationships, then jumps forward once more with the last story. Overall they rounded the story out beautifully, but my one complaint was that one or two of the stories were quite disjointed, jumping into the past, than the future, than back to present – it was as though Meyer’s publishers decided to go ahead and publish all the extra bits of info she had. The Little Android alone was not related to the main stream of the series, but it was one of the more clearly-defined stories with its own sharp arc and bittersweet conclusion. And the wedding… the wedding managed to be…

The Thirteen Days of Christmas
Uncategorized / January 4, 2017

Author: Jenny Overton. Summary: Annaple Kitson dreams of romance and being swept off her feet, so her family hatch an elaborate plan to help her sweetheart, Francis Vere, win her hand in marriage. When Francis arrives on Christmas morning with a partridge in a pear tree, Annaple is delighted! But that is only the first day of Christmas… My Thoughts: An absolutely delightful romance short! The rich-man-sweeps-village-girl-off-her-feet plot has been done before, but Jenny Overton puts a new twist on it. Annaple isn’t impressed by Francis’ wealth and ships, but she is a die-hard romantic, and through the conspiracy of her siblings Francis begins a new courting tactic on Christmas day. Thence ensures chaos and confusion, as Francis completely revamps their home, filling it with romantic animals, hiring carpenters to add a romantic pool and stream, and going so far as to hire performers to arrive outside her door each morning. Annaple goes through delight, irritation, horror, and all the way back at her lover’s devotion. A perfectly clean read for the kids, and highly amusing. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: None. Violence: None.