Firstlife
Young Adult / February 19, 2017

Everlife #1. Author: Gena Showalter. Summary: Tenley “Ten” Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live—after she dies. There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death. In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, longtime enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms who will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she’s drawn to isn’t home to the boy she’s falling for? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision… My Thoughts: The concept was good. It had all the components for a metaphor. Firstlife is only a preparation for death, when we enter the everlife… where millennium will be spent on one side or the other….

Three Dark Crowns
Young Adult / February 17, 2017

Three Dark Crowns #1. Author: Kendare Blake. Summary:  When kingdom come, there will be one. In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions. But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown. (Goodreads summary) Content Review: Sexual Content: “They will think with their hearts.” “It would be just as well if they thought with what is between their legs.” Some kissing. Character set to training queen in seduction – forbidden to bed her, although he complains about not “being able to teach her bedroom skills”….

Variant
Young Adult / February 16, 2017

Author: Robinson Wells. Summary: Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life. He was wrong. Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive. Where breaking the rules equals death. But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape—his only real hope for survival—may be impossible. (Published summary) My Thoughts: Eh. A lot of set up, a lot of questions raised – but almost none of them are answered by the end of the book. All the characters are wondering what the heck’s going on for most of the story and so is the reader, but nobody has figured out. A cliffhanger is one thing; Variant felt like the first half of a book. Tying into that, most of the characters feel underdeveloped. We don’t get a lot of backstory for any of them, nor understand why they do what they do. Content Review: Sexual…

Scythe
Young Adult / February 15, 2017

Arc of a Scythe #1. Author: Neal Shusterman. Summary:  Thou shalt kill. A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control. Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own. (Goodreads summary) My Thoughts: Scythe was interesting, but it didn’t live up to the standards I’d been expecting. The concept was novel: a world so advanced that death has been virtually eliminated, and mankind has taken that role upon themselves. Our two main characters, a boy and a girl, provide contrasting arcs as they are sent down very different training paths, one under an abusive, unethical master and the other under one of the ‘good scythes’. However, because this is Neal Shusterman, I was expecting a heavier emphasis on the practical and ethical results of the worldbuilding, and possibly more unexpected twists. Instead, I got…

Greenglass House
Middle Grade / Juvenile / February 14, 2017

Greenglass House #1. Author: Kate Milford. Summary: It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House-and themselves. (Goodreads summary) My Thoughts: Greenglass House was lying around the house when I picked it up, and I didn’t realize it was middle grade at first (a good sign), not because of adult content but because the writing style was actually interesting and non-condescending. Our two main characters, Milo and Meddy, start investigating a seemingly minor mystery just to pass the time – but the further they go, the more tangled it gets, and the events at the house only add to it. As more questions are raised, their quest…

Blood for Blood
Young Adult / February 13, 2017

Wolf by Wolf #2. Author: Ryan Graudin. Summary: There would be blood. Blood for blood. Blood to pay. An entire world of it. For the resistance in the Third Reich, the war may be over, but the fight has just begun. Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run: the world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against Hitler’s army, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost. But in the midst of the chaos, Yael’s past and future collide when she comes face to face with a ghost from her past, and a spark with a fellow rider begins to grow into something more. Dark secrets reveal dark truths and one question hangs over them all—how far can you go for the ones you love? (Goodreads summary) My Thoughts: Certainly a very different book from the first. Still a good read (but intense. Be warned, there are scenes of war). Content Review:…

Dune
Adult / February 9, 2017

Dune #1. Author: Frank Herbert. Summary: Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib. He would avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family–and would bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream. (Summary from amazon) My Thoughts: There’s a reason this is considered classic sci-fi. While it’s perhaps not as fast-paced as more recent books, Dune is a very political book – you have to enjoy the worldbuilding, the careful cycles and delicate balances of power that Frank Herbert has set up. Content Review: Sexual Content Man and wife plan together for the woman to seduce a different, younger, man and carry his child. “I will watch while you, with your own hands, kill all the women in the pleasure-wing.” Baron orders guard to drug young, male slave he bought and bring him to the baron’s sleeping chambers. One of the characters is a bound concubine, rather than wife to the man, even though he loves her and takes no other (because of social order problems). Language: 24 d*** Violence: Woman is stabbed in back, in her dying throes when found. Man…

Learning To Swear In America
Young Adult / February 8, 2017

Author: Katie Kennedy. Summary: An asteroid is hurtling towards Earth, and the fate of cities hangs on the performance of a select group of scientists at NASA. One of them is 17, Russian, and aiming for a Nobel Prize. Yuri’s on loan from Russia for this emergency, but the physicist prodigy is finding the Americans unwilling to make full use of his abilities – they don’t believe he knows what he’s talking about when he declares anti-matter is the only way to destroy the asteroid. Along the way of convincing them, he falls in with Dovie, a normal(ish) teenager who may be able to teach him what being a teen can be like. My Thoughts: I enjoyed the humor and the fairly layered characters, but the main character (Yuri) being something of an idiot didn’t endear him to me. He’s supremely self-confident; never really listens to anyone’s thoughts or opinions before changing important coding, sneaking looks at top-secret information he thinks he needs, or playing hooky to hang out with a girl instead of figuring out how to save Earth. I understand that he’s just a teenager, but the fate of cities is (apparently) swinging around him and his team,…

Replica
Young Adult / February 7, 2017

Replica #1. Author: Lauren Oliver. Summary: Lyra From a distance, the Haven Institute, tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida, looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, it is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed. But when a surprise attack is launched on Haven, two of its young experimental subjects—Lyra, or 24, and the boy known only as 72—manage to escape. As they make their way through a new and menacing environment, they meet a stranger named Gemma, who has embarked on a perilous quest of her own. And as Lyra tries to understand Haven’s purpose, she uncovers earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls. Gemma Gemma has been in and out of hospitals her whole life. A sickly child, she has grown into a lonely adolescent whose life is circumscribed by home, school, and her best friend, April. But after she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family’s past and discovers her father’s mysterious connection to the secretive…

Terrier
Young Adult / February 6, 2017

The Legend of Beka Cooper #1. Author: Tamora Pierce. Summary: Beka Cooper is a rookie with the law-enforcing Provost’s Guard, commonly known as “the Provost’s Dogs,” in Corus, the capital city of Tortall. She’s assigned to work with Mattes and Clary, famed veterans among the Provost’s Dogs. They’re tough, they’re capable, and they’re none too happy about the indignity of being saddled with a puppy for the first time in years. Beka learns of someone in the Lower City who has overturned the power structure of the underworld and is terrorizing its citizens into submission and silence. Beka’s magical listening talent is the only way for the Provost’s Dogs to find out the identity of this brutal new underlord, for the dead are beyond fear. And the ranks of the dead will be growing if the Dogs can’t stop a crime wave the likes of which has never been seen. Luckily for the people of the Lower City, the new puppy is a true terrier! (Goodreads summary) My Thoughts: I really liked the main character, who was strong, realistic, and well-rounded, although she had just a hint of over-powering because she was so good at her work so fast. I…