Magic Steps
Young Adult / April 30, 2017

The Circle Opens #1. Author: Tamora Pierce. Summary: While caring for her uncle in Summersea, Lady Sandrilene Fa Toren witnesses a boy working a most unusual spell. Pasco can dance magic, but he wants nothing to do with his powers. It’s up to Sandry to teach him about his magic–and to convince him he can use it to get to the bottom of a series of gruesome murders. Content Review: Sexual content: Character thinks it would be good for another character if he fell in love again. Language: There are only a few odd uses such as ‘cat dirt’ and ‘rat turd’. Violence: Heavy. Second hand story of three people strangled. Body is found severely hacked and the head cut off. Character learns that an entire family was murdered. Horses are crippled with cuts to the hock (and belly). Character is attacked, head cut off. Street brawl. Baby murdered with a knife, and a little girl, and a man. Woman run through with knife. A healer beheaded and her assistant killed. Three characters with unmagic running through them are torn apart when the unmagic is called out, and ‘explode’.

Living Dead Girl
Young Adult / April 29, 2017

Author: Elizabeth Scott. Summary:  Once upon a time, I was a little girl who disappeared. Once upon a time, my name was not Alice. Once upon a time, I didn’t know how lucky I was. When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends — her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over. Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her. This is Alice’s story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget. (Published summary). My Thoughts: My own feelings are somewhat mixed. The first person narrative was well-done, pulling us into Alice’s life of monotony and fear: the repetition creates a feeling of inevitability and her often-unemotional descriptions show the reader how she’s been damaged and broken. If the purpose is to draw attention to a specific type of child abuse, this is an amazing work. (But otherwise, truth be told,…

Bloodhound
Young Adult / April 28, 2017

Beka Cooper #2. Author: Tamora Pierce. Summary: Beka Cooper is no longer a Puppy. She’s a Dog now – a full-fledged member of the Provost’s Guard, which keeps the peace in Corus’s streets. Even her magic isn’t very useful when unrest comes to Tortall’s capital in the form of counterfeit coins, which turn up in shops all over the city. Merchants raise prices to cover their losses, and with winter coming on, hikes in food and fuel costs could spell disaster – most of all for the city’s poor. The Dogs discover that gamblers are bringing the counterfeits from Port Caynn – and that the Port Caynn Dogs don’t seem to be doing anything about it. Beka and her mentor, Clary Goodwin, are chosen to go undercover in Port Caynn and find out what they can. And wherever Beka goes, so do some of her animals. Departing from Corus with her are the scent hound Achoo, who has been newly assigned to Beka, and the pigeon Slapper, who carries the voices of the dead. My Thoughts: If she had used a more Christian view of chastity, it would have been an awesome book. A strong, independent, likable main character, who…

Trickster’s Queen
Young Adult / April 27, 2017

Daughter of the Lioness #2. Author: Tamora Pierce. Summary: From daughter of the powerful to slave in a foreign land, Aly is also a pivotal leader in the underground movement to put a new queen on the throne. Witty, intelligent, and a talented spy, Aly is used to staying two steps ahead of the action. But with new adversaries – and a faltering romance – Aly is blind to the threat that lurks right under her nose. What will happen if the queen-to-be is lost? Content Review: Language: 2 derogatory terms Sexual content: Crow-man expresses desire to mate. Girl walks in on a healer dressing a man’s bruises with the man’s shirt off – teases him as she delivers message. Several kissing scenes. Parents question whether daughter “bedded that man” (she didn’t.) One instance of sexual intercourse. Violence: Mention of hangings. Young boy drowned in a storm. People beaten back by soldiers, near-riot. Poisoned guards, mention of mages killed, ships burnt. Men left naked in the jungle.

Deep Wizardry
Young Adult / April 26, 2017

Young Wizards #2. Author: Diane Duane. Summary: It all begins one summer night at a Long Island beach, when thirteen-year old Nita is nudged by a friendly dolphin and summoned to the aid of a wounded whale. Using their wizard powers, Nita and her sidekick, Kit, walk on the moonlit water to a distant sandbar, and there find S’reee, a whale-wizard who has been attacked by sharks. Content Review: Sexual content: Due to shapeshifting, the two end up on the beach naked once – they dress immediately. Nita’s parents suspect her and Kit of sleeping together due to the inordinate amount of time they spend together away from home, but the suspicion turns out to be unfounded. Language: 2 crap, one exclamation of ‘my God’, one d*** Violence: Shark attack, Kraken attack, killing said kraken, attack by a giant sea-serpent evil power. Other Issues: The main character plans to willingly give up her life directly. Essentially commit suicide. (To save many people.) Personal Thoughts: Fun! Not even completely fluff, with all its reflections on life, good and evil and the sort.

High Wizardry
Young Adult / April 25, 2017

Young Wizards #3. Author: Diane Duane. Summary: Young wizards Nita and Kit have a new problem: Nita’s sister. Dairine is too smart to be Nita’s little sister; she’s too smart, period. So, when the new family computer clones itself and suggests that Dairine go into New York, Nita and Kit find themselves acting as escorts. Somewhere in the Museum of Natural History, near the ladies room, there is a door. It doesn’t lead where it’s supposed to, it leads into outer space. (Goodreads Summary.) Content Review: Sexual content: Passing mention of Nita having gotten her first bra, developing, and having temporarily high levels of power from hormonal surge. Language: 2 scatological terms, 1 damnable Violence: One alien is destroyed, girl is chased across a dozen worlds by aliens, spoken fight with the Lone Power.

Confessions of Super Mom
Adult / April 24, 2017

Author: Melanie Lynne Hauser. Summary: Divorced mother of two Birdie Lee is no one special – she works at the checkout of her local grocery store and is secretary at the local PDA group of moms. But the day she mixes all her cleaning chemicals in a single bottle to attack a stubborn stain, everything changes. Birdie passes out from the fumes, and when she wakes up she’s different. She can clean messes in an instant, sense danger – such as the toddler on the edge of the road or the car of teenagers speeding past without seatbelts – and when wielded properly her voice can induce Super Time Out. And it’s a good thing she’s a super hero now, because there’s a new corporation in town, and it’s up to no good. Content Review: Sexual content: Character comments on a television’s physical/attractive appearance. One character admires parts of another’s physique while walking behind her. Mother worries that her daughter is having sex with her boyfriend. Multiple kisses. Character remembers a specific boyfriend whom she slept with as a teenager. Two adult characters engage in sexual intercourse together several times. Newspapers speculate that a mysterious figure could be a ‘pervert’,…

A Confusion of Princes
Young Adult / April 23, 2017

Author: Garth Nix. Summary: Taken from his parents as a child and equipped with biological and technological improvements, Khemri is now an enhanced human being, trained and prepared for the glory of becoming a Prince of the Empire. Not to mention the ultimate glory: should he die, and be deemed worthy, he will be reborn…Which is just as well, because no sooner has Prince Khemri graduated to full Princehood than he learns the terrible truth behind the Empire: there are ten million princes, and all of them want each other dead. (Published summary.) Content Review: Sexual content: Courtesans mentioned, as well as the fact that the princes can sleep with various women for enjoyment. One instance of sexual intercourse (main character). Language: d*** Violence: Several assassination attempts, one duel, attack by pirates.

Cold Fire
Young Adult / April 22, 2017

The Circle Opens #3. Author: Tamora Pierce. Summary: Daja and Frostpine expect to have a peaceful winter’s visit with old friends in Kugisko, a port in the vast empire of Namon. But there is no peace when mysterious fires begin to blaze across the vulnerable city. Daja assists Bennat Ladradun, a local firefighter with a tragic past, to fight the flames. The two become fast friends-until they realize the fires have been deliberately set, and their relationship is deeply tested. Daja’s magic helps her track down the firestarter, but no magic can protect her or Ben from the effects of madness and betrayal. My Thoughts: Not as good as the others. Her students are more spread out with less contact, and the mad man is unsettling. Content Review: Sexual content: Woman says that showing magical talent will improve a girl’s marriage prospects. Man decides he’s in love with girl. Woman falsely accuses younger mage of “bedding her teacher”. Language: None. Violence: Multiple fires are set. One beggar woman burned to death and one firefighter killed by smoke in one, eight innocent people killed in another. One man is executed by burning to death, because of the strong flame it ends…

Before I Fall
Young Adult / April 21, 2017

Author: Lauren Oliver. Summary: For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—”Cupid Day”—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night. However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined. (Goodreads Summary) My Thoughts: The concept was brilliant. Sam relives her death for seven days in a sort of last-ditch salvation from above, coming to a completely new understanding of the world. Not in a preachy moralistic way, but a kicking-the-heels-and-screaming-as-she’s-dragged-into-it way, as she relives her day all the different ways you might imagine a teenage girl would when she realizes there’ll be no consequences. The execution of the concept was horrible. I came so, so close to not-finishing, and I can’t honestly recommend the book despite the concept. The MC starts out a nasty bully in a run-down highschool practically designed to create people like her, filled with drugs and smoking…