September Monthly Roundup
Outside the Reviews / September 30, 2017

Hi there! So the biggest thing on the blog this month was joining the 2017 Discussion Challenge, eight months late. ‘Cause that’s how we roll around here. We only got two posts linked up, When Fandom Stands Alone and Are You a Book-Hoarder? which is 50% of the month’s goal. Whoops… maybe next month? ~ New Books ~ There were actually a number of 2017 books this month! The Last Magician and One of Us is Lying were both 3.5 to 4 star books, although very different from each other. The first is a time-traveling alternate history and the second sort of a high school thriller murder mystery. Sleeping Giants and Waking Gods (I don’t think Sleeping Giants was published in 2017, but you have to read it before the sequel, right?) both sounded interesting but were thick with sci-fi clichés. Finally, What To Say Next and Darkness of Dragons are both down near the bottom of the rating slide, although to be fair to What To Say Next I think that may have been a case of “It’s me not you”. It’s actually pretty good for a contemporary romance/highschool story. ~ Somewhat Older ~ I finished up the Finishing…

The Sioux Spaceman
Young Adult / September 22, 2017

Author: Andre Norton. Summary: Kade Whitehawk had two strikes against him in the Space Service. First, he had bungled his assignment on the planet Lodi. Second, he believed all creatures had a right to freedom and dignity – and having such opinions was strictly against the rules. But when he was assigned to Klor, he found the Ikkinni there – tortured yet defiant slaves of a vicious tyrant race. Right then Kade swung at the last pitch. For rules or no rules, THE SIOUX SPACEMAN knew that he had to help these strange creatures gain their freedom… and that he alone, because of his Indian blood, had the key to win it for them. (Published Summary) My Thoughts: I like Andre Norton, but this was definitely one of her meh stories. Ye normal humanoid aliens + fairly earthen-type planet, and a straight forward simplistic plot – maybe she felt like she had to spice it up a bit by playing around with the racial issues she did? I don’t know, but it seemed like an odd choice.

What To Say Next
Young Adult / September 21, 2017

Author: Julie Buxbaum. Summary: Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world. KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they?  I don’t even understand.   DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her. When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David.  Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth? My Thoughts: I don’t feel strongly about What To Say Next either way, and I’m…

Waking Gods
Adult / September 20, 2017

Themis Files #2. Author: Sylvain Neuvel. Summary: As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force. Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars. (Published Summary) My Thoughts: Um… wow. That was quite the blood-drenched roller-coaster ride. And basically anything I could say about it is highly spoilerrific, given that the entire plot is one of tension and uncertainty and waiting…

The Last Magician
Young Adult / September 18, 2017

Author: Lisa Maxwell. Summary: Stop the Magician. Steal the book. Save the future. In modern day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives. Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future. But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone…

Are You a Book Hoarder?
Outside the Reviews / September 16, 2017

Bernadette I’m not just a certified bookworm. I’m afraid I’m a bookwyrm, too. Which is just a nice way of saying book-hoarder. I can’t even say I’m letting you in on a secret, because honestly? All my friends and family know it. It’s hard to disguise an ever-growing collection of books as anything else, especially when it begins overflowing the bookshelf space and piling up across your room in stacks and mounds of paperbacks. In my defense, I pick up a lot of books at thriftstores and used book shops, and actually rarely buy a book new unless I’ve read it or am quite sure I’ll love it. I’ve seen many readers advocating minimalism. Only keep your absolute favorite books, the ones that absolutely deserve space in your home. Read, love, store that story away in your treasure-chest of memories, and pass the book on for someone else to enjoy. I actually agree with these sentiments. They’re wonderful ideas! They just… don’t work for me. For one thing, I have a librarian’s instinct. Every book deserves space in my home (well, a lot of them, anyway). A second factor is that even in this digital age, I am all for…

One of Us is Lying
Young Adult / September 14, 2017

Author: Karen M. McManus. Summary: Pay close attention and you might solve this. On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing. Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher. And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them. (Published Summary.) My Thoughts: A solidly three-star book. Nothing epic, too much sexual content, and honestly the ‘surprise’ ending didn’t startle me at all – but I did enjoy the care McManus put into building up each character. By opening the suspicion of…

Darkness of Dragons
Middle Grade / Juvenile / September 13, 2017

Review by Marietta. Wings of Fire #10. Author: Tui. T. Sutherland. Summary: Qibli knows Darkstalker must be stopped. And he knows he could stop him — if he had magic. With even a sliver of the ancient dragon’s all-powerful scroll, Qibli could rewrite history the right way: end war forever; make every dragon happy; perhaps even cast a very small spell so that everyone would like him . . . Instead, as Darkstalker’s dangerous influence spreads across Pyrrhia, entrancing or killing every dragon in the seven tribes, Qibli can only grasp the small animus objects he’s borrowed from Turtle. With some clever thinking, Qibli’s talons finally hold the power to make a difference. But prophecies are not easy to rewrite. Can Qibli be the magical force Pyrrhia needs, or will he be the one to bring Jade Mountain — and his family, his friends, his whole world — crashing down? (Published Summary) My Thoughts: 2.5 stars which I rounded up after a fierce deliberation. I’m so sick of being disappointed by books that I’ve really looked forward to. In general it wasn’t so bad – I would have liked a more epic ending, and maybe a little bit less of…

The White Mountains
Young Adult / September 9, 2017

Tripods #1. Author: John Christopher. Summary: Long Ago, The Tripods — huge, three-legged machines — descended upon Earth and took control. People no longer understand automation nor machines, and unquestioningly accept the Tripods’ power.But for a time in each person’s life — in childhood — he is not a slave. Will still has time to escape. My Thoughts: The White Mountains is an older sci-fi that I’ve been meaning to get my hands on for a while now, and… well, I’m not sure what I was expecting, so it couldn’t disappoint expectations. No, that’s not quite true. It’s a simpler story than I expected. Simpler in a couple of ways. First: the first book is a very straight-forward dystopian journey. ​All revelations on the tripods are saved for the next book (which I haven’t read yet), and there’s minimum but satisfactory world-building and development of the mind-control theme. I think one recent trend I’ve grown unconsciously used to is the “save the world” dystopian story, and The White Mountains is far too practical for that. Three boys, trying to survive. That’s it. Not a bad thing at all, mind you; I rather like it, it just took me by surprise…

The Crown’s Game
Young Adult / September 8, 2017

Crown’s Game #2. Author: Evelyn Skye. Summary: Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side. And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know.  The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death. Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has? For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her. And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or…