Alanna: The First Adventure
Young Adult / July 21, 2016

Song of the Lioness #1. Author: Tamora Pierce. Summary: From now on I’m Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I’ll be a knight. And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Though a girl, Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Thom heads for the convent to learn magic; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page. But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must also learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies. My Thoughts: This reads like a book aimed at a slightly younger age group than YA, (but she may get older over the series?) but still enjoyable. Alanna is a strong, determined character younger girls will enjoy championing, the flip-side of the classic squire’s story. Content Review: Sexual content: Character has periods for the first time, notices breasts for the first time. While talking to healer about…

Across a Star-swept Sea
Young Adult / July 20, 2016

Author: Diana Peterfreund. Summary: Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy. On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever. Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it…

Young Adult / July 19, 2016

Crewel world #1. Author: Gennifer Albin. Summary: Incapable. Awkward. Artless. That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: She wants to fail. Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen to work the looms is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to manipulate the very fabric of reality. But if controlling what people eat, where they live, and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested. Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and used her hidden talent for a moment. Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her dad’s jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape. Because tonight, they’ll come for her. My Thoughts: This should have been a good read. It really, really should have. Spinners who weave time and space to create their reality… a girl…

Young Adult / July 14, 2016

The Leviathan Trilogy #1. Author: Scott Westerfeld. Summary: An alternate-world retelling of the beginning of World War I. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans rely on steam-driven iron machines known as Clankers. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weapons. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most powerful beast in the British fleet. My Thoughts: I enjoyed it. It’s a little slower-paced than some, but this wasn’t a problem for me. The atmosphere is clean steampunk. Both protagonists are interesting – one a midshipman on the Leviathan, a position she’s dreamed off; the other a nobleman’s son, who doesn’t quite understand the powerful forces around him, but he’s climbing rapidly out of childish innocence of the war. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: No colloquially recognized language – scattered instances of made up words recognizable as counterparts, e.g. clank, diddle, sparks. Violence: A number of airplanes are shredded by fletchetts, a flock of bats is killed by a plane, there is a sword fight and one of the fighters is killed.  

Young Adult / July 8, 2016

Monster Blood Tattoo #1. Author: D. M. Cornish. Summary: Set in the world of the Half-Continent—a land of tri-corner hats and flintlock pistols—the Monster Blood Tattoo trilogy is a world of predatory monsters, chemical potions and surgically altered people. Foundling begins the journey of Rossamund, a boy with a girl’s name, who is just about to begin a dangerous life in the service of the Emperor. What starts as a simple journey is threatened by encounters with monsters—and people, who may be worse. Learning who to trust and who to fear is neither easy nor without its perils, and Rossamund must choose his path carefully. (Published summary.) Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: None. Violence: Bully beats up younger boy. Giant is killed by woman. Man is killed by small monsters, woman nearly killed but ends by killing most of them. Boy is kidnapped and tied up.

Days of Blood and Starlight
Young Adult / June 30, 2016

Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2. Author: Laini Taylor. Summary: Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war. This is not that world. Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it. In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life. While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope. But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream? (Published summary.) My Thoughts: I think at some basic level it’s the prose that makes this such a…

Free To Fall
Young Adult / June 28, 2016

Author: Lauren Miller. Summary: Sixteen-year-old Rory Vaughn is motivated, happy, and successful. She’s been accepted to the most prestigious school in the country, and she’s the envy of her classmates. But none of them know her secret: that she hears the Doubt, the small inner voice, aka auditory hallucination, that can herald madness. When she meets a handsome boy in town who also hears the Doubt, and listens to it instead of using Lux, the decision-making app that directs everyone’s lives, Rory’s viewpoint begins to change. There’s something strange going on here, and she’ll have to question everything she ever knew to get to the bottom of it. My Thoughts: The world Lauren Miller creates is clever and believable; with the current trends, it’s all too easy to imagine an app that millions depend on for every decision. But except for the two main characters, none of the characters are very rounded or have strong personalities. I found it interesting, but not overly amazing. Content Review: Sexual content: “Rory, look at that sky. This is a photographer’s wet dream.” Some kissing. Character finds out her mother’s husband wasn’t her (first character) father. Girl starts to undo her boyfriend’s jeans, but…

Young Adult / June 28, 2016

Author: Gail Carson Levine. Summary: Olus is the young god of winds. He has no play-mates among the immortals, being the only child right now, and he wishes to live with humans. Kezi doesn’t believe in him – she believes in the one God, and she has only a month to live before she is to be sacrificed to him. When she and Olus cross paths their journey will begin, from her belief in Olus’s divinity to his longing for her love, ending only when they have settled their fate, either to be together for eternity or die separated. My Thoughts: Compared to Gail Carson Levine’s excellent track record, this was a great disappointment. The prose was short, simple, and quickly tiresome; the characters were under-developed and under-likable, and trials Olus had to undergo, what ought to have been one of the high-tension parts of the book, were a letdown. Moreover, her theological questioning was odd and strangely weighted. Content Review: Sexual content: A kiss. Male slaves wear only loincloths. Language: None. Violence: A lamb is sacrificed. Man knocked out by blow to head. Immortal lets itself be ‘sacrificed’.  

See How They Run
Young Adult / June 23, 2016

Embassy Row #2. Author: Ally Carter. Summary: For the past three years, Grace Blakely has been desperate to find out the truth about her mother’s murder. She thought it would bring her peace. She thought it would lead her to answers. She thought she could put the past to rest. But the truth has only made her a target. And the past? The only way to put the past to rest is for Grace to kill it once and for all. On Embassy Row, power can make you a victor or a victim; love can turn you into a fool or a fugitive; and family can lead you forward or bury you deep. Trust is a luxury. Death is a very real threat. And a girl like Grace must be very careful about which secrets she brings to light. (Published summary.) My Thoughts: Ally Carter maintains a tense atmosphere and well-written characters, but I found this book less engaging than the first. Grace still makes sense as a character, but being in her head with her constant intense emotion began to be overwhelming. More, it seemed to me that there was genuinely less action this time. Grace is an passionate…

This Is Where It Ends
Young Adult / June 23, 2016

Author: Marieke Nijkamp. Summary: 10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity High School finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve. 10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class. 10:03 a.m. The auditorium doors won’t open. 10:05 a.m. Someone starts shooting. Told from four different perspectives over the span of fifty-four harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival. (Publisher’s summary.) My Thoughts: This could have been an amazing book. It wasn’t. Despite the frequent flashbacks from different points of view, which both confused me as to who had what sad backstory and also slowed the action down greatly, none of the characters became sharply defined in my mind. I had trouble keeping track of whose pov I was in at the time, and what sort of backstory they had with the shooter, because they often seemed similar. The shooter’s backstory was explored a little through the other characters, but his real motivation and phsychology was never brought out – at least I hope so. The other option is that the meager information we got was…