Blackbringer
Young Adult / October 13, 2017

Faeries of Dreamdark #1. Author: Laini Taylor. Summary: When the ancient evil of the Blackbringer rises to unmake the world, only one determined faerie stands in its way. However, Magpie Windwitch, granddaughter of the West Wind, is not like other faeries. While her kind live in seclusion deep in the forests of Dreamdark, she’s devoted her life to tracking down and recapturing devils escaped from their ancient bottles, just as her hero, the legendary Bellatrix, did 25,000 years ago. With her faithful gang of crows, she travels the world fighting where others would choose to flee. But when a devil escapes from a bottle sealed by the ancient Djinn King himself, the creator of the world, she may be in over her head. How can a single faerie, even with the help of her friends, hope to defeat the impenetrable darkness of the Blackbringer? (Published Summary) My Thoughts: I was afraid from the cover that this would be a YA version of the Pixie Hollow stories, but was pleasantly surprised. They are still the tiny, pixie-ish version of faeries, not my personal favorite. And I don’t think the writing here was quite as lovely as Laini Taylor’s more recent stuff,…

Strange the Dreamer
Young Adult / August 10, 2017

Strange the Dreamer #1. Author: Laini Taylor. Summary: The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around–and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever. What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving? The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries–including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? and if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real? (Published summary) My Thoughts: There was a strange, awkward contrast in Strange the Dreamer for me. I…

Traitor to the Throne
Young Adult / May 18, 2017

Rebel of the Sands #2. Author: Alwyn Hamilton. Summary: Rebel by chance. Traitor by choice. Gunslinger Amani al’Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she’s fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne. When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan’s palace—she’s determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan’s secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she’s a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she’s been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland. Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about Djinn and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change. (Published Summary.) My Thoughts: I think this actually got better than the first book (although that might have been prejudice, because…

Ptolemy’s Gate
Young Adult / June 16, 2016

Bartimaeus #3. Author: Jonathan Stroud. Summary: Nathaniel is now an established member of the British government. Far from improving, his life is worse than ever, as he struggles with ever-mounting problems. Rebellion is fermenting at home, the war with the colonies is going badly, and mysterious attacks still plague the city. Bartimaeus is no better off. Kept in the earthly realm too long by his paranoid master, the djinn has lost much of his strength and cannot hold out much longer. They’re both going to need the help of Kitty and her knowledge to unite once more – long enough to save their country, at least. Content Review: Sexual content: Djinn appears as a naked ogre – in conversation, his summoner punishes him for impudence with a pulse of flame that “singes his private bits”. Some attraction between two characters. Language: 5 hell, 1 derogatory name. Violence: Two assassins accidentally stab each other. Djinn breaks the necks of two assassins attacking him. Policewoman killed by an electric stick. Djinn kills some men with flame. Character magically imprisons a djinn within a man’s body. Woman killed/eaten off screen by a djinn. Girl knocked unconscious by magic. Man is dissolved by a…

The Golem’s Eye
Young Adult / June 16, 2016

Bartimaeus #2. Author: Jonathan Stroud. Summary: At only fourteen, Nathaniel is a rising star: a young magician who is quickly climbing the ranks of the government. There is seemingly nothing he cannot handle, until he is asked to deal with the growing Resistance movement, which is disrupting London life with its thefts and raids. It’s no easy task: the ringleader Kitty and her friends remain elusive, and Nathaniel’s job-and perhaps his life-are soon at risk. As the pressure mounts, he is distracted by a new series of terrifying attacks in the capital. But is it the Resistance again, or something more dangerous still? To uncover the perpetrators, Nathanial must take desperate measures: a journey to the enemy city of Prague and-worse-summoning once again the troublesome, enigmatic, and quick – witted djinni Bartimaeus. (Summary from Goodreads.) My Thoughts: Nathaniel has gone downhill since the last time we saw him, caught up in the competitive and oblivious world of the magicians. Bartimaeus is just as humorous as ever, though, and we have a new character now, Kitty. Still good, still fast-paced, and I have a feeling the last book will make up for any deficiencies here. Content Review: Sexual content: Two djinni…

The Amulet of Samarkand
Young Adult / June 16, 2016

Bartimaeus #1. Author: Jonathan Stroud. Summary: Nathaniel is a boy dealing with many problems. As a magical apprentice, he was taken from his parents at five and given new magician caretakers. His teacher is cold and hard, and looks down on him; only the kindness of his wife makes it bearable. Publicily humiliated at age eleven, Nathaniel has been studying feverishly for a year and is ready to enact his revenge. First, he’ll summon a fourth-class djinni… Bartimaeus is a five-thousand year old djinni, and he knows that Nathaniel knows nothing of problems. Enslaved by one magician after another through the years, magically bound to carry out their bidding over anything else, all he wants is a bit of rest. Instead, an impudent twelve-year old has mastered the spells to control him, and now orders him to steal the Amulet of Samarkand. Bartimaeus knows exactly how much trouble they’re both plunging into… but what can he do? He’s only a djinni. My Thoughts: It took me a little while to warm up to the characters, neither of whom are particularly likeable. The first-person narrator has a particular knack for wry humor of a new sort, often building up a purple-prose…