Apex
Young Adult / October 21, 2017

Hunter #3. Author: Mercedes Lackey. Summary: Being a member of the Elite Hunter Command imperils Joy in more ways than one. In their latest clash with Othersiders, the army of monsters nearly wiped them out. Apex City is safe . . . for now. But within the city barriers, Joy must wage a different kind of war. The corrupt and powerful PsiCorps is determined to usurp the Hunters as chief defenders of Apex City and Joy is now squarely in their crosshairs. Unused to playing political games, she has very few people she can truly trust—not even Josh, her first friend in Apex City, who broke up with her when it became too dangerous for a Psimon to be dating a Hunter. Then Josh comes to Joy for help. He fears that Abigail Drift, the head of PsiCorps, will soon use him in her twisted experiments designed to empower PsiCorps and render Hunters superfluous—a scheme that’s already killed off dozens of Psimons. Joy manages to smuggle Josh to safety, but he cannot evade Drift forever . . . As Joy faces ever more powerful Othersiders, she is helped by the most surprising ally imaginable—the same Folk Mage she once met…

The Invisible Library
Adult / October 19, 2017

Invisible Library #1. Author: Genevieve Cogman. Summary: Irene must be at the top of her game or she’ll be off the case – permanently… Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book. Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own. Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake. (Published Summary) My Thoughts: I maintain that The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson proves that a book can actually live up to and beyond an epic premise. Well, The Invisible Library proves that a book can have a spectacular premise – the premise of that fascinating, thoughtful, epic-and-yet-amusing book you’re always wishing you could…

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,…

The Serial Garden
Middle Grade / Juvenile / October 11, 2017

Author: Joan Aiken. Summary: The complete collection of twenty-four charming and magical Armitage family stories. Includes a prelude by the author and introductions from Garth Nix and Lizza Aiken. My Thoughts: The best kind of silly is delightful, clever, straight-faced silly. (Not the straight-faced silly where you realize suddenly “Oh, no, they mean it. How. What. Someone, help,” but the extravagant ever-growing tall tale carried off to such perfection that there’s someone credulous in the back trying to figure out if it’s real or not.) Joan Aiken creates a world of magic, whimsy, and ordinary tea-time. Some of the stories were funnier than others; in fact the first couple of tales tasted bland to me, but there were two or three truly delightful ones, and most of them were fun. Seems to me like it might make a good read aloud for kids. Content Review: Sexual Content: None. Language: None. Violence: Witch ties a child up and tries to cook him, but through a series of mishaps no harm is done and he ends up escaping. Boy accidentally shoots man in the foot with a dart. There are multiple magical duels, but no one ever seems hurt – the worst…

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…

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 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…

The Mountain of Kept Memory
Adult / September 2, 2017

Author: Rachel Neumier. Summary: Long ago the Kieba, last goddess in the world, raised up her mountain in the drylands of Carastind. Ever since then she has dwelled and protected the world from unending plagues and danger… Gulien Madalin, heir to the throne of Carastind, finds himself more interested in ancient history than the tedious business of government and watching his father rule. But Gulien suspects that his father has offended the Kieba so seriously that she has withdrawn her protection from the kingdom. Worse, he fears that Carastind’s enemies suspect this as well. Then he learns that he is right. And invasion is imminent. Meanwhile Gulien’s sister Oressa has focused on what’s important: avoiding the attention of her royal father while keeping track of all the secrets at court. But when she overhears news about the threatened invasion, she’s shocked to discover what her father plans to give away in order to buy peace. But Carastind’s enemies will not agree to peace at any price. They intend to not only conquer the kingdom, but also cast down the Kieba and steal her power. Now, Gulien and Oressa must decide where their most important loyalties lie, and what price they…

The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre
Middle Grade / Juvenile / August 31, 2017

Author: Gail Carson Levine. Summary: Peregrine strives to live up to the ideal of her people, the Latki—and to impress her parents: affectionate Lord Tove, who despises only the Bamarre, and stern Lady Klausine. Perry runs the fastest, speaks her mind, and doesn’t give much thought to the castle’s Bamarre servants, whom she knows to be weak and cowardly. But just as she’s about to join her father on the front lines, she is visited by the fairy Halina, who reveals that Perry isn’t Latki-born. She is Bamarre. The fairy issues a daunting challenge: against the Lakti power, Perry must free her people from tyranny. (Published summary) My Thoughts: Given that I’ve loved Gail Carson Levine’s other works, I was very disappointed. This didn’t work at all for me. It’s not just a ‘teaching story’, that’s blatantly focused on particular issues (racism and prejudice) and putting forth morals about them instead of telling a compelling story that leaves the reader with new thoughts on those issues. No, it’s also a teaching story that, unwittingly I’m sure, brushes away the very points it’s trying to make. Peregrine, the main character, spends a lot of the book first overcoming her own prejudice…

The Rithmatist
Young Adult / August 28, 2017

The Rithmatist #1. Author: Brandon Sanderson. Summary: More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles. As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing―kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery―one that will change Rithmatics―and their world―forever. (Published summary) My Thoughts: Great fun. How often do we get a magic-school story where the main character is one of the “muggles”? And this unusualness leads to an awesome partnership, our two main characters combining their strengths to work together. More, the magic system itself is quite unique. Magic circles have, of course, been around for a while; and we’ve seen moving drawings before. But combining them into a two-d magic system based…