Sorcerer to the Crown
Young Adult / August 15, 2017

Sorcerer Royal #1. Author: Zen Cho. Summary: The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers maintains the magic within His Majesty’s lands. But lately, the once proper institute has fallen into disgrace, naming an altogether unsuitable gentleman as their Sorcerer Royal and allowing England’s  stores of magic to bleed dry. At least they haven’t stooped so low as to allow women to practice what is obviously a man’s profession… At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers, ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up, an adventure that brings him in contact with Prunella Gentlewoman, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, and sets him on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large… My Thoughts: Reasonably fun. There were quite a number of side-plots clearly about social justice (feminism, racism) which weren’t bad, but I thought they could have been woven into the story better. Making statements with your story is fine, but when they’re that blatant it does draw attention away from the story. Content Review: Sexual Content: Girl spends night in sorcerer’s room, quite innocently, but her…

Storm Siren
Young Adult / August 14, 2017

Storm Siren #1. Author: Mary Weber. Summary: In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse – and the girl – can be controlled. As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth – meaning, she shouldn’t even exist. Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed. Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons. But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for? My Thoughts: Dreadfully bland. The elemental powers are nebulously defined, seeming to shift in strength…

Moonkind
Middle Grade / Juvenile / August 12, 2017

Summerlands #3. Author: Sarah Prineas. Summary: As the Lady of the Summerlands, Fer has vowed to serve her people without the deception of the glamorie, and she had trusted other leaders to fulfill the same promise. But not all of the Lords and Ladies want to keep their oaths, and they’ve unleashed the consequences of their betrayal onto the lands. Only Fer, with the help of the puck-boy Rook, can fight the stillness invading the realm. But can she trust Rook? And can she protect her people before it’s too late? My Thoughts: The implications going on with Humanity, Change, and the Summerlands confuse me. On the one hand, change is definitely shown as a good thing; the stilth would kill them all without it. And again and again we are told that Fer’s humanity spurs her power to change. But… there were no humans in this alternate world before Fer’s father. How did it survive for hundreds of years? There was corruption among the Lords and Ladies, but what would have happened if humans didn’t show up? And what’s up with the Elders, who are unchanging and constant, and yet quite definitively on the good side? Content Review: Sexual…

The Way of Kings
Adult / August 11, 2017

Stormlight Archives #1. Author: Brandon Sanderson. Summary: Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter. It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them. One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable. Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled…

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…

Summerkin
Middle Grade / Juvenile / August 9, 2017

Summerlands #2. Author: Sarah Prineas. Summary: In Summerkin, the sequel to Sarah Prineas’s fantasy-adventure Winterling, Fer now the rules the magical realm as Lady of the Summerlands. Although Fer defeated Mór, the dark queen who terrorized the magical beings of the world, there are those who do not trust her. To prove herself, Fer, aided by her deep connection to the natural world and her healing arts, must enter a grueling contest. If she loses, she will be banned from the realm and all those she has come to love. (Published Summary) My Thoughts: I appreciate the fairy-tale trope of a competition which is not as it seems, where showing compassion and kindness are more important than winning and the real test may not be what you expect. However, I found the whole argument about oaths and their rightness somehow irritating; I think because it’s clearly suggested that Fer’s on the right side. I don’t have a problem with the premise that a ruler should serve the people, instead of the other way around, but that the half-human newbie Lady who only came into rule a few seasons ago should know better than the Elders and all the peoples around her?…

Tongues of Serpents
Uncategorized , Young Adult / August 8, 2017

Temeraire #6. Author: Naomi Novik. Summary: Convicted of treason despite their heroic defense against Napoleon’s invasion of England, Temeraire and Laurence—stripped of rank and standing—have been transported to the prison colony at New South Wales in distant Australia, where, it is hoped, they cannot further corrupt the British Aerial Corps with their dangerous notions of liberty for dragons. Temeraire and Laurence carry with them three dragon eggs intended to help establish a covert in the colony and destined to be handed over to such second-rate, undesirable officers as have been willing to accept so remote an assignment—including one former acquaintance, Captain Rankin, whose cruelty once cost a dragon its life. Nor is this the greatest difficulty that confronts the exiled dragon and rider: Instead of leaving behind all the political entanglements and corruptions of the war, Laurence and Temeraire have instead sailed into a hornet’s nest of fresh complications. For the colony at New South Wales has been thrown into turmoil after the overthrow of the military governor, one William Bligh—better known as Captain Bligh, late of HMS Bounty. Bligh wastes no time in attempting to enlist Temeraire and Laurence to restore him to office, while the upstart masters of…

Ship of Magic
Adult / August 7, 2017

The Liveship Traders #1. Author: Robin Hobb. Summary: Wizardwood, a sentient wood. The most precious commodity in the world. Like many other legendary wares, it comes only from the Rain River Wilds. But how can one trade with the Rain Wilders, when only a liveship fashioned from wizardwood can negotiate the perilous waters of the Rain River? Rare and valuable a liveship will quicken only when three members, from successive generations, have died on board. The liveship Vivacia is about to undergo her quickening as Althea Vestrit’s father is carried on deck in his death-throes. Althea waits for the ship that she loves more than anything else in the world to awaken. Only to discover that the Vivacia has been signed away in her father’s will to her brutal brother-in-law, Kyle Haven… Others plot to win or steal a liveship. The Paragon, known by many as the Pariah, went mad, turned turtle, and drowned his crew. Now he lies blind, lonely, and broken on a deserted beach. But greedy men have designs to restore him, to sail the waters of the Rain Wild River once more. (Published summary) My Thoughts: Robin Hobb creates a rich, complex world of many layers…

A Dragon of a Different Color
Young Adult / August 1, 2017

Heartstrikers #4. Author: Rachel Aaron. Summary: To save his family from his tyrannical mother, Julius had to step on a lot of tails. That doesn’t win a Nice Dragon many friends, but just when he thinks he’s starting to make progress, a new threat arrives. Turns out, things can get worse. Heartstriker hasn’t begun to pay for its secrets, and the dragons of China are here to collect. When the Golden Emperor demands his surrender, Julius will have to choose between loyalty to the sister who’s always watched over him and preserving the clan he gave everything to protect. (Published Summary.) My Thoughts: Well, I enjoyed it, but A Dragon of a Different Color wasn’t as good as the previous books. I imagine Rachel Aaron had all this awesome worldbuilding done that she really wanted to give her readers… so she tied plot twists to each discovery, and crammed them all together. And it was exciting and fun and illuminating, but – it was also crammed. It felt like the entire book was just a series of twists and reveals, with never enough down time to process the new reveal or even to just enjoy the new characters introduced. The…

Flame of Olympus
Middle Grade / Juvenile / July 28, 2017

Pegasus #1. Author: Kate O’Hearn. Summary: When Pegasus crashes onto a Manhattan roof during a terrible storm, Emily’s life changes forever. Suddenly allied with a winged horse she’d always thought was mythical, Emily is thrust into the center of a fierce battle between the Roman gods and a terrifying race of multiarmed stone warriors called the Nirads. Emily must team up with a thief named Paelen, the goddess Diana, and a boy named Joel in order to return Pegasus to Olympus and rescue the gods from a certain death. Along the way, Emily and her companions will fight monsters, run from a government agency that is prepared to dissect Pegasus, and even fly above the Manhattan skyline—all as part of a quest to save Olympus before time runs out. (Published Summary) My Thoughts: Flame of Olympus is definitely on the lower end of middle-grade age ranges. It was too simplistic and obvious on all counts to really appeal to me; I saw the plot twist coming within about two sentences of the first lead-in, and all the character development was laid out very explicitly. More, while I do enjoy a good story with Greek/Roman mythology, I didn’t really appreciate all…