The Blue Sword
Young Adult / June 23, 2017

Damar #1. Author: Robin McKinley. Summary: This is the story of Corlath, golden-eyed king of the Free Hillfolk, son of the sons of the Lady Aerin. And this is the story of Harry Crewe, the Homelander orphan girl who became Harimad-sol, King’s Rider, and heir to the Blue Sword, Gonturan, that no woman had wielded since the Lady Aerin herself bore it into battle. And this is the song of the kelar of the Hillfolk, the magic of the blood, the weaver of destinies… (Published summary) My Thoughts: The Blue Sword is a story about three ​wholly different things. It’s a story about the coming-of-age journey of a young woman finding her home; the story of a nomadic culture on the decline; and while not the story of, I think we can say a story about, kelar, the wild hill-magic that pervades the setting. Each of these is a strong guiding force in their own way. Harry, our protagonist, is an astonishingly self-possessed young woman, rising to new challenges with ever-growing courage and walking boldly enough down a path she does not know to an end she cannot see. The unfamiliar culture she finds herself in is written with detail…

The Girl Who Drank the Moon
Middle Grade / Juvenile / June 6, 2017

Author: Kelly Barnhill. Summary: Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey. One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule–but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her–even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known….

Uprooted
Adult / May 29, 2017

Author: Naomi Novak. Summary: Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose. (Published summary) My Thoughts: Except for the romance arc (which felt forced, unnecessary, and quite strange – I mean, almost every romantic moment comes from magic-induced passion! They really don’t go together well outside of that.) I really liked the writing style. The magic was innovated and interesting, and the descriptions well done….

Od Magic
Adult / May 16, 2017

Author: Patricia McKillip. Summary: Brenden Vetch has a gift. With an innate sense he cannot explain to himself or describe to others, he is able to connect to the agricultural world, nurturing gardens to flourish and instinctively knowing the healing properties each plant and herb has to offer. But Brenden’s gift isolates him from people – and from becoming part of a community. Until the day he receives a personal invitation from the wizard Od. She needs a gardener for her school in the great city of Kelior, where every potential wizard must be trained to serve the Kingdom of Numis. For decades the rulers of Numis have controlled the school, believing they can contain the power within it -and punish any wizard who dares defy the law. But unknown to the reigning monarchy is the power possessed by the school’s new gardener – a power that even Brenden isn’t fully aware of – and which is the true reason Od recruited him… My Thoughts: I just finished reading(and raving over) The Changeling Sea , also by Patricia McKillip, and while this story has the same whimsical touch to its description and magic, it’s rather lighter on the awe-inspiring description…

Magic Steps
Young Adult / April 30, 2017

The Circle Opens #1. Author: Tamora Pierce. Summary: While caring for her uncle in Summersea, Lady Sandrilene Fa Toren witnesses a boy working a most unusual spell. Pasco can dance magic, but he wants nothing to do with his powers. It’s up to Sandry to teach him about his magic–and to convince him he can use it to get to the bottom of a series of gruesome murders. Content Review: Sexual content: Character thinks it would be good for another character if he fell in love again. Language: There are only a few odd uses such as ‘cat dirt’ and ‘rat turd’. Violence: Heavy. Second hand story of three people strangled. Body is found severely hacked and the head cut off. Character learns that an entire family was murdered. Horses are crippled with cuts to the hock (and belly). Character is attacked, head cut off. Street brawl. Baby murdered with a knife, and a little girl, and a man. Woman run through with knife. A healer beheaded and her assistant killed. Three characters with unmagic running through them are torn apart when the unmagic is called out, and ‘explode’.