Paper and Fire – Rachel Caine

fad320aadb11bb2596f59446c77434f414f4141Jess Brightwell was given a position in the Library’s High Garda – he knows it’s so that the head of the Library can keep an eye on him, after they kidnapped and killed his best friend, Thomas, for his heretical ideas. The rest of their friends in their initial training class have moved on to the jobs they are best suited for, but they all still mourn Thomas.

When Jess hears a rumor that Thomas is still alive, he can scarcely believe it, but starts digging, with the help of the others, and finds out that the rumors are true. They’ll have to break Thomas out, but in doing so, will have to risk their lives, and they will never be able to go back to their old lives in the Library.

This book feels like a lot of set up – I’m hoping it’s leading to the necessary show down between Jess and his friends and the head of the Library. There were definitely some things that needed to happen to get them there, but it does seem like a shame that it took an entire book to get there. It’s not like nothing happened, but you definitely got the feeling that more should be happening. Still, I’m happy to keep reading – the set up is good.


The Owl Service – Alan Garner

0006742947.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_We’ve got owl plates that apparently turn into owls, a whole British Romeo and Juliet-ish across classes love story in a cottage in Wales on summer break, and the ancient Welsh myth of Blodeuwedd. I suspect I would have gotten a lot more out of this story when I was in the midst of my Celtic mythology obsession, and was therefore a lot closer to the source material, but I mostly found myself confused.

Blodeuwedd was a woman created of flowers, made to wed one man, but who falls in love with another. In this book, the story has carried on through the ages, and step-siblings Allison and Roger, as well as Gwyn, the son of the house keeper, are fated to play the parts of this tragic love triangle. It ends very abruptly – there’s all this building of tension, and then it’s just over. Like I said, I think I would have enjoyed it more if I were still immersed in the source material.

Ruin and Rising – Leigh Bardugo

93fa8047c13c3f7596a614b7141434f414f4141Alina and Mal have escaped the Darkling’s invasion of the Little Palace, and know that they need to search for the final of the three amplifiers that will allow Alina full use of her power. They think that the firebird that has that amplifier can be found in the valley where they both were born, and orphaned. But first, they have to find their way out of the underground cathedral where they’ve been sort of imprisoned by their sort of allies, and get back in touch with Prince Nikolai.

I was pleasantly surprised by how this trilogy wrapped up. Alina and Mal’s star-crossed lovers theme was starting to get a little too well developed, and I was a little afraid of where that was going to go. The big finale sort of went where I had feared, but then was able to wrap things up into a neat little bow in a way I had not expected. Kudos to the author for finding a way to stay true to her magic system, and still end with a happy ending.

I’m happy the author is still playing with stories in this world – it’s an interesting magic system and society she’s set up, and while I think it’s a good thing that Mal and Alina’s story is mostly wrapped up, I’m glad the world-building goes on.

The Reluctant Queen – Sarah Beth Durst

13c702ff354aef7596c53316f41434f414f4141This is the second books in the Queens of Renthia series. Delaina has come to the throne as the last survivor of all the heirs in Aratay. And while she is young and should have many years ahead of her to reign, she finds she has contracted the False Death. When she has spells, the Spirits of Aratay believe her to be dead, and it is only the power of the queen that keeps them from harming the people of Aratay, so she of all people cannot afford to be ill. Delaina sets her healers to find a cure, and her champions to find new heirs.

Finding heirs is a problem though – all of the experienced candidates were killed, except Delaina. Her champion, Ven, decides that he must pursue an alternate route to find a new candidate – look for women with power who never came to the academies. That’s how he finds Naelin. She’s probably more powerful than Delaina, but after watching her mother die when she summoned too many spirits to handle, she’s afraid to use her power. But she’s going to need to, because the queen of a neighboring kingdom has decided to invade Aratay, and Delaina can’t defend them alone.

I’m not sure quite sure what I thought about this book. I like the first one better. This one has a few too many elements in it that I can’t decide if they work or not. I think I need to read the third book before I’ll be able to say if this one worked or not.

Long May She Reign – Ellen Emerson White

5c844cb38268a91593859395841434f414f4141This is the fourth book in a series about the daughter of the first woman president. I received the first one as a gift in middle school, and read the other two quite a while ago. It took me a while to track this fourth one down (and it was written quite a while after the first ones – the differences in the cultural references are funny).

In the third book, Meg was kidnapped by terrorists. When they left her alone, handcuffed in a cave, she smashed her hand to get free, and did manage to find her way back to civilization in time to be saved. (I swear, this is way less melodramatic than it summarizes as.) In this book, she’s back to DC, and everyone – her parents, her two brothers, the staffers they’re close to, and definitely Meg – is still very traumatized. This book is all them putting the pieces back together again, and it’s pretty well done.

What I liked is that everyone is pretty screwed up by this, and no one wants to talk about it. The things that are going on feel very real. Meg also still decides to go to her first year of college (second semester at least), at Williams College. This works on so many levels – first college experiences, having to work trauma recovery into that. Having to work in the fact that her mother is the first female present, and the very real fact that Meg’s starting realize she may want to study politics is also fun. So this book may sound like it could be pretty melodramatic, but it really works without taking itself too seriously. I hadn’t read the other books in the series recently, but I’m reminded why I like them (enough that I do still have them).

Siege and Storm – Leigh Bardugo

c8d9d5f0224999659675a727141434f414f4141Alina and Mal have tried to run from the Darkling, but he finds them, and brings them back to Ravka. But the Darkling isn’t aware that his allies are not all that they seem, and the privateer he has hired to bring them back to Ravka instead saves Alina and Mal for his own ends.

And so it is that Alina finds herself back in Os Alta, now in charge of all the Grisha, needing to plan how to defend them and the King from the inevitable day that the Darkling will return. She’s more sure of her power, and now has heard of a way she might be able to increase it, but that power is putting her at odds with Mal, and leading her down a path she isn’t sure she really wants to follow.

This is a good middle book – you can’t say it’s really that full of action, but it definitely sets up what should be a good ending to this trilogy.

Mastiff – Tamora Pierce

11f742d42cc79cb593171426151434f414f4141This the final book of the Beka Cooper books, and it’s a doozy. She and her partner are summoned with some haste to the Summer Palace, where they find that half of the servants and guards there have been slaughtered, and the young prince has been kidnapped. Beka promises the frantic queen that she will find her little boy.

They’re joined by a mage named Farmer, and a lady knight, and begin a trek into the wilds of Tortall, tracking the prince. It’s a journey unlike any other that Beka has ever been on, and it will test her and her friends like nothing before. For a YA book, this one goes fairly dark, which is a good service to the story – all of the politics surrounding this kidnapping are deadly serious, and are dealt with very accordingly. It’s really good book – a fitting end to Beka’s tale.