moonblood

Moonblood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl / Bethany House

Prince Lionheart returns to his ruined kingdom and struggles to reclaim the trust of his people. But when the people demand the death of Lionheart’s only loyal friend Rose Red, he banishes her instead to the treacherous Goldstone Wood, filled with deadly magical creatures.

Captured by her father, King Vahe, and imprisoned in the lost kingdom of Arpiar, Rose Red refuses to call for help. She waits for the Night of Moonblood and her father’s vile plans to unfold, a talking statue and lost boy with no memory for her only companions.

Lionheart pursues Rose Red, determined to rescue her and atone for his betrayal, but finding his way through the Wood is more difficult than he could have imagined and strange enemies greet him at every turn. He must defeat them all and find a kingdom no one has been able to enter in more than five hundred years if he is to reach Rose Red before it’s too late.

Author Anne Elisabeth Stengl possesses a masterful sense of story and beautifully incorporates powerful symbols seamlessly into each of her novels. In reading Moonblood one cannot help but become as lost in the story as the desperate prince in his search for his friend. Lionheart’s struggle to accept his failings and the healing of Rose Red’s wounded heart echo the deeper spiritual message that none are forgotten or without hope.

Moonblood is the third book in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series. Starflower, tthe fourth book in the series has just been named a finalist for the 2013 Christy Award. Book five, Dragonwitch, will be released in the summer of 2013.

Language Content
No foul language.

Sexual Content
None.

Spiritual Content
Lionheart is haunted by the choices he has made which caused harm to those he cares about, but refuses to accept blame and wanting to believe he has made the only choice possible. He tries to salvage his mistakes by rescuing Rose Red, but in the end, still he cannot atone for what he has done on his own. He must accept forgiveness and aid from a Higher Source.

Rose Red, still wounded by the prince’s betrayal, refuses to call for aid in her imprisonment. She too believes she can escape on her own, without help. A small bird calls to her, as God’s spirit calls to us, but she doesn’t want to trust him anymore. She learns that God’s plan doesn’t always look the way we expect, or keep us safe in ways that make sense to us.

Violence
Heroes fight a tiger and dragons. A unicorn’s horn stabs through someone. None of these events are given deeply graphic descriptions.

Drug Content
None.

starflower

Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl / Bethany House

The entire court of immortal faeries is distraught when beloved and beautiful Lady Gleamdren is kidnapped by a fearsome dragon-witch. Two of her most devoted admirers race to her rescue, and the Bard Eanrin is determined to be first to reach his ladylove. On his journey he encounters a human girl locked in a spell of sleep and finds he cannot simply leave the unlucky mortal to her fate.

Eanrin wakes Starflower from her sleep, intent upon sending her on her way, but the maiden knows little of the treacherous Wood. As she accompanies Eanrin on his quest, a deep connection emerges between the girl and the dragonwitch. It may be Starflower alone who can rescue Gleamdren and battle an ancient dark power.

Fans of the Tales of Goldstone Wood will recognize Eanrin as the wise and mischievous cat who often kept company with the Princess Una in Heartless, the first novel in the series. Starflower predates Heartless and tells the tale of a much younger and more, often humorously, self-centered Eanrin and adding still more depth and breadth to the already rich and lustrous story world Stengl has created.

Starflower is a tale of love, not strictly romantic love, but of the journey toward choosing to put others first, to risk losing total autonomy, and to show love to others even when they are not outwardly deserving of it. It is the fourth book in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series and was just named a finalist for the 2013 Christy Award. The fifth book, Dragonwitch, will be released in the summer of 2013.

Language Content
None.

Sexual Content
A kiss.

Spiritual Content
Starflower’s people are under a curse and cannot speak. To remove the curse, she has to learn to love her enemies. Over and over through the story, characters are challenged to love others at expense to their own desires or safety.

Violence
References to a dog being beaten by its owner. A girl is surrounded by young men who mean her harm (she is not injured). Two dogs fight. References to human sacrifices. A man is killed saving his daughter. These scenes are short and do not contain a high level of detail.

Drug Content
None.

julie_kagawa_the_immortal_rulesIn a world ruled by vampires, Allison Sekemoto survives by staying hidden and scavenging for food. When hunger forces her to venture outside the safety of home, she is attacked and offered a choice: to die or become what she hates most. A vampire.

Allie struggles to learn vampire ways and accept and what her new form means to the humans she has left behind. Another attack forces her to flee from the city and into the wild where she will be stalked by rabids, diseased and deadly creatures. But Allie isn’t the only one braving those wilds. In the night, she comes upon a group of humans on a quest to find a legendary city. A safe haven for humans. A city without vampires. Allie vows to protect them on their journey, but can she really succeed when the deadliest threat is her own hunger?

Kagawa sends her readers plummeting through a masterfully woven plot into a post-apocalyptic world in which humans are ruled by vampires and stalked by rabids. While heroine Allie seems cold-hearted and indifferent at the story’s opening, it is in her vampire form that she develops love for others, creating an intriguing paradox.

Language Content
No F-bombs, but other curses peppered throughout.

Sexual Content
Insinuations, but no graphic content.

Spiritual Content
Allison encounters a group who are people of faith. Precisely what they believe isn’t deeply explored, but faith is portrayed as a very admirable and positive thing, even if such optimism is hard for Allison to understand. In Kagawa’s world, vampires may be either good or evil, depending on their relationship with the living. They will either abuse and dominate or perhaps struggle to check their power and thirst and protect humans.

Violence
Lots of violence. Creatures called rabids, human and animal, viciously pursue and devour any they can capture. Some references to past torture.

Drug Content
Random guy drinks a beer.

MatchedCassia has looked forward to her Match Banquet for as long as she can remember, and nothing could be more wonderful than sharing that day with her best friend, Xander. She is elated when the Society choses Xander to be her very own match. He is right for her in every way, a confirmation to Cassia of the Society’s perfection.

So she believes until a rare malfunction occurs and another face flashes across Cassia’s screen. Ky Markham’s face. Confused, Cassia allows the Society leaders to reassure her that everything is fine. Her doubts resurface in the form of a gift from her grandfather: words from a forbidden poem. Cassia knows she must destroy them, but can’t help reading and savoring them again and again. She begins to fall in love with the mysterious poetry and the boy who shares them with her. Ky. And now she must choose between Xander, who knows her through and through and Ky, who knows things she can’t yet understand.

Matched is a romance set against a dystopian backdrop: a world carefully balanced and controlled by the elite members of the Society. Only select forms of artwork have been preserved and allowed. All others are outlawed. All actions and even sleep are monitored. For Cassia, it is a safe and perfect world until Ky enters it and awakens dreams she shouldn’t have, desires she can’t understand and a growing distrust of the world she thought protected her. It is difficult indeed even for the reader to choose between Cassia’s loves. Condie elegantly weaves a story of disillusionment and hope and propels her readers through the twists and turns of Cassia’s story.

Language Content
Mild.

Sexual Content
Very mild. Kissing. Some reference to adults having the option to stay single rather than being matched and choosing to have casual physical relationships, but no details given and no bearing on the story itself.

Spiritual Content
None.

Violence
Very limited violence.

Drug Content
Society members keep three tablets with them at all times, to be taken for specific purposes, with usage carefully monitored. One is a sleep aid.

kill_orderWith memories of the sun flares that destroyed major cities and much of the world’s technology still fresh in their minds, Mark, Trina and their friends find themselves face to face with another catastrophe, and this one may not leave any alive.

The plague’s first victims survive mere hours. But as the disease mutates and spreads, its victims survive longer, becoming mad long before the end takes them. Mark and Trina band together, determined to stay well, track down the source of the vicious illness, and do whatever it takes to stop it.

In this prequel to the Maze Runner series, James Dashner reveals the story of civilization’s fall and the mysterious disease that ravaged mankind in its wake. While providing answers to many of the questions Maze Runner fans have been asking, The Kill Order lacked the density of thrill and suspense that have rocketed readers through the bestselling series.

Language Content
Mild to moderate.

Sexual Content
Moderate to heavy. While much of the physical romance takes place off-scene, it is still known that the hero and his girlfriend are having sex.

Spiritual Content
Not much mentioned.

Violence
Lots of scenes depicting terrible illness and some insanity.

Drug Content
The characters are on a quest for a cure to the mysterious disease that is spreading like wildfire. No recreational drug use.

Scorch by Gina Damico

Scorch by Gina Damico

Going home after her sister’s death is the hardest thing Lex has ever had to do. But life in Croak isn’t getting any easier for the teenage Grim Reaper. Though her friends stick with her, the rest of the town blames Lex for Zara’s murderous rampage. After all, Zara wouldn’t be able to Damn souls if Lex hadn’t somehow transferred that ability to her. That Zara killed Lex’s sister doesn’t seem to matter either. Irrational fear and poor leadership whip the town into a frenzy of paranoia until Lex and her friends have no choice but to flee to the Grim capital, DeMyse.

Distracted by the glitz and glam of the Vegas-like town, Lex and her friends teeter between concern for the innocents Zara continues to murder and enjoying the city’s night life. Zara will only stop killing when Lex gives her the secret book that will grant terrible power to anyone who reads it. Lex is sure she is the only one who can find it, but will she find it before another innocent soul is Damned?

Readers who missed the first book in this series will find Scorch a little hard to follow. The rules of the story world are confusing and not well-explained. The plot meanders forward with frequent pit stops for parties and make-out sessions despite Zara’s promise that an innocent person will die every day until Lex gives her what she wants. While she is a bit shallow, Lex’s struggles with guilt and insecurity are very real and relatable. The appearance of Poe and other famous people of the past were a clever addition to the story.

Language Content
Moderate. Some swearing and lots of uses of various forms of “douche” insults.

Sexual Content
Heavy. Characters frequently sneak off to make out and hope to progress further.

Spiritual Content
The central characters of the story are Grim Reapers. Human characters experience an afterlife which is more or less wonderful, unless their soul has been Damned by a Grim Reaper. One rogue Grim Damns souls who are undeserving of such punishment. No real connection to Christian world-view.

Violence
Some battle violence and an explosion.

Drug Content
Grims enjoy a special drink that seems to have the same effect as beer. Young characters are depicted drinking it at bar and nightclub type settings.

By Darkness Hid by Jill WilliamsonAchan has known nothing but the life of a stray, lower even than that of a slave. When a mysterious knight, rumored to have once been a stray himself, makes an offer to Achan to train him as his squire, despite laws that should prevent it, Achan finds himself trapped between two lives. In this midst of this, a strange gift seems to wake inside him. But isn’t bloodvoicing just a myth?

When an evil prince seeks her hand in marriage, Vrell hides behind the orange tunic of a stray and masquerades as a boy to conceal her identity. At the same time, her own newly discovered gift brings her to the attention of those in power despite her disguise. As they seek to exploit her gift, they draw dangerously close to uncovering her secret.

As the prince’s coronation approaches, Achan and Vrell’s troubles only increase. Will Achan’s gift uncover his true identity? Can Vrell quell her gift to protect hers?

This novel, the first in Jill Williamson’s Blood of Kings trilogy, is fast-paced, intriguing, and full of clever characters. Great summer read!

Language
None

Sexuality
None

Spiritual Content
Er’Rets is a kingdom half in darknes. The people worship many gods, but some believe there is one god, Arman, the creator, above all others.

Violence
Some battle scenes, but gore is minimal.

Drug Content
None

Check out the book trailer below…