Wings of Fire: The Dark Secret (Tui T. Sutherland, Kindle eBook)

A running theme in this series is the dragonets want to return to their tribes and learn about their families, then when they get there they hate what they find; Clay's mother traded him for a couple of cows, Tsunami's mother is clingy and borderline insane, and Glory's tribe are all idiots led by a group of mega-idiots. Now it's Starflight's turn to have his dreams ruined, when he comes home to a smoldering crater and a father who tortures Rainwings for a living.

Starflight's story also dips into using diplomacy instead of force. Although the Rainwings sneaking into the Nightwing prisons to rescue the imprisoned dragons, where the book takes great pains to make sure no dragons - neither Rainwings nor Nightwings - get killed seems weird in a series where dragons get their faces melted off, devoured by electric eels, and executed by being hurled into lava.

Some of the writing didn't quite rub me the right way. It's not as bad as the identity of the assassin in the second book (although I'm having a hard time imagining what could be), but there's one part where Starflight learns the Nightwings are coming to kidnap Tsunami, and he needs a way to warn Glory. His prayer is answered with a Deus Ex Magic Gemstone he acquired in a Deus Ex Ruin Exploration that his Deus Ex Adventurous Friend nagged him to take. It also ends on a cliffhanger and never tells you who stole Starflight's Dreamvisitor, and the titular Dark Secret is hardly a secret since the epilogues of the past three books beat you over the head with it (and since I didn't quite call it after the first book, I'll take my chances with another prediction regarding the final book: Sunny becomes the new Sandwing queen)

By the way, at the start of the series the Rainwings are said to be the weakest dragon tribe as they're pacifists who possess no natural weapons. But then it turns out they can spit acid, which Starflight's father says is actually the most powerful weapon among all the dragons, it's just the Rainwings are too cowardly to actually use it. Still, does that mean the Seawings are actually the least powerful of the dragons? The Sand, Mud, Sky, and Nightwings breathe fire, the Icewings exhale ice, and the Rainwings spit acid. But all the Seawings can do is breathe underwater, see in the dark, and light up. I guess in theory they can drag any of the other dragons underwater to drown them, but a fat lot of good that is if there's no water around.


The Familiars (Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson, Kindle eBook)

The Familiars is the story of Aldwyn, an ordinary alley cat who ends up purchased as a familiar for an apprentice wizard and now has pretend to be a magic, telekinetic cat. But then an evil queen starts some shit and it falls on him and two legitimate familiars, the illusion-conjuring blue jay Skylar and the soothsaying tree frog Gilbert to save the day. Now, with that premise you might think this is going to be a story about the dangers of lying, and while that theme does hang over the book it's more about people having their individual talents. Aldwyn might actually be the most competent of the three familiars, what with him saving the team from being eaten by a witch and figuring out how to bypass an invisible wall while the other two bicker. Aldwyn is eventually outed, but the other two are forced to admit they wouldn't have gotten as far as they did without him and still need his help.

But then after a hair-raising encounter with a seven-headed dragon and the reveal of the true villain, the book decides it wants to have its cake and eat it too. Yeah, it was a nice reward for Aldwyn after all he went through, but doesn't it also kind of undermine the message of the book and Skylar straight-up telling him he didn't need magic to be important?

And I don't know if that bounty hunter should be commended for his persistence or ridiculed. I mean, how many jobs could he have taken and completed in the time he spent hunting Aldwyn through the book?