Days of Blood and Starlight
Young Adult / June 30, 2016

Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2. Author: Laini Taylor. Summary: Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war. This is not that world. Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it. In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life. While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope. But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream? (Published summary.) My Thoughts: I think at some basic level it’s the prose that makes this such a…

What Alice Forgot
Adult / June 29, 2016

Author: Liane Moriarty. Summary: Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child. So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over. (Goodreads summary.) My Thoughts: Surprisingly engrossing. I read it through at a single sitting. Content Review: Sexual content: A married woman thinking about her first child says (thinks) the conception was nothing special – a Wednesday night they couldn’t find a condom. Amensiac character wonders if she’s slept with the man she’s dating. One school girl tells another that “Your mother probably had sex with Mr. Gordon in…

Free To Fall
Young Adult / June 28, 2016

Author: Lauren Miller. Summary: Sixteen-year-old Rory Vaughn is motivated, happy, and successful. She’s been accepted to the most prestigious school in the country, and she’s the envy of her classmates. But none of them know her secret: that she hears the Doubt, the small inner voice, aka auditory hallucination, that can herald madness. When she meets a handsome boy in town who also hears the Doubt, and listens to it instead of using Lux, the decision-making app that directs everyone’s lives, Rory’s viewpoint begins to change. There’s something strange going on here, and she’ll have to question everything she ever knew to get to the bottom of it. My Thoughts: The world Lauren Miller creates is clever and believable; with the current trends, it’s all too easy to imagine an app that millions depend on for every decision. But except for the two main characters, none of the characters are very rounded or have strong personalities. I found it interesting, but not overly amazing. Content Review: Sexual content: “Rory, look at that sky. This is a photographer’s wet dream.” Some kissing. Character finds out her mother’s husband wasn’t her (first character) father. Girl starts to undo her boyfriend’s jeans, but…

Young Adult / June 28, 2016

Author: Gail Carson Levine. Summary: Olus is the young god of winds. He has no play-mates among the immortals, being the only child right now, and he wishes to live with humans. Kezi doesn’t believe in him – she believes in the one God, and she has only a month to live before she is to be sacrificed to him. When she and Olus cross paths their journey will begin, from her belief in Olus’s divinity to his longing for her love, ending only when they have settled their fate, either to be together for eternity or die separated. My Thoughts: Compared to Gail Carson Levine’s excellent track record, this was a great disappointment. The prose was short, simple, and quickly tiresome; the characters were under-developed and under-likable, and trials Olus had to undergo, what ought to have been one of the high-tension parts of the book, were a letdown. Moreover, her theological questioning was odd and strangely weighted. Content Review: Sexual content: A kiss. Male slaves wear only loincloths. Language: None. Violence: A lamb is sacrificed. Man knocked out by blow to head. Immortal lets itself be ‘sacrificed’.  

See How They Run
Young Adult / June 23, 2016

Embassy Row #2. Author: Ally Carter. Summary: For the past three years, Grace Blakely has been desperate to find out the truth about her mother’s murder. She thought it would bring her peace. She thought it would lead her to answers. She thought she could put the past to rest. But the truth has only made her a target. And the past? The only way to put the past to rest is for Grace to kill it once and for all. On Embassy Row, power can make you a victor or a victim; love can turn you into a fool or a fugitive; and family can lead you forward or bury you deep. Trust is a luxury. Death is a very real threat. And a girl like Grace must be very careful about which secrets she brings to light. (Published summary.) My Thoughts: Ally Carter maintains a tense atmosphere and well-written characters, but I found this book less engaging than the first. Grace still makes sense as a character, but being in her head with her constant intense emotion began to be overwhelming. More, it seemed to me that there was genuinely less action this time. Grace is an passionate…

Night Watch
Adult / June 23, 2016

A Discworld Novel. Author: Terry Pratchett. Summary: ‘Don’t put your trust in revolutions. They always come round again. That’s why they’re called revolutions. People die, and nothing changes.’ For a policeman, there can be few things worse than a serial killer at loose in your city. Except, perhaps, a serial killer who targets coppers, and a city on the brink of bloody revolution. The people have found their voice at last, the flags and barricades are rising…And the question for a policeman, an officer of the law, a defender of the peace, is: Are you with them, or are you against them? (Goodreads summary.) Content Review: Sexual content: Man caught bathing in a commotion comes out in public naked- fairly quickly rectifies the situation. Although not explicitly, a round-a-bout exposition by a character brings out that there are prostitutes on the streets, generally called seamstresses. Language: 45 d***, 38 bloody, 19 derogatory terms, 14 hell Violence: Rain of huge hail injures a few people caught out in it. Robbers attack a man, get a garrote around his neck; he’s then rescued, but we don’t see what happens to the robbers. Character is attacked by a robber with a knife, drives…

This Is Where It Ends
Young Adult / June 23, 2016

Author: Marieke Nijkamp. Summary: 10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity High School finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve. 10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class. 10:03 a.m. The auditorium doors won’t open. 10:05 a.m. Someone starts shooting. Told from four different perspectives over the span of fifty-four harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival. (Publisher’s summary.) My Thoughts: This could have been an amazing book. It wasn’t. Despite the frequent flashbacks from different points of view, which both confused me as to who had what sad backstory and also slowed the action down greatly, none of the characters became sharply defined in my mind. I had trouble keeping track of whose pov I was in at the time, and what sort of backstory they had with the shooter, because they often seemed similar. The shooter’s backstory was explored a little through the other characters, but his real motivation and phsychology was never brought out – at least I hope so. The other option is that the meager information we got was…

The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Adult / June 23, 2016

Author: Muriel Barbary. Summary: Renee is the concierge of a wealthy apartment house in the center of Paris. Witness to the lavish and disparate lives of the rich around her, she hides her true intelligence from them. Pretending to be addicted to television and looking no further than her own doorstep, she studies art, philosophy, music and Japanese culture in the privacy of her apartment. Paloma is an unusually thoughtful twelve-year old, who has come to the conclusion that life is meaningless and she can do nothing better than remove herself from it. Although prone to fits of melancholy and possessing a superiority complex, she sees much deeper than the average twelve-year old, but hides this fact from all. The two will only be drawn to open up and discover each other at the arrival of a Japanese man named Ozu who will change both their lives. My Thoughts: I have seen multiple reviews deploring the lack of plot and the constant philosophical rambling. Myself, I could see why this would get annoying; but as it was, this aspect I actually enjoyed. The reflections from both povs were interesting, although Renee’s more so, and you mostly have to accept that…

Young Adult / June 23, 2016

Paranormalcy #1. Author: Kiersten White. Summary: Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours. But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures. So much for normal. (Goodreads summary.) My Thoughts: Let’s do things backward for a change – we’ll start with the ugly, move on to the bad, and then to the good. The Ugly: The fairy. Reth, with his glamor and apparent power to seduce at a single touch, was *extremely* creepy, and not in a good way. The Bad: The plot’s clichéd, the almost-instant-love more so, and the main character far too fluttery. Okay, that was a harsh summation, but I’d say it’s fairly correct. I’m really tired of beautiful main characters falling in ‘love’ mostly over appearances. In their defense, though, they did actually talk together about themselves and their interests. A little. Now, the main character, I think some people will really connect with. It’s a personal…

Heroes of the Valley
Young Adult / June 23, 2016

Author: Jonathan Stroud. Summary: Halli Sveinsson has grown up in the House of Svein, listening to the legends of the heroes as all his forefathers did. His is a peaceful society where the violence of the past has been outlawed and disputes are settled by the Council. But young Halli has never quite seemed to fit in with the others. Bored with the everyday chores and sheep herding, he can’t help himself from playing practical jokes on everyone, from Eyjolf the old servant, to his brother and sister. But when he plays a trick on Ragnor of the House of Hakonsson, he goes too far, setting in motion a chain of events that will forever alter his destiny. Because of it, Halli will have to leave home and go on a hero’s quest. Along the way, he will encounter highway robbers, terrifying monsters, and a girl who may finally be his match. In the end, he will discover the truth about the legends, his family, and himself. My Thoughts: Heroes of the Valley follows an interesting theme, juxtaposing myth with reality, and bringing out the discrepancies between legend and the past. This is the story of a boy who wants…