The Alloy of Law
Adult / June 11, 2016

Mistborn #4. Author: Brandon Sanderson. Summary: Centuries after the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is on the verge of modernity – railroads, electric street lights, and skyscrapers. Waxillium Ladrian can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will. After 20 years in the dusty Roughs, in the city of Elendel, the new head of a noble house may need to keep his guns. (Goodreads summary.) Content Review: Sexual content: A few crude jokes. A lord’s daughter presents a proposed document to a man that would lay out their courtship and marriage – she mentions that it specifies “no more than three conjugal encounters per week and no less than one, until an heir is produced” and it is also brought out that the document allows “mistresses and dalliances” under certain terms. Man notes that women seem to wear much lower necklines than they did when he was a child. Bandit pats woman down – “She bore it with a deep blush, particularly when the patting changed to a few solid gropes.” Characters searching bandit hideout find a packet of “nudie pictures”. Language: 35 d***, 7 hell, 5 derogatory names Violence: Many characters are shot,…

Level Two
Young Adult / June 11, 2016

The Memory Chronicles #1. Author: Lenore Appelhans. Summary: Felicia Ward is dead. What’s more, she’s tired of the afterlife – a blank, white place of cells where she and the other dead girls of her age spend their time reliving memories of their lives, over and over. Something’s wrong, for when one girl vanishes the others can’t remember her existence – so she’s ready to believe it when a mysterious rescuer steps through the wall and takes her away, explaining how this level of the afterlife has been corrupted by the Morati, evil angels, and they are on a mission to return it to its purpose. Felicia could be key to their plan, and what’s more, she could have the chance to see her love, Neil, again. Still… can she really trust her allies? My Thoughts: The concept was original, but not much else was. The main character wasn’t very relatable, nor were most of the others. I felt like the constant flashbacks slowed down the plot, which was strange in itself; due to their ability of ‘materialization’, it would have been too easy to win if they took full advantage. None of the relationships were particularly believable either –…

A Glory of Unicorns
Middle Grade / Juvenile / June 11, 2016

Author: Collected by Coville. Summary: A beautiful collection of unicorn stories. Clean and sparkling for little girls, to be sure, but these are not namby-pamby rainbow pets. These unicorns blaze like fire and run like the wind, and humans who dare touch them burn and bleed, taste heartbreak and loss, and are changed forever. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: None. Violence: Low, non-graphic.

Adult / June 9, 2016

A Discworld Novel. Author: Terry Pratchett. Summary: Koom Valley? That was where the trolls ambushed the dwarfs, or the dwarfs ambushed the trolls. It was far away. It was a long time ago. But if he doesn’t solve the murder of just one dwarf, Commander Sam Vimes of Ankh-Morpork City Watch is going to see it fought again, right outside his office. With his beloved Watch crumbling around him and war-drums sounding, he must unravel every clue, outwit every assassin and brave any darkness to find the solution. And darkness is following him. Oh . . . and at six o’clock every day, without fail, with no excuses, he must go home to read ‘Where’s My Cow?’, with all the right farmyard noises, to his little boy. There are some things you have to do. (Goodreads summary.) My Thoughts: Although all the Diskworld novels are much alike in their light-hearted ingenuity, comedic tone, and occasional critiques, they still vary in my interest. Thud I liked much better than others. The secondary reason is probably because the comedy is much more serious – this book is not just laughing at the wild vagaries of this world, it’s laughing with tears in…

Elijah of Buxton
Middle Grade / Juvenile / June 9, 2016

Author: Christopher Paul Curtis. Summary: Eleven-year-old Elijah is the first child born into freedom in Buxton, Canada, a settlement of runaway slaves just over the border from Detroit. He’s best known for having made a memorable impression on Frederick Douglass, but that changes when a former slave steals money from Elijah’s friend, who has been saving to buy his family out of captivity in the South. Elijah embarks on a dangerous journey to America in pursuit of the thief and discovers firsthand the unimaginable horrors of the life his parents fled–a life from which he’ll always be free, if he can find the courage to get back home. My Thoughts: This is an excellent historical fiction in the juvenile section, and I should think older readers will also find it interesting. The child’s voice is consistent and believable, and because of the setting in a freed-men’s town, it manages to portray some of the treatment and horror of slaves without overwhelming the younger audience it is aimed at. Content Review: Sexual content: School-children misread a board that reads “familiarity breeds contempt” as saying “family breeding contest” which leads to some interesting speculation. Language: 1 d***, 1 derogatory term Violence: Man…

We Are All Made of Molecules
Young Adult / June 7, 2016

Author: Susin Nielsen. Summary: Thirteen-year-old Stewart is academically brilliant but socially clueless. Fourteen-year-old Ashley is the undisputed “It” girl in her class, but her grades stink. Their worlds are about to collide when Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mom. Stewart is trying to be 89.9 percent happy about it, but Ashley is 110 percent horrified. She already has to hide the real reason her dad moved out; “Spewart” could further threaten her position at the top of the social ladder. They are complete opposites. And yet, they have one thing in common: they—like everyone else—are made of molecules. My Thoughts: The viewpoints were grating – Ashley may be going through a lot, but that doesn’t completely excuse her being the complete stereotype of the popular mean girl, down to her shallow thoughts and back-stabbing habits. Stewart was more interesting, but seemed much younger than his given age. The book tried to tackle difficult topics, but overall it was a letdown. Content Review: Sexual content: Character threatens to tell school classmates that her friend “stuffs her bra”. Smaller boy in gym class has to strip and shower with other boys, and worries about being teased because…

The Spirit War
Young Adult / June 7, 2016

Legend of Eli Monpress #4. Author: Rachel Aaron. Summary: Eli Monpress is vain. He’s cocky. And he’s a thief. But he’s a thief who has just seen his bounty topped and he’s not happy about it. The bounty topper, as it turns out, is his best friend, bodyguard, and master swordsman, Josef. Who has been keeping secrets from Eli. Apparently, he’s the only prince of a rather feisty country and his mother (a formidable queen who’s every bit as driven and stubborn as he is) wants him to come home and do his duty, which means throwing over personal ambitions like proving he’s the greatest swordsman who ever lived. Family drama aside, Eli and Josef have their hands full. The Spirit Court has been usurped by the Council of Thrones and someone calling herself the Immortal Empress is staging a massive invasion. But it’s not just politics — the Immortal Empress has a specific target in mind: Eli Monpress, the greatest thief in the world. Content Review: Sexual content: Character says “If he hadn’t warned us [about enemy warships on their way] they’d have found us as naked as a cheating lover.” Queen tells prince he must sire an heir….

The Hero of Ages
Adult / June 7, 2016

Mistborn #3. Author: Brandon Sanderson. Summary: Tricked into releasing the evil spirit Ruin while attempting to close the Well of Ascension, new emperor Elend Venture and his wife, the assassin Vin, are now hard-pressed to save the world. This adventure brings the Mistborn epic fantasy trilogy to a dramatic and surprising climax as Sanderson’s saga offers complex characters and a compelling plot, asking hard questions about loyalty, faith and responsibility. My Thoughts: Parents may wish to note that there is discussion of multiple different religions and questioning of them, and some beings are presented who may or may not be gods within the story. Content Review: Sexual content: Two characters are in a ‘relationship’, but haven’t bothered to get married because they think the world’s ending. Character grumbles “He didn’t recruit me. I was pulled by my balls into this little fiasco.” Seven brief kisses. Language: 16 d***, 10 hell, 3 derogatory names. Violence: Most is fairly non-detailed. Due to several major battles some incidents have been left out. One kandra is burned by acid. Multiple koloss killed in a sword fight. Inquisitor’s head is smashed. Prisoners are locked in a building, which is then set on fire. Character’s sword…

The White Witch
Adult / June 2, 2016

Author: Elizabeth Goudge. Summary: A lyrical, introspective tale set in 17th Century England, when Cavaliers struggle with Puritans for the king and throne. The story revolves around characters on both sides of the war. On the puritan side, we have a half-gypsy healer with hidden depths, Froniga the white witch. She struggles with her pride and her love for a Catholic. The local squire of her town, Richard, is also a Puritan; he fights his own cowardice and anger as he tries to discern where he really belongs. Froniga’s lover, Yomen, and a young nobleman friend of his, Francis, are both Catholic. The war will test bonds of friendship and love to the limit as it tears them apart, even as the fire purifies and builds them back up again. My Thoughts: It’s easy to tell that this is an older book from the very first page. Where agents and editors now tell authors to “hook readers in the first paragraph” and “keep the action moving”, The White Witch comes from a writing period in which readers were more patient, and appreciative of detail. Elizabeth Goudge takes her time starting, indulging in rich scenic descriptions and narrator-perspective backstory. Beautiful prose…