Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Middle Grade / Juvenile / October 31, 2016

Harry Potter #1. Author: J.K. Rowling. Summary: Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who are mean to him and make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. (Dudley, however, has two bedrooms, one to sleep in and one for all his toys and games.) Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed forever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard! Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: 1 d*** Violence: Fairly low. Love Triangle: No. Other: There has been some controversy over the fact that children learn magic/spells, to guard against the “dark arts”, and there are magical females referred to as witches.

Quest for the Future
Adult / October 29, 2016

Author: A.E. Van Vogt. Summary: Worlds of differing probabilities and the constant search for immortality are the twin themes of this mind-toppling story. Expanding the enigmas of time, van Vogt carries the reader to the furthermost edges of past and future and outwards to a place where time loses all meaning. (Summary from Goodreads.) My Thoughts: A.E. Van Vogt weaves a complicated, imaginative story with his usual skill. I did not enjoy it myself because I took a strong dislike to the main character; a brash, arrogant man whom I could never get along with. Content Review: Sexual content: Brief kiss between a married man and a woman who is not his wife. Man says he “caught my parents in bed around then [age 14]. There they were pretending no such thing as sex existed, and they were going at it like veterans.” From narrative, ‘They made love in his apartment within an hour of meeting.’ (Adultery.) Character’s thoughts, ‘Maybe a female doctor […] might for strictly clinical purposes also be interested in sex with such a smelly type.” “There’s got to be sex. Without that I’ll kill myself.” Character reads a novel about a “sexually free society where every…

Seven Black Diamonds
Young Adult / October 28, 2016

Seven Black Diamonds #1. Author: Melissa Mar. Summary: Lilywhite Abernathy is a criminal. Her father’s “unconventional” business has meant a life of tightly held secrets, concealed weaponry, and a strict code. But Lily’s crime isn’t being the daughter of a powerful mob boss. Her guilt lies in the other half of her DNA—the part that can coax ancient rumors from stones and summon fire with a thought. Lily is part fae, which is a crime in her world. From the time before she was born, a war has been raging between humanity and fae. The Queen of Blood and Rage, ruler of both the Seelie and Unseelie courts, wants to avenge the tragic death of her heir—a death that was the fault of reckless humans. Lily’s father has shielded her from the repercussions of her ancestry…until she is sent to the prestigious St. Columba’s school, straight into the arms of the Black Diamonds. Mysterious, glamorous, and bound together in their mission but constantly at odds, Zephyr, Creed, Will, Roan, Violet, and Alkamy are a Sleeper cell of fae, planted in the human world to help destroy it from within. With covers as rock stars and celebrity children, the Black Diamonds…

Black Powder War
Young Adult / October 27, 2016

Temeraire #3. Author: Naomi Novik. Summary: Picking up where book two left off (in China, Macau) Captain Will Laurence and his extraordinary dragon, Temeraire, are ordered to retrieve and escort a precious cargo of valuable dragon eggs from Istanbul to England. They take the Old Silk Road from China to Istanbul, crossing deserts and mountains. En route to England, they help the beleaguered Prussians battle Napoleon. (Goodreads summary.) Content Review: Sexual content: Man is scandalized by a girl bathing with boys: she says (innocently), she “hasn’t started bleeding yet, and any way I would not like to go to bed with any of them.” Dancing girls “dressed indecently” in “near see-through pantaloons” perform. Two men endeavor to see the emperor’s harem, and make “beckoning gestures” to them – later punished. Dragon says “I do not think they have breeding grounds here; at least, I and Mei did not have to go-” before breaking off. Later, he indirectly says he was pleasuring himself- (Captain: “Did you have a pleasant bath?” Dragon:” Oh, yes; those rocks were very nice, although it was not quite as nice as being with Mei.” He goes on, confused at the man’s startled reaction, “Well, do you…

Throne of Jade
Young Adult / October 27, 2016

Temeraire #2. Author: Naomi Novik. Summary: When Britain intercepted a French ship and its precious cargo–an unhatched dragon’s egg–Capt. Will Laurence of HMS Reliant unexpectedly became master and commander of the noble dragon he named Temeraire. As new recruits in Britain’s Aerial Corps, man and dragon soon proved their mettle in daring combat against Bonaparte’s invading forces. Now China has discovered that its rare gift, intended for Napoleon, has fallen into British hands–and an angry Chinese delegation vows to reclaim the remarkable beast. But Laurence refuses to cooperate. Facing the gallows for his defiance, Laurence has no choice but to accompany Temeraire back to the Far East–a long voyage fraught with peril, intrigue, and the untold terrors of the deep. Yet once the pair reaches the court of the Chinese emperor, even more shocking discoveries and darker dangers await. (Goodreads summary) My Thoughts: It just gets better. We started with British Airforce Dragons; now Novik has moved on to multicultural work. The Chinese dragons aren’t just dragons owned by a different nation, they have a well-developed and very different culture, and it’s fun to see this so well-written. Content Review: Sexual content: Spoken mention of two dragons courting. An implication…

I Am Princess X
Young Adult / October 25, 2016

Author: Cherie Priest. Summary: Once upon a time, two best friends created a princess together. Libby drew the pictures, May wrote the tales, and their heroine, Princess X, slayed all the dragons and scaled all the mountains their imaginations could conjure. Once upon a few years later, Libby was in the car with her mom, driving across the Ballard Bridge on a rainy night. When the car went over the side, Libby passed away, and Princess X died with her. Once upon a now: May is sixteen and lonely, wandering the streets of Seattle, when she sees a sticker slapped in a corner window. Princess X? When May looks around, she sees the Princess everywhere: Stickers. Patches. Graffiti. There’s an entire underground culture, focused around a webcomic at IAmPrincessX.com. The more May explores the webcomic, the more she sees disturbing similarities between Libby’s story and Princess X online. And that means that only one person could have started this phenomenon—her best friend, Libby, who lives. (Published summary.) My Thoughts: I really liked the alternating between webcomic and story. And I loved the way Libby has turned her painful reality into a fairytale. I could have gone for a bit more…

The Roar
Young Adult / October 23, 2016

Author: Emma Clayton. Summary: A pair of twins have been separated, one thought dead, but both still feel a link with the other. It proffers unexplainable information as strange things start happening on one side of The Wall – and on the other, the second twin is imprisoned, furious with knowledge of deceit and trickery but unable to react. My Thoughts: The Roar seems almost aimed for middlegrade rather than YA, with a simpler and more ‘tell’ style of writing and a correspondingly simple premise/explanation. No doubt its dystopian aspect is what bumped it up. Still, an enjoyable read. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: Frag/fragging Violence: Plane fight, two planes are destroyed. Virtual reality games in which airplanes are destroyed. Robot fish and seals are killed. One character is shot in the thigh. One boy nearly strangles another. Mind control via implants. Love Triangle: No.  

The Hidden Oracle
Middle Grade / Juvenile / October 22, 2016

Trials of Apollo #1. Author: Rick Riordan. Summary: How do you punish an immortal? By making him human. After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus’s favour. But Apollo has many enemies – gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go . . . an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood. (Published summary.) My Thoughts: Pretty funny for a middle-grade book, even if it does seem awfully familiar after two whole series with much the same kind of adventures. This time we have Apollo for protagonist. He’s a self-absorbed jerk, but at least it’s a distinctive narrator; and honestly I found his narration very amusing. Content Review: Sexual content: Narrator comments that he’s had at least as many boyfriends as girlfriends (this in connection with two male characters dating) and adds that you really…

Fool’s Quest
Adult / October 20, 2016

Fitz and the Fool #2. Author: Robin Hobb. Summary: After nearly killing his oldest friend, the Fool, and finding his daughter stolen away by those who were once targeting the Fool, FitzChivarly Farseer is out for blood. And who better to wreak havoc than a highly trained and deadly former royal assassin? Fitz might have let his skills go fallow over his years of peace, but such things, once learned, are not so easily forgotten. And nothing is more dangerous than a man who has nothing left to lose… (Goodreads summary.) Content Review: Sexual content: Soldier tries to rape a girl. He knocks her down and tears her blouse and skirt before he’s stopped. / (After household was attacked) girl says she was raped by a soldier, and saw her maid raped. / Man acknowledging children admits to having them out of wedlock, with two different women./ Girl mentions that her mother was a prostitute. She gives some description of the night her mother was killed protecting her from a man who wanted to take her (the child) too. / Soldier tells of misusing power (magic-type) to strip a girl’s dress off in broad daylight and walk away with it….

Young Adult / October 18, 2016

Author: Lauren Miller. Summary: Parallel universes are a fun idea and all, but they’re not something Abby Barnes had ever really considered. She’s too busy keeping her life on track, straight to her life goals. Go to Northwestern college, major in journalism, and get a job with a national newspaper before 22 – she’s got it all figured out. But the parallel theory is forced to her attention when her life changes overnight, literally. Abby Barnes woke up in the wrong bed one morning, with a different life then yesterday, and it may all be her parallel’s fault. With her bestfriend Caitlin’s help Abby may be able to figure this out, but she’ll still have to live with a life she never chose – unless she can learn to let go of the Plan and focus on this place, this time, this universe. My Thoughts: Mixed reaction. I didn’t get along too well with the main character, which is always a problem, but the sci-fi concept was really cool, and cleverly done. Miller handled a tangled plot with lucidity and interest. She has a clear, fairly simple writing style with a strong teenage voice, which is easy to read without…