The Silver Trumpet
Middle Grade / Juvenile / May 31, 2017

Author: Owen Barfield. Summary: In this delightful fantasy of kings and queens, a magical Silver Trumpet, a jester dwarf, and castle intrigues, English author Owen Barfield has created an enduring tale to captivate the imaginations of all readers. (Goodreads Summary) My Thoughts: Really, a lovely fairy tale in the old style. A handful of interesting metaphors for older readers to discuss, but nothing that tangles the story up or leaves it moralistic or boring. Content Review: Sexual Content: None. Language: One instance of ‘demme’. Violence: One character is killed by fright. There are two instances of planned mob-violence, but both times it is stopped.

Adult / May 30, 2017

Author: Orson Scott Card. Summary: The sphere is alien in origin, but has been controlled by man for millennia. A legend as old as the stars rules this constructed world; When the seventh seventh seventh human Heptarch is crowned, he will be the Kristos and will bring eternal salvation . . . or the destruction of the cosmos. Patience is the only daughter of the rightful Heptarch, but she, like her father before her, serves the usurper who has destroyed her family. For she has learned the true ruler’s honor. Duty to one’s race is more important than duty to one’s self. But the time for prudence has passed, and that which has slept for ages has awakened. And Patience must journey to the heartsoul of this planet to confront her destiny . . . and her world’s. (Published summary) My Thoughts: I can’t really say whether I liked it or not. I don’t think it’s a book you’re supposed to like or not. It’s definitely an adult book, possibly too adult for me yet. Had some interesting reflective thoughts, thoughts on free will and right versus wrong. Short, I found it quite fast-paced with only a few slow parts….

Adult / May 29, 2017

Author: Naomi Novak. Summary: Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose. (Published summary) My Thoughts: Except for the romance arc (which felt forced, unnecessary, and quite strange – I mean, almost every romantic moment comes from magic-induced passion! They really don’t go together well outside of that.) I really liked the writing style. The magic was innovated and interesting, and the descriptions well done….

Young Adult / May 28, 2017

Unwind #2. Author: Neal Shusterman. Summary: Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa—and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp—people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens while simltaneously providing much-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. However, unwinding has become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but also expand to the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished. Cam is a product of unwinding; made entirely out of the parts of other unwinds, he is a teen who does not technically exist. A futuristic Frankenstein, Cam struggles with a search for identity and meaning and wonders if a rewound being can have a soul. And when the actions of a sadistic bounty hunter cause Cam’s fate to become inextricably bound with the fates of Connor, Risa, and Lev, he’ll have to question humanity itself. (Published summary) Content Review: Sexual Content: “Dad’s late nights at the office aren’t really at the office. They’re with Nancy.” // “I would love to be your first. You can do that, right? I mean… you’re complete, right?”…

The Day to Day Impact of Books
Outside the Reviews / May 28, 2017

How has reading changed you? And I don’t mean “This biography was so meaningful it changed my life!” or “Reading the classics turns you into an intellectual.” I mean the small, every-day things that we don’t always realize come from the books and stories we surround ourselves with. Recently, I was working through a plateau in my martial arts training. I was tired, bored, and didn’t feel like I was going anywhere. Taekwondo had, and has, no immediate application in my life, and I wasn’t enjoying the exercise I got out of it. Why keep going? Because, I told myself, this is my backstory. In any good book the hero or heroine doesn’t whip impressive skills out of nowhere at the critical point. They have well established backstories. He didn’t just happen to understand the ancient writing on the walls: he’s a linguist fascinated by early periods, and we’re well aware of his interest. She didn’t just happen to sketch the intriguing design on the front of her notebook that caught the agent’s eye: she loves drawing and she’s been doodling and sketching throughout the book, maybe even taking lessons. She didn’t just happen to fend off the older, stronger, man following her…

Young Adult / May 27, 2017

Unwind #3. Author: Neal Shusterman. Summary: Connor and Lev are on the run after the destruction of the Graveyard, the last safe haven for AWOL Unwinds. But for the first time, they’re not just running away from something. This time, they’re running toward answers, in the form of a woman Proactive Citizenry has tried to erase from history itself. If they can find her, and learn why the shadowy figures behind unwinding are so afraid of her, they may discover the key to bringing down unwinding forever. Cam, the rewound boy, is plotting to take down the organization that created him. Because he knows that if he can bring Proactive Citizenry to its knees, it will show Risa how he truly feels about her. And without Risa, Cam is having trouble remembering what it feels like to be human. With the Juvenile Authority and vindictive parts pirates hunting them, the paths of Connor, Lev, Cam, and Risa will converge explosively—and everyone will be changed. (Goodreads summary) Content Review: Sexual Content: Man threatens rape, non-graphically. Character says he’s impregnated three girls. Scene with male teen hanging out with three girls with his shirt off – they’re all acting in a flirtatious,…

The Thief
Young Adult / May 26, 2017

The Queen’s Thief #1. Author: Megan Whalen Turner. Summary: The king’s scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king’s prison. The magus is interested only in the thief’s abilities. What Gen is interested in is anyone’s guess. Their journey toward the treasure is both dangerous and difficult, lightened only imperceptibly by the tales they tell of the old gods and goddesses. My Thoughts: The Thief remains on my list of favorites, and I’ve reread it four or five times by now. I think this is one of those books that just gets better every time you reread it. ​Gen is an unreliable narrator in the sense that he’s certainly not telling you everything that happens, and he’s got nothing against using misdirection. But he always tells the truth. And every time I reread it, I find more delightful instances of this, where Gen said something innocent that – now – I can see as foreshadowing/hinting at what we don’t know yet. Gen is a delightful example of the thief archetype. Vain, lazy, amusing – and yet competent, friendly,…

The Impossible Knife of Memory
Young Adult / May 25, 2017

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson. Summary: For the past five years, Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own. Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? (Goodreads summary) Content Review: Sexual Content: Passing two boys, “Others would stick out their boobs, push their butt high and swing it side to side to say ‘check it out. Like it? Want it?’ Some girls are stupid.” “When he dumped some girl named Zoe she blasted a disrespectful description of his man-parts on the internet. Topher responded with photographic evidence she was lying.” Advices boy going on date to “keep your pants zipped”. Character finds out her father was…

Crooked Kingdom
Young Adult / May 24, 2017

Six of Crows #2. Author: Leah Bardugo. Summary: Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world. (Goodreads summary) Content Review: Sexual Content: Woman distracts a man flirtatiously, displaying a low-cut top over her cleavage. Girl is forced to explain a book series (“They get to know each other intimately”) because of innuendo (woman asked him if he’d like to play princess and barbarian). Passionate kissing. Girl remembers her painful nights as slave in a pleasure-house. Two men kiss. Language: 13 d***, 10 hell, 9 derogatory…

Six of Crows
Young Adult / May 23, 2017

Six of Crows #1. Author: Leah Bardugo. Summary: Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone… A convict with a thirst for revenge A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager A runaway with a privileged past A spy known as the Wraith A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first. (Goodreads summary) Content Review: Sexual Content: Girl’s narrative: “It would have been easy enough to turn away when they called her names or sidled up to ask for a cuddle, but do that and soon enough it was a hand up your shirt or a try at you against a wall. So she’d always struck first and struck hard.” Boy takes off his shirt to wash in front of a girl (she’s somewhat admiring). Mention of…