The Nanny Diaries
Adult / June 30, 2017

Nanny #1. Author: Emma McLaughlin. Summary: Wanted: One young woman to take care of four-year-old boy. Must be cheerful, enthusiastic and selfless–bordering on masochistic. Must relish sixteen-hour shifts with a deliberately nap-deprived preschooler. Must love getting thrown up on, literally and figuratively, by everyone in his family. Must enjoy the delicious anticipation of ridiculously erratic pay. Mostly, must love being treated like fungus found growing out of employers Hermès bag. Those who take it personally need not apply. Who wouldn’t want this job? Struggling to graduate from NYU and afford her microscopic studio apartment, Nanny takes a position caring for the only son of the wealthy X family. She rapidly learns the insane amount of juggling involved to ensure that a Park Avenue wife who doesn’t work, cook, clean, or raise her own child has a smooth day. When the Xs’ marriage begins to disintegrate, Nanny ends up involved way beyond the bounds of human decency or good taste. Her tenure with the X family becomes a nearly impossible mission to maintain the mental health of their four-year-old, her own integrity and, most importantly, her sense of humor. Over nine tense months, Mrs. X and Nanny perform the age-old dance…

Solstice Wood
Adult / June 29, 2017

Winter Rose #2. Author: Patricia McKillip. Summary: When bookstore owner Sylvia Lynn returns to her childhood home in upstate New York, she meets the Fiber Guild-a group of local women who meet to knit, embroider, and sew-and learns why her grandmother watches her so closely. A primitive power exists in the forest, a force the Fiber Guild seeks to bind in its stitches and weavings. And Sylvia is no stranger to the woods. (Published Summary) My Thoughts: Solstice Wood didn’t seem as engrossing and well-plotted as the other McKillip books I’ve been reading, but it was still a good read. The fae are portrayed near-perfectly through most of the book, drawing on the old folk-tales and fairy-tales without sounding too cliche. (To be fair, perhaps you could call them cliche, since they’re so similar to various folk-tales. I call them well-written.) Most of the characters aren’t very rounded out, though; while the clannish, slightly queer atmosphere of the village is strong, the individual people that make it up aren’t developed. Even the main character has something of a back story but doesn’t feel as individual and real as sometimes. I wanted to know why she avoids the woods despite her…

City of Glass
Young Adult / June 28, 2017

The Mortal Instruments #3. Author: Cassandra Clare. Summary: To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters – never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight. As Clary uncovers more about her family’s past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he’s willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City – whatever the cost? (Published Summary) Content Review: Sexual Content: “Maybe she’s trying to take your parents’ attention off you, since they still don’t know you’re gay.” / Character walks in on two teens “locked in a passionate embrace”. /…

City of Ashes
Young Adult / June 27, 2017

The Mortal Instruments #2. Author: Cassandra Clare. Summary: Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father. To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father? (Published Review) My Thoughts: They’re like dorito chips. No nutritional value whatsoever, and sometimes…

City of Bones
Young Adult / June 26, 2017

The Mortal Instruments #1. Author: Cassandra Clare. Summary: When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy? This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know… (Published Review) My Thoughts: I mean… if you like action-flicks with several handsome boys, plenty of monster-killing and explosions, and not much…

Seven Summer Reads (Fantasy, of course)
Outside the Reviews / June 25, 2017

Summer returns! Days are long, evenings pleasant, The Outside a riot of green and sunshine that may tempt even the most reclusive bookworm out into it. And what better way to spend those extra hours of sunlight but reading awesome fantasy? (Reading on the porch totally counts as outside time. And if well-meaning relatives absolutely insist you move around, it’s always possible to level up your skill-level to the point of reading whilst on your walk. Just don’t read in the street. Please.) Just to get you started, here’s a list; seven of my favorite fantasy books. I can’t pick a single favorite book to save my life, can’t even lay out a definitive list of favorites, but – seven of my favorites. 1. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld seems a good starting point. This book was my first blogged review, over a year ago! Not a beginner’s intro to fantasy, mind. The Forgotten Beasts starts off with a genealogy of sorts and doesn’t pick up pace for quite some pages further. However, sweet, solid prose and a strong magical setting provide the backdrop for Sybel’s growth and Coren’s love, for a dreamy atmosphere and hinted-metaphors. 2. The Girl Who…

Legion
Young Adult / June 24, 2017

Talon #4. Author: Julie Kagawa. Summary: Dragon hatchling Ember Hill was never prepared to find love at all–dragons do not suffer human emotions–let alone the love of a human and a former dragonslayer, at that. With ex-soldier Garret dying at her feet after sacrificing his freedom and his life to expose the deepest of betrayals, Ember knows only that nothing she was taught by dragon organization Talon is true. About humans, about rogue dragons, about herself and what she’s capable of doing and feeling. In the face of great loss, Ember vows to stand with rogue dragon Riley against the dragon-slaying Order of St. George and her own twin brother Dante–the heir apparent to all of Talon, and the boy who will soon unleash the greatest threat and terror dragonkind has ever known. Talon is poised to take over the world, and the abominations they have created will soon take to the skies, darkening the world with the promise of blood and death to those who refuse to yield. (Published Summary.) My Thoughts: Just a fluff-fantasy read because I hate not-finishing series. Simultaneously aggravated and delighted that Kagawa brought one of the characters ‘back from the dead’ (really just a…

The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Adult / June 23, 2017

Author: Neil Gaiman. Summary: Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy. Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what. My Thoughts: I spent a little while trying to figure out what this novel reminded me of, and finally I thought “Coraline. That’s it. The undefined…

The Blue Sword
Young Adult / June 23, 2017

Damar #1. Author: Robin McKinley. Summary: This is the story of Corlath, golden-eyed king of the Free Hillfolk, son of the sons of the Lady Aerin. And this is the story of Harry Crewe, the Homelander orphan girl who became Harimad-sol, King’s Rider, and heir to the Blue Sword, Gonturan, that no woman had wielded since the Lady Aerin herself bore it into battle. And this is the song of the kelar of the Hillfolk, the magic of the blood, the weaver of destinies… (Published summary) My Thoughts: The Blue Sword is a story about three ​wholly different things. It’s a story about the coming-of-age journey of a young woman finding her home; the story of a nomadic culture on the decline; and while not the story of, I think we can say a story about, kelar, the wild hill-magic that pervades the setting. Each of these is a strong guiding force in their own way. Harry, our protagonist, is an astonishingly self-possessed young woman, rising to new challenges with ever-growing courage and walking boldly enough down a path she does not know to an end she cannot see. The unfamiliar culture she finds herself in is written with detail…

Just Listen
Young Adult / June 19, 2017

Author: Sarah Dessen. Summary: Last year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything” — at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf’s Department Store. This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong. Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen’s help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.   (Goodreads Summary) My Thoughts: Realistic-fic has never been my personal preference, especially not in YA, but I do read it from time to time. And as par for course, Just Listen wasn’t a favorite from the books I’ve read recently, but I did like it. The main arc for Annabel is learning to speak up, to tell the truth but almost as importantly just to say something, anything at all. And I know that’s an important lesson to learn. I know because it’s something I can always stand to hear again, because I have friends who could stand to hear it…