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 Scent of Water
Adult / June 9, 2017

Author: Elizabeth Goudge. Summary: Mary Lindsay is a born and bred Londoner who has enjoyed her city life–a prestigious job, and friends with whom she takes in the city pleasures of theatre, art and music. But fleeting memories of a childhood visit to her father’s elderly cousin out in the country are revived with the news that the woman has willed her home, the Laurels, to Mary. She makes an uncharacteristically sudden and life-changing decision to leave London for the country. The gradual unfolding of her understanding of herself, of the now-deceased woman who has bequeathed her home to Mary, and of the people of Appleshaw, all weave together in a most memorable story of love’s redemptive power.   (Amazon summary) My Thoughts: Lovely. The Scent of Water is slow-moving and quiet-paced, and it’s meant to be that way. The reading atmosphere is that of a quiet summer day, when you have all the time in the world and are enjoying every minute of it. The POV flips from character to character in a way you don’t see as much anymore, giving the reader a double-view of many minor characters; both how the outside world sees them, and how their internal…

Wyrms
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….

Uprooted
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….

Od Magic
Adult / May 16, 2017

Author: Patricia McKillip. Summary: Brenden Vetch has a gift. With an innate sense he cannot explain to himself or describe to others, he is able to connect to the agricultural world, nurturing gardens to flourish and instinctively knowing the healing properties each plant and herb has to offer. But Brenden’s gift isolates him from people – and from becoming part of a community. Until the day he receives a personal invitation from the wizard Od. She needs a gardener for her school in the great city of Kelior, where every potential wizard must be trained to serve the Kingdom of Numis. For decades the rulers of Numis have controlled the school, believing they can contain the power within it -and punish any wizard who dares defy the law. But unknown to the reigning monarchy is the power possessed by the school’s new gardener – a power that even Brenden isn’t fully aware of – and which is the true reason Od recruited him… My Thoughts: I just finished reading(and raving over) The Changeling Sea , also by Patricia McKillip, and while this story has the same whimsical touch to its description and magic, it’s rather lighter on the awe-inspiring description…

Bellwether
Adult / May 15, 2017

Author: Connie Willis. Summary: Sandra Foster studies fads – from Barbie dolls to the grunge look – how they start and what they mean. Bennet O’Reilly is a chaos theorist studying monkey group behavior. They both work for the HiTek corporation, strangers until a misdelivered package brings them together.It’s a moment of synchronicity – if not serendipity – which leads them into a chaotic system of their own, complete with a million-dollar research grant, caffe latte, tattoos, and a series of unlucky coincidences that leaves Bennett monkeyless, fundless, and nearly jobless. Sandra intercedes with a flock of sheep and an idea for a joint project. (After all, what better animal to study both chaos theory and the herd mentality that so often characterizes human behavior?) But scientific discovery is rarely straightforward and never simple and Sandra Bennett have to endure a series of setbacks, heartbreaks, dead ends, and disasters before they find their ultimate answer… (Published summary) My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this somewhat quirky, humorous scifi story. Well, I think it’s technically sci-fi (?), but it reads much more like realistic fic. Sandra practically stepped off the page, much more unique than all the “special snowflakes” that try too…

Confessions of Super Mom
Adult / April 24, 2017

Author: Melanie Lynne Hauser. Summary: Divorced mother of two Birdie Lee is no one special – she works at the checkout of her local grocery store and is secretary at the local PDA group of moms. But the day she mixes all her cleaning chemicals in a single bottle to attack a stubborn stain, everything changes. Birdie passes out from the fumes, and when she wakes up she’s different. She can clean messes in an instant, sense danger – such as the toddler on the edge of the road or the car of teenagers speeding past without seatbelts – and when wielded properly her voice can induce Super Time Out. And it’s a good thing she’s a super hero now, because there’s a new corporation in town, and it’s up to no good. Content Review: Sexual content: Character comments on a television’s physical/attractive appearance. One character admires parts of another’s physique while walking behind her. Mother worries that her daughter is having sex with her boyfriend. Multiple kisses. Character remembers a specific boyfriend whom she slept with as a teenager. Two adult characters engage in sexual intercourse together several times. Newspapers speculate that a mysterious figure could be a ‘pervert’,…

The Snow Child
Adult / March 21, 2017

Author: Eowyn Ivey. Summary: Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm, she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning, the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them. (Goodreads Summary) My Thoughts: Think fantasy x Jack London. I loved it. The description and the characters’ perception both bring out the harsh beauty of the wilderness, but that beauty morphs here and there…

Dune
Adult / February 9, 2017

Dune #1. Author: Frank Herbert. Summary: Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib. He would avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family–and would bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream. (Summary from amazon) My Thoughts: There’s a reason this is considered classic sci-fi. While it’s perhaps not as fast-paced as more recent books, Dune is a very political book – you have to enjoy the worldbuilding, the careful cycles and delicate balances of power that Frank Herbert has set up. Content Review: Sexual Content Man and wife plan together for the woman to seduce a different, younger, man and carry his child. “I will watch while you, with your own hands, kill all the women in the pleasure-wing.” Baron orders guard to drug young, male slave he bought and bring him to the baron’s sleeping chambers. One of the characters is a bound concubine, rather than wife to the man, even though he loves her and takes no other (because of social order problems). Language: 24 d*** Violence: Woman is stabbed in back, in her dying throes when found. Man…

The Night Circus
Adult / February 4, 2017

Author: Erin Morgenstern. Summary: Since youth, Celia and Marco have been trained to compete, even if in what they don’t really understand. Now the Night Circus has manifested, a magically beautiful travelling circus that enchants and dazzles spectators at night and vanishes in the morning. It is the unusual battleground for these two – but they have different ideas than their masters. Celia and Marco think collaboration might be better than competition, and that love is always better than hate. But they’ve been locked into this competition for too long… and everything, from the circus to the lives of its workers, hangs in the balance. My Thoughts: This is an unusually styled story. Not only does it span two decades, but it quite deliberately moves back and forth between showing and telling. Much is hinted at, outlined by a silhouette, but even in the end left untouched. In the end, I liked it. Although she may have an odd style, Erin Morgenstern has a skilled hand on the prose, and this became a dreamy beautiful work. The lack of information at times could be frustrating, but the book in itself was like the night circus; moving from one act to…