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…

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…

Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection
Adult / January 24, 2017

Stormlight Archive #2.5. Author: Brandon Sanderson. Summary: The collection includes eight works in all. The first seven are: “The Hope of Elantris” (Elantris) “The Eleventh Metal” (Mistborn) “The Emperor’s Soul” (Elantris) “Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania, Epsiodes 28 through 30” (Mistborn) “Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell” (Threnody) “Sixth of Dusk” (First of the Sun) “Mistborn: Secret History” (Mistborn) My Thoughts: Definitely an excellent addition to the cosmere. In the Arcanum Unbounded we get both new bits of story for characters and settings we’ve already seen, completely new stories on worlds we have not yet explored, and a good number of hints for even the densest of readers (such as myself) on the connection between Sanderson’s different story worlds. Content Review: Sexual Content: “She no longer wore her dress, and was wrapped in leathers that only just covered up her most intimate parts.” One kiss. “[The grain] was snatched up quicker than a pretty whore in Bavland.” Language: 19 d***, 19 hell, 5 derogatory terms Violence: Characters fight some monsters. Character remembers finding a little girl in the ruins of the murder of her family, soaked in blood (survivor, not killer). Blood-mage cuts a girl’s arm each day to…

Raising Steam
Adult / January 23, 2017

A Discworld Novel. Author: Terry Pratchett Summary: To the consternation of the patrician, Lord Vetinari, a new invention has arrived in Ankh-Morpork – a great clanging monster of a machine that harnesses the power of all the elements: earth, air, fire and water. This being Ankh-Morpork, it’s soon drawing astonished crowds, some of whom caught the zeitgeist early and arrive armed with notepads and very sensible rainwear. Moist von Lipwig is not a man who enjoys hard work – as master of the Post Office, the Mint and the Royal Bank his input is, of course, vital… but largely dependent on words, which are fortunately not very heavy and don’t always need greasing. However, he does enjoy being alive, which makes a new job offer from Vetinari hard to refuse… Steam is rising over Discworld, driven by Mister Simnel, the man wi’ t’flat cap and sliding rule who has an interesting arrangement with the sine and cosine. Moist will have to grapple with gallons of grease, goblins, a fat controller with a history of throwing employees down the stairs and some very angry dwarfs if he’s going to stop it all going off the rails… (Published summary.) Content Review: Sexual…

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…

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….

Adult , Young Adult / October 5, 2016

Author: Bernard Beckett. Summary: Genesis is a dystopian story with a twist. It explores questions such as: what does it mean to be conscious? Can a robot be alive? The whole story takes place over four hours in a single building, through the narration of a student testing for entrance to The Academy. It leaves you with many more questions than answered. My Thoughts: Genesis can feel a bit slow at parts on the first time through, as there isn’t much action. What action there is comes through the story told in dialogue, and all happened some time ago. But the book isn’t that long, and the ending turns everything on its head. The second read through is completely different, as you see and ponder things that went right past your attention before. I thought it was a very interesting and thought-provoking read. Content Review: Sexual content: A transcript conversation has a character saying he would “Like a woman. Right here, right now. You could watch.” Language: Two f***, three scatological terms, one a** Violence: One character shoots another, there is a (told, not shown) fight in which eleven men are killed. It is mentioned that early prototypes of robots…

Feet of Clay
Adult / September 28, 2016

A Discworld Novel. Author: Terry Pratchett. Summary: There’s a werewolf with pre-lunar tension in Ankh-Morpork. And a dwarf with attitude, and a Golem who’s begun to think for itself. But Commander Vimes is more concerned about the crime that’s happened. He’s got to find out not only whodunit, but howdunit too. He’s not even sure what they dun. But as soon as he knows what the questions are, he’s going to want some answers. (Published summary.) Content Review: Sexual content: Minor innuendo. Language: 51 d***, 13 derogatory terms, 11 bloody, 5 hell Violence: Ghost complains about how it was beaten to death with a loaf of dwarf bread. Three thieves try to take a werewolf girl hostage – there are screams out of sight, then the girl re-enters and says they have flesh-wounds only. Golem commits suicide by laying its head under an automatic hammer. One man killed by a cross-bow bolt to the head. Second-hand account of an old woman and baby dying of second-hand arsenic poisoning.

Fool’s Assassin
Adult / September 27, 2016

Fitz and the Fool #1. Author: Robin Hobb. Summary: Tom Badgerlock has been living peaceably in the manor house at Withywoods with his beloved wife Molly these many years, the estate a reward to his family for loyal service to the crown. But behind the facade of respectable middle-age lies a turbulent and violent past. For Tom Badgerlock is actually FitzChivalry Farseer, bastard scion of the Farseer line, convicted user of Beast-magic, and assassin. A man who has risked much for his king and lost more… On a shelf in his den sits a triptych carved in memory stone of a man, a wolf and a fool. Once, these three were inseparable friends: Fitz, Nighteyes and the Fool. But one is long dead, and one long-missing. Then one Winterfest night a messenger arrives to seek out Fitz, but mysteriously disappears, leaving nothing but a blood-trail. What was the message? Who was the sender? And what has happened to the messenger? Suddenly Fitz’s violent old life erupts into the peace of his new world, and nothing and no one is safe. (Published summary.) My Thoughts: Unfortunately, my experience of this book was severely impacted by a misunderstanding + lack. I thought…