Alas, Babylon
Adult / May 16, 2016

Author: Pat Frank. Summary: “Alas, Babylon.” Those fateful words heralded the end. When a nuclear holocaust ravages the United States, a thousand years of civilization are stripped away overnight, and tens of millions of people are killed instantly. But for one small town in Florida, miraculously spared, the struggle is just beginning, as men and women of all backgrounds join together to confront the darkness. (Summary from Goodreads) My Thoughts: A compelling post-apocalyptic survival story. More than the inferno and devastation men have brought to the world, this is a story about character and personality. A story about men who harden and adapt to a new world, and men who would rather die when everything they know is gone. There’s no quick, easy solution. No cavalry to come to the rescue. Their world is irrevocably changed, flung backwards in time, and Survive or Die is once more the motto. Content Review: Sexual content: Character thinks she catches another character spying on her with binoculars while she’s changing. “Everybody knew that Randy dated lots of girls, and not all of them virgins.” A couple of kisses. Describing a woman, character says her ‘hobby was men’. One unorthodox marriage. Language: 26 d***,…

Wraiths of Time
Adult / May 13, 2016

Author: Andre Norton. Summary: When Tally Mitford tries to prevent the theft of a recent museum acquisition, she is dragged into an alternate-universe Egyptian battle. She’ll have to take the place of her now-dead double, accept new memories, and help ‘her people’ in a struggle of politics and strange forces. My Thoughts: The idea felt less than creative. An alternate-universe Egyptian culture, where all the pop-culture rumors are true; they’ve got telepathic powers, aliens had a hand in the development, etc. Hand in hand with this, some of the shadier parts are never actually explained, to characters or audience. I was not really engaged. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: None. Violence: A character is forced to move, work, by an invisible compulsion – it flings her against a glass case in trying to break it. Second hand military tallies of dead. A character is drugged unconscious and bound. She’s then imprisoned in a cage. Character is mentally attacked by wraiths, then attacked by a crocodile they roused.  

The Kite Runner
Adult / May 10, 2016

Author: Khaled Hosseini. Summary: Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had. (Summary from Goodreads) My Thoughts: My feelings about this book were complicated; no conclusion formed at the moment. I will say that while at first I strongly disliked the main character, I found it very powerful, disturbing writing, with complex characters and vivid description. Hosseini brings multiple themes into play through the book, including yet not stopping at friendship, betrayal, courage, honesty, and love. It would be hard to appreciate how well he weaves these together into a single heartbreaking story until you’ve read it. Content Review: Sexual content: Soldier implies that he raped a character’s mother. One boy sexually assaults another and…

The Final Empire
Adult / May 1, 2016

Mistborn #1. Author: Brandon Sanderson. Summary: For a thousand years, the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years, the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years, the Lord Ruler, the “Sliver of Infinity,” reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler’s most hellish prison. Kelsier “snapped” and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark. (Provided summary.) My Thoughts: I have learned, through much hard experience, not to trust a book’s summary or concept line. The book never lives up to it. Imagine my astonishment, then, when this book did. The concept line: What would the world be like if the chosen one, the hero of ages… failed? Set a hundred years after the hero could not save the world, the civilization is a brutal scene of slavery and oppression, cruelty and nobility, and constant ash over it all. None of the…

Mostly Harmless
Adult / April 23, 2016

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #5. Author: Douglas Adams. Summary: It’s easy to get disheartened when your planet has been blown up, the woman you love has vanished in a misunderstanding about space/time, the spaceship you are on crashes on a remote and Bob-fearing planet, and all you have to fall back on is a few simple sandwich-making skills. However, instead of being disheartened, Arthur Dent makes the terrible mistake of starting to enjoy life a bit and, immediately, all hell breaks loose. (Summary from Goodreads) My Thoughts: So here you were, breezing through the series and laughing wildly, delighted to have found such a humorous series. Then you reached this book and began to slow down, churning through a swamp of new-found deepness and actual thought. But after the four preceding books, there was enough momentum left to slam into the ending like a brick wall. Douglas Adams has finally taken the dark side of his story – the bleak outlook that says Life is truly random and means nothing – and carried out the promise started in the first book. It may have had deep inner meaning. I wouldn’t trust myself to judge, because I’m still traumatized. Content…

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish
Adult / April 23, 2016

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #4. Author: Douglas Adams. Summary: Back on Earth with nothing more to show for his long, strange trip through time and space than a ratty towel and a plastic shopping bag, Arthur Dent is ready to believe that the past eight years were all just a figment of his stressed-out imagination. But a gift-wrapped fishbowl with a cryptic inscription, the mysterious disappearance of Earth’s dolphins, and the discovery of his battered copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy all conspire to give Arthur the sneaking suspicion that something otherworldly is indeed going on. . . . God only knows what it all means. And fortunately, He left behind a Final Message of explanation. But since it’s light-years away from Earth, on a star surrounded by souvenir booths, finding out what it is will mean hitching a ride to the far reaches of space aboard a UFO with a giant robot. But what else is new? (Goodreads summary) My Thoughts: Definitely of a lower quality than the first one. There’s a lot of time spent on Earth, some of it on an unnecessary, ‘adult’ romance line that doesn’t even make sense. Content Review: Sexual content:…

Life, the Universe, and Everything
Adult / April 22, 2016

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #3. Author: Douglas Adams. Summary: The unhappy inhabitants of planet Krikkit are sick of looking at the night sky above their heads–so they plan to destroy it. The universe, that is. Now only five individuals stand between the killer robots of Krikkit and their goal of total annihilation. They are Arthur Dent, a mild-mannered space and time traveler who tries to learn how to fly by throwing himself at the ground and missing; Ford Prefect, his best friend, who decides to go insane to see if he likes it; Slartibartfast, the indomitable vice president of the Campaign for Real Time, who travels in a ship powered by irrational behavior; Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed ex-president of the galazy; and Trillian, the space cadet torn between a persistent Thunder God and a very depressed Beeblebrox. How will it all end? Will it end? Only this stalwart crew knows as they try to avert “universal” Armageddon and save life as we know it–and don’t know it! (Summary from Goodreads) My Thoughts: It’s like a popular television show that just can’t stop. New things happen every time, old plot lines may even be accidentally advanced, but nothing really…

Animal Farm
Adult / April 22, 2016

Author: George Orwell. Summary: Tired of their servitude to man, a group of farm animals revolt and establish their own society, only to be betrayed into worse servitude by their leaders, the pigs, whose slogan becomes: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” This 1945 satire addresses the socialist/communist philosophy of Stalin in the Soviet Union. My Thoughts: A brilliant, scathing book. I cannot honestly say I have ever liked it – by the end it always brings me close to tears – but I admire it for the writing power, and for how well Orwell demonstrates the principles he wants to while keeping it fast-paced and interesting. There’s a good reason it’s on so many high school lists. This brutal fable starts off like an interesting animal story – the animals have revolted, freedom is theirs, hurrah! Almost imperceptibly at first, but with gathering momentum and speed ominous signs overtake it as the pigs quietly gather power to themselves. Everything has a meaning to be analyzed later, but within the story everything is woven together so smoothly nothing jolts you out of the action. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: None. Violence: Various animals are…

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Adult / April 22, 2016

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #2. Author: Douglas Adams. Summary: Arthur Dent and his comrades are facing death at the hands of the Vogons, and their only help right now is a grumpy old ghost. On the plus side, there’s a good chance of tea later. As usual, the motley band of space-travelers are riding the flow, trying to stay ahead of annihilation, with a few extra efforts at figuring out what’s going on in Zaphod’s dual-brain. By this time, of course, they’ve given up on understanding what’s happening. The best thing you can do, really, is hold on until you can find a really good eating place and take a break. One apocalyptic dining experience, coming right up. My Thoughts: If you enjoyed the first, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this one. More of the same wit, clever plays on tropes, random happenings, and disregard for plot. My only advice is not to read the Hitchhiker’s Guide books too close together – they’re funniest when you’re fresh. Content Review: Sexual content: Character says when he was born there was an accident with a time-machine and contraceptives. The “triple-breasted whore of Eroticon Six” is mentioned again. A disembodied voice…

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Adult / April 9, 2016

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #1. Author: Douglas Adams. Summary: Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor. Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers. My Thoughts: A cynical-yet-fluffy (have you ever read another book that can be described that way?) sci-fi parody. Good for when you want something light to laugh at, or just want to chill. It’s quite humorous in parts, and completely ridiculous in every part. It has a constantly off-handed feel, and so can pull off what would be cliché and annoying in any another book with an edge of humor, and has some clever parodies, just before devolving into randomness again. I find that one can only enjoy so much Douglas Adams at a time, however, before one begins to lose patience with the…