Etiquette & Espionage
Young Adult / August 19, 2017

Finishing School #1. Author: Gail Carriger. Summary: It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School. Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners–and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but the also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage–in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education. My Thoughts: Total fluff, but really fun. The perfect thing for some really light back-to-school reading to get back into studying mode. In this paranormal steampunk setting young Victorian ladies are going to a floating finishing school to learn proper etiquette, from…

Red Rider’s Hood
Young Adult / August 16, 2017

Dark Fusion #2. Author: Neal Shusterman. Summary: In this second entry in Neal Shusterman’s Dark Fusion series, he twists the familiar fairy tale “Red Riding Hood” into a brooding story about a city plagued by gangs. Red, a boy famous for cruising around in a bloodcolored Mustang, takes on the Wolves after they rob his grandmother. He decides to beat them by joining them, to learn their weaknesses. After a while, however, he finds himself drawn to the pack. At the next full moon, will Red take up their murderous ways, or will he take them down? (Published Summary) My Thoughts: Quite a creepy little retelling of Red Riding Hood. I like the distance achieved, where the story is obviously fairy-tale based but far enough away to be its own story, and I think Shusterman did a good job with the rather dark, gritty city setting and atmosphere. Not sure I agree with the main character’s choices, but it’s not a story where the right/wrong sides are pinned down hard and fast – it’s fairly open-ended for the reader to decide. (Note that the Dark Fusion series is more a grouping than a series… no need to read the books…

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…

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.

The Fifth Elephant
Adult / July 23, 2016

A Discworld Novel. Author: Terry Pratchett. Summary: When duty calls, Commander Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork constabulary answers—even if he doesn’t want to. Now, he’s been invited to attend a royal function as both detective and diplomat. The one role he relishes; the other requires, well, ruby tights. Of course, where cops (even those clad in tights) go, alas, crime follows. An attempted assassination and a theft soon lead to a desperate chase from the low halls of Discworld royalty to the legendary fat mines of Uberwald, where lard is found in underground seams along with tusks and teeth and other precious ivory artifacts. It’s up to the dauntless Vimes—bothered as usual by a familiar cast of Discworld inhabitants (you know, trolls, dwarfs, werewolves, vampires, and such)—to solve the puzzle of the missing pachyderm. Which, of course, he will . . . after all, solving mysteries is his job. (Published summary.) Content Review: Sexual content: 4 instances of innuendo. Language: 31 d***, 18 bloody, 17 hell, 13 derogatory terms Violence: Robbers ambush a coach; several are shot with arrows in the arm and leg, one in the throat. A man’s death by assassin suggested, but the scene is cut short. Character…

Paranormalcy
Young Adult / June 23, 2016

Paranormalcy #1. Author: Kiersten White. Summary: Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours. But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures. So much for normal. (Goodreads summary.) My Thoughts: Let’s do things backward for a change – we’ll start with the ugly, move on to the bad, and then to the good. The Ugly: The fairy. Reth, with his glamor and apparent power to seduce at a single touch, was *extremely* creepy, and not in a good way. The Bad: The plot’s clichéd, the almost-instant-love more so, and the main character far too fluttery. Okay, that was a harsh summation, but I’d say it’s fairly correct. I’m really tired of beautiful main characters falling in ‘love’ mostly over appearances. In their defense, though, they did actually talk together about themselves and their interests. A little. Now, the main character, I think some people will really connect with. It’s a personal…