01. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Jane, Science Fiction, Teen Books

The Taking by Kimberly Derting, read by Jane, on 05/15/2014

A flash of white light . . . and then . . . nothing. 

When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day. 

Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men. 

Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?

23. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction, Tammy · Tags:

Serenity: The Shepherd's Tale by Joss Whedon, read by Tammy, on 05/02/2014

serenityThe third graphic novel in the Serenity series. The Shepherd’s Tale gives the back story of one of my favorite Firefly characters, Shepherd Book. The high points and low points of his life are told from childhood to where he joins the crew of Firefly. To say anymore would give too much away
.

20. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction

Star Wars: Dark Empire Trilogy by Tom Veitch, read by Brian, on 05/09/2014

starIf you enjoy the Star Wars saga, you will enjoy this trilogy.  Six years after the Return of the Jedi and the fall of the Empire, Han Solo and Princess Leia are trying to hold the New Republic together.  Making the problem more difficult, is the Empire has been reborn with a super weapon.  Luke is struggling with the Dark Side as his father once did years ago.

 

 

08. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Eve & Adam by Michael Grant, Katherine Applegate , read by Angie, on 05/08/2014

Eve Spiker is the daughter of biotech giant Terra Spiker. When she is in an accident and loses her leg she is immediately whisked off to Spiker Biotech to recuperate. Miraculously the leg is healed in a matter of days with no pain and no scars. Eve is introduced to Spiker lackey Solo who explains that she has been genetically modified by her mother with super healing. Solo lives at Spiker ever since his parents (Spiker scientists) were killed in an accident and he has hated Terra Spiker for years. He thinks she is evil and wants to take her down. Only his new love for Eve stops him short. While recovering Eve is tasked with creating her perfect boy and testing out some new genetic software for Spiker. Eve creates Adam, who is beautiful and intelligent and perfect in almost every way. 

I thought I was really going to like this book; I have really enjoyed other books by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate in the past. However, this one just fell short of my expectations. I think the premise is intriguing. I like the fact that it is set in present day and deals with genetics and biomedical ethics and what it means to be human. However, all of those ideas fell by the wayside when confronted with the one-dimensional characters and the over-used plot ideas. 

Eve and Solo and eventually Adam narrate the book and unfortunately there is little to distinguish them personality wise. They all seem like caricatures of typical teen novel characters. Eve is brainy and innocent and naive and never really questions anything. She loses her leg and has her arm crushed but doesn’t question the fact that there is no pain. She also doesn’t really react when told she is genetically modified. Solo claims to hate Terra Spiker and believes her to be evil, but never really gives us any reasons for this hate. He comes of as someone overly stuck on their own importance. Adam is supposed to be the perfect creation and he must be because he can literally stop traffic. In fact he is so beautiful everyone who sees him stares and wants him no matter the sex or age. Really??? Every time this was described I cringed with incredulity; it just seemed so impossible and such a stupid plot idea. Then we have Aislen, Eve’s best friend, she is so overly sexualize that she is barely a person. And her story about a drug-dealing loser boyfriend really has no place in the story at all. The ending is fairly ridiculous with the Spiker scientists becoming evil henchmen all the sudden. And don’t even get me started on the stupid love triangle.

I can say that this story moved at a fast-pace and was entertaining in spots. However, I don’t think I would recommend it. 

05. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Science Fiction, Steam-punk

The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson, read by Angie, on 05/04/2014

Piper is a scrapper in a scrap town on the fringes of society. Scrappers pick through the bits that come into their world from the meteor showers. These meteor showers deposit things from other worlds. Piper works to fix the things up and make them work again. One day she chases a friend into the dangerous meteor shower and discovers a destroyed caravan with a girl inside. She brings the injured girl back home with her. Soon Piper and Anna are running for their lives as they are chased by a mysterious man who claims to be Anna’s father. Anna has no memories. The only thing she has a is a dragonfly tattoo which marks her has protected by the king of the Dragonfly territory. Anna and Piper make their escape onto the 401, a train headed to the Dragonfly capital. Along the way they become friends with the 401′s crew: Jeyne, Trimble and Gee. There is danger, adventure and new insights into who exactly Anna is. 

This was a fun steampunk story for middle grades. I really enjoyed learning about Piper and Anna’s backgrounds and abilities. I think kids will really enjoy the adventure of this story; however, it is a bit on the long side which might turn off some readers. I think my complaint is that it started out one way and ended up another. I was fascinated by the meteor showers and the debris from other worlds at the beginning of this book. However, that pretty much got dropped once they boarded the train. I think I would have liked for the two parts to tie together a little bit more. I still really enjoyed reading it though and the ending does leave the story open for further adventures.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Dystopia, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction

Transmetropolitan, Vol. 2: Lust for Life by Warren Ellis, read by Courtney, on 04/26/2014

Volume two kicks off with Spider’s partner, Channon, moping over her boyfriend’s decision to download his consciousness into a sentient gaseous cloud. And it just gets weirder from there. Spider has some catching up to do after his self-imposed exile. He takes an extended tour of reservations, where ancient cultures are preserved (for better or worse). Volume two ends with Spider on the run from a variety of parties who want to see him come to harm (including a talking police dog with a serious bone to settle) and who somehow believe that he would actually care that they’re holding the cryogenically-frozen head of his ex-wife for ransom. They clearly don’t know Spider Jerusalem very well at all.
Darkly funny and full of surprises, volume two of Transmetropolitan doesn’t disappoint.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction

Transmetropolitan Vol. 1: Back on the Street by Warren Ellis, read by Courtney, on 04/13/2014

Journalist Spider Jerusalem has been off the grid for years. He’s got everything he needs to avoid humanity. Everything except for a completed contract, the remainder of which is now being called in by Jerusalem’s editor. Spider reluctantly moves back to the city, a futuristic hellscape of depravity and corruption. In other words, Spider’s back in his element.
I’ve read this volume before, but it was so long ago that I decided to reread it now that the library has the whole series. Transmetropolitan is hilarious, filthy, sacrilegious and all-around entertaining. Spider is a bit of a Hunter S. Thompson for the future, drugs, smokes and all. A great choice for cynics everywhere.

28. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction, Tammy · Tags:

Ashes of the Earth: A Mystery of Post-Apocalyptic America by Eliot Pattison, read by Tammy, on 04/27/2014

ashes of the earth  Thirty years after a nuclear holocaust, survivors struggle to rebuild society in the few remaining areas not poisoned by radiation and germ warfare.

One of the founders of the colony of Carthage, Hadrian, joins forces with a police woman to solve mysterious murders that have started happening. The most painful for Hadrian is that of his close friend and the colony’s leading scientist, Jonah. Is it a government plot? Have some mobsters from the days before infiltrated and re-established a crime syndicate? Why would either of these groups encourage stories among the children of a better life in the afterlife that has lead to so many child suicides?

28. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Humor, Science Fiction, Tammy, Teen Books · Tags: , ,

Vader's Little Princess by Jeffrey Brown, read by Tammy, on 04/08/2014

vaders little princessJeffrey Brown’s second book. Here he imagines the challenges Darth Vader would have faced raising a girl while still a Sith Lord. Parents of girls will recognize some of these scenarios as Leia moves from sweet little girl having a tea party to rebellious teen. I think teens will enjoy the humor in this book too. Small amount of adult humor in this book but it is suggestive rather than blatant so it would go over most younger kids heads. As an adult Star Wars fan, I thought this book was funnier than Darth Vader and Son. I recognized more lines straight out of the movies and more situations slightly changed. A fun, quick read with fun illustrations.

 

28. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Children's Books, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Humor, Science Fiction, Tammy, Teen Books · Tags: , ,

Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown, read by Tammy, on 04/18/2014

darth vader and sonJeffrey Brown imagines what it might have been like for Darth Vader if he had taken an active role in raising Luke. In this sweet snapshots of Luke’s childhood, Vader is a dad like any other dad, except all of his staff are afraid of him. Luke appears oblivious to all the adult goings on. This was a fun and humorous book. Kid-friendly humor and illustrations. It could be book for a child, teen or adult, but adults and teens that are ardent fans of Star Wars will get references to the movies and quotes straight from the movies rewritten to fit a parenting scenario.

28. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction, Tammy · Tags: , ,

Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown, read by Tammy, on 04/20/2014

star wars jedi academyAuthor and illustrator Jeff Brown brings us the story of Roan and his first year at the Jedi Academy as a late-starter. He brings both the middle school experience and Jedi training to life. Told through drawings, comics, letters and diary entries we see Roan progress through his being the new kid at school to being proud to be a Jedi. Fun for the whole family and kid-friendly. Though some words throughout will be challenging for younger readers and will require a parent’s assistance. As an adult Star Wars fan I enjoyed the story as well.

12. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Classics, Dystopia, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Rachel, Science Fiction, Teen Books

1984 by George Orwell, read by Rachel, on 04/12/2014

Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.

09. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Kristy, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, read by Kristy, on 03/22/2014

Incarceron — a futuristic prison, sealed from view, where the descendants of the original prisoners live in a dark world torn by rivalry and savagery. It is a terrifying mix of high technology — a living building which pervades the novel as an ever-watchful, ever-vengeful character, and a typical medieval torture chamber — chains, great halls, dungeons. A young prisoner, Finn, has haunting visions of an earlier life, and cannot believe he was born here and has always been here. In the outer world, Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, is trapped in her own form of prison — a futuristic world constructed beautifully to look like a past era, an imminent marriage she dreads. She knows nothing of Incarceron, except that it exists. But there comes a moment when Finn, inside Incarceron, and Claudia, outside, simultaneously find a device — a crystal key, through which they can talk to each other. And so the plan for Finn’s escape is born .

07. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Divergent by Veronica Roth, read by Courtney, on 03/02/2014

Finally, a novel that lives up to its hype. I’d been hearing tons about this book and just got ahold of it last week. And then finished it in less than two days. Blazing fast narrative and a great protagonist make for a wonderful, um, diversion from everyday life.
This is definitely a dystopia, but there’s clearly much more to it than is presented in this book. Beatrice is born into the Abnegation faction where members are more or less ascetic. When citizens turn 16, however, they must make a decision to either stay with their faction or join a new one. Beatrice finds that she cannot choose her old faction; she doesn’t feel the selflessness required to fit in and thrive in the community. Her test results are inconclusive which makes deciding even tougher. Thing is, she’s not really able to be categorized as easily as the rest of the population and that makes her dangerous. She winds up joining the Dauntless faction, one that thrives on danger and bravery. She’s already ruled out the other choices of Erudite (the clever ones), Candor (where honesty is the best quality) and Amity (the nice, friendly, peaceful folks). Joining Dauntless isn’t as easy as it sounds though and even is Beatrice does make it through initiation, will she be able to keep herself safe from those who would be threatened by her divergence?
Ends on a cliff-hanger. I expect the world to become more fleshed out as the series develops. Good stuff.

07. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Elemental by Antony John, read by Courtney, on 03/09/2014

Thomas lives in an extremely small community on Hatteras Island (adjacent to historically mysterious Roanoke Island). A plague has wiped out the majority of the world’s population. The few survivors now live in remote communities or on board ships. Thomas is unique in an unusual community. He is the only one who was born without a power over the elements. Everyone else has a power, some weaker than others. When a hurricane blows into the region, Thomas and the other four younger residents are sent to Roanoke for shelter from the storm. When the bad weather passes, the kids realize that all the adults (Guardians) have been taken captive by pirates. Worse yet, their tiny settlement has been burned to the ground. It’s now up to Thomas and the others to rescue the Guardians, but Thomas realizes that the Guardians have been keeping secrets from Thomas. Secrets that change everything and drive Thomas to question everything he’s ever known.
I really wanted to like this book. I honestly did. I like Antony John a lot, both as an author and as a person. Or, at least I like his work when it’s grounded in reality rather than a speculative setting. The world building in Elemental is shaky at best. There’s no hint of why these “elemental” powers exist or how they connect to Roanoke/Hatteras (a far too specific choice of locales to be random). Thomas and company fall flat as protagonists. Thomas comes across as both exceedingly naive and remarkably obtuse. The two primary female characters don’t have much more going for them, though they do show signs of personal growth in the absence of Guardians. The only standout character is Griffin, Thomas’s deaf younger brother who also appears to have the power to see the future, a power that no one else in the colony possesses. I personally had problems with a few details that weren’t really integral to the plot, but bugged me endlessly anyway. For instance, do the Guardians really believe they can sustain/grow this colony with only 14 people?
Predictably, by the end, there are more questions than answers, which sets the reader up for the next installment. I probably won’t be along for the ride.

31. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Tammy · Tags:

Black Orchid by Neil Gamain, read by Tammy, on 03/30/2014

black orchidNeil Gaiman writes a unique, dark and moving super hero story of a crime fighter trying to discover who she really is. I would recommend reading the introduction after reading the graphic novel. I think the intro gives to much away. The illustrations of Dave McKean make this a hauntingly beautiful story while the unique lettering technique of Todd Klein helps the reader follow the multiple story lines.

 

17. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Sarah, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Allegiant by Veronica Roth, read by Sarah, on 03/04/2014

Ok, so I read Divergent and Insurgent…wonderful…then I read Allegiant.  First, the idea behind it was great.  It starts off right where Insurgent left off and leads into Tris and Four joining a group to find out what is on the other side of the fence surrounding their city.  They discover they are part of an experimental group with genetic implications.  New allies and enemies are made in the compound where they are staying.  I have mixed feelings on this one.  The other two were told from the exclusive point of view of Tris while this one bounced back and forth between Tris and Four.  Sometimes, the continuity was not there to keep up with the story.  Although it was helpful to hear Four’s view, I enjoyed Tris’s storyline better.  Their relationship was tested, and they alternate between loving and fighting.  Overall, it did not live up to my expectations, but it was still pretty good.

05. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Children's Books, Eric, Fiction, Science Fiction

Rip Tide by Kat Falls, read by Eric, on 02/28/2014

The continuing adventures of Ty and Gemma, introduced in Dark Life. Someone has dragged under and chained a huge floating township, trapping the inhabitants inside to die. Ty and Gemma are swept into the mystery of the deaths, which soon involves Ty’s family, the infamous Seablite Gang, and those forced into a harsh existence on the ocean’s surface.

Nearly the entire book takes place above water this time, which partially is to blame for my lessened enthusiasm. Ty and Gemma face an array of characters and places straight from the set of Waterworld, or any other number of post-apocalyptic movies. There are to-the-death boxing matches, dirty dealings (and people), and a race against time which didn’t seem very hurried. A second novel can’t possibly capture the enjoyment of being introduced to a fantasy world, but even so, I can’t wait for these two to leave the surface behind, and swim down to where things are far more interesting.

14. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction

Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown, read by Angie, on 02/12/2014

Roan Novachez has always dreamed of going to Pilot Academy, but when he doesn’t get in he thinks he is doomed to the Tantooine Agricultural Academy. Then he is offered a spot at the Jedi Academy. Roan is way behind his classmates who have been learning the ways of the Jedi for years, but he slowly catches up. He makes friends and learns about the force from Master Yoda and his other teachers. Soon Roan realizes he doesn’t need to be a pilot anymore because he is destined to be a Jedi. This is a book I am sure kids are really going to like. It is about Star Wars, it has graphic elements and an entertaining story. I appreciated the fact that the book had several different elements: graphic, doodles, illustrations and straight text.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Helen, Science Fiction

The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett, read by Helen, on 07/30/2012

Two generations after destruction rained down upon America’s cities, the population is scattered into small towns. Cities are forbidden by law, as is scientific research.

Rumors abound of a secret place known as “Bartorstown”, where science is untrammelled by interference or hatred. A youth named Len Colter, developing an unhealthy thirst for knowledge exacerbated by the discovery of a forbidden radio, sets out on a long road. During this journey, he will change his mind many times before determining the correct direction for himself, and the benighted America in which he lives.