08. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Courtney, Fiction, Science Fiction · Tags: ,

Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix, read by Courtney, on 09/10/2013

Found opens on an unusual note: a plane appears at an airport. It’s not on any manifest and there are no pilots on board. Stewardess Angela DuPre is the only who saw it appear and is the only one brave enough to set foot on the mysterious plane. What she finds is quite surprising: 36 babies on board with no parents or other adults in the vicinity. Once the infants are taken off the plane, it disappears.
13 years later, we meet a boy named Jonah who has recently begun getting mysterious messages in the mail that appear to be related to the fact that he is adopted. Things get stranger when his friend, Chip, reveals that he has also been receiving messages in spite of the fact that he’s not adopted. Or doesn’t think he is until he questions his parents. In shock over discovering that he has been adopted, Chip joins up with Jonah and his sister Katherine to figure out who is sending these messages and why. An unexpected interrogation by the FBI nets Jonah and Katherine a chance to find out a bit more. Chip and Jonah are among 36 kids who have all been adopted and are all located in the same geographic region. They realize this has something to do with the mysterious plane incident and subsequently begin to seek out other kids and witnesses who might know more.
As one might expect from Haddix, this is a fast-paced adventure story and the beginning of a series. This installment merely sets up what will undoubtedly become the main arc of the story, as the matter of how these kids got where they are currently is clearly not nearly as important as where they came from in the first place. There’s a lot of running around trying to piece together clues, only to have them explained in detail near the end. The first part of the book is intriguing and fun; the second becomes quite a stretch in terms of premise and execution. Unfortunately, the questionable premise is what will be driving the series and I’m not certain I can get over it enough to read the rest. Still, an entertaining diversion and a fun take on the time-travel genre.

08. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocolyptic, Bryan, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, read by Bryan, on 10/08/2013

Ender, a child, is forced into a life path not of his choosing – military leader of Earth.Ender

07. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Kira, Science Fiction · Tags:

Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novik, read by Kira, on 10/06/2013

Another Grand Adventure in the Temeraire series.

The action starts in Japan, as Captain William Lawrence finds himself shipwrecked and has lost his memories of the last 8 years.  Eventually Temeraire and the others find the Captain and they head off to China to enlist the help of the Chinese in the Brits fight against Napoleon.  Then its off to Russia to help the Russians against Napoleon’s invasion.  Unfortunately, the book ends on a cliffhanger, so hold on for the next volume in this wonderful series.

Iskierka is on hand to provide some of the levity.temeraireTemeraire_and_gang_VS_kraken_by_sandaraToddLockwood-temeraire  These books are fun, engaging and sprinkled with humor. novik-blood temeraireTEMERAIRE2

03. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Science Fiction · Tags: ,

Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi, read by Angie, on 10/02/2013

Zombies rule! Especially cow head zombies. Rabi, Miguel and Joe are friends who play on the same baseball team. They live in a small Ohio town with a big meat packing plant. Milrow Meat Solutions is pumping their cows full of all kinds of things, which have the effect of creating zombies. The boys have to battle the zombies and evil plant executives to survive the summer.

This book was full of humor and fun and zombies! It also had some serious messages about immigration and domestic abuse and corporations. At its heart it is a story about friendship and what you will do for your friends. All set against the backdrop of the zombie apocalypse. I loved it!

26. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Classics, Fiction, Science Fiction, Tammy · Tags: ,

William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope by Ian Doescher, read by Tammy, on 09/12/2013

star wars  Inspired by Shakespeare’s writing style and the language of his time. Here is an officially licensed retelling of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise knight and an evil lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ’Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearstome Stormtroopers.

This was quite entertaining. Reading C3-P0′s lines in iambic pentameter and Shakespearen English were hilarious. As well as R2-D2′s thoughts being done as “an aside” to the audience in full well-educated language.

 

16. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Horror, Science Fiction, Teen Books

The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman , read by Angie, on 09/15/2013

Oleander is your typical small town in Kansas, nothing much happens there until the day people went on a crazy murder spree. It is now one year later and the town has settled down, but they can’t forget the horror of the Killing Day. Daniel was the only survivor of a drug store shooting; Jule saw her aunt and uncle die; Ellie witnessed the crucifixion of a man; Matt, closeted gay jock, watched his lover get hit by a car repeatedly; and Cass is the only killer who lived, she killed a baby she was babysitting and has been in an institution ever since. So life returns to normal until a massive F5 tornado destroys half the town. Now everyone is going a little crazy, impulse control has been tossed aside, and the town is quarantined by soldiers. Oleander turns into a powder keg of religious zealots, power-hungry politicians, meth lords and crazy football jocks. Everyone is out to get someone and nowhere is safe. Daniel, Jule, Matt, Ellie, and Cass band together for survival, but will all of them survive?

This is a seat-of-your-pants horror thrill ride. It would actually make a great movie. It reminded me of Stephen King in its cast of characters and storytelling. You feel very claustrophobic in this small town with nowhere to go and no one to trust. Even a little old lady can be a killer in Oleander. I’m not sure I buy the science explanation behind the crazy, but if you take that with a grain of salt and just enjoy the ride you will not be disappointed. I really couldn’t put this book down. Wasserman is not afraid to go dark or to kill off characters. I like the question of whether the drug made everyone crazy or if it just brought out what was already there. Any author who starts a book off with the killing of a baby and then makes you sympathetic to the baby-killer is one twisted writer…and makes for a great book!

I received a copy of this book from the publishers at Netgalley.com.

12. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Science Fiction, Thriller/Suspense · Tags:

Divergent by Veronica Roth, read by Kira, on 09/09/2013

Enthralling and Exciting.  I did Not want to put this down.  And the book stayed with me for days afterwards.

It also reminded me of several other books – the initiation and bullying kept reminding me of Ender’s Game, and The Giver, as well as somewhat like Tamora Pierce’s Alana series (and also Tom Brown’s Schooldays, and Lord of the Flies, but Not that bad).  I enjoyed this book a lot, and look forward to the 2nd and 3rd books.  I’m even considering purchasing Amazon’s companion minibooks told from Four’s perspective – and normally, I don’t buy books, I keep my collection at the Library.

DivergentFactionsdivergent junpdivergDIVERGENT

11. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Apocolyptic, Fiction, Science Fiction

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, read by Angie, on 09/11/2013

The Earth is slowing, days are getting longer, the planet is not in sync with clocks anymore. It starts as 56 minutes, then gradually lengthens until the days can last weeks as the Earth slowly moves towards its demise. Julie is an 11-year-old girl when the slowing starts. She tells us the story of how plants and animals withered and died, how people grew sick from gravity sickness, how the world fractured into those living on clock-time and those living on real-time, and of how the Earth died.

This is not a fast-paced, action-packed apocalyptic book. It is a slow, measured study of the end of the world. Even at the end of the world, Julie is still dealing with boys and friends and her parent’s marriage problems. She experiences friendships growing apart, her first love, her mother’s manic worry, and her father’s infidelity. This is set against the background of food shortages, species extinction, radiation from the sun and people disappearing.

On paper this seems more like a young teen novel, but it is written for adults. Julie is telling the story as an adult looking back on her life as an 11-year-old. As such, the voice is not always what you would expect from an 11-year-old girl; some of her insights are too wise, some of her foreshadowing too precise. I enjoyed Julie, but I don’t think this is a book for everyone. For those used to a different type of end of the world saga, they will probably be frustrated by the slow pace. For those wanting answers and scientific facts, they will be disappointed in the lack. We just know the Earth is slowing and the world is dying; we do not know why or how. Therefore, we just have to live our lives and hope for the best.

06. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Dystopia, Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction, Teen Books

More Than This by Patrick Ness, read by Angie, on 08/31/2013

Seth wakes up outside his childhood home in England. This wouldn’t be unusually except Seth just died. He can vividly remember drowning, and his family moved to Washington years ago. So why is Seth naked outside of an abandoned house in England? And why is everything deserted and desolate and empty. There is no one else in this world and Seth has no idea what is going on. One thing he does know is he doesn’t like to sleep because sleep brings dreams of his life before and the reasons he killed himself.

This book is part mystery, part science fiction, part dystopian and a whole lot of fun. I think the magic of Patrick Ness is that he never really gives you all the information; you have to decide what you think is going on and what happens at the end. I loved the dual story lines as we learn about Seth’s past and his present and what may or may not have happened to the world. Very intriguing story that will leave you wanting more.

I got this ARC from Courtney who got it at ALA 2013. Thanks!

31. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Science Fiction

Jump Boys: SOS by Alex Banks , read by Angie, on 08/26/2013

In the future, a group has fled Earth and someone ended up in another universe. Val and Jayce are young boys growing up on a space station in the beta universe. Their dad is working on a way to get them back to alpha earth, but hasn’t been successful yet. They are dared into making a jump by their cousin. Instead of jumping to another planet, they jump to another universe. There someone they are still able to communicate with their universe and they intercept an SOS from a girl stuck on this earth. They have to outrun pirates, space station guards and their sinister uncle and commander of the space station.

This is a fun, space adventure for kids. However, I like characters who are a little more realistic than Val and Jayce. They are almost too perfect in that they are super smart and basically can do anything they want; I like my characters to have a few more flaws. I thought the multi-universe concept was interesting, but got a bit tangled at the end. I am still not sure about the science behind the ideas in this book. If they can’t even get back to the main universe how could they get an SOS and/or communicate across universes?

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.com.

31. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Science Fiction, Tracy

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, read by Tracy, on 08/15/2013

Richard Mayhew is a young man with a good heart and an ordinarylife, which is changed forever when he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk. His small act of kindness propels him into a world he never dreamed existed. There are people who fall through the cracks, and Richard has become one of them. And he must learn to survive in this city of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels, if he is ever to return to the London that he knew.

29. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie, Science Fiction

Freakling by Lana Krumwiede, read by Leslie, on 08/22/2013

Freakling (Psi Chronicles, #1)

In twelve-year-old Taemon’s city, everyone has a power called psi—the ability to move and manipulate objects with their minds. When Taemon loses his psi in a traumatic accident, he must hide his lack of power by any means possible. But a humiliating incident at a sports tournament exposes his disability, and Taemon is exiled to the powerless colony.

Although this is supposed to be the first in a series, I can’t quite see how the future stories will turn out, based on this one.  It’s another that would make for some interesting conversation.  What would it be like to grow up in a world where you used your mind to do everything in your daily life and how to view people without the same abilities?

25. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Award Winner, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick, read by Angie, on 08/24/2013

Imagine a love that transcends time; a love that will manifest seven times. That is the story of Eric and Merle or Erik and Melle. The story starts at the end in the year 2073 on the strange island of Blessed when Eric and Merle meet. But this is not the first time they have met; this is the last. We see each previous time as we travel backwards to the beginning. Eric and Merle are always present and always on Blessed Island, but they are not always the same lovers. Sometimes they are brother and sister, sometimes mother and son, sometimes father and daughter and sometimes doomed lovers. We learn their stories in each chapter until we get to the beginning and find out how their doomed love began.

This was an amazing book. The storytelling was pretty much perfect and I really couldn’t put it down. I loved Eric and Merle each time we met them and I really liked that they were not always lovers. Sedgwick explored all the types of love in their seven lives. I like the mystery of the island and its secret side with the dragon orchids which may or may not make you eternally young. I liked that some of the other characters seem to travel through time with our lovers. Their lives are intertwined and doomed to repeat over and over again. I think my favorite story might have been The Painter, but I enjoyed them all. This is a spooky, fascinating love story that will really stick with you.

16. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Fiction, Science Fiction, Tammy · Tags:

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, read by Tammy, on 08/15/2013

In the distant future planet Earth has barely survived attack by an alien race referred to as the “Buggers” for their bug-like appearance. Even though Earth was able to drive the enemy back everyone is waiting for the day when the alien force returns even stronger. All children are monitored as toddlers to early school age to see if they have what it takes to become part of the planets defense force especially leadership material. Young Ender Wiggin is deemed the perfect candidate to be trained up as the commander of the whole military force. He leaves his family at age 6 for rigorous training. He is constantly watched and tested by the teachers and military leaders who believe he may be the only chance for Earth’s survival against the enemy that they know so little about and understand even less. But is Ender clever enough and strong enough to be what the military is looking for? How can a child accomplish what no adult has been able to do so far? Ender's game

12. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Apocolyptic, Fiction, Science Fiction · Tags:

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks, read by Angie, on 08/10/2013

The history of the zombie apocalypse told through a series of interviews with survivors, politicians, soldiers, and others. This is not the zombie war up close and personal; it is recollections told years after the hostilities have calmed down. We learn how the outbreak started, what the first responses were and how each country handled the great panic and cleanup. At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book. I didn’t feel like I was getting a complete picture of the World War Z. I thought the beginning was pretty fragmented and a little hard to follow. But then I got into the story and couldn’t put it down. I wanted to learn more about what happened and how the people handled it. I loved that we got a picture of the entire world and how different groups handled things differently. My quibble is that I didn’t feel like things were adequately explained. It seemed like there were some geopolitical changes in the world that must have happened before the war and we are just supposed to know what they were. I also think I would have liked less broad and more specific information. As much as I love stand alone books it seems like there was so much information that this book would have benefited from being a duo or trilogy.

09. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction

The Shadow Collector's Apprentice by Amy Gordon, read by Angie, on 08/08/2013

Cully lives with his three aunts on their apple farm. His dad has been missing/run away for several months now. Cully gets a job at Batty’s Antiques and finds out that Batty is doing more than buying old stuff. His hobby is collecting shadows. He has a special machine that can steal your shadow and save it. What does he do with the shadows? He makes invisibility cloaks for spy agencies. It is the height of the Cold War after all and there are spies everywhere. Taking shadows isn’t the innocent process it seems at first. People change when they no longer have a shadow; they are no longer themselves. Cully finds out that Batty has taken his father’s shadow and will do anything to get it back. With the help of his aunts, his friend Sam and Batty’s granddaughter Isabell, Cully sets out to rescue the shadows and put an end to Batty’s business.

This was a nice change of pace from your average book. I like the concept of shadow collecting and how Amy Gordon really thought out the shadow process. Younger shadows are darker and have more staying ability, shadows can be sewn together to make cloaks, children’s shadows can not be separated, and that your shadow contains the darkest part of you and without the shadow that part goes back into you. This is all very intriguing and she does a great job on the mystery of the shadows and Cully’s determination to get his father back. I like how unique all the characters are and how they all seem to have their own story to tell. I especially liked Isabell’s journey in the book. She goes from being a know-it-all who no one likes to becoming part of the family; I really liked how this affected her shadow. Wonderful, intriguing story.

02. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocolyptic, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Sick by Tom Leveen, read by Angie, on 08/01/2013

Imagine you go to a huge high school in Phoenix. Imagine this high school gets locked down everyday; it has a huge fence with spikes on the top and locked gates. Now imagine the zombie apocalypse starting during an assembly at this school. That is what happens in Sick. Brian and his friends are in the last period of the day when all hell breaks loose. Kids are sick; infected with something that turns them into zombies determined to suck your bones and eat your flesh. Brian and crew barricade themselves in the drama department, but he is determined to find his sister and girlfriend and get out of the school.

There is nothing revolutionary about this take on the zombie apocalypse, but it was definitely a fun, exciting read. The zombies are a little different in that their skin crystallizes and they start walking on all fours. I thought the tension in the book was great, the horror was just right and the kids were all written perfectly. Everyone reacted differently to the circumstances and I thought everyone’s reactions were justified. There were no weird revelations or stereotypes to deal with. This is just a straight up zombie book for teens and it is worth the read.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

30. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocolyptic, Courtney, Horror, Science Fiction, Teen Books, Thriller/Suspense

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad, read by Courtney, on 07/07/2013

In the not-too-distant future, plans are being made to bring mankind back to the moon. It’s been decades since the first astronauts set foot on the lunar surface and NASA has now decided to send a new crew up. The twist this time is that they’ve decided to send three teenagers (for the ratings, ostensibly). A giant, world-wide lottery is held and three are chosen: Midori (a trendy Harajuku girl who longs to see the world), Antoine (the broken-hearted Parisian who wants to get as far away from his ex as possibly), and Mia (a musican from Norway who honestly has no desire to go to the moon, but is signed up by her parents and goes anyway). After their training, they’re off to be the first inhabitants on DARLAH-2, a space station that was built in the ’70′s but the existence of which has only just been made known to the public. Things go smoothly until the teens and their accompanying astronauts arrive at the station. First, the power goes out. Then people start dying.
I picked this up, thinking it was going to be a sci-fi book but was surprised to discover that this book is far more horror than sci-fi. The setting, however, did add to the claustrophobic feel- earth is days away, which means no rescue and nowhere to run. There’s a pervasive feeling of dread throughout in spite of the excitement that surrounds the fanfare put forth by NASA (the narrative is interspersed with advertisements promoting the lottery, as well as photos and diagrams from the mission itself).
I wound up using this book as one of my high school book group’s selections, with great success. There was plenty to discuss and all agreed that the book was definitely creepy. One girl claimed to have screamed. I, personally, had a few issues with the premise itself (i.e. who would ever think it’s a good idea to send minors into space?). I was also very unclear as to the nature of the menace facing the kids and crew. This was likely intentional, but still a bit frustrating. Overall, an unusual reading experience. Gotta love YA lit for its genre-blending tendencies.

30. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Science Fiction, Teen Books

The Cydonian Pyramid by Pete Hautman, read by Courtney, on 06/17/2013

In book one of the Klaatu Diskos, we are introduced to Tucker Feye and we follow his journeys through time as he attempts to find his missing family. In book two, we focus on Lah Lia, the strange girl that Tucker’s father brought back to town after going missing the first time. It’s always been clear that Lah Lia is not an ordinary girl, but her story adds entirely new dimensions to the Klaatu Diskos world.
Born and raised as a sacrifice for the Lah Sept, Lah Lia is scheduled to be sacrificed when Tucker and his father come through the Diskos atop the Cydonian Pyramid. Lah Lia is able to escape the knife and throws herself into the nearest Disko. When she reaches Tucker’s time, she realizes that their time lines are intertwined and that, by avoiding her own fate, she may have undone history.
In the meantime, Tucker has found himself stranded in the Arctic, which is not a particularly convenient place for a Disko to deposit a person.
The Klaatu Diskos really starts taking off with the second book in the series. For every question that is answered, several more crop up. Hautman has created a universe that challenges and subverts in new and intriguing ways.

30. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Science Fiction, Teen Books

The Silver Dream by Michael and Mallory Reaves, read by Courtney, on 05/29/2013

Joey Harker’s adventures continue in this, the sequel to InterWorld. Joey has saved the Altiverse and he and his alternate selves are continuing their missions to keep the peace. A mission goes awry when a girl named Acacia follows Joey back to base. Since the entire base is populated with alternate versions of Joey, a new face is big news. And potentially big trouble.
Confession time: I read this because the first book was so much fun and Neil Gaiman had a hand in it. I had assumed that Gaiman also had a hand in this since his name comes first on the cover. In larger print than the title. Then I realized that the cover really just reads “a story by…”, which means that, since Gaiman co-wrote the first book, he’s still getting credit for the second. But he didn’t write it, so don’t get your hopes up if you’re really into Gaiman’s work. I’m not saying this book is bad; that’s totally not the case. It isn’t quite as good as the first book either though. It might be because it’s been several years in between books or perhaps because Michael Reaves had his wife replacing Gaiman as the second half of the writing team, but for one reason or another, this installment just kind of falls flat compared to the first. Still an entertaining, if somewhat confusing, sci-fi romp.