All Clear
Adult / July 3, 2017

All Clear #2. Author: Connie Willis. Summary: In Blackout, award-winning author Connie Willis returned to the time-traveling future of 2060—the setting for several of her most celebrated works—and sent three Oxford historians to World War II England: Michael Davies, intent on observing heroism during the Miracle of Dunkirk; Merope Ward, studying children evacuated from London; and Polly Churchill, posing as a shopgirl in the middle of the Blitz. But when the three become unexpectedly trapped in 1940, they struggle not only to find their way home but to survive as Hitler’s bombers attempt to pummel London into submission. Now the situation has grown even more dire. Small discrepancies in the historical record seem to indicate that one or all of them have somehow affected the past, changing the outcome of the war. The belief that the past can be observed but never altered has always been a core belief of time-travel theory—but suddenly it seems that the theory is horribly, tragically wrong. Meanwhile, in 2060 Oxford, the historians’ supervisor, Mr. Dunworthy, and seventeen-year-old Colin Templer, who nurses a powerful crush on Polly, are engaged in a frantic and seemingly impossible struggle of their own—to find three missing needles in the…

Blackout
Adult / July 1, 2017

All Clear #1. Author: Connie Willis. Summary: Oxford in 2060 is a chaotic place, with scores of time-traveling historians being sent into the past. Michael Davies is prepping to go to Pearl Harbor. Merope Ward is coping with a bunch of bratty 1940 evacuees and trying to talk her thesis adviser into letting her go to VE-Day. Polly Churchill’s next assignment will be as a shopgirl in the middle of London’s Blitz. But now the time-travel lab is suddenly canceling assignments and switching around everyone’s schedules. And when Michael, Merope, and Polly finally get to World War II, things just get worse. For there they face air raids, blackouts, and dive-bombing Stukas–to say nothing of a growing feeling that not only their assignments but the war and history itself are spiraling out of control. Because suddenly the once-reliable mechanisms of time travel are showing significant glitches, and our heroes are beginning to question their most firmly held belief: that no historian can possibly change the past. (Goodreads Summary) My Thoughts: Don’t go into Blackout thinking science fiction. Even though that’s technically the genre, since the time-travel short circuits out in the beginning, and the actual execution is historical novel. And…

Gemina
Young Adult / May 20, 2017

The Illuminae Files #2. Authors: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff, Marie Lu. Summary: Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed. The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault. Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion. When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their…

Dune
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…

Learning To Swear In America
Young Adult / February 8, 2017

Author: Katie Kennedy. Summary: An asteroid is hurtling towards Earth, and the fate of cities hangs on the performance of a select group of scientists at NASA. One of them is 17, Russian, and aiming for a Nobel Prize. Yuri’s on loan from Russia for this emergency, but the physicist prodigy is finding the Americans unwilling to make full use of his abilities – they don’t believe he knows what he’s talking about when he declares anti-matter is the only way to destroy the asteroid. Along the way of convincing them, he falls in with Dovie, a normal(ish) teenager who may be able to teach him what being a teen can be like. My Thoughts: I enjoyed the humor and the fairly layered characters, but the main character (Yuri) being something of an idiot didn’t endear him to me. He’s supremely self-confident; never really listens to anyone’s thoughts or opinions before changing important coding, sneaking looks at top-secret information he thinks he needs, or playing hooky to hang out with a girl instead of figuring out how to save Earth. I understand that he’s just a teenager, but the fate of cities is (apparently) swinging around him and his team,…

Illuminae
Young Adult / February 1, 2017

The Illuminae Files #1. Author: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff. Summary: This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded. The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit. But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again. (Goodreads summary) My Thoughts: Illuminae was quite a breathtaking ride. With much of the interaction taking place between soldiers and…

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…

The Roar
Young Adult / October 23, 2016

Author: Emma Clayton. Summary: A pair of twins have been separated, one thought dead, but both still feel a link with the other. It proffers unexplainable information as strange things start happening on one side of The Wall – and on the other, the second twin is imprisoned, furious with knowledge of deceit and trickery but unable to react. My Thoughts: The Roar seems almost aimed for middlegrade rather than YA, with a simpler and more ‘tell’ style of writing and a correspondingly simple premise/explanation. No doubt its dystopian aspect is what bumped it up. Still, an enjoyable read. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: Frag/fragging Violence: Plane fight, two planes are destroyed. Virtual reality games in which airplanes are destroyed. Robot fish and seals are killed. One character is shot in the thigh. One boy nearly strangles another. Mind control via implants. Love Triangle: No.  

Parallel
Young Adult / October 18, 2016

Author: Lauren Miller. Summary: Parallel universes are a fun idea and all, but they’re not something Abby Barnes had ever really considered. She’s too busy keeping her life on track, straight to her life goals. Go to Northwestern college, major in journalism, and get a job with a national newspaper before 22 – she’s got it all figured out. But the parallel theory is forced to her attention when her life changes overnight, literally. Abby Barnes woke up in the wrong bed one morning, with a different life then yesterday, and it may all be her parallel’s fault. With her bestfriend Caitlin’s help Abby may be able to figure this out, but she’ll still have to live with a life she never chose – unless she can learn to let go of the Plan and focus on this place, this time, this universe. My Thoughts: Mixed reaction. I didn’t get along too well with the main character, which is always a problem, but the sci-fi concept was really cool, and cleverly done. Miller handled a tangled plot with lucidity and interest. She has a clear, fairly simple writing style with a strong teenage voice, which is easy to read without…

Fairest
Young Adult / October 8, 2016

(Prequel) Lunar Chronicles: Levana’s Story.  Author: Marissa Meyer. Summary: This is the fairytale of a princess. She wanted beauty, she wanted true love and children of her won, she wanted to rule her kingdom with justice and wisdom. She was scarred by her sister, her love fixed on a man who could never return it, and she was raised in a court of debauchery, where monogamy was forgotten and opulence enthroned. The princess fought to do what was right, to marry the man of her dreams, to hold the throne with fairness, to become the woman her country needed. But she had no example, no way to tell what was right, and in the end – broken, twisted, and slightly mad – she still knew that she’d been wrong. She knew she’d failed with every manipulation, every kiss, every step of the way. This is the tale of Queen Levana, ruler of Luna. This is the story of the princess who stumbled into the shadows and could not find her way out to the right side of the fairytale. This is the tragedy of the tyrant who died on her throne without ever knowing what love truly is. My Thoughts:…