Across a Star-swept Sea
Young Adult / July 20, 2016

Author: Diana Peterfreund. Summary: Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy. On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever. Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it…

Dread Companion
Adult / July 16, 2016

Author: Andre Norton. Summary: Kilda has always wanted to travel in space, but was unsure what career she could pursue; for the time being she has settled on governess, travelling with a fairly wealthy family to take care of the children. The two children are polite enough charges, but there’s something odd about the oldest, Bartare… When Bartare opens a doorway into another world, to follow and protect her charges Kilda will have to survive an inhuman world of old legend and law, clinging to her true nature as she searches for another door. My Thoughts: Although set in a clearly sci-fi world at the beginning, Dread Companion steps through into the world of fae. The rules were recognizable as soon as Kilda and the children appeared in the alternate world: Don’t Eat The Food, Running Water Stops Them, Don’t Trust Your Eyes, etc. This was an interesting and creative, if strange, combination of genres and formed the basis of the story. The characters were not as filled-out as they could be, and many things were never explained (as often happens in Andre Norton’s books), but overall it was good. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: None. Violence: There is…

Ordeal in Otherwhere
Adult / July 4, 2016

Forerunner #2. Author: Andre Norton. Summary: After the colonial planet Demeter descends into chaos, taken over by prejudice and an outlaw, Charis Nordholm takes the first way out – a indefinite labor contract with a trader. It is this contract that brings her to the planet Warlock to be a go-between in meetings with the mysterious natives. But nothing is quite what it seems on the planet of the dreamers, and Charis must walk a fine line between dream and truth as she discerns what the real danger here is. My Thoughts: Not one of Norton’s best by any means, but an enjoyable sci-fi escape. It’s always a breath of fresh air to have a strong heroine without any romance. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: None. Violence: Character flees settlers, is captured and tied up. Character remembers other people being killed by a mob, no detail. Character is forced into signing an open-ended labor contract. An animal smashes birds with its tail. There are some purely mental (psychic) battles.  

Randoms
Middle Grade / Juvenile / June 16, 2016

Randoms #1. Author: David Liss. Summary: Zeke Reynolds has spent much of his life dreaming of going where no man has gone before, imagining exactly how one might do it and what one might find, and adding to that with the imagination banks of other such people. In other words, he’s a hard core sci-fi nerd. And it all pays off when he finds out aliens are real, and they’ve selected him among a few others to spend a year on another planet and demonstrate Earth’s capabilities. But life in space is just as dangerous as the movies make it look, and Zeke will be pushed to his limit just to survive. My Thoughts: A fun, action-packed read. Lots of sarcasm, humor, and tropes all abound. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: 6 bloody. Violence: Kid is “smashed around” by an older bully. One alien ship vaporizes another. Ship is hit by a missile, flung around, and various crew members are hurt by the turbulence. Some sparring matches, one in which a girl is badly hurt. One character strikes and kicks another multiple times, and is finally knocked out by a blow to the face. Character stabs another through the…

Enchantress from the Stars
Young Adult / May 18, 2016

Author: Sylvia Engdahl. Summary: Three young people from different planets, at different levels of civilization, each wonder about their place in the world and what will become of mankind. Each is intimately mixed up in the fate of this one planet – Elana, the most advanced, because she is a key figure in the scouting expedition that tries to save the Youngling planet without interfering too much; Georyn, native of this planet, for it is he who must trust Elana to teach him to fight the dragon; and Jarel, a medical officer of the invading force, who has begun to doubt their right to enslave these people. Together, they will change the fate of the world. My Thoughts: This is a lovely, contrasting, reflective science-fiction tale. Whether or not you agree with the views finally presented, Sylvia gives the reader much to think on, as each of her characters face down decisions that have no right answer. The three-way pov is intriguing to me in the way she tells the same events through such different minds. Elana’s story is straight forward first person, and often introspective; at many points in the story she pauses to give her own thoughts or…

Cinder
Young Adult / May 13, 2016

Lunar Chronicles #1. Author: Marissa Meyer. Summary: In a futuristic world sleek with hover-cars and androids, yet devastated by plague and threatened by the lunar queen, a sarcastic female mechanic is swept up into palace intrigue against her will. When the prince urgently requests her aid in fixing a droid carrying classified secrets hours before her stepsister falls ill with the deadly plague, the chain of events is set in motion. Cinder will have to fight for her liberty, learn the forgotten secrets of her own past, and confront who she really is. And decide, in the end, whether there is anything she, a cyborg teenager, can do to save her country from the cruel lunar queen’s plots. My Thoughts: Sharp, clear prose is the initial building block of this re-told fairy tale, followed by three-dimensional characters, dynamic dialogue, and a convoluted plot. This is Cinderella as you’ve never heard it before. Cinder combines science fiction, dystopia, and fairy tale into one package, and does it without feeling strained or over-packed. The first convention broken is that it’s set in Europe. The second, that the main character is not beautiful. And for a third, she and the love interest don’t…

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.  

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…