Tag: science fiction

Book Review: The Tomb, by S.A. Bodeen

the tomb
Image belongs to Feiwel & Friends.

Title:   The Tomb
Author:   S.A. Bodeen
Genre:   YA, fantasy, sci-fi
Rating:   3 out of 5

Kiva grew up going to school, dreaming of being a doctor, and missing her best friend, Seth, the prince she hasn’t spoken to in three years. Life in ancient Alexandria was simple but good. Or so she thought.  Until she finally speaks to Seth again, and his first words are “Nothing is as it seems.”

Then Kiva finds out her world never existed at all. Instead, she’s been in a sleep chamber in deep space for years, and her world was all virtual reality. And Seth woke up three years ago and never told her the truth.

Now the two of them must find the part their spaceship needs if they are to survive, but there’s been no contact with the other ships harboring the remnants of humanity for years. They’re not sure where they’re going. They’re not sure how to find what they need. And they’ll need all their broken trust in each other if they’re to survive.

This book had an interesting premise, so I was excited to read it. However, within a few pages, most of my interest had faded. I’d love to read something actually set in ancient Alexandria, but I found things a bit anachronistic at first. Which makes sense, considering it was all virtual reality. I never grew to like Seth, and found him condescending and annoying, and Kiva was very naïve, so I didn’t trust anything she said or did. I felt like the story was still a little rough and wasn’t quite fully realized. The premise was promising, but the execution was less-than-stellar.

S.A. Bodeen grew up in Wisconsin, has lived in Africa, and now resides in the Midwest. The Tomb is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Feiwel & Friends in exchange for an honest review.)


Book Review: The Gone World, by Tom Sweterlitsch

the gone world
Image belongs to Putnam.

Shannon Moss is a secret agent in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. She’s part of a special unit that tracks crime though space—and time. Almost no one knows about her unit, so she can’t always explain her findings to people. Sometimes, she’s sent into the future to gather information about crimes in the present, but her departure from that future always ends that timeline, as she returns home.

In Pennsylvania 1997, Shannon is assigned to solve the murder of a Navy SEAL’s family, and to find his missing daughter. She discovers the SEAL is from the missing spaceship, Libra, presumed lost in Deep Time. As she works, Shannon also discovers anomalies that give her more questions than answers, so she travels into possible futures to gather information.

There, Shannon realizes the case has far greater implications:  it’s not just the fate of the SEAL’s family that’s at risk, but the entire human race, as the case is inextricably linked to the Terminus, the end of humanity. Now Shannon must solve a murder case, a girl’s disappearance, and stop a plot destined to end the human race, in a case that shares eerie links with Shannon’s own past.

I’m still not sure what to think about this book. The concept of Deep Time was both baffling and understandable in the narrative—although the visuals did not always coalesce for me. (Those never-ending lines of trees and the crucifixions.) Shannon is a strong, capable woman, haunted by her past and her experiences in Deep Time, and she finds herself amid events that can shatter existence into pieces. Her visits to possible futures were strangely compelling, as the people she knows in the past become startlingly different people in these futures. This reminded me of the time I read Stephen King’s Desperation and Richard Bachman’s The Regulators back-to-back (Bachman was King’s pen name.)

Tom Sweterlitsch was born in Ohio, grew up in Iowa, and worked with the Carnegie Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped for twelve years. The Gone World is his newest novel.

(Galley provided by Putnam in exchange for an honest review.)


Book Review: Intraterrestrial, by Nicholas Conley

Image belongs to Nicholas Conley/Red Adept Publishing.

Thirteen-year-old Adam is shy, quiet, and a bit of a nerd. He loves looking at the stars through his telescope and building his own bike, while thinking about the mysteries of the universe, but doesn’t really feel like he belongs in his own life. The voice he keeps hearing in his head isn’t helping. When a run-in with a school bully lands him in trouble, it brings the conflict between his parents and himself into sharp focus.

The auto accident changes everything.

Adam ends up with a Traumatic Brain Injury, hovering on the edge of life and death. While his body is fighting to survive, Adam’s mind, his imagination, is in outer space, where he meets a group of aliens fighting against the Nothing that wants to destroy them—and Adam. Adam is the only one that can save them, but to do that, he must fight his way through the darkness that threatens to take away his future.

Intraterrestrial deals with some heavy topics: brain injury, bullying, and finding your place in the world when you’re different than everyone else. Adam is from India, and this makes him feel different from his adoptive parents and everyone else he knows. He struggles with this “differentness” in the first part of the book, as well as bullying and his response to being bullied.

After the accident, Intraterrestrial is both more complex and fantastical. What Adam experiences is imaginative and intriguing—is it really happening, or is his brain struggling to deal with the injury?—yet his reactions and observations sometimes border on childlike. He’s 13, so that makes sense for the character, but I’m undecided on if this novel is geared more towards a YA/middle grade audience, or an adult audience. The subject matter is older, but Adam himself is younger, so it could go either way. I enjoyed the novel very much. It is as creative as the author’s other works, and I look forward to reading more.

Nicholas Conley loves traveling the world and putting his experiences into words. Intraterrestrial is his newest novel.

(Galley provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Dark Intercept, by Julia Keller

the dark intercept
Image belongs to Macmillan-Tor/Forge


Violet Crowley is the sixteen-year-old daughter of the founder of New Earth, the safe home of people with the right to leave the sordid conditions of Earth behind. The Intercept keeps New Earth residents safe, and it monitors emotions and occasionally uses them to keep that safety intact. Julia has never known anything different, but when Danny, a cop and her long-time crush, is almost killed on Old Earth, Violet decides to investigate what he’s up to, and ends up finding out secrets she never imagined.

I enjoyed The Dark Intercept very much. The concept was unique and intriguing, and the book takes a hard look at what people are willing to put up with for their idea of safety. Technology is taken to the extreme in New Earth, and the idea is terrifying. Violet is pretty typical for a teenager, with her crush and her preconceived ideas of what’s really going on. She matures some in the book, but she still has a tendency to forgive all of Danny’s lies and actions, which is a bit annoying. The characters are rather one-dimensional, but I feel they will develop more as the series continues.

Julia Keller is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer. The Dark Intercept is her new novel.

Galley provided by Macmillan-Tor/Forge via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

beasts of extraordinary circumstance
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Weylyn Grey was orphaned and raised by wolves. He met Mary when she was 11 years old, when he saved her from an angry wolf. Weylyn knows strange things happen around him—like stopping that tornado on Christmas Day—but he prefers to give the credit to his horned pig, Merlin.

Freak storms, trees that grow overnight, hurricanes that mysteriously dissipate; Weylyn has been around them all. Though it all, his love for Mary stays strong, until he realizes that she might come to harm. Then he knows he must move on. Instead of stopping hurricanes, the magic in his life now consists of fireflies who make phosphorescent honey. But, through it all, his love for Mary remains strong. All he needs is the courage to knock on her door.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is classified as fantasy/sci-fi, but to me, it’s more magical realism. It’s different from anything else I’ve ever read, and different is a very good thing. This is told not only from Weylyn’s point-of-view, but from that of those who know him. There is magic on every page, and wonder hides here as well.

Ruth Emmie Lang was born in Scotland, but moved to Ohio when she was four. Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is her first novel.

(Galley provided by St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)



Book Review: Select, by Marit Weisenberg

Image belongs to Charlesbridge Teen.

Julia Jaynes is part of a group of highly-evolved humans living in Austin, Texas. Rich, beautiful, and powerful, they keep to themselves and try not to draw more attention to their media-popular circle. Then Julia saves her sister from drowning, and the media attention she causes makes her powerful father punish her by sending her to public high school.

There Julia meets John, a tennis prodigy and a nice, regular guy. When Julie discovers she can read his mind—sometimes—she uses the power to encourage John, and her feelings start to grow. Living with the regular humans isn’t as bad as she thought, but Julie is desperate to get back in her controlling father’s good graces, before their circle disappears from society for good.

So…the cover of this book is what caught my eye first, and the premise is fantastic. I read all of it, but Julia was a bit too erratic for me. Does she hate her father? Does she love him? Does she want to stay with the super humans? Does a life of freedom with the regular humans sound more appealing?  What is really going on with the evolved humans and Julia’s powerful father? And why did he separate the younger members and try to destroy the more powerful ones’ talents?

I don’t actually know the answers to any of these questions, and that bothers me. Julia can’t make up her mind, and a first-person narrative should have some insight into the character, but it doesn’t. (I saw several comparisons to Twilight in other reviews, and that is sadly accurate.) I loved the premise of this book, but the execution and character development was lacking.

Despite her name, Marit Weisenberg is only a quarter Norwegian. She lives in Austin, Texas. Select is the first book in the Select series.

(Galley provided by Charlesbridge Teen via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Dream Me, by Kathryn Berla

dream me
Image belongs to Amberjack Publishing.

Babe is always the new girl in town. Always. So, when her family moves to Florida one summer, she doesn’t expect much, just a regular life working for the local country club and its upper-class members. But she makes friends and starts to imagine a life there. Then the headaches start, terrible, blinding ones that seem to be caused by the dreams she has every single night.

Zat is a dreamer from a far distant future where people no longer dream and Earth is dying. In his dreams, he sees red-haired Babe and longs to experience the life she embraces. Instead of leaving Earth with his family, he chooses to travel back in time and live in Babe’s dreams, but he never imagines those dreams will cause her so much pain. While Babe clings to their dream life together, Zat tries to pull away so he no longer hurts her. Soon they must make a choice between dreams and reality.

I’ve read some great books lately, and Dream Me is one of them. The whole premise is unique, since Zat only exists in Babe’s dreams, but the characters are so vivid they feel like I know them personally. Zat’s bleak existence made me feel sorry for him, and I could relate to Babe’s tough exterior, caused by her challenging life. These characters are deep and compelling, and the novel blends YA with fantasy seamlessly, with an added does of mystery—what is Zat hiding? Will they find a solution? Even the setting—the steamy Florida coast—lives and breathes on the page. If you love YA, fantasy, romance, or sci-fi, you should read this!

Kathryn Berla lives in San Francisco. Her newest novel, Dream Me, hits shelves on July 11th.

(Galley provided by Amberjack Publishing in return for an honest review.)

Storm Damaged, by Kerry Adrienne

(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Loose Id, LLC.)

Kerry Adrienne is the author of several novels in different genres. Her newest book, Storm Damaged, is a fantasy/sci-fi romance.

Humans don’t know that mermaids exist, but they have a large tribal society and prefer to keep themselves apart from humans. Except for Mari. Desperate to get away from her domineering mother and her controlling fiancé, she left life under the sea behind to open a tiny souvenir shop on the island. She’s happy there, until her landlord, Chase tells her he’s selling the bar under which her shop is located.

Suddenly Mari’s happy fantasies of a relationship with Chase, the former Navy diver who lost his brother in a diving accident and is now afraid of the ocean, go up in smoke. Chase wants to get as far away from the ocean—and memories of his brother’s death—as possible, but before he can, a hurricane moves in, trapping him and Mari on the island. Will she be able to convince him to stay, or will her sea life come back to haunt them both?

Storm Damaged is a breezy story of two people both running from something. Mari has struggled for years against her family’s expectations, as well as her fiancé, while Chase is intent on running away from what haunts him. Their journey towards each other is a fun, engaging read touched with a little bit of magic.

(Galley provided by Loose Id, LLC via NetGalley.)

Children of the Comet, by Donald Moffit

(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Open Road Media.)
(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Open Road Media.)

Six billion years in the future, Earth has been destroyed, and the human race has left to settle a world on the edge of the galaxy. The colonists have everything they need to start a new life, but some of them want to head back home and start over there. The home galaxy is deserted in the wake of the destruction left behind after the decimation of the earth. Or so the survivors think.

On the surface of an icy comet grows a great tree unhampered by gravity or atmosphere. Torris’s people must harvest frozen airy daily, and hunt meatbeasts and stovebeasts to survive. When Torris goes on his vision quest to the top of his tree, he finds out the world is a far different place than he ever imagined. He meets Ning, a female hunter from a nearby tree-bearing comet, and his world changes forever. But the cultural differences between his tribe and Ning’s are nothing compared to the revelations in store when a massive starship arrives, bringing changes Torris and his tribe could never have foreseen.

Children of the Comet is the newest book by sci-fi master Donald Moffit. The intricate tale of humanity’s descendants—both Homo sapiens and a new species—is intriguing and well-crafted, with science layered between adventure to create a story that will intrigue even readers who aren’t science fiction fans.

(Galley provided by Open Road Media via NetGalley.)

Winell Road: Beneath the Surface, by Kate Foster

(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Jet Black Publishing.)
(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Jet Black Publishing.)

Kate Foster is an English author who lives in Australia. She has three sons who keep her very busy, and she has loved to read and write for as long as she can remember. Her newest book, Winell Road: Beneath the Surface, is the first book in a middle-grade series reminiscent of Men in Black.

When you’re 12 years old, living in a boring neighborhood with weird neighbors is the worst thing that can happen. Welcome to Jack Mills’ life. His mom likes to spy on the neighbors and create odd recipes. His dad is the inventor of such things as the Camera Belt and the Self-Closing Window. His best friend is away on one of his clandestine vacations and can’t be reached. So when Jack sees a spaceship one afternoon that no one else has seen, he’s on his own.

Until a new neighbor moves in, extremely tall Roxy Fox. With Roxy’s help, Jack is soon on a mission to find an item that could save the galaxy from horrible aliens intent on destroying the world. But Winell Road has secrets that Jack never suspected, and these secrets could be enough to thwart Jack’s mission. For good.

Winell Road:  Beneath the Surface is a fast-paced middle-grade adventure story with the feel of Men in Black. Jack is a smart, resourceful boy with more abilities than he’s ever dreamed off, and he finds out that the world is a far stranger place than he imagined. The action is non-stop and will keep readers riveted.

(Galley provided by Jet Black Publishing via NetGalley.)