Category Archives: Book Reviews

SciFi Book Review: Quantum Night

Quantum Night by Robert J Sawyer

Experimental psychologist Jim Marchuk has developed a flawless technique for identifying the previously undetected psychopaths lurking everywhere in society. But while being cross-examined about his breakthrough in court, Jim is shocked to discover that he has lost his memories of six months of his life from twenty years previously—a dark time during which he himself committed heinous acts.

Jim is reunited with Kayla Huron, his forgotten girlfriend from his lost period and now a quantum physicist who has made a stunning discovery about the nature of human consciousness. As a rising tide of violence and hate sweeps across the globe, the psychologist and the physicist combine forces in a race against time to see if they can do the impossible—change human nature—before the entire world descends into darkness.

Jim Marchuk is a brilliant psychologist who is level-headed and favors reason over emotion. He has developed a technique for identifying psychopaths which leads him to a startling discovery about humanity.

Quantum Night is a scientific thriller from the author of Flashforward (which was a short-lived tv show). Like Flashforward, this is heavy on the science, yet far-fetched enough to be science fiction. The characters are interesting and engaging. The story is even paced until the exciting, climactic ending. With plenty of mystery, suspense, and several huge twists – this will appeal to a large audience.

Book Review: DC Comics Secret Hero Society: Study Hall of Justice

DC Comics Secret Hero Society: Study Hall of Justice by Derek Fridolfs

Young Bruce Wayne is the new kid at Ducard Academy, a prep school for gifted middle school students. Bruce finds out pretty quickly that he doesn’t fit in: the faculty seems to not just encourage villainous behavior from its students, but reward it. He makes friends with two other outsiders, farm boy Clark Kent and the regal Diana Prince. The three band together to form a detective squad to find out why all of these extraordinary kids have been brought together at Ducard Academy, and to see just what the faculty is plotting.

Study Hall of Justice is the first in a fun new series for young readers. This has a different, comic book-like feel, intermingled with notes, emails, chat sessions, etc. It reminded me a bit of Diary of a Wimpy Kid with nicer drawings. This story follows a young Bruce Wayne as he tries to discover the truth behind this strange school.

Of course, this story doesn’t follow origin stories from the comics at all. But it’s a humorous, light-hearted adventure with many familiar faces that children will enjoy. It’s an easy read for children to lead up to full-length novels. With the popularity of super hero children’s books right now, this is a clever, unique take.

SciFi Book Review: Dark Energy

Dark Energy by Robison Wells

Five days ago, a massive UFO crashed in the Midwest. Since then, nothing—or no one—has come out.

If it were up to Alice, she’d be watching the fallout on the news. But her dad is director of special projects at NASA, so she’s been forced to enroll in a boarding school not far from the crash site. Alice is right in the middle of the action, but even she isn’t sure what to expect when the aliens finally emerge. Only one thing is clear: everything has changed.

Alice thinks she’ll feel out of place at her new school of geniuses and ultra rich. But she meets sociable students who become fast friends right away. The Big Reveal of the aliens who crash landed on Earth is quite a surprise. And eventually, the feel of the story reminded me a bit of the Roswell series. However, there is a darker mystery here.

Dark Energy is an engaging standalone science fiction novel for teens. There is a bit of romance, though there wasn’t any chemistry between the Alice and her beau. I don’t think there was any mention of her even being attracted to him, so it felt a bit awkward. I still enjoyed the characters, especially Alice and her roommates. The mystery and pacing made this an exciting and fun read. And the climactic finale didn’t disappoint.

Graphic Novel Review: Superman Vol. 1: Before Truth

Superman Vol. 1: Before Truth
by Gene Luen Yang (Author), John Romita Jr. (Illustrator)

Superman is going through some changes. First, there’s his new “solar flare” power, which releases tremendous amounts of energy but leaves him functionally human—fragile, vulnerable, prone to hangovers—for 24 hours.

But an even bigger change is coming. A new company called Hordr has sprung up, and its business is secrets. If you have one that you want to keep hidden, Hordr can control you—and no one has a bigger secret than Clark Kent.

Now, Hordr is threatening to expose Clark’s alter ego unless he does everything they command. Will Superman play into the hands of blackmailers to keep his loved ones out of danger? And if the truth that Superman has been hiding is exposed, will it set him free—or ruin his life?

Since I jumped into this series with this graphic novel, I’m not sure why Superman was drained of his powers and why they’re different now. This, unfortunately, is not explained. For a first volume, it’s really strange. It collects issues #40-44, so it was a deliberate choice. Altered powers aside, this was a really good story.

A confused and depleted Superman leads to more suspense, when he’s not all-powerful. Hordr is an intriguing new villain. And there are quite a few surprises within the story. In this multiverse, Superman is dating Wonder Woman, but his interactions with Lois Lane are great – she’s still the same person. And I’ll always be team Lois and Clark, so I’m hoping his thing with Wonder Woman fails soon. The story and solid artwork will keep me coming back for more in this series.

Collects issues #40-44 and the 8-page Superman story from DIVERGENCE: FCBD SPECIAL EDITION #1.

SciFi Book Review: Railhead

Railhead by Philip Reeve

The Great Network is an ancient web of routes and gates, where sentient trains can take you anywhere in the galaxy in the blink of an eye. Zen Starling is a nobody. A petty thief from the filthy streets of Thunder City who aimlessly rides the rails of the Network. So when the mysterious stranger Raven offers Zen a chance to escape the squalor of the city and live the rest of his days in luxury, Zen cant believe his luck. All he has to do is steal one small box from the Emperors train with the help of Nova, an android girl. But the Great Network is a hazardous mess of twists and turns, and that little box just might bring everything in this galaxy and the next to the end of the line.

I’m a fan of Reeve’s steampunk series, so I was excited to check out this standalone science fiction novel. Like Reeve’s other series, this new world/universe is well-developed and unique. Instead of spaceships, people travel by trains to other worlds. With sentient A.I. and mysterious Guardians who govern humans, this galaxy is full of interesting characters.

The story is fast-paced and full of drama and intrigue. While Zen is a thief, he’s likable and relatable. Science fiction fans from teens to adults will enjoy this fantastic adventure.

Coloring Book Review: Harry Potter Magical Places & Characters Coloring Book

Harry Potter Magical Places & Characters Coloring Book

This latest coloring book in the Harry Potter series from Scholastic is fantastic. The artwork is incredible and ornately detailed. This is definitely one of my new favorite coloring books. A lot of the pages will require colored pencils as the details are so tiny. There aren’t a lot of pages with much white space, which I appreciate. And the back pages of the book are full color images from the films – nice for collectors, but kind of pointless for those of us who won’t hold onto our coloring books once they’re completed. I would prefer more pages for coloring.

Harry Potter Coloring Book Harry Potter Coloring Book Harry Potter Coloring Book Harry Potter Coloring Book

Graphic Novel Review: Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 1

Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 1

For millennia, the Amazons of Paradise Island have created a thriving society away from the blight of man. One resident, however, is not satisfied with this secluded life—Diana, Princess of the Amazons, knows there is more in this world and wants to explore, only to be frustrated by her protective mother, Hippolyta. Diana finds her escape when Air Force pilot Steve Trevor, the first man she has ever seen, crashes onto their shores. With his life hanging in the balance, Diana ventures into the long forbidden world of men. The Amazons chase after her and bring her back to Paradise Island in chains to face trial for breaking their oldest law—staying separated from the world that wronged them.

This is a modern retelling of Wonder Woman’s origins. It’s more “adult” and focuses more on Diana’s time with the Amazons. Diana is a rebel, fighting the norm in a much different island than the one I’m familiar with. Diana is the same, bold, caring, and strong character. However, I didn’t care for the changes to Paradise Island.

And the story itself is a bit drawn-out, as Diana is put on trial for helping Steve Trevor escape Paradise Island. Don’t expect an adventure or any action. This is just a morality story, with loose morals. This was quite a disappointment for me, as I’m a Wonder Woman fan. Hopefully, further installments will pick up on the pacing and give Wonder Woman better adventures. I’m not sure I’d read any further in this particular series though.

Graphic Novel Review: Lantern City

Lantern City Vol. 1
Publisher: Archaia (April 5, 2016)

How far would you go to be with the person you love?

Sander Jorve just wants to keep his wife and son safe. Living in the brutalized lower class of Lantern City means living in near constant darkness, the enormous walls of the city always looming overhead, while the upper class enjoys the elevated, interconnected towers and airships above. When Sander’s brother-in-law, the persuasive activist Kendal, convinces him to infiltrate the brutal ranks of the Guard, he’s set on a dangerous path that will test his abilities and beliefs, all in the name of making a difference for his family and his caste.

This steampunk graphic novel drew me in right away. The artwork is stunning and makes the story work. It’s a dark and militaristic world. And the story grabs hold with plenty of suspense and intrigue. My only complaint is that it was over too soon. It leaves off in a bit of a cliffhanger, that will leave readers eager for the next volume.