Category Archives: Book Reviews

SciFi Book Review: Arabella of Mars

Arabella of Mars by David D Levine

Since Newton witnessed a bubble rising from his bathtub, mankind has sought the stars. When William III of England commissioned Capt. William Kidd to command the first expedition to Mars in the late 1600s, he proved that space travel was both possible and profitable.

Now, one century later, a plantation in a flourishing British colony on Mars is home to Arabella Ashby, a young woman who is perfectly content growing up in the untamed frontier. But days spent working on complex automata with her father or stalking her brother Michael with her Martian nanny is not the proper behavior of an English lady. That is something her mother plans to remedy with a move to an exotic world Arabella has never seen: London, England.

However, when events transpire that threaten her home on Mars, Arabella decides that sometimes doing the right thing is far more important than behaving as expected. She disguises herself as a boy and joins the crew of the Diana, a ship serving the Mars Trading Company, where she meets a mysterious captain who is intrigued by her knack with clockwork creations. Now Arabella just has to weather the naval war currently raging between Britain and France, learn how to sail, and deal with a mutinous crew…if she hopes to save her family remaining on Mars.

Arabella is a smart and talented young woman, unfortunately trapped in a society that doesn’t appreciate women’s potential. When her brother’s life is in danger, Arabella risks everything to return to him – even masquerading as a boy to gain passage on a privateer ship.

Arabella of Mars was a pure joy to read. It’s one of those stories I hated to see end. This fascinating world is inspired, and I hope to read companion novels, at the very least, in the future. From the unique Martians to the swashbuckling adventure aboard the airships – this novel was incredibly fun. This fantastic adventure will be my new recommendation to all of my steampunk, fantasy, and/or alternate history-loving friends.

Fantasy Book Review: World of Warcraft: Traveler

World of Warcraft: Traveler by Greg Weisman

It’s been years since twelve-year-old Aramar Thorne, a clever boy who is never without his precious sketch book, has seen his father. So when Captain Greydon Thorne comes ashore and asks his son to join him at sea, it feels as if someone has redrawn Aram’s entire world. At sea, Aram struggles to get along with the Wavestrider’s crew–especially second mate Makasa, a tough teenaged girl who has been reluctantly placed in charge of him. Just as Aram starts to get his head above water, a band of vicious pirates attack the Wavestrider, turning his world upside down once again. As Aram and Makasa try to find their way home, they encounter creatures both terrible and wondrous, and Aram will seek to understand Azeroth’s denizens as he draws them in his sketchbook, forming unlikely friendships along the way. But the journey is hindered by Greydon’s compass, which never points north. If the compass isn’t leading Aram and Makasa home–to safety–to what destiny is it leading?

I’m not a gamer, so I wasn’t very familiar with the series. But when the movie came out, I started reading the novels. The writing has been fantastic and the characters are incredibly fun.

Traveler is a children’s book with beautiful illustrations (supposedly from Aram’s sketchbook) of the different characters which he comes into contact. There are very diverse creatures and characters. And Aram’s adventure is fast-paced and highly enjoyable. Full of swashbuckling, pirates, suspense, and humor – I recommend this one for fantasy fans of all ages. And I look forward to the next in this exciting series.

SciFi Book Review: Star Wars: Ahsoka

Star Wars: Ahsoka by EK Johnston

Fans have long wondered what happened to Ahsoka after she left the Jedi Order near the end of the Clone Wars, and before she re-appeared as the mysterious Rebel operative Fulcrum in Rebels. Finally, her story will begin to be told. Following her experiences with the Jedi and the devastation of Order 66, Ahsoka is unsure she can be part of a larger whole ever again. But her desire to fight the evils of the Empire and protect those who need it will lead her right to Bail Organa, and the Rebel Alliance.

Ahsoka is on the run and just wants to hide away like Obi Wan. But she isn’t willing to stand aside as her new friends become overrun by the Imperial troopers. She’s an intriguing character with a lot of talent. This standalone story follows Ahsoka as she tries to help defenseless farmers against the ruthless Empire and her path that eventually leads her to the Rebel Alliance.

This young adult novel is exciting and full of adventure, intrigue, and suspense. Events build to a strange pause when Ahsoka goes off-planet for a while and then returns, which made for some awkward pacing. But once the pacing picks back up, the climactic ending doesn’t disappoint. Young Star Wars fans will want to pick up this fun, new story with plenty of heart.

SciFi Book Review: Star Trek: Legacies Book 3: Purgatory’s Key

Star Trek: Legacies Book 3: Purgatory’s Key by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore

Eighteen years ago, the Starship Enterprise thwarted an alien invasion from another universe, and Captain Robert April took possession of the interdimensional transfer device that made it possible. Since then, each captain of the Enterprise, from Christopher Pike to James T. Kirk, has guarded this secret with his life.

Now, Romulan agents have succeeded in stealing the device and using it to banish Ambassador Sarek and Councillor Gorkon to an unknown realm in the midst of their groundbreaking Federation-Klingon peace negotiations. With time running out as interstellar war looms in one universe—and alien forces marshal in another—will Captain Kirk and his crew preserve the tenuous peace and reclaim the key between the dimensions?

Purgatory’s Key is the final installment in the Legacies trilogy. We get to see more interaction on the planet from the alternate universe, but it’s still quite a bit of a mystery. With the Romulans closing in on the Enterprise and xenophobic, ruthless aliens hunting the individuals stuck in the alternate world – there’s a lot packed into this finale. The strength of this story was the character interactions – from some powerful scenes with Sarek to an upheaval aboard the Romulan ship. I thoroughly enjoyed this trilogy, and the climactic ending did not disappoint. With plenty of intrigue, suspense, and drama – this was a well-paced story from a talented writing team.

Graphic Novel Review: Dresden Files: Wild Card

Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files: Wild Card

A bizarre double murder draws the interest of Chicago’s only wizard-for-hire. But as Harry Dresden begins his investigation, the clues lead to troubling conclusions about the possible perpetrator, and set him on a path that will place him in the middle of a conflict between the city’s three most powerful factions – a conflict that could engulf all of Chicago!

This original story is set in between White Night and the graphic novel Down Town. For those of us impatient for the next novel, these comics are a welcome addition. The story is fast-paced and fun – with plenty of suspense, humor, and magic. I only wish it was longer to see more character interactions. The artwork is fantastic, though I wasn’t a fan of how the villain was drawn. This story arc definitely makes me want to go back and read the graphic novels that I’ve missed.

Fantasy Book Review: The Glass Sentence

The Glass Sentence by SE Grove

Boston, 1891. Sophia Tims comes from a family of explorers and cartologers who, for generations, have been traveling and mapping the New World—a world changed by the Great Disruption of 1799, when all the continents were flung into different time periods. Eight years ago, Sophia’s parents left her with her uncle Shadrack, the foremost cartologer in Boston, and went on an urgent mission. They never returned.

Then Shadrack is kidnapped. Sophia must search for him with the help of Theo, a refugee from the West. Together they travel over rough terrain and uncharted ocean, encounter pirates and traders, and rely on a combination of Shadrack’s maps, common sense, and Sophia’s unusual powers of observation. Little do they know that their lives are in as much danger as Shadrack’s.

Sophia is a relatable girl in search of the only family she has left. Theo is a mysterious boy who promises to help her – to a certain point. She’s a little to naive and trusting, so Theo is a good companion for her. And they head off in search of clues to where Shadrack has been taken.

The Glass Sentence is an incredible fantasy world where land is broken apart into different time periods – vastly different and sometimes dangerous. I just loved the premise and had to pick this up when it arrived. The characters are intriguing. And the adventure is well-paced with plenty of suspense. Events build to a surprising and somewhat-confusing, climactic ending. But a mild cliffhanger ending made me excited to read the next in this inspired series.

Fantasy Book Review: Mysteries of Cove Book 2, Gears of Revolution

book tour

Mysteries of Cove: Gears of Revolution by J. Scott Savage

After finding a compass and clues left by Kallista’s father, Leo Babbage, Trenton and Kallista head west aboard their homemade mechanical dragon to search for the missing inventor. The two teenagers hope to find answers about their mountain city of Cove, but instead, they find only a blackened forest, ruined buildings, and a small underground city. Almost immediately, Trenton and Kallista are caught up in a civil war between a clan of scavengers called Whipjacks and the Order of the Beast, people who believe that dragons are immortal and divine.

Stranded in a new city, the two friends meet Plucky, a Whipjack girl with mechanical legs, and Ander, a young member of the Order who claims humans are able to communicate with dragons. Can they trust anyone, or have they unknowingly stepped into a trap?
And high above in the sky, the dragons are gathering .

While searching for Leo Babbage, Trenton and Kallista are shot down and land in a complex colony of survivors. Part of the population idolizes dragons, but others to want to help Trenton and Kallista fix their dragon in exchange for helping them with weapons.

Gears of Revolution is an exciting sequel with plenty of mystery, intrigue, and danger. This is a fantastic, steampunk adventure series for middle readers on up. And this 2nd installment is just as suspenseful and dramatic as the first. We learn a bit more about the dragons, and Earth’s history in this book – and I’m looking forward to (hopefully!) reading more in future installments. This is a talented middle grade author who has developed a fascinating world of steampunk and dragons.

SciFi Book Review: Star Trek: Prey: Book 1: Hell’s Heart

Star Trek: Prey: Book 1: Hell’s Heart by John Jackson Miller

When Klingon commander Kruge died in combat against James T. Kirk on the Genesis planet back in 2285, he left behind a powerful house in disarray—and a series of ticking time bombs: the Phantom Wing, a secret squadron of advanced Birds-of-Prey; a cabal of loyal officers intent on securing his heritage; and young Korgh, his thwarted would-be heir, willing to wait a Klingon lifetime to enact his vengeance.

Now, one hundred years later, while on a diplomatic mission for the United Federation of Planets, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise are snared in the aged Korgh’s trap—and thrust directly in the middle of an ancient conflict. But as Commander Worf soon learns, Korgh may be after far bigger game than anyone imagines, confronting the Federation-Klingon alliance with a crisis unlike any it has ever seen!

I’ll admit that Klingons aren’t my favorite race. The honor-bound, often violent people have never really held my interest. So I really only picked up this book because I enjoyed the film the trilogy is based on… and it’s Star Trek – so I knew I’d still be entertained.

However, I was pleasantly impressed that the plot held many twists and surprises along the way. It’s full of adventure, mystery, and very diverse Klingon characters. The characters, especially the villains, are intriguing and engaging. I also love that the story spans the two Enterprise crews. What we learn about past events with Kruge’s people helps to understand what’s going on in the future. I even enjoyed the Kahless clone character more than previous stories about him. Excitement and suspense builds to a cliffhanger ending that made me eager for the next book.