Category Archives: Book Reviews

SciFi Book Review: Invictus

Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Synopsis:
Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

Review:
Farway is a young man who’s dreams are shattered when he fails the final exam before becoming a Recorder like his mother. So when he’s presented with the job of leading a crew back in time to steal minor artifacts from the past, Farway sees it as the next best thing. And it’s also an opportunity to possibly find and rescue his mother who has been missing in time for years.

Invictus is an exciting romp through time. With engaging characters and an intriguing plot, this action-packed story was absolute fun. There were a couple twists I didn’t see coming. And a big finale that doesn’t disappoint. This is a standalone novel, but the fantastic worldbuilding left me wanting more.

Fantasy Book Review: The Princess and the Page

The Princess and the Page by Christina Farley

Synopsis:
A dark secret lurks in Keira’s family. She comes from a long line of Word Weavers, who bring their stories to life when they use a magical pen. But for generations Word Weavers have been hunted for their power. That’s why Keira is forbidden to write. When Keira discovers her grandma’s Word Weaver pen, and writes a story for the Girls’ World fairy-tale contest, she starts to wonder if anyone ever truly lives happily ever after. Inspired by the life and times of Gabrielle d’Estrées, a real French princess who lived during the 1500s, The Princess and the Page follows the mystical journey of a modern-day “royal” who goes from having a pen in her hand to wishing for the world at her fingertips.

Review:
Keira’s mother forbids her from writing – she dislikes all fiction. But Keira and her friend write a fairy tale anyway to enter a contest. But Keira’s story doesn’t have a happy ending. Little does she know that when she uses her grandmother’s magical pen, what Keira writes has an effect on the reality.

The Princess and the Page is an enchanting children’s fantasy. Farley’s take on a historical princess makes for a captivating tale. This fast-paced adventure contains plenty of mystery and suspense and colorful characters. The Young fantasy fans will enjoy this fun and story with an exciting finale.

SciFi Book Review: Dragon and Thief

Dragon and Thief: A Dragonback Novel by Timothy Zahn

Synopsis:
Jack Morgan has been framed for theft. He’s hiding on a distant planet with the virtual presence of his deceased Uncle Virge, a con man who has been his only family since Jack’s parents died. Jack knows he must clear his name before the cops catch up with him. A firefight among ships in the skies above leaves a downed ship near Jack’s hiding place, with a single unlikely survivor. It looks like a dragon, and it must join with a human host within six hours or die. The only available host is Jack.

Draycos, Jack’s new “companion,” is a K’da, a dragon-like species that lives symbiotically with the humanoid Shontine. The attackers, determined to exterminate Draycos’s people, will find them if they don’t flee; so the pair works together to escape the planet and begin a search for the truth behind Jack’s frame-up and the identity of the attackers.

With Jack’s future hanging in the balance, as well as the future of billions of Draycos’s people, the pair must track down the people who framed Jack, and prevent the destruction of the remaining K’da and Shontine. They’ll also discover whether their union was mere coincidence, or a friendship written in the stars.

Review:
Draycos is a two-dimensional being who needs a host in order to survive. When his ship is attacked, he vows to seek justice. Jack is a reformed thief on the run, after being framed. The two maintain their separate personalities and entities, Draycos simply needs to return to Jack as a tattoo to recharge. When Jack is forced to take a job for those who framed him, Draycos may be just the ally he needs.

Dragon and Thief is a reprint and first in a series. I read Zahn’s Star Wars novels years ago and loved them. The universe is creative and exciting. And the characters are fantastic. Full of mystery, action, and humor – this fun, space romp was over too soon. And I will now be picking up the rest in this Dragonback series.

SciFi Book Review: Exo

Exo by Fonda Lee

Synopsis:
It’s been a century of peace since Earth became a colony of an alien race with far reaches into the galaxy. Some die-hard extremists still oppose their rule on Earth, but Donovan Reyes isn’t one of them. His dad holds the prestigious position of Prime Liaison in the collaborationist government, and Donovan’s high social standing along with his exocel (a remarkable alien technology fused to his body) guarantee him a bright future in the security forces. That is, until a routine patrol goes awry and Donovan’s abducted by the human revolutionary group Sapience.

When Sapience realizes who Donovan’s father is, they think they’ve found the ultimate bargaining chip. But the Prime Liaison doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, not even for his own son. Left in the hands of terrorists who have more uses for him dead than alive, the fate of Earth rests on Donovan’s survival. Because if Sapience kills him, it could spark another intergalactic war. And Earth didn’t win the last one.

Review:
Donovan is a young soldier, whose body has been fused with alien technology. While investigating a lead on a possible terrorist, he is captured by the enemy. The Sapience want an Earth free from the alien presence that invaded years ago. But both sides have a lot to learn from each other.

Exo is a standalone, science fiction novel with the feel of V. The story and future Earth is captivating and fascinating. The aliens are mysterious with cool technology. Yet readers can sympathize with both sides. The aliens have brought a kind of peace and superior technology, yet the humans-only club don’t believe humanity needs them lording over Earth. Full of suspense and drama, this exciting novel also deals with morality issues. I thoroughly enjoyed this fast-paced, surprising read.

Book Review: The Impossible Has Happened: The Life and Work of Gene Roddenberry

The Impossible Has Happened: The Life and Work of Gene Roddenberry, Creator of Star Trek by Lance Parkin

Synopsis:
This book reveals how an undistinguished writer of cop shows set out to produce ‘Hornblower in space’ and ended up with an optimistic, almost utopian view of humanity’s future that has been watched and loved by hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Along the way Lance will examine some of the great myths and turning points in the franchise’s history, and Roddenberry’s particular contribution to them. He will look at the truth in the view that the early Star Trek advanced a liberal, egalitarian and multi-racial agenda, chart the various attempts to resuscitate the show during it’s wilderness years in the 1970s, explore Roddenberry’s initial early involvement in the movies and spin-off Star Trek: The Next Generation (as well as his later estrangement from both), and shed light on the colourful personal life, self-mythologising and strange beliefs of a man who nonetheless gifted popular culture one if its most enduring narratives.

Review:
I didn’t know much about Gene Roddenberry other than the basics, so I was interested in learning more about the man and the history of my favorite futuristic universe. While Parkin didn’t have a relationship with Roddenberry, he obviously did extensive research and cited all of his information thoroughly. I was impressed with the amount of detail, all backed by other published works or recordings. This is not a book that idolizes Roddenberry or makes him a villain, but seems to be an honest look at a human man. And this is a detailed journey of the early years of Star Trek to The Next Generation. There was some jumping around, but for the most part the timeline flowed well. I appreciated this candid biography and enjoyed learning more about Roddenberry and the others who worked so hard on both the Original series and Next Gen.

SciFi Book Review: More of Me

More of Me by Kathryn Evans

Synopsis:
Teva goes to school, studies for her exams, and spends time with her friends. To the rest of the world, she’s a normal teenager. But when she goes home, she’s anything but normal. Due to a genetic abnormality, Teva unwillingly clones herself every year. And lately, home has become a battleground. When boys are at stake, friends are lost, and lives are snatched away, Teva has a fight on her hands—a fight with herself. As her birthday rolls around, Teva is all too aware that time is running out. She knows that the next clone will soon seize everything she holds dear. Desperate to hang on to her life, Teva decides to find out more about her past . . . and uncovers lies that could either destroy her or set her free.

Review:
Teva lives in fear of her next birthday, when she loses the life she knows to live hidden away, never aging. Meanwhile, her younger clone is bitter, jealous and wants her boyfriend back. As her life begins to fall apart around her, she even begins to question her sanity.

More of Me is a standalone, science fiction novel for young adults. It starts out a bit confusing, as I tried to figure out who the clones all were and why they were called different names. Teva is written in a clever way that makes the reader question everything as does Teva. The plot is twisted and clever and certainly kept me guessing. The characters are engaging and the suspense built to an exciting finale. While the story wasn’t quite what I expected, it was a lot of fun.

SciFi Book Review: The Space Between the Stars

The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett

Synopsis:
All Jamie Allenby ever wanted was space. Even though she wasn’t forced to emigrate from Earth, she willingly left the overpopulated, claustrophobic planet. And when a long relationship devolved into silence and suffocating sadness, she found work on a frontier world on the edges of civilization. Then the virus hit…

Now Jamie finds herself dreadfully alone, with all that’s left of the dead. Until a garbled message from Earth gives her hope that someone from her past might still be alive.

Soon Jamie finds other survivors, and their ragtag group will travel through the vast reaches of space, drawn to the promise of a new beginning on Earth. But their dream will pit them against those desperately clinging to the old ways. And Jamie’s own journey home will help her close the distance between who she has become and who she is meant to be.

Review:
Jamie wakes up after getting over a virus, to discover everyone gone. The virus had a very low survival rate. Jamie’s sanity is threatened when finally she discovers other survivors. And Jamie immediately holds onto the slim chance that her ex has survived.

This novel wasn’t quite what I expected. I thought it’d be a space opera either heavy on the romance or adventure. Instead, The Space Between the Stars is a thought-provoking, tense story. As survivors search for the familiar and try to get home to Earth. There is quite a bit of suspense, drama, and a bit of romance in this engaging read. And events build to a surprising and stirring finale.

Book Review: And Then There Were Four

And Then There Were Four by Nancy Werlin

Synopsis:
When a building collapses around five teenagers—and they just barely escape—they know something strange is going on. Little by little, the group pieces together a theory: Their parents are working together to kill them all. Is it true? And if so, how did their parents come together—and why? And, most importantly, how can the five of them work together to save themselves? With an unlikely group of heroes, sky-high stakes, and two budding romances, this gripping murder mystery will keep readers guessing until the last page.

Review:
Five very different teenagers are drawn together by a traumatic experience with a suspicious cause. They aren’t sure who messaged them all to the meeting where the all could have died. But one of their parents had the means of bringing the building down. As crazy as it sounds, the teens start with a theory; and pieces begin falling into place as they investigate.

And Then There Were Four is a fast-paced thrilling whodunit. The character development was exceptional – especially for the narrators. The narrative itself is a bit strange – with one speaking in first person past tense and another in second person present tense – every other chapter. I’m not sure why that distracting choice was made other than to make the two voices more distinct. Thankfully, I was able to get used to it and enjoy the story that proved to be heart-pounding suspense with several fun twists along the way.