Hourglass, by Myra McEntire
Following her parents’ death and a brief stint in a mental institution, seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole moves in with her brother and his wife. Emerson just wants to be normal, but her strange ability makes that nearly impossible. Emerson can see people from the past – ghostly apparitions that only disappear when she tries to touch them. Her brother has hired numerous so-called experts to try to help Emerson. So when Michael Weaver shows up from an organization called Hourglass, Emerson is immediately suspicious. Michael claims Emerson is not just seeing ghosts, but that she has the ability to see into the past. There’s something about Michael that compels Emerson, and it’s not just his suave demeanor and good looks.
Emerson and Michael have an incredible chemistry. Emerson is damaged yet nearly fearless. Michael is mysterious yet fiercely protective of Emerson. And strange things happen when they touch. McEntire’s impressive debut flawlessly blends fantasy and science fiction in the time travel romance for young adults.
Full of drama, mystery, suspense, and romance, this moving story was impossible to put down. The story and romance reminded me a bit of the Time Travelers Wife, yet age appropriate and not as dark. With several surprises along the way, the Hourglass ends with a twist that left me wanting more. This is a promising start for a talented new author. And I eagerly await a sequel to this fascinating debut.
Hourglass is scheduled to release from EgmontUSA on June 14, 2011.
The Search for WandLa, by Tony Diterlizzi
Twelve-year-old Eva Nine has lived her entire life in an underground Sanctuary with only a robot named Muthr for companionship. When an intruder threatens their safety, Muthr sends Eva to the surface to search for other humans in a nearby Sanctuary. But the surface world is nothing like Eva was taught. There are strange, new plant life and even more bizarre creatures. Eva befriends a couple of these new beings along her journey and meets several enemies as well.
Diterlizzi’s fantastic world of imaginative alien characters, a foreign landscape, and advanced technology is an incredible backdrop for this story of family and friendship. The author also illustrated his own novel with numerous, stunning drawings of scenes and landscapes that help bring his vivid imagination to life.
First in a purposed series, The Search for WandLa is an amazing journey of a young girl searching for a place to belong. Full of suspense, danger, and mystery – it’s completely charming and engaging from beginning to end. With a surprising ending and a mild cliffhanger, I’ll be waiting impatiently for the next in this series to release. Children and adults alike will thoroughly enjoy this science fiction adventure with plenty of heart.
Children of Scarabaeus, by Sara Creasy
In a last-ditch effort to escape from Crib forces closing in, expert cypherteck Edie Sha’nim, Finn, and Cat cryogenically freeze themselves, hoping anyone but the Crib would find them. Unfortunately, the Crib finds Edie just over a year later and forces her back to work. To make matters worse, Edie soon discovers that the Crib have been using children as cypherteck slaves in her absence.
Picking up where Song of Scarabaeus left off, Edie and Finn have a growing relationship. But Finn still has a bomb connected to his brain that reacts to Edie, with unfortunate side effects. Once again, Creasy’s dark and complex universe of the oppressive Crib, creative advanced technology, and a sentient planet is fascinating and engaging. No sophomore slump here.
With plenty of surprising twists and turns, this was non-stop suspense and adventure. This sequel had a building, climactic and satisfying ending that I didn’t see coming. I’ll be looking forward to more upcoming releases from the inventive Sara Creasy. Fans of science fiction will enjoy this unique saga with a bit of romance.
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Indistinguishable from Magic, by David A. McIntee
After the USS Enterprise discovers an old Starfleet ship missing for two hundred years, Geordi La Forge decides to join the crew of the USS Challenger and further investigate the mystery. Joining Geordi on the Challenger are the familiar faces of Guinan, Nog, Captain Montgomery Scott, and a couple other surprising additions. But the arrival of old enemies threatens the Challenger and her crew. And subsequently, the crew uncovers an even larger mystery and a technology so advanced that from the surface looks indistinguishable from magic.
This latest Star Trek installment refreshingly focuses on exploration and technology. And of course, personal interactions and dynamics are a strongpoint of the story as well. The Star Trek universe is continually moving forward thanks to the novels. So, this was a great opportunity to reminisce about older Next Generation episodes, with references to several favorites. Yet the characters are not stagnate and have changed quite a bit over the years, leading to some fun and surprising outcomes. Though the story only briefly involves the Next Generation’s Enterprise crew, so I’m not really sure why this was entitled as a Next Generation novel. The only Next Generation regulars that were major players in the story were Geordi and Guinan. But thankfully, the same spirit of adventure and discovery that made the Next Generation great is present here.
With plenty of suspense, danger, and mystery, this is one Star Trek fans will not want to miss. The initial story of the found ship is only the tip of the iceberg in this impressive adventure. Taking surprising twists and turns, I was captivated till the very end. Advanced technology, time travel, alien life forms, and going “where no one has gone before” – this latest novel has it all. I hope the series continues in a similar vein.
Department 19, by Will Hill
Two years ago, Jamie Carpenter’s father was killed and accused of treason. Then after his mother is abducted, a man who calls himself Frankenstein introduces Jamie to a world of the supernatural that he didn’t know existed. Jamie’s father used to work for Department 19, a super secret organization tasked with hunting vampires. The department’s roots reach back to the days of Abraham Van Helsing and his execution of Dracula. And Jamie is a part of a long line of vampire hunters. Now Jamie must learn all he can before risking the rescue of his mother from one of the oldest vampires in existence.
Department 19 tells Jamie’s story in 2005 England, but also jumps around from Transylvania, Victorian London, New York in the 1920’s, and just a few years earlier in remote Russia. Action, adventure, horror, and a bit of romance fill this incredible new thriller. With heart-pounding suspense and excessive violence, this exhilarating new release will be enjoyed by young adult and adult fans of the vampire genre and the monster horror classics. Vampires, Frankenstein’s monster, and werewolves – they all exist. And author Will Hill does a fantastic job of weaving the classics into modern day, with fast-paced action and edge-of-your-seat excitement. In a final showdown, with plenty of twists and surprises, my only disappointment was to see this one end. And impressive debut, this is the start of a promising new series and a clear-cut hit.
On behalf of Razor Bill and Penguin Teen Books, I have an extra advanced review copy of Department 19, by Will Hill for one lucky winner!
Contest is open to US and Canada only. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends April 29. I’ll draw names on April 30, and notify winner via email.
Continue reading Book Review and Giveaway: Department 19
Plague, by Michael Grant
Following the events in Lies, Astrid begins to think that her little brother Pete may be responsible for the FAYZ. He is certainly connected somehow. Drake and Brittany are now one creature, sharing a body and held in captivity. But unbeknownst to Brittany, Drake will try to escape. Meanwhile, two plagues are attacking the kids of the FAYZ, a new super-flu and an infection of flesh-eating parasites. Friends and enemies must all join forces to battle the parasitic bugs just to survive.
Fourth novel in the Gone series, Plague once again brings new dangers and obstacles for the kids of the FAYZ. As if they didn’t have enough problems just with politics, personal interactions, jealousies, and vendettas. Several of the kids go through some big changes just within this story. There were no major revelations or answers in this installment, yet steps were laid for the end game. This series is incredibly riveting, full of fascinating characters, unforeseeable dangers, and gut-wrenching horror. Fast-paced excitement, suspense, and angst made this another thrilling episode in an exceptional young adult series.
Hellhole, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
After a failed rebellion against the ruthless monarch Diadem Michella, General Tiber Adolphus and his supporters are exiled to a planet appropriately named Hellhole. On Hellhole, Adolphus still makes plans against the Diadem, hoping to declare the Deep Zone planets independent from the Diadem’s realm of the Constellation. But Hellhole holds its own secrets. An allegedly, long-extinct alien race is discovered. The aliens are highly advanced with special abilities. Their initial motives seem altruistic on the surface, but their true intentions are still a mystery.
The first in a proposed trilogy, Hellhole is an impressive military science fiction mixed with space opera on a grand scale. Herbert and Anderson have created an incredibly detailed universe of harsh politics, intrigue, war, and love. The cast of characters is daunting, but still manageable as each has their own intriguing backstory and motivations. The aliens are unique and still fairly mysterious. I’m looking forward to seeing how they develop in the later novels.
Herbert and Anderson are obviously a talented team, having written the popular novels continuing the Dune saga. Their latest venture is fast-paced, fascinating and completely engaging. Full of adventure, mystery, and interesting characters, I thoroughly enjoyed this exciting new release. Ending in a minor cliffhanger, I’m eagerly the next installment. Without a doubt, science fiction fans should check out this fantastic new saga.
Agatha H and the Airship City, by Phil & Kaja Foglio
Agatha Clay is a simple lab assistant for a university scientist, but her world is turned upside down after a visit from Baron Klaus Wulfenbach. Taken hostage and brought aboard the Baron’s vast airship, Agatha must escape before the Baron discovers her true identity. Sparks are the elite, genius scientists that control most of Europe. And the biggest secret is that Agatha just may be one too.
This is a novelization of the popular Girl Genius webcomic. It’s a fantastic steampunk series that holds up even without the fantastic artwork. The descriptions of the automatons and various other mechanical creations are fantastic and practically steal the limelight. Agatha is a fun character as well, having little idea about her own past, she often seems naïve but is able to hold her own.
Fantastic world-building, amazing creatures and creations, eccentric characters, and mad science comprise this impressive story. With plenty of swash-buckling adventure, mystery, humor, and romance, I found myself completely absorbed within the characters. Though at times the backstories got a bit lengthy and tedious, it did give better insight into the characters. Fans of the comic, as well as other steampunk fans, should thoroughly enjoy this novel.
I received a review copy of the audio version, performed by Angela Dawe and published by Brilliance Audio. Dawe did an amazing job with the multitude of characters and distinguishing between various accents and intonations. In fact, her distinct and separate voices helped me keep up with the huge cast of characters.