Category Archives: Book Reviews

SciFi Book Review: Stars Uncharted

Stars Uncharted by SK Dunstall

Synopsis:
Captain Hammond Roystan is a simple cargo runner who has stumbled across the find of a lifetime: the Hassim, a disabled exploration ship–and its valuable record of unexplored worlds.

His junior engineer, Josune Arriola, said her last assignment was in the uncharted rim. But she is decked out in high-level bioware that belies her humble backstory.

A renowned body-modification artist, Nika Rik Terri has run afoul of clients who will not take no for an answer. She has to flee off-world, and she is dragging along a rookie modder, who seems all too experienced in weapons and war.

Together this mismatched crew will end up on one ship, hurtling through the lawless reaches of deep space with Roystan at the helm. Trailed by nefarious company men, they will race to find the most famous lost world of all–and riches beyond their wildest dreams.

Review:
When the ship Hassim arrives, Captain Roystan and his crew salvage what they can – most importantly the record of her route. But there are many who will stop at nothing to get that information. Meanwhile, Nika Rik Terri has to flee after being attacked by a powerful client. And everyone seems to have secrets in their past.

Stars Uncharted is an exceptional, science fiction novel. This space opera is full of colorful characters and heart-pounding suspense. I thoroughly enjoyed this inspired universe where body modifications have surpassed general surgery and companies control the galaxy. There is plenty of adventure and humor. And the intensity builds to a surprising finale. I heard that a sequel could be in the works, so I have my fingers crossed!

Fantasy Book Review: Let Sleeping Dragons Lie

Let Sleeping Dragons Lie by Garth Nix and Sean Williams

Synopsis:
Odo and Eleanor are excited to be knights. Only . . . nobody’s asking them to go on a quest. So they’re stuck at home, using their trusty and talkative swords to defend their village when there’s cause for defense. But mostly it’s just . . . waiting for something bigger to come along.

That “something bigger” comes to them in the form of an old man named Edga, a warrior named Hundred, and an ancient chant:
Dragon, dragon,
heed our call . . .
Come to aid us,
one and all.

Odo, Eleanor, and their swords, Biter and Runnel, are plunged into a quest that will take them (as all good quests must) to unfamiliar lands, where they will fight unseen enemies and unlock unbelievable secrets in order to prevent an unbearable impostor from taking the crown.

Also, they will need to keep an eye out for dragons.

Review:
Let Sleeping Dragons Lie is the second installment in the Have Sword, Will Travel series. Odo and Eleanor are young knights with talking swords. The children are eager for adventure, when a new quest finally sends them against magical beasts and an unfit king. As before, the characters are fantastic – especially the swords and their unique personalities. And this sequel is full of excitement, suspense, and humor. Though a bit predictable, it’s still a lot of fun. Fantasy fans of all ages should pick up this exceptional series.

SciFi Book Review: Star Trek: Discovery: The Way to the Stars

Star Trek: Discovery: The Way to the Stars by Una McCormack

Synopsis:
Despite being an inexperienced Starfleet cadet, Sylvia Tilly became essential to the U.S.S. Discovery finding its way back home from the Mirror Universe. But how did she find that courage? From where did she get that steel? Who nurtured that spark of brilliance? The Way to the Stars recounts for fans everywhere the untold story of Tilly’s past.

It’s not easy being sixteen, especially when everyone expects great things from Tilly. It’s even harder when her mother and father are Federation luminaries, not to mention pressing her to attend one of the best schools that the Federation has to offer. Tilly wants to achieve great things—even though she hasn’t quite worked out how to do that or what it is she wants to do. But this year, everything will change for Tilly, as she about to embark upon the adventure of a lifetime—an adventure that will take her ever closer to the stars….

Review:
Tilly is a very friendly, if awkward, Starfleet officer. The Way to the Stars is a story of Tilly at sixteen, learning her place in the world and making decisions that will shape her future.

This is story of Tilly’s early life. She’s a character that’s easy to love, but with an ensemble cast on a new show with too-few episodes, we’ve barely scratched the surface. Tilly’s mother assumes that she’ll follow in her footsteps and become a diplomat. Tilly prefers math and science, but can’t seem to stand up to her mother’s forceful will. This was engrossing story of growth and self-discovery. It was hard to put down. And while not action-packed, this standalone novel was dramatic and heartfelt, with a bit of adventure. This was a great way to tide me over until the next episode of Discovery airs.

Fantasy Book Review: Potion Masters: The Transparency Tonic

Potion Masters: The Transparency Tonic by Frank Cole

Synopsis:
It has been nine months since Gordy and his friends, Max and Adilene, stopped Esmerelda from destroying B.R.E.W. and the Vessel. Gordy is starting the eighth grade, where he meets another Dram, Sasha Brexil, whose mother is the new President of B.R.E.W. Gordy has also been practicing new brewing techniques, and has even taken some of his potions to school—something expressly forbidden—but when he starts zoning out during practice, he knows something is wrong.

Strange things are also happening at B.R.E.W., because after Wanda confronts the dark Elixirists, she is unexpectedly fired by Mrs. Brexil. And in Greenland, Mezzarix is offered a chance to escape by an old friend, who is working for the mysterious Ms. Bimini. The woman reveals that she needs Mezzarix to replicate an unusual solution known as “Silt.” Mezzarix agrees on one condition: that Ms. Bimini uses the power of Silt to destroy B.R.E.W. forever.

Both B.R.E.W and the Vessel are in danger, and with the potion world in chaos, it’s up to Gordy, Max, and Adeline to rally the remaining Potion Masters before it’s too late.

Review:
Gordy has a new principal this year. And his daughter, Sasha, happens to be a Dram as well, studying to be an Elixirist. But Sasha’s mother takes over as the new president of B.R.E.W. and is particularly ruthless. Meanwhile, Adilene meets a new, mysterious, young friend as well who acts very strange. And a new force helps Mezzarix escape with a new endgame in mind.

The Transparency Tonic is the second installment in the Potion Masters series. This clever fantasy series is just as fun as the previous book – with plenty of adventure and suspense. B.R.E.W. is under attack again, but this time from a mysterious outsider. And Gordy’s new “friend” is extremely annoying and obnoxious. But the other characters were engaging – even the villainous ones. This story builds to a surprising conclusion and a bit open-ended. I look forward to the next in this exciting middle grade series that can’t come soon enough.

SciFi Book Review: Children of Jubilee

Children of Jubilee by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Synopsis:
Since the Enforcers raided Refuge City, Rosi, Edwy, and the others are captured and forced to work as slave labor on an alien planet, digging up strange pearls. Weak and hungry, none of them are certain they will make it out of this alive.

But Edwy’s tech-savvy sister, Kiandra, has always been the one with all the answers, and so they turn to her. But Kiandra realizes that she can’t find her way out of this one on her own, and they all might need to rely on young Cana and her alien friend if they are going to survive.

Review:
When trying to prove the cruelty of the Enforcers, the children are captured and taken to an off-world prison. Each are forced to work in a mine in a seemingly hopeless situation. Until one little girl makes a strange friend.

Children of Jubilee is the third and final installment in this post-apocalyptic scifi series for middle readers. Rosi and Edwy and the rest of the kids that escaped are all together again. But their adventures have just begun. This final chapter is the most suspenseful and exciting yet. It was extremely hard to put down. And I loved the climactic ending with plenty of surprises along the way. I only wish this series would continue past the first 3 novels. These are great characters and a fun, unique setting. I definitely recommend this well-written and engaging series.

Book Review: Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds

Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds by Brandon Sanderson

Synopsis:
Stephen Leeds is perfectly sane. It’s his hallucinations who are mad.

A genius of unrivaled aptitude, Stephen can learn any new skill, vocation, or art in a matter of hours. However, to contain all of this, his mind creates hallucinatory people―Stephen calls them aspects―to hold and manifest the information. Wherever he goes, he is joined by a team of imaginary experts to give advice, interpretation, and explanation. He uses them to solve problems . . . for a price.

His brain is getting a little crowded and the aspects have a tendency of taking on lives of their own. When a company hires him to recover stolen property―a camera that can allegedly take pictures of the past―Stephen finds himself in an adventure crossing oceans and fighting terrorists. What he discovers may upend the foundation of three major world religions―and, perhaps, give him a vital clue into the true nature of his aspects.

Review:

Stephen has a legion of hallucinations – each with their own distinct personality. And each hallucination has their own special talent or aptitude. So, Stephen is able to assist with a variety of cases as a unique detective. 

This book includes 3 novellas: Legion, Legion: Skin Deep, and Lies of the Beholder. The last novella is newly published and serves as a conclusion to the series. Each is a captivating story with humor, suspense, and drama. I don’t read a lot of short stories, but I thoroughly enjoyed this set. Stephen Leeds and his hallucinations are fantastic characters. I really wish there were more stories in this series. 

 

SciFi Book Reviews: Renegades and Arch Enemies

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Synopsis:
The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to the villains who have the power to end them both.

Arch Enemies by Marissa Meyer

Synopsis:
As Insomnia, she is a full-fledged member of the Renegades, a syndicate of powerful and beloved superheroes. She works with Adrian’s patrol unit to protect the weak and maintain order in Gatlon City. As Nightmare, she is an Anarchist – a group of of villains who are determined to destroy the Renegades. Nova wants vengeance against the so-called heroes who once failed her when she needed them most. But as Nova, her feelings for Adrian are deepening, despite the fact that he is the son of her sworn enemies and, unbeknownst to Nova, he has some dangerous secrets of his own.

In this second installment of the Renegades trilogy, Nova, Adrian, and the rest of their crew – Ruby, Oscar, and Danna — are faced with escalating crime in Gatlon City, while covert weapons and conflicting missions have Nova and Adrian questioning not only their beliefs about justice, but also the feelings they have for each other. The line between good and evil has been blurred, but what’s clear to them both is that too much power could mean the end of their city – and the world – as they know it.

Review:

Nova is a member of the “villainous” Anarchists, but goes undercover as a Renegade superhero. She is determined to take down the Renegades from the inside. But the more she gets to know Adrian, the harder her mission becomes.

I read Renegades and Arch Enemies back-to-back. These first 2 books in the trilogy are fast-paced and full of action, suspense, and a bit of romance. The story is sometimes dark, yet lightened with some humor and heart. This story is great for fans of X-Men. And I love that it’s from the perspective of a “villain” (who’s more of an anti-hero than a bad person). And not all of the Renegades are heroic. The characters are engaging, with the intensity building to a dramatic cliffhanger. The final installment can’t come soon enough.

Book Review: Dragonwatch: Wrath of the Dragon King

Dragonwatch: Wrath of the Dragon King by Brandon Mull

Synopsis:
After a humiliating defeat at the hands of Kendra and Seth, Celebrant, King of Dragons, prepares to unleash his fury and take control of his native preserve. Two of the seven dragon sanctuaries have already fallen. Will Wyrmroost be next?

Armed with secret information from a new ally, Celebrant seeks a talisman that will guarantee victory in the war against the humans. With a cursed castle and traitorous creatures standing in the way, Kendra and Seth must attempt to foil Celebrant’s plan and beat him to his prize.

Will the two young caretakers rally enough support from the creatures of Wyrmroost to quell the uprising and protect the world from draconic dominion? One thing is certain—dragons are deadly foes, and one wrong move could bring swift defeat. It will take more than Kendra, Seth, and their current allies have ever given to endure the wrath of the Dragon King.

Review:
As caretakers of Wyrmroost, Kendra and Seth accept a dangerous invitation from Celebrant. Meanwhile, their cousins decide to follow them to Wyrmroost and find themselves in danger as well. It’s hard to know who to trust, as the siblings try to thwart Celebrants plan to take over.

Wrath of the Dragon King is the second installment in the Dragonwatch offshoot series of Fablehaven. These are must-read books for fantasy fans of all ages. With fascinating worldbuilding and engaging characters, it’s easy to get pulled into the story. And this latest installment is packed with adventure, colorful creatures, humor, and magic. This was unpredictable, fast-paced, and full of heart-pounding suspense. The next in this exciting series can’t come soon enough.