Tag Archives: books

Book Review: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress


Author:  Robert A. Heinlein

Genre: Science Fiction

Summary: It is the year 2076, and the Moon is a penal colony for the rebellious and the unwanted of Earth. The exiles have created a libertarian society in order to survive in their harsh and unforgiving environment, their motto being TANSTAAFL: “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”. Looming over them is the Luna Authority, the heavy-handed Earth administration, who trades life necessities to the “Loonies” in exchange for grain shipments to the starving populations of Earth.

As the situation steadily deteriorates the inhabitants of Luna come to realize that they have little choice but to revolt against Luna Authority in order to save themselves from resource exhaustion and a subsequent environmental apocalypse.

A small band of dissidents emerges to lead the revolution. This consists of a one-armed computer jock, a radical young woman, a past-his-prime academic, and a nearly omnipotent computer named Mike. These people ignite the fires of revolution, despite the near certainty of failure.

Review:  This is only my second “true” science fiction novels. That being said, it was amazing!

Not only does Heinlein have a great grasp on plot, but he also has a way of teaching the reader something without actually teaching. This book is heavy on tech speak, political speak, and extremely heavy on revolution theory. But it is presented in a way that is interesting and that drives the story forward.

The characters are very well developed, as is the technology. What you need to remember is that he wrote this book in 1966. BEFORE WE WERE ON THE MOON. Once you begin to read this book, you’ll understand just how genius this man was!

The setting was unique, as was the situation, the technology, and the plot. I must say, this was a fascinating read with some stong craft work!

Recommendation: Wonderful! Must read!



Book Review: The Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1)


Author:  Deborah Harkness

Genre: Fiction

Summary: Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

Review:  There were things I absolutely loved about this book…and things that I didn’t.

Deborah Harkness has created an interesting world in which there are four species: humans, witches, vampires, and daemons. I loved the way she built this world, along with all the rules and regulations. I also love the magical caste system and the specifics of each species. She has put a unique spin on witches, vampires, daemons, and the way they interact in the world together. That got me hooked right away.

I also loved the female lead character, Diana. I loved that she was a historian and that Deborah really showed you the ins and outs of an alchemical historian. It made me want to get my PhD! The male lead character, Matthew, wasn’t so bad either, if not a bit too stereotypical.

I was on my way to finishing this book in less than a week when suddenly the “romance” novel appeared. The middle of this book is a romance novella. I’m not a romance reader, never have been, but maybe in the future. But not now. So, needless to say, the story seemed to veer away from the tension and the magic and the mystery. All that was sais was “i love yous” and “swoon”. And I had to stop. It wasn’t my cup of tea. (You’ll get that pun later).

Finally, near the end, the romance let up a bit and the tension came back. Not fully, but it did. I’m on the fence about finishing the trilogy. Like I said, Deborah put a great twist on the magical creatures and their rules, and I do love the plot of the story. I just can’t handle the romance stuff…

Recommendation: Borrow from your local library first



Book Review: Fledgling by Nicole Conway


Author:  Nicole Conway

Genre: YA Fantasy

Summary: Jaevid Broadfeather has grown up as a wartime refugee, hiding from the world because of his mixed racial heritage. He feels his future is hopeless, until a chance encounter with a wild dragon lands him in Blybrig Academy—a place usually forbidden to anyone but the rich and royal. But Jaevid’s case is special; no dragon has voluntarily chosen a rider in decades, so the proud riders of Blybrig must begrudgingly let him join their brotherhood despite his bloodline. Lieutenant Sile Derrick, a sternly tempered man with a mysterious past, becomes his instructor and immediately takes a peculiar interest in Jaevid’s future.

While struggling through the rigorous physical demands of training, things begin to go awry. Jaevid witnesses the king’s private guards kidnapping Sile in the dead of night. When none of the elder riders are willing to help him, Jaevid begins a dangerous adventure to save his instructor.

Everything Jaevid learned at the academy will now be put to the ultimate test.

Review: Nicole Conway is a great writer! Fledgling is 100% story. I have to admit, the “hero’s journey” is my favorite type of story, so this was right up my alley. 

Conway has created an interesting world in which humans, grey elves, and dragons exist. Only, not in harmony. The main character is a half breed, hated by both humans and grey elves, finding no place he really belongs. Until one day, he accidentally talks a dragon into choosing him as a rider. Suddenly Jae is in the elite training academy for dragonriders and he must prove that he belongs there.

This book touches on the subjects of faith in oneself, bullying, and discrimination. As a halfbreed, Jae is discriminated by both humans and grey elves. Niether knows that the other side hates him as much as they do. Jae goes through his life never fitting, never having friends, and never having a life to look forward to. He’s stereotyped by each side as well. Both think he’s a traitor and both think he’s sided with the other. In reality, he has no choice, because neither wants him. He is constantly bullied and name called by everyone, humans and grey elves alike. Jae must find the courage to have faith in himself and to choose where he wants to be in life. Only then with he ever find happiness or a reason to build a future life for himself. 

Recommendation: Fun and entertaining read!



Book Review: We Were Liars


Author: E. Lockhart

Genre: YA

Summary: A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

Review: This is one of the most stunning novels I have ever read! Her descriptions are emotional and evocative; the story is a thrilling mystery!

Cady has headaches. Headaches that keep her from being able to function. Cady can’t remember anything about her accident, or anything about the summer two years ago when it happened. She returns to her family’s island for summer seventeen, trying to piece together what when wrong.

She spends her time with her three best friends; two cousins, Johnny and Mirren, and Gat, who she is in love with. They can’t tell her what happened, the doctors say she must remember on her own. As she watches her family fight for inheritance and fall apart at the seams, Cady clings onto her best friends, the Liars. They are all she has and all she cares about.

E. Lockhart keeps the tension high until the very end, when Cady finally remembers what happened in summer fifteen. She has created the most spectacular emotional arc that I’ve seen in years. Cady’s story is stunning. 

Recommendation: READ! READ NOW!



Book Review: The Program (The Program #1)


Author: Suzanne Young

Genre: YA

Summary: Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.

Review: Readers are immediately immersed into Sloane’s unraveling world. She has already lost her brother, her best friend, and now she’s facing another friend’s “illness” as well as her boyfriend, James’. He is the only thing she has left and would do anything for him. But she is forced to enter The Program soon after he is released, with no memory of her.

Young takes readers on a journey through The Program, which camoflage’s itself as therapy. Readers watch as Sloane goes through every important and special memory of James. Young keeps the pace a little slow, showing the exact effects of the pills Sloane is forced to take before and after therapy. She keeps the tension high as readers realize what’s happening before Sloane does.

In the end, there is an erie feeling, a sense of loss but also of hope that springs forth in the last few chapters.

Recommendation: Read!




Book Review: Relativity


Author: Cristin Bishara

Genre: YA

Summary: If Ruby Wright could have her way, her dad would never have met and married her stepmother Willow, her best friend George would be more than a friend, and her mom would still be alive. Ruby knows wishes can’t come true; some things just can’t be undone. Then she discovers a tree in the middle of an Ohio cornfield with a wormhole to nine alternative realities. 

Suddenly, Ruby can access completely different realities, each containing variations of her life—if things had gone differently at key moments. The windshield wiper missing her mother’s throat…her big brother surviving his ill-fated birth…her father never having met Willow. Her ideal world—one with everything and everyone she wants most—could be within reach. But is there such a thing as a perfect world? What is Ruby willing to give up to find out?

Review: Bishara has done an excellent job intertwining science and YA! There is plenty of math and string theory in this book, but you never feel bogged down with information.

It’s a slightly heart-wrenching read, at least for me. Ruby is forced to move from her home and best friend, halfway across the US to live with a stepmother and stepsister (who makes it clear that she hates her). Ruby focuses on her loss. The loss of her mother at age four, the loss of her best friend (and love interest), the loss of everything she knows and loves. 

I’ve been there. I’m sure plenty of readers have, in some way or another. So what does Ruby do when she finds a way to jump planes of parallel universes? She searches for the perfect one, of course!

Bishara keeps the focus tight, which in turn keeps the tension high. The emotional arc is beautifully done, as is the characterization. This is a short read, but I felt connected with Ruby.

Recommendation: READ!!




Book Review: The Book of Blood and Shadow


Author: Robin Wasserman

Genre: YA

Summary: It was like a nightmare, but there was no waking up.  When the night began, Nora had two best friends and an embarrassingly storybook one true love.  When it ended, she had nothing but blood on her hands and an echoing scream that stopped only when the tranquilizers pierced her veins and left her in the merciful dark. 

But the next morning, it was all still true: Chris was dead.  His girlfriend Adriane, Nora’s best friend, was catatonic. And Max, Nora’s sweet, smart, soft-spoken Prince Charming, was gone. He was also—according to the police, according to her parents, according to everyone—a murderer.

Desperate to prove his innocence, Nora follows the trail of blood, no matter where it leads. It ultimately brings her to the ancient streets of Prague, where she is drawn into a dark web of secret societies and shadowy conspirators, all driven by a mad desire to possess something that might not even exist. For buried in a centuries-old manuscript is the secret to ultimate knowledge and communion with the divine; it is said that he who controls the Lumen Dei controls the world. Unbeknownst to her, Nora now holds the crucial key to unlocking its secrets. Her night of blood is just one piece in a puzzle that spans continents and centuries. Solving it may be the only way she can save her own life.

Review: Robin Wasserman has written a wonderful stand alone book! There’s blood and love and an ancient mystery. What else could you ask for?

Her characters are unique, though spun from the normal archetypes. I loved that each character turned out to have a secret! (I refuse to be much more spoilery than that!)

I had the privilege of hearing her speak on a panel at AWP in Seattle last week. They were discussing creating a career in children’s and YA. This is not Wasserman’s first book (or second or third or tenth!) She has taken the time to hone her craft, and in this book, it shows.

The tension rises well as the action does. Nora’s emotional arc is slow, but forefront and is very authentic. My favorite craft element of this book though is the voice! Wasserman has created a wonderfully sarcastic, bright, and lovable main character with Nora.

Recommendation: READ!!