OCEAN OF STORMS by Christopher Mari & Jeremy K. Brown

December 7, 2016
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A sudden massive explosion on the moon leaves a vast gash on the lunar surface. It also sends a titanic electromagnetic pulse to earth which becomes the cause of failure of all electrical equipment and causing plane crashes, auto accidents and the stoppage of machinery used to keep civilization running.

At this time China and the United States are embroiled in harsh disagreements looking like they will lead to war. The problem in this hostile scenario is Taiwan and if it is to be annexed by China.

Treaties provide that the United States will protect it. At the time of the explosion on the moon, the U.S. is sending a fleet to the waters near Taiwan in order to put on a show of force to prevent the Chinese Annexation.

The United States is also looking at the lunar explosion and has made the decision to send an expedition there to enter the gash created and find out what is the cause. NASA has not sent a space craft to the moon in many years and has to enter a crash program in order to bring an older ship up to snuff. China has also started to mount a lunar expedition and looks like it may beat out the U.S. in getting to the moon. But a very fortuitous chain of events cause the two rivals to become forced to send a joint expedition.

China has an excellent flight rocket, but their lander is not up to the needs required to land on the moon’s surface, while the U.S. has the lander but must bow to the Chinese rocket. A sensible combined effort is quickly put together and takes off.

There is friction at first between the International crew but quickly becomes friendship when problems arise that must be handled quickly in order for the expedition to succeed. The moon is reached and the gash is entered. What is there, and what it means forms the gist of the novel while guiding the actions of the now united International crew members.

Ocean of Storms is well done science fiction and the development of the action nicely includes the characters as well. The book provides a fast paced read and does an excellent job of keeping the reader’s interest and attention.

12/16 Paul Lane

OCEAN OF STORMS by Christopher Mari & Jeremy K. Brown . 47North (December 1, 2016).  ISBN 978-1503938779. 410p.

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OTHERWORLD CHILLS by Kelley Armstrong

October 9, 2016

otherworld-chills

Kelley Armstrong returns to her beloved Women of the Otherworld series in this latest offering featuring seven “final” tales of the series.

Here’s the full table of contents:

“Brazen” – a werewolf tale mostly from Nick’s point of view

“Chaotic” – Hope and Karl’s first story

“Amityville Horrible” – a Jaime and Jeremy tale

“Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” – a vampire tale featuring Zoe

“Off-Duty Angel” – finds Eve on a mission for Kristof

“The Puppy Plan” – a holiday story featuring Logan

“Baby Boom” – a brand spanking new Paige/Lucas story

Considering this collection releases in October, it’s likely many will agree with me when I say “Amityville Horrible” is particularly delightful and appropriately creepy.

The stories are meaty novellas rather than shorts, giving readers a chance to settle in a bit with each tale. Fans of the series likely have seen a few of the selections before – “Chaotic” for example did appear in the Kim Harrison edited anthology Dates From Hell, and introduced Hope to the series, while “Off Duty Angel” appeared in Armstrong’s The Hunter and the Hunted e book/short back in 2012. But one entry, “Baby Boom,” is completely new to the collection. Plus, considering the series wrapped back in 2012 with the release of Thirteen, I’d bet fans have been craving a bit of a return to the characters we all came to know and love over the course of thirteen plus tales.

10/16 Becky LeJeune

OTHERWORLD CHILLS by Kelley Armstrong. Plume (October 4, 2016).  ISBN 978-0452298361. 464p.

 


DARK MATTER by Blake Crouch

August 2, 2016

DARK MATTERBlake Crouch entered the literary scene with his imaginative trilogy Wayward Pines, novels that centered upon an imaginative set of circumstances very different from most other books. Dark Matter delivers another scenario that involves a plot that sets the action in a different and certainly not ordinary setting.

Jason Dessen is a physics professor at a local university very happily married to Daniela, a woman that he has been in love with since meeting her years ago. They have a son named Charles who is an adolescent to be proud of. That Jason turned down a career involved with making brilliant strides in the world of physics in order to marry Daniela when she became pregnant does not enter his mind.

One evening while preparing for a family meal, Jason is called out to have a drink with a long time friend of his. He leaves the bar shortly after the drink but is stopped at gunpoint by a stranger, taken to a warehouse and put to sleep. He awakens strapped to a gurney and told by a person he does not know,”welcome back my friend.” He learns that he seemingly is a different Jason Dessen, one who has achieved something so far beyond what he has ever known that he will become world famous.

Crouch develops a story that should be labeled Science Fiction for want of a better term but involves the reader in a rapid fire journey that is as absorbing as any adventure that has been my pleasure to read. The book is relatively short and a must finish in one sitting. Crouch does not hide behind descriptions of future inventions taxing the imaginations of his readers but opens an imaginative set of circumstances that could exist in the world populated by his creation.

8/16 Paul Lane

DARK MATTER by Blake Crouch. Crown (July 26, 2016).  ISBN 978-1101904220.  352p.

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TRACER by Rob Boffard

June 27, 2016
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Outer Earth, Book 1

Tracer is the first of a projected science fiction trilogy. It is set in a future where the Earth has been made uninhabitable due to the mishandling by the people living there. The survivors are living in a crowded space station orbiting above the former home to our species. It is at once dirty as well as overcrowded and with hardly any room for people to live.

Riley Hale is a tracer trying to survive by delivering material sent by individuals and receiving payment in food, water or other tradeable items in conjunction with the group known as the Devil Dancers, with whom she lives. Her group has built a reputation of reliable deliveries and no meddling with the products they carry for their customers. She is secretly loved by Parkesh, a laboratory worker. It would appear that Riley is unaware of Parkesh’s adulation.

Rob Boffard’s strong suit is his ability to bring to life the station in which the action takes place. In too many science fiction stories there are situations and products that are described as being present and not really traceable to anything known today. The space station contains people and materials that are believably products of a forced exodus from a dying earth. The conditions described are certainly attributable to an overcrowded situation that is due to huge masses of people forced to flee to an area many times smaller than they are used to.

With a similarity to other dystopian novels, the space station is ruled by a hierarchy of persons whose sole interest is in retaining power and adding to that by their actions. There is also a villain that has the idea that conditions can be made right if the humans on New Earth are eliminated and a new group allowed to evolve.

Boffard’s ending this first part of his trilogy is neatly done and presents the most likely problems to be taken up in book two, Zero G.

6/16 Paul Lane

TRACER by Rob Boffard. Redhook (June 28, 2016).  ISBN 978-0316265270.  448p.

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I, HUMAN by John Nelson

May 27, 2016
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This is a highly intellectual look into a dystopian future where the use of neural implants and drug conditioning are used to keep the population calm and malleable.

Difficulty is that this conditioning represses feelings and intuition and can cause mental breakdowns in the population that represent future problems for the government. In addition, segments of the population have refused the treatment, and are involved in living and working in a low tech environment. They are known as “bornies” and have evolved, living completely apart from those that have accepted the treatment and its consequent enhanced functioning.

Alan Reynard, a government agent, is given the assignment of infiltrating a spiritual commune run by a healer named Maria Fria, who has modified the implants for increased functionality. Alan grows to believe in what Maria is doing, and it causes him to begin to work towards modifying the government’s social control.

The thesis of the book is interesting and the concept possible. But Nelson falls into the trap of an overabundance of explanation of what is happening and could very easily lose the reader in sheer wordiness.

5/16 Paul Lane

I, HUMAN by John Nelson. Cosmic Egg Books (May 27, 2016).  ISBN 978-1785353307.  288p.


BORDERLINE by Mishell Baker

May 26, 2016
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The Arcadia Project, Book 1

With a directing gig and a film that garnered critical praise both under her belt, Millie was a Hollywood hopeful with what could have been a great career ahead of her. But a scandalous affair and her borderline personality disorder led to a suicide attempt that, thankfully, failed, leaving Millie an amputee forced to finally deal the emotional issues that resulted in her breakdown. With all hope of a career set aside indefinitely, Millie signed on to live in a psychiatric facility that leeches away at her meager funds all the while attempting to help her save her sanity.

All of that changes, though, when Millie is approached by the Arcadia Project. A super secret group that works with fey traveling to and inhabiting Los Angeles, the Arcadia Project promises an in back into the industry if Millie agrees to work for them. Her first job: helping to track a rogue fey whose visa has expired. With an experienced Arcadia Project employee by her side, the job should be a fairly easy one. But it turns out this initiation into Arcadia Project is definitely not ideal for a beginner.

Mishell Baker’s debut and first in the Arcadia Project series is a wildly entertaining and unique addition to urban fantasy.

The world of the Arcadia Project is one that lives at the crossroads between the “real” world and a fey dimension. There are Seelie and Unseelie, much like other fey worlds, but the real difference is that at the core of the world is the idea that the organization trusted and tasked with dealing with emissaries and travelers from another dimension aren’t trusted at all. They, like Millie, are chosen because their mental health issues means no one ever really has to worry about them spilling the beans about the fey or the agreement their world has with ours!

The fact that Baker’s heroine is handicapped and dealing with serious emotional issues makes Borderline different from pretty much every other urban fantasy out there. And when you add in a whole cast of well rounded characters, a world that’s fabulously defined, and a plot that’s built and paced fantastically, you have a truly standout read.

5/16 Becky LeJeune

BORDERLINE by Mishell Baker. Saga Press (March 1, 2016).  ISBN: 978-1481429788. 400p.

 


SATURN RUN by John Sandford & Ctein

February 13, 2016
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From the publisher:

In 2066, A Caltech intern inadvertently notices an anomaly from a space telescope—something is approaching Saturn, and decelerating. Space objects don’t decelerate. Spaceships do.

A flurry of top-level government meetings produces the inescapable conclusion: whatever built that ship is at least one hundred years ahead in hard and soft technology, and whoever can get their hands on it exclusively and bring it back will have an advantage so large, no other nation can compete. A conclusion the Chinese definitely agree with when they find out.

The race is on, and an remarkable adventure begins—an epic tale of courage, treachery, resourcefulness, secrets, surprises, and astonishing human and technological discovery, as the members of a hastily thrown-together crew find their strength and wits tested against adversaries both of this earth and beyond. What happens is nothing like you expect—and everything you could want from one of the world’s greatest masters of suspense.

Jack says: Not Sandford’s first attempt outside the traditional mystery genre and shows why he is a master story teller. If you enjoyed the Jason Kidd series, you will love this one.

02/16 Jack Quick

SATURN RUN by John Sandford & Ctein. G.P. Putnam’s Sons; First Edition / First Printing edition (October 6, 2015). ISBN: 978-0399176951. 496p.


A BETTER WORLD by Marcus Sakey

February 11, 2016

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The Brilliance Trilogy #2

From the publisher: 

The brilliants changed everything. Since 1980, one percent of the world has been born with gifts we’d only dreamed of. The ability to sense a person’s most intimate secrets, or predict the stock market, or move virtually unseen. For thirty years the world has struggled with a growing divide between the exceptional…and the rest of us.

Now a terrorist network led by brilliants has crippled three cities. Supermarket shelves stand empty. 911 calls go unanswered. Fanatics are burning people alive. Nick Cooper has always fought to make the world better for his children. As both a brilliant and an advisor to the president of the United States, he’s against everything the terrorists represent. But as America slides toward a devastating civil war, Cooper is forced to play a game he dares not lose—because his opponents have their own vision of a better world.

Jack says: Book two of the series was a bit disappointing – too much effort in re-stating the basics of book one for the benefit of those who had not read  book one. Moved pretty well after all the re-capping.

Also see Paul Lane’s review.

2/16 Jack Quick

A BETTER WORLD by Marcus Sakey. Thomas & Mercer (June 17, 2014).  ISBN 978-1477823941. 390p.


BRILLIANCE by Marcus Sakey

February 8, 2016
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From the publisher:

In Wyoming, a little girl reads people’s darkest secrets by the way they fold their arms. In New York, a man sensing patterns in the stock market racks up $300 billion. In Chicago, a woman can go invisible by being where no one is looking.

They’re called “brilliants,” and since 1980, one percent of people have been born this way. Nick Cooper is among them; a federal agent, Cooper has gifts rendering him exceptional at hunting terrorists. His latest target may be the most dangerous man alive, a brilliant drenched in blood and intent on provoking civil war. But to catch him, Cooper will have to violate everything he believes in—and betray his own kind.

 

Jack says: Following in the tone of Hunger Games and Divergent, fast but interesting read. First of a three part series.

2/16 Jack Quick

BRILLIANCE by Marcus Sakey. Thomas & Mercer (July 16, 2013).  ISBN 978-1611099690.  439p.


LEVIATHAN WAKES by James S. A. Corey

January 21, 2016
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The invention of the Epstein Drive made it possible for humanity to spread beyond Earth. Now there are stations and colonies stretching from our planet to Mars. Joe Miller is a cop on Ceres, one of the stations that houses the Belters, workers born off world and recognized by their lanky forms and unique dialects. Miller has been hired to find a girl whose last known address was Ceres itself until she seemingly vanished, ignoring all attempts at contact from her lunar-based parents. The job is an easy one, an off-books one too. But when the investigation changes from a simple wayward young adult to one Miller suspects has deeper ramifications, he’s told to back off.

At the same time, an ice hauler about to return from its latest job answers a distress beacon that turns out to be something much more menacing. Jim Holden, XO of the Canterbury, leads the rescue attempt and barely manages to escape with his ship and team intact when the Cant is destroyed. Holden and his team’s discovery on the abandoned Scopuli and witness to the Canterbury’s destruction make them prime targets for those responsible but revealing what they know could lead to all out war between Earth and Mars.

This first in The Expanse series is a whopper of a read, one that crosses genre borders and boundaries with ease. A science fiction epic and first in what George R. R. Martin calls a “…kickass space opera…” Leviathan Wakes is also part noir mystery and part horror.

Miller, a cop with a definite chip on his shoulder, bucks authority and bends the rules at will. He becomes obsessed with finding this girl, imagining that through his investigation he’s gotten to know her and has built a connection with her that’s more intimate than any he shares with his colleagues or acquaintances. Of course when told to back off he’s going to ignore it, he’s stubborn and bullheaded just like all of his noir detective predecessors.

In Holden, the authors have built a character who is in many ways the polar opposite of Miller. The rules are there for a reason, justice and right will prevail, and Holden will do anything he can to ensure this remains the case. As narrators go, they provide the reader with two very different views of the world of The Expanse. Miller is a Belter through and through. Holden is military and was born on Earth. The only piece missing so far is Mars.

I have to say, I am absolutely loving the series and the current Syfy TV adaptation as well.

1/16 Becky LeJeune

LEVIATHAN WAKES by James S. A. Corey. Orbit; First Edition edition (June 15, 2011).  ISBN 978-0316129084 592p.