Sunday, May 7, 2017

Scar Girl by Len Vlahos

Len Vlahos is quickly ascending onto my list of favorite YA authors. He does a great job of being in the head of a teenage girl and two male bandmates who have their own invisible scars. Their issues are handled with great sensitivity.

Last year I read several novels and memoirs featuring teens and new adults in bands which made me turn a critical eye to "in the band" books. Scar Girl feels authentic. Vlahos's personal experience brings verisimilitude to his writing. This companion volume to the Morris finalist Scar Boy is very bit as good as it tells the band members stories, both positive and troublesome.  The book has heart.

Genre: YA Contemporary Life/ Issues

Monday, April 24, 2017

Alexander Outland: Space Pirate by G.J. Koch

Great news for readers who love laugh out loud, irreverent, satirical, space opera! Gini Koch's 2012 Alexander Outland: Space Pirate is being brought out in mass market paper back by Skyhorse Publishing in June.

You may remember how enthused I was about her debut novel, Touched by an Alien, which may have been my favorite read of of 2010. Somehow I missed Alexander Outland when it was first published in 2012 but I'm glad I found it now. It has elements of my favorite SF book series ever (Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga) and favorite tv series ever (Firefly).

Alexander Outland, captain of the Sixty-Nine,  may well be a distant relative of James T. Kirk and Malcolm Reynolds as demonstrated by way with women. However, Slinkie, his weapons chief is strong, independent, and definitely has his number. Also on board are a distinctly different engineer, a Sexbot AI co-pilot named Audrey, and a deposed governor. On what should have been a routine trip to pick up and deliver a shipment of magma between planets, the Sixty-Nine is caught in the web of a pirate armada. But, Alexander being the best space pilot in the galaxy, escapes to land on a strictly regimented  planet that has been totally cut off by the pirate armada. Koch is not afraid of throwing her characters into deep shit as evidenced by a hair raising trek through the planetary sewer system. 

It is to be hoped that there will be many more hilarious forays into the clever universe concocted here. In the very best of ways, it reminds me of some of the humorous science fiction from the 70s and 80s.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Seventh Sun by Kent Lester

The Seventh Sun
Kent  Lester

Tor/Forge ISBN: 9780765382221

A geologist doing research in Honduras finds something major in a mining core sample that may win him a Nobel Prize. Dan Clifford, a scientist specializing in "black swan" events, generally unpredictable catastrophic disasters such as earth quakes or tidal waves, decides to stop off at his company's computer plant in Honduras on his way to a scuba vacations and unknowingly sets a series of events that could take down his company. When diving he discovers the body of that geologist. Rachel Sullivan, a daredevil scientist returns from a frigid near death experience and teams up with Dan as he figures out what is going on and races time to prevent a domino effect leading to the next global extinction event.

You won't want to stop reading until the last page is turned. It has somewhat the same feel and appeal as Jurassic Park by Crichton or Preston's Hot Zone with the combination of science and suspense. A terrific debut novel.

Run the Risk by Allison Van Diepen

Nineteen-year-old Grace is trying to keep her fifteen year-old brother Alex on track and out of a gang while working nights in a movie theater and volunteering days at a childcare center. She's also taking classes to bring her grades up high enough to get into the early childhood education certification program because her last semester of high school had tanked after her mom died and her father spent all his time working as a trucker to (sometimes) pay the bills. Mateo had been her first love when she was fifteen but when he joined a gang she had broken up with him. Now, he has just started working security at the theater and claims to be done with gangs. The tension ratchets up when Alex finds himself in deep gang-related trouble with his only hope being Grace and Mateo.

Highly recommended for readers of Simone Elkeles and those who like edgy teen romances with danger and suspense.

Monday, April 10, 2017

No One but You by Brenda Novak

A brave heroine and a wounded bad-boy hero may find healing in a small town if they aren't killed first. Sadie needs more work or better paying work to be free of her controlling and dangerous ex so she can protect her young son. Dawson may have been acquitted by a jury but the folks of Silver Springs still see him as guilty in the gruesome murders of his adoptive parents. He needs to get the farm going again and clean up the mess made when vandals trashed the house while he was in jail and on trial so he can bring his developmentally disabled sister home from the institution she has been in since his arrest. Sadie applies for the job which puts her bullying ex-husband, a town cop, into high gear and increasingly dangerous harassment.

Appealing characters, gripping suspense, and believable romance make this a great reading choice.