Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean


Set in the waning days of the Regency Era, this unusual romance starts with a beautiful woman going to Parliament to demand a divorce from her husband, a duke. Serephina is one of the Dangerous Daughters sometimes called the Soiled Ss. Their father made a fortune in coal and was awarded a title, but the Daughters are looked at askance by the ton. Serefina landed a Duke and then disappeared. But now, three years later she's come back from America with her male business partner to open a tavern that the laws say she can't own because she is married. She needs the divorce. Moving back and forth between the aftermath of the divorce petition and when they first met, Serephina and Malcolm may have had a great love but has that chance been destroyed by outside forces and their own inability of share their feelings? MacLean's storytelling style is unusual for this genre and adds a freshness and vibrancy to this enthralling romance.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The One-Eyed Judge by Michael Ponsor

Judge Ponsor's second novel featuring western Massachusetts  federal judge David Norcross delves into the trial of an Amherst professor, Sidney Cranmer, who is charged with obtaining and possessing child pornography. Cranmer's scholarly passion is Charles Dodgson, who wrote Alice's Adventures in Wonderland using the pseudonym of Lewis Carroll and was rumored to be a pedophile. Claire Lindemann, Norcross's love interest and a collegue of Cranmer is sure he has been wrongly accused and she works with the professor's student intern whose own love life may have a bearing on the case. While the case drags on, David's life is complicated by a family tragedy that brings his two young nieces into his household. The great appeal in Ponsor's legal thrillers is not action but rather the examination of law and how it is administered (a very timely topic). His sympathetic characters are thoughtful and examine ethics as well as law. All in all this is an entertaining and thought provoking read.

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.