The Witch’s Vacuum Cleaner and Other Stories – Terry Pratchett

witchs-vacuum-cleanerThere is an ant searching for a better life and statues that walk and talk. There are witches, trolls, magic, adventure . . . even the wild, wild, west (West Wales, that is). Fourteen little stories full of everything you could want.

This is a collection of short stories that Terry Pratchett wrote for a weekly newspaper when he was only seventeen. I have long been a fan, and found it interesting to see the beginnings of his wit, imagination, originality, and to get a glimpse of books to come. Suggested as suitable for young teens, I feel that the stories are better as read alouds for younger children. They are too sweet and simplistic for today’s teens, but I enjoyed every one.

eGalley review                        Publication date 1.3.17

Posted in fantasy, highly recommend | Tagged

Iceling – Sasha Stephenson

icelingLorna’s father is a scientist and was working in the Arctic when he discovered a boat drifting.  They board and discover babies. No crew.  Just babies.  Many died, but those that survived were placed with families that had a child near the same age as the Arctic babies called Icelings.  Lorna’s family adopted Callie.  Now, 17, Lorna has developed a closer relationship to Callie than their parents.  Callie does not speak and is prone to fits along with strange behavior.  Lorna is the one who takes her to the hospital after the worst episodes.  There, she meets Stan who is older brother and caretaker to Ted, another Iceling who also does not speak and is strangely aggressive.

One night, both Icelings independently make replicas of an island.  Stan and Lorna get Callie and Ted together and the bond is instant.  The two Icelings insist on a road trip North.  So Stan and Lorna get in the car and drive.  Along the way, they meet up with other Icelings on this mysterious journey to their home.  Some think the Icelings are designed to be a deadly weapon, others think they were just abandoned babies.

This reminds me a bit of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, when those getting the alien invite make the journey to view the spaceships.  Some things  do not add up – minutiae really.  Is it realistic for parents to leave a 17-year-old in charge of a special needs child for two weeks?  The long narratives and character musings slowed things down a bit but did yield better understanding of Lorna.  Interesting premise.

eGalley review                                          Publication date 12.13.16

Posted in mystery, science fiction, Uncategorized

Flashfall – Jenny Moyer

flashfallGenerations ago, a series of radiation storms began to destroy civilization.  The government erected a shield made of a unique element, cirium, to protect the capital city.  Some of the population were labeled as subpars and they and their offspring were doomed to slave in caves mining cirium.  A carrot was dangled in front of the miners.  If they mined a certain amount they would earn entrance to the city and become free.

Orion is a gifted caver. She has a special sense for finding the cirium in the very dangerous conditions. Her long-time caving partner, Dram, helps her fend off all manner of yucky creatures determined to kill the cavers.  And of course the longer the cavers mine, the more radiation they are exposed to.  Orion and Dram escape and are recaptured many times trying to find a way out for the subpars.

Tenacious and cunning, Orion is a true fighter and heroine to root for.  Her buddy, Dram is equally courageous and endearing.  Well written and chock full of adventure, action, danger and surprise.  Highly recommend.

eGalley review                                     Publication date 11.15.16

Posted in adventure, dystopian, science fiction, Uncategorized

The Mountain of Kept Memory -Rachel Neumeier

mountain-of-kept-memoryOressa has learned her lessons well. Has learned to be meek and obedient around her father, has learned about all the hidden doors and passages in the palace, has learned to listen secretly to all the meetings her father has with his ministers. Mostly the talks are boring, but today there is fear of an imminent invasion, and the possibility that she might be offered as a wife to the invading prince!

Let’s see . . . there’s the feisty, unconventional princess, her brother the steady, reliable heir to the throne, and the stern, controlling king. Add the mysterious Keiba, who lives in her mountain in the drylands and protects the world from plagues and other dangers. Throw in some foreign princes who plan to invade and conquer the kingdom and the Keiba, and you have an enjoyable, traditional fantasy. Many of the plot lines are predictable, but there are enough twists and turns to keep things interesting.

eGalley review                   Publication date   11.18.16

Posted in adult, fantasy, Uncategorized

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter -Cassandra Rose Clarke

mad-scientists-daughterWhen Finn first arrived, five-year-old Cat knew he was different. She suspected that he was a ghost and was afraid of him. But he was kind and gentle, never got angry with her, so she decided he was the sort of ghost it might be handy to have around. He was here to help her father with his science stuff in the basement, but soon her parents decided that Finn would be an excellent tutor for Cat. That was just fine with Cat, because he told wonderful stories.

This is not your usual robot story. It is a love story, a story of the growing attraction and love between two who should not be in love at all. Finn is an experimental android, one of a kind, who looks and acts human. Cat is a bit of a spoiled brat who has been raised by her scientist parents to think outside the box. The story moves slowly at times and I still can’t decide whether I liked the book or not, but it gave me a lot to think about.

eGalley review             Publication date 11.8.16

Posted in adult, science fiction, Uncategorized

Scythe – Neal Shusterman

scytheIn this ponderous dystopian thriller, the Cloud is now the Thunderhead.  Medical technology allows for long life with citizens resetting their DNA to their 20s or 30s.  This resetting can be done for hundreds of years allowing for a very long life for many.  However, we cannot sustain a growing population that does not die.  Life and death must be balanced so an artificial “circle of life” is instigated to glean lives.  Scythes are selected and trained to kill or glean a certain percentage of the population.  The Scythe may come for any citizen, young or old, with no notice.  Each Scythe should have the highest morals and ethics in selecting those to die.  But with great power comes temptation and corruption.

Teens Citra and Rowan are selected by the wise and respected Scythe Faraday for training as his apprentices.  Unfortunately the Council of Scythes decides only one apprentice is allowed so the teen who is selected at the end of their training must then glean the other.  The first major twist occurs when Scythe Faraday is killed.  Citra is claimed for training by Honorable Scythe Curie, a friend to Faraday, while Rowan is claimed by corrupt Scythe Goodard whose bloodlust leads to mass killings.  Despite now being apprenticed to different scythes, only one of the teens is to earn the position and the loser must glean the other.

There is much to consider here.  I was reminded of Logan’s Run. But in that dystopia, all citizens are humanely killed at age 21.  Many things bothered me in Scythe.  Why allow the population to live for hundreds of years and continue to create offspring when the only way to control this growth is to glean “innocent” citizens.  And why do the Scythes employ bloody means of gleaning?  Corruption is inevitable when a person has the authority to decide who lives and who dies.  Sympathetic characters, a brisk pace and a plethora of gleaning will yield another hit with teens.

eGalley review                                           Publication date 11.22.16

Posted in dystopian, horror, suspense

The Door that Led to Where – Sally Gardner

door-that-led-to-whereAJ never knew his father or knew of his father.  He was raised by a single mother in a small apartment in London, who seemed to always resent having him.  After failing most of his graduation exams, his mother decides to kick him out but gives him a letter from a law firm for an interview.  That is very odd.  AJ shows up for the interview for an office boy or errand boy and those in the firm seem to know of him and knew his father.  During an assignment to go through the firm’s library files, AJ discovers a large key with his name on it and learns it opens a door to the past – to 1830 London.  Off he goes to the London of Charles Dickens where he is told of his father’s murder.  He is soon drawn into more mysterious poisonings.

Meanwhile in present day London, his best friends, Leon and Slim are in danger.  A thug is after Slim for dating his former/current girlfriend and wants to beat Slim to a pulp.  Leon’s mother just died from an overdose and the drug dealer is intent on murdering Leon.  So where can AJ hide his friends?  The past.  Both Slim and Leon much prefer London in the 1830s.  AJ is torn and is busy juggling so much, mainly trying to stay alive while solving a series of murders.

A fast-paced plot with an identifiable hero in AJ and friends with issues, the reader can see how a true friend behaves.  The poisonings provide a suspenseful diversion to AJ’s trying to tie the past to the present.  The Door That Led to Where is a quick read that delivers a good all around story.

eGalley review                                        Publication date 11.1.16

Posted in adventure, mystery, Uncategorized | Tagged ,