Science Fiction

The Scorch Trials by James Dasher


We return to Thomas and the gladers as WICKED sends them out into a blistering desert full people called cranks who are infected with the disease that slowly sends them violently insane. They are told if they cross The Scorch and make it to the safe haven then they can receive the Cure. But Teresa has been taken away from Thomas and he can’t reach her in his mind when he tries. When they do see her she acts very strange.
Like its prequel, The Maze Runner, this book is well written and pleasant to read despite the overboard unpleasant things happening to the characters. Very action-y, it almost felt like it was being written to become a movie.


Science Fiction

Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold

Miles visits the planet Kibou on a hunch from empress Laisa, but a kidnapping attempt goes wrong and the sedative they give him reacts badly sending him manic and hallucinating into the cryocombs that stretch for kilometers beneath the city. When he makes it back to street level a boy named Jin takes pity on him and give him a place to stay while he recovers. Jin continues to help Miles and it turns out that Jin’s mother may have information that Miles needs. The problem is that she has been cryogenically frozen. Miles tackles this problem with all his diplomatic and covert Ops training, digging to find the coals under all the smoke.
Wonderful book, I love the characters Bujold creates from Jin and his animals, to every different version of Miles as he grows with each story. (And that sphinx!)


Young Adult

Mr. 60% by Clete Barrett Smith

Matt, a high school senior does just enough to get by in his classes (aka Mr. 60%). In addition he is a drug dealer, on his way to becoming a dropout. But what no one knows is the reason behind Matt’s actions. Matt sells drugs, to be able to take care of his uncle who is dying of cancer. Matt’s mom is in prison and so Matt lives with his Uncle Jack. Things begin spiraling out of control, move than ever, but then at a mandatory after school club Matt meets Amanda. Amanda eventually learns of Matt’s secret and the two form an unlikely friendship. Amanda comes into Matt’s life just when he needs it most. I felt as if the story just plodded along though. A heavy topic, yet nothing really drew me into these characters. I’d recommend a book like “The Fault in our Stars” over this one, for sure.



The Photograph by Penelope Lively

Although Kath, the main character in “The Photograph,” is dead, she continues to play a large role in the lives of the individuals that tell the story: her husband Glyn; her sister Elaine; her brother in-law Nick; her niece Polly; and the others who encountered her. It all starts when her husband finds a photograph of Kath holding hands with Nick. I was not interested in the characters at first (at least not Glyn), but as it turned out, the book is about Kath, a mysterious and fascinating presence for all who thought they knew her. This was my third Penelope Lively book this year (thanks to Reading Revels), and was the best of the lot.



The Spanish Mission by K B Spangler

The second Hope Blackwell book opens one year after the Greek Key. The ghost of Thomas Paine just appeared to Hope’s friend, Mare, and Mare is justifiably freaking out. Hope takes Mare on a vacation where they get roped into a ghost hunting expedition that Hope thinks is bogus. But when she is contacted by the ghost of of a psychic Spanish nun who is trying to warn her about a dead and a vicious pirate powered by the desert itself Hope begins to think that Spooky Solutions boys may have the reins of a real ghost. From there things start to spiral out of control fast. Don’t even ask about the chupacabras.
I love Spangler. I read this book almost in one go. It was satisfying, funny, fast-paced, and all around a great story!


Science Fiction

The Kite Maker by Brenda Peynador

This is a original short story and it is beautiful and sad. It can be found here:
The main character runs a Kite Shop catering mainly to bug like aliens. She deals with the guilt of being on the front lines when they landed and killing the gentle creatures who would not fight back. She deals with bigotry, guilt, and sorrow at the longing the aliens show when they fly her kites. And she deals with the neo-nazi’s who’s bigotry leads them to damage her shop for selling mainly to aliens.
It was so sad, a new take on an age-old sci-fi-theme. They are not like us, if they were maybe we could justify our violence. Hope and longing, fear and guilt, penance and the next generation, all these themes weave expertly through this short story.


Fantasy, Young Adult

Fight and Flight by Scott Meyers

In an attempt to get better at self-defense the Wizards accidentally create semi-autonomous dragons. The dragons can’t actually damage anything but the villagers can damage themselves trying to defend against them. On top of that they don’t respond to Magic like regular animals because they are largely computer constructs with the brains of sheep. The Wizards all split up and have Shenanigans and Misadventures trying to rid Great Britain of dragons. Meanwhile back in Leadchurch a girl named Honor is convinced the Wizards created the dragons on purpose and set them on her Town while cursing her brother. And she is determined to make them pay.
I think I giggled through around 80% of this book. It was a lot of fun. It’s the fourth in the Magic 2.0 series.


Banned Book

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

This book was challenged on the New York state elementary- and middle-school reading lists (2015). In it 12 year old Moose’s dad gets a job as a guard / electrician at Alcatraz. So Moose, his mom, and Natalie (Moose’s autistic sister,) moved to the island with their dad. Moose’s mom is set on getting Natalie into a school that might help her function better. Moose is good with Natalie and he loves her, but his mom’s new rule that he has to take her everywhere he goes doesn’t sit well with him especially since it means he can’t play baseball after school. A couple times when she is engrossed and sorting stones he goes out of sight for a little while. When he learns that she made friends with a convict while he was gone he panics thinking the worst. But later realizes that they were just friends.
I think this book was banned because it shows criminals as actual people. It was good, I’m glad I read it, but I won’t be hunting down the sequels.