Tag Archives: science fiction

Castle in the Stars: The Moon-King by Alex Alice

Castle in the Stars: The Moon-King (Book 2) by Alex Alice. September 4, 2018. First Second, 64 p. ISBN: 9781626724945.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 3.8.

What if man journeyed into space in 1869, not 1969? In The Moon-King, the second volume in this breath-taking fantasy graphic novel series, Alex Alice draws on Jules Verne and nineteenth-century romanticism to create a watercolor world of adventure and wonder to enchant adults and younger readers alike.

In anticipation of their maiden voyage, Seraphin and the Knights of Aether had prepared for everything―except treason. The villainous chamberlain wants to overthrow King Ludwig and claim the electro-aetheric technology for Prussia. The only escape for the king and his companions lies in the frosty skies above Bavaria.

The aethership’s first flight is asuccess, but their respite is short-lived. As long as the chamberlain is free to spread his lies, these travelers will find no safe harbor. To save the king’s throne, they must push the ship even farther―out of the sky . . . and into the stars!

Sequel to: The Space Race of 1869

Part of Series: Castle in the Stars (Book #2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Underage smoking, Violence

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (July 1, 2018)
Alice knows a lot about the moon, and most of it isn’t true. An entire page of this graphic novel, a French import, is devoted to popular historical theories about the moon, and because the story is set in 1870, all of them are wonderfully archaic. “Everyone knows that giant vultures…live on the moon!” one character explains. Another person mentions a scientist who believed the moon was shaped like an egg. These ideas (inspired by Lucian of Samosata and Eratosthenes, among others) are so charming that when the characters actually land on the moon, a few pages later, it’s a bit of a letdown. The landscape is mostly pale, unvarying mountains and caverns, and even though they’re painted beautifully, the story features page after page of hiking. Occasionally, though, the images are just as gorgeous as in the first volume of the series. When the aeronauts come across an orrery (an enormous model of the planets), it’s breathtaking, and the steampunk designs—like a spacesuit with a bird of prey on its breastplate—are always inventive. The prose is less masterful, at least in this translation, with sentences along the lines of, “An ingenious Regnault & Reiset system absorbed harmful gases and replenished the oxygen.” The skin tones of the cast are also mostly pale and unvarying. Readers who enjoyed the first book may remain invested in the fates of the characters. Other people might prefer to look up archaic stories about the moon. (Graphic steampunk. 10-16)

About the Author

Alex Alice is a French graphic novelist, working in France and sometimes the U.S. His works have been translated into more than fifteen languages.

Born in 1974, he grew up in the south of France and had the chance to travel around Europe, where he developed a lifelong passion for the ruins and castles of the medieval and romantic ages. This experience influenced his art, from the grim setting of his esoteric thriller The Third Testament (co-written with Xavier Dorison and published by Titan Comics) to the primeval, mythic world found in Siegfried, an operatic re-telling of the northern saga of the great dragon slayer (published by Boom Entertainment). In Castle in the Stars, he draws on Jules Verne and nineteenth-century romanticism to create a watercolor world of adventure and wonder to enchant adults and younger readers alike.

His website is www.alexalice.com

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On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden. October 2, 2018. First Second, 544 p. ISBN: 9781250178145.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

An epic graphic novel about a girl who travels to the ends of the universe to find a long lost love, from acclaimed author Tillie Walden.

Throughout the deepest reaches of space, a crew rebuilds beautiful and broken-down structures, painstakingly putting the past together. As Mia, the newest member, gets to know her team, the story flashes back to her pivotal year in boarding school, where she fell in love with a mysterious new student. When Mia grows close to her new friends, she reveals her true purpose for joining their ship—to track down her long-lost love.

An inventive world, a breathtaking love story, and stunning art come together in this new work by award-winning artist Tillie Walden.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild sexual themes, Strong language, Violence, Homophobia

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 2))
Grades 8-12. When Mia joins a crew tasked with restoring abandoned space ruins, it’s clear she’s running from something. But between the hard work and the spirited characters of her shipmates, there’s hardly time to dwell on it. Interspersed flashbacks of strong-willed Mia at her all-girls boarding school hint at her troubles—a burgeoning romance with her classmate Grace, sneaking into the gym to (disastrously) try flying a small ship—but it’s not until she and her crewmates get a job restoring an ancient, strange temple that the pieces start coming together. Walden’s (Spinning, 2017) swirling, atmospheric artwork is phenomenal: she plays with darkness and shadows in captivating ways perfectly in keeping with the light-poor space atmosphere, and swathes of luminous, saturated color only emphasize that darkness. There aren’t many planets in the inky black, star-speckled backgrounds, but architectural structures float freely, and they’re set together at weird, surprising angles, unconstrained by gravity. There’s an organic, familiar quality to the spaces, with trees, rock formations, window seats, cathedral ceilings, and messy rooms, but the starry expanses outside every window are a stark reminder of their interstellar location. The sparking interplay between familiar and foreign is utterly mesmerizing, and the story carries that through as well: the sf components are inventive and compellingly strange, but the romance between Mia and Grace, not to mention the warm, teasing affection among Mia’s crewmates, grounds the story in a heartening, recognizable place. A remarkable, stunning comic.

Kirkus Reviews (September 1, 2018)
In this graphic novel/space adventure, a young woman discovers her place in a vast universe. After graduating from an all-girls boarding school, Mia, a light-skinned, black-haired girl, joins a reconstruction crew traveling through space to restore crumbling buildings with ancient and forgotten histories. She carries with her memories of Grace, the girl she fell in love with and lost during her freshman year of school. As Mia develops close bonds with her teammates, she learns they each have mysterious and complicated pasts of their own. Despite their differences, the strength of their love holds them together on a dangerous journey to the farthest reaches of space. A deep color palette of blues and purples with bursts of warm shades captures the setting. Walden’s (Spinning, 2017, etc.) diverse cast of queer characters includes Char, a black woman who co-captains the reconstruction crew with her white wife, Alma; Mia’s past love Grace (a black woman); and Elliot, a white nonbinary person who communicates nonverbally. While Mia’s journey is central, every character experiences a moment of growth over the course of the narrative. The timeline alternates between Mia’s memories depicting the progression of her relationship with Grace and the present. At times both gently romantic and heartbreaking, the story ultimately celebrates love and the importance of chosen family. An affirming love story full of intriguing characters and a suspenseful plot. (Science-fiction graphic novel. 13-adult)

About the Author

Tillie Walden is a cartoonist and illustrator from Austin, Texas. Born in 1996, she is a recent graduate from the Center for Cartoon Studies, a comics school in Vermont. Over the course of her time at CCS she published three books with the London based Avery Hill Publishing. She has already received an Eisner Award nomination and two Ignatz Awards for her early works. When she is not drawing comics, Tillie can be found walking and listening to audiobooks or asleep with a cat. She also enjoys studying architecture and tries to incorporate that passion into her comics.

Her website is tilliewalden.com

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Wildcard by Marie Lu

Wildcard by Marie Lu. September 18, 2018. G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 341 p. ISBN: 9780399547997.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 810.

All bets are off. This time the gamble is survival.

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems—and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

Sequel to: Warcross

Part of Series: Warcross (Book 2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild sexual themes, Strong language, Underage drinking, Violence

Video Reviews

Reviews

Booklist (August 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 22))
Grades 9-12. Bounty hunter turned reality game superstar Emika Chen thought she had her hands full when she became an internationally known competitor in the virtual-reality-game Warcross​ championships. But that was before she learned the truth about her one-time love Hideo Tanaka, a young billionaire and creator of Warcross​—and the inventor of an algorithm that puts everyone who uses his high-tech lenses under his control. Sure, Hideo’s not trying to rule the world or anything—­this all started as a war on crime, after his little brother went missing years ago—but Emi can’t agree with his methods. But she’s got even bigger plans: there’s a bounty on her head now, and if she’s going to escape the assassins who are after her, she has to turn to Zero, the infamous, if not exactly trustworthy, hacker and his team. But they’ve got motives of their own, and Emi might get so tangled in a web of subterfuge that she can’t break free. There’s plenty of high-stakes double-crossing here, and this finale moves along at a breakneck clip. Series fans will be only too happy to zoom along for the ride.

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 1, 2018)
The fate of free will hangs in the balance as Emika must choose a side in this sequel to Warcross (2017). In the days after Japanese Hideo triggered the algorithm in the NeuroLink enabling him to control 98 percent of its users (all except those using the beta lenses), people are turning themselves in for crimes en masse, and some child molesters and murderers are even killing themselves. Those still using beta lenses—like Emika Chen, who is implied Asian-American, and her multicultural teammates—have a little more than a week until the beta lenses will download a patch and convert to the algorithm. The tight timeline has Emika dwelling on the team-up offer from Zero—which her friends are against as he’s a terrorist—until her hand is forced by assassination attempts and Zero brings her into the secretive Blackcoat organization and into the know about his identity. Emika struggles with the Blackcoats’ extreme ends-justify-the-means stance but goes along with their plan while teasing out the truth of what happened to Hideo’s brother, Sasuke, all those years ago. The plotting is exquisite, with tiny details connecting back to the first book, big twists that never feel forced, and emotional power drawn from character growth. The flawlessly rendered characters anchor the sophisticated themes and world-altering stakes right up to the end game. A fast, intense, phenomenal read. (Science fiction. 13-adult)

About the Author

Marie Lu is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Legend, Prodigy, and Champion, as well as The Young Elites. She graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry, working for Disney Interactive Studios as a Flash artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing Assassin’s Creed, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, California (see above: traffic), with one husband, one Chihuahua mix, and two Pembroke Welsh corgis.

Her website is www.marielu.org.

Around the Web

Wildcard on Amazon

Wildcard on Barnes & Noble

Wildcard on Goodreads

Wildcard Publisher Page

Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue by Jeff Seymour

Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue by Jeff Seymour. May 15, 2018. G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 320 p. ISBN: 9781524738655.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.9; Lexile: 760.

From debut author Jeff Seymour and bestselling illustrator Brett Helquist (Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events) comes this breathtaking fantasy adventure, starring an extraordinary new heroine and set in an unforgettable world where ships can fly.

It takes a very special crew to keep the cloudship Orion running, and no one knows that better than Nadya Skylung, who tends the cloud garden that keeps the ship afloat. When the unthinkable happens and pirates attack, Nadya and the other children aboard–all orphans taken in by the kindhearted Captain Nic–narrowly escape, but the rest of the crew is captured. Alone and far from help, only Nadya and her four brave and loyal friends can take back the Orion and rescue the crew. And she’ll risk life and limb to save the only family she’s ever known. But . . . this attack was no accident. What exactly are the pirates looking for? Could it be Nadya they’ve been after all along?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Alcohol

 

Reviews

Booklist (April 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 15))
Grades 6-8. Nadya and the others aboard the cloudship Orion are orphans taken in by Captain Nic until the day they can run their own ships. Nadya dreams of one day leaving the security of the cloud garden and becoming first mate, until the ship is attacked by pirates. When the crew is taken hostage, Nadya and her friends must risk their lives to save them. This brilliantly characterized debut features heroes who are well-rounded and layered; each come from tragic circumstances, but their connection is genuine and emotional as they deal with realistic conflicts and daily life aboard the ship. Opinionated Nadya often fails to see others’ perspectives, but as she learns to put aside their differences in order to honestly understand her teammates, it’s easy to form a real connection with her. An impressive read that explores ideas of what bravery means though rich writing, vivid descriptions, and a strong voice. Readers will be eager to explore this breathtaking and dangerous steampunk world set in the sky.

Kirkus Reviews (March 15, 2018)
Nadya Skylung, an orphan, was rescued by the cloudship Orion’s captain, Nic, as were the other orphans who are in the crew: Tam, Tian Li, Pepper, and Salyeh. In the cloudship’s garden, Nadya helps fellow skylung Mrs. Trachia take care of the special plants and animals that help keep the vessel aloft. As the book opens, Nadya hopes to be named first mate. Then the worst happens: Pirates attack the Orion. They are looking for skylungs, and Nadya fears they are looking for her. The action’s both nonstop and circular: The adults sacrifice themselves so that the children can escape, and then the children execute a daring rescue to save them. Nadya gets some but not all of her questions answered, leaving room for a sequel. The built world is complicated, with elaborate biological mechanisms that power the cloudship and humans with special properties to run it. With geography and naming conventions vaguely analogous to our own, Seymour constructs a racially diverse cast around Nadya, who presents white. The language he uses to describe his characters of color is sometimes poorly chosen: Tian Li is rather opaquely described as having “sandstone-colored skin,” and, worse, Salyeh is described as having skin “the dark brown of burning paper.” While the worldbuilding can be heavy-handed and confusing at times, readers who love action-adventure stories will enjoy reading about Nadya and her friends. (Fantasy. 8-12)

About the Author

Jeff Seymour writes hopeful, heartfelt fantasy that blends modern characters with timeless plots and offers something new and fantastic on every page. His debut middle-grade novel, Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue, will be published by Putnam Young Readers in 2018, and his epic fantasy Soulwoven got over a million reads while being featured on Wattpad. In his day job as a freelance editor, Jeff helps shape and clean up stories for a talented roster of bestselling sci-fi and fantasy authors as well as newcomers to the business. In his free time, he plays more video games than he should, serves as support team to a wife with an incredible career of her own, pretends he knows anything about raising children, and gathers ideas for stories everywhere he goes

His website is jeff-seymour.com

Around the Web

Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue on Amazon

Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue on Goodreads

Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue Publisher Page

Munmun by Jesse Andrews

Munmun by Jesse Andrews. April 3, 2018. Harry N. Abrams, 407 p. ISBN: 9781419728716.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1170.

In an alternate reality a lot like our world, every person’s physical size is directly proportional to their wealth. The poorest of the poor are the size of rats, and billionaires are the size of skyscrapers.

Warner and his sister Prayer are destitute—and tiny. Their size is not just demeaning, but dangerous: day and night they face mortal dangers that bigger richer people don’t ever have to think about, from being mauled by cats to their house getting stepped on. There are no cars or phones built small enough for them, or schools or hospitals, for that matter—there’s no point, when no one that little has any purchasing power, and when salaried doctors and teachers would never fit in buildings so small. Warner and Prayer know their only hope is to scale up, but how can two littlepoors survive in a world built against them?

A brilliant, warm, funny trip, unlike anything else out there, and a social novel for our time in the tradition of 1984 or Invisible Man. Inequality is made intensely visceral by an adventure and tragedy both hilarious and heartbreaking.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Mild language, Strong sexual themes, Sexual assault, Marijuana, Drug abuse

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 9))
Grades 9-12. Here’s a bizarre premise: in Andrews’ scathing satire of economic inequality, rich citizens “scale up” to hundreds of feet tall, towering over “littlepoors” so small they live in shoeboxes. Getting out of poverty is almost impossible when there are no schools small enough to learn in, and it takes hours to traverse the distance a rich person could walk in a single step. But littlepoor Warner is trying to scale up anyway. In a wry, rage-filled voice peppered with A Clockwork Orange–type slang, Warner narrates his Dickensian journey through an unjust system designed to keep bigriches gigantic and littlepoors miniscule. Andrews gives himself a gargantuan task here, and there are elements that don’t deliver. For a novel skewering a system so inexorably tied to race, for instance, the absence of a critique of racism is glaring. And yet, there are pithy, sharp moments, too, particularly the illuminating descriptions of the vast, visible gulf between rich and poor. Though it occasionally misses the mark, it nevertheless offers a unique, caustic, thought-provoking lampoon of America’s obsession with wealth.

Kirkus Reviews starred (February 1, 2018)
In a world where wealth—the titular munmun—determines physical size and people range from littlepoor (rat-small) to bigrich (10 stories tall), three tiny teens set out to scale up; a wild ride ensues. Rendered a paraplegic by a cat who bats her about like a rat, Warner’s mother orders him to take his sister, Prayer, to law school and help find her an upscale husband. Warner’s skeptical—they’re illiterate, for one thing. Usher, a literate friend with palsy who’s smitten with Prayer, joins them. Trouble starts when they accept a ride from a middlerich man and end up in his model-train layout. Worse is to come. Prayer’s looks, Usher’s smarts, and Warner’s ability to shape Dreamworld (a place accessible only in deep sleep, where all are of equal scale) fail to prevent disaster. Offered a home and education by a politician, Warner insists Prayer be invited, too. They’re hardworking and motivated, but some littlepoor deficits prove intractable. Warner’s distinctive voice and language compel readers to pay attention to this detailed world. Wealth rather than skin color (orange, ruby, plum, gray) confers status. Bankers Scale Up those who’ve acquired wealth and Scale Down those who’ve lost or (rarely) relinquished it. Literally embodied in the characters, income inequality becomes a horrific reality; economic theories and realpolitik sangfroid are juxtaposed with their real-world consequences. Angry and the victim of his best impulses, Warner’s no superhero. Superpowers and soothing bromides won’t mend his broken, fragile world; pull the right thread and it might unravel. Brilliant, savage, hilarious, a riveting journey through a harsh world that mirrors our own. (Dystopian fantasy. 12-17)

About the Author

Jesse Andrews is the author of the New York Times best-selling novel Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Abrams Books, 2012). He is also the writer of the feature-film adaptation of his own book, also entitled Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, the winner of both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

He was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, and is a graduate of Schenley High School and Harvard University. He currently makes his home in Boston, MA.  His website is www.jesseandrews.com.

Around the Web

Munmun on Amazon

Munmun on Goodreads

Munmun Publisher Page

Defy the Worlds by Claudia Gray

Defy the Worlds by Claudia Gray. April 3, 2018. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 480 p. ISBN: 9780316394109.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 850.

An outcast from her home — Shunned after a trip through the galaxy with Abel, the most advanced cybernetic man ever created, Noemi Vidal dreams of traveling through the stars one more time. And when a deadly plague arrives on Genesis, Noemi gets her chance. As the only soldier to have ever left the planet, it will be up to her to save its people…if only she wasn’t flying straight into a trap.

A fugitive from his fate — On the run to avoid his depraved creator’s clutches, Abel believes he’s said good-bye to Noemi for the last time. After all, the entire universe stands between them…or so he thinks. When word reaches him of Noemi’s capture by the very person he’s trying to escape, Abel knows he must go to her, no matter the cost.

But capturing Noemi was only part of Burton Mansfield’s master plan. In a race against time, Abel and Noemi will come together once more to discover a secret that could save the known worlds, or destroy them all.

In this thrilling and romantic sequel to Defy the Stars, bestselling author Claudia Gray asks us all to consider where–and with whom–we truly belong.

Sequel to: Defy the Stars

Part of Series: Constellation (Book 2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, War, Violence, Mild sexual themes, Alcohol

 

Reviews

Booklist (March 1, 2018 (Online))
Grades 7-11. Though Noemi and Abel have strong feelings for each other, they have gone their separate ways for protection. Yet their efforts are foiled when Abel’s wealthy, power-hungry family abducts Noemi, using her as bait to make Abel sacrifice himself for his father/creator. Abel, a first-generation mechanized being with a soul, tracks them and finds himself in the middle of a three-way battle with a family that sees him as inhuman; with rebels bent on destroying the present regime, which includes Abel’s family; and with his own desire to save his love. Gray’s sequel to Defy the Stars (2017) revisits a familiar cast of characters and disturbing questions about the line dividing human and machine, though what was fresh and intriguing in the first book veers toward a certain predictability here. Nevertheless, readers will care about the potential lovers and the tricky situations that ensnare them. Romantic and adventurous, this novel contains a plethora of STEM-related content and is a worthy discussion starter for conversations about the ethics of technology.

Kirkus Reviews (February 15, 2018)
After Defy the Stars (2017), new threats reunite Noemi, a human, and Abel, a mech or anthropoid robot.Noemi (described as Latin American and Polynesian in the previous book) struggles with being back home on Genesis, facing ostracism—especially for not letting Abel sacrifice himself to destroy the gate that protects the planet. She gets into additional trouble for wanting to use common sense and her initiative instead of waiting for the order to destroy mysterious projectiles from Earth. By the time the order comes, it’s impossible to stop all of them. Genesis is struck by a pandemic so bad that Noemi’s sent to Earth to surrender. Before she can get there, she’s grabbed by enemy forces and used as leverage to get Abel to surrender himself. Their objectives—saving themselves and Genesis—lead the duo to form strange alliances and discover new revelations, including devious schemes, predictable-yet-heartbreaking technological applications, and the full truth behind the Cobweb virus. The action raises the stakes, for individuals and entire worlds, and the romance satisfies without overwhelming, right up to a huge cliffhanger ending. There is ample ethnic diversity throughout the book, mostly incidental to the plot, although having one of the two named leaders of the extremist terrorist wing coded as Arab may raise eyebrows. A fast, fun follow-up. (Science fiction. 12-adult)

About the Author

Claudia Gray is not my real name. I didn’t choose a pseudonym because my real name is unpleasant (it isn’t), because I’d always dreamed of calling myself this (I haven’t) or even because I’m hiding from the remnants of that international diamond-smuggling cartel I smashed in 2003 (Interpol has taken care of them). In short, I took a pseudonym for no real reason whatsoever. Sometimes this is actually the best reason to do things.

I live in New Orleans. So far, in life, I’ve been a disc jockey, a lawyer, a journalist and an extremely bad waitress, just to name a few. I especially like to spend time traveling, hiking, reading and listening to music. More than anything else, I enjoy writing.

Her website is www.claudiagray.com.

Around the Web

Defy the Worlds on Amazon

Defy the Worlds on Goodreads

Defy the Worlds Publisher Page

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston. February 27, 2018. Balzer + Bray, 480 p. ISBN: 9780062652850.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 740.

Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him.

Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.

When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive.

What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives—and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana’s past returns, she must face an impossible choice: does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves?

Part of series: Heart of Iron (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, War, Violence, Mild sexual themes, Alcohol, Criminal culture, Gore; Murder

 

Author Video

Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 7))
Grades 9-12. Deep in the stars, Ana was found by the starship Dossier as a child, alone except for sentient android D09, and she was raised by the ship’s captain and her crew of space pirates. As a teenager, Ana searches for a way to save D09, who has begun to break down—a challenge, as Di is one of the only remaining Metals who isn’t part of the HIVE, the system that strips androids of their free will. Ana refuses to lose the android boy she can’t help but love, despite his own inability to feel emotions. On a quest to save Di, Ana encounters Robb, an elite Ironborn whose despotic brother is about to ascend the throne, which has stood empty since the princess who should have inherited it disappeared after a Metal rebellion. The legends surrounding Anastasia Romanov get an sf makeover in this occasionally overcrowded but always exciting Firefly-style space opera. A wide cast of supporting characters and several same-sex romances add depth, and a violent, volatile ending leaves room for more.

Kirkus Reviews (November 1, 2017)
The story of Anastasia, lost princess of Imperial Russia, retold as space opera.In 1918, the 17-year-old daughter of Russia’s last czar was murdered with her family, but rumors persisted for decades that she might have survived in secret. In this version, the family of the Emperor of the Iron Kingdom, including his daughter Ananke Armorov, is known to have been murdered seven years ago in the android rebellion. Meanwhile, a ragtag crew of space pirates is community to brown-skinned and burn-scarred Ana. Ana’s best friend—about whom she has secret, more-than-friend feelings—is Di, a Metal: an android. Metals aren’t popular since the rebellion; most have been infected with the mind-controlling HIVE program that removes their free will. Complicating matters are Robb, a blue-eyed, olive-skinned noble on his own quest, and Jax, a violet-eyed, silver-haired Solani boy who pilots the pirate ship. Jax and Robb keep making eyes at each other, which is troublesome, since Robb’s mother wants Ana’s whole crew dead. Melodramatic back stories abound: there’s a prophesied savior, a prince in hiding with a secret power, and a noble young man with no memory. Malapropisms abound in the florid, awkward narrative (“Her voice warbled with the weight of those words”). There’s the kernel of a dramatic space yarn here, but it never comes to fruition. A surplus of angst-ridden back stories told in deeply regrettable prose. (Science fiction. 12-15)

About the Author

Ashley Poston’s is a part-time author and full-time fangirl. She was born in rural South Carolina, where you can see the stars impossibly well…

She loves dread pirates, moving castles, and starry night skies. When not lost in a book, she’s lost in real life, searching for her next great adventure. She is the author of Heart of Iron and Geekerella .

Her website is www.ashposton.com

Around the Web

Heart of Iron on Amazon

Heart of Iron on Goodreads

Heart of Iron Publisher Page

Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre

Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre. February 13, 2018. Katherine Tegen Books, 467 p. ISBN: 9780062570994.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 720.

Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past that’s made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead of moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn’t much better than a prison cell.

Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she’s headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan—a race of sentient alien ships—to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers.

Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth’s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.

Part of Series: The Honors (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; War; Violence

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (November 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 5))
Grades 8-11. Eighteen-year-old, dark-skinned, petty thief Zara Cole inadvertently steals from a major crime boss not known for forgiveness, but, luckily, fate steps in, and she is chosen to be an Honor in the interspecies exchange program between humans and Leviathans. These sentient creature-ships host humans for a year-long space tour with the option of extending indefinitely. Mystery shrouds this program, and as inquisitive Zara, co-Honor Beatriz (a Rio-born musician), and the Leviathan Nadim travel together, its dark side is revealed. Caine and Aguirre create a fresh and fascinating story of interspecies bonding, the power of music, and the effects of trauma on good creatures. A few culturally specific references seem forced, but the bond between the humans and alien is delicately built and inspiring. Nadim (the ship) and Zara share first-person narrative duties, and this is primarily Zara’s story with a few intercut chapters from Nadim’s perspective. Pair this with Philip Reeve’s Railhead (2016), or for a real throwback, bring out Anne McCaffrey’s Brain and Brawn Ship series.

Kirkus Reviews (November 1, 2017)
Zara Cole is on the run. A distant-future mobster named Torian Deluca is out to find her after she accidentally/on purpose robbed his daughter. A master thief who has lived for years in the Lower Eight of New Detroit, Zara realizes that if Deluca catches up to her, he might kill her. Faking a violent fit, Zara gets herself checked into a youth-detention facility to stay out of his reach. While she’s incarcerated, the story takes a very wide turn when Zara is mysteriously selected to join the Honors space program, a scientific and cultural exchange program between the extraterrestrial Leviathan and humans. Now aboard a Leviathan living ship named Nadim, Zara finds herself communicating with it. She also begins to suspect that there is something sinister about the entire Honors program. Zara’s snarky first-person account of her troubled childhood and overnight transition to astronaut keeps the story interesting at times. However, the story is undermined by the perpetuation of common racial and ethnic stereotypes in this futuristic world. Zara, the young, black female protagonist from New Detroit, is a criminal. Deluca is a stereotypical Italian bad guy, and a Chinese Honor participant is described as having “a degree in something complicated.” The sentient ships that display emotion fall short in execution and don’t give the plot the range it needs. An ambitious premise that is amiable but not believable. (Science fiction. 14-adult)

About the Author

Rachel Caine started writing at 14, and wrote steadily (but privately) until the age of 28, when she got her first novel deal for Stormriders (as Roxanne Longstreet). She published several horror novels under that name, and switched to romantic suspense as Roxanne Conrad. In 2003 she launched into the urban fantasy genre under the name Rachel Caine. In 2006, she created the Morganville Vampires series in young adult, and premiered the TLA-listed novel Prince of Shadows in 2015, and the new Great Library series with Ink and Bone in 2016.

In 2017, she began writing thrillers with the smash bestsellers Stillhouse Lake and Killman Creek.  Her website is www.rachelcaine.com/

Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. She likes all kinds of books, emo music, action movies and Doctor Who. She writes all kind of fiction in multiple genres, both YA and for adults.

Her website is www.annaguirre.com/

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Honor Among Thieves on Amazon

Honor Among Thieves on Goodreads

Honor Among Thieves Publisher Page

The Inventors at No. 8 by A.M. Morgen

The Inventors at No. 8 by A.M. Morgen. May 8, 2018. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 352 p. ISBN: 9780316471497.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.3.

Brimming with mystery and treasure, this action-packed tale sends a boy in need of luck and girl in need of a friend on an adventure that will change their lives forever.

Meet George, the third Lord of Devonshire and the unluckiest boy in London. Why is George so unlucky? First, he’s an orphan. Second, unless he sells everything, he’s about to lose his house. So when his family’s last heirloom, a priceless map to the Star of Victory (a unique gem said to bring its owner success in any battle) is stolen by a nefarious group of criminals, George knows that there is no one less lucky–or more alone–than he is.

That is until Ada Byron, the future Countess of Lovelace, bursts into his life. She promises to help George recover his family legacy, and is determined to find her own father along the way–all in a flying machine she built herself. Joined by a mischievous orangutan and the long-lost son of an infamous pirate, Ada and George take off on a cross-continent journey through the skies that will change their lives, and perhaps the world, forever.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (April 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 16))
Grades 3-6. After a string of misfortunes, humorless young George is utterly convinced he’s cursed with bad luck, and to stave off his inevitable demise, he’s stayed inside his quickly crumbling home for several years, with only his manservant, Frobisher, for company. That all changes when Frobisher gets kidnapped, and George enlists the help of the brilliant, irascible young inventor across the street, young Ada Byron. Armed with George’s heirloom treasure map, Ada’s homemade bird-shaped plane, and the assistance of their friends Oscar (a painter) and Ruthie (an orangutan), the ragtag group of kids hunts down a valuable jewel. But Ada’s secretive behavior rankles worrywart George, and soon fractures grow among their team. Morgen pulls off some handy misdirection in her fast-paced debut, and the combination of comical antics, miraculous machines, and a historical setting adds to the appeal. While she certainly takes liberties with Ada’s character, Morgen’s emphasis on such a savvy, capable girl engineer will please many readers. A closing note about the real Ada Byron makes this even better for STEM tie-ins, too.

School Library Journal (February 1, 2018)
Gr 3-6-Due to a series of extraordinarily unfortunate events (his mother died giving birth to him and his father died roller skating out an upstairs window), 12-year-old George, the third Lord Devonshire, is alone in the world, save for his trusty manservant Frobisher. The pair is scraping by, selling everything left in the family home. Young George has resigned himself to selling his prized possession: his grandfather’s map to the Star of Victory, when it is stolen by a mechanical bird. Leaving his house for the first time in two years to pursue the bird, he meets young Ada Byron, intrepid scientist, inventor, and explorer. Ada informs George of a mysterious group, called the Organization, seeking to locate the Star of Victory. She convinces timid George that they need to decipher the map and locate the Star, and the pair, accompanied by Oscar, the son of a pirate, and Ruthie the orangutan, take off in Ada’s flying machine. The disparate team moves from London to France, Geneva, and Venice (where they drop in on Charles Darwin) on the trail of the nefarious Organization. But George begins to suspect that Ada may have her own agenda. This raucous adventure keeps a frenetic pace as young George, whose father called him spineless, attempts to justify Ada’s faith in him, while Ada secretively battles her own demons. Eventually, both Ada and George find strength through their friendship. -Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor School District, Lancaster, PA

About the Author

A.M. Morgen comes from a long line of engineers and researchers but chose to pursue literature over the laboratory. To her family’s surprise, she has managed to make a decent living as an editor with her English degree. In her spare time, A.M. enjoys taking long walks in the forest, trying out new hobbies (then abandoning them), and complaining about her mean cat. Despite what you may think, A.M. is not a morning person.

Her website is ammorgen.com

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The Inventors at No. 8 on Amazon

The Inventors at No. 8 on Goodreads

The Inventors at No. 8 Publisher Page

Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda

Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda. February 20, 2018. Fiewel & Friends, 378 p. ISBN: 9781250085894.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 770.

Set against a future of marauding space scavengers and deadly aliens who kill with sound, here is a frightening, fast-paced YA adventure from the author of the acclaimed horror novel, Shutter.

Tuck has been in stasis on the USS John Muir, a ship that houses Earth’s most valued artifacts—its natural resources. Parks and mountains are preserved in space.

Laura belongs to a shipraiding family, who are funded by a group used to getting what they want. And they want what’s on the Muir.

Tuck and Laura didn’t bargain on working together, or battling mutant aliens who use sound to kill. But their plan is the only hope for their crews, their families, and themselves.

In space, nobody can hear you scream . . . but on the John Muir, the screams are the last thing you’ll hear.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Mild sexual themes, Physical abuse

 

Reviews

School Library Journal
Before humans made Earth completely unlivable, the Exodus project was launched, sending out manned spacecrafts to begin the process of planetary colonization. Among them, the USS John Muir carried the soil and plant life needed for terraforming. That was 400 years ago. The ships were lost; now, finding them is the last hope for human survival. In this intense sci-fi thriller, Alameda paints a bleak picture of the future and poses the question: Is the human species worthy of being saved? Two teen protagonists provide the first-person play-by-play in alternating chapters. Tuck, a white self-deprecating loner, belatedly awakens from stasis aboard the John Muir to discover most of the crew are missing and the ship is overrun with deadly monsters. Shocked by the passage of time and keenly aware of how unlikely it is they’ll be found, Tuck shows little concern for death in keeping the ship operational. Laura, a talented hacker and budding archaeologist of Latinx heritage, searches with her family for the original Exodus ships in hopes of finding and salvaging valuable cargo. When Laura’s ship’s computer is hijacked by terrorists, Tuck and Laura are the only two people capable of saving their crews and, possibly, the entire human species. The nail-biting plot will keep teens engaged, even though the terrifying monsters are poorly explained. The budding romance between the two complex protagonists takes a backseat to the high-octane action. —Cary Frostick, formerly at Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA

About the Author

A veteran bookseller and librarian, Courtney Alameda now spends her days writing thriller and horror novels for young people. Her debut novel, Shutter, was nominated for a Bram Stoker award and hailed as a “standout in the genre” by School Library Journal. Her forthcoming novel, Pitch Dark (Spring 2017), is a genre-blending science fiction/horror novel in the vein of Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien.

Courtney holds a B.A. in English literature with an emphasis in creative writing. She is represented by the talented John M. Cusick of Folio Literary. A Northern California native, she now resides in Utah with her husband, a legion of books, and a tiny five pound cat with a giant personality. Her website is www.courtneyalameda.com.

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Pitch Dark on Amazon

Pitch Dark on Goodreads

Pitch Dark Publisher Page