Friday, April 26, 2019

Annihilation (Southern Reach, #1) by Jeff VanderMeer

After numerous failed expeditions, the 12th group is heading into the mysterious Area X. Four women, known only by their work specialty, a psychologist, anthropologist, biologist, and a surveyor, head into this no-man’s-land that stretched along the coastline and interior for who-knows-how-far to study, explore, map, and report back what they can to the governing body, the Southern Reach. Things start going sideways almost immediately when expedition members start to disappear.

The story is presented from the viewpoint of The Biologist who proves to be a less than reliable narrator. This first installment in the Southern Reach Trilogy is strange, confusing, scary, and fascinating! I couldn’t put it down “needing” to know what was going to happen next. You know what is happening when it happens but you never know why or how anything fits into a bigger picture of what Area X is. Doesn’t matter. Let me have Book 2.

Demons of Time: Race to the 7th Sunset (Time Travelers, #1) by Varun Sayal

Fresh and different and a good story!

Set in India in the year 3077 BC, the action begins immediately with eight-year-old Tejaswi and his mother, Dhara, fleeing through the Dandak Forest pursued by two time-demon brothers, Kumbh and Vetri. Just as they are almost away, the evil demons catch up with them. They plan to kill Tej to punish his mother for running away but are stopped by the appearance of Guru Riga, an elderly sage and time reader. The time-demons themselves end up captured and trapped in a secret place where time is no factor and they can do no further harm.

Twenty years pass and Tej grows to manhood, marries, and has a child of his own when Guru Riga arrives on his doorstep. Guru Riga has seen that in the far future, the time-demon brother Kumbh is going to escape and destroy all of humanity. Tej who is actually Kumbh’s son is the only one that can stop him because he, too, is a time-demon and can travel through time. What follows is an imaginative and well laid out story of how Tej must travel backwards and forward in time to pull together the tools and know-how to stop his father with Guru Riga always in the background planning for the future based on the changes that result from Tej’s time traveling.

Such a good story! This is the first book in what looks to be a new and entertaining quest epic series called Time Travelers. Coming from a different culture with no knowledge of the cultural mythology of India the story seemed fresh and different. I was hooked from the very start and kept interested through the entire book. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy traditional quest stories but are ready for something new.

Room 11 by mari.reiza

Unique telling of what’s going on around and with a coma patient but so much more.

Told from the viewpoints of two different women, this novel chronicles an accident victim’s sojourn in a nursing facility while in a coma (and so much more!) Although the woman’s family quickly gives up hope of her recovery, her husband stays by her side caring for her, singing and talking to her throughout the day (and night), for months. He is assisted in his watch by a nurse assigned to the room his wife where his wife lays, an immigrant from Ghana who is still adjusting to her life far from her home and her tragic past. It is her voice that starts us out and tells us what has happened to the patient, about her care and the husband’s constant vigil. As she recounts her interaction with the couple, we see her slowly developing a disturbing obsession for the husband and building a relationship with him - in her mind.

This woman’s narrative is offset with what the comatose wife is “dreaming” as the days slip by. Those dreams fill us in on the relationship between the husband and wife, the wife and her family, and the events and circumstances that preceded the accident that put her in the coma. While the husband sings to his wife, she dreams that he is sleeping in a hotel room her keeping her “awake” with his snoring.

What a great and inventive story! The plotline of the nurse’s growing infatuation with the husband is intense, creepy, and moving. The glimpses into her day-to-day life as an immigrant are very interesting. The wife’s grief over the loss of a child was tragic and emotion-filled. I found myself longing for the wife to recover especially as the husband slowly, but inevitably, begins to lose hope.

In both instances, the nurse and the patient, the narrative pours forth in a ‘stream of consciousness’ style of writing so we’re getting every thought and feeling, which are sometimes frankly intimate or sexual in nature, that passes through each woman’s mind. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I felt it appropriate, and liked it.

I recommend this book for readers of contemporary fiction, medical stories with romance, and those that don’t mind storylines with some pretty earthy passages.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Murder at the Luau (A Pet Portraits Cozy Mystery, #10) by Sandi Scott

This was the 10th outing for the twin Kaye sisters and it was just as fun as the previous nine.

The Kaye sisters, Georgie and Aleta, have been given a trip to Hawaii as a Christmas present by their respective children. Trouble begins from the very start – on the plane to their destination – in the form of a constantly arguing couple, Herb and Dottie Bickerson. Nothing, it seems, is right for the annoying couple but the young tour company rep, Daniel, keeps trying his best.

When the husband mysteriously falls to his death during a luau, Georgie is convinced he was helped off the cliff, and with literally everyone in the tour group having a reason to want the man gone, she has a lot ground to cover before discovering who did it.

Even though one of the charms of this series has been, for me, the Chicago setting, the switch to the 50th state was very entertaining. There are some new and interesting characters to focus on up close and personal because the tour group members are together pretty much 24/7. And this time, because Georgie’s ex, Stan, is not on the trip, he is not there to pull Georgie out of trouble. That duty falls to one of the aforementioned interesting new characters.

Another nice cozy mystery featuring the sisters. I recommend this book (and entire series) to readers that like their mysteries on the cozy side and enjoy having a sleuth of a more mature age.

After the Green Withered (After the Green Withered, #1) by Kristin Ward

The sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history, precipitated by unchecked drilling and a variety of environmental disasters, has occurred and the planet is in the midst of a decades-long drought. The nation has closed its borders and the military was brought in to control widespread violence as water dwindled and rationing got serious. As the story opens, the U.S. has been consolidated into 18 states based on river basins, the remaining population clustered into cities in each state, couples are limited to one child, and water is controlled by one all-powerful agency: the Drought Mitigation Corporation (or DMC.)

Enora Byrnes, now in her last year of school, has grown up in Prineville and this has always been the way things were. As she approaches graduation, she is expected to make a decision on her future – how she is going to contribute to society henceforth, as an adult. Undecided and with few choices open to her, all she knows is that she does not want to go into the DMC. Her best friend, Bram, a few years older and of the same mind had been selected by the DMC never to be seen or heard from again. The DMC was for the elite in town: their children groomed for service since birth. Enora was not one of the elite. But as graduation nears, Enora is singled out for the DMC anyway and begins her training in addition to her school work eventually ending up at a training base several hours away.

With her recruitment, Enora begins to see improvements in the lives of her parents: better housing, increased water credits, better and more food. Enora feels obligated and stuck especially when things that the DMC does don’t jive with what she and the rest of the population has always been told.

When she and her partner are sent to the town of Renascence to neutralize a dangerous rebellion their doubts about the DMC and their role in the agency mount when the rebels turn out to be mere children and the DMC is hiding some horrible secrets below ground and behind locked doors in secret facilities there.

I really enjoyed this tale of a dystopian U.S. The author did a fabulous job of creating the world that Enora lives in. Enora seems like such a typical teenager on the brink of high school graduation with the usual angst associated with fitting in, living up to her parents’ expectations, friends, and young love. Then there are some terribly tough decisions about her future and the horrible revelations that gradually unfold. And the story’s not over – there’s a Book 2! This story kept my attention and kept me reading late into the night because I couldn’t find a good spot to stop. It is action-filled and thought-provoking. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy young adult books and those that like dystopian/post-apocalyptic tales as well.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Unforgettable You (Silver Springs, #5) by Brenda Novak

Jada Brooks and Maddox Richardson were high school sweethearts until a tragic accident at a party during their senior year in which her younger brother, Atticus, was paralyzed, tore them apart. He was sent away, out of town, to another school. Jada, left behind, found herself pregnant and an outcast in her own family, blamed for what happened to her brother. Against her family’s wishes, she had the baby, moved to LA on her own, and eventually married someone else.

Now, years later, she is coming home after a sad divorce with ten-year-old Maya by her side. But she’s not the only one returning to Silver Springs. Maddox, a successful school administrator, has been hired by Aiyana Turner at the Silver Springs-based New Horizons Boys Ranch, where he had once been a pupil himself, to open up a new girls’ school.

Unforgettable You is a story with a number of twists. Even after the passing of 11 years, Jada and Maddox are still in love with each other. Her family never liked Maddox, and to complicate matters, it was Maddox’s brother, Tobias, under the influence of drugs, that shot Atticus the night of the party – a party that Jada had taken him to behind her parents’ backs. Jada’s father had recently passed away leaving her mother on her own and trying to support herself and Atticus with the income from a faltering bakery. Maddox and Jada had only been intimate one time and she didn’t know about the pregnancy before Maddox left and because of all the intertwining blame, she never searched him out to let him know that they had had a child.

It is a heartbreaking story but one of forgiveness and second chances. I found it to be a very emotional reading experience and with so many obstacles to overcome I was really rooting for a happily ever after ending. I recommend this book for romance readers that like secret baby stories and second chance romances. Although Unforgettable You is part of the Silver Springs series, it could easily be read and enjoyed on its own.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

All Time (All Time, #1) by Mack Leonard

In the year 2397, Miranda Hawking is living with her parents at the Hawking Refuge for Troubled Intelligences, a “retirement” sanctuary for used-up channelers. These synthetic beings, in their prime, had interfaced with the most powerful artificial intelligences that guided the universe and then interpreted their thoughts in a way humans could understand.

Many of the channelers eventually succumbed to the pressures of their responsibilities and, if they were lucky, ended up at the Refuge cared for by Miranda and her loving parents but forbidden from ever contacting their master intelligence again. One such resident is the mysterious (in Miranda’s teenage-crush eyes), Brightside, who had been channeler to the great master intelligence, OMNIUM.

When the Information Police come knocking, Miranda discovers not everything at the sanctuary is as tranquil and mundane as she’d thought. Not only has Brightside been in communication with his old master but her mother is involved in something with him as well.

Helping Brightside to escape, Miranda attempts to find out what is going on. She joins Brightside onboard a subspace ferry and next finds herself face to face with Altrius Prime, the highest political authority in the solar system (and the oldest one), who she prevents from committing suicide by making an unauthorized time jump.

As she disrupts his plans, Miranda herself makes the jump and ends up on a wooded mountainside in the year 1058. No sooner has she gathered her senses from the jump when she is attacked by a warrior from the invading horde known as the Holders of the Chain.

Her rescuer is an apprenticed painter, Friskin York, who along with his master had been on the mountain to capture the magnificent vista. Miranda slowly falls for Friskin as the three travel to find a place of safety from the invasion and search for her parents who tried to follow her during her accidental time jump.

All Time is an engrossing story with great characters and vivid world-building not only of a far future but of the past. There are numerous twists and turns along the way as Miranda tries to understand her new reality and she doesn’t always find herself welcome. There are unresolved issues in this first book that I hope to pursue in subsequent books in the series.

I highly recommend this book for readers that like time travel stories and grand adventures.