In the nation of Plexus, you need three things to survive and make something of yourself: be born male; be able to acquire a wife by the age of sixteen; and be a Citysin under the nation’s Codex. Families are forbidden to raise their daughters at home; they must give them to numerous state-run orphanages that double as wife brokers for those who can afford to purchase a girl. Girls who are not purchased as a wife by their fifteenth birthday are tossed into the streets alone without certification, Citysinship, or any way to make a living. Young Sevara grew up in Orphanage 127, and she is nearing her fifteenth birthday; however, this fiery, passionate young woman has a special gift to inspire others, and she may be a catalyst to change the face of a nation.

Who you gonna call?

In Madeleine Holly-Rosing's alternate American timeline, America is lead by Great Houses, who rule over the many classes of the lower commoners, highlighting and exaggerating the divisions of class and race that exist and persist in our world.  In this world, the realm of spirits is very close to the world of the living, and when something comes through or is left behind, it can cause havoc among those that would believe that nothing can happen that lies outside of their philosophies.  Striving to protect the balance is a former Pinkerton and a loose coalition of folks comprising various unusual skills.  This is the world that Holly-Rosing offers us glimpses into with her comic, Boston Metaphysical Society, and her new collection of novellas and short stories, Prelude.

Christie Shinn’s Personal Monsters: A Compendium of Monstrosities of Personality is set up like a children’s book, but it’s clear from the start that it’s geared towards adults. First of all, there’s a bit of adult language. More importantly, though, the situations depicted in it are of the type that you’re more likely to encounter and relate to in your adult life.

The review I should write about The Girl with All the Gifts is, “Super, super good.  Go and read it right now.  Don’t read any reviews, don’t look for a plot synopsis, and avoid any and all spoilers.  If you don’t know anything about this story, all the better . . . Why are you still here?  Get to reading already.”

But, that would do nothing at all to satisfy my strong need to talk about this book at length.  I’d love to preserve the slow reveal in the opening chapters for everyone.  The “twist” in these opening scenes isn’t particularly hard to guess, but the descriptive power in this early section is masterfully done and deserves as unsuspecting an audience as possible. 

All that being said, if you proceed with this review from this point forward, I’ll going to be blowing the top off Pandora’s box and flinging out many of the secrets.  You are warned.

“A young woman awakes trapped in an enclosed space. She has no idea who she is or how she got there. With only her instincts to guide her, she escapes her own confinement—and finds she’s not alone.” –Excerpt from the Goodreads Synopsis


Beyond this short descriptive blurb, almost anything that can be said about the plot of Alive by Scott Sigler is going to be some degree of spoiler.  This is a story about waking up in a puzzle with only your most basic instincts to guide you from clue to clue.  The main character, Em, is presented to us as a completely blank slate on which the author could write any story.  This feeling of wide-open possibility pervades Alive to its very final moments.

So much of the end-of-the-world literature I read focuses on circumstances that, if not entirely fictional to begin with (say zombies or vampires or alien invasion), are at least comfortably removed from the reality we know today.  Not so much with The Water Knife, in which we find ourselves knee-deep in a Climate Change Apocalypse that is made extra creepy by the increasing numbers of drought-related headlines we are currently seeing.  You know the ones . . . ”California Unveils Sharp Cuts in Water for Agriculture,”  “California Drought Resurrects Population Growth Concerns,” “More Historic Water Cuts for Farmers,” . . . and so on.

I am a long-time X-Files fan and an equally rabid supporter of pretty much everything Gillian Anderson has ever tackled in her career. (Bleak House! Great Expectations! Hannibal!)  I was very intrigued to see she had tried her hand at writing a book . . . especially since this was something other than the standard career memoir, behind-the-scenes tell-all, or other non-fiction fare.  I was equally nervous about the chances that this would turn out to be a worthwhile read, so it was reassuring to see that Ms. Anderson worked with Jeff Rovin, a collaborative veteran of the thriller genre with Tom Clancy’s Op-Center Series, from the very earliest stages of the story development.

In my review for Storm Siren, the first book in Mary Weber’s Storm Siren series, I noted that its primary strength was the main character, Nym.  I loved her intelligence, wit, and strength of will.  She struggled to find her place in a world where those of her kind were feared, killed, and sold into slavery.  She struggled internally with powers she couldn’t control, and that put innocent people around her at risk.  She suffered from self-loathing and guilt.  At the close of the Storm Siren, she had learned some degree of control over her powers, forged more than one close relationship, and begun to see herself as something more than just a weapon to be wielded by others.

Falcio and his companions changed irreparably due to the events they faced in their debut story, Traitor’s Blade, but they still follow the teachings of the deceased King Paelis and endeavor to fulfill his final quests.  Now that the men have successfully decoded the meaning of the King’s Charoites and discovered one of the hidden heirs to Tristia’s throne, life should be easier right? Not when you live in a land where treachery and betrayal are like breathing to most of the nobility, and not even your allies can be completely trusted!

The universe really seemed determined to keep me from reading and reviewing Rachel E. Kelly’s third installment in her Colorworld series, Lumaworld.  I struggled with the storyline anyway, because the focus on terminal illness felt too personal, and then my Kindle suddenly died.  When my replacement arrived, none of my progress had been saved, so I faced re-reading material that I’d found difficult on the first pass; however, I’m glad that I did, because the true theme of Lumaworld is hope: hope in miracles; hope in the unknown; hope that things will somehow get better even if you don’t understand how.  It’s not an easy read, at times, but the message rings true and is incredibly important to all of us.

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