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.

I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.

Peter Clines builds a helluva story and can wave his nerd flag high with the best of them.  In his book, The Fold, Leland “Mike” Erikson has a genius-level IQ with an Eidetic memory to boot and uses it to teach high school juniors English Lit until an old friend comes knocking with a job he finally can’t refuse.  Scientists working on a DoD project in the desert have created something that will change the world as we know it, but something seems a little off, and Mike’s just the man to get to the bottom of it.

“Empty Quiver (n) – A U.S. Military reporting term to identify and report the seizure, theft, or loss of a nuclear weapon.”


Following up his initial success with the YA/superhero mashup, Crimson Son, writer Russ Linton has achieved a remarkable hat trick with his follow-up novella, Empty Quiver, a quintet of tales that span from the dawn of the Augment age, long before the events of his prior novel, to near modern days, complete with sly references to Central American politics that still ring true.

Enter the Janitor is a unique and cleverly written book about the secret, semi-Men in Black-style organization that keeps things clean, both literally and figuratively. And, keeping things clean is a messy business sometimes. Just ask Ben, the Janitor. He doesn’t just mop floors and clean windows. It’s his job to protect the world from Scum and Corruption, which lurk just beneath the world we think we know.

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